Friday, October 31, 2008

Anyone can write anything they want about any subject. So you know you are getting the best information possible.

It feel like time to write a new post, but so much has been going on that I don't even know what to write about.

The major excitement is that my sister is visiting me again today for the second weekend. I know she thinks they are overrated, but yay for business trips! We had a ton of fun last weekend, and got to explore my new city a little bit more.

In addition to the cool WaterFire show we went to (I'll post some pics at some point - which I can do now because we hooked up my internet last night, even though it really frustrated my roommate), we rearranged the living room. After watching HGTV, I asked what my sister thought of the new apartment. She simply grimaced. I know, right! So we got a little gung-ho, and rearranged the whole thing. I was really worried that my roommate would flip, but she seems to like it.

I had a lovely dinner with my grandparents who passed through town on their way home on Monday night. I will not spend time here extolling the virtues of Carolina Barbeque as opposed to all others. Let it simply be said, Carolina BBQ is better. As evidenced by the fact that the majority of the week was spent under the dark cloud of a gluten reaction. I haven't had an episode that bad in a year (I can actually tell you the last time, it was Thanksgiving, and I went to a potluck dinner). It actually took me a little while to figure out what was so horribly wrong because it's been so long. Good news is this morning I feel waay better.

And a funny class story for you, to top off the week's news.

We are working on arguments in all of my classes. So I have required them to do research (I'm hoping this makes the arguments more reasoned and less inane blather). I have a simple lesson on research and choosing valuable sources. To begin this lesson, I like to show a clip from "The Office" when Michael Scott talks about wikipedia. "Wikipedia, is basically the best thing ever." So I showed it to my first class, and to set it up, I asked "Do you guys watch 'The Office'?"

No. Not a single person.

Ok. I can overcome that, some background on "The Office" and why Michael Scott is just funny. We watch the clip.

"What's wikipedia?" the students ask.

WHAT?! Ok. It's a fluke. I just misjudged my demographic here. That's all. It is after all my slightly older class, the majority are between 25 and 45. That's why.

I try it with the next class. It's a day class, they are mostly 18.

No. Same reaction.

Same reaction in every single class! At most I had 2 students per class who knew what "The Office" is and what wikipedia is. So rather than a quick introduction to evaluating sources, it wound up being a long introduction to "The Office" and wikipedia, and a short discussion of other sources.

Less than effective. I might have to retire the clip.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A good pilot is compelled to evaluate what's happened, so he can apply what he's learned.

It's time for evaluations. First we went to lots of meetings about evaluations. Now my students are evaluating me. Then my boss will evaluate me (whenever he decides to). At least with my students there's some payback. They evaluate me, I grade them. Fair's fair.

Until they make me really uncomfortable.

I'm not actually in the room when they evaluate me. And I'm not actually supposed to know anything that goes on while they evaluate me. But one of the secretaries is kind of chatty. So she told me all about it.

She gave the evaluations in my "rowdy boy" class. For some reason in this class, the number of boys drastically outweighs the number of girls, and the difference is made even more dramatic by the personalities of the boys (I say boys, most of them are between 19 and 25). So I have (lovingly) termed it my rowdy boy class.

When I got back to the office after class, I expected a full report from the secretary, but she started off.

"That class isn't rowdy. They're so cute!"

I just laughed. Of course they can be well-behaved for strangers.

"You know I tell them to write in comments, because that is what is useful for you. So I was telling them to write in comments on the lines, what they like, what they don't like, what you do well. And the big guy said, 'Can I just put that she's easy on the eyes?'"

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

You know the difference between you and me? I make this look good.

Yesterday, I forgot my belt.

You may be wondering how this happened (and more likely, why it is newsworthy). It happened because I joined the gym (and I'm loving it) and I get dressed for work at the gym. I forgot to put a belt in my bag. While I will be the first to admit this is way better than the time I forgot my bra, or the time I forgot my towel, it was nonetheless kind of irritating.

I dried my hair, and then stepped back so I could see myself in the mirror, so I could try to decide whether I had to go home and get a belt. I couldn't decide, and there was a girl standing next to me drying her hair, so I said, "I forgot my belt. Do you think I have to go home and get it?" She looked at me (not the "you are a crazy person" look, but a genuine appraising sort of look), said, "Turn around." [Pause as I did so] "No, you're fine." Ok, thanks!

And I left the gym, continuing with my morning commute to work.

Well, I didn't factor in that I would be at work for the next 9-10 hours, and that my pants would grow! I was finishing class at 7:45 pm, and my pants were at least a full size bigger than they were when they started the day. I kept pulling at my shirt so that I wasn't constantly hiking them up, but it was a real problem.

I remembered my belt today.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I like to move it, move it. I like to move it, move it. I like to ... Move it!

I moved on Saturday. Again. I think this is the fourth time in like 2 months. I hate moving! I should be really good at it by now, but it still took me all day.

The best part: Everything I own still fits in the Honda, most of it was still in boxes, and I can carry everything myself.

The worst part: I still have to go back there... ugh.

But I love my new place. It is on the other side of town -- the nice side of town. It is surrounded by nice single-family homes, and my next-door neighbor is a cute little white-haired lady named Faith who has fall decorations outside. (Is anyone else shocked by the sudden proliferation of Halloween decorations? When did Halloween become a major holiday? It's not even a day off work!) I have a cute room with a really big closet (my roommate is totally jealous of the closet - but she gets a bathroom attached to her room). And the totally best part - my new bed! I bought a queen-sized bed, and it's pretty fabulous. Ok, maybe the totally best part is that I got to unpack all my boxes. I have books on my bookshelves, my nice pots in kitchen cupboards, toiletries in the medicine cabinet.

It's not my job to coddle my students.

"It's also nice because it doesn't draw a line between rich and pool racers."

I have been grading student papers this afternoon. I don't know why this struck me as so funny, but it did.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

People! I ain't people!

I work at a community college that is a part of a district of community colleges with 5 campuses. For those who are interested, yes, we are accredited as a body, which (for those who are not interested) means that we are a closer system than, for example, the UNC system. Because we are a closer system, they -- the great powers that be who hold so much power over our small lives -- like to make us do things together once in a while.

What an undertaking.

Today we had "district in-service." Which means that all the classes on all the campuses were canceled, all the services on all the campuses were shut down, so that every single employee could attend an all-day meeting.

1,500 people converged on one campus. I'm sure that we disrupted traffic flow for that section of the city, because I was sure stuck in it. And wow! There were thousands of people! People everywhere!

So that was my main amazement.

Otherwise the day was pretty typical meetings. They had a keynote speaker talk about the things that we need to do to prevent campus violence (by which I mean shootings). He was good, and had done a lot of research, but most of it didn't apply to most of the people there, so they didn't pay a lot of attention. And with that many people it's kind of distracting. Then we had smaller sessions and I attended one on service learning, which could be a good thing. My second session was information about new machines that they have at one of the campuses, that will tell you exactly how many calories you need to eat every day, and exactly what your heart rate should be at when you exercise. Really interesting stuff, but they billed the class as one where you go and actually get tested and leave knowing what you should change.

Then all the English faculty had a meeting. I'd heard rumors that these can get pretty contentious. And they weren't exaggerating. So that was interesting to listen to.

All in all, it was a very full day. It was nice to see and meet people, and amazing to see how big the district actually is. I think if the campuses were all combined, it would be bigger than the University where I did my masters.

Monday, October 13, 2008

That is not spoken correctically. It goes: How doth the little crocodile improve his shining tail.

Tonight gave me a glimpse of how nice it would be to handpick my classes. I realize that probably sounds terrible. But you already know I am terrible. And it is not that I don't like my students or that I don't care about them. But certain combinations just don't work together.

And tonight, all the right combinations weren't there.

Most of my students like to blame lack of attendance on the weather. It is raining. Horizontally. And it's a little chilly - but the news reported on Utah's snow, so it's probably downright balmy. I'm more likely to blame lack of attendance on the fact that there isn't any school tomorrow, or on the fact that a paper wasn't due today. But however the planets align, the majority of my "rowdy boys" were not in class tonight. And it went so smoothly.

Students participated without complaining. They wrote and shared their writing. They responded to questions. They took notes!

It was nice.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Hello Newsies, what's new?

So many new things to blog about. I am getting out there, being involved. Ok, not really, but I made an attempt.

On Friday, I went and got my haircut. I took the advice of a co-worker on where to go, and it was good because I could just walk in. It was rather an interesting place. It is a very large salon, like a Mitchell's or something, but also a very large beauty supplies store with all the fancy brands like... Bb, and Paul Mitchell, and others that I don't even know (because I buy the $2.00 shampoo at Wal-mart). The salon part was very nice. But the stylist was horrible! A few things to know about me so this story will make sense: 1. I have very thin hair. Very, very thin. 2. I have rosacea on my forehead. This is a strange rash that just looks like a group of zits. But it's not, and it is kind of sensitive.

My stylist apparently did not understand how to treat thin hair. At all. As she was styling, she gunked a huge amount of some really sticky gel through my hair. Of course, this just weighed it down and made it really, really flat. Which she then tried to counteract by using one of those gianormous, really prickly round brushes and ripping most of my hair out. That was entirely ineffective. So she teased my hair. Literally. I am absolutely not in any way exaggerating. She took a comb and teased my hair! Hello! Teasing was banned in like the 1970's. It has never come back in style. After she teased my hair (for some volume, as she told me), she still didn't like how my bangs look (because she did a bad job of cutting them), so she proceeded to sweep them off to the side, clawing my rosacea numerous times in the process. I am left trying to figure out if I can return to that salon and request a different stylist, or if I have to completely cross that one off the list.

The second new thing I did was try to find a gym. After getting a couple suggestions from co-workers, I went to a 24 hour fitness. It seemed nice and big, but I wasn't going to committ right away. So the young man showing me around (and trying hard to sell me a contract), gave me a pass for 14 days free. Awesome. I am not the kind of girl to ignore a free pass, so I have been going to the gym all week. They sure know how to sucker you in. At the time I want to go, it isn't busy, there are plenty of machines, never a wait for the shower, and I like the gym. I like running on a treadmill so I know exactly how far and how fast I ran (a 9.13 minute mile - woo hoo). I also like weights. Makes me feel so buff.

Third new thing, and possibly the one I am most excited about. Background: My grandparents came to visit me yesterday. They are living (for another 2 weeks) in Illinois, so they drove down yesterday afternoon and left again this morning. I feel kind of bad, because it is a long drive, especially when you stay less than 24 hours, but they didn't seem to mind at all. They told me, as we were planning the trip, to pick a restaurant to go to for dinner. As mentioned in other posts, I have food allergies, so this is not always the simplest thing. But a co-worker (don't I have such good co-workers?) told me that there is a pizza place (that also has pasta and salads) that serves gluten-free pizza and pasta. I have been looking forward to trying it, so I suggested it to my grandparents and they agreed. Best pizza ever! They thought it was a really long drive out there, and it was longer than I thought. But it was totally worth it.

I have been reading all these food blogs (see my favorite things), and so many of these gluten-free people write these fabulous reviews of going to these restaurants and having waiters who step up and know exactly what they can and cannot eat. The gluten-free person will ask one little question, like can I have the salad without croutons? And the waiter will say, let me make sure that your salad is in no way contaminated by the bowls, utinsils, etc, and I know that you need to choose this dressing or this dressing because they are the only gluten-free options. I have never had that happen. Ever. But last night, I ordered a gluten-free pizza, with the tex-mex toppings. My waiter said, Great, but we will have to substitute ground beef for the chorizo so that it is gluten-free for you. I was amazed. And the pizza was fabulous!

Trying new things is tiring.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

There must be something in books, things we can't imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there.

I'm laying in bed on Sunday morning. My excuse for this could be that my roommate - in this temporary habitation - moved out this week, leaving not a single stick of furniture behind her (even though she left a lot of other crap). But I will admit that I am back under the covers, just listening to the wind blow through the trees outside my window, and feeling it blow the cool air inside.

It's been a great weekend.

Actually the week ended quite well too. I planned a celebration of Banned Books Week for my class on Friday. On Wednesday, I asked each of them to pick a book from the list and bring it in with a passage to read to the rest of the class. I walked into the classroom Friday morning, rather burdened down by my own stack of banned books (who can pick just one? And I guess I should be glad for a moment that I do not have all my boxes of books here, because I would have been carrying even more, but I wasn't really happy about that at the time), and one of my students said to me "This is the best assignment ever! I had so much fun reading about banned books!"

I almost dropped all my books.

At first I had no idea how to respond. No one has ever said anything like that before. Liking an assignment? So then I just grinned and said I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Now you have the ability to keep me from graduating. You can keep me from getting the title and the white coat. But you can't control my spirit.

I got my diploma today. I'm so excited! I think that secretly, somewhere deep in the back of my mind, I was afraid that they would call me and be like "Just kidding!" You didn't really graduate, you didn't fill out this paperwork that we told you you must fill out in 6 point font on the bottom of the sheet that you did fill out, or you owe us $5,000 more, or worse that someone would reread my comps, and now that the summer is over, they would realize that they were just in a fog from needing a break and that of course I didn't actually pass.

This part of my mind routinely likes to ignore all the evidence that demonstrates that I did pass and did graduate (among other things, like gravity sometimes...). My transcripts went through HR. I know they received them because I called and asked. (Hey, better to know than to get to the 8th week of school and be fired for falsifying documents, right?).

It's a very pretty diploma. And now I can put it in my frame, in my fancy office, and look at it regularly to remind myself that this is real.

I need a new way to celebrate tonight. I've given up sugar, so ice cream is out - bummer. Maybe I will buy that necklace I've been looking at.

I want, I want, follow-up

And now I realize why we can't say what we want. Because what we want is totally unreasonable. We make demands of other people, and it is just unreasonable and impossible for those demands to be fulfilled the way we want. In an attempt to hedge our bets we play passive-aggressive games, and hope that in a charitable mood someone will offer what we want. And it is still a lose-lose-lose.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

These are a few of my favorite things

Now that I've ranted, and graded a few more student papers. I'll try to be more upbeat, and write about some of my new favorite things.

- The Gluten-free Girl's blog. Seriously, check it out, food has never been so amazing.

- The Name of the Wind. The only thing I don't like is having to wait for the rest of the series to be written.
- Banned Books Week. It's just so funny.
- 10% off days at my local Whole Foods. Except I did try some new crackers and they are gross!
- Cooler nights. I like being snuggled under my blankets.

I want, I want, I want, me, me, me, mine, mine, mine, now, now, now

It's been a horribly long week. Yes, it is only Wednesday. How does this happen?

I feel the need to rant. I would like to just rant and rave and wave my arms around (in my typical, exuberant fashion), but I'll try to tone it down.

Why can't people just say what they want? Why can't they just tell you what they want you to do? Why do they have to couch everything in these passive aggressive terms so that you don't know what they want? Doesn't anyone realize that this just frustrates all parties involved?! I'm annoyed, because I know that you want something from me, but I don't know what, and you are frustrated because you are not getting what you want. That's what Michael Scott likes to call a lose-lose-lose situation.

Ok, I'll explain. My roommate (of an entire month and a half) decided to move to Utah. She decided this way before I moved in. She has tickets to General Conference (jealous) and decided that she would leave on October 1. She decided this months ago.

She finally started packing on Saturday. And by started I mean she took the pictures off the walls, and decided that she should organize her DVDs. I don't think anything was actually put into a box. I prefer to do things myself, so I just left her alone.

Last night she asked me to box up some dishes. So I did. Then I went to bed. I got up this morning, and offered to carry some boxes down to her car (she has a bad back, and I was attempting to be kind). She said she still needed to take a load of things to Goodwill, so we talked for a minute about what time they would be open, and then she was like well, I guess, nevermind. So I went running. I came back and she was reading. So I had a shower and got ready and left for work.

But I feel like the whole time she was expecting me to start carrying her stuff to the car. But (besides the fact that I am really not kind, despite any meager attempts) I felt the whole time like she had said no and still wasn't ready to go, so I wasn't going to hang around.

And I am horrible and mean, but I hope that by the time I get home tonight, she's gone.

But really, all this just brings me back to why can't we just say what we want? When did it become wrong to say what we want?