Tuesday, March 31, 2009

One too many hits with the snake.

A lot of stuff going on these days, but the only thing anyone wants to talk about is the weather. Here in the middle it is truly crazy. To explain, it snowed 4 inches on Saturday, after sleeting for about 4 hours. And it thundered while it was snowing. Can someone explain to me why that is such a bizarre phenomenon? Thunder during a snowstorm? I mean, it's still a storm, and it thunders all the time during rainstorms.

On a school note, it is definitely that time of the semester when everyone just starts driving you crazy. These days, only half of my classes are bothering to show up. I've finally narrowed down two reasons why that is so irritating. First, they ruin my lessons. Second, I know that they will act surprised when I fail them, and then they will come cry or ask their mommies to call me, and it's just so ridiculous.

Today was probably a ... lowlight. A major paper was due today. Only 10 students showed up for class. Only 5 of those students turned in their papers. I tried to be excited that I only have to grade 5 papers. But honestly, most of those papers are really bad. It's hard to get excited.

On a non-school note, I registered for a half marathon. It takes place one week after my birthday. Happy birthday to me. A coworker told me about the course and apparently it has huge hills, maybe that's why they call it the Hospital Hill Half, so I'm a little more nervous. But if the fat boys on the Biggest Loser can run a half marathon, I certainly can.

This is very rambly, because I didn't really have anything to say, I just didn't want to grade anymore.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I can't just bust into song. I have to have music. And an appropriate atmosphere of frivolity.

They say that music has the power to soothe savage beasts. Whenever I hear or think of that phrase I think of a newspaper article many years ago that used that phrase in the subtitle, with a rather unfortunate typo. My dad walked in and picked up the newspaper and then started laughing and laughing. In large print, the newspaper read, "Music has the power to soothe savage breasts." We had a good laugh for a really long time.

I have been thinking about music since I went on my business trip to the conference. That sounds ridiculous. I have been thinking about music in my classroom since I went to the conference. As we walked in to one of the sessions they had music playing.

Yeah, I don't know what this kid has to do with the song, but the important part is the song.

So now imagine that you walk into the classroom and that song is playing. I thought it set a really nice tone for the class.

I played it for my class. Most were quite unimpressed. One asked me to switch the song to something by the Dave Matthews Band. But even though they are unimpressed, they seem more chill when I play music before class starts. I've been taking in a variety of music over the past week.

But I am really worried about taking in a piece of music that will totally embarrass me. I know that I don't have any that is inappropriate for the classroom (bad words, etc). Hm, maybe that's not true. I don't think I have any that is inappropriate. But I worry that I will take in something that will just label me as totally uncool.

So I ask: What would you suggest as good, starting-the-class music?

It's not a tumor.

I got so many comments when I talked about my skin cancer a while ago that I thought I would just provide a quick update.

The one spot that I had biopsied is cancer, and I have surgery scheduled for next week to have it removed. I just went in to have the other spot checked. The liquid nitrogen torture, I mean treatment, didn't work. Modern medicine is amazing though and they make creams to treat skin cancer. "Chemo in a tube," as my first dermatologist said. That is the treatment I'm going with right now. It's supposed to get pretty bad looking, so I'm definitely going to try out some of your suggestions.

Friday, March 20, 2009

It's not a sport if you don't sweat.

I have been thinking about sweating this week. Gross. I know, but I'll tell you why. (Parental Warning: If you are seriously grossed out by sweat, stop reading.)

On our New York trip, we went shopping for a little while. One of the stores we went in was H&M. I really wish we had one around here, because they have super cute, trendy, business-looking clothes. So I grabbed a couple of different shirts to try on. The one that fit was a really cute green sweater. It cost $30. If you know me at all, you already know that this means I didn't buy it.

But, Emily, you said it was really cute... Yeah, I know. But I can't spend that much on a little sweater.

And sweating is the reason why.

It took until Tuesday for me to figure this out and be able to put it in words.

I started a new 8 week class on Tuesday night. I try not to tell them, or let it show, but new students scare me. Ok, that's a total exaggeration, but I do get nervous. And unfortunately, when I get nervous I sweat. And it has been warm this week, which means the classrooms are too hot, because they haven't figured out that they need to turn off the heat yet.

Yeah, it was something like this:

I saw this ad while I was watching the Carolina game yesterday. It's just digusting enough to be kind of funny.

So I left class with huge sweat stains. And it all clicked. The reason I don't feel like I can spend $30 on a shirt is because I sweat, and I get huge sweat stains, so I have to wash my shirts every single time I wear them. Which means that the sweater I bought at Christmas (a mere 3 months ago) already looks like Tim Gunn should be making fun of it on his Tide total care commercials.

$30 for 2.5 months of not-that-frequent wearing? It's a lot.

But here's the other side of the problem. When I don't spend $30 on a shirt, I walk into work and the secretary tells me, "You really are just a college kid." And that is exactly what happened today.

I thought I looked nice today. I'm wearing close-toed shoes (my Sketchers, because I wore cuter closed-toed shoes earlier this week that gave me a wicked blister), khaki pants, and my blue long-sleeved sweater that I got at Christmas. I'm even wearing a necklace. I might have forgotten the eye-shadow though.

So what do you do when you have a budget but want to look nice?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

It's from the Latin 'vacatio' and means, you know, freedom and release - you might want to consider that next time

So much to update, I don't even know where to begin.

Spring break was fabulous. Well, there were a few tense moments that I hope my sisters have forgiven me for, but I really had a good time. New York was fun, Carla kept saying that she felt like she had been to all these places before because we have seen them in so many movies, and I kept looking at things and thinking "Is that the real ______?" Thanks for Heather's careful planning, we really got to do almost everything we wanted. The one notable exception is we didn't go up the Empire State Building, because there was zero visibility that day. Boston was really cool, they have a really good science museum, and we got to go on a little campus tour of Harvard. (Carla was unimpressed).

In celebrity sightings, we saw a play starring Angela Lansbury and Rupert Everett. And then, as we walked down the street to the Met, we saw Uma Thurman.

My favorite moment was walking back to our hotel in Boston at about 10:30 at night. We were talking about opportunity costs and what we spend money on, and I mentioned that I did buy a new coat this winter, because it was super on sale. Heather asked what it looks like, and I said that it is black and white, which is super popular right now. Carla busted up laughing at me, because of course what I said was ridiculous, so then we were just walking down the street laughing and laughing.

Any post about vacation isn't complete without a good airport story. Here's mine.

My roommate drove me to the airport on Saturday morning. While we were driving, she started the conversation on how many trips I have been on lately. She observed that I have been on a lot of trips. This is entirely true, I have flown 6 different places in the past year. And that number doesn't factor in the trips that I drove on. I probably have a huge carbon footprint.

We got to the airport and I checked in. I still choose to check my bag, even though those scammers now charge $15. It's just too much of a hassle to deal with carrying it, finding space for it on the plane, and to try and carry only 1 ounce bottles of any liquid inside a plastic bag. So I checked my little bag, and carried it over to the security check point. The security guy took it and said, "I've seen you around here before." I gave the response I usually give when strangers talk to me, "Yup," and walked away.

But then I wondered. Have I really been on so many trips that the security guy recognized me, or was that some kind of attempt at a pick up line?

The apple? That was you?

I have to share a facebook conversation from my coworkers with you.

Female English Prof #1: A very well dressed, middle-aged woman said to me in the produce aisle today: "I don't have any grocery store experience. How does one choose an apple?"

Female English Prof #2: I don't recall seeing you in the grocery store today. Oh wait. I'm not yet middle-aged. How DOES one choose an apple? What did you tell her? Or did you call security?

Female Admin #1: I choose my apples like I would choose a man. Good color, hard body and rich looking. How did you answer?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I'm not reading three-hundred and eighty-seven pages if he can't make up his mind in the first sentence

My mom was just telling me about this list.

The BBC believes most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here. How do your reading habits stack up?Instructions:Copy and paste, then put an 'x' after those you have read.Tally your total at the bottom.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen (x)
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien (x)
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte (x)
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling (X)
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee(X)
6 The Bible (X)
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell (X)
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman (X)
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens (x)
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott (x)
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy (X)
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (I don't really think this one is fair. I've really read most of the plays, and a good portion of the sonnets, but I don't feel like I can put an X.)
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien (X)
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger (X)
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot (X)
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell (X)
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald (X)
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment- Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck (X)
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame (x)
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen (x)
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen (X)
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis (x)
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini (x)
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne (x)
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown (x)
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery (X)
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding (x)
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel (X)
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen (X)
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley (x)
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon (x)
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck (x)
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold (x)
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens (x)
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker (x)
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnet (X)
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker (X)
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert (x)
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White (X)
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (x)
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad (x)
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole (x)
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute (x)
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas (x)
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare (x)
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl (x)
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo (x)

I've read 46.5 of these (I'm giving myself 0.5 for the complete works of Shakespeare). How do you stack up?

Friday, March 6, 2009

"What are they?" "Flours." "What?" "I brought you flours."

It seems like everyone has written about the weather this week. It was brutal on the East Coast with a ton of snow, while the West Coast enjoyed some beautiful spring days.

Here in the middle, we started the week with brutally cold temperatures, and 3 inches of snow on the ground. But yesterday and today were just beautiful. Despite the nice warm temps, I still thought this was a teaser, and I haven't been holding out hope for spring. Probably because everything looks like this:

But I went for a little evening constitutional. (I finished my laundry and, you know, I have to work on my steps). As I was walking through a little neighborhood of houses near my apartment, I saw a forsythia bush growing along a fence. Now, really, this forsythia bush looked like a bunch of dead twigs. But something caught my eye, and I looked a little more closely.

(Those of you with a keen gardening eye may realize that this is not forsythia. I couldn't find a picture that showed a forsythia at this point, so this is a dogwood.) I noticed the tiny buds, just starting to form, holding inside the promise of a beautiful brilliant yellow bloom. And I thought, that bush will be beautiful. With that small thought, I suddenly feel hope for spring, it will happen, even here in the middle. There will be beautiful warm days, there will be beautiful plants to add color and variety to a completely barren-looking landscape. And I am grateful.

How you doin'?

Spring Break! Yay, it's spring break!

All week I have been getting ready for spring break and getting more and more excited to go on my trip to New York City. But thinking about spring break just makes me think about an episode of Friends.

Do you remember the one? Ross is dating his college student, that little tiny girl whose name I cannot remember. She tells him that instead of going on a trip he planned for the two of them, she is going on a spring break trip with her friends. Ross, typical Ross, gets really worried, and tells the rest of the gang. They all try to reassure him, except Joey, who asks, "Is she going on spring break? Or is she going on Spring Break WOAHLAAHAAWOO!" [This of course is said with much head jerking for emphasis].


And because I kept thinking of this episode of Friends, I tried to find it and post it here. Obviously, I couldn't find it. But I have two observations to make about YouTube and Friends. First, people are nuts with the Ross and Rachel thing. There are tons of video montages of Ross and Rachel's weirdo relationship. I gotta admit, I liked Joey and Rachel a lot better than I ever liked Ross and Rachel. Second, Joey is just hilarious.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

She's got pictures of you in here. Just you. It's like some kind of weird shrine.

Boo-yah! Pictures!

I just have to exult for a minute about finally being able to add pictures to my last post. Yay! It makes the post so much more like I imagined it in my head.

Monday, March 2, 2009

"You're so weird." "You have no idea."

Poor neglected blog. A whole new month and it's been forever since my last post. And the reason my blog is neglected is because I just have too much to say.

I spent the majority of last week at a conference for work. It was NADE (National Association of Developmental Education), and we met in Greensboro, NC.

Funny thing #1: My district (all 5 "sister" campuses) sent a fairly large contingent of people - at least 15. At the opening reception, I sat with 4 or 5 people who were all from one campus. I traveled to Kentucky with one of the ladies last September, and she said, "Well now Emily just thinks that she's going to get to take a big trip every semester. She thinks everyone takes trips all the time. Quite the first year." And I said, "Oh, I hope not!"

The next day, I was using the little fitness center at the hotel, and the lady who was on the treadmill beside me said, "Are you Emily?" (Yeah, how creepy is that? Total stranger at the gym knows my name.) Turns out she works for one of the other campuses, but I had never met her before. So we chatted for a minute, and she said, "You are in your second year." I responded, "No, this is my first year." She almost fell off the treadmill, "What are they doing to you?!" I said, "Yeah, they have just thrown me to the wolves here."

Most people have been pretty shocked at some of the things I have been asked to do in my first year. And I just keep thinking, yeah, I would be just fine if I got to be in my classroom teaching.

Funny thing #2: Because it is my first year, and I look young (like this: http://www.aceshowbiz.com/images/events/SPX-014167.jpg

people assume that I am much younger than I am. This assumption is compounded by the fact that I really spent the entire conference with people who are quite a bit older than I am (like this:

For some reason, this leads to people saying all kinds of strange variations on the "you're too young to remember that" theme. Now some of it, yes, I am too young. I had no idea what they were talking about when they talked about the video game Pong, and really I'm not as impressed as I should be that someone met Bob Hope. But VHS tapes? They haven't even stopped making those yet!