Tuesday, December 31, 2013

One Year

I'm patting myself on the back. Why? Because I've kept this blog up and going for a whole year. I'm a bit amazed by that. Growing up, I had many, many diaries, journals, etc. They all lasted a month or two, then I'd get bored. I had originally intended for this blog to chronicle a year of dating. I got bored with the dating, but kept blogging. Who knew I had it in me?

As I reflect on the last year, I have more joys than regrets, laughed more than I cried (barely), and had experiences that still resonate with things for me to learn. It was a good year. It was a hard year. It's a year that I'm happy to say good-bye to - not out of malice, but out of a sense of completeness.

I have always believed that life should be lived with no regrets. That even mistakes we make have lessons we should learn. So in these few hours between this year and the next, with reflection and anticipation, I thank 2013 and welcome 2014. I can't help but wonder what adventure it will hold . . .

Friday, December 27, 2013

Home Town

Being back in my home town is always a bit surreal. I grew up here, in this tiny town of 1200 in NW Ohio. With it's railroad tracks and 2 stop lights, it could easily be any tiny town you see in the movies. Everyone knows everyone and everything about everyone. I find that comforting, and yet, a bit creepy.

Mum and I went to my nephews basketball game tonight. Sitting in the stands with classmates who I graduated with, watching their kids play ball, made me realize just how much I've changed since leaving this small town shortly after college. I could look around and see the boy I had a crush on all through high school, yet he no longer made me blush. I could see the women who made up the group of "popular girls" when I was in high school, and could see lines of life etched in their faces and, sometimes, still brittle demeanor. As I sat with my mum and sister, I could hear snippets of conversation around me: plans for New Year's Eve being made, talk of a pregnancy, gossip of whether or not a marriage would survive. Conversations so important to those involved in them, but so far removed from me.

I now call Wisconsin "home." Yet Ohio will always be "home." Confused yet? When I'm in Wisconsin, I will sometimes really miss being home. But when I'm in Ohio, the small-town mindset grates on me after a while. I know my mum and dad would love for me to live closer, but I'm not sure that would be healthy for me. I have beliefs and values and attitudes that don't fit well in this small, conservative town. I think I would get exhausted constantly defending my point of view or trying to understand an opposing point of view.

I think I will just enjoy the times I am home in Ohio, knowing that there is another home I can go to in Wisconsin. And when the stress of life in my Wisconsin home gets to me, I know I can decompress in my Ohio home. Both nurture my soul in different ways. Both homes have family, one by blood, the other by my choosing.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Words

I wish I knew which combination of words to use. You see, I want to be able to express what Christmas means to me, but there aren't enough words. Or I don't know the right words. Or the right combination of words. It's frustrating.

Christmas is a long drive to my mum's house in Ohio. A drive that lets me decompress from the stress of the semester and mentally plan out my short visit.

Christmas is eating too much chex mix, and too many cookies, and just not caring.

Christmas is hugging my dad, who is now shorter than me because he is stooped over with age and spine deterioration.

Christmas is following my mum's orders that occasionally we need a "rest period" - which means, lets take a nap. I love "rest periods."

Christmas is going to Christmas Eve service with my mum, and holding her hand through the closing prayer because I'm so grateful she is standing there with me

Christmas is a rag-tag gathering of relatives on Christmas Day, some who drive me nuts and some who I'm so excited to see again!

Christmas is the evening quiet, when mum and I are tucked in with cozy blankets, watching a CSI marathon.

Christmas is remembering that all this celebration is because a miracle occurred. The date may not be exact. Some of the minor details may have been empathized to make the miracle more memorable. But I believe in the miracle that is the birth of Jesus.

I wish I had the right words. . .

Monday, December 23, 2013

Done!

Finished posting grades this morning so the semester is officially done and in the books. BAM! Excited and relieved.

The drive to Ohio was good. Hit a tiny bit of snow in Madison, fog in Chicago and drizzle/rain in Indiana - but luckily I beat the "bad" weather. Unfortunately, the roads were PACKED with travelers, some who insisted on driving like complete maniacs. I'm pretty sure some of them will be getting coal for Christmas.

Yesterday, mum and I lit the advent candle at church. Later in the day my siblings and I gathered for dinner with my dad and step-mum. It was lovely, relaxing and joyous. With lots of food. So. Much. Food.

I have some cool pictures I'd like to post, but - UFDAH - my mum's internet is so freakin slow, they won't load.

Today my niece and her fiance are coming for lunch (my mum's homemade pizza!) and this evening I'm going over to my sister's house to wrap some of her presents.

Oh, I just love being home for the holidays!!!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Over the river and through the woods

Today has been crazy. This morning, I got to have breakfast with one of my alumni who never fails to lighten my soul!
Then I had a doctor's appointment with my GP, who firmly and strongly recommended some therapy to help me process my anxiety from the accident. So, back to the shrink. I then headed home to finish packing and cleaning the house. These two know that something is up.
Then it was back to school to give one final exam so I can say 2013 Fall Semester is DONE. Except for the exam grading and grade posting that needs finished - it's done. I have to submit grades by 5pm on December 26th. Once again (because I swear it happens EVERY semester) I had to give an exam during the very last exam time - 3pm on Friday. The students bitch and moan, but since I've gotten about 34,792 emails that we are Not! Allowed! To! Change! Exam! Times! and we Must! Meet! During! the Scheduled! Exam! Time! Well, I'm not going to change it because I'm a peon and don't want to be fired. So, I made them cupcakes and they took the exam and then it was DONE.

Home to load my car up and make sure everything is ready to go for a 6am leave time. Just a short 9 hour drive between me and my family! I'm so very excited to be in Ohio, surrounded by family.

These decorations were my mum's when she was a little girl.
I cherish them! They are the only holiday decorations I have out. Which is another reason I'm excited to see my mum and her 500 Christmas trees :-)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

48

Today is my birthday. I'm 48. Writing that is weird, because it's an age I always thought was "old." But it doesn't feel old.
I'm not sure what 48 looks like, but I don't think I look 48 either. Maybe that's just wishful thinking? By the way, the cats got me the tiara for my birthday, officially recognizing me as queen of the house. Ok, that's a lie. The cats would never name me queen. I bought it for myself because I've always wanted a tiara and it was on sale for $4.99 at the K-Mart.

I started the day with a mammogram. Seriously. Happy Birthday to ME! Then it was off to Caribou coffee for my free birthday latte. I had to give an exam at 1pm, and brought birthday cupcakes for class. I had about 10 extra cupcakes, so I wandered the halls, handing them out to exam weary students. It was kind of fun.

After my exam, I headed to Dickie's BBQ for my FREE BBQ pork sandwich. So yummy. Then home to bake more cupcakes for tomorrow's exam. I also got an AMAZING birthday present from my mum, that included one of her brownie-cookies. I would have taken a picture, but I gobbled down half of it before I thought of it.

This evening, I participated in Volume One's "Grown-Up Storytelling" series. I performed in front of a crowd of about 50 that included friends and students. I told the "vomit" story, and people laughed at the funny parts and nodded their heads at the serious parts, so I was happy. It was terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time. It made me realize how much I miss performing!

All in all, it was a really good birthday. It is a bit intimidating to realize that in just 2 years I'll be 50. And I've been thinking about how quickly time passes and how many things I have on my "bucket" list and how will I make some of those things happen . . . Inspired by a friend of mine who had a list of "30 before 30," I've come up with a list of "50 before 50." These are 50 things I want to accomplish before I turn 50. I know, it's 2 years away, but 50 is a lot of things!! So, I need to start now! Actually, I started today. "Perform in public" is #5 - which I did tonight, so I get to check it off the list!

#50 is blank because I just know there is something I will think of in the next year that I want on the list, and I want some space for it. Heck, I'll even take suggestions. So, without further ado, here's my list!


50 before 50

1. Go to Cedar Point

2. Shoot a handgun

3. Shoot a shotgun

4. Learn to make a pie crust

5. Perform in public 12/19/2013

6. Hit on a guy in the grocery store

7. Sell my house

8. Visit "The House on the Rock"

9. Lose 50 pounds

10. Get another tattoo

11. Tour Lambeau field

12. Have my legs waxed

13. Stay in a fancy hotel for just one night

14. Learn to make a decent chicken curry

15. Change a car tire

16. See the Nutcracker

17. Learn to scale a fish

18. Visit the Chicago Museum of Art

19. Visit Taliesen

20. Go to a Brewers game

21. Visit the Minneapolis Sculpture garden

22.  Bake treats for the local fire dept/EMTs/police officers

23. Officiate a wedding

24. Shoot a bow & arrow

25. 50 mile bike ride

26. Host a fancy dinner party

27. Go 1 month with no soda or artificial sweetener in what I drink

28. Watch every movie that won the Oscar for "Best Movie"

29. Learn to tat

30. Make a rug

31. Write a fan letter

32. Convince Justin Vernon to come speak in my pop culture class

33. See a baby be born

34. Write a short story and submit it for publication

35. Try spaghetti squash

36. Get a passport

37. Use my passport

38. Visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

39. Put together a 1000 piece puzzle

40. Sing the national anthem for a local ball game

41. Get my teeth whitened

42. Canoe the Chippewa River

43. Learn to make Risotto

44. Crochet myself a sweater DONE! April 2014

45. Ice Skate

46. Learn to make lemon crepes

47. Grow something from a seed

48. Memorize one of Shakespeare's sonnets

49. Learn to read an illustrated crochet pattern

50.
 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Toe

Warning: This post contains pictures of toes.

Because yesterday, I bonked my toe on something and it hurts like a sonofabitch right now. I'm pretty sure it's not broken, just jammed. Here's what it looked like last night:


And here's what it looks like today:

It's kind of hard to tell, but it's pretty swollen and ouchy. Actually, this picture is kind of dumb, because it doesn't begin to convey how weird my toe looks.

Good that the only really important thing on my agenda is to give a final at 7pm tonight. Between now and then, I think I'm going to finally see Catching Fire. Public school is still in session, so I should be able to catch a noon showing sans stupid high school and middle school kids.

In other weird body news, I've had shoulder issues for a while, but now I'm having problems with my hand/fingers going numb. Of course I googled this and came away convinced I have a tumor causing pressure on a nerve and I'm probably going to die in 3 months. Good thing I have an appointment with my GP on Friday, so he can confirm my diagnosis.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Finals, Day 1

I started finals week in the best way possible . . . I slept in!! Until 9am!! Which is super late for me. Usually Tonks starts walking on my head around 6am. Since I have no finals today, I'm working my way through my "to-do" list.


Yesterday, I did a ton of baking, so today, I needed to make some yummy deliveries. First stop, I dropped off Maple-Bacon caramel rolls to my department chair. (I have to note that she is one of the most amazing women I know!)

Then, it was on to deliver cookies to the place I work in the summer.

I baked and decorated cookies yesterday, and most of them are for my night class final tomorrow. But, I had some extra and since I miss seeing all the awesome people from my summer job, I decided to take them some cookies. It was awesome to see everyone.

That was two things checked off my list. I made a phone call to my insurance company, who say they aren't covering my chiropractic care after my accident because they don't have evidence it was "medically necessary." I had to leave a message, so I'm waiting for a call back. I guess this task is half-checked off my list.

Next up, I needed to clean my kitchen after the baking marathon of yesterday. I'm curious - am I the only person left in the world who wears those yellow dish-washing gloves? And how about aprons? Am I the only person left in the world who actually wears an apron when cooking or cleaning in the kitchen? Anyway - check mark for a clean kitchen.

After cleaning the kitchen, I put together the buffalo-chicken dip that I'm taking to the forensics holiday gathering tonight. Another checked-off task.

Now I'm sitting here, procrastinating going through my crazy mess of yarn, trying to decide what to take with me to Ohio. There's nothing better than watching TV with my mum, crocheting and chatting and napping. Once this task is done, I just have "Go to holiday party" left on my list. I could jump ahead and start on tomorrow's list, but I think I like the idea of watching Lost re-runs and crocheting more. And I might just have to eat a cookie.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

#26acts

I can't believe it's been a year since the Sandy Hook shootings. I can remember watching the news and feeling helpless and heartbroken. Ann Curry started a movement on Twitter called #26acts. She challenged everyone to do 26 random acts of kindness, one for every student and teacher killed. I couldn't do anything to bring those students and teachers back, or bring the community any comfort, but I could promote kindness in my community. When Ann Curry challenged the Twitter universe, she asked "#26acts, Are you in?" I was in.

My little acts of kindness ranged from letting a person cut in front of me at the grocery store to leaving notes with candy bars or Starbucks cards on random car windshields. As I counted my way through the #26acts, I found that the tiny bit of kindness I passed to others had an effect on my heart. It was kind of like that scene in "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" where the Grinch's heart grows.
I wasn't "Grinchy" before I started #26acts, but my joy grew as I completed each act of kindness. A quotation (attributed to Ghandi, who never actually said it) that I love is "Be the change you want to see in the world." And I would like a world with more kindness. I have continued acts of kindness through this year, and this month, have been tweeting my #26acts once again. Last week I was going through the Starbucks drive-through. When I got to the window, I told the cashier I wanted to pay for the car behind me. He informed me that the car in front of me had paid for mine already. I got a little teary.

On this sad anniversary of Sandy Hook, in the wake of another school shooting yesterday, with the stress of the holiday season threatening to overtake the joy - I challenge everyone to a random act of kindness. It doesn't have to be big. It doesn't even have to cost money or take a lot of time. But I promise, your heart will grow in size.

#26acts . . . Are you in?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

My papa

My papa.
My pa.
My dad.
It's his birthday today. He's 71. But I don't know how he is 71 and I'm 47 (almost 48) because this:
seems like it just happened yesterday. It was the year my brother Curt wanted a reindeer for Christmas. I don't know how my parents found this blow-up version.

For years, my dad was Edgerton Ohio's town Santa. I'm only a year old in this picture, but I'm sure, even then, I suspected it was my dad underneath the beard.

This is a picture from around 1970. Most pictures from my childhood have my mum in them, because my dad was behind the camera.
I'm pretty sure his patience was running thin - just look at the ornery looks on us kid's faces!

The thing I remember the most about dad from my childhood was that he could fix absolutely anything. He still can. I'd like to think I inherited this determination from him, but if I'm honest - it's his stubbornness I've inherited!!

I also get my sense of humor from him. I swear, if there was a contest to determine who could tell the most stories, crack the most jokes, and sing the most songs - my dad would win. He loves making people laugh. So do I.
And he has this terrible habit of sticking his finger up his nose in pictures. Be glad I'm only posting one of them here.

He is a pretty amazing cook - a master at grilling and smoking meat. Growing up, there was always a can of bacon grease in the refrigerator, saved from mornings when he would cook breakfast. There is nothing better than eggs and hash browns cooked in bacon grease.

And his wife, Shirley, puts up with his shenanigans. She deserves a medal. I love her for loving him!

One of my favorite qualities of my dad is his generosity. If you are in need, he is there. Back in the 1970's, he was part of a small group of people who started the volunteer EMS in my hometown. He was also a volunteer fireman. If you were his neighbor, he would shovel your walk. If you needed help fixing something, he was there. If you needed someone to move you from New Mexico to Ohio after grad school was over, he had your back. I remember calling him on 9/11. Along with the rest of the country, I was sad and freaking out. My dad told me he was going to drive to Wisconsin and bring me home. We were both so scared. I talked him out of the trip, but just knowing he would come if I needed him made me feel better.

And in case you hadn't noticed, he looks like Wilfred Brimley (diabeetus!) Happy Birthday, Papa.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Marshmallows

I was pulling out ingredients to make brownies for my Tuesday night class, and found a forgotten bag of marshmallows. This meant I was required, BY LAW, to make hot chocolate and fill the mug to the brim with marshmallows. It was deliciously magical and put me in the mood to wrap Christmas presents.

Have I mentioned how much I love Love LOVE wrapping Christmas presents? I would seriously love to have a job as a professional package wrapper. I may have to consider how to get such a job after I retire in 20 years.

I also think it would be really fun to have a job putting together toys/gifts that are "some assembly required." I know this is something parents freak out about, but I love the challenge of following directions. Perhaps I should advertise on Craig's list? Maybe next year.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Leftovers

Flipping through my phone today, I was shocked at how many pictures I took during my visit to Ohio. Like a turkey sandwich the day after Thanksgiving, these picture "leftovers" were a satisfying find.
Clockwise from upper left: Aunt Winnie, Mum, Aunt Sue, Aunt Marge
My family is so very ordinary and so very extraordinary, at the same time. Does everyone ponder this conundrum? Or just me?
Clockwise from upper left, cousin Carla, Sis Leslie, me (duh), cousin Karen and cousin Kim
Leslie and Curt are twins. Curt always looks "special." He's not special - he's a hilarious idiot.
I was so excited to help mum put up one of her Christmas trees. And yes, we were in our pajamas most of the day.

My beautiful niece, Emma. That's her "cheer" smile.
In my home town, my cousin is the local barber. I think this looks like a movie set rather than an actual barber shop.

Being able to meet family for breakfast at the one restaurant in town is quaint, comfortable and the perfect stereotype of small town USA.
Dad (who looks like Wilfred Brimley, right?) and step-mum Shirley
Individually, their expressions are hilarious. But together, they look a bit psychotic
Sis Leslie, brother Heath and mum
Had to take a picture of the menu that includes a Fried Bologna sandwich. YUM!
Two weeks and I'll be back in Ohio, provided mother nature doesn't drop a blizzard on my travel plans.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

To-Do List

When I got back home last Sunday, I made a daily list of everything I need to accomplish in the next 3 weeks. If I slack off, I'm screwed. In theory, this is great! I love lists! I love making lists! I love crossing things off of lists!

The problem? I need the weather to cooperate in order to finish each daily list. Yes, it's been snowing. Yes, we've gotten freezing rain. Yes, it's cold. Whatever - I would be fine with all that if it weren't for the fact that this weather completely pisses off every joint in my body. I have projects I need to complete. I have present wrapping that needs to occur. I have shit to type and dishes to wash and kittens to pet. All of those things require the co-operation of my hands. And my hands Don't. Want. To. Work. (For the record, I'm pecking this post out with the two fingers I have that don't hurt. Both are on my left hand, which is awkward.)

On top of that, I had to shovel wet snow and ice off my walk and drive. Not a big deal, except my hips and ankles and spine are now pissed off. Actually, my spine is fucking irritated beyond description.

I couldn't wear heels today because my freaking toes wouldn't bend.

Any normal person would take some Advil to help with the stiffness & pain. Not me. I can't take nsaids, which means no Advil, aspirin or Alieve. I can take Tylenol, which doesn't do jack shit for arthritis pain. I discovered last night that I forgot to refill my Vicodin. And now the rx is out of date. So I called my doc's office, and he's not in until tomorrow. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I am having a painful pity-party.

I am now going to cross "having a pity-party" off my to-do list.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Family

**Note: this blog was supposed to be automatically uploaded on 11/30/13 - but for some reason it wasn't and I'm only now realizing it. **

I'm writing this while sitting at my sister's house, watching Pitch Perfect with my sis, BIL, nieces, and cousin Brent. This is significant, because my sister has INTERWEBS THAT WORK! So I can post the pictures from our Thanksgiving extravaganza!!

Let's start with this . . .
 
We were impatiently waiting for everyone to get to mum's house - and we were hungry! That's my sis on the right and my mum in the middle. Here's a better picture of the three of us . . .

And a picture of all the cousins who were present. . .

If you look closely, you'll find my brother, who always makes stupid faces for pictures. Klassy. We celebrated my cousins Kim and Karen turning 50. And I have to say - they make 50 look AMAZING!
It's become a tradition that everyone helps bring down all my mum's Christmas stuff from upstairs. There is a whole assembly line to pass it down the stairs.
 
Today, mum and I are meeting my dad and his wife for breakfast. We will also be putting up another Christmas tree. And this evening we will be going to basketball games. I'm so excited to see 2 of my nephews play and my niece cheer!

One final note - this marks my last post for NaBloPoMo. I think I'm motivated to blog more often, though writing EVERY day got to be a bit much.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Food Coma

Yesterday was amazing. So much food. So much family. So much laughter and gossip. So much abuse I took because the Packers played abysmally. It was AWESOME!

I have amazing pictures I'd like to share, but my mum's internet is So! Freaking! Slow! that I can't even get my computer to stay connected for more than 3 minutes. I'm typing this on my mum's computer, and these two small paragraphs have taken nearly 15 minutes to pump out. Because . . . So! Slow! Internet!

Also. I'm still in a food coma. Which is perfect.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Home

Yesterday, I came home. To Ohio. I confuse friends and family quite often when I refer to both Wisconsin and Ohio as "home." But really, both are home.

My mum lives in the same house I grew up in. We moved in when I was 5, so she's lived here 42 years. I lived here for 17 years. And though I only visit 2-3 times a year, I still have it memorized. I can walk through the house in the dark and easily find my way around. I know which steps are creaky. I know just where to set the heat vent in the guest room so it's the perfect temperature. The house isn't "just a house" - it is home. But it also wouldn't be home without my mum.

Since the accident, I've been unsteady. I didn't just want to visit home, I needed to visit home. And from the moment I walked in the back door, I could feel myself becoming steady again. Turning the knob on the back door was familiar. Walking through the house to find mum was familiar. Mum's reaction to my surprise was exactly what I expected. Her hug was an anchor that made me feel grounded for the first time in weeks.

Later today - siblings, spouses, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins, partners - a whole house full of people will pause for a moment and give thanks for the many, many blessings we share. This house, this home will creak and sigh under the weight of food and drinks and laughter. In its own way, it will provide a steady place for us to celebrate, keeping us warm and safe and protected.

I'm so thankful to be home.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

SURPRISE!!

I can't believe I did it!! I've wanted to blog and tweet and facebook that I was surprising my family for Thanksgiving - but I couldn't. I successfully surprised my mum (and really, my whole family!) by driving to Ohio today. To get here, I left at 6am, dropped 3 students off in Chicago, drove past a car completely engulfed in flames and drove through 45 minutes of nearly white-out snow in Indiana. WORTH EVERY BIT!!
*sigh*
I needed to see my mum. Really, really bad. I'm so happy to be here.
 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving Brain

It was so freaking cold in my office today that I took down this wall hanging/blanket
And wrapped it around me like a dork.
I also discovered I am not the only person with Thanksgiving brain. No one wants to be in class. I'm so excited that tomorrow I don't have to actually teach any classes - because, UFDAH, that would suck!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Anticipation

I am so ready for Thanksgiving break. I'm ready to sleep in. I'm ready to grade until my brain hurts, because I can stay in my pajamas. I'm ready to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I'm ready to make my amazing cornbread stuffing. In fact, that may be the ONLY thing I make, because, have you seen the price of turkeys?

I'm ready for 4 days of being completely selfish about what I do with my time. This is one of the BIG advantages of being single! I can read when I want. I can crochet when I want. I can watch Dr. Who for 14 hours straight, or take a nap. Or take 4 naps in 1 day.

I've decided I'm not putting up a Christmas tree this year, since I'd only have it up a couple of weeks and it's just not worth fighting the cats over. But that means I have more time to wrap presents! I have to finish making the presents - but then I can wrap them!

I may not shower the entire weekend. Because I probably won't leave the house. I may watch cat videos for most of Friday. And Saturday I may watch the entire Harry Potter movie montage. Or maybe I'll bake Christmas cookies and watch Scrooge.

The point is - I CAN'T WAIT FOR THE HOLIDAY TO GET HERE!!! Seriously, every person I interacted with today has already mentally left for Thanksgiving break. The fact that we have classes until 5pm on Wednesday is ridiculous. The good news for me is that once I get through my 3 classes tomorrow, I'm sort-of home free.

Ooohhh - pumpkin pie. I need to make and consume pumpkin pie. Pumpkin pie with a side of cornbread stuffing sounds absolutely perfect.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Grading

I have graded and graded and graded today. I'm caught up except for 1 class of papers. Not bad. Once I get through that batch, I'm done grading papers for the semester and will move on to grading speeches, presentations, outlines and bibliographies for the rest of the semester.

There are only 2 1/2 weeks of classes and a week of finals left of the semester. Ufdah. Finals run through December 20th. Who has an exam from 3-5pm on the 20th? That's right, this girl! My students are completely irritated that I won't move the exam time/date. I've tried explaining that I'm a peon who's on contract, and that I really like my job, so I play by the rules. If they want to move their exam time, they have to go through the Dean of Students' office. That's right, I'm a big meanie.

Whenever I feel like complaining about not being able to travel to Ohio until December 21st, I try and remind myself that I'm blessed I get such a long break for the holiday! That is one of the advantages of working in academia - the built-in breaks. It makes working a 50-60 hour week during the school year worth it.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Cold

The weather got cold and my joints are not happy. Especially my finger joints.
When my knuckles are swollen like sausages, it's hard to do any computer work. Or crocheting. Or embroidery. Or anything needing hands. This post is being pecked out one letter at a time. Which is a pain, literally and figuratively.

I did get some grading done, which is good. And have done some reading, though Tonks tried hogging the book when I wasn't looking.
I'm hoping this cold spell won't last long. I've got Christmas presents to make, and unfortunately, I don't know how to crochet with my toes.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Rule of 3's

Bad things come in 3's, right? If so, I think I just survived the third bad thing . . . a 24 hour stomach bug. Ufdah. Not fun. I managed to pull a muscle in my neck and flare up my chest pain (costochondritis) which, now that I'm not nauseous, is really hurting. Once I finally stopped throwing up and being nauseous yesterday afternoon, I slept. About 14 hours straight. That was good.

Today I had an appointment with the new arthritis doctor. My beloved rheumatologist of 10 years retired in August. She was freaking amazing and I miss her terribly. The new doc (Dr. S) is actually a doc that un-retired to fill in while they hire someone new. This was mainly a visit to check on how I am doing on Humira. He wanted some blood work done to check liver, kidney, general blood levels - blah blah blah.

Normally, I'm a difficult "stick" when it comes to drawing blood. Because I was also dehydrated from being sick, it was a bit of a nightmare. Three people tried to get a vein and the lab was in the process of contacting the doctor to recommend I get some IV fluids before they tried to get blood again - when the phlebotomist FINALLY struck gold, er, red! A call later today confirmed all my "levels" were good.

I've spent today drinking sprite, eating chicken noodle soup and napping. I've done a little bit of grading and answering emails, but I'm still a little shaky. Hopefully tomorrow I'll be feeling even better and can make progress with grading.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

One of my favorite things . . .

 . . . is coffee. Today, I brought a whole pot to the office.
I wouldn't have survived without it. Thanks, coffee.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Adjustment

Today I went in for a chiropractor adjustment. I love my chiropractor. She's helping me manage my arthritis pain that gets so horrible in the winter. And she has been an absolute God-send in helping with getting my spine and neck back in line after the car accident.

She's also really intuitive. At least once a week, she asks me how I'm doing, psychologically, since the accident. Today she specifically asked me if I was having any issues with driving. I didn't expect the question, but the answer is one that has been on my mind for several weeks. . .

Yes. I'm having some issues when driving. Not all the time - but at least once a day, I have a mini-freak-out while driving. I can hear my heart pounding and I balance on the cusp of hyperventilating and the accident plays out in slow motion in my head. Sometimes, it happens at home as well. It's hard to describe, but the panic is so swift and unexpected that it takes every ounce of self-control to tamp it back down.

I want my chiropractor to adjust my brain so I feel sturdy and safe again. Because right now, I feel like the smallest thing could shatter me.

Monday, November 18, 2013

First attempt at live blogging

I thought it would be fun to live blog my new water heater installation. And by fun, I mean I want to document every cent of the $1474 this is costing me . . . so here goes . . .

8am  . . . Waiting for plumber to show up

8:07am . . . Realize I've missed a call from the plumber's shop. Panic that they aren't coming.

8:08am . . . Confirm with the plumber's shop that they are, indeed, on their way.

8:20am . . . Still waiting

8:30am . . . Still waiting

8:45am . . . Still waiting. Call Karen to remind her why I am not in the office.

9:00am . . . He's here! There are two of them! Ken (he told me his name, but I don't remember it because I was too busy trying not to gawk at Brian - who is super hot, and I actually remember his name) asked to see "what we've got goin'" And I really, really hope he realizes he's here to install a water heater.

9:06am . . . Ken has spent the last 5 minutes letting me know what a horrible job the last water-heater-installer did. He has also expressed through a series of heavy sighs and mutterings under his breath that he is not in the mood for a water heater install.

9:07am . . . I decide Ken doesn't really exist and pour all my attention to Brian.

9:30am . . . There has been a lot of going in and out of both house doors. And some bang-type sounds from under the trailer. I reassure myself that these guys are professionals and know what they are doing.

9:45am . . . Ken becomes un-imaginary when he asks me if I know who runs the mobile-home park. The master shut off in "the pit" isn't working, and they will need the park to shut off water. I am, supposedly, supposed to know what "the pit" is. I imagine it to be the place where future holes in the floor lurk until a time when they can attack.

10:00am . . . After calling the park office and not getting an answer, I spend time driving through the park, looking for Rob, the manager. I find him and he calls Gary, the maintenance guy and asks him to go to my house to turn off the water.

10:15am . . . Gary and his young side-kick (I can never remember his name - ufdah, I'm awful with names) shows up and within 3 minutes shows Ken and Brian that there is a direct shut off valve for the hot water heater. They both look embarrassed (which could be because Gary is about 165 years old and speaks with a condescending tone that makes you question every decision you've ever made in your life, even if he's just saying "Hello") but to be honest, it's pretty hidden and I can understand how they missed it.

10:20am . . . Gary sends his side-kick to check the valve in "the pit" and make sure "it'll kick in" - no clue what he's talking about. My neighbor comes over to check on me (I have the best neighbors!) and chat with the guys.

10:30am . . . The guys are still chatting about . . . stuff?? So I excuse myself and come back inside, because DANG it got cold out!

10:45am . . . I realize that my new water heater is sitting outside, so I take a selfie with it.
11:30am . . . Lots of pounding coming from the back of the house. I believe they are putting in a new floor.

Noon . . . New water heater is carried in!!

12:37pm . . . I realize the cats, who have been locked in the storage room, are trying to burrow their way out, so I wedge a towel under the door. They are so mad at me.

1:04pm . . . Old water heater is carried out!!

1:15pm . . . Lots of clanking. I realize I've had two men in my bedroom for the last 4 hours, all in an effort to keep me hot and wet. (Get your mind out of the gutter.)

2:00 . . .There is confirmation that shut-off valves have been put on inside. Yea?

2:32pm . . . There is a leak in one of the new lines, so it has to be replaced.

2:50pm . . . About 10 minutes spent getting the pilot light going strong.

3:15pm . . . Ken and Brian start closing up all the trailer skirting while the water heater does it's job. I'm trying to think of what I can say in order to get Brian to smile one more time.

3:30pm . . . Ken comes in and shows me how to adjust the water temperature.

3:32pm . . . Brian comes in a breaks my heart when I realize he's wearing a wedding ring. Dang it.

3:40pm . . . After testing that the water is actually heating, they are off!

3:50pm . . . I head to school! I will make it in time for one meeting.

6pm . . . Back home, I test the water. It is super, super hot. Too hot. I turn it down a teeny bit.

6:10pm . . . Luna CATCHES ANOTHER FREAKING MOUSE!! I scream.

6:11pm . . . Mouse escapes. I set mouse traps.

7:40 . . . Luna CATCHES THE SAME DAMN MOUSE AGAIN.

7:41 . . . Mouse escapes again.

8:24pm . . . There is much commotion in the corner of the kitchen. I think the mouse is being terrorized. I wish it would just GET IN THE DANG TRAP.

8:27pm . . . I am done with this live blog. Unfortunately, I think there is still a mouse murder to occur tonight. At least I'll have hot water to wash away the crime scene.



Sunday, November 17, 2013

Some days . . .

 . . . this job is hard.

I love the kids.
I love the activity.
I love my colleagues.
I love traveling.
I love the adventure.

Until the occasional moment when I absolutely hate it. Isn't that odd?

I realize I'm lucky that I am comfortable and secure in my job - both teaching and coaching - and that 98% of the time, I'm so happy to be getting paid for something I love to do. But there was about an hour yesterday when I was SO FUCKING OVER IT. I was ready to dump the kids on the side of the road, take the Sunday tournament money, kick my mini-van rental into high gear, and go buy shoes and liquor. It was about a 5 second fantasy. Then I had to quit being pissed off and figure out how to lead by example.

That's the really, really hard part of this job. These students come to us as young adults, but really, they don't know much about being an adult. (Hell, I'm still figuring that out.) Part of competing in forensics is learning adult life lessons - things like being aware of how our behaviors affect others, being gracious, controlling our tempers, being grateful for opportunities, and learning to be honest.

I'm a flawed human who struggles with these very issues, and is just trying every day to be a better person. I'm inspired by many, many people around me, and I hope that in being a better person, I can lead by example. But I absolutely hate remembering that when I'm really pissed off.

So yesterday, I found a quiet corner that contained an ashtray, and spent 15 minutes breathing in the disgusting, yet familiar, smell of wet, used-up cigarettes. No, I didn't smoke (Duh, non-smoker - remember?) but the solitude was what I needed to let go of my irritation, fashion a script in my head that would change the direction of my pissed off psyche, and to just breathe.

Today, I'm back to loving the job. Every minute of it. Because some days . . . well, some days are easy.