Sunday, February 26, 2006

I'm an old soul

Thanks to Rebecca for this (stolen from her blog!), because I don't really have time to write this morning. Interestingly, it's spot-on, except for the part about wanting to get married quickly.

You Are an Old Soul

You are an experienced soul who appreciates tradition.
Mellow and wise, you like to be with others but also to be alone.
Down to earth, you are sensible and impatient.
A creature of habit, it takes you a while to warm up to new people.

You hate injustice, and you're very protective of family and friends
A bit demanding, you expect proper behavior from others.
Extremely independent you don't mind living or being alone.
But when you find love, you tend to want marriage right away.

Souls you are most compatible with: Warrior Soul and Visionary Soul

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Pass the lithium

Any of you who’ve been reading my blog lately may have detected a recurrent theme of fatigue, exhaustion, and self-pity. I was honestly beginning to wonder if something was wrong with me, because I’ve been so overwhelmed the last few days. Some of it was spurred on by my realization that I was one-fourth (one fourth!) through my six general terms of grad school…. But did I feel like I’d accumulated one-fourth of what I needed to know to finish? Uh, no! Panic was setting in, and tiredness and worry about money were adding to it, and as much fun as I’m having, it was all feeling like too much.

But then, I went to school on Monday and headed for my GA office and started talking with my fellow First Year GAs about these “symptoms,” and they look at me wide-eyed and started blurting out the same things, and it was like we were all echoing each other. Enter one of the Second Years, who listened to us and then, with a rueful grin, explained that this was a common phase, a combination of adapting to GA-dom and of the dark winter post-midterm slump. It will pass, she said.

So, today, although I’m still mildly panicked and still somewhat tired, things are looking up. I found out that I’ll be teaching again next term—another class of freshman comp, a.k.a., Writing 121 (Big yay!). I’m meeting my lit advisor tomorrow to talk about my three areas of study (more on that in another post) and have also found out that I can work this summer, so at least a little bit of money will be coming in.

And, last night I had my first piece workshopped in our non-fiction grad writing seminar, and it went very well. The high point of the evening—and of my life for some time—was having the professor say that the writing was “very strong” and that one part, in which I used listing as a form of emphasis, was “perfect.” That rocked my world.

Things are looking up. That’s not to say the tantrums and whining will end, but I think I’ve got a tenuous grip on reality, which is something.

Men are like....

One of my Grey School students sent me this. Seemed appropriate, what with Valentine’s Day having just passed and all.

Apples and Wine

Women are like apples on trees. The best ones are at the top of the tree. Most men don't want to reach for the good ones because they are afraid of falling and getting hurt. Instead, they sometimes take the apples from the ground, the ones that are banged up and sometimes have started to spoil, but are easiest to reach. The apples at the top think something is wrong with them, when in reality, they're ripe and unblemished. They just have to wait for the right man to come along, the one who is brave enough to climb all the way to the top of the tree.

Now Men.... Men are like a fine wine. They begin as grapes, and it's up to women to stomp the crap out of them until they turn into something acceptable to have dinner with.

Monday, February 20, 2006

How Machiavellian Are You?

You Are Somewhat Machiavellian

You're not going to mow over everyone to get ahead...
But you're also powerful enough to make things happen for yourself.
You understand how the world works, even when it's an ugly place.
You just don't get ugly yourself - unless you have to!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Cleveland, coping, and cold

We interrupt this regularly-scheduled blog to bring you an ERIN UPDATE……..

Erin just called at 5:00 PM—she is at her hotel in Cleveland. There was a bit of excitement when she landed in Chicago and got bumped off her plane (and was told they might not be able to get her to Cleveland before tomorrow!), but she evoked her inner Gammie and told them that wasn’t acceptable, and now she’s settled in her hotel room in Cleveland with cable TV, her own pizza, and a pending long, hot bath. It’s 13 degrees there (!) and there’s a lot of snow. Her audition begins tomorrow morning and runs through the day. She has Avril along, but not Magenta. (Those on the inner circle know the code words, right?)

We now return you to our regular programming……..

* * * * * * * * * *

I haven’t been a good blogger. Fact is, I’m just too busy to blog every day…. Which is a large part of why it took me so long to get a blog going, even though my daughters kept after me to do so.

Does everyone know that childhood game of ‘Crack the Whip’? These days I feel like the person on the end. The whip is cracking really, really hard and I’m being whipped around so fast that I can’t get my breath, and I’m hanging on by my fingertips, expecting to be thrown off at any moment but somehow managing to hold on. It’s exhausting and thrilling and fun and scary, and everything’s moving so fast that it’s all a blur and I’m afraid to let go and afraid not to. But it’s all worth it. After all, everyone knows that the only good place to be in ‘Crack the Whip’ is at the end. Otherwise, you’re just part of the machine, with none of the thrill.

That’s my life right now. I’m reminding myself a little too much of my old boss, where nothing got done until it was first on the current “crisis list.” But I’m managing, and even though some nights I’m so tired I can hardly even climb into bed, I’m loving the challenge, and am glad I’m doing it.

That said, we’re having a little bit of an Arctic blast right now (and for the last few days). It’s getting into the high teens and low twenties by night, and right around freezing during the day. Brrr…. There’s no moisture in the air, so now snow or ice. But it is cold, cold, COLD. Convincing Ernie to go outside (and go) is a challenge.

Bill has a cold-- a different kind than the Arctic kind--and my nose is feeling ominously stuffy. I can't even tell you how bummed I'm going to be if I get sick.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

So, am I spending all this time and money for a good reason?

You Should Get a PhD in Liberal Arts (like political science, literature, or philosophy)

You're a great thinker and a true philosopher.
You'd make a talented professor or writer.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Welcome to it

I love what I'm doing right now, but it's no piece of cake. Here’s an example of why you haven’t heard from me all week. This was my Thursday (Feb. 9) schedule:

6:00: Wake up, shower, make bed, make lunch, feed birds, feed dog, give dog pills, decide what to wear, load schoolbag, get dressed, do hair, make-up, choose earrings (they should match), check work email, finalize story for Vanguard and email it to news editor.

7:45: Leave for work. Enjoy rush hour traffic. Visualize road rage. Breathe fumes deeply.

8:30-ish: Arrive at PSU. Enjoy snail’s pace parking lot traffic. Find a spot in Parking I level 4 or 5. Lock car. Walk to Neuberger (1 block). Climb one flight of stairs and walk another block to GA office. Hang up coat. Go through bag—leave stuff that won’t be needed until afternoon. Leave lunch. Plug in laptop. Say good morning to fellow GAs.

8:45: Climb one more flight of stairs and walk to other end of Neuberger. Enter English department office. Say hi to anyone standing around. Check mailbox. Enter boiler room (English-ese for workroom) and enjoy waiting in line for the copier. Make 22 copies of material for upcoming Writing 121 class, and hold breath that copier doesn’t break down in the middle (it doesn’t, at least not this time). Check out TV/DVD player from English dept. closet.

9:00: GA “Teaching College Writing” class, a.k.a. ENG 518. Participate actively in discussion.

9:55: Take elevator down 2 flights while carrying backpack and WR 121 case and pushing TV/DVD player and cart. Walk half the length of Neuberger to WR classroom. Enter the room and greet students. Plug in and set up DVD; this includes ignoring the threatening DO NOT UNPLUG THESE CABLES sign. Unplug said cables and hook DVD up to in-wall smart ports so that film can be shown on the movie theater-sized wall screen. Get out materials for class.

10:00: Greet students. Give quick quiz on reading. Collect reader response journals. Answer questions about next assignment. Turn out lights and show second half of Whale Rider.

10:40: Film ends. Turn lights on. Leave film score playing while students do a 10-minute free write.

10:50: Students take break. Unhook cables and restore DVD player to original configuration. Prepare lesson materials for next half of class.

10:55: Director of Writing arrives to observe second half of class. Try to look calm.

11:00: Students return. Lead guided discussion that merges Whale Rider, Louise Erdrich’s work, Joseph Campbell, The Matrix, Jungian archetypes, heroic quests, and magickal realism. Feel very happy when students respond with brilliant insights. Discuss homework assignment.

11:50: Dismiss class. Thank Director of Writing for coming. Walk back to elevator and return TV/DVD player to the English Department. Climb two flights of stairs and walk the length of the building to the GA office.

12:00: Give midterm conferences to six WR 121 students (15 minutes each).

1:30: Wolf lunch. Load everything back into schoolbag. Check homework for upcoming class and make a couple of handwritten additions.

1:45: Walk four blocks to Science Building II. Negotiate swarms of people and trucks who are on campus filming a movie.

2:00: Grad seminar class, a.k.a. ENG 507, “The American Enlightenment.” Listen to spirited discussion of Rigel's take on Ben Franklin and John Fitch (quick summary: While Franklin’s Autobiography was imperfect, it maintained a sense of hopefulness based on self-improvement and American ingenuity. Fitch hoped for somethign similar, but was his desire for power and accomplishment in the public sphere seem too obvious, and he became unable to distinguish public and private interest.) Try to stay awake in the very small, very warm room.

3:50: Class ends. Exit to SBII lobby and find an empty table.

4:00: A student from WR 121 arrives for yet another midterm conference.

4:15: Finish conference. Head for the nearby Starbucks across the street. Buy a triple shot of whatever they’ve got. Intend to read the assignment for your next class, but instead, end up talking to a fellow GA about teaching approaches.

4:30: Walk back over to SB II.

4:40: Non-fiction seminar, a.k.a., “Writing About People,” WR 552. The teacher—besides being a great professor and not hard to look at—has multiple connections to the writing world. Hence, it’s important to not only stay awake but to feign wittiness and insight.

6:30: Class ends. Walk back (5 blocks) to parking lot. Drive home.

7:00: Stop to get a Papa Murphy’s pizza. No time to cook tonight.

7:20: Arrive home. Let dog out, give dog his pill, look at mail (then add to the “later” pile), turn heater on, put pizza in oven, change clothes, play with dog, water plants, shake head at bedraggled condition of house.

7:45: Eat (pizza). Run dishwasher. Check email, respond to Grey School business.

8:30: Settle in for evening’s work. Read and correct WR 121 student midterm papers in preparation for more conferences on Friday. Do critical peer review of two midterm papers for Friday’s ENG 514 (“Contemporary Composition Theory”) class. Try to stay awake. Do cognitivist readings for ENG 514. Work on news story. Continue trying to stay awake. Spend an hour transcribing interviews for WR 552 profile/paper. Check email again. Pay a couple of bills.

11:20: Shut down computer. Organize the things that need to go to school in the morning. Plan what to wear to school tomorrow. Think about tomorrow’s lunch. Put out garbage and recycling. Check dog’s food and water. Give dog evening pill. Turn furnace off. Check doors (locked).

11:40: Get ready for bed. Wash face, brush teeth, take off makeup, take out contacts, etc.

11:50: Get into bed. Read some of paper (give up on rest). Try to read some of the next ENG 507 assignment. Fall asleep in less than 2 minutes.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Still too busy for a long post, but....

Thanks to Rebecca for this one....

Your Candy Heart Says "Get Real"

You're a bit of a cynic when it comes to love.
You don't lose your head, and hardly anyone penetrates your heart.

Your ideal Valentine's Day date: is all about the person you're seeing (with no mentions of v-day!)

Your flirting style: honest and even slightly sarcastic

What turns you off: romantic expectations and "greeting card" holidays

Why you're hot: you don't just play hard to get - you are hard to get

Monday, February 06, 2006

Puppy Bowl II

The Seahawks may have let us down, but Puppy Bowl II never failed to please. And you had to love the hardest hitter of all, the white miniature poodle--yes, poodle!--"Barry" (see below).

(I wasn't much for the kitten half-time show, though, although I'll take it over the experience of watching the Rolling Stone wrecks tottering around the actual Super Bowl halftime stage. Shudder. Someone get these guys a set of rocking chairs and some high-calorie milkshakes, and hurry! I mean, sometimes more really is less, yes?)

In other news, I am entering into a next few days that can be best described as something between slog and purgatory. I've got a pile of student papers to grade and a term paper of my own due, and that's on top of my usual insane schedule.

Don't worry if you don't hear much from me until the end of the week. And wish me luck.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Groundhogs and their friends

Punxsatawney Phil has done it again-- 6 more weeks of winter, we'll have.

And, this came to me from a friend:

This year, both Groundhog Day and the State of the Union Address fell on almost the same day. As Air America Radio pointed out, "It is an ironic juxtaposition: one involves a meaningless ritual in which we look to a creature of little intelligence for prognostication, and the other involves a rodent."

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

A blessed Imbolc....

During Imbolc, we celebrate the earliest return of life to the earth after the barren darkness of winter. Although it is still the cold, dark time of the year, the days are slowly becoming longer and we prepare to re-meet the world of spring. Small but sturdy signs of new life begin to appear. Lambs are born and new grasses appear. Ravens begin to build their nests, larks sing with a clear voice, and winter bulbs push up through the soil.

Lambs and sheep are strongly associated with the holiday. The sheep was a very important animal to the agrarian (farming) people of the past, providing food and clothing. Lambing—which occurred around Imbolc—was an occasion for joy and hope. Lambing also meant that the mother lambs began giving milk, which provided cheese, yogurt, and other foods to the people.

In legendary terms, the Goddess at Imbolc has recovered from the birth of the Sun God at Yule, and the God—who will live out his life span within one year—is young. Imbolc is a time to celebrate the light and to honor the Maiden aspect of the Goddess, as well as the child aspect of the God.

Scotland’s Old Woman of winter, the Cailleach, is reborn as Brigid, Young Maiden of Spring, fragile yet growing stronger each day as the sun rekindles its fire. With her snowy white wand, Brigid breathes life into the land and asks Winter to open his eyes.

Oimelc is also connected with women’s mysteries and women’s rites of passage. It is a time of purification, initiation, and new beginnings.

Passing the holiday:
  • Conduct a ritual to banish the darkness and welcome spring. Remove and burn any remaining Yule greenery. Since Imbolc is all about cleansings and new beginnings, use your besom (broom) to “sweep out the old.” Many people begin their spring cleaning at Imbolc.
  • Devise a ritual for blessing the candles that you will use throughout the year, or restock and bless your magickal herbs. Invoke Brigid for creative inspiration.
  • Work candle magick. Put a small pillar candle in a glass jar; set the jar in a window and burn it until morning (note: make sure that there is nothing near the jar that could catch fire!). Place candles around your home.
  • Conduct a hearth-cleansing, either of a fireplace or of your kitchen hearth (oven and stove). For a fireplace, sweep out the old ashes, then purify with salt, smudging, or any other ritual that suits your purposes. Finish by kindling and lighting a ritual fire. For an oven, clean it carefully, purify it, then use it to bake a special food or meal.
  • Do a “spring treasure hunt.” Go outdoors and search for signs of spring: bulbs pushing through the soil, new leaves, etc. If dandelions are growing, gather the leaves, wash thoroughly, and add to a salad. Dandelions—with their sun-like, yellow faces—are sacred to Brigid. (Note: Make sure that the dandelions you pick have not been sprayed with herbicides or pesticides.)
  • Meditate upon what you would like to see grow in health and strength this year: for yourself, your family, your community, the Earth, and ask for Bride's blessing upon your prayers.
I am the unopened bud, and I the blossom, I am the life force gathering to a crest, I am the still companion of the silence, I am the far flung seeker of the quest. I am the daughter gathering in wisdom, I am the son whose questions never cease, I am the dawn-light searching out glad justice, I am the center where all souls find peace.
--Caitlin Matthews

So mote it be!