Wednesday, October 24, 2007

This is productivity

Screw you little Mac computer man.
How dare you tap your foot or
Sway your little computer tush to the absence
Of my typing.
When I pause to think or check my research
You look with your nonexistent eyes from
My document to me with an arrogance
Too bold for your pixel count.
Now you have turned your back to me.
You casually provide sideways glances
Intermittent with the typing of this poem.
You assume now, because I am typing,
That I am getting work done.
But I am not.
You have distracted me with your judgment.
So I will pause, click your red ‘x’ to send you
And get back to the task at hand,
Minus your critique.
As a hand appears on your tiny screen
To wave a fond farewell before fading into
Computer oblivion,
I curse your condescension once more
Before attempting to write chapter four again.
Go to hell, Mac computer man.
You’re not even cute like the PC dog.

I might have some writer's block angst. Hard to say...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

deflating=aches, tired

For the first time in a long time, I was dizzy and lightheaded yesterday morning. It lasted a few hours, but waned in the afternoon. I used to faint with little to no warning in high school, which, after seeing many specialists, was diagnosed as a valve malfuntion or something I don't remember exactly, but was told I would grow out of. I did. With no reasonable explanation for this episode (no, I'm NOT pregnant, as many have suggested), I think my body is just mad at me.

I don't sleep enough; I don't relax enough; I stopped working out three times a week; I stopped attempting to eat healthier; and I am severely overworking my brain. According to my email records, I finalized my APP topic on September 15. I researched for three weeks. I began writing on October 9. In two weeks, I have written and revised two whole chapters, totaling 34 pages. I have three chapters left, and certainly not three weeks left (okay, technically, I do...but I don't want to bring it down to the wire even more than I already am). Meanwhile, I am working 40+ hours a week, and taking a night class for which I also have a few hours of homework each week.

I am not losing it. In fact, I will not allow myself to lose it. Finishing this paper and subsequently this semester will complete my four and a half year journey to Masterdom. I can't give up now. I'm worried, however, that my body is giving up without my mind's permission. In addition to the out-of-the-blue symptoms of dizziness, I'm in constant pain. I have always carried my stress in my shoulders and a whole heap of it is sitting heavily on my right one as we speak. It's been there for a while now. I am uncomfortable sitting at my desk, standing in any fashion, and even laying in bed at night. I have a massage appointment on Saturday, Nov. 3. Eleven days. I hope I'll make it.

Because I fear my body is giving up on me, I'm going to attempt treating it nicer this week. I will stay at work to focus on my paper (I work best in a silent room alone, an impossibility in a house with two dogs and a basement-finishing husband) tonight and Thursday until 5. But then I will go home and relax. Tonight, relax in public, as I am going to dinner and a movie with friends. This is a rest for my brain. Tomorrow, however, will be this week's crowning glory: yesterday after my episode, I decided I needed to sleep. To that end, I'm going to play hooky tomorrow. I will sleep until ten at the earliest and then go to the library to work. My students will survive one day without me.

I am only writing about my trials and suffering to inform you, and to remind myself when looking back how hard I worked. No pity necessary or wanted. In spite of all of this, I am very confident in both the quality of my work and the time I have left to complete it. As the kids would say, "I got this." And when I indeed do have it, you will know, and you will be invited to celebrate. Last class, Monday, December 10. Party, Saturday, December 15. See you then.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Because of yesterday's post, I must share with you. I received a package in the mail today from my best friend/sister-in-spirit Jen. It had coffee, yummy chocolates, lip gloss, socks, gloves, and a nice card, your basic care package. She HAD to have mailed this before I wrote yesterday's blog about doing small things to make people happy. I do believe that is concrete proof we are cosmically connected.

Today was the worst day for reasons too silly to list (and my husband has already let me bitch about it to him), but getting this package made the day so special instead. Little unexpected kindnesses really DO make a difference. You heard it here first (or second, or third, but it doesn't matter :-)).

I [heart] Jen.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Small Victories

We always celebrate large happenings in life, whether good or bad. I have a student writing her Original Oratory (persuasive speech, for those of you not part of our little world) for competition on the neglect of everyday tragedies. The outpouring of help during 9/11, Katrina, and most recently the bridge collapse is admirable, but millions of people go without food and shelter in America every day; why don't we help them? Even Angie (sorry, hon) was compelled to give blood after the bridge collapse, though she's never done it before. People need blood every single day, therefore we should give as often as possible. Same with donations to the Red Cross and others, they always need money, not just in times of tragedy. It will be an excellent speech.

Anyway, my point is that we do the same thing with victories. We celebrate weddings, birthdays, holidays, graduations: big, exciting things that only happen every once in a while. But we would be happier being proud and honored at little things, more often. Now, I know some people are authentically humble and don't like praise of any kind. I am not one of these people, as you very well know, dear reader. But praising others for small things has become a habit as a teacher, and should be more common.

My husband is putting in the ceiling in our basement; I'm proud of him. I tell him so. I finish a chapter of my alternate plan thesis (which is what I'm now calling it, as it is a mini-thesis of sorts, and will be much longer than any alt plan paper I've ever seen...Chad says, "If anyone would've turned their APP into a thesis, it would be you, Emily."). I'm proud of myself. Today, my final car payment came out of my bank account. I bought a car. By myself. It took five years, but still, I'm proud. Many people sent me cards on my birthday, but Molly sends me cards almost every week, just because. It makes me happy. I mailed my sister a gift to remind her I love her. It made her happy. Someone put up Breast Cancer Awareness Month information in the staff bathroom. Such a small effort that could really make a difference. Doing little things for people unexpectedly and offering praise for the small things often seems to make so much more of a difference than only doing things when expected.

So, I offer a challenge to my readers (a small audience to be sure, but still...): think of five things you've done in the past week that you can be proud of; think of five things people close to you have done that make you proud of them...have you told them?; and think of five things you can do for other people that will make a difference (even if it's just packing a lunch for your spouse so he/she won't have to). Then, write about it on your blog so we too can share in your small victories.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."--Margaret Mead

Monday, October 15, 2007

Yay me

I turned in 23 pages to my advisor this morning. Five pages of history and eighteen pages of criticism...that's one long lit review. This paper is going to be much longer than I expected...

I'm very proud, but have no time to spare, as it is due in its perfect, turn-in-able state in exactly one month. I've already started working on the data and frameworks sections. Pretty much everything has been moved to a back burner in my life as I plug through this, but if I can write fifteen pages in two days, I'm sure I'll manage with no trouble.

MEA break is this week, so I will spend many hours with my laptop. Thanksgiving break will be a dream come true.

I repeat, "Yay me."

Friday, October 12, 2007


I don't know if I've ever meant that cliche more. This has been one of the longest, busiest weeks ever. And I've been sick. Busy and sick. This is an often deadly combination, but somehow I made it through.

Now, with two days of "freedom" ahead of me, I am foggy-headed and just dead tired. I need to work on my paper intensesly this weekend, and I am already losing my motivation. I have to finish my lit review for sure, and I'd like to get started on the data and framework as well. Not to mention reading the articles for Monday's class. I need to stop thinking about it and over-analyzing it.

Right now, I'm blogging instead of working on my paper, even though I'm still in school. My fifth and sixth periods are smaller classes, so they're done with speeches and watching a movie. Other than finding it difficult to concentrate with Mulan on in the background, I'm taking a mental break since I haven't been able to take physical breaks. My body needs some sort of relaxation.


Today is my husband's birthday. Yesterday's blog explains our celebration, but we're also going to a friend's for dinner tonight. We might get together with the family on Sunday, but it's all pretty low-key. He's good like that :-).

He is five years and nine months older than me. He is the perfect combination of mature, responsible adult and fun-loving guy. A Master's degree in science, a good job, and a house, yet plays video games, laughs at stupid jokes, and does fun, spontaneous things. Happy birthday to my perfect husband. Who doesn't read this, so it doesn't matter what I say, but still...


I don't have anything else to write about. Now I'm just killing time. Bored. Feel like at least if I'm typing at my computer, my students think I'm working. Bad. Bad teacher. Maybe I will work on my paper a little...

(Here lies the worst blog ever.)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Good luck often comes the most unexpected situations.

Tomorrow is my husband's birthday. A few weeks ago, I thought it would be fun to take him to a Wild game as part of the celebrations, since a)even though he loves hockey, he's never been to one,and b)he's not much of a birthday person, so unlike me, he wouldn't expect or want anything big. I, being a poorly paid teacher, bought "cheap seats" from ticketmaster for last night's game (they are away tomorrow).

So, yesterday we met at home at 4:30 and then drove over to St. Paul. A co-worker of his had given us the in on a great cheap parking lot about four blocks from the Xcel. We walked, enjoying the fall chill, and found a place to eat: Patrick McGovern's. We've been here before, and it was tasty then too. It was apparently the place to be for Wild fans, and it soon filled up. After dinner and a couple of beers (me, not him), we decided just to head over early. We figured we could walk around, maybe browse in the Hockey Lodge, whatever. So, in the gates, up the longest escalator ever (longer, we think, than the one at the Guthrie, though it seemed a tough call), and around the concourse to find section 215, row something really high. Because it was so early (about 45 minutes before the puck would drop), there weren't many people up there. So, we're walking, laughing about something one of us said, and a guy in red Wild sweatshirt and lanyard ID badge stopped us.

Wild Dude:"Can I ask you two something?"
Wild Dude:"Are your seats up here?"
Us: "Yeah" (thinking, um, seriously, they check tickets up here?)
Wild Dude: "Do you want to sit on the glass?"
Us: "Yes. What do we have to do?" (thinking we'd have to sell our souls or worse, fill out a credit card application)
Wild Dude: "Nothing. You give me your tickets and your names, and I'll give you these tickets."
Us: "OKAY! Really?!?!"
Wild Dude: "Really. We'll just announce your names and put you up on the big screen at some point."
Us: "Wow. Cool. It's his birthday even!"
Wild Dude: "Great. I really chose the right couple. Now what are your names?"
Etc. etc. etc.

So, yeah. We later found out from our usher that we had won the Andersen Ticket Upgrade. Won? We didn't even do anything! It was totally sweet (yes, I just said totally sweet...later I'll say "crazy cool"). Also, on the glass seats come with perks...there's a bar behind the goal called the Fishing Lodge. People with front row seats get to go in there before the game and at intermissions to enjoy free snacks and drinks. "Wait," you're thinking, "seats on the glass AND free beer? NO way!" Way, my friend. And it was...wait for it...crazy cool. At home we were joking about being so far away from the ice we wouldn't need long sleeves...then we were at the face-off circle. I know which hockey players are missing which teeth, for pete's sake! Wait until you see the pictures. (I have every intention of posting more pics on my blog, but I'm always blogging from my computer, and we keep all our photos on Pat's computer, so they are not easy to insert unless I make special effort...I'll do a fall review or something soon.)

The Wild won 2-0. Shut out. It was great. Free beer resulted in my being very drunk (I had had two at the restaurant remember...) when we walked to the car. At one point I yelled "Gophers suck!" at a guy in in a U of M hockey jersey. Pat called me Josh. I laughed. What a great fun night. And just when we thought it couldn't get any better...

My ex-boyfriend (not THE ex, but one of them) was parked right next to us in our great little parking lot four blocks away. He hollered my name to get our attention, and we walked over, and I got to introduce my ex to my husband. This was a first for me in my three and a half months of marriage. It was great. He had seen us on the big tv. I was drunk, so I said some pretty stupid stuff (and hugged him before we left), but it was an excellent way to end the night. Yes, I recognize the bitchiness of this sick pleasure, but I don't care. I rejoiced when I found out The Ex's wedding had been called off, too, so judge away.

So, good luck came to our birthday celebration last night. I will never again say, "Things like that don't happen to me..."

Monday, October 8, 2007

Snippet #2

The first day of speeches in speech class is well underway. This semester's group of kids is so far very impressive. I love being able to write 90's in the total section of many speeches (they are out of 100). The better they are, the less bored I am. The less bored I am, the better I respond. The better I respond, the better grades they get. Everyone wins. Additionally, only one student has shown up unprepared. Usually, there is at least one an hour.

I'm very proud of them. I'd like to think it's also a reflection of my teaching, but who knows:-).

Thursday, October 4, 2007

A snippet

Why are high school cafeteria cookies SO good?

I remember when I was in high school, the soft chocolate chip cookies, sold in pairs, were the absolute best thing to buy in the snack bar line. I don't remember the cost, but it was a rare treat. Completely worth it to wait in the long line, mouth watering, for those tasty morsels. Some kids ate every day from the snack bar line (here, at my job, they call it the a la carte line...ah, suburbs). This was not healthy nor economical, yet I envied them. I was on the free lunch program, and we had to eat from the main lunch line. So, I usually only got this delicious cookie when it was the featured desert in the main line. SO good.

Today, at my high school job, I eat daily from the cafeteria. I used to bring my own lunch, but I'd forget it so often, that it became ridiculous how much I went without. So, a lunch account was born. There are MANY choices, and many of them are healthy. And then, there's the cookie. This chocolate chip cookie, sold alone as it is the size of my hand, is marketed like a retail store would: right before you pay. A large tray of these cookies sits at the register. Just like in high school, some kids get one (or, sadly, two or more) every day. I wait for it to be the featured dessert in another line. Just like in high school. Today, moments ago, I enjoyed this tasty treat. It's just as good as I remember. Maybe better.

Small pleasures.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Regret, Party of One?

My darling sister, after much prodding, has started a blog. (The train of forcing people to express themselves in this matter has chugged its way all the way to Arkansas and Texas, Molly.) On her first post, the meme that has been done by all now, she mentions her ability to admit she has regrets. This has made me think myself, as I am stressed and busy, about what things I'd have done differently. Though only 26, reflection on life circumstances, both good and bad, really make me wonder how different I would be "now" if I would have made changes "then". It should be noted that I 100% believe that everything happens for a reason. (AKA: God is WAY smarter than me, and His plan for my life I'm sure is far better than any plan I could have come up with.) One simple example of that shaped my life forever: if I wouldn't have lost my last job, I would never have married the man of my dreams (we're pretty sure we weren't going to survive that long-distance thing much longer). Despite this belief, I often ruminate about my "regrets". Here, in no particular order, I have thought about a few:

1. I would have been less of a bitch in high school. I'm confident most people didn't like me. I was an over-achiever, and I had some "mental" issues, meaning I was of course smarter and more "put-upon" than my peers. They were beneath me and my extreme intellect and intense emotion. I really thought that way. I am proud of the things I accomplished in high school, but FUN was rarely one of those things. The friendships I have maintained from that time period (love you!) are miracles I can't explain. I want to be able to instill the message of my mistakes in my own students, but they will have to learn them themselves. This is often painful to watch.
2. I would have gone away to college. I stayed in my home town because my boyfriend was still in high school and I just had to be near him. As much as I loved my college (I really did; it's a great school), I never had the experience of going away and being a part of something new and scary like dorm-life, strange faces and places, and a more challenging "growing up" experience. This regret, however, is slight, because some of my closest friends and, subsequently my husband, were brought into my life via college. Plus, I don't have ridiculous school loans. Just a few grand.
3. I would've gotten out of my first "real relationship" before I was so badly hurt. Anyone who reads this knows to whom I am referring. I am proud to say I learned a lot from those mistakes, and am now able to fully love and appreciate my husband, but so many things would be better off now if he would've exited my life sooner.
4. I would have spent more time with my sister before she moved away. We are closer now than ever, and even more recently, I "get" her. We have grown up and are now best friends. If I would have had the knowledge and concern to find out who she really IS sooner, we wouldn't have wasted all those years of living in the same state, town, house. See? If I wasn't such a self-involved, egomaniacal bitch earlier in life, my relationships would have been healthier sooner :-).
5. I would have enjoyed college more. Staying in home town was great, but I worked too hard. I took overloads of credits, summer classes, just so I could graduate early. I now ask myself: WHY? What a waste! That was the time to love life, to party, to make more friends (though the ones I have are great), and to explore new things. Another message I wish I could share, but can a teacher really say, "Grades in undergrad aren't THAT important...go party with your friends all the time"?
6. I always regret little things, not offering to help, or being lazy, or not being the best friend/wife/sister/daughter/teacher I can be. These things come and go on a daily basis, and I just have to remember to keep trying.

In turn, here is a less explanatory list of things I will NEVER regret:
1. My family
2. Callling Heather to tell her I had a crush on Pat
3. Spending money I didn't have to spend two months in England
4. My tattoo
5. Being honest
6. Being bold
7. Being afraid
8. Telling people I love them
9. Drinking a whole bottle of Pinot Grigio because I feel like it
10. Adopting puppies, even when they eat your brand new luggage
11. Getting married
12. Having a blog :-)

"Life must be lived forward, but it can only be understood backwards." -Kierkegaard