My Photo
Location: Upstate, South Carolina, United States

I think that the Meredith Brooks' song, "Bitch," summarizes me rather nicely. Or, if you prefer, X. dell says I'm a life-smart literary scholar with a low BS tolerance...that also works!

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Constant Sleep

Basically, I wore myself down this week due to lack of sleep. The end result was that a cold that my daughter had for all of 24 hrs has now hit me for three days, and I feel like crap. Oh well. Alex was able to get a ride up yesterday, so he took care of me last night and nearly all of today. I made dinner tonight, though, because I started to feel better, plus we had already bought the ingredients. I made a grilled duck with cherries and red wine reduction sauce (used a cup of a nice burgundy, then we drank the rest with the meal), and then I made braised leeks. Of course I had to throw in mashed potatoes because Alex has a potato fetish. No really. He does. He's the only person I know who, when given a choice of two side items, will choose two different forms of potatoes. I could tell it came out good, but my full taste range is hampered by the cold.


So, 24 hrs after Ariana handed Andrew the Puppy, he handed her back a Thank You card. Oh my god...a child...a male child...who writes thank you notes!!! He apparently made it on his computer with cardmaking software, and he put in lots of cats and dogs in the graphics for her. He then wrote her a little note inside about how much he appreciated it.

That's it. I'm going to negotiate the dowry with Andrew's mom this next week. I don't care if it's culturally against modern American culture to have child brides or arranged marriages. My daughter found a good one, and she's just going to have to keep him.


A student dropped my class yesterday, and I know why. He obviously has a learning disability. He will fail to get instructions that the rest of the class gets, even when he comes to see me one-on-one. It's like he doesn't hear every third word. I feel badly for him because he obviously cares about doing well--why else would he come and see me all the time?--but he just couldn't get it. His church just tested him for ADHD through some psychologist. I hope he comes back and tells me the result. Meanwhile, I think he realized that there was no way he'd get through my class this term AND manage the rest of his classes. Yes, he was struggling with all of them. When he dropped the class, I realized that I was both sad and relieved. I was sad because I genuinely like the guy and wanted to be able to help him. I'm relieved because there wasn't a way for me TO help him, so I don't have to fret about him anymore. Well, sort of. I mean, I'll always wonder what happened to him, but I don't have to worry about him specifically passing this class. He's not even a bad writer--he just can't follow instructions to save his life.


Miracle of miracles, I have a cell phone now. It's a fancy-schmancy one too, and I'm not sure what the fuck to do with it. Maybe I'll get one of my students to show me... At least I already figured out how to take pictures with it and how to play Tetris--you know, the important stuff. I still don't know what the holy hell this "bluetooth" ear thingy is that came with it, but I guess I can read the instruction manual about it later on. Or I'll wait until Alex figures out his whole phone and bluetooth thingamabob, and then ask him. Basically, Alex needed a phone of some sort (he has no phone at all at his apartment), and so we were just going to get him a phone. However, my car has 152,000 miles on it and I drive a lot in it too, and the other concern was that it'd break down on me and I'd be stranded. So, we purchased a "family plan" for both of us. Yes, we share minutes, but that hardly matters. I avoid the phone like the plague. I'm not using more than ten minutes a month, trust me.


And the last note today: it's a long story, but it took me I don't know HOW LONG to figure out what my sister needed...and I managed. My sister is not the best at revealing what is in her soul or what is bothering her, and it took me many, many months to realize why she blew up at me in June. It took her getting mad again this last Sept for me to read between the lines and figure out what was going on. I swear, people knock English lit as a useless degree, but it's that lit analysis background that enables me to often figure out people in a very beneficial way when I read their writings. Anyway! Rose and I are exchanging constant emails right now, and it is all ok. I really thought things could never be ok again, and they are. Funny, that...she NEEDS me. Why didn't I ever realize that my sister--even though she's nine years older than me and has often been a spare mom to me--NEEDS me too? I don't think I will forget the hurtful words she said to me months ago, but at least now I know what context to place them in. I'm glad to have her back in my life.

Monday, September 25, 2006

More Snippets

It's all I have time for! Small little bits of information...oh well. I suppose it's better than not blogging!


I am wondering if my charter email is working at all. I haven't received emails at all this last day, and that's never happened in about two years. Also, Grant didn't even receive an email I sent him on Thur, and I'm not even sure he had received my resent copy. If you've been emailing to my charter account and I'm not answering, let me know in the comments below!


Further proof that I adore Ariana's boyfriend:

She decided for his birthday she was going to get him a Build-a-bear pet. I told her that was ok, but it had to be one of the cheaper ones (that'd be a choice of two teddy bears, a koala, and a puppy). She decided on the puppy, and then she had him outfitted in a little blue polo type shirt. Now, as cute as this puppy was, all I could think in my head was that the other boys would make fun of him for getting such a gift (it's third grade, guys). I was worried that he'd be embarrassed by it since he was getting it at school, and that the other boys would tease and that'd make him react funny too. But no! He blew off the other boys' reactions, and he said it was wonderful...at least ten times. He then ran off to show it to his mom (his mom works at the school). She thought it was wonderful, too. Andrew's mom is well aware that all Andrew has wanted out of life over the last two years was to have Ari be his girlfriend, and I think she was almost relieved that Ari did this for him as a sign that she cared, too. Apparently, Andrew carried it about and made it bark and said that it was ok to keep the name "Puppy" that Ari had put on the birth certificate (she wanted to let him decide the name).

Because I possess an overactive imagination, I picture the two of them "dating" until they hit fifth grade. At that point, I visualize Andrew going off to the local middle school, and then Ari going to a private school because by then, we can afford it. They cry. They swear they'll keep in touch. But fate conspires against them, and they lose track of each other. Then, both Freshman at Duke (hey, I'm allowed to dream that my daughter will go to my alma mater!), they stumble across each other and laugh. They had already had a few miserable dating experiences. They don't expect much out of the opposite sex. But hey, here they are again! So they go out on a date, and Andrew takes her back to his dorm room TO TALK ONLY BECAUSE THIS IS MY DAUGHTER WE ARE DISCUSSING, and there she sees...Puppy! On his bed! Worn, but loved.

And then I get three grandchildren, and they live happily ever after.


My ex's brother is married to a very close friend of mine. She used to be my best friend (well, I used to feel I had two and she was one of them), but after the divorce, it made things awkward since being around me was a constant reminder of what I escaped...and what she still had to deal with. I DO like my ex brother in law. He, like my ex, is a good guy who just is royally screwed up. Well, he screwed up too far this time.

I'm sad for their child. It will be difficult for him. I know what she feels like right now, too. However, knowing how much my ex's brother is like my ex, I know she's doing the right thing. I think I'm getting my best friend back. I'm supposed to say, "It's under bad circumstances."

But let's be real. I've been waiting for her to escape for years, and I'm happy for her that now she gets to have a real, good, quality life with her son. I don't think it makes me a bad person to say, THANK GOODNESS! It's ABOUT TIME! I'm relieved for her is what I am.


I'm getting my schedule under control to some degree now! Yay! I think next semester will be TONS easier, too. Then I can continue my wine studies more, and maybe try and take the Certified Specialist of Wine test sometime next year. I'd like that. Oh, and take French next spring. I couldn't get it into my schedule this term, so maybe next term. I'm liking Clemson. I still refuse to wear orange though. I just...hate that color. I'll do purple, however. I told my students: get me a purple Clemson shirt, and I'll proudly wear it. Just...no orange. Brrr.


Oh, and married life? Yeah, it's marvelous. But then again, it's mostly due to the man I married.


And finally--Ariana had a straight-A progress report. I dangled another American Girl doll under her nose as a reward if she manages straight A's all the way through again this year. I'm not above shameless bribery. Jared doesn't get grades in kindergarten, but he seems to be having a good time of it anyway.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Misc. Tidbits

Yes, I am still alive. I think I'm slowly starting to turn the bend here what with getting things straight. Unfortunately, the CU kids just aren't as good as listening to me as the Tech students were. I'm not sure exactly why, but I think it's to do with this simple fact: CU kids believe they are smart and know a lot. Tech students feel they do not know anything. Hence, the Tech students wrote down my words as if they were gold. Very few CU kids do that. Oh well. They'll learn!

I just handed in my "packet" to the faculty member who is writing up my evaluation and such. The evaluation day that he had with me seemed to go well, although I guess I can't really tell until much later on. I know it didn't go poorly, so at least for now there is no firing. One of the other lecturers said you'd have to get caught screwing a donkey to get fired mid-term, and even then, if you can prove that the donkey was going to somehow assist with CU being a top 20 school, you could get away with it...haha!

I DO like my kids a lot at CU. We are having some good discussions, and they are getting used to my sharp tongue/learning how to take me. I need to figure out Blackboard sometime soon though. I think if I post things up there in black and white that they'll get fewer instructions WRONG. Of course, on the other hand, it almost feels like I'm enabling them by doing it that way! They need to learn how to hear words spoken and absorb them. But maybe I'm just old-fashioned that way....


So, my daughter continues the fine tradition I had at her age: all her closest friends are now officially guys. When I was her age, though, we played Star Wars all the time. I was stuck being Princess Leia since I was the only chick. We had a Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, R2D2, C3PO, and Chewbacca. Nobody wanted to be Darth Vader, so we pretended he was there to fight against. Ahhh, young geeks! So sweet. Anyway, she primarily plays with three guys. Not coincidentally, these three guys are the smartest guys in the 3rd grade. They seem to enjoy her company and are good to her. What more can I ask?

One of those three boys is, of course, Andrew. Andrew continues to score point after point on the "Mommy Approves" scale. Apparently, he feels that since Ariana likes sweets and cookies so much, whatever his mother gives him in his lunch should be half hers. Ariana tells me that she will turn around to talk to another friend at the lunchtable and BOOM! She turns back and there's a chocolate chip cookie! Plus, Andrew very solemnly asked her a while back if she was "sure it's ok with your mom that you're my girlfriend." Bonus gold star for Andrew!


Also on the Ariana is a sweetheart scale...

I lose my patience with my daughter's writing and reading struggles. Now, mind you, I say "struggles" and what I mean is that she actually has to work at it to be good at it. Math and science and history and everything else are so natural they are like her oxygen. She's truly a member of my family that way. She missed out on my reading and writing talents, but that doesn't mean she's bad at it at all. She reads three grades above her level. I mean really...obviously she's good.

Still, when I was her age, I started writing stories for the heck of it. I found one of them last year, a story I wrote for my mom for mother's day when I was eight, and boy was it funny. First of all, my spelling was awful. But second of all, the story was an actual story with flow and plot and humor to it. Nobody had to show me what to do. I just read so much that I figured it out on my own. So....even though I teach college kids how to write all the time...I have no idea how to approach it on a basic level for my daughter.

She had to write an essay and I tried to "help" her. Please notice the quotes. See, I just kept losing my patience. Why wasn't she getting what I was saying to her? When she complained that she had no idea what she could do in an introductory paragraph for this essay, I fired off 12 things immediately. She burst into tears and said that was too much information at once...she didn't get it. Instead of slowing down, I grumbled and grumped. Some teacher I am.

Anyway, eventually I calmed down and so did she. The end product was fantastic for an eight-year-old. I was proud of her. But I felt sooo badly that I couldn't be the Nice Mom Who Never Lost Her Patience while I was helping her. As I tucked her into bed, I apologized. She nodded and said it was ok. Then a few minutes later, just as I was about to turn out the light, I bit my lower lip in frustration as I realized that I still felt guilty for grumping at her when she needed my help earlier. I apologized again. Her response:

With a soft sigh and a smile, Ariana replied, "Oh Mommy, this is the second time you said you were sorry. I forgave you the first time. You don't need to keep doing it."

I love my kids.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Yes, I am still alive

I feel badly that I've not been responding to comments lately, but...wow. I'm overwhelmed right now with too much to do. Every day that I head to bed, I realize that I haven't done half of what I need to have done that day. It's frustrating, but I remind myself that the job at CU is SO much better right now, and next semester will be a breeze.

See, I already know I'll be teaching four 103's next semester. My name will be hooked up to classes sometime this fall...WOW. At Tech, I always got my schedule a day or two before classes started. This planning ahead thing is frighteningly pretty. Anyway, that's what I'm teaching this semester, so by next semester I'll have an idea of what to do or not do...within the limits that have been given to me, that is.

I now have health insurance, AND dental. The kids too. Woohoo!

I have to change over my ss card and all the paperwork. That sucks. I need to fill out all this stuff for Alex to get his green card. That won't be fun, plus it's expensive: $190 application fee. I swear our embassy makes a killing. In France, if you call the American embassy, it costs a flat fee of like $15, charged to your credit card, just to talk to them. Americans know how to squeeze those bucks out of anything! There's stuff to juggle with the kids and their school. There's a ton of papers to review and evaluate (I'm not supposed to/allowed to grade them). I have to work on this grant thing too. And read the book more. Arg! I know it'll get better. This is just an intense beginning to the school year is all.

I ran into a former student from Tech at a local mexican restaurant today, while I was there eating lunch with Amanda. She was so distressed that I wasn't there at Tech anymore (she still is...for now). I gave her the scoop on my situation, and she was glad that I was now at Clemson. After a little discussion, I found out one other simple fact: it's not just the English department that has had teachers just...removed...for no reason either. And the grumbling amongst the students is that the different departments who removed teachers removed...just the good ones! What kind of holy shit sense does that make???? Oh well. I guess HR at Tech has taken some crack. Anyway, it was good to see her. Sadly, I didn't remember her name right away because I'm awful with names, but I knew EXACTLY who she was and her whole life story as we often chatted. I also then, after Amanda dropped me off in front of my building, ran into ANOTHER former student...my best student ever from any class. Oh wait, he can have a tie with Bennett. So, David gave me a hug and we chatted a bit. It's so cool because he's one of a handful of former students I've seen now at CU. It's not like it's a new place, what with former students and friends there.

Married life is great. We haven't destroyed any more furniture (EDIT: or ourselves, Valerie! Sorry to have worried you! Haha!). I still laugh when I think of Greg's idea of mounting the headboard over the fireplace. Haha! Our friend Eric has now decided to call Alex "King Kong" as a result, and that amuses the crap out of both of us. Alex is just as busy with his schooling right now as I am with mine. It looks like the way his classes go, he'll be swamped through November. Still, he's been getting great grades, and I'm very proud of him. Most American MBA students aren't doing as well as he is despite already walking in with an understanding of American business terminology. He has the disadvantage of having to learn so very many new terms, plus he has to make sure to not get the French system confused with the American (like in his accounting class). Yet he still does so well, and he works hard on all his tasks. If I were as motivated as Alex, I'd already have a couple more degrees and a few published books...haha!

So, anyway, folks...that's why I'm just not able to blog as much right now: school/work. It'll calm down eventually. I remember what it was like when I just started up at Tech, and I KNOW it calms down eventually. And when I get my first paycheck Sept. 22nd, I'll remember why I'm so happy to be at CU. Haha!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Alex the Bedripper

Thanks, everybody, for your congratulations! I just thought I'd like you to know that all went well and we were indeed married yesterday morning. The only thing that happened during the wedding that was noteworthy was that the man who married us thought that Eric and Maureen, my friends, were a set of parents for either me or Alex. Maureen is only 6 yrs older than me, so she did NOT take this well. Eric thought it was funny.

On a final note--and this might fall into the category of TMI for some of you, but damnit it's too funny not to share--Alex and I had a hilarious incident while we were doing wedding night activities. The hotel had a wonderful bed with a pretty, thick, wood headboard that was screwed in solidly to the wall. Yup. Screwed in solidly until Alex the Bedripper gripped onto it with his mighty force and tore it from the wall! HAHAHAHA! Oh, my goodness...that was some funny shit. The look of shock on his face was amazing as the headboard then slid to the ground and dust flew up from the drywall that was coming out. He really and truly gripped so hard onto that sucker and was so intent on his goals that he didn't realize that he was RIPPING IT OUT OF THE WALL! We couldn't continue. I laughed so hard I almost fell out of the bed, and then after a moment more of shock, he did too. Then I tried to fix it...I hope they don't realize what happened. I'd hate to be charged for a headboard! Hahaha!

So, we are married, and life is good. Now I get to do the frustrating process of changing my name on 5, 426 forms....