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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!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Meme

Amanda tagged me, so here we go.

Three things that scare me:

1) The loss of those I love dearest, esp. my children and Alex
2) Being stuck in an elevator for a very long time
3) Becoming permanently physically or mentally incapacitated

Three people who make me laugh:

1) Alex
2) my kids
3) Grant
...there are actually quite a few more as I tend to surround myself with folks who make me laugh. Why cry when you can laugh?

Three things I love:

1) My family and friends
2) My new car!
3) Food and alcohol

Three things I hate:

1) Anorexic looking people who declare that they are fat
2) A weak backbone
3) Containers that won't open

Three things I don't understand:

1) Deliberately and consistently mean people (that is, we all have our bad days, but all the time?)
2) Parents who don't love their children
3) How George Bush managed to get re-elected

Three things on my desk:

(there's way, way, way more than three things...it's cluttered, as all who have seen it can testify!)
1) Geek books (with appropriate dice!)
2) The Black Knight
3) Headache medicine

Three things I'm doing right now:

(Can we define "right now?")
1) doing this meme
2) fixing dinner
3) keeping children from killing each other

Three things I want to do before I die:

1) travel more, specificially doing wine tours of various nations
2) get something published
3) get a shitload of wine certifications

Three things I can do:

1) Alex
2) Cook
3) Talk a long time without taking a breath

Three things I think you should listen to:

1) Me!
2) Waves crashing on a beach on a quiet, moon-filled night
3) Did I mention "me" yet?

Three things you should never listen to:

1) People telling you that you can't do what you want to do in life
2) My Uncle Gordon
3) Whining children

Three things I'd like to learn:

1) French beyond a beginner level
2) Enough about wine to be considered an expert
3) How to teleport

Three favorite foods:

1) Cheese
2) Chocolate
3) GOOD bread

Three shows I watched as a kid:

1) Sesame Street
2) He-man
3) Gilligan's Island

Three things I regret:

...I refuse to do Amanda's chicken shit way out of it ;) even though I certainly would not change things if it meant I had no kids nor Alex, you know?

1) Not getting my PhD when I wanted to do so and had the time to do so
2) Having sex for the first time at 17. I sincerely don't think I was ready for it, looking back. I needed another couple o' years.
3) Not taking the elite creative writer's course that I was invited to take at Duke. You had to be signed in by a professor who thought you were very talented, and Dr. F tried to get me to do it after reading a play I wrote. I was intimidated by the capacity of the other students (we would have to do peer review), and I was afraid that the time it took up (like that of several courses instead of just one) would cause problems with my boyfriend (that'd be my ex). Some days I'm more stupid than others.

Three people to tag? Nah, but I fully encourage all of you to do this one. Enjoy!

...oh, and visiting Atlanta to see Grant was fabulous, even though somebody banged two paint chips off my new car while I was parked overnight. Grrrr...bastards...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Slack Ass Blogger Lives!

I would have thought that being out for the summer meant more time to hang out on blogs and write my own, but it's just not working out that way. I'm finding something to do with all my free time. Most of the time what I'm doing is Alex...wait, not that you wanted to know that, but there we go! Haha! Look, I'm just sooo happy that he's in my apartment now--our apartment--hopefully for good now. Every night he's the last sight I see, and every morning he's the first one that greets me to the new day. I can't take that for granted. I love this man like crazy.

Alex DID get the internship, so that's excellent for us. We had to run out and get a second car so that both of us had means of transportation, but I've been steadily saving up for that for years (well, I was saving up for a new car at first, not a second car--but you get the idea). We ended up with a Mazda 3 sedan, with the 2.3 ltr engine (156 hp). WOW! I love this car. I can control my radio from my steering wheel! I know the outside temp! And we can each have two drinks apiece in the car since there are eight (8) cupholders! haha! Ariana insisted that it be the same color as this electric blue she loved on a friend's car, so I tried my hardest to comply. It's a lot of fun to drive the new car. Zoom, zoom! We're now playing the balancing act, though. I have to use the right credit card at the right time to get the bills to arrive by the time that Alex starts getting paid. I don't ever let stuff slide on the credit card, so it's important for me to plan it out so we can pay off whatever we've charged. I have a plan, and it should work. The main problem is that since Alex is on a student visa and can only do the internship due to it being USC's requirement, he must get paid through USC. That means that Michelin pays USC; USC then TAKES 10% (bastards!); then USC gives us the money. So, he gets paid all of twice for the whole summer. Good thing I can budget. It's all working out! I can't even begin to detail to you guys the hell we've been through over the last two or three weeks getting everything straight, though. It would take too long. My sister made the observation that God appears to want to make us work for whatever it is we get, but that it all works out in the end. She seems to have a valid point. We struggle and get roadbumps here and there, but in the end it all works out great.

We have started getting off our lazy, fat asses and are now walking together nearly every night. There's a path nearby that has a swingset and open field in the middle, so we can take the kids there to play while we walk. I have more energy now that I'm walking. I'm eating just as much as before, so there will be no sudden weight loss here. In fact, that's not the goal. Screw the world who might think I'm not the model thin poster child; I'm just aiming for "feeling better," and I've succeeded!

Memorial day weekend will be Grantapalooza. Alex and I will head down to Atlanta while the ex has the kids, and we shall gorge ourselves silly and drink way too much. We will watch lots of movies too because that's normal entertainment for all of us. Grant wants us to meet his Japanese instructor and her husband, so we're all having dinner Saturday night. I swear we'll have the most international table in the restaurant: a Japanese woman, a German (her husband), a Frenchman born in England (Alex), a redneck (Grant), and a half yankee Floridian (me).

Next week, Alex will be sent to Canada--Montreal--for his job. He's having a bit of a struggle comprehending the Quebecan accent. It's quite different from straight French. He'll get the hang of it after experience, though. He seems to really like his job environment and seems enthusiastic about all the tasks assigned to him. I'll miss him when he's gone, and we shall pass like ships in the night...because he gets back on a Friday, and then on Saturday I take off to do AP English lit readings in Louisville. Whew! I'll be gone for a week, and my folks are driving up from Tampa to take care of the kids while Alex is at work and I'm in Louisville. Thank goodness for family!

On the whole, life is fantastic right now. We have money coming in--granted, in a strange and unpredictable fashion, but still!--a new car too, each other, and everybody is healthy. I have time to dedicate to getting Ariana's room organized, finishing up the "integrating Alex's stuff into the apartment" task, helping out friends with their work, playing with kids (we had our first full-family Monopoly game! Ariana won...first I died, then Alex. Yup, our kids are better than us at Monopoly), and reading. Man, I've missed reading! The library is my best friend right now. We found out that we can get five DVDs at a time and have them for a week too, and the selection is amazing. I'm geeking Alex out with some Star Trek: Next Gen shows, and we'll dive into Sex and the City next (I've never seen them, but everybody says I'd love 'em). This bewilderingly happy feeling? Yeah, I can get used to it. I still get my nightly massages, and when I'm up doing work around the house so is Alex even though he has been gone at work all day himself. Alex has a firm belief that if I'm up and on my feet, he should be too. See why I love him?

Anyway, that's the update! I should give you guys another one next week when we return from Grant's house. We both love visiting him. He's a shining example of how the Internet can yield real life friends. We've made so many "real" friends just by starting out talking on the net that I think we've had better luck with decent people here than in day-to-day life! OH! That reminds me though! I have had a great relationship with my officemate Amy all year long, but she won't be returning to Clemson, and I worried that I'd lose her. See, I'm awful--just awful--about making the first move, or the second or third. I don't call on the phone; I don't reach out first. I will email like crazy, but the other person has to do more work to get me to do stuff, and I feel badly about it...but it's just my temperment. I knew I didn't want to lose Amy, but I had no idea how to keep her without her reaching out first. She did instead! We have so much in common. She's a geek like us, and we had her over last week. We fed her silly and did geeky things all night long. She TOOK NOTES on the wines and cheeses I served! Wow. She takes it as seriously as I do. She had given me a challenge: she hates red wine, but she loves white wine (and all other forms of liquor and beer known to man). So, I hunted up a fine Beaujolais, the red wine that thinks it's a white (low tannins, high fruit), from Brouilly and chilled it appropriately. Victory! Before that, I introduced her to a Tavel (dry rose from the Rhone) that she loved, and after dinner, with the chocolate she brought, I gave her a black muscat--a nice sweet red dessert wine. I felt so rewarded by how excited she was by it all. I hate losing friends, and I'm glad she reached out so that we had an opportunity to drag her in and keep her. I'm an odd woman, and it takes a special person to deal with my quirks. It appears she can do it. Woohoo! Go me!

So, in summary, if you can't tell...I'm in a good mood.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day

I luck out that my ex and my husband can play nice. My ex had the kids today, and he brought them over so they could all take me out to lunch. My ex commented, you're probably the only woman in the restaurant who has her ex and her current at the same table. He's probably right.

My son gave me a card. They were supposed to fill in the blanks as they saw fit. The topic was "My Mom"

My mom is....white.

She likes to...hug me.

Sometimes she...like to pay geme (likes to play games--he's in kindergarten! give him a break!)

The best thing about my mom is...she is alive.

HAHAHAHA! I love that last one. He's got a point. Anything else I got going for me is of no use without me being alive. I still chuckle when I think of that.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

It's Alive!

April has been a non-stop month that has kept me so busy that I could barely breathe. I haven't kept up on everybody's blog, and I haven't even been able to post for a month. Whew! At least all the grades are done and in the computer. This last week was exam week, but the English class I teach has no exam. Therefore, earlier this week I finished up the portfolios and calculated the final grades. Then I received griping from several students who feel that just because Eng 103 is rumoured to be an easy class, that means they get an A. Who cares if the work is excellent? They're special, and they deserve an A! It's already giving me the creeps that about half of all my students get As in this system. That should only happen once in a blue moon, when a class just happens to be the best of your career. Out of about 75 students, I think I had one F, one D, two Cs, approx. 38 As, and the rest are Bs. That's not the grades most of them warrant if one looks at the work, but this system rewards people for just working hard. I'm sorry, but if you study four days for a math test and still do the problems wrong, you don't get an A on the test. Effort should count...in that effort spent should lead to more quality work. It shouldn't be just that effort means they get an A. When the students argued for their grades (yes, that's the system--I am not allowed to grade; they have to argue for their grades at the midterm and final and I either agree with the assessment or disagree), they frequently list off good attendance, never handing in a paper late, and doing all assignments in the format requested as the reason why they should get an A. I always write in the margins of those folks who truly believe that's enough: "But what about your WRITING? This is, after all, an English composition class."

Anyway, it's good that it's over. I got a stack of books from the library on Thursday and have been savoring the time to read them. This summer shall be about organizing my small apartment (much smaller now that Alex has moved in for good as of Wednesday) so that we can live with more stuff in the same little space, and it shall be all about reading. I want to learn some more French and more about wine, and then I also want to read for pleasure. I have to fly out for a week to grade AP literature exams, but otherwise, the summer is wide open for me.


My daughter got another Terrific Kid award at her school. She received one last year too. It's all about being a good citizen--helping others, playing with everybody, being nice, etc. I had to cancel classes that day so that I could go to the award ceremony. I told my classes that my daughter was the total package: she is smart, pretty, funny, kind, creative, and amazing in every way. In fact, she was the next best hope for this generation, and she was probably going to save mankind one day. Then I made the class say "thank you Kira" for giving birth and raising said amazing child who would take care of their world for them. Most of them said it, but the rest were laughing too hard to add in their voices. Oh well!


Still no word from Clemson as to whether or not I get to work there next year. Basically, I had a great evaluation from teacher and student, and I signed a reappointment letter. However, that's not a contract, and the department just added a PhD program. New PhD students = we need to give them TAs and let them teach classes for their stipend. The first place to pull classes is from the first year lecturers. That'd be me. I really thought that when I signed the reappointment letter last January, that meant I'd get to work at Clemson for sure. It's no longer a certainty by far.

At first, I had this confidence that I would somehow be one of the very few first years they'd keep. Then I had an incident a few weeks ago that made me realize that I might not be at Clemson next year. No, it's not what you think. I'm going to try to explain.

I have felt for a while now that I'm placed where I need to be. I leave my heart open to being where I need to be, and then when I arrive I do my job. So, at Tech there were a few students I know I needed to help out for the positive. When my time there was done, I was moved to Clemson. I have no doubt that there are students at Tech who still believe that if it were not for me, they'd not be continuing onwards. I know that sounds like bragging, and I don't mean it to be that way. It's not a case of "I'm wonderful, look what I can do!" so much as "Yes, I have my purpose, and thank you for letting me do some good in the world." I want to do good, so I do. Simple.

So when my former student Brenda (I blogged about her years ago) cut across traffic in the beginning of April and blockaded my car into remaining next to the gas pump as I pumped gas, she was my reminder that I had done what I could do at Tech. Babbling happily at me, she told me that she was scared she'd not see me again since she knew I had moved on from Tech, but she wanted me to know that she was entering her clinicals for nursing and would be a nurse in a year. I was so proud of her! We must have hugged thirty times before she left. Her life is so much more on track, and as a result, her two teens and her four year old boy are too. She thanked me over and over again for giving her the confidence to do exactly what she was doing. Brenda was why I was at Tech. Her encounter with me was to remind me of that fact, I believe. On a funny side note, she told me that she had spotted me from behind and knew instantly it was me because "No white woman has really long red-brown hair and a butt like that except Miss Kira!" Haha! That cracked me up.

Then, within days, I had an email arrive in my box that was a surprise to me. Yes, I had been trying to help out this one kid in my classes, but I had no idea how profoundly she was affected by my efforts until she told me. Basically, she informed me that she thought that nobody cared at Clemson and that she was just a face lost in the crowd. She believed she had no purpose anymore, and there was no reason to continue in her education or even go on at all for that matter. For some reason, the way I approached her helped her see things differently, and she's decided that she can do something...be something...and she's staying in Clemson now for next year. She told me she knew that if she hadn't had me for a teacher, she'd have, at the very least, dropped out of school. Wow. Now I know why I got hired at Clemson.

So, unless there are more reasons like that to keep me at the university, I suppose I'll be let go with the majority of the first years. But it's ok. I feel confident that if I am let go, I will then end up where I need to be. And it'll be fine.

On the good news front: Alex has a paid internship at Michelin for the summer. Woohoo! They wanted it to be for four months, but it's going to be for three because of some issues with Alex's school (something about them wanting him to have it over with so he could graduate in August instead of December). He's allowed to take the internship even though he still has a student visa and not a green card because it's an essential part of his studies. Basically, they are all supposed to have a summer internship doing whatever is their specialty. Michelin needed somebody for operations, and that's Alex's chosen field. They were SO excited when he applied because...well, he's French, and they prefer their upper management folks to be bilingual since Michelin is a French company! Yay! They also told him that most of their internships lead to full time offers when the internship is done! DOUBLE YAY! Now all we have to do is have his green card processed by the time that he's graduated from USC. It looks like maybe it'll be Sept. that he might get it. You know what? If I don't end up getting rehired at Clemson, if he gets a job at Michelin we will still be in a way better financial position than we've ever been, either of us, in our lives. This could be something great!