Wednesday, March 31, 2010

kiss this, froggy.

i watched "princess and the frog" last night.

it's genuinely good, y'all.  i was too tired to focus through all of it (the second half hour is a blur of things i only sort of heard as i was sort of dozing in and out), but here are a few things that i really liked about it:
  • from the giddyup, it's very clear that it's trying to capture the spirit and culture of new orleans. it's a sort of stereotypical disney wash of it (large, fat southern man who's rich! obnoxious but kind daughter who's hyper and wants to be a princess! poorer black woman who is their seamstress! VOODOO!) but i like it.  have they really had an american disney fairy tale yet? i don't think so.
  • it's pretty predictable, in terms of the storyline, but i like that they tried to come up with new characters.  the animals? gator and firefly.  AWESOME. if you live anywhere close to the south they depict, you know that's the true way. and these animal characters? probably my favorite since the little mermaid. 
  • the ending. i loved it. there was no question of race.  race sort of played a part in it, but it didn't at the same time. it was from the outside that it became an issue--people doubting tia's ability to reach her dream, people both black and white--but it never, ever was mentioned in her relationship with the prince.  granted, this is disney, but i very much like that.  i want my kids to believe that it's love and compassion and sacrifice that brings happiness, not necessarily a shared cultural background.
netflix it. it's worth an hour and a half of your life.

any movie suggestions for us? we don't watch anything with a higher rating than PG13, so no R movies please. but anything you've seen that you think would be worth a netflix gander?

Monday, March 29, 2010

it might be where the cookies are. maybe that's what i really want.

i've never really tried to explain this to anyone, because i think it sounds strange myself, but i think that maybe it's more universal than i think.

have you ever felt like you wanted to go home when you were already home?

i don't think it's about home. i think it's about the childhood desire to escape whatever is scary or hard or perplexing and retreat, safely, to the arms of your mom, who has the ability to make anything better.

yeah, i'm there.

i'm so tired. like i woke up this morning and i was tired.  i feel like i say that a lot, and that's possibly because i'm constantly operating on a sleep deficit of too much, but i feel physically tired. not brain tired, which i normally achieve about 7 pm and have to push past in order to get things done, not life tired, which i usually feel by thursday when i just can't quite push myself too much further but do it anyway.  not muscle tired, which i actually love because it brings on good sleep and testifies of positive effort.

no, this is the kind of eye-drooping, slogging-through-mud tired that i feel everywhere. in fact, right now, i feel it even in the leg that is sort of hanging off of the recliner.  i have been trying to push myself today to try to get things done--oh, it will be a doozie of a week--but it's tough when all i want to do is lay like vegetables.

the end is in sight. the complete draft is due in a week and a half.  i have about three weeks (and two big sets of papers to grade) between me and sweet freedom from my traditional classes. in about a month or so, i will be defended.  which means that i will be very close to being done.  DONE.

but, right now, i just want to go home.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

there is a God, and this too shall pass.

edited to add: lest you think there is some ginormous tragedy going on, there isn't. just a whole lot of life and whole lot of frustration and a whole lot of feeling like things aren't fair.  it's okay.  that's the way it is. but sometimes, you need to remember that opposition is the PURPOSE, not some sort of negative punishment, and this helps me do just that. 

2 Nephi 2: 11-13:

For it must needs be, that there is an aopposition in all things. If not so, my first-born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.

Wherefore, it must needs have been created for a thing of naught; wherefore there would have been no apurpose in the end of its creation. Wherefore, this thing must needs destroy the wisdom of God and his eternal purposes, and also the power, and the mercy, and the bjustice of God.

And if ye shall say there is ano law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not bthere is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

in which i get all opinionated. pull up a chair.

so, i commented on a friend's facebook status yesterday.

i shouldn't have done that, because it wasn't one of those breezy "me too!" or supportive "yay!" kinds of comments. it was the kind of comment that came from DEEPWITHINMYSOUL.  i.e. i actually have an opinion about it.

for the record, i do not actually have Opinions (capital letter, you know, for emphasis) about everything. the health care bill? i'm on the fence. i'm waiting to see. i'm actually waiting to see if i should expend energy i don't have on a bill i don't really believe will make it very far.  when and if i need to decide, i will educate myself (more than the "5 Things You Should Know About Health Care Reform" article i skimmed on, you know, but less than reading the 2000 page bill itself) and then i will form an Opinion.  other things? breastfeeding? cloth diapers? jillian michaels? lady gaga? the tabloid phenomenon that is kate gosselin?  these things, i can talk about. but i do not have Opinions on them (yet. give me time and an expanded cable tv selection, and i'll give you an Opinion.).

but this topic? oh boy. i have an opinion.

my friend was railing at lawmakers in CA, who have outlawed toys in kids meals.  her point was that the toy does not make the kid want to eat 15 pounds of lard and sugar.  and parents should exercise self-control and teach their kids to as well, instead of leaving it in the lawmakers' hands to do something stupid and ineffectual like taking the toy out of the meal.

i said this:

sometimes, people just don't get it.

like, hey. if healthy food were, i don't know, CHEAPER, then maybe it would be easier for people to feed it to their children. maybe if it ever went on sale, or if it was easier to make, or if it was a whole host of other things that legitimately exhausted, overworked, underpaid parents could use, it would be easier.

or maybe, you know, if people were properly educated about portion sizes (and sufficiently appalled at how few restaurants actually offer a portion of normal size to any patron anywhere) then maybe they could do a better job educating their children.

but instead, let's take the toy away. that'll get 'em.

good grief. 

a few moms of small children, one of whom was the friend to whom the status belonged, commented and agreed with me. we began to talk about how we wished there were more healthy options in the drive-thru world, with the young moms wishing it so that they didn't have to deal with crying/sleeping/yaddayaddayadda kids when they have to physically walk into a restaurant. it was a good point, i thought, and related to the topic of fast food and healthy eating.

enter joe idiot. this is not his real name, but he was a man and this is my blog and that is my assessment.  this is what he said:

First, the idea of personal responsibility and integrity are becoming words on a paper and not in the heart of Americans. It has become acceptable to let the government decide for us and take responsibilty for us.

Video games and tv are perpetuating obesity. Kids should play outside and in parks. Adults need to throw out the remote and take a walk.

Yes, good food is expensive but isn't it worth it? And with research and planning it doesn't have to cost a lot.

And if you want to save money just make your own laundry detergent. $10 will last for months and months. Team up with another family or 2 and buy wholesale. Cut coupons too. Be creative about saving money. Ask others at church how they save money.

In short, yes, it is ridiculous to ban toys and not the unhealthy food. 

okay.  so at first, i was like...yeah, but who has time for all of these grand and OBVIOUS solutions? not the people about whom i was talking.  lower middle class families are poor not only on resources but on TIME.  this is why we live in a world where children watch TV nine hours a day (it's a babysitter) and eat crappy food that comes out of a box (that they can feed themselves or that an exhausted parent can manage to scrape together in the 20 minutes they have before they either have to collapse and die or before they go off to do another job (like, i don't know, cleaning? kids' homework? life?)).  

so here's what i said:

not to be obnoxious, but do you know how much time it takes to do the couponing thing in order to actually do damage to a food budget? Right now, when i'm working three jobs, it's more time than I have. Of course i would love to do it. Of course i would like to be creative and amazing and get out of the grocery store with a cart full of food and having only spent $10. that would be wonderful. but for most americans, it's not that simple. It's easy to say, and yes, of course it is better in the long run to spend money on fruits and vegetables, but when you are faced with the reality of an unyielding food budget and children to feed, perhaps it is easier (and in the long run cheaper) to feed them crap.

and most coupons are for crap or baby items. i'm just sayin'. nobody really needs to buy poptarts. ever. but what are coupons for? a whole bunch of stuff that has too many calories and not enough nutritional value.

i want coupons on apples and salad and broccoli. i want coupons on boneless chicken breasts (sam's has the best deals, btw.) i want coupons on graham crackers and whole grain bread.

until that happens, we're still where we're at.

this is seriously probably one of the injustices of the world that i think nobody really gets. this is why we should all have gardens.

measured, thoughtful response, right?  one that identifies the complexities of the problem and realizes that simplistic solutions (couponing? really? like poor families don't THINK of that?) don't address one heck of a beast of a problem.

this is joe's response.

What about 5 dollars off an oil change? I'm not limiting money saving to just food. And I'm serious about making your own laundry detergent. Really. Also, try finding a local farm and buy your vegetables from them directly. Or do one of those vegetable wholesale subscription.

Now this may sound rude, but it's not intended to be so: it's not usually the budget that's unyielding. It's the budgeter.

With respect to restaurants: I'm cheap. I very rarely eat fast food. I have twice in the last month or so. Once because I got excited when I saw a Carl's Jr when I went to Logan, UT (Hardee's, never had it, and my dad is a Carl Jr.)

"Holy generalization, Batman" is right, Ashlee. Sister K., I don't like rap, but I don't see how they have caused our obesity and "poverty" problems.

at this point, i just wanted to lose my mind.  now, i may be jumping to conclusions, but i felt like he was calling me a frivolous spender with a victim complex. AND I WASN'T EVEN TALKING ABOUT MYSELF. i was talking about a generation of families that can't manage to figure out how to feed their kids and how to keep them active and healthy. i'm talking about a problem that is not as simple as finding a farm. i'm talking about a very real disparity between what the upper middle class suburbanites have access to that the urban poor and the lower middle class don't.  i'm talking about an issue that should be the very heart of what we are discussing when we are discussing nutrition and our children, not whether or not ketchup should be considered a vegetable in our school lunch program.

i'm talking about a revolution, here, where we start shifting our focus onto providing the things that are necessary for life to the people who need them most.

i am talking about something for which i have an Opinion.

i stewed on this for like an hour, drafting and redrafting somewhat snarky responses to this guy who clearly doesn't have a clue.  ultimately, my desire to be Christian overwhelmed my desire to be right and get the last word, which i ultimately didn't get by the way, and i responded with this:

apparently this is a much more simple topic than i thought it was. we should all just do the easy things, that lots of people do all of the time, and all will be well.

good thing just a seemingly complex problem has such easy solutions.

in the meantime, they should definitely put mini beanie babies in happy meals so that we can start collecting them again. that was cool.

i was annoyed and done with people who think that successful families who have 5 kids and work and cook healthy meals prove that people can just do it and it is easy. i'm done with people who look at complex problems and see the black and white of it instead of the shades of gray that are the reason that it is still a problem.

sure, the reality might be that people systematically make bad choices.  that's often the reason why bad things happen to otherwise well-meaning people.  but if that's the reality, don't we have a responsibility to figure out WHY? i can't really believe that a mother wants to fill her children with pizza rolls and pop tarts when she knows that they are steadily gaining weight, when they are beginning to have health problems, when they are heading down a path she knows is wrong.

i have to believe that she just doesn't know how to do it differently.

and i know that telling her it's easy and people have been doing it for years, or that the key to all mythologies lies in a 10 pound bag of homemade detergent, does nothing to help the situation.

perhaps being morbidly obese for most of my life makes me very sensitive to this subject. perhaps having had to relearn how to think about food and what to put into my body has made me feel like i know a little bit more about what's going on at the heart of this issue than people who are looking at it from the outside.  perhaps having lost 120 pounds has made me think about this a lot more. 

maybe learning lessons that i want to pass on to my children has made me very firm in my Opinion.

regardless of how or why i've gotten there, the reality is that i've gotten there.  and i sure wish other people would too. 

complex problems are complex. the sooner we realize this, the sooner we can begin to identify how to help.  understanding people, and meeting them where they're at, is where it begins.

not judging them.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

in which i get a little mushy.

the scale moved, but it moved up. the level of frustration would overwhelm me if i really thought about it. i angsted about it to my lovely husband via text message, to which he replied "i think you're perfect the way you are."

and he really means it. 

just before that, i asked him if everything was going to work out okay. it was monday, and it was feeling like a rough day for sure. 

he said "oh yeah. we have each other. and we're still totally in love."

the night before, just as i was falling asleep, he whispered that we had almost been married eight months. and then he said "we're doing pretty good."  or something awesomely equivalent.

yes, musicboy, we're doing pretty good. 

gosh i love him.  it's this constant state of existence. i don't realize, sometimes, in the midst of my days, just how much until i try to think of life--or anything--without him.  and then the depth of my commitment to him and just how much he makes my everyday everything better hits me with a blind surge of panic at the idea that i could ever lose him.  despite knowing what i know--that we will be together forever--i am absolutely and fundamentally at a loss to think of how i would deal without him.

he calms my storms, melts the madness, believes in me in a way that allows me to do more than i've ever been able to do before. he inspires me, simply because i love him so much, to do more and be more and give more and everything i have to our family.  he makes me dream bigger and in more vibrant shades of color about life than i normally would.  he plays the ukelele while i grade. we don't do anything with anyone else because we're so totally happy being together.  we laugh about really retarded things and quote night at the museum 2 with obnoxious regularity.  we lift each other up.   

he is my perfect dream.

and i get to live it, for real, every day.

Monday, March 22, 2010

this day is made of monday, which i have asked my facebook friends to please define the ingredients for, but i believe it begins by waking up tired, having had guilt-inducing dreams (about pursuing (innocently...get your mind out of the gutter) some guy that i haven't seen since the early 90s and didn't really even know anyway except that he was in my ward) all night that made me wake up far too often, getting on the scale after a week that can only be described as AWESOME and seeing no.change.whatsoever, and having a daunting to-do list staring me down.

it's monday.

but i read an article last night about gratitude, and i am thinking that throwing some gratitude at this day can only make it better.

i am grateful for the fact that i haven't gained any more weight and that the fitness activities that i am working on are helping me to become stronger. i am grateful that my lower body is getting definition and that i still fit into my clothes pretty well.

i am grateful that every time i woke up last night, musicboy was there.  it helped to ground me in the reality of my life, which is pretty awesome.

i am grateful that i can pray, because it helps me to deal with the frustration that inevitably comes from things i don't understand.

i am grateful that i can come home today, take a nap, get up, and face the world a little bit more clearly.

i am grateful that tomorrow is tuesday, and i can do something else, perhaps better than i did today.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

everybody loves an underdog.

march madness is nuts. i don't even like basketball much, but oh how i love the cinderella stories. my bracket has died an ignominious death, but if it means that someone i've never heard of (st. mary's, anybody?) gets to the final four, i will be so pleased.

i worry about our future children sometimes.  musicboy gets more riled up about ncaa football 2010 for the playstation than one should really ever be (it's because he likes to be good at everything he does and he's frustrated by stupidity on any level, even if electronic...sound like anyone else you know?) and i will take someone's face off in a game of bananagrams.  i hope they like sports or they are going to be a frustrated bunch of children.

i have a stack of essays to read but i didn't read them tonight.  i didn't want to. i still don't want to. this, of course, will result in much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth later this upcoming week, when the avalanche of student writing descends upon me, but tonight felt more like enchiladas, oatmeal raisin cookies, and basketball. 

that could be because i did couch to 5k this morning and then went to body combat.  my lower extremeties would like to rise up in rebellion and kill me, but they're too tired and sore.  so they just mumble and complain and say unladylike things under their breath whenever they are called upon to do anything at all.

my body combat instructor said today that this brutal choreography we're doing now (which is good--it burns a wicked amount of calories which facilitates the enchilada-cookie combo i alluded to earlier) would firm up your midsection. in the room full of mirrors, i could still see my roly stomach and thought "really? WHEN?" but then when i got home i realized that you can actually begin to achieve ab definition AROUND your fat rolls.  this is a strange realization that i have had before, but honestly? i'd prefer that the rolls just exit the building.

i got my new shoes!  but they gave me a murderously large blister on my heel.  sigh.  they always do that to it. i have to suffer for my art.

i was talking to a friend of mine who meets me once a week to work on dissertations together, and she was asking me if i was planning to publish my chapters as articles. my immediate response was "no way" and i followed that up with the idea that if i were to try to run that particular gauntlet, i would more than likely take a sizeable chunk of time off before doing so.  and then i said that i don't really like academic writing.

and that's true. i don't like the whole book-length chapter writing process. i like the seminar paper process. it's 15-20 pages, which is long enough to flesh out an idea and develop it but not long enough to have to really examine it in nauseatingly fine detail. you can go out on a limb if you'd like and then you can crawl back to your tree of safety and move on with your life. and you never have to commit another thought or resource to that idea if you don't want to.

that's the kind of writing i can get behind.  i told her that i have a blog, and it got me wondering--will my writing improve after the dissertation and phd is over? or will it decline? i feel certain that i will begin to branch out, but i'm not sure what i'll do. i know what i WON'T do. i won't try to turn my little blogging deal into a business.  no way. 

i blog because i need to, because it's my outlet.  not because i think i have a future in electronic publishing.  no way.

i do i hope i have a future in summer teaching, though. i am beginning to worry that i will have no income at all.  i should trust that all will work out, as it always does, but good grief, does it always have to come down to the wire?

of course it does. where's the fun and faith in anything else?

speaking of, basketball's on.  i hope there's another buzzer beater. i do love to be on the edge of my seat.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

a wednesday in awesome emails.


dear [dr. awesome, the best director ever who i still call doctor even though she signs her emails with her first name],

I'm attaching what I have so far. It's 8 pages, but doesn't include the chapter by chapter sketch of my project yet. I just have no idea if I'm on the right track or not.  I think I am, and I kind of like it, but I'm not really sure what I'm supposed to do for the introduction of the chapters. I don't want to talk about them ad nauseum, but I am guessing that I need some sort of abstract-like synopsis of each one in order.  Is that where I end? 

Also, I'm not really sure how well I'm connecting or commenting on these ideas or how well I'm actually introducing my overall thesis and focus (that could be because I haven't yet read through all of my drafts yet...). I feel like I know what I'm trying to say, but I'm not sure if it's coming out in any way intelligently. If you wouldn't mind letting me know what you think, that would be great.  I'll keep working on other things, including working on the synopsis section, so please don't feel like you have to turn it around immediately.  



her reply, which came 30 minutes later:

[teachergirl], I was curious and had a little time so I just read the intro very quickly. I think it is quite good.  I’ve made just two quick comments and I have a comment on the Claude glass note—I’ve never heard of this other form of glass so do double check.    And yes, add brief (one paragraph at most) descriptions of the chapters.  You can do this last.  You will also probably have revisions for this intro after you have finished with the rest, which is one of the reasons that I have not gone over it really carefully yet.  It’s fine for now—good work.  Now go on to the rest and return to the intro last, when you really know everything that you have accomplished! [dr.awesome]


i have established a reward system for the last parts of my dissertation.  this one? the draft of the introduction done and sent to dr. awesome? RUNNING SHOES.

i'm so excited.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

so sometimes there are days when i rock.

yesterday was one of those days.  i packed my lunch the night before. i packed my bag also, knowing myself well enough to know that i wouldn't have time to remember everything that i needed for the day.  i went to class. i managed to figure out how to stretch the time, despite the fact that the 20 some odd faces staring at me just desperately wanted me to end early. 

sorry, suckas. 

then i went to the library and worked on my dissertation outline for four hours. at least one of those hours, in total, was spent on the internet, blogging and otherwise distracting myself from the frustration of not being able to say what i wanted/needed to say.  but i was always thinking, and always managed to get back to it.

[in fact, if i had my way, i'd be working on it now. the pump has been primed, which is very good news.]

i came home, went out to dinner with my husband (mini-fail because i didn't want to cook), came back home, did some more work (though not enough), and then went to the gym. 

by the time i got to the gym, the tides had turned. i was quick tempered and irritable, annoyed that there were so many freaking people there at 845 on a monday night.  get a new hobby, people! it's supposed to be deserted at that time! stupid daylight savings. go to bed. 

the annoyance didn't really subside when i got home, either.  there were moments, but for the most part, i was still quick to be annoyed. i read my scriptures a little, read with musicboy, and was reminded, twice, of the message that we have no idea what the Lord has in store for us.  that's good to remember for someone like me, who ohsodesperately always wants to know why. 

i went to sleep but not well.

then i woke up today.  and this day is like the bizarroworld version of yesterday.  i canceled class at rural cc, unable to face the task of driving there and dealing with those students. that may sound bad, but i just couldn't do it. i felt moderately guilty doing it, except for a small voice that told me that they were responsible for doing the same amount of work they would have done in class, it wasn't going to hurt them, and that i probably needed it more than i knew.  after having slept very little in the early morning hours, i slept much more in the later morning hours, waking up at an obscene hour still relatively exhausted.  i'm pretty sure that i dreamed about students wanting to leave class early and me repeatedly telling them to SIT DOWN.

heh.  nobody can tell me that dreams don't mean stuff.

i'm up and going now, trying to scratch off as many little tasks from my to-do list as humanly possible.  i'm hoping it will carve the way for me to POSSIBLY get ahead a little bit and get things done before the tidal wave of student papers comes in on friday/monday. 

last night, before i went to bed, i just kept saying "i can do anything for 19 days. i can do anything for 19 days."

it felt very true yesterday. today, i'm a tad bit more skeptical. 

and i still feel a little bit guilty for canceling class.

[and my neighbors are having a serious fight next door. i have no tv or music on, so i can hear a lot of it.  it makes me glad that musicboy and i don't raise our voices to each other.  ever.  when will we learn, as a people, that words hurt more than any weapon ever forged?]

Monday, March 15, 2010

thank you, pandora, for finding me a song that describes my life right now.

She hit the door 6:55 sack full of groceries split down the side,
Canned goods scattered all the way to the curb,
Look on her face saying don't say a word.
So, it's me and her and a can of beans sitting there on the front porch swing.
Western sky all turning red,

Head on my shoulder, she sighed and said:

Been gopherin', chaufferin', company chairman.
Coffee maker, Copy repairman.
Anymore there ain't nothin' I swear man that I don't do.
Been juggling, struggling, closing big deals...
Dancing backwards in high heels.
Just when it feels like i can't make it through,
She said, it sure is nice to just be the woman with you

She said the girl I was, with the business degree, probably wouldn't recognize me.
I was gonna run the bank.
I was going to run them out.
Now all I want to run is a bubble bath.
Back then, you know, I had this plan...
Before all of this reality set in.
Here comes life, boy, ready or not.
Hey, I wanted it all and that's what I got.

[don't watch the video--it's a blinking title that's SUPER annoying...--but listen to it, if you haven't in a while]

20 days until the draft is due.

i've decided that the first thing that i am going to do after i defend, other than collapse in a puddle of grateful and exhausted goo, is go to the bookstore and splurge on a couple of books that i've wanted to read but haven't.  this decision was spawned by a weekend of resentment that i don't get to do anything that i want to do, and also by the guy i just passed who was sitting out in the rather chilly sunshine reading a book.

now, i'm on the campus of collegetown u as we speak, so i know that it is most definitely a specious conclusion that said sunshine reader was reading something that he wanted to read, but the mere idea that one could throw caution, deadlines, and a neverending series of employment responsibilities to the wind to take advantage of an almost-springlike day inspired me.

so there's that.

my students today looked like someone just told them their dog died. they were depressed to be in class. i knew exactly how they felt.

i just don't think that nose rings are that attractive. i'm not talking about studs. those i can almost understand. i'm talking about the full on rings that people put between their two nostrils, in that little piece of cartilege that separates the two.  the only way i can describe them is that they look like the rings that they put in bulls. aren't those so that they can be led against their will?  i think so, but i'm too tired to google it.  if the only metaphor/descriptor i can use to describe your choice of a fashion statement is one of a bovine imprisonment instrument, i just don't think you're on the right track.  (no offense to any of my readers with nose rings. i have family members with the studs. there's no judgment of you as a person. it's just like those shoes of mine that you hate.)

there's a special floor in the library for the grad students here at collegetown u. i used to pooh-pooh it, thinking it was stupid and small and who the heck needed it? then i started working up here on fridays with a friend. now i think it's great. it's nothing especially different from the regular library floors. it's just you have to use your specially activated student id to get up here and there are tables and cubicles and maybe they are a little bit nicer. but really, it's just like the teachers lounge. there's nothing special about it except the mystique and the fact that you more than likely don't have to fight with someone for whom you are responsible to grade for a chair and an outlet for your laptop.

i made apple crisp last night and it was all sorts of yummy. surprising discovery? dannon vanilla yogurt (light & fit of course, because i do everything that heidi klum tells me to) makes a surprisingly tasty (and healthy!) substitute for ice cream. it was so scrumptious.  and it wasn't too terrible for me, even though i scarfed down like two servings of that bad boy.

i am frustrated by my lack of progress on the weight front. i am stronger and my leg muscles are coming back and as soon as i get new shoes i'm going to try the whole running thing again, but i'm not losing ANY weight. in fact, my body seems to just wait for the moments that i lose my will to watch calories and then pack them all on.  i'm feeling like it's probably the amount of sugar i consume on a daily basis (so so much) that's doing it to me.  i need to balance more.  but balance requires forethought, planning, and carrot sticks.  sigh.  i'm still working on it, and to the persistent go the spoils.  (yes, i just changed that. give me a break, huh?)

daylight savings time can suck it.  i know we only lose one hour one night, but it creates a strange and dangerous cycle in which i get sleepy at a normal time, fall asleep for a few minutes while musicboy is most definitely not asleep and is in fact watching gilmore girls because he is so unasleep (something that wouldn't really bother me normally), then wake up hungry and not tired at all.  staying up until 2 am on the day before i have to be brilliant in the quiet library? not so good.

why do people who misspell quiet as quite not understand that they are NOT the same word?

i'm starving. time to eat my tuna lunch (oh everyone on this floor is going to LOVE me) and start thinking about the tension between the two definitions of domestic.


20 days.

i can do anything in/for/during [insert appropriate preposition here] 20 days.

Friday, March 12, 2010


i'm not really sure what a fishwife is. i mean, literally, i know that a fishwife would be a wife of a fish. (behold the intelligence, y'all.) but i seem to remember it being used in a derogatory manner.

[oh. i googled it. it's a woman who sells fish or a shrew.  good to know.]

i use it as my title because musicboy left this evening to head west to go fish with his parents for tomorrow. he'll be back tomorrow night, hopefully toting some fish to fill up my freezer (although we don't eat it that much...which we should do better about) and having had some very nice fun on a boat. 

i will not be having nice fun on a boat.  i am chained to my laptop by the online university for professionals for which i freelance and am grateful for it.  also, i have classes to plan for and papers still to grade and let's not even talk about the fact that i haven't written anything in my introduction yet.

but i digress, as i often do, into the to-do list.  it's how i answer most questions now.

[q: would you like fries with that? a: two classes worth of response papers and a speech round.]

being alone is a strange double-edged sword. i feel no guilt about going to the gym or eating cereal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner or spending the entire day grading. i find myself being more task-oriented, which i would really like to be on this last full day of my break, before the madness starts in full force again. 

for better or worse, musicboy is much more interesting than almost anything else. also, because he is brilliant at everything he's currently doing, he very rarely has anything to do when he's home.  his homework is done, his practicing is done.  for the most part, he is a perfect example of leaving work at work and investing in his home life when he's home.

now please don't misunderstand: musicboy is nothing if not supportive of me when i have things to do. but when i know that he is off doing something else, especially something that he doesn't get to do too often because he works every single saturday, i feel less guilt for being solely focused on what i need to do for me.

but i will be very glad when he gets home tomorrow night. 

with fish.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Dear [Musicboy],

We are pleased to inform you that you have passed your audition for admission into the [Collegetown U] School of Music.  

[blah blah blah you're amazing so we're placing you in this class which is exactly where you wanted to be for music theory blah blah blah we have no money so we can't give you a scholarship blah blah blah you'll be advised about registration at the summer preview session blah blah blah send us back this letter so a spot will be reserved for you in trombone studio]


The Head of Collegetown U's School of Music.

it came after a week of waiting, after a week of wondering, after a few days of worrying, after some praying, and after decisions were already made.

i got the mail in the sprinkling rain, almost shocked that what my mom told me was absolutely true: when we made the decision, when we followed the spirit, we would get the news. 

we signed the lease yesterday to our new place. 

she was right.

when i saw it, it was another testament to me that the Lord is mindful of us and knows when we need to exercise some faith.  when we desperately need to put our hand in His and do what He says instead of what might kind of make sense to someone else. 

musicboy was at work. i texted him to ask if he wanted me to come there so he could read it.  he didn't answer.  i called.  straight to voicemail.  i left to do some errands, calling again 15 minutes later. he had only just gotten the mesages.  by then, as i sat stopped at a red light, i had tried to read through the envelope and had seen word combinations that only meant one thing.

i fistpumped, yelled, and then quickly cried a little, overwhelmed with an odd mixture of gratitude, relief, and a great deal of pride.

when musicboy and i finally connected, him sitting in my car in the rain and opening this letter that means so much, i was so happy for him.  he's in. 

and he turned to me and thanked me for helping him get in.  i scoffed a little and said "how?" but in that moment, i knew.

i've been thinking lately that maybe the work that i do, the volume of which sometimes paralyzes me with a claustrophobic weight, is more important than i give it credit for.  we all know that the work that mothers do is important, that the work of some jobs is essential. yes, teaching is important. i know that.  but i mean more than that.  i mean maybe everything that i do--the effort that i put forth, the dishes that i do, the laundry that i hate and yet grit my teeth and do anyway--means something more than the money it earns.

maybe it's more. 

as musicboy said that to me, i realized that it is.  and when i said "then it's all worth it," i meant it.  and i headed off to the laundromat, laptop in hand.  i washed everything we own and graded response papers with a lighter heart. 

our little family is on a roll. 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

wordless wednesday: count 'em up.

i have a to-do list as long as my arm and not enough spring break left for me to truly get everything done, but this is how i feel.  i am overwhelmed by my blessings and how much i don't deserve most of them.  so i'll keep stepping, one foot in front of the other, and make the most of every day i have.

may your day be full of spunky joy and moments of pure gratitude.

Monday, March 8, 2010

tales from my convection oven.

i love to bake.  this is not news.  it is probably the single most logical reason for my recent weight gain and the reason that, despite working out a lot and redefining my shape a bit, the weight really isn't coming off.

being domestic makes me want to bake things. the fact that my husband likes the desserts doesn't help with that. 

but lately, i have been experimenting.  and by experimenting i mean i am taking recipes or mixes and doing other stuff with them. the first successful execution of this "by gosh and by golly" attitude was valentine's day, when i made a sour cream devil's food cake just by sort of winging it. 

it was delicious.

also for valentine's day, i made musicboy chocolate chocolate chunk cookies which are his favorite.  then we started watching gilmore girls and saw this:

right before they start singing the best song ever, lorelei asks rory why she's carrying a bag of rocky road cookies, since she hates them.  behold, the seed was planted.  the next time i made cookies, i decided to give it a whirl.

i really just took this recipe and tossed in some mini marshmallows that i had in my cabinet.  funny things happened. number one, they were AWESOME.  but the marshmallows didn't stay intact as i thought they would.  they melted and got hard and at first i was like NOOOOO but then i ate them and was like YESSSS.  word to the wise: use a VERY non-stick pan or grease that bad boy up.  the marshmallows will cause megastickage if you don't.  the way i make them, this recipe usually makes about 48-50 cookies (making them about 100 calories each).  they're worth it. 

also, i realized the following:
  • jiffy apple cinnamon muffins are MUCH better if you use applesauce instead of the egg, a splash of milk, and toss in some extra cinnamon and nutmeg. when they're baking, they smell like apple fritters.  seriously.
  • baked apples--the easiest treat ever and not at all unhealthy.  granny smith apples.  a bit of transfat free margarine and cinnamon sugar (you can use splenda if you'd like, but sugar isn't that calorically dense if you use it wisely).  i throw nutmeg in there and it is YUMMY.
  • 100 calorie brownies: i'm sure most of you have heard of these (devil's food cake mix and pumpkin) but did you know that a) you can split the cake mix into two and it makes a loaf-size cake? and b) you can use 1/2 cup of pureed sweet potato as a substitute? i was dying to make these, as they are sometimes the only things that keep me from diving face first into musicboy's cookies, but the Great Pumpkin Shortage of 2009-2010 continues.  the grocery store had NONE.  i was sad, but then remembered that i had some purees left.  it worked as well, if not better, and i think it might be healthier anyway.  sweet potatoes to the rescue!
i'm very excited about my newly discovered ability to make junk up and have it not taste like yuck.  that was always what i aspired to be.  when i have more time, in some distant unrecognizable future, i may start trying it with more adventurous things.  like side dishes.  and vegetables.  but for now, baking will do.

choose your own adventure.

on thursday, musicboy and i went on what can only be compared to a frustrating yet ultimately awesome treasure hunt through collegetown to find our next home.

while i dearly love the little one bedroom that we have made into our home this past seven months, complete with the ancient oven (teachergirlmom got us a convection oven for christmas that sits on the counter because ancient oven seemed out to get me with its lack of consistent temperature level and its desire to always burn me.  i am in love with our convection oven.) and the little tiny brown ants that periodically pop up to look for water or something (they come out of the walls, i think, through old phone jacks or really wherever they want. i used to be completely skeezed out by this, but now i use the awesome power of poison and take joy in my triumph over nature.  thank you teachergirlmom for buying us ant poison also.). 

i shouldn't be lame.  this is an awesome place. it has incredible closet space (like INCREDIBLE. like as in three FULL closets for a relatively tiny one bedroom. unheard of.) and it is incredibly cheap.  the neighbors are nice, we've only had one night of a party next door that made us have to go to sleep with cspan to kill the bass, and it has a good vibe.

that's really how we chose it. the price was awesome and the location was fine, but it was when we saw it and visited it that we knew it was home. we both knew it. at the same time. it was an incredible moment. 

so when we knew that we were growing out of this place, i started scouring the internets for leads. i usually stay far away from established apartment complexes because, in my previous experience, they are insanely expensive for 1 and 2 bedrooms.  this little place we have now came through a realtor.  so that's the direction i went and i had a list of drive-bys.  the way this little process works is that you drive by the place first, to weed out the "ohmygoshiwillneverliveheres" and only bother the realtors with the ones you're actually interested in. 

so we had an appointment with one off of craigslist for 4.  musicboy got home at 345. we left shortly after, and hit EVERY red light, traffic jam, stopped school bus, and pedestrian gridlock in collegetown.  we were 15 minutes late, and no one was there when we got there. no worries, because it was in sketchland and i didn't like it.  bad vibe.

we proceed to drive by every other one. and none of them feel right. door slamming after door slamming. one or two weren't bad, but the prices weren't great either.  then, in the middle of all of this, we happen to drive by a traditional apartment building with a sign for large 2 brs for 595.

say whaaaat?

after our frustrating afternoon of drivebys, musicboy suggested that we circle back to that apartment building.  we drove in, and there it was.

that feeling.

we walked into the office, surprised that it was open.

they had one unit.
available exactly when we wanted it.
we got approved on our own.

one thing after another, it seemed like the right place at the right time.

it seems like home, even though we haven't seen the unit yet. we've seen pictures and we felt that feeling.  it feels like home.

but we still haven't heard about musicboy's admission yet.  even still, we feel like collegetown is where we need to be, where we should be. 

our next adventure will be amazing.  it will still be here, come what may about collegetown u's decision, and it will involve a little townhouse with a patch of grass and a spot for my planters.  it will happen in a home that has a washer and a dryer and a dishwasher, which were my criteria for feeling rich.  it will happen together, in a place we've come to love.

as uncertain as some things are, i've come to recognize the sure signs that we are home. 

i am so excited to make it so.  i see paint swatches and curtain making in my future.  it will be so lovely to have a separate office/music room for a while, where i can dump all of my teaching stuff and where i don't have to look at it all of the time.  it will be so nice to have a living room large enough to have the loveseat facing the tv. 

i'm very excited.  july can't come quick enough.   :)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

gender schmender, right?

when i began teaching, i was an undergrad working with middle school students in a summer program.  the authority i had to develop didn't really, in my mind, have anything to do with my gender.  girl or not, i just had to fake like i knew what i was doing or they would eat me alive.

(it's true of most middle school jobs--it didn't get any different when i became a full-time middle school teacher a few short years later.)

in fact, the most powerful, organic connections that i had with students seemed to happen with young men.  i communicated with them more easily and seemed to impress/win them over easier than i did with the young women. 

(this coincided with what i knew about girls, that we compete with each other far more than we like to admit. and we judge. i do not exclude myself from this, nor do i ignore the fact that it's a blanket stereotype.)

when i went back to school, and thus began teaching an older population, the distinctions between students based on gender seemed to fade away.  students were students--some of them brilliant, hard-working, and insightful and others distinctly annoying with a penchant for loud complaining. 

my authority issues then became more of a knowledge issue--the way that i convinced students that they should take me seriously was through my preparation and my knowledge base.  they knew enough to see through a snow job, and i took pride in the fact that i was prepared more often than i wasn't and that, as my career continued, my knowledge base continued to be enough to impress and maintain my intellectual authority.

of course, until this past year, i have taught exclusively in large university settings. these sorts of environments, for better or worse, weed out a certain facet of the population. many of those, for whatever reason (income, location, career aspirations, grades, etc.), are then funnelled into the community college system.

i began teaching at rural cc this past fall.  it wasn't until today that i realized what one of the primary conflicts i have there stems from.

until today, i didn't realize that most every day that i teach there, my authority is being challenged (often imperceptibly, but sometimes vocally) by the male students that i teach. 

even when i am giving them terrible grades and asking them to perform up to higher standards than they are accustomed, the female students seem to stick with me.  they show up, they do their work, they ask questions, they participate in activities, they engage with the process.  even when they are annoyed, enough that i can tell, they don't challenge me in class.  they may email me, they may do it behind the comfortable barrier of binary code, but they don't do it in person or in class.

the male students feel no such compunction. 

today, i was explaining a paper assignment, telling students that after they had the chance to work on the first portion of their paper in class today, they would submit a rough draft of the 1 page argument on the tuesday after spring break.  in theory, if they had worked quickly during class, they would have had nothing whatsoever to do before tuesday. i would have taken their draft as they had it and made comments. 

one of my male students, who always sits in the back (as all of them do) and often answers questions quickly and without much thought (i had a student just like this last semester, too), said "we get to write a paper during spring break? sweet." i took this to be a sarcastic comment and said, perhaps shortly and/or sharply "that's not what i said."

and he proceeded to act as though i had snapped his head off, saying "i just asked a question. sorry."  and then he continued to complain to his neighbors "man, i just asked a question." and then really didn't do anything for the rest of the class period.

i didn't respond to his complaints, feeling that he was painting me into the bad guy corner and assessing, in my mind, if i had done anything to deserve that. in no way did i think his comment was an actual question, nor do i think he intended it to be so.  i think he intended it to be exactly what i interpreted it to be--a snarky, veiled attempt to challenge what i was asking them to do.  when i called him out on it, when i stood up for what i said, the situation was turned around on me.

perhaps you think that i am overreacting. perhaps i am.  but as i was texting musicboy about what had transpired this morning, i realized that this kind of back-into-a-corner, challenging, disrespectful attitude is what i get from most of my male students.  i walk into every class hoping to find allies quickly, to find the pair of eyes that i can land on as i'm lecturing that will help me gauge how students are responding.  many of my male students seem to begin the course as these allies--they participate often, they answer questions, they seem engaged.  they are often the loudest voices in my rural cc classes. 

but those same male students, about halfway through the semester and regardless of their performance, seem to turn.  they stop offering respect and start challenging.  they behave as if they are too smart/cool/busy to be bothered by actually doing the activities that i ask them to do.  they group together, making jokes in the back of the class like a couple of 12 year olds, radiating a kind of holier-than-thou attitude that drives me nuts.

until today, i figured it was just part of the deal.  it's not as though i have never experienced a student disengaging before. it's not as if i haven't had classroom activities flop.  i have, and i do, and i recognize that gender doesn't really have anything to do with either of these things. 

i hadn't realized, at all, that gender could be PRECISELY what this is about.  i work in a rural community, a place where trucks and guns are common and where, though i hate to admit it, attitudes may be more...traditional?...than in a university community.  and here i am.  young woman, married, highly educated, who leans on intelligence and hard work as authority makers, not a demeanor of intimidation or formality.

it works everywhere else.  i'm not sure if it works there.  well, it works, but it leaves me open to consistent challenge from my male students, challenges that thus far i have dealt with by trying to be a better teacher.  i am on my game this semester. i have met the students where they are at, and still asked them to meet my standards.  i'm not sure how much better prepared or thoughtful i can be about my teaching.

i'm not sure what to do about this.  gender has always been an academic interest to me, but i've never experienced these issues in real life, in practice.  i don't know how to fight it. 

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

the letters, they're back.

dear random big haired woman who sauntered into body combat 45 minutes after it started,

you just walked in on track SEVEN.  as in WE HAVE DONE SEVEN SONGS WORTH OF AWESOME before you walk in.  you may have noticed that we were all sweaty beyond what is acceptable in normal society, breathing harder than ought to be legal, and yet still moving with conviction. 

and yet you walked in.  at first, i thought maybe you left something.  or maybe you were there obscenely early for the next class--and instead of waiting outside like everyone else decided to come in.  okay.  fine.

but do you know that's annoying? distracting? can possibly lead to INJURY?

do you also know that you look sort put it bluntly...idiotic trying to join into choreography that you CLEARLY DON'T KNOW?  don't think i didn't notice that you couldn't hack it with the plyo pushes and jab/uppercut/hook combinations. 

i did.

here's a thought: body combat is awesome.  come.  BUT COME ON TIME.

good heavens.


i've been here for five weeks.


dear jell-o,

you are insanely good marketers. i don't know if you actually have a deal with the keebler ready-made graham cracker crust people and the cool whip folks, but your cookies n creme pudding singlehandedly made me purchase that as well as hot fudge to make ice cream shop pie.

it is TASTY.  it is awesome.  it isn't too terribly many calories (or at least, it's worth it). 

you are very good at what you do.

many thanks,
dessert-making girl.


dear grading,

thanks for the break. it was too brief, but i appreciate it.  i'll be back at it full force tomorrow, whether or not my brain and will wants it.

yours truly,

Monday, March 1, 2010

i'm looking toward the future!

in something like three months or so, i will be for all intents and purposes done with the dissertation. i will also be facing a six week or so break, one of which will be spent in the nice north with mama going to see wicked and probably sleeping a lot and thinking nothing about dissertating.

or swimming in the idea that, other than revisions, i am DONE.

i was reading on another blog about this whole list of goals that a blogger had, one of which was reading a book a month.

and i suddenly thought.  hey. i want a list of things i want to do once i'm done with the dissertation.

so here's the beginning.

1. read books only for pleasure.  i want to begin with pride and prejudice and zombies.  i might think it's fabulous. i might think it's awful.  oh well.  it will be a lovely option.  if you have things you've read in the last, say, six years that you think i should read (oh! that guernsey potato peel society book! i want to read that! and the friday night knitting club!  these may not be the right titles, but i know what i'm talking about...), leave them here in a comment. i'm open to suggestions.

2.  start a scrapbook of our wedding.  i have so many memories of that day that are evoked by the pictures, but which are sure to fade if i'm not careful. at the very least, i'd like to tell the story of that day somewhere.

3. do couch to 5k. start to finish. 

what else should i do?