Happy Thanksgiving

No time for a long Thanksgiving post today, like I had planned, but I wanted to extend a very Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends. I hope you have a happy and safe holiday, and that you're spending it with family and friends. Matt and I are going to Waco today to spend the holiday with our dear friends Amanda & Karen. Matt always looks forward to their cooking -- and he can't stop talking about the spicy ranch crackers they make!! Most of all, we're grateful to be spending the holiday with our loved ones, even when we can't be with family.

This year, I'm thankful for so much, but most of all for family. Having lost my grandmother this year, I go forward with a renewed sense of love for my family. I appreciate my parents, sister Candi, and my husband more than I can ever say and I thank them for being the most amazing part of my life. I'm thankful that this year, unlike the 10 that came before it, I saw my family a lot, but am sad that the circumstances couldn't be better. I'm thankful to have reconnected with family and friends I'd lost contact with. I'm thankful for a wonderful grandmother who always loved and cherished us and for the time I got to spend with her before she left this world. I'm thankful for wonderful friends, for all the lovely and thoughtful thanksgiving invitations (Melanie, Phoena, Amanda & Karen, Aunt Sue), and for some of the most awesome co-workers a girl could ask for. I'm thankful for my education, my health, and the little moments I can manage to steal away for quiet meditation and reminiscence. Finally, I'm thankful for the most amazing wintery weather this Thanksgiving holiday, for an exciting football season, for the spurts of creativity that give me hope for the future, and for my babies Anakin and Galileo.

Happy Thanksgiving to all, may yours be amazing!

(Un)Thankful

So, in true pessimist fashion and with Thanksgiving approaching, I thought I'd do a little something different this year.  Rather than a "thankful" post, which everyone does, I'm going to write about the things for which I am not thankful.  Now don't get me wrong, the thankful post is coming later in the week, closer to Thanksgiving.  I have so much to be thankful for this year, despite some of the hardships, but you'll have to wait until nearer Thanksgiving to learn what those things are.

So, what does a (un)thankful list look like?  About like this, I'm not thankful for...

  1. A co-worker who can't pull her weight and doesn't think about anyone else in the office -- rather, she does things like going out for a fifteen minute presentation, with me having gone in early to cover her, and doesn't come back for an hour! Or, coming in 30 minutes late because she must eat lunch at noon, on the dot, without exception, never mind that she should be working and is putting someone else out by being late.

  2. A classmate who's a total misogynist and bully -- the man comes to class and sleeps half the time, he plays on his computer and does homework for other classes, and when he says something, it's always sexist and ridiculous.  He tries to leave early and while others are still talking, he likens the plays to the "piƱa colada" song, and he rudely says things like, "I liked the [insert author name] from the book better before this discussion" which is his prerogative and might mean more were he not denigrating the student giving the presentation that week.  Oh, and if he says "but, but, but, but..." or "ya know" one more time I might strangle him!

  3. My own inability to get the job done -- Let's just say that I'm still no where near having my papers done and they're due in 8 days. Everyday I tell myself it's time get a good start and everyday I find a new and creative way to procrastinate for another day.  I'm running out of time, I know that, but I'm still not getting it done.  I'm not sure what's going to happen, but that worrying I talked about in the last post, it's starting and I'm starting to panic!  Panic is a good thing, but it's also a bad thing.  All I can say is, I feel like I work best under pressure... which is a good thing at this point.

  4. The lingering sickness -- I can't quite kick the sickness and it's starting to be really damn annoying!  I think, or hope, that over Christmas break I'll be able to get some rest and recoup all the way.  That way, my voice will quick cracking and I'll start sounding like me again.  Of course, then school will start back in January and I'll get sick again.  It's a vicious cycle!  Of course, it wouldn't be so bad if it were just me, but it's not, it's my husband, too.  As a matter of fact, he's sicker than I am and may have to have surgery (which I'll elaborate on more later, after he sees the surgeon).

  5. My messy, messy house and messy, messy spouse -- I hate to clean, but would do it if I had time.  I'm so busy right now that finding time for domesticity is impossible.  Matt's not at all helpful when it comes to picking up, which is both annoying and ironic, since he's the one making the huge mess.  Anyone who thinks one person can't possibly be that messy hasn't met Matt.  Messes just appear around him, it has to be his super power or something, to generate messes without really trying.  Of course, his not trying extends to his not trying to pick them up, too, which is very annoying to say the least.

  6. The damn bill collectors who are calling for everyone but us -- our phone rings off the hook, starting bright and early at 8:00 a.m. every single morning.  The people calling want money, but not our money, they want other people's money.  No matter how many times we tell them they're calling the wrong place, they persist in calling.  This happened once before and got so annoying that we changed our phone number.  It's not helped anything, not really, they keep calling.  Now, some of them are for us (hey, the economy's bad, sue me!), but most of them aren't.  I'm going to result to screaming at them soon... seriously, screaming!

  7. My pointless dry erase calendar that doesn't help me remember anything and can't seem to help keep me on schedule -- this may go with #3, but it's true anyway.  I got myself a dry erase calendar with empty squares.  Every month, I fill in the squares with numbers representing the date and write my schedule and due dates.  As things come and go, I erase them. If I had a dollar for every single day's schedule I erased because it passed and nothing to done, Matt and I would be going out for a nice dinner and drinks at the end of November!  I see it, but I can't seem to do what it's telling me I need to do. It's very discouraging!

  8. 1,500 miles of insurmountable distance -- I really miss my family and the miles between us really chafe sometimes.  No, not sometimes, all the time.  I'm so tired of being so far away, I just want to be able to get in my car and go see my parents and sister.  I hate living in Texas, more and more every day, but I'm stuck here until I finish grad school.  In other words, May 2012 cannot come soon enough!  Sadly, though I love the holidays, they only seem to magnify how far the distance really is.

I could probably go on, but I realized this pessimistic list was starting to get rather lengthy, so I'll call it quits there.  I hope everyone's having a nice week so far and has a good thanksgiving holiday.  The thankful list (sans the "un") will come later in the week.  We're planning to go to Waco to see Amanda and Karen for thanksgiving this year and I can't wait.  It's going to be amazing fun!  Until then, life goes on as usual and I get to work and go to class -- oh joy!

So Much Work, So Little Time

I'm working the Writing Center hours in the library tonight from 5 - 8 p.m., along one of the undergrad tutors.  It can be a real drag, since it's normally pretty dead, but it gives me time to do other things... this this, for instance.  A little extra time here and there is a good thing, I need it.  Matt seems to hate these nights when I'm out until late with work or school, but he's learning to cope.  It's much better this semester than it will be next, I only have one class at night and work in the library ever three weeks right now.  Next semester I'll have two night classes and work in the library, and he'll have a night class, which will be on a different night than my night classes -- did that make sense?  I hope so.

As it stands right now, next semester won't matter one iota if I don't get everything done in the next few weeks for this semester.  I'm in the final stretch with my classes, with less than two weeks until both of my long papers for the semester are due and I'm not nearly done.  I have a hell of a lot to work on between now and then, and I'm more worried that I'm not worried than I am about the papers.  And now I'm worried because worrying is what I do, and if I'm not doing it, my level of detachment is worse than I thought it was.  I need to start worrying, and soon, because worrying about worrying isn't cutting it.  Great, now I'm worried about worrying about not being worried!

I know I'll be less nuts when I get them done, it's just a matter of doing it that seems the problem.  I can't seem to get a good start, which I should have already gotten; I have starter's block!  I can't start.  Once I start, getting them worked on is easy, it's starting I can't seem to manage.  In addition to getting those papers done, I have to start the short papers for my history class because they're due by the end of the semester and I still have two that aren't even begun.  Oh, and I have finals in all of my classes to worry about, but not in the next few weeks, so that's okay.

The moral of the story seems, then, to be that grad school is harder than I thought it would be.  Working while going to grad school is insane.  Working while going to grad school and trying to have a personal life is impossible.  That pretty much sums it all up.  I seriously wonder how my friends with kids do it?  Graduate school is hard enough when you have a husband who can semi-fend for himself, kids have to be taken care of.  I wouldn't be able to cope with kids and grad school, it's one nervous breakdown inducing lifestyle issue at a time for me.  I'm not that stable... I hardly remember to feed my dog.

At least labs are nearly over.  The labs for the basic writing classes are meeting for the last time this week, so after tomorrow's 1:00 p.m. lab, I won't have that to do.  However, I'll have to fill in those hours in the Writing Center instead, so it's not really less work.  Not that I'm complaining because all in all, as jobs go, this one is pretty nice and they're very understanding about all that we have going on since they're a part of the university.  They're sensitive to the fact that we're not just employees, we're students as well.  Still, between work and going to class, time to work on the papers is short and when I am at home there're other things I want to be doing, or I'm exhausted, or both.

Next semester will be both better and worse than this one.  I'll be teaching both the class and the labs, but there're less classes and labs overall.  I'll also be working in the writing center and attending my own classes, two of which will be from 6 - 9 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.  The other class, because I have to take 9 credit hours to qualify for the assistantship (even though 6 hours is full time for a grad student), will be directed readings.  Directed readings is a special problems course every thesis-track graduate student takes in the English department.  It's constructed together with my graduate committee chair person, who will also be teaching the course, and will include reading primary texts (of my choosing) and discussing them in preparation to write the thesis.  I sat down last week with Dr. Y, my committee chair and all around awesome prof and we filled out the paperwork for enrollment, we even got to name the course, which we're calling "Representations of Woman as Monster in Literature."  This is, of course, a remarkably wide open topic, so some narrowing will have to take place soon so I can compile a list for consideration during the Christmas break.  All in all, I'm looking forward to that.

Next semester is also special because it signifies a turning point in my career as a graduate student.  After next semester, I won't be taking any more face to face courses.  Everything beyond that point will be internship and thesis hours.  Internship is 3 hours per semester for two semesters (1 school year) and involves receiving credit for doing the teaching graduate assistantship.  In other words, I'll be getting paid to teach English 111 & English 112 (college comp 1 & 2) as a part of my job as GA, and getting college credit for it.  It's a pretty sweet deal.  Thesis is a 6 hours graduate course which most of my peers will only take one, but that I will take twice since I'm ahead.  It's really strange, actually, and the only reason it'll work out like that is that I've committed myself to staying and working for 2 years as a graduate assistant, which means I'll be here one semester longer than than I should be in school, and since I need 9 hours to be GA, I'll take thesis to fill the space.  When I graduate, I'll have between 9 and 15 too many hours.  In all, though, it's better this way because I'll have twice as long to work on my thesis as any of my classmates.  I may need it.

Okay, so now that I've droned on and on, much longer than I expected to, I'm off to do other things.  I hope everyone's having a better, more productive week than I am!

NaNoFail...

I cannot believe that it's already mid-November and this is my first entry.  I'm so busy with everything else that blogging seems to have fallen by the wayside, again, but this time blogging's not the only thing.  You may have noticed that the progress meter on my sidebar marks a measly 1,200 words, and though it likely goes without saying, NaNoWriMo is not happening this year.  I found rather quickly that I don't even have enough time for work and school, let alone an additional (quite voluntary) project.  So, I've given it up for another year and when next year rolls around, I'll definitely think twice, especially since this time next year brings my comps and thesis. I probably won't be able to resist giving it a try, so someone remind me that I said that I'd at least think twice, rather than taking for granted that I'll just jump in with both feet.

On that note, and with some suggestions from Matt and Phoena, I've decided that I'm going to write a short story collection.  I won't be able to do it this month, which is half over, but will probably start after finals in December.  The theme will be Dark Hearts, so I'm giving it some thought by way of preparation. I've never actually written a short story collection, so I'm hesitant to just jump in, but I think it's something I could do and it's a new challenge.  I don't know exactly how many short stories make a collection, but I figure I'll do some research and wing it.  I'm using the Dark Hearts theme that was going to be a novel, rather than abandoning it all together.  I'll keep you posted.

Okay, so I suppose with that said, I should be off.  I have much paper writing to do and this is not getting it done.  This is procrastination!  I have two papers due in two weeks, and three short response papers to write, in addition to my regular school work.  So, I have a lot to do and very little time to do it all.  I'm going to grab something to eat and get cracking on the papers.  Maybe I can get one or two of them done today -- yes, that is definitely wishful thinking!!  Hope you're having a good weekend. I can't believe it's already Sunday!  I'm having a really hard time getting use to the time change, it always feels later than it is... god, I'm old!