Friday, March 30, 2012

It's Official: I'm California Bound!!

I had mentioned before, I think, that I planned to go to California in May. Well, now it's official. I just booked the ticket and round trip it's only costing me $282. You can't beat that! And honestly, I can't wait. I really, really need the break after the semester I've had. So, going to see family and friends is just the ticket... literally!

Here's what my itinerary looks like:

  • 5/09 - Depart from Temple, TX at 4:45 p.m.

  • 5/11 - Arrive at Palm Springs, CA at 2:00 a.m.

  • 5/21 - Depart from Palm Springs, CA at 12:30 a.m.

  • 5/22 - Arrive at Temple, TX 11:25 a.m.

The trip is 35 hours going to CA and 32 hours coming back this way. While most people, Matt included, cringe at the length of the trip, I'm not terribly upset about it. For what it cost, together with the fact that I really need some chill time, I'm almost looking forward to it. Besides, I've got my iPhone, Kindle, Netbook, and camera. That should all keep me busy, and if it doesn't, well, I have a few paperbacks I plan to lug along.

The ten days I'll be there should be really nice. When I arrive, we're going to stay at the Indio Worldmark resort over the weekend. I'm particularly looking forward to it because I haven't been able to spend Mother's Day with my mom in more than a decade. This year, I'll get that opportunity, which should be really lovely. I plan to spend time with family and get together with friends, both on the day I leave (lunch, Phoena?!), and while I'm there (let's make plans, Jodi!!).

The only downside is that I'll be away from Matt and from my babies. I'm going to miss them like crazy, particularly because I've never been away from Chewbi for even a weekend, let alone two weeks. He's going to be so angry with me, like Ani always is when I go on these trips, but hopefully he'll forgive me... makes me a little sad, actually. Wish there was a way I could take him, but pets on the train are a big no-no, and Matt will need them to keep him company while I'm gone. Would you believe he's already pouting?! Oh hell, now I am too at the thought of being separated from my puppy, silly right?!

I spoke to Melanie and she said she would be willing to take me to Temple if Matt's working, which I thought was really nice. Now I just need to figure out how to get home, but I think maybe Matt can get me... don't know yet. I'll deal with that as I come to it. For now, I'm just thrilled to be getting to go!!

Now if I can just get through April with my sanity! I have the last month of classes for my students and two thesis chapters to finish. It's going to be one hell of a month, but I'm looking forward to tackling it head on... having Glee back will certainly help! ~.^

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Some People are Made to Teach...

. . . I am absolutely not one of them.

As a matter of fact, I hate it. I've been told that we do it for the rewarding moments, for the few students who care, for the ah-ha moments we've provoked in students eager to learn. But you know, I've found that the rewarding moments, few-and-far-between I might add, are far outweighed by the hair-pulling moments. And to make matters worse, I don't just hate teaching, I hate traditional students. I can't really speak to non-traditional students because I haven't had any, but speaking as one of them, I think non-traditional students tend to work harder than traditional students. Why? Because they don't have parents breathing down their necks, telling them they have to go. They don't have anyone but themselves, and anything but the understanding that without college life is harder, to drive them forward.

But why hate traditional students? Why hate teaching?

I've found traditional students to be, by far, the most entitled creatures on the planet.  They grew up in a society that rewarded mediocrity, that told them they were perfect and wonderful when they did poorly, when they got trophies for childhood sports they lost, academic recognition by way of awards even when they didn't excel, and ribbons for failure with a hearty "at least you tried, better luck next time."  Now, with all that entitlement to tell them they deserve to do well even without trying, academic consumerism has lead them to believe that paying for college entitles them to make a passing grade. They believe they paid for their A, so they should get it (when in fact the government, the university, or their mommies and daddies actually paid). They believe that just doing the work, without regard for whether or not it's done correctly, should earn them a good grade. They believe their grades should be curved, that the lowest grades should be dropped, and that they should be able to skip class, or classwork, and still do fine.

Well, I'm sorry but in my book failure is rewarded with a big fat F. How far is it to students who do well when those who don't still make passing grades? It's not. It never has been. It never will be.  No student will make a passing grade because they paid for it. Only doing well will yield you the desired results, a passing grade. Today, I had to dismiss 75% of my class because they didn't show up with their rough drafts on peer review day. It's clearly listed on their assignment sheet, which they don't bother to read anyway, that today is peer review day. Now, I've got 15 really pissed off students, just in my first class, and you know I actually bothered to feel bad about that. Why should I feel bad because they had to be penalized for not doing their work? Obviously, I shouldn't, but I am which is unfair to me. I give 100% and receive substantially less than that in return. I hold up my end of the bargain, but you know, lately, I find that I don't feel compelled to do so. I find that I don't feel like I should have to pour my time, and heart, into slides and assignments they, frankly, don't give a shit about.

My classes will go another month and a week, until May 3rd, and then I'm done with this job. I'm done with teaching, with dealing with entitled little shits who think they deserve to do nothing and still pass. I'm going to look for another job, a desk job, when I can do my work and be left alone. Where I don't have students giving me every excuse in the book, arguing their grades, and getting pissed at me when they don't do their work. I've done my due diligence, I've worked my ass off for these students, and gotten nothing in return. Maybe some people can do this job and take pride in it, but I'm not one of those people.

And, while I'm on the topic, I'd just like to say that in addition to students being entitled assholes, the university isn't much better. The institution tells them it's okay to engage in academic consumerism by lowering their standards and allowing every crappy student entrance tot he university. There are no standards at a university that very nearly engages in open enrollment. There are no standards at a university that takes students who can't make it, gives them sports scholarships, and inflates their dreams of someday making it in professional sports while they can't even pass remedial writing classes. There's a problem with a university who tells students they'll get excused absences for "university functions" like sporting events, without regard to what's going on in class. A student who misses class still misses the material, so how is it fair to allow them to be excused when all the other students aren't? Obviously, again, it's not but the university is just as much a part of the academic consumer environment as the students who pay for their A's.

Ultimately, I've decided that the stress isn't worth it. That the students aren't worth it. That the institution that makes this behavior acceptable isn't worth it. I can't stand teaching and I'll be glad when it's over, because you know, without students this job might actually be bearable. With them, I have to pep talk myself out of bed every day, something I simply cannot abide for ever, and definitely not in an increasingly cut-throat industry where people are standing in line to do a "cushy" academic job, and those of us who actually care are left working adjunct jobs for $750 a class per semester. No thank you.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

2:18 a.m.

I'm pretty sure I've shown this comic before... doubly so since it was already uploaded into my blog's media directory. But, since it applies more to me tonight than it has in a while, I thought I'd show it again.

I've been working on my thesis corrections all evening, like, all evening. I started working on them around 6:30 p.m. when Matt went to work and I finished them around 12:30 a.m. this morning. Six hours is a lot, but I had to correct 20 pages worth of material. I had to add new matieral, take some away, fix an abundance of grammatical errors. When I was done, the sucker was 3 pages longer than it was when I started drafting. All I have to say is go me. I'm fried, but go me. The total page count thus far is over there, see it, on my sidebar.

Then, rather than, you know, going to bed, I decided to stay up and work on tomorrow's handout for my students. It's about evaluating sources, I borrowed most of the info from an academic website and the Purdue Owl, but it still took some work. Then, rather than going to bed after that, I made them a library assignment. They're going to looooooooove me. Ah well, c'est la vie.

Then I talked to Matt via text, checked my email, checked my WoW toon to see if she had mail, and now I'm doing this... at 2:18 a.m., rather than going to sleep. I'm going to be exhausted tomorrow morning, so I think it's time to stop avoiding sleep and go to bed.

Good night.

Monday, March 19, 2012

{Sleepy Ramblings}

It's a little after midnight here. We're having a severe thunderstorm and it's pouring down rain. It has been all evening, really, and Anakin is hiding behind my chair for safety, as though the noise will somehow not reach him there. He's a coward, he always has been, but I feel bad for the little guy. Thinking I should give him his thunderstorm anti-anxiety meds and now that I think about it, I probably should have hours ago. Clearly, I'm a horrible mother. Thankfully he's the only one of my "babies" who has this particular problem, Galileo and Chewbi could care less about the rain. Chewbi didn't even blink when the lightening struck so close our whole house shook. Maybe it's because he's a puppy and puppies are fearless, but I seem to remember Anakin being afraid as a puppy too. Oh well, it's not important.

Today was the first day back from spring break and mine wasn't wonderful. Since my computer crashed in the middle of the break, and my student's papers were submitted electronically, I didn't get any grading done during my week off. Now, I'm drowning in it. I did get my new computer last Friday, so I could have spent the weekend working on it, except I didn't have their folders either. The stars just weren't in alignment, or something, for me last week. Instead, I spent the last day of my spring break making PowerPoint slides my students could careless about. That's not me being pessimistic, I did a lecture over the slides today--which told them how to do their assignment step-by-step, with examples--and they looked like they might take a nap. I bored them, but had I not, they'd not have done it right and since this assignment is part of a larger assignment worth 30% of their overall grade, they might have paid more attention.

I was in such a bad mood, in fact, that I got a little snippy with my second class. I suppose if they'd done the five minute assignment I gave them a week to finish I would have been in better spirits. Sadly, only 2 of my 25 students bothered. There're other things, but I'm not in the mood to complain about them and something tells me that to do so would get me into trouble anyway, so I'm going to pass. Maybe another locked post is in order? Maybe not, we'll see how I feel once I've slept on it, because honestly, part of my problem is that I didn't get any sleep.

Spring break really messed me up. Spring forward really didn't help, either. Between the two--during which like an idiot I stayed up until 2am, 3am, 4am--I wasn't able to go to bed at 11pm last night, when I really needed to. Still, I might have had some hope of actually sleeping at some point had Anakin not miraculously decided that not only does he now like Chewbi, but he wants him to be his play-thing. There's something about a dog humping a smaller, less capable of escaping dog, that isn't conducive to sleeping. I just kept thinking, "what if I go to sleep and Ani hurts him?!" So every time I drifted off, my goddamn brain decided it would be awesome to wake me up. When I tried to separate them into different rooms, they cried and howled and barked, at intervals, until I gave up and went to sleep on the sofa where I might have gotten two hours... maybe.

So right now, I'm running on two hours of sleep in the last 48. I'm tired. I had planned to get some grading done, work on Chapter Three corrections, and start Chapter Four tonight, all after working from 8:30am to 4pm, but I didn't get most of that done. I worked, of course, but the thesis stuff didn't get done. I graded some papers, more to come tomorrow, but not much else. Have I mentioned how much I hate to grade? It just feels like punishment. Yeah, well, if not there it is. I hate it. It's a necessary evil, I know, but that doesn't make me feel any better about it. After what I got done tonight, I still have about 40 more to go. Awesome. I plan to ten tomorrow, on my day off, and work on the thesis stuff that I didn't get done tonight.

So now that I've griped and listened to the thunder and the rain, I'm going to bed. I'm tired and thanks to the weather Anakin isn't in any mood to be making Chewbi his girlfriend. In fact, I'm not going to proof this. Typos are just going to have to give this post character because sleep sounds like bliss right now. So, goodnight.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Curtain Call: Computer Edition

Well, after yesterday's ranting, my computer finally went to its eternal resting place. It blue screen of death'd out, twice, and now won't come on. The power button does nothing and the reset button on the back makes it hum, but nothing happens. It's dead. Terrible timing, too.

So, I'm getting a new one. I ordered a Dell XPS 8300 last night. Matt's computer is a Dell XPS and he really likes it. This computer got really good reviews all around, so I'm looking forward to replacing my broken machine with one that works. What isn't awesome is that this is just one more thing that we've had to put money we couldn't afford to spend on. So, now all I can do is hope that Matt's computer doesn't start being an asshole, or that our fridge, washer, and dryer decide to survive, etc.  Thank goodness for credit, honestly, because otherwise the single most significant gadget in my life, my computer, wouldn't have been replaced.

So, there you have it. One more gripe about everything breaking to go with yesterdays tantrum about my computer's troubles. Now, I'm going to go do something and mope about my computer being dead, because frankly, I can't stand to look at my netbook any longer. The gray spots all over the monitor, which I think might be dust inside the screen, are just agitating me.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Here We Go Again...

I have had the worst time lately. Everything seems to be breaking, something I've been ranting about for a while now. It's frustrating, you know, for everything you own to break down when you can't at all afford to replace it. We were cold all winter, even though it wasn't exactly freezing here, because our heater decided to die and we couldn't afford to replace the coils. Then, the dishwasher, the microwave, the toaster, and the coffee pot followed. It has been so incredibly... hard. Really, really hard, because I feel completely helpless to do anything about it.

Of course, we replaced the small stuff, the microwave, toaster, coffee pot, and we hoped and prayed that nothing else would die. Our fridge, washer, and dryer are all 8 years old, are they next? I sure hope not, but I'm constantly afraid that they are. And until yesterday they were the biggest concern, but then my computer started acting up. I bought it early in 2009, so it's getting up there and it's not under warranty. But, it has always run like a dream and I've never really worried about it. Then it started freaking out and I can't afford to buy a new one right now. Fantastic.

So today, I backed everything up and ran the Alienware Re-spawn software on my computer. It basically sets everything back to factory, so that "respawns" exactly like it was when I bought it. It took a while, but everything's back up and running (almost). World of Warcraft is still installing, of course, but everything else is working again and I haven't had any problem so far. Althought, I also haven't updated my video graphics (possibly the source of the trouble), so we'll see.

What isn't awesome is that I didn't get my pictures properly backed up, that is, I didn't wait for them to completely upload to Dropbox, so I lost all of my pictures and my character sheets (for my table top RPGs) that were on my system, I also lost all of my ebooks. Not the stuff for my Kindle, of course, but the random misc. e-books I've collected from around the web, including the cookbooks I've downloaded. That really bums me out, but most of them can be re-downloaded from my email, I think.

What really hurts is the pictures. All of my pictures of my pets, including Chummer who passed away in 2005, all my pictures of myself, of Matt, of friends and family, of my trip to CA a few years ago, of my trips to Plainview when I went to see my Grandma, of the last few 4th of July holidays, of last Christmas (2010), all of it... gone. I am so distraught. We're talking 4.5GB of pictures, just... just gone. So now I get to come to terms with the fact that I can't get all of that stuff back, no matter how much I want it to be so, and move forward. I'll be taking many more pictures, of course, and making sure to back them up more carefully next time. Fortunately, most of my recent pictures are, which means they're on my phone and on the web. Also, I've uploaded some pictures to Facebook and to my server space, so I haven't lost absolutely everything.

Still, I don't feel much better. I just hope the "respawn" fixed my issues so that my computer works again. If it doesn't, then I lost all of that stuff for nothing. I hope that's not the case, I'll be even more heartbroken than I already am. Fortunately, I didn't lose my writing, school work, class materials, or thesis. Thank goodness for small miracles.

**Update: Turns out that the format didn't work. My system is still messed up, moreso than before, if that's possible. Getting the BSOD much more frequently now. Fantastic, really. :( So frustrated. Lost everything for nothing.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Vampire Diaries

This weekend, I gave myself permission, once the first draft of Chapter Three was done and off to my committee chair, Dr. Y, to do something for me. I used my me time to watch The Vampire Diaries, Season One, on Netflix. It's been on our queue forever, but I've never taken the time to sit down and watch it, largely because each episode is 45 minutes long (no commercials) and there are 23 episodes in the first season. That's 1035 minutes, or 17.25 hours of TV time. I simply couldn't swing that.

But, I really wanted to watch it, so I started on Saturday night when Matt went to work and have been watching episodes all day today and all evening. I've finally gotten to the bottom of season one and I can hardly wait to see the next season--which I think is also on Netflix. Most of all, I can hardly believe I waited this long to watch it!! I love vampire shows, love them.

The characters are really well developed, have complete back-stories, and as the season progresses they fill out. Best of all, there's a somewhat love-triangle going on between the three main characters, and I love a good love triangle. Elena, the main female character, is strong-willed and independent; Stefan, her vampire boyfriend, is a beautiful soul, and though he has some demons, he's a really strong character; Damon, Stefan's vampire older brother, is devilishly delicious and a truly Byronic-type villain/hero character.

The setting, Mystic Falls, VA, is also really cool. I like that it has small town charm and that everyone knows one another. I love the conspiracies going on in the city, where everyone seems to know everyone else's business, even when some of them are vampires. There are moments when I wish that I could visit some of the locales in the show, like Mystic Grill, and the falls the town is named after.

There are some moments that smack of Twilight, like the way Elena puts the clues together to figure out Stefan's a vampire, and the love triangle (though both men are vampires), and finally the fact that Stefan only eats animals.  What I like about The Vampire Diaries is that it does all of those things better than Twilight ever could have. Stefan, for example, is rendered weak because he only eats animals. He isn't as strong as the other vampires around him, including his villain-brother, Damon.  Twilight's Edward, and his brood, also eat only animals, but they're just as powerful as the other vamps around, which makes zero sense--characters have to have weaknesses, after all.

What I didn't know before watching this is that there are also books, though I'm unclear whether the books came first, or if they came after the series. Something to look into, particularly because I'm a big reader. If you know, enlighten me. For now, I'm going to go see if season two is also on Netflix so I can keep getting my fix. :)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Gothic in Motion

For the last year, and then some, my life has revolved around the Gothic. Writing my thesis about the late eighteenth-century and postmodern Gothic, I've grown to appreciate manifestations of the Gothic in culture. I'm not talking about horror, as that's not the same thing as the Gothic. Rather, I'm talking about the parts of modern culture that really seem to grasp the feel of the Gothic.

Recently, I started playing a Worgen in World of Warcraft. For those who don't play, a Worgen is basically a werewolf-archtype character. It's the closest thing you find in WoW to what we understand a werewolf to be, anyway. So, I'm playing a Worgen and they start in a town called Gilneas. Gilneas is a Gothic setting, in game, and I absolutely love it. The buildings are so true to the feeling of the Gothic, the landscapes are dreary and dark, the cathedrals are, well, they're perfect.

Check this out. How perfect is that? The whole region is just like this, perfectly gloomy! Right behind my character, where she's standing, there're cages hanging from the street lights. I took a screenie, but they didn't come out at a good angle, so I didn't bother to format them.

I particularly love this shot of the woods, with the little bridge and the buildings in the background. Something I must say is that I really, really love the bridges in WoW. In general, I love them. It's World of Bridgecraft, I notice every single one and take screen shots of most of them.

I really love the rich colors and stained glass in the churches. It's so pretty and feels so Gothic. This place, Gilneas, is by far my favorite place in the game. And yes, I play the game to take time out for myself, but I don't play very often--too much else to do. If you've been following my total breakdown rants and brain-spills about my thesis you're probably well aware that my thesis is taking over my life.

Ironic, but this post is just one more example of how that's happening. The Gothic is in my blood, it's a part of me, and I notice it everywhere. I just love that everywhere I look, I see some element of the Gothic, even in electronic environments like World of Warcraft.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Out of Order

My brain is absolutely fried. So, if this doesn't make 100% sense, I'm so sorry. I've been working on my thesis for 9+ hours straight today. No, that's not quite right, I went out to grab lunch and I went to Wal-Mart for a few groceries. Otherwise, I worked all day and now I feel like this...


Dramatic? Yes, but sadly true. Partially, it's my own fault, too, because I've been working on this thing for months and I haven't been getting anywhere. I've been under deadlines that I've missed, I've been suffering from serious stage fright, I've been opening the document, reading it over, and going back to whatever else I was doing. What I have not been doing is getting it done. Have I tried? Hell yes, I've tried! So now that I'm missing another deadline, because that deadline was today, I feel horrible. I feel like a total failure.

And you know, I've got 15 pages to my name on that chapter with one more section to go, but I still feel like a failure. I feel like I should be able to make these deadlines. I've never had trouble with deadlines before, but for some reason this thing is kicking my ass. We're in an epic battle and it is winning. My thesis is winning. I usually get work done, because I have to, but this time it's just not happening and it's really frustrating.

What's even more frustrating is that the time I set out to really work on it this week was messed up because I had a 24 hour bug last weekend and on Wednesday I was puking up my guts. Setbacks and I still don't know whether I was sick Wednesday because I had a stomach bug, or if it was stress making my body break down. Either way, I feel like I'm making excuses because this thing should have been done in January. Either way, the reality is that it isn't done. It will be tomorrow, but it isn't right now, which means that even though I'll have missed this deadline by 24 hours, I will still have missed it.

So disappointing. So frustrating. So ashamed.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Living on Overdrive

Things have been so hectic lately. I've been working feverishly on my thesis to meet the March 9th deadline and you know what, I'm probably still not going to meet it. I'm trying, but it'll probably be Saturday or Sunday before I actually get it to her. Sadly, I should have had this chapter done three months ago, so I'm suffering under the weight of a little bit of embarrassment about the whole thing. In addition, I've been grading papers and teaching classes, which is no small amount of work. Then, of course, I have to find time for Matt, to clean my house, and to play with my babies. It's all so much, I'm starting to feel overwhelmed.

First, my thesis. I feel like I'm lagging behind with this thing, and I am, but it's because I feel like I'm not saying anything original. I know that I am, largely, but it's troubling. It's not an easy thing to be expected to back up your "original scholarship" with sources. That's the balance here, and as a result I feel like I'm rehashing things that others have already said. Since that's not at all the point of this exercise, its getting harder and harder for me to work on it. But, I think once I get through Chapter Three, and am onto Chapter Four, that feeling will begin to fade. For Ch. 3, I'm discussing works from the late eighteenth-century, while Ch. 4 will be about postmodern works. So, I feel like the postmodern stuff is much easier to discuss with any originality. Anyway, enough rambling about this, the point is I need to get it done.

Grading and keeping up with 50 students is also very work intensive. I enjoy it, but I think with everything else going on, it's exhausting. Worth it, but exhausting, nonetheless. So, I've been wondering whether or not teaching is something I can do once this semester is over. I think I'd like to have an office job, but I don't know. It's something I need to think about, and I mean really, really think about. Maybe, if it weren't for the grading, I'd feel more secure about it. So, I've been thinking that I need to find a way to do the grading that doesn't feel like punishment. I just don't know what that is.

Family, well, is family. Matt's working a job that wreaks brutal havoc on his body, and he hates it, so he's been really emo lately. Unfortunately, that's causing us some problems because there's really only enough room in our relationship for one of us to be emo, and that person is me. What I mean by that is that our relationship works because he's laid back and lets things roll of him like water. I'm the opposite. So our dynamic has always been really good, but lately, it's been difficult. We're working through it.

Ooh, he's also going to be applying for graduate school at Tarleton soon, which has been stressing me out. I really, really hope he gets in because he wants it badly. He went to a meeting yesterday with the Graduate coordinator in the English department and he gave him really encouraging news. So, Matt's going to take Spanish I & II over the summer and, hopefully, start grad school in August. Unfortunately, he can't apply for grad school until he gets those Spanish classes done, so the window of opportunity to apply for grad school is tiny (like a few weeks), but the graduate office told him that would be fine, so we're going with that. He also needs to take the GRE soon, but I don't doubt that will be awesome. He's very smart.

So yeah, everything piling up and it's making me so stressed out that my body is reacting negatively. I was sick with a 24 hour bug over the weekend, and then I woke up on Wednesday morning throwing up, and spent the whole morning doing likewise, and running a fever. So, either I'm just experiencing terrible luck, or the stress from everything is beating me down. That tends to happen, and since I haven't been taking my Fluoxitine lately (because I keep forgetting and because I'm worried that it's contributing to my lack of opportunity to lose weight) I've been pretty depressed on top of everything else. Things have not been wonderful lately, but I keep hoping that will change soon.

Unfortunately, there's no end in sight because I'm also stressing about the fact that my last paycheck will come in June and I need to get a job. We live in a tiny little town where opportunity is pretty low, so I'm probably going to have to commute somewhere, which doesn't really appeal to me. We only have one car, so we've been talking about getting another one, which is difficult because right now with my job situation I feel like we can't afford to get another one. And, since we're going to have to pay out of pocket for Matt's classes in the summer, we're not in a very good situation monetarily.

There are really only a few good things going on right now, the silver linings. First, I'm going to CA in May. I miss my family and, frankly, I need a vacation from my life. I'm going to miss Matt like crazy, though. Second, we managed to replace the microwave, coffee pot, and toaster (which was not cheap, I might add), so everything's not broken anymore. The third thing is that as long as I get in gear, my thesis will get done soon and I'll get my MA in August. Amen!

So now that I've ranted, I just wanted to mention that I've been writing on my book blog again, if you want to check it out, the button's on the sidebar (A Turn of Page). If not, that's fine, too, it's mostly a therapeutic thing for me. Now, I have to go work on my thesis and hope to make progress today!