Tuesday, August 28, 2007

My First Meme

Stewgad, over at PrettyHard, Dammit, passed along my first meme! So, here goes:

4 jobs I've had in life:
- the golden arches (my first "real" job, the kind where they take taxes out of your paycheck)
- working at a landfill (luckily I was in the office)
- an overpaid administrative assistant at fancy-schmancy Calphalon cookware company
- bank teller

4 places I've lived:
- tiny town #1 in Home State a.k.a. Native America (the school system only went up to 8th grade, then you had to transfer to another district)
- tiny town #2 in Home State (where I went to high school, population 1,100)
- very small town in northwestern Ohio (where I got my MA)
- only slightly bigger town in Boilermaker country (from which I moved to here, College Town, The South)

4 favorite foods:
This one is extremely difficult because I've never met a food I didn't like! I love to cook, I love to eat, and I occasionally like to think of myself as a food officionado...but I'll try to narrow the field.
- Steak, preferably a thick filet mignon with a nice buerre blanc sauce over the top (and rare... like, I want it to "moo" at me)
- I can't live without really great Mexican food like enchiladas verdes (with fresh salsa, a top-shelf margarita, and soapapillas for dessert!)
- Combination fried rice from an excellent Chinese place!
- The pasta served in the restaurants my husband and I ate at in Rome! The best was this Lobster Arrabiata that was the special of the day at a tiny, out-of-the-way diner just outside of Vatican City. Spicy red sauce served over fettucine al dente, with a glass of house vino, all for about 12 euros!

4 places I'd rather be:
- Back in Italy!!
- France
- England (London specifically)
- I'd really like to see the NE in the fall, especially with the girls, and take in some fresh seafood while we watch the foliage turn colors (cliche, but I've never been)

4 movies I can watch over and over:
Difficult b/c I'm the type that, once I've seen it, I really don't need to see it again. But here are my top picks...
- The Sound of Music
- The Notebook
- Top Gun (thank you God for the volleyball scene)
- (almost) anything with Matthew Mcconaughey in it :)

4 t.v. shows I like to watch:
- Grey's Anatomy!!
- Brothers and Sisters
- Desperate Housewives (can you tell I'm an ABC fan?)
- Rick Steves travel shows (I'm such a dork!)

4 websites I view daily:
- Yahoo
- my blogroll peeps
- does my university e-mail count?
- Really, I try to keep the net surfing/time wasting tendency to a bare minimum

4 computers I've owned:
- the pc I bought in 2001 when I started my MA program
- the Dell desktop my mom bought for a joint birthday present for my hubby and I this spring
- Yeah, I've only owned 2 computers :)

4 people to tag:
Canape at Don't Take the Repeats
DR at Writing Maternity
Mad Grad Mom at Diss, Dat, and Diapers

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Two Towheads and the 8-Second Ride

Here they are. My blonde-haired, blue-eyed beauties. I've broken down and posted their pictures. My mom brought H back from Home State on Sunday, then watched E while hubby and I took H to Giant Waterpark on Tuesday. We had a great time, and H was both well-behaved while there and appreciative as we were leaving. As in, she said "Mom, I'm really thankful that I got to come here" without any prompting from me :) On Wednesday, Mom and I took the girls to have their pictures made together - finally - and this is one of the best! The photographer was great, and I let her know I like candid, fun shots, so she went with this pose, and the picture's worth a thousand words. Baby E is clearly happy to be wrangling her sister, who's equally happy to let her do it as long as she gets her close-up. Unfortunately, the session ended in a horrible assault. At my suggestion, the girls were both sitting on the floor, facing each other, and H was putting her forehead against E's. E had apparently had quite enough of the picture taking, and she proceeded to simultaneously grab H's hair with her left hand, bite her nose, and rip out H's earring with her right hand. Photo session over.

Friday, August 17, 2007

What I Want, What I Tell Myself

Today I had an unexpected, brief talk with a member of my committee, who's recently taken on the role of Placement Coordinator for our department. She asked if I planned on hitting the market next year and gave me some general tips, many of which I knew or had already heard about (i.e. don't be surprised if I don't get anything the first year, don't take it personally, etc.). I was explaining a few of the factors that would play into my particular job search that I think might make it a teeny tiny bit easier, one of which being that I didn't want to end up at a Research I school. This seemed to surprise her, as she said, as if to confirm that she heard me correctly, "You don't want to work at an RI?" I wiggled a bit, simply saying that right now, I'm not sure that an RI school is definitely where I'd like to be.

This got me thinking. Why not?

She didn't ask for any reasons (thank goodness), but I nonetheless came away wondering why it was I seem to have already decided this. I think there are some possible reasons:

- my presumption that RI equals stuffy, crazy department full of over-inflated egos?

- maybe I'm not smart enough to work under the pressure of a publish, publish, publish environment?

- maybe I'm not smart enough to publish, publish, publish to begin with?

- my presumption that there's no way I could work at an RI and be successful as both an academic and a parent?

- maybe saying I don't want to work at a RI is a way of not having to deal with being rejected from RIs, which would subsequently make me feel insecure?

- maybe I haven't yet decided what's "harder" for me: research or teaching?

- myabe I like to tell myself that teaching makes a difference to those students in my classes?

- maybe I'm afraid there's not a single RI school in which I'd "fit in;" that is, there seems to be a concept of Research I Material and I'm not it

- or maybe it's simply of way of convincing myself that not wanting an RI job will make it easier for me to get a job at all?

I don't know if the answer lies in any of these possibilities. Or perhaps in all of them combined. I do know, however, that I seem to be telling myself something that may not be quite right. I know I want to teach at a school with a graduate program. And I know I'm not cut out to teach at a community college (I tried...I just won't do it again), which leads me to think I don't want to be at a "teaching school." But there's a lot of area in between, right?

I also wonder if this is part of the process of becoming an academic: the finding where you belong aspect. And then there's the idea that one can't really "know" where one belongs at this stage (the dissertation writing stage). Does everyone go through this? Most people? Surely I'm not the only one? It's times like this when I wish I had more readers.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Happy Thoughts for my Little Brother

For the few readers I have, please send lots of happy thoughts (or prayers if you're the praying kind) toward the Caribbean, as my little brother is there now, working his ass off in vet school at Ross University in St. Kitts, and bracing for Hurricane Dean (in the loop image, you can see the hurricane to the SE of the islands). He sent an e-mail update from campus at 3:08 p.m., letting us know the electricity in his apartment is already out, but that he has plenty of provisions and will call us as soon as he gets phone access again. He actually had the gumption to say "I'll be okay. Don't worry." Sometimes I really think he's smoking crack! My only sibling. 26 years old. Just got engaged. And there's a damn hurricane headed right for him. Maybe now he's wishing he'd had a good enough GPA to get into a damn vet school in this country?! I love him, though.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

B-Day of a Different Sort

Thursday, September 6th is officially my B-Day!

Not the usual B-day, of course, celebrating my birth. Rather, September 6th is the day I'm scheduled to get the braces on! Yesterday the orthodontist took the needed x-rays, made the molds, and explained the process to me, step-by-step. You see, the braces will not serve to close the "gap" I mentioned in my last post, but to open it wider so that an implant can be placed there. Here's how it will work...

Before the braces go on, they'll insert a metal implant into the gumline where the gap is. The implant rod has divets made of a material that attracts surrounding bone tissue. Kind of like planting a "tooth seed," the bone tissue will start attaching itself to and growing around the implant while the braces are on (as little as 12-15 months!). While the braces are on, I'll have a bridge tooth to stand in the gap. My ortho says nobody will ever be able to tell it's not a real tooth...we'll see. After the braces comes off, a tiny screw inside the implant will be unscrewed just a bit, just enough for the dentist to then "build" a tooth (from porcelain) around the implant. And voila, a brand new pretty tooth and a beautiful smile!

The engineering and technology is amazing! I'm both excited and a little scared. Even though the ortho tells me that this isn't a "painful" process, and I'll have some anaesthesia, I don't deal well with pain :( I am thrilled, however, about the possibility that I could have them off by the time MLA rolls around next December. If they aren't off, they still won't be too noticeable (I hope). I'm getting SmartClip braces, which are ceramic (clear-ish) on top and metal on bottom. It's pretty hard to see someone's bottom teeth during regular conversation, so I shouldn't look too freakish as the only 31-yr old with braces.

So yes, I have 3 more weeks until the big day...I can't even imagine how it must feel to smile without worrying how much of my teeth are showing, or whether people can see the gap. I just know I'm going to love the results! Maybe I'll post before and after pics??

Friday, August 10, 2007

What a Dork

As if my last post didn't out me as a complete dork for not having had an iPod, this one surely will do the trick. I have an orthodontic appointment on Tuesday to get fitted for braces. Yes, braces. As in, the ones that go on the teeth of a teenager, except that I'm 31-years old.

You see, I had a baby tooth - the upper-right canine - which didn't come out as it was supposed to. Not to be delayed, the permanent tooth grew right in above it, making itself quite at home and leaving me looking like a human can opener. I was horrified by the dental nightmare taking place before me during my middle-school years. Kids are awful by that age, and nobody hesitated to call me "vampire" or some other hideous name. Eventually, the permanent tooth kicked the baby tooth out and took sole reign of the gumline. This wasn't any better, however, as it lingered there prominently. An eye sore all in its own right. Until, that is....until my mom married my stepdad, who's a pharmacist. Her new..ahem, financial situation allowed for the expense of finally - FINALLY - getting the monstrosity extracted. Once it was pulled out, I was thrillled! My smile almost looked kinda normal, but with a little gap off to the side. Even then, the high school hellions couldn't resist. They wanted to know where the "beast" was. Did I have it mounted? They suggested I drill a hole in it and wear it on a necklace around my neck as if it were a trophy from some big kill in the African Sahara. [Can you tell high school sucked for me?]

I trooped on through life, gap and all, always a bit self-conscious every time I smiled. I even forgot about it most of the time, until I'd see a picture of myself. A picture of me is a rare occasion, though...Once I became a mom, pictures of me pretty much went away. But even now, when I see a picture that I'm in, the hole in my toothline is the first thing I notice (unless I'm not wearing makeup or I'm having a bad hair day).

So, upon my discovery that our graduate student dental plan actually includes orthodontic coverage for ADULTS, I couldn't help but wonder....Does this mean I might be able to afford braces?? Finally?? Hubby and I talked about it, and he absolutely understands how much it means to me. The plan has a flat price that you pay, which is $2100 for adults...Not bad at all compared to the $3500-$5000 we'd be looking at if I didn't have the coverage. The orthodontist has payment plans, but I think we'll pay for the whole thing at once (courtesy of the Fall financial aid refund, of course).

Is this bad? Am I a horribly vain person for wanting this so much? Am I a making an incredibly stupid financial decision to use financial aid for this purpose? This is the only time in my adult life that I've *EVER* seen orthodontic coverage for adults, so I don't get the impression that we'll get this opportunity later. I still feel guilty, though, thinking about what "emergency" we could use that money for later. We'll have no credit card debt and both vehicles are paid off and in decent condition (knock on wood). I just know I'll feel even worse if something happens the day after I get braces and we're SOL on the money front (we wouldn't be completely SOL, but you get the point).

Also, there's the whole issue of being on the job market next year with "clear" braces....Great. Just what I need. MLA with braces!! That would be like high school all over again, except worse because now I give a shit. I just hope I'm making the right decision.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

I heart iPods

Can I just say?

I heart my new iPod!
I heart the iTunes store!
I heart my new music!

And I think maybe, just maybe, I'll start to heart working out simply because I get to listen to the best music ever!

iPod where have you been all this time?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Blood Money and iPods

Wanna know the funny thing about having a father who fucked you over? The blood money that can be given trying to make it better.

During his recent visit, my NF ("natural" father) wasn't able to produce a card, but he sure could show me the money. $300 cold hard cash. It's blood money. I know that, my husband knows it, and my mom knows it. It doesn't change a damn thing, but I'll take it....right to the store to get my very own first iPod! At least half anyway.

I'm using the other half for hubby and I to take H to a new waterpark that's about 2 1/2 hours drive away. It is consistently voted one of the top waterparks in the country!! She's gonna love it!

Kids Say The Darndest Things

Kids Say #1
Last Thursday, the Prodigal Father (a.k.a. my "natural" father) came to visit us again. The man isn't what he used to be - in terms of physical appearances - but he still looks like Dad to me. To my 8-yr. old, however, he's Papaw David, and she's not really aware of how he looked 20 years ago or so. In fact, she doesn't know much about him at all because he's so rarely ever been a part of my life since she was born. As she's grown up, especially in the past year or so, she's gotten more curious about where she comes from, where I come from, and how our very branched and blended family works. She knows my mother and father divorced, and that my father re-married, which meant that I had a step-mother. She has asked simple questions like, "Was she nice?" and my commitment to be honest with her (without completely divulging every detail about every incident) has led to me having to answer her question with a "No. She was not nice at all." This, of course, only prompted my oldest child to ask for an example of WESM (Wicked Evil Step-Mother)'s not-niceness. I gave her an example.

While my dad was here last Thursday, we were all sitting in the living room, winding down for the evening, when she randomly bursts out with "My Mom said her stepmom locked her outside." She says this looking first at me, then at my dad. Like a guilty deer caught in headlights, he could only muster a glance at me and ask "Did she?"..... Like he didn't fucking know!!?? Like my brother and I never told him about it when it happened!! I just said "Yep. She sure did." He had nowhere to hide. He said probably the best thing that he could've said (which H would also be able to understand), which was "Well, we don't have to worry about her [stepmom] anymore." (He divorced her you see...then hid from the authorities to avoid being served divorce papers, etc. Quality guy that dad of mine).

Kids Say #2
While my father used to have a full head of curly brown hair in high school, he's now follicle-challenged. It's not shiny bald...but more like a bit of razory shortness in the back and on the sides. He's got nothing on top though. Somehow, H was not about to let this escape her attention and inquiry. As she walked behind the couch on which my father was sitting, she comfortably puts her hand on the top of his head and asks with complete sincerity, "Papaw David, do you want hair to grow here?"

We all had to laugh at that one.

Thank God for the kids, because I don't think I can muster laughing moments with my father anymore. It's hard to be funny when there's so much bad history. But H? She has no history with him...only fun. He took her to the ice skating rink, where they didn't get to skate, but he bought her a fancy skating dress (note: she doesn't even know how to ice skate). He took her roller skating, where she got to wear the dress, then bowling, and then they went to the mall, where my 52-yr old divorcee of a father got his ear pierced at Claire's. This, of course, made him the coolest Papaw in the world to H. It grossed me out...ugh...just ick. But I keep telling myself, this isn't about me: it's about the girls. Letting him take baby steps into our lives is for the girls. And I hope it's them that keep making jokes because it does make the whole situation a bit easier to go through.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Warning: Dissertating Can Be Hazardous to Your Health

Since Supadiscomama asked in a comment to my post on my neck injury, I thought I'd take a minute to explain, especially since several other readers are fellow dissertators. As it turns out, dissertating is hazardous to your health. Seriously. How? Well, here's how the chiropractor explained it to me:

When one is studying at a desk, looking down at a book - presumably reading, highlighting, taking notes, etc. - the muscles in the neck and shoulder area are strained for unusually extended amounts of time. Over time, this can cause them to spasm, which is what most of us feel as a "stiff neck." As I personally found out, it can get much worse, and the pain is nothing short of debilitating. And, since we all know that dissertating takes place over a looooong amount of time, this is a real concern for graduate students at this stage. Adding to the already bad situation is the fact that many of us who work in an office on campus are sitting in the crappiest chairs in the world. They are basically whatever the hell the department had laying around and then decided to throw it in our office. They are most definitely NOT ergonomic chairs, made to fit each individual's unique body (no accounting for differences in height, weight, etc.). As an example, I'm 6'2" while one of my officemates is 5'2". We simply cannot comfortably use the same damn chair! This situation constituted part of my recent neck injury.

The other part: bad workout practice. I use a treadmill in warming up for my workout on weights. I do brisk walking, sometimes light jogging, on the treadmill for 30 minutes. Recently, to further help the impact on the booty area, I decided to add the incline feature. Not a little mind you....nooooo, not me... I shot the incline up 5%. I actually thought this wasn't much, but the chiropractor explained that this is the equivalent of trying to climb uphill with a bowling ball on your shoulders (your head weighs about the same amount as a bowling ball). This, my friends, did make sense to me. She advised that if I want a better workout for my booty, then I should hop on the stair machine or do short bursts of sprinting.

So there you have it: the Official Diagnosis for Injury. The Official Solution? Two things:

1 - She suggested a local store (though I'm sure there are others in other locations) where you can find used ergonomic chairs and office furniture for 50% less than usual cost, so I'll be investing in one of those babies as soon as the fall financial aid comes in. It will still cost about $200-$300, but I'm going to be doing this whole academic researching & writing thing for a while, so I consider it an investment.

2 - A book stand. The premier version seems to be this one, but I'll probably look around some more before making a final decision and purchase. These place your book higher, closer to eye level, and can be adjust depending on the size and height of the book. Again, $80 isn't cheap, but after talking with several faculty members (who also frequent the chiropractor's office), it seems that this is another worthwhile investment for my health.

Any experience others have had with similar purchases would be lovely to hear about since I haven't yet figured out what the best brands, styles, etc. are.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Ask and Ye Shall Receive!

Several of my prayers seem to have been answered! Today, my neck doesn't hurt!! No pain meds, no heating pad last night, and I can move it, tilt it, roll it around....The steroids did/are doing the trick!

E is also doing much better and back to montessori today, so let's keep the fingers crossed that she has a great day too!

Now I just have lots of catching up to do. But I also have lots to post about when I get some time (a "long talk" with my mom, an upcoming visit from my real father, and a much needed talk with my ex-husband).