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June 17th, 2010

06:39 pm - I cleaned for 5 hours today.
A tile fell off of the wall in the bathroom.  Some men from the apartment complex came to fix it, and ended up having to tear down the entire wall of tiles because of water damage; beneath (I snuck a look while they were on lunch break) were...more tiles.

I have been attempting to do some sort of organization around the house, but it's difficult, and now everything has this fine layer of white dust on it from when they had to cut drywall to I guess be placed on top of the tiles and then have more tiles placed on top of it?  I realized the other day that I have a horrible fear of living in a house with stuff stacked in the corner my entire life.

Ben does not understand.  He tells me stories of how messy his parents' house was growing up, and how anything we could come up with pales in comparison.  I have always been a messy person.  I tend to categorize things based on where they are rather than where they should go--I think about them in terms of location rather than category.  What results is a mess in which I can generally find most things.

I feel horribly guilty about being messy.  It's only in the past two years or so that my mother has been able to even SAY that she thinks people who are messy are not worthless human beings (I don't know that she means it, but I do appreciate the effort on her part).  Again, Ben doesn't feel particularly guilty, he just sort of gets frustrated when he can't find the things he needs around the house--and generally, I know where they are.  In the corners, a lot of the time.

I think one reason that I'm anxious about my mess (other than the parent-given guilt that most of us end up with) is because I'm assumed to be the de facto housekeeper, so if someone comes over to my messy apartment, I know that they won't be judging Ben for keeping a messy place.  Nobody ever thinks of a guy as a housekeeper at all, but I know those judgments are there because I catch myself doing it.  Also, I'm just home waiting for summer school to start since my project lost funding until the fall semester begins, so I've got lots of free time that I should be doing something with, right?

Penelope does her best to make our home comfortable by coating everything in her hair and doggy patina.  I think her ideal state is a living space carpeted entirely in dirty laundry.

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June 10th, 2010

11:45 pm
I find myself able to write in quantities amounting to either one sentence or about 10 pages, double-spaced, 1" margins, Times New Roman.  I've been thinking about sitting myself down here and writing a bit for my own pleasure and not the entertainment of others (that's the one sentence) or to prove that I've learned something (the 10 pages).

I talked with a fellow tutor--this one a grad student and not a peer--at GMU about work in a writing center.  Writing centers are important--we both agreed that they're one of the places on a college campus where real work gets done--but my fellow tutor was a poet, and told me that she only had enough energy to devote to one calling.

It reminds me that I, too, have a finite amount of energy.  I haven't spoken to my father in about three months; I'm sure he is well on his way to recovering from surgery, but I am still resting up from having to spend time with him, compounded by the hectic end of the semester.

I sat here for a while, willing myself to write more than this, but it seems that I'm still not at a point where everything can be easily put into words.  This is probably an indication I should be writing more about it, but for tonight, this will have to do.

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February 22nd, 2010

10:49 am
Almost everyone seems to busy with having lives to post on their LJ these days, and I suppose that I'm one of 'em.  To those of you who've continued to post, I read your stuff every day, I promise :)

Interesting things:

I have purchased a laptop.  It has leather trim, which I would not have gotten except the lappy I ended up with is a demo model so they suited it up all top of the line.  I saved somewhere in the vicinity of $400 on it.

I am enrolled in classes at GMU.  This is the 5th week of classes, which means that at the end of next week, we will be halfway through the semester.  Thus far I have turned in zero late assignments and have overall made Good Life Choices, resulting in good grades and pleased professors thus far.

My father finally had surgery to remove the lump in his esophagus.  Confirming my theory that assholes live longer than the rest of us, he's doing fabulously well.  We had a few rough days there, but it looks like he'll be headed to Martinsburg sometime this week to live in the domicile they provide there, so he can recuperate and not have to mess around with whatever happens to be wrong with his house this year.

Ben has been working insane-o hours at work.  His company regained the rights for the European version of the game he works on, so they've been trying to make a smooth transition onto new servers (or something like that).  So, this past week has been sick dad, papers due, Ben working enormous overtime for which he won't be paid because he's salaried...that sort of thing.  But we're holding up, I think.  We try to be nice to each other and hopefully we will get by.

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October 9th, 2009

11:08 am

I spend a lot of my time working to write and speak as clearly as possible.  I talk slowly and take care to enunciate (without raising my voice), and avoid use of idioms.

Sometimes I wonder if the poetry in my life has ebbed away.  I'm in a stable relationship.  My spouse and I communicate honestly with one another.  I am no longer an unhappy person.  I have my days here and there, worrying about the future, putting off talking to my parents, feeling anxious, but it's all at least under control.  I love my husband very deeply, but would rather bake him a pie than write him a poem.

I watched this movie the other day, and I'm putting together a workshop for all of the tutors to participate in.  It's called Writing Across Borders, and it delves into the individual cultural expectations for academic papers.  Some cultures believe that our incredibly straighforward method of stating our thesis in the very first paragraph removes any kind of suspense in the paper, is inelegant, and treats the reader like an idiot.  They feel we don't establish a relationship or credibility with the reader before we bombard them with information.  In American academic writing, the burden is on the writer to present their case as clearly as possible; in some Asian cultures, pronouns are EVERYWHERE and the burden of interpretation lies with the reader.

So we'll be talking about what some people call "writing with an accent."  After students move beyond basic ESL and English grammar courses, do we choose to focus on the ideas and organization of their paper, or do we mark off for grammar problems, for using the wrong preposition in a phrasal verb, for forgetting an article?

This is not the Ivy League, my community college down here in Annandale.  We teach a lot of developmental English classes.  They're the ones you've heard called "remedial," although I prefer the newer term.  We teach a lot of ESL classes. 

It's dirty and it's practical, this teaching people to read and write.  This feels a lot closer to who I am.  I tell people I graduated from NOVA, not that I "went to" William and Mary.  This place is the first step I took to making my life better.  Community college is the first step anyone just getting by day-to-day takes to make their life better.

These days I express myself with a clarity and simplicity that make it very difficult for me to be anything but honest, with my students and with myself.  I feel like I am doing something good and moral, something clean and real.  I think this might be the poetry in my life, written in words of strength and simplicity and common sense. 

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September 7th, 2009

09:12 pm
As of about 3 weeks ago, the Reading & Writing Center (RWC from here on out) at NVCC Annandale no longer had a director.  I went in two weeks ago to fill out some paperwork, asked some questions about who was training the new tutors, and found myself as the Acting Writing Center Instructor.  The ESL Center Instructor, Veronica, and her boss, Michelle, had that wild look around their eyes that people get when their coworker has quit and they've had to take on the empty position's responsibilities as well as their own.

There's a possibility that this is what I want to do as a career.  I've never really forgotten the lesson of the sad Latin student teacher we had in high school...she'd completed most of her education and just had to finish up with doing some time in the classroom.  At which point she found out that she just couldn't teach.  Getting this position full time means that I'll have some opportunity to explore whether or not this is actually something I want to get myself into.

Obviously, this isn't permanent (as a matter of fact, the job listing's up on the Nova website if anyone out there is interested).  I am simply not qualified for the position, not having had the kind of education I need to run the place to its fullest potential (e.g. grad school in education).  On the plus side of things, one thing that I know I can do is to tutor, so I'm going to make sure that the tutors are fully trained and ready to go; I figure this is probably the most important point for the RWC because most of what we do is tutoring.

O. came in this week to schedule an appointment, and had an enormous smile when she realized that I was still going to be at the RWC this year.  I can't meet with her now, though.  She needs a tutor who will be able to work with her for the duration of the semester, and since there's still a chance that we might move, I didn't want her to have to deal with the transition between tutors halfway through the semester when she would need help.  Nicole, the previous Instructor, has accepted a teaching position and is still on campus, so I was able to talk to her about which of the new tutors she'd hired would work well with O.

I felt really terrible handing her off to someone else, even though I'm sure the new tutor will do a good job.  But O. is fragile, and vulnerable in ways which I obviously can't go into here, and I'm worried that her new tutor will dismiss her concerns and feelings as just ploys to get attention, won't know her history, won't understand.  

Reading someone's writing is intensely personal.  Developmental English students tend to write essays about events that have happened to them, people they found to be influential, their plans for the future, that sort of thing.  I think most people find it easier to talk or write about themselves before they start to branch out into other subjects, maybe that is why.  For the past year, as O.'s writing improved, I got to read all of those essays, learn who she was, and encourage her to talk about herself.  She read The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and we talked about its similarities to and differences from her own life.

I am expressing this poorly, and I will blame the weekend travel, and worry about tomorrow, when tutoring begins and I have to train 5 new people.  I hope I can do good.

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August 17th, 2009

03:58 pm - The Richard Pryor Show Presents: And The Pips!

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July 14th, 2009

05:32 pm - why I am married to my husband
Ben:  Oh shit, I think it's Kate Jordan's birthday!
Where can we get an erotic cake?

Oh, it is not.
Kate's birthday that is.
Her status message was a lie.

Ben:  There is still time to plan for an erotic cake.

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July 2nd, 2009

01:28 pm - I will finish this later.
I liked my friend Shane's blog post on the games of his life, so I've recreated this list for myself, and worked to evaluate it using metrics that I find to be meaningful to me.

Shane chose to break his games down into a variety of numerical values (years published, score on metracritic, prevalence of common elements, that sort of thing). I'm no good at statistics so you get stories instead.

10 Impactful Games (in the order in which I played them)

King's Quest 4
King's Quest 6
Wizardy VI: Bane of the Cosmic Forge
Sam and Max Hit the Road
Ocarina of Time
Baldur's Gate
Grim Fandango
Puzzle Pirates

Read more...Collapse )

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June 23rd, 2009

04:47 pm
So, my father definitely has cancer.  Obtaining answers more detailed than that from his doctors have only resulted in more requests for tests and scans and whatever else, so none of us have much of an idea as to what is going on.

He's lost about 50 pounds.  It's obvious that I got my height and weight from him, but until now I never really noticed how short he is.  He's grown small, somehow.

I am depressed.  The fall semester is growing ever closer, and the deadline for my applications is July 1.  I worry that if I move away, nobody will be around to take care of my father.  I'm not working right now, and I spend a lot of my time lying on my couch, petting Penelope.

This is no good, of course.  But I had really wanted to be back in school in the fall semester, and it is looking more and more like that's not going to happen.  Ben went with me to NOVA the other day to pick up a copy of a recommendation from my former boss at the Reading/Writing Center.  He hadn't walked around on campus with me since we first went to try to register for classes.  I was absolutely terrified of going back to school; I had forgotten.

I called my brother ("Your father has CANCER please call him back") and he's flying in this coming weekend to visit with my father.  Even though he's coming in to BWI, there was no mention of him bothering to visit me.

How can I be strong for other people when I feel so weak myself?

(Even though this is a rhetorical question and I really am feeling pretty miserable, my brain just told me, "tea!")

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May 26th, 2009

12:53 pm - Mr. Moose-burger is such a nice-a man, I give him double stitch anyway. That's some strong stitch...
...you betcha!

I had a great time at Cookie's wedding.  I'm lucky in that everyone I know who's gotten married thus far has had weddings that were quite different from ours, so the only comparisons consist of: "Oh man, they did that differently."

Chico managed to split the ass-crotch area of his pants open and sat through the ceremony looking uncomfortable and trying not to giggle.  Apparently this marks the third pants-related snafu for as many weddings, so hopefully the tradition can continue (my story has been told here before, and the subsequent one is up to another, unnamed, wedding couple).  A bunch of young, skinny, pretty girls in young, skinny, pretty girl dresses sat in front of me.  We all sat in the sun, which was bearable because of a breeze coming across the water, and I was satisfied to note that THEIR asses obviously got just as sweaty as mine because they all had wedgies when they stood up.

droct and I rifled through our cars, looking for a mending kit or a stapler or something to allow Chico to fix the hole (now that Chico's in a relationship with a nice girl, he's less interested in having open pants).  He apparently was considering using a Chip Clip found in Steve's trunk when I remembered that wedding pictures take a thousand years, so we had enough time to run out to a store.  I repeat: A CHIP CLIP.  CHIP CLIP!!

First, we bought cigarettes at the second of TWO stores I saw that were named "Cigarettes."  It was drive-thru but Chico wanted to go in so we could get some sort of Multiple-Hour Energy for Jules.  Then we picked up a mending kit at Food Lion, and Chico dropped trou and drove back to the wedding all Risky Business style--tie, nice crisp shirt, boxers--while I sewed up the crotch of his pants.

And so we laughed and had friendship, and I think that's the last of the weddings for a while, at least.  Sometimes it bothers me that I've gotten old and can't do things like do 1000 drugs and rock out REALLY HARD but it satisfies me to know that I still have things Under Control and can solve a lot of problems by Being Sensible.

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