Sunday, January 30, 2005

Late Resolution

Maybe it's time I make a resolution to play my bass everyday until my forearms start to "feel the burn". I've been playing my guitar more than my bass lately and it's helping me better understand the differences between the two instruments. I think people tend to think the bass must be easier because it has four stings, not six, but I would say it's different, not easier. You can make either instrument as easy or complex as you want. First off, the bass is bigger and heavier and so are its strings, so you need more muscle when you play it. Second, it's usually filling a different role than the guitar does musically and you have to be able to understand that. Anyway, it's all fun and a good way to amuse myself just about anytime at all.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Yee Haw!

Last night was girls night out. Sis and I had a plan to go to Portsmouth to catch Stagecoach Dick, the world's only Shuttlecock country cover band, at the Blue Mermaid. One of the Dicks had sent out an email about the show earlier in the week and recommended showing up early because the place is pretty small. We might have gotten there in time if I hadn't forgotten to bring my money and ID with me the first time we left the house. We got there around 9:30 and were turned away at the door and told it would be an hour and a half wait. Rather than wait in the freezing cold to wait for a chance to see a bunch of Dicks playing country music, we decided to head over to The Press Room and try our luck again later.
The Press Room was it's usual brick, dark, pub-ish self. The last time I remember being there was high school, but it seemed basically the same. Sis and I spotted the infamous Bruce Pingree there, which makes sense since he's the one who runs all the music there. He gave her a wave hello, which led me into a spontaneous, yet hopefully subdued, outburst of "We're not worthy!!" Dippy for sure, but he is The Man when it comes to certain genres of music around here.
After fortification with some Irish Coffee, we decided to try our luck again back at the Codfish...uh, I mean Blue Mermaid. We had to wait about 10 minutes out in the arctic chill, but a few people left and the man let us in. Our timing being what it is, as soon as we walked in the men of Stagecoach Dick were handing out party favors and Dick Cheney awarded Sis with her very own Stagecoach Dick tshirt. She's got all the luck. And all the connections. As usual, she was assaulted by a horde of various old friends in various states of intoxication. I got myself a drink, found a good perch and watched the band. I love that band. I can't help it. I've gotten over the fact that I don't really talk to anyone when I go out with her. I don't want to, really. I just want to watch the band and enjoy the music. And that I did.

Thursday, January 27, 2005


Oooooooh, don't you just hate it when you come home at the end of the day and realize you've been wearing your sweater backwards all day long?
That never happens to you? Oh.

Oh Crap. I Think It's Making Me Feel Better

Finding myself in a dark mood, what great luck it was to come across The Goth-O-Matic Poem Generator. Only thing is that now that I've been playing with it I'm feeling kind of amused and happy. Drat!
Don't forget to read the tips.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Snow Day

OK. Great. So I got up and checked outside the window and then to the local tv station's website to make sure the girl's school really is cancelled due to snow today. She gets to sleep in without interruption. But now it's nearly 6:30am and I'm still awake waiting to see if my school is going to cancel. Hope I can fall back asleep for another hour or two if it does.

Monday, January 24, 2005

It's the Most Miserable Day of the Year

This is true! Today does suck. My girl's school announced a two hour delayed opening last night and I didn't know about it until I tried to drop her off at school at the usual time this morning! I feel so cheated.
Of course, I had a class to teach at 9am anyway, so it wasn't like I personally had the delay, but I could have made plans in advance rather than getting back home at 8:25, verifying the delay by watching the local tv news and then asking a neighbor to help out.
The blizzard was from Saturday night into Sunday morning. The skies were clear by the end of the afternoon yesterday. I woke up this morning and it was sunny, so I just figured everything would be scheduled as usual.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Hunker Down

We've got a nice, big Nor'easter/blizzard going on right now. It started last night and has been snowing and blowing ever since. A big gust just came down the street and created a whiteout so I couldn't even see the houses across the street. The city trucks were out plowing throughout the night. They sound like moving earthquakes and I feel them as much as hear them.
I went to the supermarket yesterday afternoon and it was the most crowded I have ever seen in my life. The parking lot was full. There were no carts left in the store and everyone seemed to have the same reaction to seeing that big empty spot where the carts are usually parked right inside the door. They looked at the emptiness, laughed and went back out to the parking lot to scrounge up a cart out there. The check out lines stretched back to nearly the middle aisle of the market, but everyone was good natured about it. The coming storm was definitely one reason why it was so crowded, compounded with the fact that it was a Saturday afternoon and there's a big football game this afternoon, or this evening. (I'm not a big football fan.)
The local tv stations have all advised people to hunker down at home. According to the scrolling text along the bottom of the news screen, it seems that all the local churches have cancelled their services today. It's the first time I've ever seen that happen. I'm really enjoying this storm, but I can't help but wish it happened on a weekday for the school cancellation effect. ;)

Saturday, January 22, 2005


Grrrrrr. Just wrote a nice cleansing rant and Blogger froze up and I lost most of it. I'm not going to try to recreate the whole thing and it's even about a topic I don't blog about here much, but today it just feels like it's okay if I do.
I'm getting really fed up with the cumulative effects of my ex's efforts to discourage my daughter's relationship with me. I tried to call her several times last night, since I call and talk to her every night she is at her father's, and even left two messages, but she didn't call back. I called and spoke with her this morning and asked if she heard the messages. She said she did. I told her she could call me anytime at all. She said she knows. But she didn't call me back and she sounded monosyllabic and distant, the way she usually does when I talk to her when she's there. When I pick her up for the half of the week she spends with me, she starts talking a mile a minute and doesn't stop for an hour or more. Sometimes she goes on so much I have to ask her to stop for a while because I can't endure the barrage. But when she stays at her father's house and I talk to her on the phone she is absolutely monosyllabic. She sounds bored or angry or disinterested. Whenever I ask her about it she claims she's tired. I know what she's really doing is demonstrating her loyalty to her father. He demands that of her. I try not to pull back because I don't think it's right to make her spend her time figuring out how to please me when she should be learning how to understand her own feelings. The problem is that in her father's culture you are supposed to concern yourself with everyone else's feelings first. To consider your own feelings first is selfish. Of course, in this culture we believe that you have to understand your own feelings and know how to take care of yourself to be able to really take care of others. So it's a classic culture clash between a culture of interdependence and one of independence. I spent years trying to conform to those other cultural norms, but eventually it came clear to me that I needed to be true to my own beliefs that were formed long before I married into that culture. She's going to have to figure out as she grows up how much of each culture she wants to claim as her own, but I hope a few other things also become clear along the way.
My mom and my sister tell me my girl will realize what her father has been doing when she gets a little older and more independent. She'll realize that he's been trying to undermine her relationship with me and coerce her into a role of providing him with emotional suppport that is inapproapriate for someone her age. Eventually she will come around to see, they say, that I'm really not the bad guy he tries to make me out to be. He wants to punish me for leaving him and he wants her to punish me for it too.
I wish it could be different now. I wish she didn't have to go through this stupid shit now and that both of her parents could be grown up enough to at least pretend to be polite, say hello and look each other in the eye. Unfortunately, it looks like I'm going to have to be patient and have faith that someday she'll come to see things differenty.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Bitch As I Do...

As much as I love to bitch about how I'm never going to make any money or attain any kind of career rank or prominence doing what I do, I have to admit that I love teaching. This afternoon I walked into my third year class and not only were all my actual students there, but also a couple of guests to the class who are or were teachers themselves and who are from Japan. If I stopped to think about it, I'd have probably been too nervous to be myself while I teach because I'm not a native speaker and I'm sure sometimes I make mistakes. But you know what? It's my class and something kicks in when I'm teaching that lets me forget that I'm shy. If I had been less hung up with shyness and perfectionism while I was learning the language I probably would have made progress a lot faster. Up until very recently I would concern myself too much with trying to figure out the exactly perfect and culturally precise way to express something rather than just doing it my own way, which I know is good enough to get my message across. I have lived so much of my life feeling like there is some big teacher up in the sky grading me on the level of perfection of my every utterance or sentence. I think it's just a relic of being an overachieving student. It feels good when a teacher praises you and somehow an internal teacher grew in my head and has sat up there evaluating my performance ever since.
So, I guess my liberal arts background did prepare me to be a teacher. That's sort of useful. I liked what my sister said at breakfast this morning. She said a bachelors degree means you can get hired as a bartender rather than a waitress at nice restaurants. She was speaking from experience. She rocks. We both agreed that college was a lovely fantasy world where we had all the time in the world to sit around with friends in coffee shops thinking about how endless all of life's possibilities were. It was nice, but it did squat to prepare us for the working world. That's not necessarily bad, it's just true.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

A Momentous Occasion

I must mark the moment for history. For the first time in four semesters of teaching at this particular institution of higher education, all of my classes meet in the same building, which is also the building where my office is located. And not only that! No, not only that. Each class meets in the same classroom every session. They don't all meet in the same classroom. That would be just too special. But they each have their own consistent room from day to day and I no longer have to wander around thinking, "Okay, what's today? Wednesday? That means we're downstairs today? Or is it upstair? Huh? Who are these people? I guess it must be the other room today."

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

From Slack to Swamped

Sometimes life is boring and vacation finally ends and you have to go back to work and become immeditately swamped with the day job work, the freelance work, calls from Colorado asking if you can do a 10 day interpreting gig (?!?), and a scary, hard knock on the door at 10pm on a single digit temperature night that turns out to be some pizza delivery guy at the wrong door. When all that stuff starts getting to me, I'm glad sometimes I remember about Planet Dan, sick, twisted and wrong as it is.

Saturday, January 15, 2005


I know this sounds kind of funny coming from someone who went to grad school to study classical Japanese literature, but the older I get and the more time I spend around academics, the more I think the liberal arts are mainly bullshit, mental masturbation and an excuse for rich kids not to get a job for a few more years after high school. I'm not saying people don't need to study literature and history, but honestly, what the fuck purpose do some of these "Post-modernism and representations of the planet zog in modern Hyberian cinema" type courses serve other than filling up teaching schedules and satifying elective requirements? If you can write 300 pages like this, you've got a dissertation and can then insist people call you Doctor.
If I were doing it over, I'd keep studying Japanese and pair it with a business or a law degree. If you're of college age and reading this, my advice would be to learn a skill or a craft. Be able to do something. Have something to offer when you graduate. Being able to write 8 page papers on random subjects really isn't a marketable skill in today's job market.
(hmm, after this little outburst I think I know someone who's going to come after me and take away my "liberal" card.) ;)

Friday, January 14, 2005

Don't Like The Weather? Wait a Minute

We get some really crazy weather here in New England. Early this morning (back around 7am while I was still cozily tucked away in bed) the temperature was around 60 degrees , about 15 for you celsius types. By about noon it was down near freezing. And pissing rain all the while.
I am having a slackaliscious day on this, my last free weekday before the semester begins. I slept in and then slept some more just because it was raining and I could. My sis called a little after 9 and convinced me I didn't need to shower to go meet her for breakfast at Harvey's-- our favorite, old school bakery/coffee shop. It's got wood paneled walls and wooden booths and the waitresses always refer to us as girls even though we average out to 42 years of age. And they never complain that we sit there forever. They just come by and offer more coffee. I got there around 9:30 and there was sis, waiting in the same booth we sit in almost every Friday morning. I love it. We stayed for an hour and a half talking about the family, the farm where she works and boards her horse, local music and musicians, just our regular chit chat.
I could have gone in to school to print out my syllabi for next week, but with the pissing rain and all I figured why bother? I'll have time early next week. Instead I went to Janetos and bought a bag of split peas for 65 cents so I could go home and make split pea soup. When's the last time all I spent at a supermarket was 65 cents? Probably never. All the rest of the ingredients were there in my fridge and cupboards. I'm using a recipe from the old Loaf and Ladle cookbook my mom gave me back in college. It's my first attempt at split pea soup and so far it's looking and smelling very good.
I usually hate all this gray, gloomy January weather, but this time around I'm enjoying it. It's cozy. Which reminds me. I have a hat I need to finish knitting.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

This Is Why

Note to self-- today, this whole week actually, ilustrates the reason why this college teaching gig doesn't really suck all that much(aside from the low pay and lack of security).
It's very gray out today with little flurries dancing down. I just brought the girl to school. Everyone else in the working world is at work. And I'm about to go sit down on the couch with the magazine I bought the other day and another cup of coffee. After that, I think I'm going to knit for a while. And then perhaps I'll mosey on over to my office for a while to proofread the syllabi and work on the BlackBoard sites.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005


Don't you just hate it when the most obvious things in the world have to be pointed out for you to notice? I went and had lunch with my dad today and in the course of conversation ended up realizing that what makes the absolutely most sense of all is for me in a revenue-generating/career sort of way is to go back to freelance translating to supplement my meager teacher's pay.
Well, duh! I've only been doing it in varying degrees for 15 years now and know it's the best way for me to make maximum cash while still being around to keep an eye on my girl.
When I get to thinking about why I've neglected to push to get more clients, what I realize is that when I was doing a lot of translating in the past, I more or less hated just about everything else about my life except the money I was making. So in my mind translating came to be associated with near complete social isolation and a really shitty home life. Well, I've made some drastic adjustments in the home and social life areas and I don't need to keep grouping translation in with that certain, past period of personal misery.
These days I notice a lot of associations I have made that tie together ideas that are not necessarily related to each other by anything but chronology in my experience. Certain events happened at similar times and in my mind are therefore linked in some kind of causal relationship that isn't always true. I'm in the process of untying a lot of them.

Monday, January 10, 2005


I think I see the problem here. Or the problem I perceive to exist after reading all these blogs written by women in academia. Now I'll feely admit I am but a minnow nibbling on the algae of academia. There is no tenure track in my future. I am not a doctor of anything, even though I never bother to correct all the students who address me as Professor. I don't write for publication. I don't present at conferences. No faculty senate or steering committees for me. I hate all that shit and the pretentiousness that goes with it. I help my students acquire a skill. We don't scale the dizzying heights (or more accurately, plumb the insufferable depths) of intellectualism in the liberal arts. *big wanking hand motion*
Anyway, the complex mentioned in the title here is not my bottom of the totem pole academic career status. It's that I know I don't get anywhere near the traffic and attention that the other academic attention whores get. And you know why? Because I don't swear enough on this blog. I need to write a lot more using words like "bitch", "whore" and "slut". And my sex life. If I chronicled that in more detail, that'd bring 'em in. I suppose it's not just the academic chicks. Pretty much any popular blog written by a woman that I've ever read has lots of swearing, lots of sex and lots of blatant psychological problems. Now, my real life has plenty of those things, but I must just be too old school (or just... old!?!?! *shudders* ) to write about that kind of thing in public. So, I guess I'm doomed to my quiet little blog that gets lots of hits about the "year of the rooster" lately, but isn't a big, sexy, attention-mongering beast. Oh well.

Instantly Efficient!

Hmm, must be the new moon in Capricorn or something, but all of a sudden I am getting all kinds of stuff accomplished with a minimum of effort. Awesome!
This morning I got the girl to school with lunch, milk money and snow pants all present and accounted for. Then I paid some bills and dropped stuff off at the lawyer's on the way to the office, where I put in a few productive hours and finished up writing syllabi and calendars for the coming semester. I also ordered course books, which is something you're supposed to do in December and I was hesitant to do this time around since early ordering still resulted in a 6 week wait after the beginning of the semester before the texts came in anyway. I did it today and within the hour got a letter back from the bookstore that the New York distributor had just received a large shipment of the books and they were all available and will be here in time for classes. The prices were even decent. (So new students, go ahead and thank me for saving you from the scalpers at the university bookstore.)
Last semester I came across a very interesting website with lots of material related to pragmatics and speech acts. I emailed the administrator of the site to ask for permission to use the materials in my course and again received a very prompt and positive reply.
Then I went and did some grocery shopping, came home and ate a healthy core plan-ish kind of lunch, relaxed and read a magazine for a while and then went and got the girl from school.
I don't know why, but I suddenly feel energized. Could be the stars. Could be all this healthy eating. Could be the wonderful weekend I spent with my boyfriend. Could just be that it's time for a change.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Snow Walk

We got about six inches of snow yesterday. It was a perfect snowy Saturday to spend at home reading, relaxing, knitting and enjoying the company of my wonderful boyfriend. The snow tapered off around 9pm and we went outside to check it out. It's been a long time since I went out at night to walk around in the snow. The snow was light, fluffy and sparkly. Everything was quiet. It was beautiful and reminded me of being a kid.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Talking Trash

My city has an interesting way of dealing with trash. Recyclable items are taken away for free, but the city trucks will only take your non-recyclable trash away if you use the official City of Dover trashbags, which cost a $1.25 each for the large ones. In general, I think it's a pretty fair system.
What I hadn't known, and learned last week in the checkout line at the supermarket, is that these "special" trash bags are made in Canada and over the holidays all the local outlets ran out. The cashier said even the people who worked at city hall couldn't get bags. I'm sensing a local business opportunity. Can't we make anything around here anymore?

Tuesday, January 04, 2005


I went back to Weight Watchers today. I had been thinking about going out and buying bigger jeans since the ones I own are getting a little too tight on me, then I figured I'd ultimately end up happier with myself if I took that money and spent it on weekly Weight Watchers dues until I am back down to my goal weight and fit into the jeans I already own again. I'm about 8 pounds above my maintenance weight range. Once I get back to my goal range I won't have to pay for meetings anymore since I reached lifetime last spring.
As I expected, I was just one of many who used the start of a new year as motivation to join or join back up. I like Weight Watchers. The new Core Plan sounds interesting to me, so I'll try that first. Even though it's hokey, I like the meetings, the little silver star stickers and the clapping. It's not anything I would have thought would do anything for me, but it does. It helps me stay focused.
In two weeks classes start again. I'm looking forward to being able to be in front of the class writing on the board and not worrying that my ass looks humongous.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

2005 Year of the Rooster

Ready for a new start? This year is the Year of the Rooster. (The Wood Rooster, to be specific.) According to this article in the Korea Times, the rooster signifies a fresh start. (Who else is crowing at the break of day?) The rooster is the only one of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac to have wings and is regarded as a messenger connecting heaven and earth. The rooster's five virtues are knowledge, military expertise, courage, benevolence and credibility. Somehow those all sound timely. People born in the year of the Wood Rooster are considered thoughtful, truthful, motivated by dependability, disciplined and selfless.
The Year of the Rooster doesn't actually begin until February 8 or 9, depending on whose information you go by. This site reminds us that the last Wood Rooster year was 1945. So don't be too surprised if we turn out to have some big wake up calls in store.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Welcome 2005!

Happy New Year!!
So far, this new year is off to a good start. I spent the afternoon having brunch at the Stage Neck Inn in York. The dining room has a beautiful view of the ocean. The day was clear and sunny. The food was delicious. It was also the first time my boyfriend had met several of my family members and it was so nice to start the new year knowing that everyone is really okay and accepting the way my life is now and not staying stuck in the past. The only thing that clouded the happiness of the day a bit was that my girl wasn't with us. She spent New Years with her father. I got shafted on the holiday scheduling this year, but I figured it was better not to make things any more difficult than they already were by adding more conflict to the situation. There will be other years and other holidays and everyone tells me this one will be the hardest and it will get easier from here on out. It would be nice if they're right.
I hope 2005 brings us all peace, love, understanding and cooperation.