Tag Archives: career

And How Are YOU Doing?

No, really, how are you?  Feeling good?  Family okay?  Weather inoffensive?  Food reliably obtained?  Good.  Enough about you, my turn!

 

LOVING MY NEW GIG.  Here’s my summary in a neat little pro-con list:

PROS OF TEACHING COLLEGE:

  1.  I don’t have to issue stupid “bathroom passes” and keep track of them and wonder just how many unsavory germs have been transferred to me.
  2. I make ONE lesson plan and teach it three different times.  For moneys.
  3. These young adults get my jokes.  I can throw out a bit of humor, a bit of snark, and I don’t have any Mom-of-Snowflayke calling me and yelling at me in front of the principal that I hurt somebody’s fragile ego.
  4. I’m only there for an hour and a half.
  5. I’m not hobbling together equipment or, worse, buying my own sound system and CDs so that a decent sound is experienced.
  6. Powerpoint is my BFF.
  7. No faculty meetings!
  8. No lunch duty!
  9. Actually being trusted to come up with the course content and the style of teaching and the examples I choose and.. and.. and… forget it, that’s everything right there.

CONS OF TEACHING COLLEGE:

  1.  I’m an adjunct, so no office.  But that’s okay because I can just go hang out with a student at the lounge and pretend I’m holding office hours.  Still get the job done and there’s tea and snacks nearby.
  2. I’m an adjunct, so no benefits.  That part is not okay because I’d really like some decent benefits, but in exchange for that, my college contributes 3% above my contribution to my pension.  THIS ROCKS.
  3. Sorry, I forgot this was the con list.  Pretend I struck out that last part.
  4. Um…..

No, that’s pretty much it.  Just those two things are the downside.  Oh!  I thought of another PRO: it is literally (please read that in Chris Traeger’s voice, thanks) five miles from my house.  Not 5.3, not “about” five, an actual five miles.  That tickles me.

 

9am-lecture

Too true.

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Well, Hey There!

Holy Hannah, can I just tell you how many blog posts I’ve composed in my head and was convinced I’d sit down and have jewels of words just pour out all over your monitor?  Can I tell you how surprised I was to find I hadn’t written any?  I must have the most realistic dreams in the world…..

  1.  July was a very hot month so I found lots of things to either do inside my house with air conditioning, or in my car with air conditioning, or at somebody else’s house with air conditioning, or in a restaurant with air conditioning.  In July I pretty much forgot what fresh air smelled like.
  2. I also celebrated an anniversary in July, and it always amazes me how my wedding day only feels like two years ago, max.  But it’s been twenty-eight, so either I’m the Doctor and I’ve nailed time-travel, or this is a pretty good marriage.
  3. I learned how to can!2016-08-22 22.18.10
  4. Which maybe wasn’t such a smart thing to do since it introduced a new component of humidity in my house.
  5. August was also hot, but I didn’t care because we went on an Alaskan cruise.  Do you know that it doesn’t go much above 80 on the interior passage of Alaska?  Me neither.  Did you also know that it’s a temperate rainforest?  Me neither.  And what are rainforests good for?  Sing with me, kids: H-U-M-I-D-I-T-Y!!!
  6. It was an amazing experience that I am truly grateful for; we saved up for this trip for eighteen months but it still boggles my mind just how expensive it was.  It also taught me a lesson about cruises (this was my third one): limit excursions to ONE per day.  Not because I was overstimulated or anything like that, it was just so redundant.  We went from Juneau to Skagway to Icy Strait Point to Ketchikan, and every single excursion in every single place took great pains to educate us on bears and skunk cabbage.  Go ahead, ask me about bears and skunk cabbage.  I dare you.
  7. I did get to see a glacier.  Yup!

    That’s Hubbard Glacier, and when I saw how close the ship got and how incredibly cold the surrounding air was, I figured I’d finally found a place to live in the summer. But alas, regulations and rules and all….

  8. My knitting has been in drips and drabs.  I made a shawl to bring with me on the trip but didn’t use it much.  I’ve started two other shawls (because why not) and a couple of baby bibs, because many people I know are into the whole procreating thing.  It’s so easy to knit baby stuff, I keep forgetting.
  9. I started orientation on my new job, where I am alternately exhilarated at the thought of teaching college and appalled at the thought of teaching college.  Classes start September 7th, so if you don’t hear from me after that…..No, that’s not a fair thing to post because after all, I’m pretty bad at posting on a regular basis.  So if you see a post after September 7th and I don’t mention my job, maybe just figure it’s best not to talk about it.
  10. Like that’s ever stopped me before.
bean

I do that too, but for all the wrong reasons.

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Re-Entry

I have been on adventures!  I have seen many things, tasted wonderful concoctions, breathed different air, and generally enjoyed myself.  In fact, I feel spoiled.  (Not like the cantaloup on the kitchen island that seems a might fragrant.  That’s a different kind of spoiled.  Friends, keep your comments to yerselves.)  I almost forgot that I am not who I was, and seemed well on the way to a different me who is.  (Tea and Sarcasm and Incomprehensible Sentences.  Yep.)

First thing: We went out to a German restaurant because they advertised a bacon fest.  Did I ever tell you that we all massively love bacon?  I wish desperately I could have loved it there, but the service was abysmal and the food was not at all “fest.”  It was more “tired and I don’t give a damn.”  The good parts were sitting outside on a nice evening and having some pretty tasty beer.

Never knew I had comic book fists for hands.

Never knew I had comic book fists for hands.

Night time photos on a phone.  Just like the pros!

Night time photos on a phone. Just like the pros!

The second thing: I gave away all my teaching materials to my dear friend who is having some issues and is in a bit of rut right now.  It was a great feeling doing that, not only because it freed some necessary space in my house (hello, basement floor!  How YOU doin’?) but also I was not sad when I did it.  Hear that?  Not sad.  Not nostalgic.  Not bitter.  Not wishing.  Not regretting.  Just…..there.  Happy to see all my good materials go to a good home.  It is done, it is over, and it is settling well within my soul.

Third: My dear dear friend of almost 25 years invited me to spend a few days with her, so I grabbed my go bag, threw in some additional stuff, bought her a present, and drove to Indiana.  Never been there.  (Huh.  Guess I can’t say that anymore now, can I?  I’m a travellin’ girl…..sing with me!)  It was a long drive from my home in New Jersey, across the very wide state of Pennsylvania with its gorgeous hills and trees and farms and interesting names of towns, across Ohio which wasn’t quite as pretty or hilly but still held my interest, finally into Indiana which has lots of corn fields but still so pretty.  I hit a pretty severe thunderstorm right around sunset so the driving was slower than the 80-85 mph I had been doing (What?  I was just maintaining the flow of traffic.  You don’t want me plowed over by a double 18-wheeler do you?) but as I cautiously came around a bend the clouds must have shifted.  The shiny wet roadway at dusk was blazing with the crimsons and pinks and oranges and purples of a summer sunset and the sky colors met the road colors and I literally gasped out loud.  I was so thankful to have experienced that intense moment.  My friend showed me Notre Dame (and that grotto and chapel is so lovely) and Fiddler’s Hearth.  I want to physically move Fiddler’s Hearth to New Jersey and bring the band, Kennedy’s Kitchen, too.  What a fab night of food (Scotch eggs!), beer (Belhaven Scottish ale), music (Celtic and Irish and moving and beautiful and spirited and amazing), and friends.  Add wineries, Silver Beach, shopping, laughing, heart-to-heart talks…you get the idea.

Look!  An official sign and everything!

Look! An official sign and everything!

Lots of candles.  Lots.  Apparently once this place caught fire.  Wonder why?

Lots of candles. Lots. Apparently once this place caught fire. Wonder why?

Very chapel.  So whisper.

Very chapel. So whisper.

Or, as I now call it, Mecca.

Or, as I now call it, Mecca.

Ignore that lady ignoring them.  They did.  Spectacularly.

Ignore that lady ignoring them. They did. Spectacularly.

Pretty.  I think anyone can succeed with sunset pics.

Pretty. I think anyone can succeed with sunset pics.

Fourth: Took my girls to Pennsylvania Amish country again and we did our usual bout of overeating, overlaughing, and overshopping but it’s one of my favorite things to do with them.  We stay at a quirky little bed and breakfast run by the two nicest people and it’s a slice of pure bliss to be there.  (Except for the beds.  The beds are, how shall we say, a bit punishing on the back.  Please see previous post.)  They tried to convince me to bring home a second dog so Nellie won’t be bored.  I’ll let you guess how that conversation went, except I’ll give you a hint: NO.

Fifth: Fishing with Hubby, where fishing was plenty but catching was not-so-much.  Well, catching and keeping.  Seems the regulations in New Jersey keep changing and now flounder/fluke must be 18 inches for keeping.  The sea bass I kept catching were great, except the season ended June 15 and won’t start again until October.  The shark Hubby caught was adorable and I was all ready to name him but the mate on the boat threw him back before I could decide between Bobby Darin and Dyson.  (Get it?  No?  Neither does Nellie.)  He has a spectacular sunburn on his neck and I had enough equilibrium problems that this was probably my final party-boat trip.  (This aging thing does have a few drawbacks.  Then again…)

Seventeen and a half inches.  Before we throw it back, we'll pretend it's a score.

Seventeen and a half inches. Before we throw it back, we’ll pretend it’s a score.

Bobby.  Or Dyson.

Bobby. Or Dyson.

I think I would say August has been a successful month.  Of course tomorrow is supposed to start a week of 90+ temps and humidity, so there’s no telling to what depths I may sink.  (Oh, fishing analogy.  I get it.  Subtle.)

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Inch by Inch, Row by Row…

The birds are going absolutely nuts this morning! Me, too, because after a few days of “hello, I guess we’re moving directly into July!” weather, it is a crisp morning with dazzlingly crystal blue skies. I’ve been out to water the vegetables and the flowers and I planted my Mother’s Day pink azalea bush, and now it’s second cup of tea time.

Our flowering plum tree.  No plums, just flowers and purple leaves.

Our flowering plum tree. No plums, just flowers and purple leaves.

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Close up of said flowers. And an artistic branch.

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Also purple flowers. On the ground. I like them, but Hubby thinks they’re a weed.

My thoughts are much lighter these days, and it’s true that time is the best friend of a broken heart. I had to go through my period of grief and mourning, anger, sadness, and acceptance, and now that I am on the other side I feel as if I’m moving forward. I was teaching in a toxic situation and now that I’m far removed I can honestly wonder how I lasted as long as I did; it’s certainly a shame that it ended the way it did (nervous breakdowns are scary, yo) but it IS ended and after two years I am no longer chasing those negative squirrels in my brain. I am making plans for travel and volunteering and making art and knitting more complicated things and reading more biographies (they’re like potato chips to me, can’t get enough) and being more in the moment.

Perhaps that’s why I felt determined to go back to a vegetable garden this year. For the last three years we’d been half-heartedly saying “so, about a garden…” and then pointedly ignoring the passing of time until it was too late. This year I even ordered plants and seeds in time instead of running to the big home store to desperately grab what they had left, planned out a raised bed that Wonderful Hubby built, and loaded it up with sugar snap peas, beans, tomatoes (because it’s against the law in New Jersey NOT to put tomatoes in your garden), cucumbers, zucchini, basil, chives, parsley, oregano and thyme. The new flower bed will have zinnias and nasturtiums (the first flowers my mother ever planted with me) and two other kinds I’ve already forgotten and hollyhocks. I still have to sow the marigolds around the tomatoes and plant the butternut squash and the pumpkins.

Of course, when I start whining in July that everything is overgrown and weedy and the cucumbers are the size of boats and it’s all fried to a crisp, you’ll be kind and not remind me how determined I was on this lovely May day, won’t you? Please?

Why, yes.  Yes, it is special.

Why, yes. Yes, it is special.

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Warning: Soul-searching Ahead

Apparently I’m lost because I’m trying to find myself lately.  There is a lot of daydreaming serious thinking happening here and I’m not used to that; usually I just read or play games or knit, but now everything is kind of tinged with a “…maybe I should try….” or a “…I could try this, I suppose…” and it’s happening more and more.  Am I going through another kind of puberty God forbid?

As a musician and teacher, I played several instruments fairly well.  Now I have absolutely zero interest in picking up an instrument, so what does that make me?  Most real musicians would never let their skills fade, so does that mean I was a sham?  I loved teaching, but I was lonely because the music department was two people, and I longed to be a “team” like a grade level or subject matter.  Now I wonder if I could ever do that again (and judging by the response to the resumes I’ve sent out, probably not) or have I given up because of the bad association with my former job?

I used to do beautiful calligraphy, and as well as the obligatory envelopes for weddings, I would write and illustrate quotes for selling at craft fairs and I enjoyed it.  But again, I haven’t done it in so long, and do I have all the hubris to think I am still good enough?  Drawing/illustrating is so pleasurable yet I am so highly critical of myself that it’s easier not to start.

Writing has always appealed to me as well.  I blog to give me practice in writing on a regular basis (stop laughing, it’s regular for me) so that perhaps I can write this young adult novel that’s been kicking around my head, so if that’s good enough I can write the book I really want to write.

I used to sing.  All the time.  It occurred to me that the last time I really sang was at Christmas Eve services which was over eight months ago.  What happened to me?  Where have I gone?  Who have I become?

I think I have become someone who is actually enjoying not working at a Monday-Friday job, and puttering about the home.  I am spending a ridiculous amount of time on my iPad, but I am reading so much, it’s not just games.  It’s a lot of games, but it’s also a ton of reading.  I am knitting and actually finishing things.  I can meet people for lunch.  During the day.  During the week.  (I know!)  

I am also sort of hovering.  Is this my new reality?  Is this temporary?  Will I ever be employed by someone else again?  (Part of me really hopes “no.”)  Could I write/illustrate/sell a book?  Can anybody point me towards a real shot of self-confidence?

If I had a dog this is what he'd be thinking.

If I had a dog this is what he’d be thinking.

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When I Grow Up

How many different people have I wanted to be in my life?  Too many, and I’ve done many of them, but I think I’m about to embrace one of the paths and it’s sort of filling me with dread.  

 

I remember being in elementary school and thinking that the secretaries had a great job.  They had a nice big desk, got to play with a typewriter all day, had a never-ending source of pens and markers and tape and staplers and different kinds of paper, and they got to decorate their desks and answer phones.  What fun!  I could doodle all day with all the different markers, I could make posters, comic strips, draw dresses for fashion models, and talk to whomever I wanted on the phone. ( I was clearly a special child with a good grasp of what a job was!)

Teachers, too, got to do fun things.  First, they were the boss of the whole class so they got to say and do whatever they wanted.  If they weren’t in the mood for math that day, they didn’t have to do it.  If they wanted to give us silent reading while they worked on a craft project for us, they could, and they also had lots of neat supplies.  If they wanted to fill the blackboard with fancy writing in different colored chalks, they did and they looked like they were having fun.  Many of us truly believed the teachers lived at the school; one horrendously bad-weather day while I was stripping off my steamy raincoat in class and wiping my wet bangs out of my eyes and pulling up the sock that always slipped down into my boot, I decided to become a teacher so I would never have to deal with bad weather again, I could just slip out of bed, get dressed, and go into my classroom.  Clearly a well-thought-out career path.

Being a photojournalist seemed easy as pie.  You bought a camera, wandered around wherever you felt like, took lots of pictures and some magazine or newspaper paid you to have those pictures.  Wow, what an easy job!  I, of course, would take pictures of kittens and pretty dresses and maybe some flowers and I like the houses on the next street so they’re on the list too.  Why would anybody take a picture of a bunch of barns?  Or clouds?  Or just a bunch of faces?  I know, I’ll sell pictures to ALL the magazines and then I’ll be rich!  I already have a Kodak Magi-Cube camera, so I’m set.

Getting older meant broadening those career horizons.  I didn’t understand people in high school who knew what they were going “to be.”  How do you know until you’ve tried?  What does that mean, exactly, that you’re going to college for “marketing?”  Is that a career?  What made you decided that selling things had a fancy name like marketing?  And hey, business majors?  What is that all about?  Isn’t every single job a business?  How do you major in jobs?  What do you hope to get out of it?  And as a passionate math-hater, I just don’t get you 17-year-olds who are planning on majoring in accounting.  Really?  Spend your entire life adding up numbers?  (Full disclosure: I married an accountant, and no way could I ever ever do what he does.  I would cry.)  I didn’t understand communication majors, sociology majors, anything to do with science (see aforementioned hatred of math; science was the evil cousin) or archaeology…in fact, I was lost thinking of a college major.  I was lost thinking about college and really didn’t think about it much until I said halfway through my senior year and well after I bombed the SATs “yeah, okay, I’ll go to college.”  

I decided to be a music major, because clearly there was a huge need for female French horn players in the world, and I was just the gal to do it.  Or, more accurately, that was what I was good at, so that’s what I should focus on as my guidance counselor explained to me.  I suspect what he was saying was really “You aren’t displaying an aptitude for anything really except music and English so let’s get you squared away with music and good luck with making a living out of that.”

Except I didn’t.  College made me want forty different careers which was crazy because everybody else I knew had settled on “what they were going to be” at the age of 17, and here I was at 19 wanting to be a painter, a singer, a cafe-owner, a teacher, a secretary, a college president (because let’s face it, they get an awesome house), a star of a children’s TV show, a high-powered executive with a snazzy leather briefcase doing heaven-knows-what, work for an advertising agency (again, lots of markers and paper and doodling), work at a magazine because magazines were fun, and be a writer.

Which is a very long way of getting to the point, which is that I am going to try NaNoWriMo and put together that young-adult story that’s been simmering in the back of my head.  I have a rough first chapter done, but I haven’t looked at it in two weeks because … well, because.  It’s like beginning a new project in knitting.  I’m seduced by the colors and the patterns and the yarn choices and the urge to cast on and start knitting with the new yarn and follow the new pattern is irresistible.  Then you’re in the body of the thing and you read the dread words “continue until piece measures 24 inches from cast-on edge” and you realize you’re stuck for a good long while.  I’m worried that the beginning was so fresh and fun and easy and once I’m in it for the long haul I’ll run dry, hate it, do everything possible to avoid it, and realize that I just don’t have the internal drive to see it through.

Which is why I don’t make resolutions any longer and why I don’t do diets any longer.  I do not have stick-to-it-iveness.  I am not a disciplined person.  I do not follow self-devised schedules well and so I need lists.  Once I cross an item off the list, it is like being back in elementary school and getting those gold stars (although I preferred the blue ones, they were prettier and deeper in color than the flashy gold ones) and I have ACCOMPLISHED.  Maybe if I do this project it might be the metaphorical kick in the pants I need.  I’ve always wanted to write, without actually saying out loud “I want to be a writer” because I never saw it as a career, more as a “of course I have to write, how else do you cope through life?” and because I love reading so much that I want to create the same joy I have received.

This is way too heavy for a Wednesday.  Time to leave on a lighter note:

 

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