Friday, January 30, 2009

Come to Jesus, Friend

I sat down the lead team teacher for a Come To Jesus talk today. (Both Narya and my eccentric former boss used that expression, and I am fond of it.) I explained that I had agreed to substitute teach for one week. Only later did I learn the teacher had quit and I had the added responsibility of making all the lesson plans, assigning the homework, etc. And then, it morphed into an open-ended gig. I asked what was going on.

Lead Teacher explained that he wasn't sure either. They had interviewed 7 people for the position, of whom 6 were no good. He said he would do all he could to keep me in the job. The kids love me. The faculty adores me. Apparently I'm a freakin' wunderkind in the classroom.

I said,'s where I'm coming from. My goal for the year is to sub in as many different places at as many different grade levels as possible, to see what I like. I have a semester--one semester--in which to write a thesis. It happens to be this semester. I need to remain a per diem sub so that I can take days as needed to work on my thesis.

Lead Teacher tried, most charmingly, to talk me into the job, for which they might be hiring someone else anyway. I was not having it. I declined equally charmingly. I explained that I liked the kids and love the teaching team, but this did not work with my personal goals or timeline. (I refrained from ranting about how it SUCKED to be thrown additional responsibility for no extra pay without telling me up front that was happening, at a chaotic school where the students both behave and read at a level about 3 years younger than the actually are.)

I agreed to stay for 2 more weeks to make a smooth transition. I left feeling happier, lighter, and far left anxious at the end of the day.

My resolution when I turned 30 was, essentially, "I'm not putting up with crap." I think I have proven myself worthy of turning 31 in a few weeks.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Taking advantage or just poor communcation?

I'm doing a heck of a lot of work for this substitute gig. You know, the one where I was told after the fact that the teacher had quit and moved back to Ohio and that *I* would be making the lesson plans. Suddenly I am also supposed to coordinate with the 8th grade ELA teacher to ensure a smooth transition between 7th and 8th grades. All this, and I was never told in the first place that this is what I was getting into; and I still have not been invited to stay until the end of the year.

Also? I made a great connection for the kids--that "yo' mama" jokes are a form of hyperbole--but today I was told to cease and desist with using yo mama hokes as an instructional tool. I was told that a student was "very upset" and had "complained" about me, but I strongly suspect that this is a lie. I believe the other teachers simply found this somehow inappropriate.

I need to have a little heart-to-heart with the team lead teacher tomorrow. I intended for this spring to be a time of subbing in lots of places and at lots of grade levels to see what I like; I moreover intended to be able to take days off as needed to work on my thesis. I feel blindsided, and it's making me both anxious and resentful.

Am I overreacting? I'm sure they must think they are giving me a great opportunity...right?

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Oh, dear.

First, a big chink of my thesis is due Feb. 3. This is according to my own timeline, granted, but I have made the timeline and, dammit, I'm sticking to it. If I don't finish my thesis this semester, they charge me $400 when I do turn it in.

Then, a freelance proofreading project started running behind. Now the last batch is also due Feb. 3.

And on top of all that, I was asked to fill in for a teacher all next week. I accepted. And then, later? They remembered to mention that, Oh by the way, that teacher quit, and have fun making the lesson plans!

Dude. DUDE.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hail to the Chief

I am so, so happy about President Obama's inauguration. I felt proud, moved.

Did anyone else catch that he included "nonbelievers" in his address? Has any U.S. president remembered or acknowledged the nonbelievers before?

On a trivial note, I cannot hear "Hail to the Chief" without hearing Paul Reiser singing, "I am the den-tist, I've come to pull your tooth out".

For the record

I feel better after a good night's sleep, 15 minutes of lightbox therapy, and a breakfast of steel cut oats made overnight in the Crock Pot, topped with a poached egg. Rest! Light! B vitamins! Here we go!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Happy Mid-January

I am seriously hating life these days. It's all winter depression. I feel guilty for feeling so gawdawful, given that my life is objectively quite good.

Restricting food intake + SAD + PMS = one miserable kStyle.

Wake me up in June, would you?

Friday, January 16, 2009


  1. Trader Joe's flatbread with wild mushrooms, truffles, and mozzarella is so good it's almost ridiculous. It does not look impressive when frozen, but cook it up and it is an absolute delight.
  2. It's freaking cold. Every time I go outside, it feels like the little hairs in my nostrils are going to freeze and break off. The bright, bright sunshine is a terrible tease.
  3. There are now more needles on the floor than on our poor Christmas tree. We'd extended its life so it could lend joviality to last Friday's board games party. It did a marvelous job, but now the poor tree is tired and must be laid to rest. Also? We are tired of the cats puking up needles. We KNOW what you're doing, CATS.
  4. "John, I'm Only Dancing" has been in my head for 3 days.

Breaking Promises

I know I promised I'd sequester all Weight Watchers-related posts here, but! I have to tell you! I lost 4.4 lbs the first week. It took me all summer using the Food Pyramid and ridiculous amounts of exercise to do the same. Yay, WW! Yay, me!

That is all.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Bill took the quiz. I'm a sucker for Internet quizzes, so I took it, too.

I took the 43 Things Personality Quiz and found out I'm an
Extroverted Self-Improving Believer

No idea what it means, but it sounds about right.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Oh, Crap.

Yesterday I learned that free Tetris is available online. Now I am wasting lots of time. Moreover, Level 7 is way too fast for me and I don't even enjoy it. I only like Levels 1-6.

Reminds me of my former job. The reward for doing good work was more work, faster.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Stuff and Things

1. We received a pair of wonderful mugs for Christmas. I am head-over-heels for them. I can't find a photo online, and I'm too lazy to take one, so I'll just have to describe them. They are designed for warming your hands as you sip your warm drink of choice. A beautiful, blue-glazed ceramic inside layer rises up above a shorter, thicker, outside layer of brown clay, which prevents the mug from being too hot to hold. The clay is grooved for a comfortable hand grip. The mugs are aesthetically-pleasing, and just the right size to hold in two hands while gazing out the window.

2. I am pleased to announce that I am now an "independent consultant" for an up-and-coming cosmetics and personal care company. Really, I just liked the shampoo a LOT, and I wanted the discount. I have no intention of starting an MLM-business. But, er, if anyone wants some great shampoo...let me know*.

*I have to say that. So I can keep getting a discount.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Un-PC Food

I've long been very good to my friends' dietary needs, taking a "least common demonimator" approach to gatherings at my home. Is there a vegetarian in the crowd? We all eat vegetarian! A vegan? No animal products for anyone! Visiting Jews? Kosher ingredients it is, for everything served!

I'm breaking free. Vegetarians, vegans, and Kosher-keepers may wish to stop reading now.

On Friday, we are having a few friends over for board games. Fifteen friends, to be precise. I assumed that some people would decline, so I sent out more invites than we can really fit in our little place, and then no one declined. But no matter! We'll make room!

The crowd has at least one vegetarian, one gluten-free Jew who I don't believe keeps Kosher, and assorted others with varying dietary needs. But you know what? 1. It's just munchies anyway, and 2. I invited everyone to bring a snack to share. Ergo, everyone should have something edible.

Therefore, I am making my mom's delicious Ham & Cheese Appetizers! Yes! This is liberation! You know what else? The recipe contains Bisquick! It does! And I'm using it! (I did greatly reduce the fat content of the original recipe, however.)

Anyone who cannot eat this snacketizer will just have to deal. They'll have popcorn, salad, and Christmas cookies, anyway. I am no longer all chefs to all people. IT FEELS GREAT.


I'm trying to be cheerful about winter, I am. I bought myself a pink rose bouquet at Trader Joe's. It was called "Rosy Cheer." Rosy cheer for $3.99--not bad!

One nice thing about winter is that it's a good time to cozy up with a book or three. What are you reading? Would you recommend it? Here's what I'm reading.

Creation by Gore Vidal. Yes, I've been reading it since October. It's long, but it's fantastic. Cyrus Spitama, fictitious Persian ambassador for the great kings Darius and Xerxes, travels the ancient world from Greece to India and China, meeting kings, wise men, and mad men along the way. I have sat in on Ambassador Spitama's audiences with Buddha, Lao Tzu, and Confucius. I suspect that we may yet meet Socrates and Pythagoras. My favorite character, though, has been the mad Duke of Sheh, a Chinese knight who styled himself duke of the fictitious "Sheh," or holy ground. He is known for chasing dragons and calling upon his "cousins," the other dukes, for shelter and meals in the royal style he deserves. Entertainingly weaving so many strands of history and philosophy together, this book is a masterpiece.

Netherland by Joseph O'Neill. listed Netherland as one of the best books of 2008. I've only just begun the novel, but I am charmed by the detail-rich prose. I'll let you read what Slate and Amazon have to say about this book, rather than describing something I have not yet read.

Finally, I'm proofreading a book on oncology nutrition. It's rather a fascinating book. It has changed the way I see food. I now think about anticarcinogenic properties when staring down something edible.

Book waiting in the wings: The Language Instinct (Pinker), Water for Elephants (Gruen).

Books on the to-read-eventually list: American Wife (Sittenfeld), Wesley the Owl (O'Brien), The Race Card: How Bluffing about Bias Makes Race Relations Worse (Thompson Ford), Company of Liars (Maitland).

Confession: I have trouble finishing nonfiction books. I've started far more than I've completed.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Za'atar: It's magic!

A friend told me that za'atar is the secret spice in his magical hummus. I was inspired to make za'atar-laced hummus straightaway, dusting the pulverized chickpeas liberally with my new herb in addition to my old friend, cumin, and pulsing away in the Cuisinart.

Magic. Aaaaah. Za'atar. I love you.

And so winter begins, if we must.

I hate the end of the holidays. I hate fighting the cold and snow and dark to go back to work. I hate fighting my sweet tooth to return to a reasonable, non-holiday way of eating. I hate going from the wide-open spaces of time spent lounging with family and friends to the hectic pace of regular life. I hate closing the purse strings back up after a month of thoughtful spending.

I dread that I need to finish my thesis by April, G. needs to finish his dissertation by March, and he'll be job-hunting, and I predict we will have scant emotional resources left over to console one another.

The sun looked so weak and distant this morning, so feeble.

Sigh. Moan. Complain, complain. Whine. Whimper.