1/28/2008

Blog-housekeeping

Sorry for the varying sizes of typeface. I have a laptop with a small screen, so this one looks good to me. . .

. . . and the other smaller one I've used before seems a bit small.

But that could just be on my screen. Any readers out there have a preference?

What's Bugging Me

Nina's story about Troy the urban cockroach pretty much sums up my weekend if you subtract the savior-boyfriend part. Ugh. I have about six weeks left in this horrible, horrible place. It was very difficult to sleep last night after one of Troy's cousins got too close to bed, then wound up briefly in it while I was trying to scrape the s.o.b. off the wall.

The cat was very excited by the late night action, and contributed to the sleeplessness by digging at the pillows whose cases I had just changed thanks to the pest. Honestly, who says cats have short attention spans? I mean, there was a lot of time between the bug's appearance in the bedroom, my subsequent disposal of it, linens-changing, and hyperventilating. . . and she still wanted to go dig in the pillows for the long-gone pest? She does take her huntress job seriously.

I just can't wait for it to return to being a part-time job reserved for consultations on the stray spider or thousand-legger.

1/23/2008

Cat's Out of the Bag

Literally, and virtually.

As to the former--I hope kitty has learned that shedding is the much better option when it comes to suitcases.

As to the latter--Hi to my blogfriends and new readers! It's time I had a "place" for others to visit now that I've been visiting their blogs for so long.

Virtual hat tip to my mom for the article. But, um, if you see her please don't tell her I'm blogging. Something about "dirty laundry." I dunno.

1/20/2008

Making Progress with New Technologies

Figured out how to upload photos from my (very rarely used) digital camera. As promised. . .





The Christmas Tree Muncher! I know, she's trying to look very innocent there. This is the first year she has sat under the tree since we've lived on our own.* It was a new tree--apparently a very tasty one--so maybe it had a different structure from the previous one that bit the dust.
(How about those weird glowy eyes?)
*There was no tree in 2004, when my psycho ex-roommate declared there was "no room" for a tree. What a- Well, I recently went to confession, so I'll stop there.

1/17/2008

A Partial Answer to "Why 'Maiden Aunt'?"

This past week I had one of those unpleasant experiences whose sting lingered a bit until I could put it in its place. The place, I found, was the Louisa May Alcott quote on this blog.

As I mentioned briefly in my prior post, my brother tried to rescind a dinner invitation not even two hours before the appointed time I was to arrive. Basically, he said he wanted to check if I was O.K. because he'd heard from his wife (who had made the phone call to invite me to dinner the day before) that I had a cold.

Maybe it was "pregnesia" as mom-to-be WordGirl terms it, but somehow my SIL had managed to change my response of "Perfect timing, because I had a cold all week and I'm finally feeling much better; I'd love to come!" into "I have a cold." (Of course, I find it odd that if she did think I had a cold, she didn't say immediately, Oh, that's too bad and we'll have to reschedule. And instead waited 24 hours and had my brother "handle it." But she tends to behave passive-aggressively anyway.)

So already I was stopped in my tracks that here I was on the phone with the threat of being dis-invited hurtling at me. As I'm baking cookies to bring for dessert. But what really floored me were the next words out of his mouth: "Because, you know, we wouldn't want the kids to get sick."

Sonofagun. My first reaction was, You think I don't have the courtesy to turn down an invitation when I'm sick. And I'm glad that's how I played it, because I would've been more upset had I dug deeper at that moment. I replied firmly but coolly, "No, I'm pretty sure I said I was getting over a cold and I was glad I could make it because I'm feeling much better." I went to dinner and everything was fine. I didn't sneeze all over anybody. Hell, I didn't even blow my nose or cough once.

Still, the next day, I didn't feel good about what he'd said to me. I couldn't figure out why I couldn't just "shake it off" and let it go. And then it finally hit me. The kids. The way he'd said it so authoritatively--as if I, as a single, unmarried, non-parent, could not possibly know how devastating it would be to have sick children and/or a sick pregnant spouse.

Well, I can't say it to him, because too much time has passed, and any way I approach it will present me as the "baddie." It will harm our relationship which, tenuous as it is, probably is the best it's ever been (and probably ever will be). But how dare you, Brother. How dare you assume that just because I'm not married, just because I don't have children, I need to be told what to do in order to protect your family. I've got news for you, Brother: your family isn't special. I know it's the most precious thing in the world to you (finally, you lunkhead), and you want to protect it, but that does not give you the right to view everyone outside of it--including your own sister whom you've known for 32 years--as a threat. Not being married and/or a parent does not imply that I'm ignorant and/or irresponsible when it comes to these things. (Having gotten married a year ago does not erase the fact that you had two kids out of wedlock within 15 months of each other, BTW, so just don't even try the irresponsible/ignorant approach.)

The bottom line is that no matter who invited me to whatever event, I would have enough sense to know whether or not I'm well enough to attend, and I never would knowingly share cold germs. To anyone. Never mind the fact that I love my niece and nephews to death and I definitely would be heartbroken if I made them sick. Never mind the fact that I've been babysitting and caring for children since I was twelve. I spend more time trying not to harm people, not to offend them--usually to the point of going overboard--and all that happens is that I'm looked down on because I'm not married and I don't have children.

So there's the connection to the quote. I have a warm, motherly heart, but people's prejudice doesn't let them see past the bare ring finger on my left hand. It hurts.

The hurt is doubled when it comes from inside my own family.

I don't know if there's anything I can do to change anyone's attitude, but I figure blogging about it at the very least might afford me some peace of heart, if not help me arrive at some answers.

1/13/2008

Winter Quarter, Week 1

I love Week 1 of class. No, I don't. I always wind up feeling overwhelmed. Part of that feeling comes from the fact that I take three classes. I would never, ever recommend taking 3 classes while working full time, unless you absolutely have to get your degree in a hurry. If you were wondering, yes, I do. I also was offered a fellowship (read: money) to take three at a time. Although thanks to a communication problem in my specific program, this is the last quarter I will be taking three courses--and since it's the school's fault, I still get the fellowship even when I drop down to two next quarter and one in the fall.

Being sick with an excruciating sinus headache most of last week didn't help Week 1 go that well, either. But I got my assignments done--I'll be doubling up on my reading this week to catch up--and I still managed to cantor for two Masses, sign the lease for my new apartment, bake cookies to take to my brother's house for a welcome home dinner for my sister when she returned from Rome today, fend off nearly getting dis-invited from said dinner while baking (but that's another story for another time), and enjoy a much needed catch-up call with a certain gentleman this weekend.

The interesting twist this quarter is that I'm taking two education courses and only one information science course. I'm still not completely comfortable with the education world, its methods and its language. Which is why I did not become a teacher immediately after getting my B.A. 10+ years ago and am more comfortable with the idea of school librarian.

One of the education courses centers around literacy education, and we had to write a reflection about our literacy and our learning. I thought I'd share mine.


My parents tell me they will never forget the moment they realized I could read. Apparently I was in the kitchen while they were making lunch one day, and I read the label of the mayonnaise jar aloud to them. They were stunned, because I was three and a half years old. Certainly a number of things contributed to my early literacy: My parents read to me and my siblings, my older brother most likely was beginning to learn to read, we watched educational programming on PBS such as Sesame Street and The Electric Company, and my parents themselves were (and still are) avid readers.

When I attended parochial school (K-8), I loved learning about Language Arts. I would read the entire Voyages in English textbooks, even the parts not covered in class. Sentence diagramming and analysis would make everyone in the class except me groan. Fill in the adjective? Let me at it! I have to admit, though, the early days were not fun. I remember sitting through phonics lessons frequently bored and unable to understand why my classmates couldn’t read, and sometimes I would “act up.”

One thing that disappointed me was that I tended to get “average” scores in reading comprehension on standardized tests. The other challenge was when I got to high school. It was a college preparatory school, and while I had no problem with creative writing, critical/analytical papers did not come easily for me. The paper that finally gave me that “breakthrough” was an analysis of “The Pardoner’s Tale” from Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. My teacher gave me some much needed guidance to complete that paper, and I gained a tremendous amount of confidence in my writing that year.

Outside of class, I also received a lot of encouragement from a classmate (now deceased) who read voraciously, and we had a love of science fiction and fantasy in common. I started writing a novel around the age of fifteen, and when my classmate showed such great interest in my work and discussed it with me during our senior year, it was a tremendous boost. I plan that when I publish my novel at last, the dedication page will bear her name.

Certainly as a school librarian I will be involved with students’ literacy education. When I teach them, I hope that I will be able to leave behind that feeling of not understanding why they can’t read, and instead I will remember all the things that contributed to my success in reading and writing, particularly the positive attitudes of my parents and teachers. I’d also like to incorporate some peer encouragement, because the experience with my classmate in high school helped form me as a writer.

(Yeah, I'm not exactly thrilled that a lot of present-day education methods involve so much touchy-feely stuff, but it makes for good blog-fodder, no?)

1/08/2008

It's January 2002 All Over Again

Well, not exactly. But like January 2002, I caught myself a lovely cold. (You should be grateful you can't hear my mouth-breathing, Blogosphere.) What's more, I'm on the verge of (1) moving--coincidentally or not, to the same community where I'd moved in the fall of 2002; and (2) leaving my current job. (Well, not for a few months.)

The difference is that, unlike 2002, I am voluntarily terminating my lease as opposed to being evicted (arbitrarily, I assure you). As a matter of fact, I just received the acknowledgment of termination from my current property management. It is the sparsest looking letter I've ever gotten regarding a termination. I think they edited out lines like, "We enjoyed having you as a tenant." The most hilarious line was the last: "We wish you much happiness in your new home." And here I thought they were going to end it on a sincere note.

I'm also voluntarily leaving my current job instead of the job's leaving me. That's right, on September 11, 2002 (think about how you felt that day), my boss at the time and president of our company gathered everyone--who already had been crying all morning thanks to remembrances, tributes, and plain ol' barely healed wounds--and announced, "Sad news, everyone." I kid you not; that's how he started off his speech. He was a total weinerhead and a stammering idiot to boot. Then he told us the company was closing and we all had to work one last dreaded Warehouse Sale so we could liquidate everything. This event, of course, did wonders for my lease application; my security deposit doubled the minute they checked my job status and found out my job was ending.

On a positive note, January 2002 was the month I embarked on a much-needed weight loss program. Save the "Grad School Ten," I've managed to keep it off to date. January 2002 was also the month I met the person I thought I was going to marry. It wasn't meant to be, and it was hell when it ended 3 years later, but I know I've come a long way.

January 2002 kicked off this late bloomer's life more or less, and maybe January 2008 is kicking off something new for me as well. Three of my final six courses for my Master's Degree started yesterday, I talked on the phone tonight for the first time in a few weeks to someone I started seeing in November and with whom I'm hoping things will develop in the near future, and I'll be signing my new lease shortly. I think 2008 is going to be quite a year.



P.S. I've decided to open up comments and see how it goes. I'm also hoping in future posts to talk about these topics: the name of my blog, and the high school comic heroines mentioned in my opening post. And, if I can figure out my camera, I hope to post a picture of the Christmas Tree Chewer!