Sunday, September 18, 2011

when did all of this happen?

It's been a little stressful around here lately.  And by stressful, I mean that I've been sick again.  Sick as in gastro-intestinal distress coupled with an unhealthy dose of blood leaving my body through various orifices. 

For some reason, that word looks like it should be pluralized as "orifi" but maybe that's just me.

The illness means that I missed another day of school which has me bummed a little.  What irritates me more, however, is that one of my professors decided that we should have a spiffy little writing assignment due on Tuesday and chose today (Sunday) to send out an email reminding everyone -- or surprising the heck out of those of us who missed last Thursday.  The assignment isn't difficult.  It's simply annoying.  The syllabus says two papers, two exams, a few note-taking and posting assignments and occasional reading quizzes.  I realize that the instructor thinks of these little surprise writing assignments as reading quizzes.  I just can't agree with him on this point.  Don't call writing assignments "quizzes" when you also hand out actual quizzes which are done during class.  I guess it's just one more thing to put on my "don't do this" list for when I'm finally teaching a class of my own.

Meanwhile, September snuck up on me again this year.  September holds such diverse holidays as Peter's Mum & Dad's anniversary, Peter's Dad's deathday, his sister's birthday, his dad's funeral anniversary and his birthday.  Of those, I'm most concerned about the birthdays.  The rest, well, they happen and we deal with them as they come.  But birthdays.  Birthdays get me every time.  Peter's sister is awesome.  I love her beyond belief.  She's a strong, independent woman.  And being a strong, independent woman, there's not much she needs or wants that she cannot get for herself.  Birthday present.  I could go with the typical card and a gift card, but I'd rather do something / get something for her that she will remember and enjoy.  She's older than I am by five months.  It shouldn't be so difficult to come up with ideas. 

To top that off, Peter's birthday comes just two days later.  I definitely have no clue what to get him.  I'm thinking of making him an outfit.  In fact, I'm pretty sure that's what I'll be doing for him.  It might not be on time... but it will be special.  Still, it adds to the stress level.

And then it hits me.  September already.  Next month is October.  October.  Easily my favorite month during the year.  I mean it has Samhain / Hallowe'en.  Definitely my favorite holiday.  Which also happens to be our anniversary.  Ten years, this year.  How will we be celebrating?  Well, we won't.  That's a little harsh -- let me explain.  On our anniversary we will be driving back from Miami because Peter's sister is getting married on the 30th.  We'll be leaving Friday, cooking for the family and friends Friday night, meeting all of her fiance's family Saturday, going to the wedding Sunday and driving back Monday.  Tuesday I will be back in Tallahassee at school.  No time to celebrate.

Did I mention that we're driving down with Peter's Mum?  And seven chihuahuas?  This is the difficulty of having four-legged furred family members.  It should make for an interesting ride, though.  We'll be staying at the home of a lady who has moved out (mostly) to live with her significant other... a friend of Peter's sister.  It's very sweet of her to let us use her home for the weekend.  Part of my stress has been trying to arrange either puppy-sitting or accommodations that allow seven dogs.

Oh, and having a mouse jump on my head whilst in the bathroom on Saturday?  That was stressful, too.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

night terrors and day dreams

I had such high hopes that things would settle down once I managed to get back into the school groove.  Either I've not found that groove yet, or I have, and things are just refusing to fall into place.

Some good things have occurred.  I've reconnected, albeit briefly, with a handful of old friends.  I have a small wardrobe of wigs - three so far - that I can rotate through as the mood strikes and I've encountered less embarassment from the shaved head than I expected during those days when a wig is just too uncomfortable or too much of a hassle.  I found wig stands - but more on that project in a bit.  I'm keeping up with my classes and it should be a relatively stress-free semester, all things considered.  I'll be writing a total of six 5-7 page papers - no research, two annotated bibliographies (in lieu of actually writing a research paper) and will be taking three midterms and three finals.  Other than the random smattering of "reading quizzes" - which are generally announced ahead of time and are brain-numbingly simple and straightforward - that's it - that's all I have to complete in order to receive the next document in the series of wall-hangings.

I keep looking at my syllabii and wondering when the 16 page research paper is going to appear... or the 10 page essay with sources... or the journal with weekly entries... but no, nothing shows up, and I'm left wondering just what exactly I'm supposed to be learning this semester.  Patience, perhaps?  Tolerance?  How not to bang one's head repeatedly against hard objects out of frustration with an instructor who insists on treating 4000 level students as though they are freshmen?  The up-side of that was the reading quiz last class - he handed out expo markers and turned us loose on the whiteboard to draw "sketches" of what we'd read.  English majors.  Drawing things.  Hilarity ensues.  Along with "how many stick figures does it take..." jokes.  One comment from the crowd: "Is it bad that my first impulse was to write words instead of drawing something?"  A response: "Oh, crap! I put words on mine!"

We are English majors.  We use words.  Get over it.

I felt a little bad for the group that came to do a presentation about FSU's international programs.  90% of our class are graduating seniors, 5% are first semester seniors (neither group can study abroad as you have to have classes the following semester on the home campus)... and the other 5% had a marked lack of interest.  Our only question to them?  "Do you have to be studying abroad in order to use the passport services?"  The answer: "No. Anyone enrolled at FSU can get a passport through our office and it's the same price as it would be going through regular channels, only more convenient because we're right here on campus."  (Can't you just see the perky little grin?)

Oh, and the instructor embarassed the crud out of one of our classmates - by pointing out that she was a "celebrity" for having been on the cover of the prior international programs catalogue.  He had a copy of the catalogue.  He held it up and showed everyone.  The girl tried her best to melt down into her desk.  It didn't work.  I felt bad for her.

Back to times not changing.

I'm still getting very little sleep.  Not because I'm not going to bed.  I get to bed at a very reasonable hour for the most part.  But when I sleep, I've been having horrific nightmares.  Nightmares that are so vivid that they snap me awake.  Yet when I fall asleep again I'm right back in the dream, only rewound a little.  I ended up with over twenty endings to the last one of these dreams (two nights ago).  And last night, when I finally fell asleep again, I added another half-dozen more endings to the same dream.  Enough is enough!  How many times can I be in a car, flipped over on its roof, in a lake, sinking?  How many ways are there to die/survive this scenario?  I can name 26, just off the top of my head.  Sometimes an infant was involved.  Sometimes there were people standing on the bank.  Sometimes there were alligators.  Or more specifically one alligator.  One giant albino alligator with the attitude of a vengeful god.  I was never driving.  I was always in the passenger seat.  The driver was always the same.  She sometimes lived, sometimes died, sometimes got attacked by the alligator, sometimes got tossed back into the water by the people on the shore.  Sometimes the people on the shore stole the baby.  Sometimes there was no baby and I died looking for it.  Sometimes I knew there was no baby and died saving the driver.  Sometimes everyone lived.  Sometimes I fought the alligator.  Once.  Just once.  I let the alligator win.  Let it.  I was done.  I'd had enough of the dream.  I was well beyond the point where I recognized -inside the dream world- that I was dreaming, again, of the same scene.  And I just let the alligator win.  I felt the clench of the jaws around my midsection.  I felt the air escape my lungs and the water enter as the 'gator did the death roll with my suddenly lifeless form.  I felt the scrape of branches as the 'gator tucked me into his larder.  I was dead, but alive, gone, but there, and the driver was safe on the bank (no baby this time around) and the car slowly settled down to the bottom of the lake and I saw that, too.  And when I stopped fighting, and let things play out... the dreams finally stopped and allowed me to sleep.  I remember feeling a little sorry for the 'gator, because when the car settled down, it blocked the entrance to the larder... and after all that work, he wouldn't even be able to get to me later on. 

Moving on.

I ordered "Salt" again.  This will be my third attempt to get the novel from this major online retailer of books and sundry items.  Some may recall my first attempt, which ended in a 6-week wait for them to email me saying they didn't have the book after all, followed by an email three days later saying they recommended I buy "Salt" based upon my other selections.  I tried.  They told me it was out of stock.  I wrote them, demanding to know why they recommended I buy a book that was out of stock.  They told me (in an automated email) that the recommendation emails are automated.  I told them their automation needed some fine-tuning to make it link up with their inventory.  I used nice words.  I didn't actually type "Bless your heart." But I thought it.  Oh, I thought it.  UPS tells me that my shipment should arrive sometime today.  It is currently "out for delivery"... the company tells me that both "Salt" and "The White Witch of Rose Hall" are included in the parcel.  We shall see.

Meanwhile, I've tried my hand at ordering underwear online.  Ok, it started with a search for "lunch lady bras" because I can't find anything that fits correctly.  I'm a big lady and I need a big bra.  You wouldn't think it to see me - because for the last 5 years or so I've been strapping the girls down with too-small sports bras.  It's time for a little freedom.  I've ordered a set of "foundation" garments as well.  Ones designed for those of us with ample curves and voluptuousness.  Here's hoping they fit.  USPS says they're in Jacksonville today - which means they should be here tomorrow.  The foundations are a standard brief-style panty and a tank-style camisole top.  I'm not looking for miracles.  I'm looking for something to smooth out some of the bulges when I go to my sister-in-law's wedding in October.  And, in order to get the free shipping, I added something pretty and frivolous to the order - a midnight blue nightgown.  It looks... cool and swishy and comfortable and sexy all at once.  Strange that I go through these phases of total body acceptance followed by a desire for constrictive undergarments which tends to end in frustration and disappointment before coming full circle to body acceptance again.  Maybe if the unders that I found actually -fit- I would be able to break the cycle. 

I was asked, rather bluntly, why I didn't just lose the weight if it made me so unhappy.  Sure, let me wave my magic wand and have that happen.  Have tried. Am trying.  Heck, I even do a weigh-in every week and write the result on the bathroom mirror as a constant reminder.  I've tried the many small meals a day thing, I've tried eating once a day, I've tried meal replacements, supplements, and portion control.  I've tried programs where they send you the food.  I've stuck with plans for 6 months to years hoping for results.  I've been small once since my son was born.  I made it down to a size 10 using that aforementioned program.  Yes, I consider that "small."  I looked like I was dead.  My cheeks were hollowed, my eyes sunk in with dark circles and I was miserable.  Within months I was climbing back up the weight-gain ladder.  Still, I've no desire to be that small again.  I'm in the midst of a plan that rewards me for pounds lost.  I've made it to the first reward, a sketchbook, and am working toward the second, a lovely scarf.  So yeah, I am losing the weight.  It just takes time.  Meanwhile, don't begrudge me the joys (or the heartaches) of foundation garments.  And just wait, naturally slender people, one day your metabolism will catch up with you.

How did this turn from a nightmare and back-to-school rant to one about weight-loss?  Oh well, love me anyway.

Monday, September 5, 2011

aware of the awareness

One of my friends posted this status earlier today:  "Can I make a request? Is anyone willing to post this and leave it on your status for 1 hour? It is Special Education week & Autism & ADHD Awareness month, and this is in honor of all children who struggle every day. Lets see how many of you do it."

Hmm.  Now, being all too familiar with ADHD, I know that September is, in fact, ADHD Awareness month. However, being a good friend of several Autistic persons, I know that Autism Awareness month is actually in April.  Odd that they would be combined.  But what about Special Education week?  When is that?  

A somewhat exhaustive web search revealed that there is no such thing as "Special Education week."  

All of the above researched facts contribute to the growing mountain of support for my "I don't care what it's for, I'm not reposting that status" attitude.  I like kittens and puppies and children.  I volunteer with the elderly and veterans.  That doesn't mean I have to post my support.  

While we're at it... I'm not posting the color of my brassiere, where I place my purse or converting my birth month and day into baby-on-the-way lingo.  It doesn't help spread awareness of breast cancer.  I'm pretty sure everyone is already aware of breast cancer.  

How about we post things like "I just donated $20 to breast cancer research, will you match it?"  or "Logged 5 hours volunteering today, how about you?"

Back to awareness months/weeks/days...  if you're curious about what we're supposed to be aware of during September, here's the list:

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
Fruit and Veggies - More Matters Month
Healthy Aging® Month
Leukemia & Lymphoma Awareness Month
National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month
National Atrial Fibrillation Awareness Month
National Cholesterol Education Month
National ITP Awareness Month
National Pediculosis Prevention Month/Head Lice Prevention Month
National Sickle Cell Month
National Yoga Awareness Month
Newborn Screening Awareness Month
Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month
Prostate Cancer Awareness Month
Whole Grains Month

And then there are specific days and weeks:

13th - National Celiac Disease Awareness Day

15th - National School Backpack Awareness Day (Although why we have to be aware of backpacks is beyond me. Perhaps they are planning to overthrow the education system.)

18 - 24
National Farm Safety & Health Week
National Rehabilitation Awareness Celebration

18th - National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day

19th - Get Ready Day (It didn't say for what we are readying ourselves.)

21st - World Alzheimer's Day

22nd - Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) Day

24th - Family Health & Fitness Day USA

27th - National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

28th - National Women's Health & Fitness Day
World Rabies Day

30th - Sport Purple For Platelets Day
World Heart Day

And if that isn't enough, feel free to celebrate the birthdays of my lovely Sister-in-law (22nd) and awesome husband (24th).

Awareness data for this month, and all the rest of them, can be found at this nifty location: Awareness Data List.

I'm still not changing my status.