Sunday, April 19, 2009

Check, check, zzzzzzz, check!

I know I didn't do a proper Easter posting, so let me take a moment to say that I hope yours was happy and spiritually fulfilling. I didn't go to church after last year's fiasco. I was going to try to find a new church, but I accidentally slept in. Instead, I just spent some time in prayer and reflection.

This week was like one giant checklist that I was fighting to complete, check-by-check:
File taxes-check. (I did it online last weekend and now await my modest returns.)
Visit doctor- check.
Poetry workshop- check.
History presentation- check.
Student conferences- check (19 times).
Grade papers- check (countless times).
Apply for summer job- Check (after doing the 20 necessary sub-checks).
Find new roomie- check.

But I made it through. The most important items all got checked off (although the "Grade paper" entry has a few more "countless checks" to go). It felt good to get so much done, but there's still so much left to do! Yesterday's mishap didn't help.

When I went to the doctor, nothing serious was wrong, but he did give me a prescription. Yesterday, my nose was really stuffy, so I called the Wal-mart pharmacy to make sure it was safe to take Benadryl with my prescription.

Wal-mart parmacist: Sure you can take it. Benadryl is just an antihistamine.
Me: Cool! Oh, if I get a back spasm, is it safe for my to take my [extremely low dose of] diazepam?
Wal-mart parmacist: should talk to your doctor before you do that. But Benadryl can actually serve as a muscle relaxer.

What I thought: Cool! Benadryl is safe, will clear my sinuses and will relax my muscles.

What I should have thought: 'Benadryl is safe with your prescription, muscle relaxers aren't. P.S. Benadryl is a muscle relaxer.' This suggests a logic problem. Perhaps I should not trust this woman with my health.

Okay, it crossed my mind, but I thought I was being paranoid. I took the Benadryl and woke up many hours later. Coincidence? Maybe, but as I'm not normally a napper, I have my suspicions. Was the Wal-mart parmacist trying to kill me? What if I'd been driving, pharmacy lady? What about that?

Heh. I basically lost my Saturday to a Benadryl coma and the ensuing grogginess. I had things to do yesterday! Oh, well. At least I'm well-rested.

In other news: Thursday, Nikita came by to check out the apartment. She'll be a senior next year, majoring in Spanish. She seems considerate, and she brought her mom. I like that, because now I've seen the source of her rent money. I think her mom has slight delusions of me being a surrogate mommy to Nikita. She asked who cooks, and Rakel announced that I do. "So, do you all share food, then?" I told her, "Only on special occassions."

Listen, I'll make Thanksgiving dinner if everone pitches in some cash. I'll give roomies some cookies from my latest batch. But I've got too much on my plate to become the cook. Not happening. I know some people who run their apartments that way--more like families. Sometimes I'm jealous of their closeness...but I've tried food-sharing roomie-situations in the past. In college, despite being great friends, when sharing food we ended up arguing over triffling nonsense like name brand vs. generic peanut butter. Now I just share food when the mood strikes me. It's fun when there's no pressure or expectation.

Anyway, I'm thrilled I found Nikita. She was the first person to answer the ad. The summer before I moved here brought a deluge of desperate prospective roomies for me to sort through, and I was dreading a repeat performance. Could I have stalled looking for a new best friend to place in the room? Yes, but I could have lost Nikita in the meantime, and ended up with someone less suitable.

Summer update: Last week the school counsellor suggested I apply for the summer English Adjunct position at a local community college. It would be PERFECT for me, so I did. It's a long shot, since I submitted pretty late in their application process, but all I can do is try. It was hard work tracking down references and transcripts from all my universities, but I did so at dizzying speeds. If I get the job, I'll stay here until August. If I don't, I'll probably be back in Iowa as early as June. Although I'd love to come home sooner, this position would look great on my resume, I'd enjoy the work, and it would probably pay better that most other summer jobs I could find. We'll see.

Well, now that I'm wide awake again, there's a new week of tasks to accomplish. I'm off to try. Congratulations to us all on the return of Spring.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Maybe we aren't putting our flock to its best use...

I mean, who knew there were so many possibilities?

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

French Toast for One and Work Excitement

Enjoy some random recent pictures I've taken at left.

Over the weekend, I made French toast by myself for the first time. I figured out the perfect recipe to make a single serving of French Toast. Here it is:

French Toast for One
Combine one egg, ¼ c milk, a smattering of sugar (1/4 teaspoon maybe?), and cinnamon and nutmeg to taste. Beat the mixture, and pour it onto a plate. Place the first bread slice in the egg mixture, carefully turning it over to let the mixture coat each side for a few seconds. Then it's "toasting" time. Spray a little Pam on a frying pan (ore use a little butter or margarine), and fry each side of the bread until it is golden brown. Dip the second slice of bread while the first is frying. Repeat the frying process on the second slice.

After frying my two slices of bread, I lightly buttered each, then layered on sliced bananas. I crumbled a few pecans, and sprinkled the pecan bits, too. Then I dusted on more cinnamon and nutmeg, drizzled a wee bit o’ syrup and voila! Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum. French toast is so delicious and easy to make! I don’t know why I didn’t figure that out sooner.

Today I continued my cooking streak, making scalloped potatoes and turkey kielbasa. I almost keeled over from the deliciousness. Then I noticed Todd’s bananas were turning brown and stinky, so I whipped up banana bread using Mom’s Bisquick recipe. It was way quicker than my old recipe. Banana bread is Todd’s favorite food, so he’s very happy.

I’m happy, too, but not just about the bread. Today I went in to talk to my supervisor at work. I asked him whether I could try teaching some different classes next year. He agreed that it would look good on my resume, so in the fall I’ll be teaching rhetoric.
I'm looking forward to the challenge of teaching new classes.

In the spring, I might get to teach literature, which I've been requesting to teach since Fall '07. Hooray! Not only would lit be fun to teach, but having three courses (composition, rhetoric and literature) on my resume could only help me find a job after graduation. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

P.S.- Does anyone recognize the plants in this picture? (Click the picture to see it blown up.) They are tiny and grow in my yard, and I have no idea what they are.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Erin Dust

Last Sunday, Todd got back from Florida, where he’ll start getting his Poli-Sci PhD next year. I’ll miss him. I hope I like my new roomie as much. Anyway, we celebrated his academic victory at La Herradura (The Horseshoe?), where we had tacos and daiquiris the size of our heads. Mine was peach, and it was breathtaking.

I had a busy, run-around workweek. I exercised every day, which is a nice accomplishment. On Thursday, I had some therapy because I’ve been depressed this semester. My therapist says I’m hard on myself, and I need to let go of other people’s expectations. I was trying to explain that it’s not as easy as it sounds. Then, she asked why I left my job in New York. As I was talking to her about teaching and the problems with the system, her face lit up, and she went on a tangent about what a great administrator or education policy wonk I’d make.

“Okay, this is what I’m talking about. This is the problem. It’s easy to say that I should ignore the expectations of others, but people just expect things from me…even you.”

She apologized for getting carried away. She says with all my accomplishments and such, I “sprinkle [my] Erin dust all over the place.” Hee! Like I’m Tinkerbelle or something. Well, now that she’s been caught up in Erin-based expectations, she knows what I’m up against. I like her, and I've found our sessions helpful. Sometimes it's just nice to talk to an impartial person.

Friday was the best day I've had in a while. After work, my office-mate Jacqueline invited me over to her house to have lunch, play with her kitty and help her clean out her closet. Free shopping, hooray!

I played with her pretty cat. I tried on the clothes she was giving away and helped her cull a little more. Then we baked cookies using Mom’s cakemix cookie recipe and had supper.

We rushed off to an MFA reading. Graduating students present their work, and this week it was Christian, Andrea and Paula. Their writing was so impressive. Andrea and Christian are in my workshop, so I was already aware of their awesomeness.

Christian’s poems are sharp and modern, and incorporate thoughts and concepts seamlessly. Andrea is a master of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and kayaking, with natural themes prevalent throughout. Paula is the stereotypical Southern woman writer: sweet manners, but a tongue so sharp it could split diamonds.

I felt a twinge of jealousy at their talent and accomplishment, but that jealousy was overwhelmed by my pride in their accomplishment, and my happiness for them.

After the reading, they threw a party. Most of the MFAers were there. They are all such fun, fascinating people to talk to. At the party, I ended up singing karaoke with the program director Sheri Reynolds (her book The Rapture of Canaan was an Oprah book pick). We sang Pink’s “Get This Party Started,” which is not really in my range, but I was game.

I had a lot of entertaining conversations and even got to play with Sheri’s standard poodle Rumi. It’s amazing that Scooter (my parents’ mini poodle) and Rumi are the same animal, as one could knock me flat, and the other would fit in my purse. Not that I’d put Scooter in my purse. Scootie thinks she’s a sheepdog, so being relegated to bag-dog status is an indignity she wouldn’t suffer lightly.

It was good to be out, having fun with my peers, and served as an important reminder: this will all be drawing to a close before I know it. I need to make the most of it while I can!

The school counselor is right:I probably should put less pressure on myself, and I need to let go of other people's expectations. Grandma Carmie gave me a card at Christmas reminding me that the judge I need to satisfy is the woman in the mirror. The thing is, as the Spiderman franchise tells us, "With great power comes great responsibility." I'm not saying I have Spiderman-level power, of course, but I believe we all have unique gifts for a reason and we need to use them to the best of our ability. Well, that's the operative phrase: the best of my ability. I guess the key is to be realistic about what my level of ability is. Time for me to go sprinkle some "Erin dust" around. You go sprinkle your magic elixirs, too.