Saturday, August 14, 2010

Not Dead, Just Busy

Although it's been so many months that I doubt anybody is reading this anymore, I just wanted to put up a quick post to show that I'm not dead, I'm just incredibly busy. I will be teaching a new course in the fall (we're still on quarters until 2012, so "fall" doesn't begin until late September), and I have been trying to work on my thesis, which was supposed to be done by next month, but is looking unlikely. The drama with my family has been holding steady for awhile (I'll get into that later, if at all), and Devi's vocabulary has been exploding by leaps and bounds.

I am hoping to get into something a little more semi-regular, but I have to keep in mind that I should not vent about my students out of fear that someone will try to get me fired, again (long story; stupid student said I wrote things online that I have found do not exist, and while it made me look bad to my teaching advisor, nobody else in my department cared). I should also look to use my blog as a way to talk about my work (which will help me in processing what it is that I do) as well as to vent a little about the seemingly never-ending drama about my life.

I won't make promises, but I hope to have less venting in the future. It doesn't make me feel any better to write this out [But I will go on record that I still hold firm on my opinions of certain family members. They can't go to hell fast enough. Okay, done.], and I'm sure that people don't want to read about this anymore.

So, I apologize for complaining, and I apologize for abandoning my blog for my almost equally infrequent use of twitter.* I hope to get back on track, and I hope to revamp my page to look a little different (but don't get your hopes up).

Devi's birthday is coming up soon, so I've got to get the planning underway. I will put up pictures from that party as soon as possible.

It's too late to be posting, so I'm signing off. See ya.

*My twitter account is set to private, so if you don't have an account or cannot log into yours because of the twitter pop-up window, I apologize.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Workin' in a (thesis) Coal Mine...

It's the second week of Spring Quarter, and I just wanted to touch base here while I had a few minutes (time I really don't have) to talk about things.

I managed to get through last quarter with my head intact. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of reading my online evaluation scores the day before the new quarter began, and I was slaughtered by my students. Since these things are now online, only half of the class bothered to do the evaluations, and I had at least one student give me straight 1s. The rating system is from 1 to 5 with 1 being the worst score you can receive. However, my department also makes students fill out a more comprehensive evaluation form where they actually have to answer questions with words and not filling out the bubbles on a Scantron sheet, and those have been more fruitful. I had one student say my instructions were never clear, and another student said that my instructions were very clear. I am going to go over everything with my teaching advisor soon, but I'm already making changes to my teaching style that I think will improve things.

My uncle went back home for a little while, and I had to go pick him up on what would have been my mother's birthday, so we went to the cemetery to pay everyone over there a visit. I left some flowers (and don't ask me where I got them) and I also went to see a kid who I've been kind of visiting since the 1980s. [He was born in '79 but died in '87, and he used to be in a crypt on the other side of my family's crypt wall until a new crypt was built in 2008. Unfortunately for his family, I found out why he was moved. He apparently had a sister born in '78 who died in '08, and I feel very sorry for them because they've now lost both kids.] And since my daughter was with us, she got to visit with her Gram-Gram and everyone else who departed before she was born. I then decided to go look at some crypts that are in the sides of hills there and fell on my butt running up to look in one (forgetting that I wouldn't be able to see squat, since it's mostly in the ground). I finally got to see what some of the family mausoleums look like, and I think people who buy them today are getting ripped off a little, because the old ones can hold up to eight people (even though the ones I could see into weren't full), and the ones I've seen online only hold six, but are much larger buildings.

What? The goth in me has always been fascinated by cemeteries, so this shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that I went looking for interesting things in a historic cemetery.

Anyway, I've been working on my Master's thesis bibliographies lately and I'm trying to get that done tonight before my meeting with my committee chair. I'm a little afraid for this meeting because, for our previous meetings, I had to turn in my bibliographies a week in advance. This time, she didn't assign that expectation, and I'm still trying to cobble one together. Except that I'm supposed to turn in two of those things this time around. It's been a challenge because a) My thesis has shifted from looking at sound and emotive effects in manga to studying online forums (and I'm not thrilled about this at all) and b) I've not been sleeping well, and this is affecting my performance and ability to work.

It also doesn't help that I gave a mini-presentation on my work Friday and had the attendees tell me that I need to find a way to bring the thesis back to what I really want to do, and since my chair wasn't there to hear this, I'm worried about the fact that what happened there has gotten back to her somehow. Great.

Anyway, I've got to get back to my research. I just wanted to stop in and say hi, and I've also got to remind myself to not get into it with a certain webcomic writer because it's a battle with no point. I made a comment on Twitter about how I was sick of reading said artist's posts about this artist's love for a certain brand of technology and it turned into a mini-war of sorts between the artist and myself. And when I had calmed down enough to try and explain my position, said artist blew me off as if it was stupid of me to think what this person said was in any way arrogant or insulting. Honestly, I've had better debates with inanimate objects than this. All I should have done was stop reading the webcomic, which I only tolerated because of moments of brilliant hilarity, but those brief moments just aren't worth it anymore. That, and because I have to keep visiting said comic's Twitter page to see the responses to me, because I never receive them (since I do not follow this person), I've wasted way too much time when I know I won't get in the last word, and I'm running the risk of getting flamed by this artist's followers. I'd prefer to work on getting to the PhD phase of my studies than engage in this kind of conversation, so thanks but no thanks.

Hopefully, I'll get some sleep tonight before my office hours begin. I'd rather not be up all night doing this bibliography work. Goodnight, everyone.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

News and Whatnot

Hi everyone,

I have been very, very busy lately, and this includes the announcement that I wanted to make that I alluded to on Twitter.

I am teaching 29 students, and last Wednesday was hell! They watched Tim Wise's film "On White Privilege" on Monday, and half of the class was offended by what he had to say, and the other half of the class was offended by the statements from the first half. Let's just say, when I came home that day and said "I want a cigarette," I wasn't kidding. That was stressful.

Sticking to more positive news, I have an announcement: I am officially a PhD student pending the completion of my Master's Thesis. What that means is: If I can get my shit together and finish my thesis, I can actually call myself a PhD student, instead of the generic "grad student" label I tend to use now. Am I excited? I should be, but it's hard to celebrate when your childhood home was almost sold out from under you by your aunt in collusion with my father-in-law (and the sale was only halted because my husband told my f-i-l that as heir to half of my mother's part of the house, I refused to sell).

I'm supposed to do a term paper for my graduate school class, I need to make significant progress on my thesis paper, and I have to get through teaching my course without murdering any of my students (which is harder on some days than others). I'm hella stressed because my husband has no job, didn't qualify for unemployment, and spent 1 1/2 months lying about it. The saga continues, so instead of boring everyone with the continuous exploits of my douchebag f-i-l, raging bitch of an aunt, or the genuine sorrow I feel about everything else, I'm going to just cap this with some much-anticipated pictures.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Happy New Year (And All That Remains)

Hi everyone,

Before I get into the follow-up to my...ordeal, I just wanted to get the pleasantries out of the way. Happy New Year, everyone.


The funeral for my mother did something that made me re-think some things, and reconfirmed others. All my mother wanted in life was for God to come through for her, and to know that she was loved. The religious headmaster of my old high school called the funeral home to find out if I could use some help in paying for the funeral. When I said that I could, he told me he'd call back after making some calls. He then called back an hour later to say "I just got $3,000 together, and if you need more, you have my number." I was dumbstruck. My little church got $1,400 together and some of the members were going to make sure that my mother had a nice funeral no matter what (which made my husband cry!). Fortunately, my high school's donation covered the bulk of the expenses, but I was truly touched by the support we received. People gave money not just for me, but because of how wonderful my mother was. In that way, I think God came through (despite my aunt trying to sabotage things and saying, callously, "You should have just gone ahead and cremated her"). At the service, all of her childhood friends came.

All of them.

Most of these ladies are rather flighty women (two each had daughters my age, but one died when her mother wouldn't donate a kidney) who couldn't come by to see my mother when she was still alive, but at least they came to see her (well, nobody got to see her on Monday (12/28) because my uncle and I elected to close the casket for the service because, as far as I am concerned, if they couldn't come to see her when she was alive, they won't be allowed to see her when she's dead).

My uncle and I stayed with the body through the entire viewing on Sunday (12/27) to make sure the funeral home wouldn't close early like they did with my grandmother two years ago (As today is the 2 year anniversary of her death, I'm really keyed up right now). My aunt screwed up a lot of things. She lied and didn't call the hairdresser, so she did it herself with her poor daughter in tow (and did a bad job). She got Quintessa (say it with the neck roll to get it right) to give us shit about the money, threatening to hold my mother's body hostage if she didn't get it all by 10 a.m. She lost the tie that went to the blouse and got the funeral home to violate their own rules by not allowing me to get the first view of the body. Crayzee brought the clothes late, promised to get flowers that ended up being plastic (and, therefore, couldn't be left at the cemetery) and were probably free, and didn't bring the guest book until after church service was long since over (the church my family belongs to is across the street). If it weren't for her having a child, I'd never speak to her again.

Except for the eulogy which included such gems of "...until you find your sister dead at home" (Thanks, McNugget*), the service went over well. There was a bit of comedy (for me anyway) when people were reading the proclamations. These are these stupid things that people put together to say how great you were in life, and it makes the group look important, blah blah blah. Anyway, the contingent in California sent an e-mail to have read at the service and my aunt read it. She was reading it in this really weird, trying-to-be-dramatic-but-instead-sounding-insane kind of way, and I started laughing. My sister (the one I stopped talking to, but I have no idea why anymore) thought I was crying. Oh no; I thought it was funny! One of her best guy friends sang a beautiful solo, and I was proud of him for making it through it.
(*McNugget is what I've been calling this pastor since he started at the church back in 1990 & he only got to do the service because he was feeling guilty and offered to do it for free, or I would have gotten someone else)

What I saw was a hell of a lot of remorse from people who couldn't' give a damn before this happened. People actually felt bad, and all I kept thinking was "Good! You need to feel bad!". Most of the people in the mortuary industry were very kind and accommodating. Everyone except Quintessa *neck roll*, who was a bully, who didn't tell me I could e-mail the program to the printer (and tried to charge me the rush fee for turning it in late), and screwed things up for the repast. We drove out to the cemetery to do the final goodbyes (my mother was born in a blizzard, and was buried in one) and my uncle had asked people to stay for the food. Unfortunately, a lot of people left because that bitch couldn't do anything right. My poor uncle and my husband were both apologizing to the people who made the food. My uncle said "I asked people to stay, and they all left me". Fortunately, my mother's friends (who were apparently hanging out in the ladies lounge upstairs) came down and we had a good number of people at the meal. It made me feel good that they stayed. My dad and my sister (3 of 7 if you're keeping track) ate with us, and I have to say my sister has really mellowed the fuck out. She's a wrestler now, and that seems to be a good thing for her. She finally found her passion, and until it pays the bills she still nurses full time (she's not licensed, but after taking care of her own mother for years before her passing, she's got a lot of experience and doesn't do things that would get her in an ass-ton of trouble). She's still a little greedy with the posting of gift lists on her MySpace page, but we reconnected in a way I didn't expect.

Of all the things that did go wrong, the worst was that my older brother didn't make it to the funeral. He wanted to be there, and before he started hanging out with his "friends" he would've moved heaven and earth to be there. Instead, they promised him a ride and probably fell through and told him not to bother. Assholes. He's gone bankrupt buying these losers drinks at the bar, and he stopped coming by to visit them because of these people (who had better not run into me in a dark alley because I'm out for blood), and he failed to call the week she died. I think my mother would have listened to him if he had visited her, but he kept saying he couldn't make it and that he was coming. I haven't tried to contact him since because I don't know what to say to him.

I invited my uncle to stay with us for awhile, but I'm not sure he will. I just want to make sure he's taken care of, and that he knows he did everything right by my mother. He shouldn't feel guilty about anything he did. I cant' say the same for others, but he did right by her. And all those people who turned their backs on them are feeling bad and trying to make things right. Like the woman who was bringing them food but being nasty about it. She would buy the food at Sav-A-Lot and wouldn't get them enough to live on, and according to my uncle, all my mother wanted was to have a house filled with food. Well, now he has a house overflowing with food from Dave's grocery store, with enough food to feed a family of four for two months. Why the fuck she couldn't do this while my mother was alive, I'll never know.

I'm supposed to send thank you cards to people who came to the service, and I'm taking the money that people gave me and putting it away for an emergency fund. One of my closest girlfriends gave me $300, and when I tried to give it back to her because things were paid for, she wouldn't let me return it. She said that she would be lost if it were her mother, and she wanted to help us out. I want to put the money away so that I may be able to help someone else in the way we were helped.

I don't really want to do the letters, but I'm going to get them done before depositing the checks (I don't want to be tacky). My uncle's faith never wavered. Not to say he's like Job, but when everyone turned their backs, he never turned away from God. Hell, I cussed God out and chronicled it here (my last venomous lick to God when my mother died was to say "Fuck you, God"), but he never did. I always thought I'd learn the most about faith from my mother, but I think they both taught me a great deal.

With the loss of my grandmother, my faith was shaken. With the loss of my mother (and the beautiful outpouring of support), I think it may have been restored.

I've got to get back into the swing of things. I'm teaching a class of ~29 students due to the university being in a crisis without admitting to it (way to go, Gee). Instead of offering 4 or 5 100-level courses and a number of 300-level courses, we're offering 6 100-level courses and one or two 300-level courses, and all the 100s are pushed beyond the usual cap of 25. We're doing this because it's a way for the department to get $, but it's a load of crap. I've gone from not teaching anyone to teaching a ton of kids with the blank stares back at me. Fun. I just wish I knew this material better than I do; then I'd feel more confident in teaching it to a bunch of underclassmen. It's hard to teach Juniors and Seniors because they're set in their ways and aren't usually receptive to new ideas. I'm also trying to write my thesis, take a class, and scramble to get 3 credit hours to comply with my contract because my thesis seminar has been canceled. Of the six of us working on our thesis, only two of us signed up for the class, and the other person dropped out. Merde! I don't know how I'm doing what I'm doing, but I just can't stop for anything.

There is one other thing; I have resolved that I have to try at least once to be a singer. An actual, bona fide recording artist. My mother had a beautiful voice but never really got to be a soloist (the church choir had its clique), and I think a little bit of her sound is still in me and I want people to hear it. I've got to at least try.

I just wanted to thank everyone for their outpouring of love and support during this difficult time. I also want to thank the people at the Plain Dealer, the printer of the programs, and most of all Loretta from Lake View cemetery for being more than accommodating to our situation and showing the utmost in compassion. I'd also like to thank my aunt for being a bitch to remind me of the kind of fool she is, and my father in law for being an unbelievable bastard who lied and schemed and did some non-lawyerly things because he "showed his ass" in front of his son, making my husband realize that he can't let his father get away with being a dick. I'd also like to thank Quintessa *neck roll* for being an unruly tyrant who, in her own way, managed to make a miracle happen. I'd like to thank those who turned their backs for the guilt they are feeling because they need to learn to act like human beings. I want to thank my uncle for all the hell he's gone through, and for being there for my mom. I want to thank my grandmother for being the strong role model for me. And I'd like to thank my mother, because I never got a chance to do so. I love you mom.