Mar 272015
 

dayinthelife

I just love Trish. Her blogging is always so honest and refreshing, and I truly feel like I know her and definitely count her a friend. So when she announced that she wanted to host a blog event, I thought I should try and get my act together. Alas, this week has been…a bit crazy, so I’m just now sitting down to do this Friday morning. But I still want to jump in! My days vary a good bit, depending on the semester, the point in the semester, etc., but it means my work is never boring. So here is the day in the life of…a writing center director.

6:20 a.m.: Wake up because the pup is moving around. I know I need to take her out, but if I pet her in her cozy little bed, I can usually get her back to sleep for a bit.

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7 a.m.: I get up and take Maddie out for her morning constitutional. This week is very humid with just a little (final) chill in the air, so I break out my fuzzy pink robe for this. If my neighbors catch me, I’ll just pretend I don’t see them.

7:20 a.m.: I know I shouldn’t, but I hop back under the covers – just to warm up! Then I quickly make the bed. This is a MUST.

7:30 a.m.: Pick out clothes; toss them on. Wash face, brush teeth, put in contacts, pull hair back. Do makeup. Breakfast! This week has been scrambled eggs, black beans, and pepperoncini rings. Yum. Clean up. Fill water bottles.

8:10 a.m.: My “get your ass in gear” alarm goes off. Prep work bag. Put on shoes. Give the pup kisses and a treat.

8:15 a.m.-8:21 a.m.: I never know where this time goes. It just flies by.

8:21 a.m. to 8:29 a.m.: Drive to work (and yes, be jealous. I live super close to work. If it wasn’t a horrible biking town, I’d bike there).

8:30 a.m.: Roll into the office in the university library.

8:35 a.m.: Check Facebook to make sure all friends have survived the evening and no new pregnancies/engagements. Check email. Respond to email. Tap my toes waiting for college student employees to show up (the Center opens at 9).

9:05 a.m.-9:10 a.m.: Greet student employees. Talk about anything that has to be done that day.

9:10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.: Respond to any lingering emails from the day before/morning. Clean up inbox a bit. Organize to-do list. Check Filofax for tasks. Add anything new from incoming emails. A professor checked yesterday to see if he could bring in his class for a special assignment. Facilitate group tutoring sessions. Talk to professor about a National Poetry Month event for April.

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10:30 a.m.: Check my favorite blogs.

10:45 a.m.: Get back to working on a Prezi for an APA presentation I’m giving for the nursing department on Monday. Decide template.

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11 a.m.: Professor comes back in for update on NaPoMo event.

11:10 a.m.: Continue going through flagged APA manual to determine organization for Prezi. Reorganize layout of Prezi.

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11:30 a.m.: Prof comes in again to ask a question about NaPoMo event. Agree to check on availability of space and get back to him. (Get a little frustrated by the interruption.)

11:45 a.m.: Keep working on presentation.

12:30 p.m. Grab sharp cheddar and almonds and check Facebook while I eat.

12:40 p.m.: Back to work.

1:20 p.m.: Check with 6th floor about space for NaPoMo event. Figure out availability. Call professor to confirm.

1:40 p.m.: Back to my office. A former student comes in to catch up and ask for help on a research assignment.

1:45 p.m.: Continue work on presentation.

2 p.m.: A new ESL student comes in to ask questions about the WC. I had visited her class the day before, and she wants to know if the tutors can help her with her daily journal assignment. I tell her yes and set her an appointment.

2:15 p.m.: One of the tutors comes in to ask if she can have some time off because she has a relative in the hospital.

2:30 p.m.: View slide show thus far to see flow for presentation on Monday. Looking good, but I need to create sample documents. Create sample documents with pull outs to explain different elements.

3 p.m.: Check online class for emails and discussion board posts. I need to grade, but that will have to wait for this weekend.

3:30 p.m.: The boyfriend texts to see if I’m leaving anytime soon. Find a stopping place. Leave desk entirely too messy. Pack up.

4 p.m.: Home.

4:15 p.m.: Change clothes. Let Maddie out. Plop myself on the sofa in my bedroom and read. The book I’m reading doesn’t hold my attention, so I switch to a new one. Check email (always a mistake). Presentation for Monday is cancelled. Kind of feel like crying. Headache worse. Correspond with the author I’m working on an editing project with.

5:15 p.m.: Boyfriend is hungry. I am too, so we run to the store. We made spaghetti for the week, but he wants wine, and even though my head aches, it still sounds good. As does French bread. And chocolate.

5:45 p.m.: Food! Wine! Things are looking up. Clean up after dinner while talking to the bff on the phone. Feed the dog. Let her out.

6:45 p.m.: Hot bath. Take the wine with me. Pick up a nonfic book I keep beside the tub for bathtime.

7:45 p.m.: Last episode of Empire (addictive). Season finale of The Mindy Project (felt a bit scattered). New episode of The Flash (so damn good). We only watch TV once a week and usually on Friday, but I have to judge a UIL competition Friday, so tonight it is.

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10:40 p.m.: Think about reading. Too tired. Lights out.

Thoughts: Man, some days I have no interruptions. Others… It’s all part of the job, and I love working with students, but days like today feel a little futile because I know I could be finished with a project much faster with my door closed. But I never liked when my boss closed the door, so I try to always keep it open. Maybe I should institute “door closed” time.

Also, evenings are hardly ever so lazy. Usually, it’s P90X or a bike ride for a few hours followed by a beer on the porch until the sun goes down. Not today. I needed to decompress.

Thanks, Trish! It kind of feels good to see what I’ve actually accomplished in a day – even if it doesn’t feel like much.

 

 

Feb 192015
 

I’ve never much been a fan of the cozy mystery, though I’ve loved mysteries since I was small. I do, however, enjoy mystery series, watching the lead character evolve across installments. A cozy mystery, though, was always a bit too…cozy for my taste, the towns quaint, the characters a little too one dimensional, the tropes a bit forced.

Last year was a dark and stormy year – maybe not literally, but in 2014, I read 68 books; roughly 27 of those were cozy mysteries.

Literary fiction felt too hard last year, and that’s every bit the pathetic statement it sounds. Cozy mysteries, for all their fun, are easy reads. The characters don’t change much. There’s no real darkness to most of them, as often there isn’t even a murder with which to contend. They are, in essence, an excellent way to shield readers from anything too tawdry – no sex, no murder, no dark secrets.

I think last year’s hiatus from blogging (a couple posts here and there don’t count) was largely due to the constant stream of cozies coming in and out of my house, as I would return them to a secondhand bookstore and pick up a handful more. As a “serious book blogger,” reading cozies felt like cheating, and I guess in a way it was. So why on earth would I blog about cheating? And while I’m every bit a proponent of reading what you want when you want, something felt off – for me, personally. [I say this because one of my very favorite blogs Kittling: Books only really discusses cozy mysteries, and she is my go-to source for new authors of the genre.]

I started reading these as an experiment for writing one of my own. I loved Josie Belle’s books; I hated Joanne Fluke’s books with Hannah the baker as the protagonist. Yet if you look at the list of what I read, Joanne Fluke appeared most often. That infuriated/s me as each book begins the same way: the reader is introduced to a character that may have popped up in a previous book but whom the reader doesn’t know well. That person is killed, often with Hannah’s baked goods partially eaten or lying around the victim. Recipes abound. Hannah’s sister (wife of the police chief) and mother help out. Sometimes her younger sister appears. Two men, one the town’s dentist and the other a detective, vie for her affection, playfully, without so much as a hint of actual jealousy. And after each book I went back, not fully comprehending how Hannah (in the 21st century!) existed without a cell phone or laptop and what on earth made her so interesting two men would love (and be ok with loving) a woman who kissed both of them at random, always wondering which she should pick.

See? Doesn’t just the description make you a bit insane? The boyfriend, politely I must say, consistently wondered why I would show up with yet another baked goods mystery each time. “Don’t you hate those?” he’d ask (because yes, I do subject him to these conversations). “Yes,” I’d answer, and shove my nose back into the book.

Perhaps I’d forgive myself if 2014 were a rough year. If, say, I’d lost a job or been ill, or had a loss in the family, or, or, or. But I can’t use any of those excuses. 2014 was a wonderful year. My brother got married in New York. The guy and I celebrated a one-year anniversary. I loved my job and expanded the work we do. My only excuse was that I edited several manuscripts last year – one a serious memoir, another a piece of nonfiction, and yet another, a translated short story collection.

If I even tried to pick up something more serious, I’d end up a few pages in, bored or, worse, passive.

I’ve read some wonderful posts in recent months about the need for diversity in reading (Estella’s Revenge is only one), and while, yes, actual diversity in terms of race and experience and gender are all very necessary for our whitewashed Western world, these posts have only reinforced also my own personal need for diversity among genre and topic.

Cozy mysteries sucked me in. It was like a diet of all cookies, all the time. And I loooove cookies. Iced sugar ones, especially. But a diet of iced sugar cookies can only sustain one for so long. I binged last year, it’s true. And while I won’t say I’m quitting cold turkey, I’m modifying my reading diet.

2015 has already introduced me to wonderful nonfiction and fiction (one coming out in April that I cannot wait to tell you all about), and I’m determined to make 2015 a more well-balanced year.

Every now and again, when I feel the little gray cloud appear above my head, I’ll indulge in the “dark and stormy” variety of fiction. Until then, I think I’ll set my sights on more gourmet fare.

Jan 262015
 

agent-carter-768

I have a guy I pretty regularly refer to as “my comic book guy” – we’ve never met, but a good friend of mine introduced us online years ago. My comic book guy is my go-to for anything comics related. As a latecomer to comics, I’m continually overwhelmed by the different iterations of certain characters or the backstory the blockbuster films usually only provide glimpses of, and Ryan’s blog The Signal Watch provides the answers to many of my questions.

So when I read Comic Book Guy aka Ryan’s post about the new Agent Carter, I was super pumped. You see, after I watched the last Avengers film, I wouldn’t leave my boyfriend alone, complaining that the Black Widow should rate her own film – and I still think she should. I loved how Ryan talks about his wife’s reaction to the show:

But Jamie was sitting three feet from me, and she was beaming the same way I do when Cap throws his mighty shield, The Falcon zips around on his wings or Rocket Raccoon pretty much does anything.  And I understand why.  As much as I like Gamora or Black Widow or Pepper Potts and think they’re good characters, they’re in a supporting role for Star Lord, Iron Man, etc…   Tonight, Jamie got her own Marvel hero.

Not only did I get my own Marvel hero, but I got her in my favorite time period! If you haven’t seen the show, it follows Agent Peggy Carter after World War II, after the events of the first Captain America film. Already, women are losing jobs as vets are returning to the States. Agent Carter was in the middle of the action during the war, but now her superiors expect her to get coffee and answer the phone. However, Howard Stark is accused of being a traitor and asks Agent Carter for her help. Weapons he’s created were stolen and are being sold and used stateside, so Peggy, with the help of Jarvis, one of Stark’s men, must protect the people from these weapons while at the same time following the trail of the mastermind, which she does – always one step ahead of her male counterparts, and clearing Stark.

I have to tell you, even though we’re only a few weeks in, I adore this show. Haley Atwell’s performance as Agent Carter is great: she’s tough, glam, witty, and efficient. Carter uses the rampant sexism around her to her own advantage while still fighting it when and where she can. Unlike Willa Paskin’s review in Slate, I think thus far Agent Carter has done an excellent job of highlighting the trials of women in the post-war workplace while still making a fun, entertaining action TV show. I also disagree that the action is ham fisted. What Willa Paskin seems to want is a show about a comic book character without any other snares of the comic world, and that’s not fair. She complains that for a show about a female character, there are very few women in the show…except that the show is highlighting what a rarity it was for a female agent to be in her place at that time. As of the third episode, Peggy is moving into an all-female apartment at the urging of a waitress she’s befriended, so I think the argument about the lack of female characters is thin as well.

A radio show featuring Captain America and another character based on Agent Carter consistently pops up, reminding viewers of Carter’s loss but also of the ways in which America made palatable the role of women in war – the damsel in distress, the nurse in love, etc. However, though this may sound heavy handed, one particular scene shows a fight on the radio show (complete with the hysterical female) interspersed with Agent Carter fighting and winning against an opponent. The juxtaposition is funny and timely.

Though Agent Carter is slated only for a short season – eight episodes – I guarantee I will be watching every one.

Dec 222014
 

So I have a confession. I am a lifelong nail biter. I’ve always been an anxious person, even when I was little. For me, as a child that translated to biting my nails. My mom and grandmother tried all the tricks to get me to grow my nails out. None worked.

Then two years ago, around my birthday, one nail had a bit of white on it. Then another. And it became a game to see if I could grow my nails out. I did, and my sister took me to get my nails done on my birthday. Then when the polish came off, so did the nails. Whoops.

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This spring, I tried again and succeeded! I even learned to paint my own nails, though it was frustrating because the polish only seemed to last a couple of days at a time.

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In the weeks leading up to my brother’s wedding in New York in November, I splurged for shellac, because it lasts and kept temptation at bay. I even went with some pretty bold color choices, for me.

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Alas, the wedding is over, and I’m back to the budget. I had the shellac removed at the salon and had them paint my nails in regular old polish. But! That polish lasted a full ten days without chipping. I know this sounds trivial, but if you like to paint your nails, this is a big deal! The polish? Morgan Taylor. I was impressed enough to actually buy some online, and I’m still impressed a month or so later. I gave my mom and sis a bottle each in their stockings, and Santa brought me a few as well, so my nail polish cup runneth over. :)

I’m obviously a newbie to this, but I’m having so much fun. At some point, the newness may wear off, but in the meantime, I’ll set up my manicure shop while I watch a couple episodes of The Mindy Project and have myself a good time.

 

 

Dec 172014
 

Once upon a time, I used to write. Not blog posts but fiction. Short stories. And then one day, probably around the time I began writing my thesis, I stopped writing fiction. My writing became academic in nature, focused on specific purposes – graduating, publishing, achieving. I miss those days of writing fiction every once in a while. But maybe every once in a while, I’ll post a snippet. Something to keep my hand in the game. Dialogue. A scene. Eh, we’ll see. [Notice:strong language ahead.]

********

He lay on his back in the grass, the blades pricking his skin. Her dog crawled all over him, lapping at his face. He could feel her approaching, could feel her hesitate as she neared him.

“Do you know what eternity feels like?” he asked her.

She sat down next to him, carefully curling herself so that none of her skin touched the grass.

“No, I don’t,” she answered.

“It feels fucking horrible. And every eternity makes me want to just end it, make everything go black.”

“But if it’s every eternity, then it ends, right? It’s not eternal.”

She didn’t get it. No one got it, and it’s partially why he had to scare them.

“I brought a knife to my face. I tried to cut myself, but I couldn’t. Because I guess even though eternity is the absolute worst thing, your brain or something in you still wants you to live. How fucked up is that?”

“Wanting to live is fucked up?”

He ignored her and played with the dog, his eyes narrowing as the dog stopped to search his face. The dog licked his nose, and he licked her back.

“See that? People think dogs are dirty. But I’m an animal. I’m dirty.”

“Well, technically, we’re all animals.”

“Nope. Not true. Some of us are much more animal than others.”

She hugged her knees and turned away from him, and he knew she was finished. No one could listen for long, not even people he paid to listen.

“You know what it’s like?”

“What?”

“Eternity. It’s like waiting in a fucking doctor’s office when you’re sick. And it’s cold, and you feel like shit, and sometimes you shake, and no one fucking cares. They’re there to take your money, which they always do first, and then they make you wait. And you start playing games with yourself. Maybe by the time the little hand gets to the three, you’ll go in. Except it doesn’t happen, so you make something else up. And of course you don’t have a book with you. A book would help pass the time. It would take your mind off the waiting, but in this kind of waiting, you just sit there, miserable, waiting for something you have no control over.”

His voice broke. “And you just want to feel better.”

She reached across the grass and touched his arm, and he gripped her hand.

He hadn’t slept in days. He thought it was about eight days, but at this point, he had no way of knowing. Day turned into night turned into day, and he walked the streets or rode his bike through the light and the dark, only pausing to ask for something to drink, like now. He mapped the neighborhood according to friends who would still speak to him, bright spots on a map, but even those were dimming.

She was bright now, but he could feel her light flicker. Each time he said something harsh or something he knew she didn’t like, her light dimmed, and even though he knew he could control that, he couldn’t stop it. He was a god. He saw parts of people they had no clue existed.

“Your light’s gone. You’re not real.” She took her hand from his.

“What do you mean I’m not real? I’m sitting here, talking to you. Doesn’t get any more real.”

“But you’re not real real. Your light’s gone.”

He avoided her eyes, knowing what he’d see. She was scared of him, and he hated her for it.

“I’m Satan. But Satan’s not bad. I’m Satan, and all Satan is is a dude who wanted to be something. A dude who knew he was really good. And that makes him bad. And nobody gets that.”

 ********

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