This Week's Friday Five

. . . has been canceled due to lack of brainpower. Too much reading this week, including this one which I think has been giving me nightmares. And I'm pretty sure this would not have interested me in my teen years any more than it does (or rather, does not) today, but not because of the subject matter (and because of the subject matter I am thanking the Lord that a past classmate I referred to as "Karen the Angry Native American" was refused entry into any future classes by my prof for this class as the result of her antagonistic behavior). The writing is somewhat treacly, the teen main characters seem more like 12 than 17, and the adult characters are kind of flat/unbelievable.

But, on the positive side, in addition to the four YA novels I had to read, I was required to skim a couple of graphic novels/comic books (something about Soulwind and PeachGirl), and I thought they were O.K. I'd rather get to the ones people recommended (a while ago now! Wasn't it around the Heroes water cooler?) over at Nightfly's place first, though.

Holy cow, it's almost 11:30. Gotta get these contacts out.


The Sorry Conclusion of Sorry, Wrong Number

As an update to my Sorry, Wrong Number post the other day, let me tell you about the new message on my home voicemail today: Gail, this is Jessica. I need you to call me to confirm Drew's reservation. And "Jessica" left an out-of-state phone number.

The other day when the first message showed up, I had shrugged and figured if "Gail" hadn't heard from the limo company then she would have called them to confirm. After I'd heard the new message, I thought, Something isn't right. I was at work and didn't want to use my work phone for long distance--but then I had an idea. I had the company's name, so I did an online search and found their site, along with an 800 number.

When I phoned them, I think the woman who'd left the first message answered. She didn't understand the problem. I'm not sure why. They were calling my home looking for Gail and Drew. Maybe she was ticked that I wasn't ordering limo service? Maybe she thought I was Drew's ex-wife looking to leave him stranded? I don't know. After being put on hold for a while--maybe to give them a few minutes to puzzle over the illegible fax and my phone number--I was happy to hear from the lady (who still sounded annoyed) that they understood and they thanked me for calling.

Would it have killed them to apologize for the inconvenience? Aw, forget it--just stick it to Gail and Drew for me, would ya?


I Think I'm a Bad Teacher

I'm not sure if Ricki reads over here, but today I just got really frustrated with a co-worker/subordinate from an educational point of view and maybe she's seen it before in her students. I trained this person on our program about 18 months ago, and at a certain point the person decided my tutoring wasn't needed anymore b/c it was all taken as personal criticism when I offered a correction or tried to figure out exactly what had happened with a problem by asking questions. (Jeez, I have to get some background information so I don't give the wrong advice--I'm not questioning anybody, per se.) I get concerned, though, when this person comes to me with a question that if the person had taken the time to think it through, could have gotten it, especially when it involves basic information that we use day to day. I think. Honestly, I'm not sure. This person doesn't seem capable of applying information from one area to another, or broad rules in general. For example, this person will go along just fine in one section of a document, but then when the same comment comes up in a different section, it's something foreign even though it's treated the same way as in the other section. Same rules! It scared the heck out of me that this person just didn't seem to see the general rule underlying all of our work. (And, um, unfortunately, I let my shock show a bit. But really, I'm worried.)

Is that possible, to have that sort of disconnect? If so, how do I get through? If not, is it just an unwillingness to take time to think and the must-have-answer-now-spoonfeed-me attitude? I just really am not sure an 18-month learning curve is acceptable. Even a year was a stretch for me, but our manager insisted that was normal. I know there's a "who cares as long as the work is done" feeling but this kind of unthinking work will only go so far. If a new/different situation comes up and you can't expand your knowledge. . . and I'm not around to fix it. . . that seems like a bad thing.


My professor said the missing person from our group is still on her roster but she'll check. Seriously, this person has not commented anywhere on the boards for weeks. We do receive a grade for participation, and it's pretty significant. Of course, even more painfully significant is our group project. Prof. D's exact quote: "I don't see how you can pull it off." With two weeks to go and possibly only two people in the group, I'm inclined to agree.

School shouldn't be making me cry every week.


Sorry, Wrong Approach?

It's weird, but I'm considered a "commuter" at my school because I'm an online student. So every week I get an e-mail update for commuters in my school in-box. I'm kinda bothered by one of the events this week:

This Wednesday, February 27th the CA’s will be hosting
an [sic] lunch and discussion surrounding the ever increasing concern of Eating
Disorders and how those disorders affect the people they

The lunch and discussion will take place in Conference Room
C beginning at 12:30 p.m. Lunch will be provided for participants.

It's not the poor diction, although infect is irritating my editor-senses a great deal. I don't mean to be insensitive, because eating disorders are horrible things and can take a long time, even a lifetime, to heal, and it's good that school is talking about it. . . but really, lunch? Who wants to hear and/or talk about eating disorders while they're eating? I'm one of those people who sometimes has a hard time eating in front of people (self-conscious, don't like commentary on what I'm eating, etc.), so this event just seems a little weird to me. But, hey, for all I know it really works, and if it does, more power to 'em. Sometimes offering anything for free will attract more participants.

News, Mostly Good

I checked my school e-mail and found a message from my advisor telling me that (1) they opened a second section for the class I needed, and (2) she took care of adding the class to my schedule. YIPPEE!!! I never thought I'd say, "I'm taking another class, yeahhhhh!" but in this case it is very, very welcome. Thank you, Lord.

Speaking of school, I have only a couple of weeks to go for this quarter, and I made sort of a weird discovery: I think the third person assigned to my group for this project we're doing, dropped out of the class, and I didn't notice until tonight. She'd never responded to any group e-mails, and looking through the weekly discussion boards for class I don't see her name anywhere on them. (Unless she's always too lazy to post her own threads and just replies--I don't read every single comment.) I sent an e-mail to the professor to confirm--I'll be embarrassed if I'm wrong, but I want to know, darn it. I've kind of been procrastinating on this project (I haaaaate group projects) so maybe I can buy some time for us to refocus. Maybe.

Yesterday I had that horrible realization that the month ends on Friday and I'm moving in about three weeks. And my projects will be coming due. Yikes.


Sorry, Wrong Number

I've had my home phone number for only a few months (after it was accidentally revealed on a police report to the people being written up), so I'm used to the occasional wrong number. Actually, I get fewer with this number than I did with the previous one--some poor lady named Vicky was finally receiving return calls from places where she'd applied for employment, probably eons ago. I don't have my name on my outgoing message, just the number, so I guess even if callers are paying attention to it (ha!) they don't know they're calling the wrong place.

Today, I heard this message on my voice mail: (heavy New York accent) Good morning, Gail, this is Toni with ______ Limousine. I got your fax with your reservations for Drew- I got it overnight but it's really dark and I wanted to go over the details with you, so please give me a call when you get a chance.

I hope Drew didn't wind up stranded.

This Week's Friday Five

This week I tried calling around to a few pest control places to get their opinion on how to leave the pests behind when I move. I called five places, and got five varying responses:

Company #1: Use clear plastic boxes/don't treat beforehand/call afterwards if you see any.
Company #2: No time of day for apartments if they don't have a contract for the whole building.
Company #3: We'll come right out. That'll be $225. Why, no, this isn't a call center down south. Let's get you set up.
Company #4: Too late/you need several treatments/do it afterwards. Call us.
Company #5: Oh, honey--that's gonna be hard to avoid taking them with you. Take all the clothes out of your dresser drawers and spray the backs. Put all your things in storage and bring them in a box at a time. (I'm sure that would work great while I'm trying to finish up a final project for school.) No, you don't have to get rid of your sofa; we'll spray it for you after you move. (Um, why would I want that on a truck with my other things?)

Let the pre-move freaking out commence.


Weird Neighbor Chat

I was on the run all day today--my car did some crazy thing yesterday morning and because of course the mechanic couldn't find anything wrong he kept it overnight, so I didn't get it back until tonight, after a doctor's appointment (Would you believe my super-low BP is a doctor's dream? Heredity!) and the last half of choir practice. I had an assignment to assemble and submit by 11 p.m. and I hadn't eaten dinner yet. (It was 9:00.)

When the music started blaring downstairs and shaking my living room wall, I wasn't going to put up with it. I thought it was the teenage daughter of the people downstairs and to the left of me (yeah, our walls are that thin), so I went down a level. . . and aren't my loud (directly-) downstairs neighbors standing in the doorway of their apartment, having a chat in the hallway with the people across from them? So they're all "sorry" and I'm all "nice guilty conscience but it's not you this time."

"This the apartment with the loud stereo?" I asked, pointing at the door next to theirs. As if I couldn't tell from the noise. They said yes. I knocked on the door and yelled, "I'm trying to study upstairs!" Then I left.

A few seconds after I'd shut the door behind myself there came a knock. "Who's there?"
"Did you knock on my door?" I was surprised it was the mom (?) from the noisy apartment.
"Are you the one with the loud stereo?"
"Yeah, I'm sorry about that."
I opened the door. Said I'm sorry the walls are that thin but it was bothering me. She said the only reason she turned it up like that was because my (directly-) downstairs neighbors were standing in the hall going on and on loudly. Bingo on the guilty conscience observation.

I said, yeah, I know what you mean (only I get to hear it inside). She said, "I can't stand this place anymore. I'm trying to break my lease." I felt bad for her but it was a relief to find I wasn't the only one who was fed up. I hope she can get out of her lease. It's not a good place to live when everybody's taking drastic measures to mitigate everybody else.


Someone in My Corner, and Some Perspective

The call that I was supposed to get over a week ago from a professor who is overseeing my program wound up coming at an even better time, last night. Professor D. apologized for the delay in calling me but she has been traveling, partly in relation to her working on her doctorate. (Going to school in addition to a job--I definitely can sympathize with that.)

I told her about my being locked out of the course I need and her immediate response was that there's no reason for it, and that she was going to address the situation with my advisor to get me into the class. She even mentioned the possibility of "bumping" someone else (Grrr, yeah!!!!).

We also went over some of the things related to my final course that I'm taking in the fall, where I have to visit elementary, middle and high schools, and there's the possibility that arrangements could be made for the four weeks I spend at a high school to be with a really well-known top-notch librarian in the area. (Apparently this particular librarian is a multimedia whiz and blogs--in fact, I'm monitoring her blog for my current class w/Prof. D.) Prof. D. said that the previous student who spent time with this librarian had a great experience and learned a lot. That would be awesome.

That said, I won't count my chickens before they're hatched, and it's still going to be a bumpy ride leading up to that. I'm hoping that I will get to take both classes I need in the Spring, and maybe during the Summer it'll be possible for me to spend some time getting experience in a library. And then most likely I'll have to quit my job to take my final course. Like I said, bumpy.

As for short-term plans, well, I get a day off from work tomorrow, and I'm looking forward to that. If the rain clears up I'm hitting the park. Alone, regrettably, but it seems the Maiden Aunt's signals have been getting crossed lately and we'll just have to hope that it's temporary. Perspective--that's what our pastor talked about in church today. The Transfiguration was to help the apostles keep their perspective when the not-so-good things like the Crucifixion were going on and making them wonder if they'd "bet on the wrong horse" and want to give up. I've spent a lot of time lately far too focused on the present frustrations and questioning the direction of my life and my choices, but I know if I think about it, I can bring to mind the experiences that brought me this far and make me want to continue: a major one occurred in April 2006, when I walked into my mentor's school library and felt as if I were at home.


This Week's Friday Five

Five Words That Really Got to Me This Week:

1. Closed. As in closed course.

2. Ma'am. North of the Mason-Dixon, you just don't say that to a woman who can pass for 25. I got ma'amed twice this week. Although I'll cut the first guy some slack because I think he was an auditor in our office and might have been an actual Southerner.

3. Self-evaluation. Especially considering it didn't mean what the person using it thought it did. In any event, it means more work for me on something that boils down to the "37 pieces of flair" baloney Joanna got in Office Space.

4. Bluhbluhbluh. Or whatever the heck my idiot neighbors were going on and on about in Hindi or Sanskrit at 1 a.m. in the bedroom directly under mine.

5. Shaper. Don't read Eva by Peter Dickinson unless you're a moody teenager from the late '80s who is a sucker for emo causes like animal testing and saving the rainforest. (Wait a minute--I was.) I am in young adult reading material hell. This novel is set in the "future" and it took me five chapters to understand that "shaper" is the future equivalent of TV. I think.

And yet when Eva's scientist father appears on the "shaper" for an interview, Eva (whose brain has been transplanted into a chimp's body--ew!) "tapes" the program for him. Tapes? Even last year people were making fun of me for still using a VCR!

I'm off to spend the rest of the week trying to avoid these words.


Update: Not Much of One

First off: Nina, how did you know about the vodka? (In case anybody's worried, tonight it's decaf hazelnut coffee.)

Brief backstory: I've been following a specific list of courses in this graduate program, three courses a quarter (I was awarded a fellowship that gives me a significant amount of aid provided I take three). So, at the work-heavy rate I was going, I planned to graduate at the end of spring quarter 2008. Could hardly wait. Around Thanksgiving 2007 I found out that I am required to take my final course by itself (it's not explicitly stated anywhere on any school-provided information). Pushed my graduation back to December 2008. I was upset but I was dealing. (And they'd promised I'd still get my fellowship money in spite of not taking three courses in the final two quarters.) Further complicating the matter is that towards the end things get a little tricky because what I need to take is usually not offered every quarter--low demand, instructor availability, stuff like that. So I had to sit down and plan out my registration for the final quarters based on the projected course offerings. Then I was all set, and I registered for the current quarter that I am taking now. With me so far?

How I Screwed Up: At the time of that registration, I got up early on the registration date so I'd definitely get the three courses I'd planned. It turned out that was the general registration date, and as an online student I couldn't register until the next day. When this time rolled around, I thought the same rule applied, and I waited a day. WRONG!!! The worst part was that I didn't figure out from my buddy's e-mails from the day before that she had registered for the same one course that I was taking. Only I'm not taking it. It was closed! Didn't find that out until I e-mailed my advisor all stupidly, "Um, I thought they were offering [badly needed course] this quarter but it's not coming up on the add list!" and she had to break it to me--they don't show up when they're closed. Who knew? Of course I stewed from 7:42 a.m. to about 11:00 because I'd asked her to leave a message on my cell (I can't access my school e-mail at work) and I couldn't check voicemail until then.

What's Happening Now: Waiting. My advisor told me not to worry (I think her word was "panic"), that it was early in the registration process and there were bound to be people dropping the class. . . besides, she had put in a request for a second section which could be on-campus--but she had the nerve to ask, "What are your thoughts on taking that class on campus? (I know you are an online student, but figured I would check.)" Yeah, let me just explain to work that I can't be there because I have to go take a class for my secret graduate program.
I know, she meant well. Her theory is that if an on-campus section does open, some currently registered for the online section would drop the online class in favor of the on-campus section, opening up some seats. And in the meantime we're both checking the add list in case drops occur anyway.

So I'm trying to carry on with my current courseload and focus on the present, but I tell you (uh, that's the internet-you), I am sad, anxious, and worried. Not to mention a bit puzzled as well, because as it happens something strange happened the day before.

(This is probably where I lose half of my tiny readership.) *deep breath* Nearly every Tuesday, the church near my work is open for visits. (The RC portion of my tiny readership may know what I mean by "Adoration." That's O.K. if you're RC and you don't; I didn't know what it was, outside of Forty Hours Devotion, until I got to college.) I started going for a visit on my lunch hour every Tuesday since the start of grad school. It was a good compromise for having to discontinue my Friday morning Mass-before-work practice that I'd started not long after a really bad breakup in 2005. Most times I go and pray, maybe the rosary, maybe just share what's going on or thank God for something, maybe bring before the Lord the intentions of some friends and other people who have asked for prayers or just people who are in need of them. You probably get the idea. It's gotten me through some rough times and even in ordinary times it's good.

This past Tuesday, I went out in the early snow/slush for an abbreviated visit. And from the moment I knelt down, I kept getting this feeling: God was asking me to trust Him. Like the words "Just trust me" coming at me, over and over. While I'm trying to tell Him about the wonderful date I had on Saturday and how happy yet scared I was (hey, stuff like that doesn't happen often, and after the runaround I got over the summer nobody could blame me--now it could be ruined by this school stuff too, I fear!).

I'm the farthest thing from a mystic. I'm devout, but far from perfect. A few years ago I was told I'm "deeply spiritual" by a medical intuitive who said on a scale of 1 to 10 where good priests and nuns are 8s or 9s, I was a 7 (don't ask but he was the only one to figure out my milk allergy). I'm not saying this to brag; it's just made me feel a little bit less weird when strange things happen. So when this feeling of being asked to trust Him came up, I took a moment to consider it. I hadn't really decided to "give up" something for Lent--more like I was trying to figure how to be closer to God. I thought to myself, well, trusting God--that might be my opportunity. But deep down, I knew it wasn't just about saying, "Yeah, I trust you, whatever." It was more like, Crazy things are going to come my way and I'm going to cry/protest/resist even though ultimately they are for the best and leading to the good things He wants to give me. I gave in and said, All right.

The next day (yesterday), school went haywire. I'm afraid I've screwed up my school career yet again. If I don't get this class for spring, will I have to go to class during the summer? What if it's not until fall? Then what happens to the final class I had planned for the fall? Where is all this going?

So it's up in the air when I'll be finished school, again. Maybe. Trying not to panic. Trying not to let it color my every thought at the moment. And trying to trust things will work out.


And Guess Who Screwed Up Registration?


More later. I'm too disgusted with myself and anxious about the future. Plus my cocktail is getting watery.


School Media Program = Torture

The program I'm taking to become a school librarian requires me to take library science courses at the library school (duh), but also forces me to cross over into the school of education. I can't seem to make my education instructors understand that I'm not their average education graduate student. I have never professionally taught and do not currently work in an educational environment. (Or in a library environment, for that matter, but I get by O.K. on the library school's "turf.")

I just completed a "midterm" for one of the education courses I'm required to take for my program. It asked me to provide "examples from my own experience" about achieving some pedagogical goal. Well, guess what, Prof? I used an example from my experience as a student. If I get docked you'd better believe I'm appealing the decision.

I hate that I constantly have to remind them of my non-teaching status. Then again, I shouldn't really be surprised. These are the same people who, no matter how many assignments, discussion board posts, and e-mails I shove in front of them with my preferred name all over them--they still call me by my full name. *sigh*

Wanna know what I'm doing in the morning? I'm getting my butt out of bed extra-early so I can register for the third-to-last and second-to-last courses of my program. If I weren't so exhausted* from my scary ride home on ice/freezing rain I'd probably be up all night with giddy anticipation.

*I'm so exhausted I almost hit return and signed my name to this post as if I were posting to a class discussion board (you know, in the vain hope someone will address me by it in his/her response). Yup, time to turn ol' Lappy the Laptop off and go to bed.


The Friday Five

Five things that made me happy today:

1. A Kid Creole song on the radio in the car on the way home that reminded me of my late friend (I wouldn't know it, were it not for her), and of the one Friday when we were in college and had a ball with her normally grumpy dad, who grooved while this same public radio station played "I'll Take You There" as we hung out in her family's living room;

2. This video of a dog playing in the snow;

3. The rediscovery of my Ed Harcourt CD, and getting to flip back to "Apple of My Eye" every so often;

4. The relief of getting voicemail on a return call I was dreading to make but had to out of courtesy;

5. The possibility that the vile weather predicted for tomorrow isn't going to happen, thereby reviving my languishing social life.

It's enough to keep me from stressing out over the realization that I have to hit the library tomorrow morning or one of my assignments due Sunday is dooooomed!

Maiden Aunt incident #347

Walking out to the car after work one evening with a co-worker, I remarked, "It's been a long day and I can't wait to get home."

Co-worker: "You're lucky; at least you don't have to help your daughter with her homework."

Me (in my head): "Are you kidding me? I'll bet I've got ten times as much schoolwork waiting for me. That I can't tell you about and that I won't get to until after feeding the cat, emptying the dishwasher, making dinner, cleaning up, killing several pests, tracking down stuff for my move, worrying about how I'm going to move without taking any pests with me, fretting about how I'm going to pay for a new sofa and chair because I don't trust the ones I have to be pest-free. . . oh, and the kid thing? Putting aside the fact that your husband's a computer genius and you could comfortably stay home if you wanted--stop telling me how much of a burden your child is. Some people want kids very badly, myself included, even if the closest I am to having anything related to a family is wondering when I'm going to be asked out again."

Me (out loud): "Uh, I guess the schools think they're being challenging if they give a lot of homework."

I chalked it up to one of those grass-is-greener moments. It's funny how I'd rather put up with envy than pity.


Two Confessions

One: I put off till last and then totally bluffed my way through some web-design-educational-project. Worked on it about an hour last night and not quite two hours tonight. Submitted it with two (!) minutes (!) to go on the deadline. I didn't bother to test whether it works. If it doesn't, I am going to plead ignorance.

Two: I got bored at the start of the second half of the game on Sunday. Started flipping channels. Found Sense and Sensibility on TCM, started drooling over Austen-ite men. . . and forgot to flip back. Completely missed the end of the game and the play everyone was talking about. Am now afraid that my un-American-ness will be discovered and I will be exiled. Because I also don't like mashed potatoes. How can I make up for this deficiency?

(Updated to add labels, and to say. . . while I was procrastinating tonight after work, I bought a new couch. I think it's the first real "new" furniture I've ever had. Other than new mattresses. I feel so grown up.)

(Update #2: You're not gonna believe this. . . in spite of the fact that my project didn't "run" properly, I earned 17 out of 20 possible points. According to the gradebook, I scored slightly better than average. Go figure.)


Fringe Benefits to Schoolwork

You find some pretty funny things while you're evaluating teen library sites for an assignment. This was a contest winner. (I laughed so hard it got me thinking maybe it wouldn't be so bad if I got a job at a high school rather than elementary.)

Posting remains light as I have projects due this weekend. (If you pray, please put in a good word for me. And thank God this is the last time I have to take three courses at once while working. Thanks!)