Building up to 2009

Well, so far today I saw Bedtime Stories with my mom (we liked it!), went to Mass (tomorrow's a Holyday in the Catholic Church), made olive tapenade with my new mini-Cuisinart (Christmas present), made an attempt at a Metropolitan (from this book but I think I needed cranberry juice cocktail instead of boiling/smashing/straining leftover cranberries--too tart).

Check out one of the cool glasses Younger Sister gave me for Christmas.

I hate going out New Year's Eve because of people who are too stupid to stay off the roads while drunk, and I also think it there's too much emphasis on having someone to be with at midnight, so I'm just going to pop in some videos and chill. First this episode (hopeless romantic hypocrite that I am) and then maybe some of this (VHS! Old skool! Yeah!). I do have to get some sleep--I have to be at the bookstore at 11 a.m. (!).
2008 was one of the better years I've had in a long time, even if it was rather hard to get through at times (Great-uncle's funeral, dumb school stuff), and I did crazy things like date yet another jerk and quit my job. I moved to a much better home, I had a powerful student teaching experience, and I got my MS-LIS.
Speaking of which, I'm happy to announce that last night I found out that I passed the certification exam I took in November. I got 100 points above the score required to pass, and did better than average. Two down, one more to go in a couple weeks.
I'm not a fan of making resolutions. This time last year, I made a list of things I wanted to accomplish in 2008. I did O.K.--a lot of "sort ofs", which I guess is better than "not at all." I got to the beach, and I got a piece of writing published (sort of--under my real name in a serious blog in my field), stuff like that.
I'll probably recycle some of the "sort ofs" for 2009, and add a few new ones. It's kind of exciting. Even though I'm anxious about the job situation, I feel really hopeful for the coming year, and having been through some rotten ones, I'm hoping and praying that it'll be good not just for me but also for everyone I know, and especially for those who couldn't wait to throw out the current calendar.
Happy, healthy, joyful, grace-full 2009, everybody.
I'm off to watch some videos.

The Bard's Meme--from Sheila

You can read Lady Sheila's answers here. Below are mine:

What was your first introduction to William Shakespeare? Was it love or hate?
If we want to get technical, my first official exposure was in seventh grade--Mrs. H. liked to have the class memorize poems. (What a throwback, huh? And she was a lay teacher!) I didn't know at the time I was memorizing Shakespeare, but I think for as long as my memory works, I will be able to recite Sonnet 18 ("Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?"). I would go on to use it in college to audition for Oliver!--first, with my normal "MidAtlantic" accent, then with a formal British accent, and then with a sort of street-British accent. I landed three roles.

As for the plays, my high school admission test scores landed me in Honors English, and I was envious that the "regular" English classes got to read Twelfth Night. Mr. D. started our class on The Merchant of Venice, and if we had not read it aloud, I don't think I would have understood it at all. Maybe not hate, but certainly panic.

Which Shakespeare plays have you been required to read?
Let's see. . . 9th grade was The Merchant of Venice. And Measure for Measure? I know I read that somewhere in high school, because I did not understand the ending. After that, things get really blurry, because I think I read Hamlet in 11th grade--I fell in love with it sometime before senior year--and then I took a Shakespeare class in 12th grade, and after that I took at least two courses in college (I practically minored in Shakespeare). Definitely in 12th grade we read Hamlet (I had to act out a scene where the girl who threatened to beat me up played Hamlet and I played Ophelia--"I was the more deceived"), Romeo & Juliet, Taming of the Shrew, Othello, Midsummer Night's Dream, MacBeth.
How's this for accuracy--I'm pulling out my Complete Works "textbook" to see where I scribbled notes in college: Richard III, Merchant of Venice (again), Henry IV Part One, Henry IV Part Two, Henry V, Julius Caesar, As You Like It, Hamlet (love it!), Troilus & Cressida, All's Well That Ends Well, Othello (again!), Measure for Measure (aha!), King Lear, MacBeth (again), Antony & Cleopatra, The Tempest.
Hmmm, I also had a flashback to where I was trying to study for a Shakespeare exam and was getting secondhand smoke (the special kind) from the dudes next door--and then the bathroom ceiling started leaking because the upstairs dude's toilet overflowed. I honestly don't know how I passed that exam.

Do you think Shakespeare is important? Do you feel you are a “better” person for having read the bard?
"Important" is not exactly the word I'd use. I know there are arguments about whether he really authored all the plays, whether he was a closet Catholic, whether he should be classified as a Dead White Guy--but yeah, I do think he has been a tremendous influence on not just literature but also language, drama, philosophy. . . and on a personal note, Hamlet affected me deeply as a depressed teen. I also have recollections of times I connected with my dad (a hard person to have a relationship with) looking up Shakespeare quotes in Bartlett's. I think I'm a "better" person for having read his works in that my mind and my soul have expanded as a direct result. I'm going to be a bit dogmatic and say that reading Shakespeare can make a person more well-rounded

Do you have a favorite Shakespeare play?
I have a personal attachment to Hamlet, and a sentimental attachment to Twelfth Night. And Henry IV makes me think of my one professor Dr. C.'s amusement with Falstaff and his love of "sherry sack." She was the English Department's Chair, and people seemed afraid of her, but watching her smile as she held up an "authentic" bottle of sack someone gave her made her perfectly human to me.

How do you feel about contemporary takes on Shakespeare? Adaptations of Shakespeare’s works with a more modern feel? (For example, the new line of Manga Shakespeare graphic novels, or novels like Something Rotten, Something Wicked, Enter Three Witches, Ophelia, etc.) Do you have a favorite you’d recommend?
I don't have a problem with it at all, if it works, and there's none of that "This is the only way people can relate to it" tripe. It's just a different take on a play, and that is often done no matter who the author is. As for recommendations,
I have always loved "10 Things I Hate About You," and--while I don't recall much of it--I thought "Romeo Must Die" was pretty good when I saw it in the theater. I know there's a WWII-set adaptation of Richard III, and I've always been curious as to what it was like. I have to say I didn't care much for the updated Hamlet one where he was a filmmaker. It was rather flat.

What’s your favorite movie version of a Shakespeare play?
Wow, that's hard to choose. One that I thought was really done well was The Merchant of Venice. I felt it was very spirited and true to the play.

That was a fun meme to do! One of the things I had wanted to do in 2008 was see Shakespeare performed live again (after the fun I'd had rounding up Younger Sister and her friends to go see a local production of Twelfth Night in 2007), and while I didn't get to do that, at least I got the chance to talk Shakespeare! Thanks, Sheila, and thanks, Ted.


The Only Offer I've Received to Date

Something tells me Wachel would approve.

Reality, Hard-Hitting

Hope everybody's Christmas/Hanukkah/combination-thereof was happy. Mine was pretty good--had fun on Christmas Eve with my dad's side of the family (including the littlest nephew's confusion over the two bearded cousins who closely resemble his daddy), I sang lots of great music in church, and miraculously, my brother didn't hold Christmas dinner up (they didn't come until after!). I also received notice that I'm cleared for graduation!

However, I think I'm starting to come back down to earth from the post-school "high," and it's a little bit of a bummer.

For starters, I've been doing nothing but cashier work at the bookstore since the 18th. I miss helping people find books--the real library-esque part of the job--plus the customers are starting to wear on me a bit. I've had too many credit cards thrown at me (really, is it too much effort to place it in my hand or swipe it your darn self?) and too many old dudes winking at me (one old dude is too many). Thankfully I haven't become a missed connection yet.

I'm noticing an awful lot of newly engaged women buying their bridal magazines and the cuddly pregnant couples buying baby guides lately, too. Not really feeling envy, just. . . between that and the "I don't have a real job" stuff, I'm starting to get that "What's going on with my life?" feeling. Strongly. Probably the irregular work schedule is throwing me a bit off, too--I know I need to catch up with my blogs very badly. Probably need to spend time in a library, too.

Instead of freaking out about the big question, I'm just going to try to take it a day at a time. I have Tuesday and Wednesday off (yup, I have to work on New Year's Day--why is the store even open, people!?) and I'm just going to keep plugging away at the big list of things to do.

Oh, yeah, and I'm going to try to have some fun, provided I remember what fun is. You can post your suggestions in the comments if you'd like to clue me in!


The Friday Five: Seasonal Job Edition

Yes, I remembered (barely)! Not having a regular schedule can really confuse a person about what day of the week it is. But indeed it is Friday and I got off work about three hours ago. It's not bad--originally, I was hired for the Children's department, but I'm hardly ever there. I sometimes work at the register, but it seems most days they like to have me at the information desk. Being at the information desk is a lot like being in the library, so it's pretty interesting. The other info people are usually the cool peeps. And so far, customers have been fairly normal, and mostly appreciative.

However, I have seen and heard my share of crazy/funny/strange things. So I give you, dear blogreaders, five crazy/funny/strange things about the bookstore where I work:

1. As of right now, we have an endcap display referred to as the "Man Endcap." Featuring books like these. Man, I was so confused when there was a notation on a book to be put there. Man EC--what???

2. Ninety percent of the people looking for New Age/Occult/Supernatural books are. . . uh, what's the kindest way to say this. . . appear not to get out much. (Bonus tangential strange thing: Today one of the guys I was working Info with alerted everyone he just saw a guy picking his nose as he perused the shelves in that section. Ew! Not during cold season, man!)

3. It's really fun when people come up to the Info desk looking for this book, because we just tell them to look down. It's the entire front display of the desk. We also mess with the people looking for this series because that's on an endcap two steps to their left.

4. Invariably when I'm a cashier, if I forgot to ask people if they want gift receipts, the minute the transaction's over, they'll ask for them, but if I do ask, they look at me as if that's the last thing they'd ever want in the entire world.

5. Sometimes the lunch rush leaves the cashiers a bit giddy afterwards. Today, one of them burst into a spontaneous musical about the customers and how they keep refusing to sign up for memberships: "I don't want a membership, I don't want a membership/Please let me finish, I'm required to do my spiel. . ."

O.K., so maybe for some of these you'd have to be there. Most likely, though, if you've ever worked retail, especially at Christmas, you probably are familiar with the craziness. It's an O.K. kind of crazy. I'm kind of in a post-school freefall towards Christmas. It's tough not having the cash to do what I want, but being unencumbered in other ways feels pretty good right now.

Hope you have a feeling-good weekend, too.


All in One Weekend

(From which, as you can tell from the light posting, I'm still recovering.)
  • Got a lovely prize, handmade in Ashley's Little Apartment (check out her Etsy store for other neat things)
  • Took the regional train, for the first time from that particular station (and helped a deaf fellow open the hard-to-open door. . . although I didn't realize he was deaf until after he'd thanked me, and I felt dumb for trying to shout instructions through the window), down to 30th St.
  • Tolerated the train ride fairly well, even when a toddler a few seats away started freaking out (I think because he interpreted his mom's putting on her coat to get ready for their stop as her leaving him)
  • Bonded with Little Sister the minute she picked me up at Union Station, because she launched into a rant about Older Brother's latest shenanigans--nice to know I'm not imagining things
  • Met the newest housemate, baked brownies, and helped with other party prep (and all the housemates were so sweet with their "You don't have to do that!" exclamations)
  • Reconnected with a few people I knew from college, met a few new people who work with Little Sister, all done while shouting over music and party noise, and drinking what I irreverently termed "Cranberry Baby Jesus," as a Christmas version of "Purple Jesus" (Ken can correct me if I'm wrong, but I think I learned about that drink from the now-defunct It Comes in Pints?)
  • Pretty much lost my voice again
  • Remembered why I hated going to off-campus parties in college where people drank way too much (often the first people in the Confession line the next morning, idiots), especially when some rude people showed up after midnight (party started at 8) and would not leave
  • Went to an eons-long Mass because unfortunately some church administrators do not understand how to raise funds and well-intentionedly but annoyingly thought they should take advantage of Mass-attending parishioners (read: captive audience) and walk them through filling out pledge cards
  • Ate brunch in a teeny diner that had no orange juice (what's up with that? Gotta have that to cancel out the eggs!) but otherwise served good food
  • Raced to the train station and made the train with minutes to spare (and got the whole time alone because the guy who initially had sat down next to me realized "This isn't the quiet car!" and got up)
  • Miraculously was picked up on time by my dad, although he did force a side trip to ShopWrong on me
  • Won the (former) office football pool on the only weekend I hadn't been paying attention (my winning once a season streak continues! I'm getting my hair and nails done after I buy doughnuts for the office!)
  • Celebrated my very first "blogiversary."

I'll spare you the blog highlights and instead say thanks to all the blogreaders for being, well, blogreaders. Very good ones at that. I hope to keep you all interested and generating those good comments, whatever direction this blog takes as a new year starts.


How It Panned Out

(Note: this post was started Thursday night but wasn't published until after midnight. So "today" means "Thursday.")

Pretty well. A little weird, but pretty well.

Around 9:30, the manager from the bookstore called and left a message (because I couldn't reach the phone fast enough) asking where I was. I called her back and told her the other manager I spoke with yesterday said it was O.K. Not my fault if someone can't write a note and leave it on her desk, or if my prof said I had to come to school. That's kinda more important than selling a few books at the moment.

The school's web portal, which houses the e-mail system underwent some maintenance over the weekend and has been on the fritz ever since. It's so bad right now they have a message like this posted on the login page: (paraphrase) "We know, we know, it's finals week and this sucks. Don't e-mail us to complain. We're aware of the situation and are doing our darndest to get it running again ASAP."

I hadn't received a response from Dr. D. confirming the time and location of our meeting, so I called her cell phone this morning. She was on the train from New England, so she was brief. And full of surprises. Same location as the one for August. . . and she already submitted our grades. I don't think that registered with me until well after the call had ended.

So, while I still went over to my parents' to print off the one lesson from the elementary school that my laptop couldn't open, I didn't drive myself crazy formatting it. The portfolio review was more or less a benefit to me now, because it didn't affect my grade (good thing b/c I missed something but put something else good in its place), and also because I could get Dr. D. to critique my resume'.

Thanks to the monsoon-like weather today, it took me almost as long to get there as it the duration of the meeting, but it was fine. The nice attendant at the parking garage took pity on me for being a dippy online student coming in for a final and gave me a one-day pass, so I saved $11 (yippee!). I got the information I needed--most of it, anyway, from a handbook/checklist I didn't know about (arrgh). I got a bunch of paperwork filled out that at some point will help with my certification, once I take my last certification exam and, you know, fill out a form and send in money I didn't know I needed to send (thanks, handbook/checklist). I didn't, however, get to the bookstore for any school shwag afterwards, because rush hour was starting and the weather was just as terrible to walk in as it was to drive in. Maybe sometime in a few weeks when the weather is better.

I can't complain, though. For the most part, my portfolio was deemed good, and my resume' is marked up with suggestions. I got to see my classmate from NJ who is really, really lovely--I hope we continue to keep in touch.

When I finally got home, I was able to get into the web portal to see my final grade: A+. (Yup, I did a screenshot of that and sent it to Mom.)

The first thing I did when I got home was get out my rain-soaked corduroys. As I looked at the very wet hems, I had a bit of a flashback. The first time I set foot on campus, for an information session for the program, it was a very windy and rainy Saturday in April, 2006, and my too-long pants had gotten just as soaked as the pair I had on today. Kind of a funny coincidence for my last time on campus, as a student.

I can't believe that I've done just about everything except get the degree in the mail.

It feels a little strange, but an O.K. kind of strange.

I think I'll go with it.


Looks Like Another 2 a.m. Bedtime

So the response from Dr. D. is that she moved the evaluation date up to Thursday (tomorrow) because I said I was planning on going away on Saturday. To accommodate me, and my classmate from N.J. All right, fine! At this point, I just want to get it over with.

I got the other recommendation letter I needed, so that's good. Today I've just been plugging away, printing things, arranging pages. . . working up to the dreaded lesson plans. (I say "dreaded" because I hate writing them out. It just feels weird, not having a curriculum as a base, that sort of thing. Also, some past profs have complained I don't "spell things out" enough.)

Technically, I've passed the class already. I checked my grades, and my cumulative points to date are 85/102. I don't really know what I'm doing with this portfolio--I mean, I have a general sense of how it should look, what it should contain, but overall I'm arranging it in a way that makes sense to me. Which may or may not make sense to anyone else.

Whatever I have done by the time I leave tomorrow is going to have to be good enough. I won't lie, though: I did check the website of the local office supply store to see what time they open in the morning. Just in case I have to run out for the random pack of sheet protectors or something.

It's definitely crunch time, and I'll be up late making sure every last "t" is crossed and every last "i" is dotted.

In my mind, I'm already past it and have my ticket to D.C. for Saturday. Tomorrow: school. Friday: work. Saturday: party!

I am so ready.


Running the Gauntlet

OF COURSE Dr. D. changed the date of our final meeting/evaluation for class from Saturday to Thursday afternoon.

OF COURSE there are problems with the school e-mail and I didn't get the message until about an hour ago (not to mention a follow-up asking why I haven't responded yet).

OF COURSE I just lost a day and a half's worth of time to pull my portfolio together.

OF COURSE all I got done on my portfolio yesterday was making photocopies and buying binders (periwinkle!) and labels.

OF COURSE this means I have to cancel work for Thursday. . . and plan to drive downtown. . . and figure out how bad it's going to be getting there on a weekday just before rush hour.

OF COURSE I don't have one of my recommendation letters in hand yet.

OF COURSE I'm really, really, really, really, really, really annoyed.

And scared.

St. Rita, you got me into this mess--get me out. Pray for me.


The Friday Five: End of a (Student Teaching) Era

Today was the last day of student teaching at the elementary school. At anywhere. Twelve weeks are done!

At the end of the day today, I didn't get emotional the way I did when I left the high school and Dr. Red. Maybe it was a different kind of parting, because I felt more attached to the high school than to the elementary school. Or maybe it's because I have a different relationship with Mrs. K. than I do with Dr. Red. Or I'm just too wiped out and it hasn't hit me yet. Or I've finally taken to heart the supposed library saying that "There's no crying in baseball and library." I dunno. Anyhow, I learned a lot from both places--here are five interesting lessons from student teaching:

1. Planning to use a particular technology (e.g. set up blogs, use a new set of microphone headsets, show a website with the document projector) with an entire class is an invitation to an EPIC FAIL. It's one of those corollaries to Murphy's Law they don't warn you about in any of your education courses.

2. If you're being observed by your professor, odds are excellent that a kindergartener will raise his/her hand and launch into a story involving family pets wearing his/her underwear. (That oughta bring me some hits from search engines.)

3. The best line of defense against #2 is a good offense--ask if the comment "has to do with what we're reading." If not (and usually that is the case), steamroll the student and tell him/her we're sticking to the story. Your sanity, not to mention your control of the class, depends on it.

4. The library houses the lunchroom for all the cool teachers. The other key to your sanity (the first key being steamrolling students harboring pet-underwear comments) is having time each day to blow off steam and laugh with cool people.

5. There really still are students around who really like the library, and some who come to like the library because they encounter good librarians there--Dr. Red, Mrs. K., and hopefully someday soon, me.

Have a good weekend, everyone. I'm off to slug more of Amy G's cure to encourage my voice to continue recovering.


Blink, and the Schedule Changes

I am dying to post about a couple of controversies (at least that I've heard of in the past week or so) that a certain bestselling series that has been generating (among some disgruntled people, anyway), but of course I ran out of time tonight. Still gotta make my lunch before I get to bed. Nope, my voice isn't back to normal yet. Having to raise my voice over a bunch of unruly students (I'm looking at you, third grade) isn't helping. I have pretty much no upper register--which makes my usual singing in the car just a bunch of pathetic squeaks. *sigh* Can't wait to try the recipe Amy suggested in the previous post.

My dad, the originator of the nasty cold, is struggling to get better--still--and has decided we aren't going to the thank-you dinner for the musicians at the one parish where we help out. (I wouldn't go without him because I don't really know anybody else there.) So now my Friday night is mine again.

I might actually get the Friday Five posted this week. That makes me happy.

Now, if I could just get some sleep.