Now I'm Teaching

There really aren't that many rules to follow in my school and in my library, but whenever I do try to enforce the rules, 95% of the students talk back and/or try to negotiate with me.

One of the main rules in the library is basically that students are here to work, quietly, and to stick to their own tables and keep the conversation at a low volume. We tend to have classes held in here a fair amount, and students are supposed to use the library to study, so we try to keep the noise level down and productivity up. If there are four chairs at a table, there had better be only four people at that table, and all of them sitting down. The numbers go up, or they're standing up, the volume goes up. Same thing if they're leaning across tables or calling over to another table.

I'm not a shusher, but I've got a few standard lines. One of my most repeated ones is, "Guys [yes, I use "guys" with a mixed group, sue me], four to a table," and I'm looking at the kid who is at the next table but has the chair turned around to talk--the fifth person.

"I'm at this table," the kid will respond, pointing to the table he just had his back to--that's their standard line.

Do I look stupid? I worked for lawyers for over six years. I have a Master's degree, and my undergrad is in English Lit--you know, words. I know trying to get by on the letter of the law when I see it, and I don't have to put up with it.

My favorite one today was when I asked a guy hovering over another girl's computer to take a seat and he told me, "I'm just getting the assignment from her." I said, Fine, just do it quickly and move along"--but then he added, "We're going out."

Either I'm getting cynical or I was so tickled by his excuse. . . I cracked up. "That's not much of an excuse for anything," I told him. And I left the supercouple to their work. I honestly don't know what he expected me to accommodate in light of their, uh, relationship. When I told one of my co-workers, she cracked up and said, "Maybe they got really serious this weekend or something and it's a big deal to them." Hee.

But man, am I sick of the talking back.

So today when I got one of those stock responses from an upperclassman who was carrying on an extended conversation with other students who were supposed to be working at the computers, I didn't put up with it. Oh, I didn't yell or take names.

No, I scoffed at the tired old line he was throwing at me.

"Is that all you can say?" I said. "If I had a dime for every time someone has said that to me. . . man, you guys have got to start getting more creative. I'm kinda disappointed."

In case you couldn't tell, I work in a community where a majority of the kids are well off. They've gotten everything they ever wanted and many of them are, to be blunt, spoiled--not refused anything, or their parents treat them like equals and let them negotiate all the time. Which they can do fairly well because they also are smart--and I love that about them. So hence the disappointment when they resort to the same old stuff.

After my response, the kid was speechless.

Mission accomplished.


The Feline Sense of Smell Is a Curious Thing

Cat: MEOW!
Translation: I want something from this kitchen!

Me: I don't have anything--I made soup tonight. See--vegan!

Cat: MEOW!
Translation: There is something in this kitchen I want, and that's not it!

Me: I don't have anything! Oh, I give up. . .

The Cat hung around the kitchen complaining for a bit as I got ready to go run some errands.

When I stepped out into the hallway, I was hit by the smell of the chicken that one of my neighbors was roasting.

Poor kitty. Apartment living must be torture sometimes.


Dear iPod,

Thank you for accompanying me on my 45-minute walk at the park today--it really helped motivate me and keep me going. Well, there was that one bobble where a screw-up in the playlist forced me to stop because I just couldn't believe I had put that Perry Farrell (a.ka. "Furry Apparel" to our late friend J.) song on there, but that was completely an error on my part.

I am so glad the new earbuds are working out--next I'll have to outfit you with a case or something to keep the scratches away! I am looking forward to another walk soon, even if it is not on my day off. In the meantime, I'll be updating the music library a little bit.

Until our next outing,

Kate P



Last night, the phone rang and my parents' number came up on the Caller ID. Most of the time it's Mom, but it was Dad this time. Considering it was Saturday night, I figured he wanted to talk about music.

Dad: I played for Mass tonight and the response is horrible.
He says this to warn me about singing the responsorial psalm tomorrow when I cantor, and also to try to go over it over the phone. (Which I find doesn't help me much.) I totally forgot to grab my music book from the car earlier, while I was thinking about it.

Me: I didn't look at it. And my book's in the car--the trunk, actually. Had to make room for the [ride-mooching] chili last weekend. It's dark and raining, so I'm not planning on going out to get it now.

Dad: Well, the gospel acclamation is easy, so. . .
He has a habit of not finishing his sentences. A very frequent habit.

Me: Can I just come early and go over it before Mass tomorrow?

Dad: That should be O.K. I mean, nobody's gonna be there, anyway. It's raining and next week is the Mass for the [ladies' group dedicated to the Blessed Mother], so I think it'll be fine.

This morning, as I'm walking through the church parking lot, I see my cousins' car parked there and think, Hey, cool, they're going to do the readings. (They are lectors.) But then I pass by the steps leading down to the basement and I notice the door is open. There is a wonderful coffee smell wafting up.

That's when it dawns on me: Mass is going to be the Pre-Cana Mass. As in "Option A" mentioned here.

So instead of nobody we've got a lot of somebodies, most of whom have never been in this church before because it's something like a side chapel for the parish. People who are especially somebodies today, because the focus is on their upcoming marriages--and who have been somebodies to one another since they started dating, and somebodies to their families and friends since their engagements.

I had been feeling down Friday evening, especially in regard to the dating area of my life. Or I should say the void that's been in the dating area of my life for quite some time now. (This tends to happen annually as my birthday approaches--and my cousin's wedding is coming up, too.) The void felt a bit reinforced as from my position in the choir loft I watched the couples file into the pews reserved with white ribbon bows at the front of church.

It took a lot of effort to stay composed and not think of myself as a nobody. After all, it's kind of a slap in the face to God if I'm beating myself up while I'm sitting there in His house. But it's hard to look down and see people my age and younger, who have found each other and are planning to join their lives to each other, and not feel like a failure. Not wonder if I'm ever going to sit there. I'm the only single non-senior-citizen-adult in the entire building (not counting the pastor and the college junior in the choir).

During the first reading, I'm telling myself: It's not important--let it go. Lighten up and just let your voice come out. It doesn't matter who's down there, because you're not really singing for them. It's not an audition and you don't have to prove anything. Just do the best you can do with what you have.

And it's fine, I get through the awkward phrasing, nobody's wincing. Good. Mass goes on and a few minutes later I am feeling grateful that the pastor has not tailored his homily to the engaged/married people.

After Mass, I stop downstairs in the basement where the Pre-Cana people are reconvening so I can say hi to my cousins and sneak a cup of coffee & half a sesame bagel. The cousins dish a bit about their involvement in my cousin's upcoming wedding (it's their niece) and where the seating chart currently has me. . . with them (couple!), their son & his girlfriend (couple!), my parents (couple, not to mention total buzzkill), Older Brother & SIL (couple!), and. . . Younger Sister.

Screeeee!!! Younger Sister is a singleton. A possibly-seeing-someone singleton, but for all intents and purposes at the wedding reception, a singleton.

So we're in the same boat, at least for that evening. And odds are fairly good that there will be other people next weekend, all over the country, maybe even the continent, in the same boat as well.

That many people--it can't be "wrong" to be this way, for whatever reason.

In that light, the nobody feeling recedes a bit.


The Friday Five: Long Weekend Edition UPDATED!

Uhhh, because I have off Monday, today is really Friday, right?


Aw, I guess I should have known I can't fool you smarties.

I don't have much of an excuse for not posting Friday, except that I had two after-school meetings this week and then a Parents' Night on Thursday that had me out of the house from 6:25 a.m. to 9:45 p.m. Went well (my co-librarian remarked yesterday morning that I had been "great with the parents") but it was a long day that set me up for a bad Friday. Including an embarrassing incident first period in the presence of the teacher I sort of have a crush on. Arrgh.

Please accept my apology and hear my plea to bear with me as I adjust to this new job. It's been a challenge trying to do my job at the same time I am learning the job and the culture. Lately I have been feeling a real lack of intimacy because I'm spending a lot of time with people I just don't know very well and I don't quite feel I can be myself, totally. I mean, I think they like me. . . the me that they know so far. I'm probably not explaining this very well, but I think you get the idea (especially if you are or know someone introverted).

Anyway--I'm in the middle of a long weekend! Woo-hoo! So here's what I'm going to attempt to accomplish this weekend:

1. Finish watching Season 2 of The Tudors. Blognerd/Jen's post got me hooked on the series and in spite of how graphic it can be at times (as in TMI boudoir action, and boy, they love a good decapitation), I don't know what I'm going to do when I come to the end of the last disc except count the days until Season 3 comes to the video store. Maybe catch up on Dollhouse, the other show Jen's been talking about--and I've been avoiding those posts because I managed to miss most of the episodes but had planned to see them eventually. (Oh, and perhaps enjoy these as my birthday present to myself. I'm such a stereotypical Libra.)

2. Finish reading Twenty Boy Summer. It's one of my overdue books from the library that I'm trying to get done ASAP. Uh, actually, when I returned the previous overdue book I finished, my former co-worker did a renewal override and "fixed" my account. But I'd still rather get it (and the other two I've had for a while) back on the shelves and available to other readers. Getting back to the current book that I'm trying to finish before 10/14: pretty good for the author's first novel, even if the premise is a little morally off for me, but I have one quibble that is not a spoiler: Seals in San Francisco? Aren't they supposed to be sea lions? I seem to recall that Tracey or some other West Coast blogger commented on sea lions out there. Seals and sea lions are hardly the same. It was something about how the narrator first got to SF and saw them and her heart bubbled over with how cute they were--and no offense to sea lions, but that paragraph was not gonna work with them in the visual. UPDATE 09/27/2009: Not until the reader gets to page 276 and the main characters are revisiting the "seal beach" is it specified that the animals are HARBOR SEALS. Now I get it--I saw a seal at the Jersey shore during a visit to the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine (direct link not working but here is a reference) when I was a kid.

3. Get my car repair stuff in order so I can thank certain people and get my reimbursements underway. . . because naturally the credit card's billing cycle closed right after I charged the car repair, dammit.

4. Catch up on the e-mail I haven't gotten to read all week. (Not that I would check my personal e-mail much at school, but it sucks that there is no access, period.) But I missed some important stuff like "Dan Brown's 20 Worst Sentences."

5. Speaking of worst sentences, I have got to work on my writing. I woke up this morning around 8 but stayed in bed for about another hour while story ideas just seemed to pop into my head and take off. Just have to write it all out at some point. I've been pretty off track with my writing lately. And yet somehow I still feel as if I'm closer than ever to finishing one of my works.

It's about 10:30 p.m. right now, so I'd better keep going on this here list. Hope you enjoy what's left of your weekend (and I wish "an easy fast" to those who will be observing Yom Kippur shortly).


There's Smart and Then There's Wise

One thing that really annoys me about my apartment building is that sometimes other residents too lazy to let people in (or too lazy to take their keys with them when they do something supposedly quick like take out the trash) will take one of the large rocks from the nicely-tended garden of the neighbor next to the entrance and use said rock to prop open the back door to the building. If I come home late at night (like I often used to from working at the bookstore) and see the door open, I move the rock and allow the door to shut and lock. My security should not be compromised for the convenience of someone else (who probably does not live alone and/or doesn't read the "police blotter" in the local paper. Or thinks it's 1949).

Tonight, I took a quick ride to the video store to return my almost-late movies and pick up a couple new ones. When I came back, it had just started getting dark. I started walking to the steps leading to the back entrance when I noticed the door was propped open. I didn't see anyone else outside, but just as I started thinking nasty things about the person who propped the door open while I got closer to the steps, a voice called out, "Leave the door open."

I looked left, and there was an old dude standing there talking to an older-ish woman with faded, frizzy blond hair who looked about to get into the car parked right across from the steps to the back entrance. The old dude was looking right at me, with an expression on his face as crabby as the sound of his words.

I quickly ducked out of his gaze and shrugged as I said "O.K.," maintaining my speed towards the door.

Still holding the keys I'd had prepped in my fingers to unlock and open the propped door, I slipped inside.

The whole time I was walking to my apartment, I was wishing I'd had the guts to yell, "Next time say please, you jerk!" as I kicked the rock to the side and let the door slam shut.
Wishing sometimes the trigger on my smart mouth would work right, for once.

That was about an hour and a half ago, and having cooled off a bit, I am reconsidering my wish.

Maybe it was providential that my smart mouth was off in its timing and I avoided provoking a neighbor who already had proven himself a jerk.

And maybe I should savor having made a wise move instead of having let my smart mouth run.

(Still wish I could afford a house away from all this, though.)


Put Down the Milk Carton

I won't be appearing there just yet!

I'm sorry I kind of disappeared this week. Basically, every day this week I came home from school (or post-school errands), fed the cat, read my snail mail, ate dinner, passed out on the sofa and woke up only to put myself to bed. Just incredibly worn out. In slightly more detail:

Tuesday I picked up my all-fixed car. Yay! The people at the dealer were civil to me and while they couldn't be bothered to notice the torn-off mud guard sitting in my car and reattach it (nope!), they did let me use their phone to call the rental car place and notify them they could pick up their car. The great irony is that the repair bill was the exact same dollar amount as the first paycheck I received from my new job. But thankfully I just put it on my charge and will be submitting the receipt to the car company to be reimbursed for half. Oh, and my car is running great.

Wednesday I returned to the library for the first time since I left my job there. Everybody was pretty nice to me--said they missed me and asked how I liked my new job. They even forgave my overdue fines! The joy was short-lived when I got a call Saturday morning from someone at the library asking for the flash drive I'd used while there. It started out as "I was looking for a flash drive to save something for a patron" to "You didn't give it back when you left and do you know what you have saved on it?"
I don't have time for disingenuousness. I didn't really fail to give it back--nobody reminded me I had one to give back. Hell, nobody was THERE when I stayed late on my last day finishing things up and I wasn't crazy about leaving my set of keys on someone's desk. Also, I did NOT NOT NOT delete anything from my computer at the library other than e-mail, so I resent the implication from the second comment that I "took" anything and/or am holding out on some important document that isn't accessible on my old computer. It's all there. I don't have time to fish around for the stupid thing so I'm going to buy them a nice new empty flash drive and drop it off this week. Because if all this person really wants is another flash drive, that should be fine and I will withdraw my rant.
But I just really doubt it.

And really I should have just heeded the warning from the Caller ID that morning because I was trying to get out the door to pick up my mom to go down the Jersey shore for a small family reunion. Not only did the car handle the trip beautifully to transport both us and the all-important tomato pies (oh yeah and several pots of ride-mooching chili my aunt--yes, that aunt--made but forced my mom to take at the last minute because she claimed just was too busy to go) but also I went from "horseshoes rookie" to "horseshoes novice" as for the only time in our lives Older Brother and I partnered up for two games on the beach against our cousins. We were narrowly defeated but I think my cousins were impressed by my efforts, as it is generally known that I am not particularly gifted in the athletics and coordination departments.

Friday, I just have go back and note, I sliced up a monster tomato from my parents' garden to make a sandwich for dinner. It was delicious but seriously it was a monstermato. Check it out:

That should bring everybody up to speed for now. Too bad I'm still behind in cleaning my apartment, doing paperwork, working on my writing, making dinner, etc. And too bad I wasn't absent for any really exciting reason.

Oh, come on--at least one of you probably was wondering if I'd met somebody.

(Not yet. . . but my semi-crush said hi to me in the hallway this week. He was dressed down to go to the gym and he looked like a student, too, so we already have at least one thing in common. But I'd better shut up about this already before I sound totally pathetic.)


I Almost Forgot--the Car!

Really quick:

1. The dealer diagnosed the car exactly as my 20-something whiz kid mechanic had. The headgasket(s) is(are) blown and the car needs new valves/gaskets/seals/etc.

2. The dealer said they will fix it. On top of that, they will reimburse me for the rental (which I've had for a week now) and will discount the price of repairs.

3. They also are giving a 12 mo/12K mi warranty on parts & labor (so that gives me 12 months to save for a down payment on a new car. . .)

4. I should be getting the car back the middle of this coming week! I can hardly wait!!!

Not Quite the Friday Five

I am exhausted from the events of this week, but I figured I'd better post something because it's Friday, right?

What a weird day--sometimes I wonder if it will always be weird. In 2001, it was a horrible, terrifying, scary day. I remember hiding in a restroom stall at work to deal with my distress, and wondering why the powers that be wouldn't just let us go home. I really needed to go home. I remember attending something at church later in the day, and it all felt like moving around a haze. Except for the horrible fear in the pit of my stomach that I would die alone. That stuck with me for a long time after that.

In 2002, after we'd been crying all morning, my jerk of a boss gathered everyone in the company around and told us he was closing the business. It takes a cold person to pick that date. Oh, and let some people go that day, too. (That may have been my missed hint to get the heck out of corporate jobs.)

Today was a little different in that I found out that one of my new co-workers had in fact been in one of the towers in NYC on that day. He talked to his classes about it--students who had been in probably first or second grade at the time. They probably don't remember much about life was like before then--things like long security lines at airports are the norm for them. I can't imagine what that teacher went through. He is a really upbeat, personable guy, and it was very brave and generous of him to talk with his students today about what happened as he had experienced it firsthand.

I'm not trying to gloss over the bad things that happened. . . it just is very comforting to think about good things and good people associated with today. Like my fellow teacher. Like the student who thanked me several times when I was able to convert an e-mail attachment for her so she could get the photos she needed for her assignment. Like the social studies teacher who was grateful we were able to fix the sound on her DVD equipment. Like the other teachers who were very friendly to me when we went for drinks after we were done for the day.

On a weird day like today, I remember what (who) was lost. And I take comfort in what (who) can still be good, on a weird day like today.



Trial by fire is one way of describing today at school. The network was down, so the other librarian and I had to conduct library orientation with the 9th graders (one class of 20-some and a couple classes of over 50) the best we could so they could learn how to log in to the network and get their student e-mail. Actually, for some reason, the students fared better logging in than most of the faculty and staff. Go figure. I even took the reins on one of the orientations and did O.K., so that was cool.

(You know what is NOT cool? The Enter key on my laptop is popping off. I had no idea my pinky strikes were that forceful, but after about three years I guess things start to get worn out. Is there a way to fix that?)

We are also in the middle of what I'm calling the "Great Toner Crisis of '09" at school. The minimum amount of toner was ordered at the end of the last school year, and it's not enough to power all the printing and copying that takes place at the beginning of the next school year! I get the impression that starting school before Labor Day has really thrown a lot of people off. (Newbies like me have not reference point, so we don't get that.)

And was it me, or was the weekend over way too fast? Even though I spent most of yesterday doing laundry at my parents' (what, they like having me come for dinner, and I do all their research) and reading the first half of the Red Blazer Girls. It's not a bad book so far, and the narrator is really funny, although for Catholic seventh graders the characters use quite a bit of vulgarity. Nevertheless, I can't wait to see how the mystery ends, and I hope the author is working on a sequel and/or starting a series.

That's about it for odds & ends, I think. Nothing new about the car (didn't expect it, anyway). Gotta rest up for more 9th grade orientation tomorrow (praying and thinking positively that the network will come back up and stay up).

Oh, and the one teacher I kind of have a crush on will be bringing his class for orientation. Yippee!


You Can Quote Me on the Friday Five

1. Em: (to James) It's not worth getting knifed over a giant stuffed panda. (Adventureland--good movie. Great soundtrack.)

2. Mom: When we left the dealer after taking the car down there, it felt like. . . leaving a family friend at the funeral home.
Me: Yeah--a family friend who died too young.

3. Overheard while I was having dinner with my great-aunt and great-uncle at their retirement community--one of their elderly gentlemen neighbors approaches a table of senior couples dining: "Hello there, young lady!"
The average age of the ladies in the room was something around 79. And that was adding in the teenage servers. (At my table: 69.7)
Side note: It was kinda funny seeing a parking lot of motorized scooters outside the dining hall. Like valet parking for the silver set.

4. Upperclassmen at the table behind my desk (mixed company) got on the subject of using the public bathrooms after one boy complained about freshmen who don't "know the rules and won't give you any space." Heh heh.
Girl 1: [Some girl they all know] won't use the bathroom at [her boyfriend]'s house because she doesn't want her boyfriend to hear her pee. Isn't that stupid?
Girl 2: I'd do it. I can pee anywhere.
Girl 1: Except in a bush.
Girl 2: I was about to say that!

5. Mighty Maggie's quick take #7: ". . . before [my kids] turned into fish-shaped cheese-flavored crackers." They'd be in good company with my niece and middle nephew.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

I Miss My Car.

No, the dealer did not get around to looking at my car today. Of course not. It's Labor Day weekend.

No, the dealer did not offer me a loaner car. They told my parents (who have graciously been my proxy while I tried to complete my first week at my new job, for crying out loud) that they only had four loaners because they'd sold one of them recently--so why I couldn't have one of the four remaining is beyond me, although the impression I get is that either I'm not on the valued customers list, or they don't want to give any indication that what happened with the car is anything other than my fault (i.e. I don't deserve a rental).

My parents refused the dealer's offer to rent from some national company that I didn't even know we had in the area, and instead went with a local company that we and our extended family have used on occasion. The person that I know who is connected with the manufacturer spoke with my parents later and was impressed with the rate they got. There is also some hint that we might be able to get some help with the cost of the rental. I'm just concerned about how long I'm going to have to be driving a rental. That adds up.

Also, the rental is a Camry. I don't think it handles that great, compared to my car (when functional). I'm worried about getting into an accident, or something happening to it if someone does something stupid in the apartment parking lot.

I know it's just a car, but it's my car that I worked hard to pay off and maintain. It has been not only my transportation but also my sanctuary from work, and study hall when I was in grad school. It's really hard not knowing if Tuesday was the last time I'll ever drive it.


Car Purgatory

Tonight, I cleaned out the car and got it ready to be towed to a local dealer for diagnostics tomorrow. My dad and I both have spoken with the car company and while they did tell us to bring it in, they also are throwing in the standard "If you didn't get it serviced by the dealer all the time then we can't guarantee it" song-and-dance.

To which all of us say--are you kidding us? This car has been properly maintained. It is my sole means of transportation to and from my job, and has been so for the past seven years. It doesn't even have 80K miles on it yet. I got bounced around from dealer to dealer--as a matter of fact, my car has no dealer markings on it because they were about to send it over to another car dealer as they were switching makes, and then that second dealer stopped selling them and yet another dealer took over--and service at the dealer was too expensive and time-consuming (for me as a single person with a full time job). I have been using the same mechanic to service my car for years, ever since the third dealer rigmarole got to be too much. So the only people who have worked on my car are dealers 2 & 3 (headed up by the same man, I'm pretty sure), and my local mechanic.

This time last year, I was shelling out over $1200 for a new axle. If the dealer points to that and says that affected the engine, I'm going to have a fit.

What might help me a little, I'm hoping, is a car-company-related connection I made with someone affiliated with the company over the summer. He was not available to speak with today, but my call did get me moved up in priority, I think, with customer service. I'm usually not one to name-drop or demand special treatment, but I'm just stunned that this happened on such a well cared for car that was expected to have a much longer life by even their standards. The only thing I wish I could have done differently is to have kept it in a garage, but apartment life doesn't really allow for that unless a tenant is really lucky.

I don't know what will come of the diagnostic stuff, but at the very least I'm hopeful I will have enough information to make a decision as to the next step.

Right now, though, the whole situation just makes my stomach hurt. I even got teary-eyed when they handed me a form to fill out to get a parking hang tag for school. I don't know what car I'm driving! (School went O.K., BTW. Met most of the other faculty/staff and everyone is nice. Getting my bearings and starting to see the teachers who really *heart* the library.)

Tomorrow night I'm going to have dinner with my great-aunt & great-uncle at their retirement community. Rumor has it the food is very good. They haven't been getting out very much lately, and in fact one of them had a bit of a time with a health issue recently, so I'm happy they invited me and I'm hoping it's good for them to get down to the "clubhouse" (swanky, eh?).

Car news and food review to come!


Update: Bad News/Tough Choices

If you haven't read the previous post yet--please do & then come back, so this makes sense.

Around 6 p.m. I got a call from the nice young mechanic who normally does the maintenance on my car. He opens with, "I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but. . ."

Well, that doesn't sound good at all.

He continues: "The third cylinder on the engine--it's gone." By way of further elaboration, he went on to say that there were just shards there, and the oil was just spraying into. . . nothing. (This means little to someone like me who can't do much more than change light bulbs on my car.)

"So," I ask, "what are my options--what can I do?"

Option 1: "Pull" the engine and rebuild what he called the "bottom part" which I'm guessing is where the third cylinder used to be.
Ballpark cost: $1,000-1,200.

Option 2: "Pull" the engine and rebuild the whole thing (or put a completely new one in? Is that the same thing?).
Ballpark cost: Add $750-1,000 to Option 1.

Option 3: Scrap the car.
Ballpark cost: The price of a new (or new to me) car.

The problems with Options 1 & 2 are that (a) I don't know who would do it, and (b) I don't know if the car would really drive the same afterwards. Also, I understand its value as a trade-in/resale will be affected adversely if we mess with the engine.

The problems with Option 3 are that (a) I don't have money to throw around for another car and (b) I'm not even sure I could swing any size car payment right now. I haven't started getting paid for my new job, so I'm not 100% sure what I'm bringing home every paycheck and where it's all going.

He said it was O.K. to leave the car there for a couple days so I could figure things out. My family and I give his station a lot of business so first off, it was nice of him to call me so late in the day--it had been really busy when I had come with my towed car around 11 a.m. I was too stunned and bummed out to ask him what he thought he'd do in my situation. I'll ask him tomorrow.

My mom is firmly in the "rebuild" camp, mostly for the reasons surrounding the Option 3 problems, but she tends to turn to the internet and just start typing words into a search box. She called to tell me she's found prices for new engines (what new engines? Who's doing this?) and it "looks expensive" (duh, everybody's out to make a buck online). I am dreading the next time I open my e-mail inbox. It took us a while to get her to use the internet; now, it's going to take a while for her to become a critical evaluator of search results and the information attached thereto.

I just advised her I'd rather not take advice from strangers--i.e., sites I don't know. I don't know if she gets that just yet.

She just keeps telling me not to stress out. Well, excuse me but how about a little empathy for someone who's in the middle of a brand new job--that she wasn't able to get to today--and was just told there's something seriously wrong with the car she's been driving for more than the past seven years? I know she's trying to be helpful, but bombarding me just stresses me out more. But I guess most moms don't show up at their kids' doors with chocolate martinis.

Or anything chocolate. But they should, don't you think?

At the very least, I'm relieved it wasn't anything I'd done to bring about this situation. The oil was full, the gas tank was full, I quit that late-night drag racing. (O.K., I made that last one up. I just needed to think of something funny for a moment.)

I just hope I do the right thing to fix the situation.

Kids Aren't the Only Ones Not Wanting to Go to School

My car doesn't seem to want to go, either!

I tried driving to school today to meet with the other librarian, to get a less hurried introduction to the library, where my mailbox is, try out my network log-in, etc.--but my car decided to go crazy about an exit and a half away from school!

Seriously, all I did was hit the accelerator--and not hard, mind you; I took this same route three days last week for orientation because the district building is the exit before the one for school. No problem those days.

Something different happened this morning. First it was the "CHECK ENGINE" light and a drop in power. Then everything lit up. It looked like "TILT" on a pinball machine. . . only it was on my dashboard.


Of course, I'd been in the far left lane to pass a cluster of on-ramps that usually have a lot of slower traffic, but by some miracle I was able to get all the way over to the right shoulder and shut the car off. Too afraid to start it again.

After a series of shaky phone calls to AAA, the librarian I was meeting, and my mom, I waited--in a car that was getting hot because I'd put the windows up as I'd hit the highway--about half an hour for the tow truck to come. All those cars and trucks whizzing by me on the road made me nervous. And, uh, inclined to pray a lot.

The tow truck guy was nice. Interestingly enough, he worked for ten years for a company owned by members of a family that used to live across the street from my parents. My sister and I played with the kids of the now-president. It was kind of funny telling the tow truck guy that one of the kids is now married and has a little girl. I knew what he meant when he said he felt old!

By the time we got to the service station near home and my mom picked me up, it wasn't worth it for the other librarian to be hanging around school while I tried to get back there. So I spent the rest of the afternoon running errands and making calls. Ooh, and muffins.

This is pretty much the recipe, except that the one I got from a magazine didn't use the juice of the orange--although my first attempt did seem dry and I added orange juice from a carton to it. Because I didn't have an orange then. I had a shriveled clementine that barely gave up any zest. I also don't have an orange this time around, either, so I might try zesting a lemon I have on hand and again adding a little orange juice. Yum.

It's good for getting my mind off the fact that (a) it's now almost 4:00 and I haven't heard anything about the car, and (b) I'll be driving to my first official day at school in my mom's station wagon.

A station wagon that has two baby seats in the back so I'm almost praying none of my fellow faculty and staff members notice.

Especially the cute single guy faculty/staff members.