Thursday, December 31, 2009

So Long, 2009. We've Had a Good Run...

Well, the year 2009 comes to a close. Being the pragmatic realist that I am, I'm baffled as to why people celebrate New Year's. We don't celebrate New Month's or New Week's, or even New Day's. So why all the hoopla about a new year?

I just realized that I sound dangerously close to Andy Rooney all of a sudden.

Anyway, I guess I'll do what everyone else seems to like to do at the end of a year: reflect on it. Really, this has been a pretty good year for me. Far better than that other year that totally sucked for me. But see? I can't even remember which it was. I'm guessing 2008 though.

Okay, what has 2009 brought me? Well, a resurgence in blog posts, for one. Granted, I'm not as good at it as I was back in my heyday (2005-6) when my blog was new, but I've made quite an improvement over 2007 when I hardly blogged at all.

Also, I got a full-time job. I'd say that's something to get excited about. So I moved to a different place, started teaching kids of all ages (from junior in high school all the way up to adults older than I returning to school).

Also took a road trip to Appalachia over the summer. That was nice. I got to see Shenandoah via Skyline Drive, so I sorta fought my fear of heights on that one. It really was beautiful and a great time.

I read several books over the summer, but I almost can't keep track of them anymore. I know there were several Sinclair Lewis', and Little Dorrit by Dickens, and The Great Gatsby because I couldn't believe I'd taken a Master's in English without reading Gatsby. I know there were more, but as I said, there are too many to count.

I got a new car, so along with that new job, I have new payments to deal with. But it's all good.

I've also started playing my guitar again and doing crafts more regularly. Case in point, I just finished a latch hook project from I don't know how many years ago last night. I'm still working on that granny square afghan. I've probably been working on that since before I started this blog. But I really don't feel like working on it at the moment, somehow. Thus, I think I'll get back to my small needlepoint project. I figured I'd give the latch hook to one grandma and the needlepoint heart to the other.

Well, that's about all I can think of for 2009. I'm sure there were other blogworthy things about the year, but if so, I can't seem to recall them at the moment. Here's hoping that 2010 will be even better! Now, onto those resolutions...

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy New Year's Eve Eve

I remember New Year's Eve last year, but I can't say as I recall New Year's Eve Eve last year. Strange, huh? Well, the reason I remember New Year's Eve is that I had to do laundry at the laundromat. And something bad happened. I've repressed most of the memory, but I do recall that something bad happened. And then I went to Subway with Beth and Jean. And the other Beth showed up. And her Subway gift card wouldn't work. Then my mom called and we went shopping. That's a pretty lousy memory, isn't it?

But the strange thing about this is that I can't seem to remember more important things. You know, things like what happened on New Year's Eve Eve last year. Why is it that I remember the New Year's Eve story that nobody really cares to hear? Eh well. Such is life.

Well, I'm happy to announce that my Spanish verbs book has come in! Sure, it's a little late, but who cares? And I finished The Road. Nothing like a little Cormac McCarthy to make a dreary day all the more dreary. This has been one of the bleakest Christmas-New Year's stretches that I can recall in the history of recorded time. It's almost a shame that I don't have Bleak House to reread. Or, I guess I could have checked out Ulysses from the University library again. I mean, sure I didn't get very far on it when I started it over the summer, but it's a big book. It could take a while to read. Plus, I don't see the book club suggesting it anytime soon, so to try to read it alongside the book club books and juggling all that with teaching/grading stuff? I'm worn out already.

And speaking of juggling, you should have seen me play the Wii at Jean's house the other day. I think the first thing she conned me into doing was Wii Juggling. Okay, so I can't even juggle in real life, so I'm not sure why I got cocky and thought I ever had a snowball's chance in heck to do Wii Juggling. Perhaps it's because I'm not bad at Wii: boxing, tennis, baseball, and bowling. Though I'm terrible at all those things in real life, save boxing, which I've never tried in real life, but you get my point.

Anyway, the juggling. So you have to balance on a beach ball thing while juggling. It was nigh onto impossible for me to do, so I moved on to other things. I think in just under two hours' time, I juggled, hula hooped, skiied, snowboarded, skateboarded, did martial arts, did step aerobics, and did some crazy game where I had to control a bird character. All I remember from the latter is Beth screaming, "FLAP HARDER! FLAP HARDER!" So when I flapped harder (looking a complete fool, I'm sure), I overshot the pole I was supposed to land on and heard Beth screaming, "STOP FLAPPING!" at which time I did, in fact, stop flapping, and my bird sunk into the ocean.

Good thing I'm not a bird.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas, Part Deux

Okay, so anyway. We had cinnamon rolls for breakfast--mmmm. Then, headed over to Dad's mother's house. She wasn't feeling the greatest when we got there--her pulse and blood pressure were both high and she was shaking. Fortunately, it didn't last long, and she started feeling much better while we were sitting around visiting. After she felt better, we opened gifts. Just before we left, she took her blood pressure and pulse again and it had returned to normal.

From her, I got a scarf that she knitted, a beading kit, and some money.

Came home and watched some SNL Christmas/Hanukkah specials. I love Adam Sandler's Hanukkah song! Oh, and Dana Carvey is my hero! He does a terrific job as George Bailey. And since I love It's a Wonderful Life, the alternate ending sketch was priceless, in my estimation.

I baked a loaf of bread (I had my doubts about the quantity of flour), and my now-famous cheesy potato soup. It's sort of become a tradition on Mom's side of the family for me to bring this combo to the annual soup supper extravaganza.

While the soup was cooking and the bread baking, we finally got around to opening our gifts. I got two learning Spanish DVDs, a video game, some candy, a gift card and some more money.

At the evening party, I got the third learning Spanish DVD, another game, another gift card, a planner, and some more candy. It was a very good Christmas, but not just for the gifts.

We had a great get-together tonight. Pierce (always the joker) was making cracks constantly (no surprise there), but, on occasion, was also the subject of much jesting. We had a bit of a game of "things [certain people] will never be heard saying." Needless to say, that was a riot.

Andre had wedding photos to give out. I took a couple of wallet pictures. She even gave me a hug. I'm not sure we've ever hugged before. She knows and respects my introvertivity, but I think she just likes me.

The weather has been bitterly cold, so Andre and I were humming "Mele Kalikimaka." Not sure what I'm going to do tomorrow, but I'd love to drive down to Jean's house and play some Wii with her and Beth. I am glad to announce that, even though it was a busy Christmas, it really wasn't quite as rushed as I feared it would be; though, we were late to the evening gathering.

Merry Christmas

Well, this is my 26th Christmas. I think I'm ready for it. I had fun wrapping gifts and watching PBS last night. The potato pancakes and hot cocoa must've helped degrinchify me. Anyway, Peyser wanted to help wrap gifts too. He can melt even the coldest heart. Actually, he's sitting on my lap right now helping me type this entry. After the gifts were wrapped last night, he positioned himself among them. Oh yes, and he, of course, had to play in the ribbon.

So, I got up at 7:30 this morning, thinking I'd really gotten up early. Thought maybe we could get a head start on the whole Christmas thing. Well, then I found out that my dad had been up since 4:00, and my mom since 2:30. Maybe I really should have stayed up all night like I'd planned. But then, Santa might not come if I don't go to sleep, right?

Well, anyway, I need to get off here. Dad's got his Santa hat on and I haven't gotten dressed yet. I'll hopefully have more updates later.

Merry Christmas to all celebrating!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Potato Pancakes!

Okay, I know this is unorthodox and wrong, and possibly even sinful, but I made potato pancakes without egg. In fact, I just stirred up some Potato Buds, milk, margarine, and water, then stuck this in the microwave for a minute, and browned them in a nonstick skillet without any oil, etc.

They were really good.

I'm feeling a bit more festive now; so much so that I actually had Dad pick up two kinds of ribbon (curling ribbon and wire ribbon) so I can decorate my gifts nicely. Yeah, just so they'll be ripped open and damaged beyond recognition in around 28 hours or so.

And you know what? I don't even care about the rushed Christmas thing anymore. I'm just glad to have some days off. I'm hoping to shoot some pool while I'm here, and I definitely need to go to Jean's house and play some Wii, and heck, I might even find the time to make some more potato pancakes.

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Another Blogiversary

This post has very little to do with the fact that today is my 4-year blogiversary. It seems like it's been much longer, somehow.

Apparently, this year Christmas is going to be more hectic than ever and even less enjoyable. I mean, I don't know that I ever saw the holiday as magical, but this year is going to be like the old days when we would rush around from one location to another without getting to enjoy the day one iota, until it's over, and then there's the lousy anticipation that starts all over again. You wait all year for this day, and then it's gone.

I'm getting mad just thinking about it.

And what really burns me is that it shouldn't be this way. For the past several years, we've gone to one grandma's house on Christmas eve, and the other on Christmas night. Well, this year, the Christmas eve grandma decided to haul off and spend it with some people she barely knows. Without even asking us if it was okay to totally railroad us out.

So now, we're forced to do the Christmas day rush. Oh yes, and I thought I was going to get to see my uncle and a cousin that I haven't seen in years. Yeah, no. They're not coming, either.

And I'm in a foul mood as a result. I don't have much time here with my family before another busy semester starts, and I'd really like to take the time to actually enjoy Christmas. But, then again, my feelings amount to nothing. I guess that's why I don't generally have feelings--I've conditioned myself to lose all feelings and emotions (unless under intense stress and at certain times of the month).

Call me Clark Griswold (actually, please don't), but I had this overly idealized concept that maybe this year we could slow Christmas down a little. I mean, separating it into two days helped, but I still get really depressed once it's over. Now I have to contend with the depression plus the feelings of insignificance that accompany being pushed to the back burner in favor of strangers.

I'm sure that I'm overreacting and that someone everyone anyone who reads this anymore (if anyone does still read this blog after I've practically abandoned it numerous times) will probably consider me horribly spoiled. It's not that I don't appreciate Christmas--quite the contrary. I appreciate it a lot, and that's why I'd like to slow it down and actually enjoy it for once, rather than treat it like work where there are stresses and deadlines to meet and all sorts of unhappy things accompanying it (which is not the way Christmas should be).

I guess I could still make those potato pancakes I've been so hungry for.

Monday, December 14, 2009

End of the Semester

Today was my first final as a college instructor. It went pretty well. I'm going to miss my students. I'll probably see most of them again next semester, but some of them won't be in my class anymore. They wrote such sweet things to me on their finals.

I'm grading those finals now. Well, not right now. Right now I'm updating my blog, but I just took a quick break from grading. I have a Grateful Dead concert playing, courtesy of I hope to get through all these finals tonight and calculate a few grades. Then, I'll get to do it all again tomorrow.

Except tomorrow I shouldn't have as much paperwork to do. Today, I had a tremendous amount of paperwork to do. I think I have a form to sign tomorrow, but for the most part, I got that type of thing taken care of today. Maybe that means that tomorrow I can start getting ahead of schedule. Well, we can always hope, anyway. Gonna get back to the grading now. Peace out.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Where Does the Time Go?

Well, the semester is certainly coming to a close. I had my last class meeting yesterday. Finals week starts Monday. That should be fairly easy. I don't know if any of my students are going to turn in late essays or not. I'm planning to grade in-class essays today, as well as (hopefully) finish To Kill a Mockingbird for book club. I've read it a million times, but I like it so well that I decided to read it again, rather than rely on memory.

The essay-grading plan is thus:

Saturday: grade and record all in-class essays
Sunday: maybe grade some essays (if any from Monday's class come in late); otherwise, chill
Monday: give first final; grade essays to be returned Tuesday; grade Monday finals
Tuesday: give second final; grade essays to be returned Wednesday; grade Tuesday finals
Wednesday: etc.
Thursday: I'm not sure what to do during their final, as I haven't received essays from the Friday class to grade; perhaps read The 42nd Parallel.
Friday: collect final drafts of their essay; give last final; grade drafts during final; catch a plane home for Christmas; grade Friday finals on the plane
Saturday: figure and post grades

And voila! From Saturday morning on, I'll be on break! And one of my top priorities is making some potato pancakes.

Another is picking up Ulysses again. I started reading it over the summer, but with my teaching workload and the book club and the writing group, and my own personal quests to read the U.S.A. trilogy and practice guitar and learn Spanish and conquer Call of Duty and pick up an embroidery project I'm still working on for a friend and occasionally update this blog, I just can't seem to find the time to try to wrap my mind around Joyce. Might be a nice Christmas goal though. At least to make some more progress on it.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Weird Blast from the Past, Lately

Hmm, so this year has been a crazy mixture of new things combined with pieces of my past that keep popping up. New things involve my job and where I live, but the old things are what interest me for this post.

When I got my new car, it came with Sirius radio. Okay, so first things first, that brings me back to the mid 2000s when I used to hang out at Annette's house all the time. I used to bum around on the couch listening to the Sirius channels on their TV. Then, we'd often have a meal (or go out) and come back to either watch a movie or play cards. It was really awesome, and I miss those days.

Secondly, one of my new friends introduced me to Sirius 32--the Grateful Dead channel. Okay, well this takes me back to my college days. I've heard of the Grateful Dead as long as I can remember, but the only song I'd heard by them for quite some time was "Touch of Grey." But at the time, I didn't know what the song was called or who sang it. A few years back (it seems like it hasn't been that long, but I know it's been a few years now), I randomly heard "Alabama Getaway" on the radio. Now, most 'heads will know that to hear the Dead on the radio is a rarity. This is the first time I was aware that I was hearing a Grateful Dead song. I fell in love with "Alabama Getaway" and knew I had to hear more. At some point I managed to hear "Truckin'" and "Sugar Magnolia" on the radio as well, and that was it. I had to own a Grateful Dead CD. So, my obsession began in college, but the only music I was aware of were the songs on the CD + "Alabama Getaway." I had no idea what I was missing out on.

With the Sirius radio, I have been exposed to far more Dead tunes than I ever dreamed existed. I haven't heard them all yet, but I'm getting there.

Okay, I've also managed to reconnect with some old friends. Jean and Beth (sisters) and even sometimes the other Beth (their cousin). I talk to Jean around once a week. We always have a good time. When I came home for Thanksgiving, I got together with her and her sister Beth. I didn't want to leave--we were having that much fun.

Then, the really weird thing happened last night. Other Beth's brother, David, the one I had a crush on for about three years, randomly called me up. I don't have feelings for him anymore, but had he called me sometime between 2001-2004, I would have been ecstatic. I'm not sure what prompted him to call me last night. We did used to be friends, so maybe he wants to regain that friendship. What I don't understand is that when I liked him, he never wanted to have anything to do with me. Then he got married. Then he got divorced. Now he's dating someone else and for whatever reason, he called me last night. I don't understand it.

A couple other things from my past that have come back are video games and music. The music came first. When I started listening to the Grateful Dead (and even figured out how to incorporate a YouTube of the band playing "One More Saturday Night" for my classes), I decided I wanted to play guitar again. Also, one of my students plays, so that did it. I had to go buy a cheap guitar so I'd have something to play. I've been playing much more now than I did 13 years ago when I first started taking lessons. I guess now that I don't take lessons, I'm more dedicated.

It was probably in 2002 that I got my Xbox. I really don't remember. I'm not even sure what made me want one. I made a huge leap in gaming systems--I went straight from Atari 7800 to original Xbox. Granted, I played original Nintendo and N64 with friends between times, but as far as systems I owned, that was it. Well, after hearing my students talk about games, games, games, sure enough, I had to buy a console. I was a little irritated with Microsoft for discontinuing Xbox stuff so quickly, when PS2 has really held on; and after reading multiple essays on how PS3 was better, I opted for the Sony. Actually, it was the Blu-Ray player that sold me. That being said, I only own one PS3 game, and I've already conquered it. It just feels weird to be sort of living my past again in the present. Trippy enough for ya?