Friday, January 30, 2015


I was back to work today, after being off for a day and a half with an evil but short-lived virus.  Someone has been sick with a bad cold for more than 10 days.  My assumption was that I caught his germ, but either it mutated or I am Wonder Woman and fought it off quickly.  Perhaps it was the 18-hour nap that cured me, but I’m nearly good as new now.  

A guy I work with stopped in today to tell me my doppelganger was on TV last night playing Jeopardy.  She won and will return with tonight’s episode.  He wants me to watch it so I can see how much this lady looks like me.  He said both he and his wife saw her and immediately remarked at the same time that she looks just like me.  Oddly enough, later in the afternoon, another guy stopped me to say he saw my twin on TV.  Well, curiosity got the best of me so I had to arrange my evening to watch Jeopardy tonight.  And guess what?  There is absolutely no resemblance at all (at least, in my opinion).We aren't the same race or hairstyle or anything...except maybe we both have big teeth.  

No, KYLady did not win $16,000 on Jeopardy.  

It happens all the time.  People think they know me, or that I look exactly like somebody they know.  One time, a woman ran up to me in an airport and threw her arms around me.  She called me by my first name and said, “I thought I’d never see you again.  You haven’t changed a bit.”  She was crying tears of happiness and I had no clue who she was.  When she realized I didn’t recognize her, she let go and said “you’re not *name*, are you?”  I said no (we did share the same first name though).  She apologized all over herself, but I assured her it was quite all right and it happens to me all the time.  It does.

This sort of thing has happened more than once in airports (most people don’t hug me immediately though).  It’s also happened on city streets when I’m visiting places I’ve never been before.  At a business meeting once in a room full of strange people, a man walked up and apologized for staring at me.  He said I could be his sister-in-law’s identical twin.   

Mostly, it’s an advantage to look familiar.  Oftentimes if I’m shopping and walk into a store, the clerk thinks I’m a repeat customer.  She or he goes to extra efforts to help me and show me good deals (since I’m such a good customer)….even when it’s the first time I’ve been there.  I've checked into a motel where I've never been and the clerk will say she's glad to have me back.  This has happened many times.  I’ve learned to just smile and go along with whatever they want to believe about me.

I do hope I never find myself in a police lineup.  In that situation, looking familiar will not be a good thing.   


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Elvis has left the building

How do I begin a post for this blog when my brain is scattered to the farthest thin edges of my perceptual reality of existence?  If there were such thing as a cosmic vacuum extractor, I could use it to suck back enough gray matter to think clearly with, perhaps.  Sadly, the only alternative is to will myself to stand up to my natural tendency to evaporate, and carry on as any normal human being would.  Yes, on the outside, I am a normal human.  On the inside…let’s just say Elvis has left the building. 

Our house has fallen beyond its usual state of ruin.  Christmas decorations are still waiting for me to pack up and put away.  The process is started – we’ve had boxes stacked in the hallway for weeks.  Last weekend, deChristmasfication was on my task list to get done.  I dragged up more empty boxes up from the basement last Friday evening after work.  End of story.  No follow through, or perhaps it’s a matter of extended procrastination.  That’s how I roll.  The Christmas tree, the boxes, and me…all collecting dust.

The start of the semester was hard last time; it’s even harder this time with two classes.  I expected the online students to struggle with getting started, but the face-to-face people really have no excuse, and they are struggling almost as much.  We have met three times.  They’ve had three opportunities to get my full attention to help with their issues.  I get to class early and I stay after for anyone who wants help.  Few want help.  My students had a deadline for two assignments at midnight last night.  These things were assigned a week ago, and I’ve made two explicit announcements about the due date.  Last night around 7PM, I had 10 or so emails from students wanting help.  At 10PM, around 30 more emails came in.  At 11:30PM, I just signed off and went to bed.  Obviously they need some serious hand-holding. 

Some of the students in my class should never have been allowed to enroll.  They are supposed to be up-to-speed on basic computer literacy and ability to use simple features of Microsoft Office.  I have students who don’t know how to upload/download files, how to rename files, or how to find files on their computers.  They don’t understand that Windows Explorer and Internet Explorer are two different things.  That makes a course like mine too much for them, especially for an online student.  One student doesn’t even understand what a table is.  We are just learning Word right now….can you imagine how much trouble she will have when we get to pivot tables in Excel?  Or for that matter, anything in Excel and Access?  I don’t see success in her future with this class.
For now I’m writing instructive emails with screenshots to help my students.  It’s taking too long with so many students.  I just bought Camtasia so I can make short narrated videos to show them what to do.  It’s on my task list to learn to use it, along with undecorating for Christmas, and cleaning bathrooms, decluttering the basement, and …
A month ago, I asked my supervisor if working part-time is an option for me.  If this were an option for me, it would make building a portfolio of adjunct teaching jobs easier to do.  I could shrink my hours at my real job as I grow my teaching load.  He said he’d get back to me with an answer.  This week, he gave me his answer.  He said to ask if I can work part-time when I’m ready to work part-time.  His answer was, in fact, exactly what I expected…no answer.  So, it’s time for me to launch a job search.  When I have a good offer on the table, I’ll see if I can continue on part-time at my real job (where I can make way more money than I’ll ever make teaching).  If they say yes (I believe they will), it’s going to cost them much more to keep me than if they’d made a decision up front.  They can afford to pay for causing me inconvenience, and they’ll be feeling the pressure when they get two weeks’ notice from me.

An editor of a small, local newspaper contacted me earlier this week.  He wants to write a story about me for his paper.  I agreed to answer his questionnaire because really, there are several universities in this immediate area.  Just maybe, the right person will see that I’m trying to make a career change.  On a more personal level though, I don’t really like exposing myself to the world…but OK, it’s probably no more than the county, but still…I wrote answers to his questions, and who knows what the item will say about me after he’s done with all his editing.  It’s not that I have something to hide, but more that I like invisibility.

But yes, it must be that now is not the time to embrace anonymity.  I must project a competent, go-getter persona so as to line up some teaching I can tell my employer (if need be) to take this job and shove it.  It's up the ante or up yours, fellas, which will it be?   

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

rut race

There was not enough caffeine on the planet today.  I was up WAY too late last night (er…this morning).  I had to prepare to fill 75 minutes of student-time with something worthwhile.  It was on my list to start on first thing when I got home (right after (1) deposit computer bag at my desk, (2) give Gracie some loving scratches, (3) take off my coat and hang it in closet, (4) hang up Someone’s coat, (5) change my clothes, (6) start a load of laundry, and (7) bring in the mail and newspaper and sort through it for anything that’s important).  *sigh*   It’s sad that my life is that routine, but it is. 

Someone never puts his winter coat on a hanger.  It’s so F’ing annoying.  He likes that it annoys me.  If he leaves it on the floor, or it falls off from wherever he tossed it to the floor, I make a point to step on it.   It’s especially gratifying if I can do this in front of him so he will say “Damn it, don’t walk on my coat”.

So…I sat down to work and found my inbox overflowing with student emails:  students having trouble with this or that, students having questions, the department head telling me she overrode my class-size limits and added more students.  That’s OK.  Based on last semester, more students will be dropping out than were added in.  Some students are already making excuses for why their work will be late, even though nothing is due until next Tuesday. 

I answered all the emails while munching popcorn for dinner.  Now that the girls have moved back to school, I’m back to making microwave popcorn for dinner most nights.  It’s a good hot meal with no dirty dishes resulting….what could be more perfect?  Emails were done and then I decided to take Miss Gracie for her daily walk.  It’s the least I can do for her, and it’s all the exercise I get lately (which is really sad).  A brisk walk in the cold night energizes me, so it’s a good thing when I will be working late.

After our walk, I sat down to work.  It was nearly 11 PM by then.  I was deep into it when the phone rang at just a few minutes past midnight.  Caller ID informed me that it was my alcoholic brother.  Oh gee.  I shouldn’t have picked up, but I did.  He was wasted and rambling on and on.  He told me that our father’s cousin called him – I reminded him she has been dead for at least 20 years.  He said he knew that, and that’s why he wanted to tell me because it was so remarkable to hear from her.  He’s seeing and talking to dead people again.  I cut him off and told him I had to get back to work.  He had no idea he was calling in the middle of the night.   

I left work early today, using vacation time to teach my class this afternoon.  It went smoother today than our first class Monday.  I had something concrete to show them rather just rambling about what we’re going to be doing for the next 16 weeks.  Afterwards, I drove home, repeated steps 1 through 7 (but skipped step 6 today), walked Gracie, made popcorn, answered emails through dinner, and now…SOON….it’s to bed with me.  Sometimes the ending is the very best part of the day.  

Monday, January 12, 2015

career transition milestone

Today was sort of a milestone for me.  I conducted my first ever face-to-face class with a section of live students (as opposed to an online section of students).  It was…what...stressful for me to say the least.  I can only imagine how bad it was for them.  Nobody wants to listen to somebody like me ramble.  Unfortunately, I did a lot of rambling today, even though I came organized with an itinerary and estimated time for each topic so everything would be covered.  As much as I hate talking, obviously some of my students are as bad.  Our class is small (13 students), so we went around the room and introduced ourselves.  A few people talked for several minutes, but some said no more than their names and majors.  It’s OK; they’ll have lots of chances to “talk” in our online discussion forums.

It all went smoothly enough though.  The university was having technical troubles with email and Blackboard off and on all day.  A few times I was trying to show something to the class and the network froze up or Blackboard crashed.  So it goes with technology – it’s wonderful when it works.  The fact that things were NOT working as planned gave us an important talking point.  Students will always have at least 3 days’ notice on any assignment and all assignments must be turned in electronically; therefore they should not wait until the last hours before the due date expires to start working.  You just never know when the Internet will crap out.  My students nodded in agreement, but nobody is perfect (we all know).    
I can’t say I really enjoyed standing up in front of the room and leading the class for an hour.  We were supposed to meet for 75 minutes, but after an hour there was just nothing left to talk about.  Some students (younger ones) were out the door immediately.  Several of the older students wanted to linger and chat.  That was fine.

For some people, the gift of gab is inborn.  My first husband was that way; my current husband is also a chatterbox, but to a lesser degree.  A friend once posited that my husbands were attracted to me because they liked to talk and wanted a wife who didn’t interrupt.  Perhaps there is some truth to it.  When I was young, I rarely said anything unless I had to.  If I had a dime for every time somebody asked me if a “cat got my tongue”, I’d have been a millionaire by the time I reached 18.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

hiems desperatio?

Happy New Year, World.  It seems rather trite and even futile to hope that things will be better in 2015 than they were in 2014.  With all the crime, terrorism, and human evilness that have become so routine, not to mention natural disasters and man-made disasters, all we can really do is hope and pray that we and our loved ones get to continue on relatively unscathed by all the uncontrollable chaos that goes on around us.

Christmas came and went.  No, there was no cream candy made.  No, nobody got a Christmas card from me unless I was also mailing a gift card with it.  No, I haven’t taken down any decorations yet.  No, nothing is ready for the two classes I start teaching in about 10 days.  Motivation did not happen.  I’ve been a slug in all aspects of my life lately. 

KYLady (AKA mollusca gastropoda soleolifera testacellidae)

On a happier note, there is good news about my cancerous face (mentioned most recently here).  The doctor took a quick look and declared it to be pre-cancer.  She froze it which was a bit scary but didn’t hurt.  It made an ugly blister immediately.  The nasty scab dropped off on the 11th day after she did the job.  There’s still a red spot that hopefully will fade, but it feels smooth.  With any luck, that took care of it and nothing will come back.

Christmas was lovely.  Sarah came home Christmas Eve evening and spent the night with us.  We opened presents together Christmas morning and visited until she had to drive back and I had to start making food to take to Someone’s family’s dinner.  It was a nice holiday, but once the New Year holiday is over, it’s very dreary to think there are no more holidays for me until Easter…my company gives us Good Friday off, but that’s about three long months away.  As much as I hate winter, I’ve no desire to move to a place where there isn’t winter.  Spring and fall are wonderful.  Winter is OK if there are mildish days mixed in and the sun shines on weekends.  We used to have very mild winters here in the Ohio River Valley, but the last two have been ferocious.

Winter window

Most people saved vacation for the weeks around Christmas and New Year Day.  Not me.  I burned up most of my vacation this year doing college visits with the girls, going to Emily’s basketball games and Erin’s tennis matches, and attending training for my teaching job.  No regrets.  It’s kind of nice being at work when nobody else is around and all is quiet.

So now, it’s time to put the blog away and get serious about getting my classrooms built.  There’s no time left for procrastination.  Today is the day it gets done.  Do or die.