Wednesday, August 27, 2014


KyLady has been adrift this month, so much so that it’s very hard for her to think in first person.  Life this month is nothing like her life has ever been.  Perhaps an alien presence usurped control of the KyLady Command Center (KCC), and KyLady acquiesced, becoming a casual bystander in her own life.  For the sake of this blog post, she will now resume control so that she may issue an account of all that has transpired.
One thing that writing does for me is that it forces me to think about what has happened lately.  It’s so easy to just go and do and never think at all, sort of like putting life in auto-pilot mode.  Perhaps it is a flaw to do that too often.  I am guilty, or just predisposed or somehow conditioned to do that (i.e. autopilot) whenever things get hectic.  It’s just easier to take the head-in-the-sand route.

My babies moved out and started college this month, Jack died, I started a new career, my real job is killing me, my alcoholic brother nearly died again, the house has fallen to ruin, Molly has become a different cat, Someone has changed into somebody I don’t know…there, it’s all said.  Who could blame me for taking the easy way out?  If I plod along long enough, all this will become the new normal.  It will; it always does.
Having Jack euthanized was a hard decision to make.  His tumor grew to the point where it was hard for him to walk.  We were giving him pain medicine twice a day.  Someone refused to be involved.  The girls tried but giving medicine to a cat is difficult.  They wasted a lot of it and the stuff was as expensive as gold (well, almost).  The drug was working well for him; giving it to him on schedule was the least we could do for him, but it was becoming a drag.  Then he developed an ulcer on the tumor.  It abscessed and that became the deciding factor.  The big, gaping hole was not going to get better.  Emily wanted to be present when we put him down, she was leaving for college that very afternoon, and if not that day, it would surely need to be done within a few days.  I scheduled the deed with our vet.  Someone, both girls, and I took poor Jack to the vet’s office and were with him through the end.  It was a very sad occasion.  Death of a beloved pet is never pleasant.  We buried Jack in the pet cemetery in our back yard.  He lays in eternal rest with Chewy, Max, Tiger, Nosey, Belle, Norse, Josie, Bubbles, James Dean,  and a host of other creatures whose names and species I can’t remember.

Rest in peace, little Jack

With Jack gone, Molly has become a different cat.  She demands much more attention and more food, and she is asserting herself more with Gracie.  It was always Jack who intimidated Gracie, now Molly has taken over.  Molly was a young neighborhood stray who adopted Erin just a few months after we adopted Jack.  We let her stay only because Erin insisted it was unfair that Emily had a cat and she did not.  Perhaps it was just the “crazy cat lady” in me that let Erin keep Molly, or Someone just wanted his daughters to be equally happy.  We have no girls here now but Molly remains a permanent resident.

keeping everything equal is IMPOSSIBLE

Erin and Emily are adjusting to college life and adjusting to living apart from each other, while Someone are I are adjusting to our empty nest.  My first instinct is to declutter the house and clean thoroughly, but alas there has been no time at all.  This is middle of Week 2 for the course I’m teaching.  Facilitating an online course has been way more time-consuming than I ever imagined it would be.  Still, it’s much more enjoyable work than my real job, perhaps because it’s all still new and I’m learning new things.  Thank heavens I didn’t commit to teaching two courses this semester!

My alcoholic brother became very sick with a bacterial infection in his blood and lungs.  He’s been in the hospital for 10 days so far.  I’ve visited him a few times just to see how he is when he’s not plastered.  There is just no hope for him; his brain is too damaged from drugs and alcohol.  No doubt his first stop out of the hospital be to the bank for money, and then to the liquor store.

Someone is restless with his girls moved out of the house.  He’s bored.  To make matters worse, a tree knocked down a utility pole in our neighborhood which eliminated our cable, Internet, and phone service for three full days.  Someone was a wreck with no TV because not only is watching TV his primary hobby, he must have a TV to watch while running endless hours on his treadmill (his secondary hobby).  Admittedly, I was not happy with no Internet.  I set up my phone as a personal hot spot to survive the outage.  Someone really REALLY needs to find some friends or take up new hobbies because I have enough jobs without adding entertainment director to the list.

So now, it's back to work for KYLady.  She has stuff to grade, student emails to answer, a report to run, a kitchen to clean, laundry to start, and cookies to bake for a bake sale tomorrow.  It must be true that a woman's work is never done.    

Friday, August 8, 2014

covert worry

It’s been a very long time since I’ve lost sleep over anything.  Last night was crazy.  I must have waked up 800 times.  Someone said I flopped all over the bed and kept him awake too.  Even Gracie moved to the floor which is very unusual for her. 

Yesterday afternoon, I visited the payroll department at the college where I’ll be teaching.  A one-inch-thick stack of forms had to be filled out so that I could be added to the payroll…to receive a check for teaching a 15-week class that is less money than I make in one week at my real job.  It’s OK though, I’m not doing this for the money.  Sadly, some of the adjuncts are working for the money.  It makes me feel very fortunate.  Well, I am very fortunate.  Not many people have a job like mine…regardless of my opinion of it.

Last night, there was a meeting at the college for all the adjuncts (all those who showed up…apparently many didn’t come).  We all signed official employment contracts, and then we had 90 minutes of training on a new early warning system that needs to be incorporated into my syllabus and gradebook.  At least this system is new to everyone so I don’t feel behind with it.  We're all equally lost.  


My course opens a week from Monday.  It’s still not ready!  I still have lots of questions about best practices in the online environment and how things will work and be scheduled with the simulator we use for IT courses.  I still have four modules of Blackboard certification training to complete before next Friday.  Still – still – still.  Despite having a whole summer to prepare, I’m STILL floundering like a fish out of water.

So, driving home after the meeting last night, the realization sunk in that ready or not, this course is happening soon and I’m responsible for 30 people.  Teaching is something I’ve hoped for and daydreamed about for 15 years.  The opportunity and time is now…and now I’m in full panic mode.  Great!  Why must everything with me be do or die?  Why can’t anything in this life be easy?  Why can’t I be one of those calm, confident people who are successful just because they wake up breathing in the morning?  Ok…maybe those people don’t really exist….but there are a few who live a seemingly-charmed life.

Here are some bits of wisdom I’ve gleaned from chatting with experienced faculty.
  • Most students don’t want to learn and will put forth minimal effort. 
  •  All students will exploit any weakness in the system. 
  • Anything I say or write can and will be used against me. 
  • Most students will cheat if the opportunity arises. 
  • Some students will know way more than me, and some will read/write at grade-school level.
  • Some will have signed up and paid for an online class who have never used a computer in their lives.
  • I will piss off at least one student who will post my phone number on Twitter and ask the world to join them in harassing me.  Do not let any students know my cell number – EVER.  (They won’t…I signed up for a Google Voice number).

It all sounds like my role will be to lead a pack of wolves.  The idealistic part of me wants to believe that only a few students will be as malicious as portrayed by my colleagues.  I'm not looking for any glory or to trip anyone up.  I just want to help some people along in their journey to find a better life.  Who doesn't like to see good things happen to good people?  

Friday, August 1, 2014

imminent change

It’s a busy life for me lately.  Work is just insane – we are doing database migrations and another round of server standardization across the company.  It’s loads of fun when so many systems are integrated.  Like dominos, when one thing changes, so do 500 other things. 

My new teaching career will soon be launched.  I go sign a contract next week at an orientation dinner that all adjuncts are supposed to attend.  It’s interesting they are giving me this job and feel the need to treat me to dinner as well.  The pay is low, but I took the job to get experience.  For me at this point, the money doesn’t matter.  I have to say, even without the contract being signed, I’ve had more training and opportunities for training in the past two months than I’ve had in 34 years in my real job.  Training is just very low priority in the corporate world, but it seems very important in the academic world.  Probably so….education is their business.

Erin and Emily are preparing to go off to college.  Emily starts a week before Erin, and will start moving in NEXT WEEK!!  She began packing stuff into boxes last night.  Erin has made a few piles of things, but hasn’t done much else.  Perhaps when her boyfriend leaves town (he is going to college a week before her), she will find motivation.  He is a significant distraction at this point.

The universities the girls are going to have policies requiring all incoming freshmen to get a meningitis vaccine before they start classes.  Earlier this week, Emily and Erin went to the doctor’s office together to get the shot, one shot, but ended up getting four shots each before they left.  Emily told me the nurse “peer-pressured” them into also getting a chickpox booster, a hepatitis vaccine, and even #1 of the 3-shot series for HPV.  As much as Emily fears needles, the nurse must have been very persuasive.

I have to admit, I’m a bit paranoid about any vaccinations since Jack had such a bad outcome.  His tumor is giant and spreading to the inside of his leg now which makes it harder for him to walk.  We switched his food to some expensive little cans of fancy tuna and salmon.  He loves it but is still losing weight.  It’s not time to have him euthanized yet, but it will be in a matter of just a few more months perhaps. 

I’ve been working with Gracie to improve her leash manners.  She is improving!  We went for a walk last night in a place we haven’t been for a long time – this was her first test outside our yard.  Normally, she would have been completely ignoring me and trying to drag me along the whole time.  This time, she was much calmer.  Whenever she started pulling the leash, I’d make her stop and sit for a minute.  She sat a lot for the first 15 minutes, then she figured out it was my pace or no pace.  We only had to stop a few times for the rest of the walk, and one of those was when a deer crossed the road in front of us.

Miss Gracie

It’s already August now – where has summer gone?   Our vegetable garden is in full production of green beans, green peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes.  Someone is the only one in our house who eats tomatoes, so he takes a lot of them to his parents.  The corn will be ready to pick in about 2 more weeks.  Our garden is small, but it produces plenty enough for us.

I’m still muddling over all those logs in our yard.  Someone has no intention of helping me split or stack them, and it’s turned out to be way more work than I imagined it would be.  Obviously, age has taken its toll on me.  Back in my youth, that would have been at most a day’s work.  My fantasy is that someday I will build a nice fire pit in our yard and spend evenings sitting around a cheerful, crackling fire sipping bourbon and picking my guitar.  Yep…someday….after all those logs are split and stacked, and a fire pit is constructed.