Friday, January 30, 2009

spiders are filling out tax returns

I guess I do have something of an announcement to make, Tino.
So, you all know that I'm into this teacher training shenanigans -- and that it has done it's fair share of wearing on my mind, body and spirit. Inspired by the latter, I have been looking into: a) getting a job in Chattanooga, TN to live with my brother and his doggy or b) getting a job in a school in Louisiana as opposed to doing student teaching.
The reason I shied away from the idea of student teaching is that you don't get paid and have little time to work another job, so I envision it as something of an impossibility in terms of, you know, living. However, I have recently changed my mind since I feel the most important thing for me to do right now is to finish what I started, get fully certified and THEN worry myself about finding a job and moving the hell out of Lafayette.
I'm maybe not overjoyed about the decision, but I do think it wise, as well as something that will shoo some of the monkeys off my back come August.
This program will end up having taken more than twice as long as I originally anticipated, and will invariably end up costing more than twice as much as I'd hoped.
Even though I loved what I majored in for undergrad and am averse to the concept of studying things in college with the sole intention of getting a job upon graduation, I do wish that someone would have issued a caveat my way, urging me to consider how I might market myself with the sole label of "German major." Although I have learned a lot post-graduation years, I do wish that things could have been a little easier for me. I look at my friends who already have salaries and wonder, why isn't that me? Where did I go wrong? And why is it taking me so fucking long to get there?
At any rate, Tino assures that student teaching is great experience and preparation for actually having a classroom of my own, and I trust that she knows of which she speaks. She is the sturdiest of sounding boards for me, personally, and I am grateful that I don't have to go without support of that caliber.

The first whirlwind "module" of the yoga course is nearing completion and I can say that even though I have been far from the model pupil, I've learned a lot and managed to inject more joy into my life. I feel like I can breathe again, I'm kinder to myself, and I care more about feeling like I look nice and put-together.
Believe it or not, I look forward to practicing at 6:15 in the morning . . . well, I don't look forward to getting up so early and I don't always look forward to actually practicing yoga for an hour and a half in a hot-ass room, but I ALWAYS look forward to how I feel at the end of class. ALWAYS. So, I'm deciding to continue on to the second module.

Another decision I'm chewing on is whether or not I should be a professional single white female. Not the Jennifer-Jason-Lee-stalker-type single white female, but more the kind who lives a fancy-free and unattached life perpetually. The story of the intentional lone wolf is not usually told and if/when it is, it's painted in hues of depressing and crushingly lonely. But when you think about it, is it really all that unappealing? (I swear I'm not trying to sound like Carrie Bradshaw.) Honestly, though. What could be so bad about a lifetime of endless options, one of which being to tap out of the match altogether? When you're in a sleeper hold, it seems like a good option: like a release, if you will.

And, in closing, I do believe I'll share an anecdote that has nothing to do with decisions and everything to do with me loving my job at Sylvan:
There's a study skills student, whom I work with on a daily basis, as I have for the past few months.
He's in fourth grade and has only just recently come out of his shell. I think he resented having to come to Sylvan and who could blame the lad?
He reported the other day, with astonishing authority, that no one, "says dude any more." Gobsmacked, I pressed the issue and he refused to back down, insisting that saying, "dude," is hopelessly passe.
Totally flabbergasted and refusing to let it go, I related the anecdote to some older students later that day, when I should have been encouraging them to stay on task. (I just couldn't imagine that people don't say dude any more. Cause DUDE. It's dude. It's not like it's even a saying.) They quieted my doubts and recanted, of COURSE people still say "dude." They asked me, incidentally, how old was this kid anyway.
. . .
"He was a fourth grader," I admitted sheepishly. And before they got back to work, we all shared a healthy, stress-relieving type laugh at my expense, because what kind of 26-year-old teacher listens to a fourth grader about anything?
The next time the fourth grader and I found ourselves tete-a-tete -- and this is just one of the many reasons why I'm terrible -- I said, "You know . . . I asked some of my other students the other day about "dude." And they said that it is acceptable to say that word and that people totally do. All the time. So, you know, I just wanted to give you a heads up."
He smiled so much as to say, I thought teachers were supposed to be grown ups.
Later on in the lesson he told me he'd gotten a 43/44 on a vocab test I'd helped him study for a few days prior.
"Way to go!" I responded and held my hand up for a high five. He lowered his head in embarrassment and returned the gesture in spite of himself.
"People don't give high fives any more either, do they?"
With a forgiving look that excused my ignorance being that I AM ancient, he shook his head, "No."
"But you threw me a bone, anyway. I appreciate that."
I may be rotten, but at least I like my job.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

the mercy seat

So a few of you probably know this already. I know Fermi does. I can't remember if I've told Tino or Skuh yet. I am backing out of doing the peace corps.

The decision came to a head as soon as I got back to school. It's kind of appropriate, new beginnings, big changes, huge decisions about my future. It's a muti-faceted decision. The main reasons are
  • the idea of taking another 2 year break from school then going back to this (outrageous) level is too daunting to consider. I'm finally starting to feel like I'm getting used to this level of work and I would rather just run through the end point.
  • I originally thought my pc service would cut down on the number of semesters I would need to be in school. I was wrong, I would have to come back and do exactly the same amount of school as I would if I had never gone. (this program counts peace corps service as credits).
  • I have a good group of friends around these parts already, doing the whole, "hi, my name is peacebone, what are you studying" thing again is not going to fly, buster.
  • I have the opportunity to apply for a job that would provide full funding and a salary (and possibly housing) next year. This is in contrast to accruing interest on established student loans and coming back in 2 years to get more loan debt.
  • I am totally in love with my boyfriend and I already have to live on a different continent until I graduate. Neither of us wants to postpone living together any longer than we have to.
So that last reason is certainly not the lowest in importance. It's probably tied with the first reason with the rest as additional.

But I do think I am making the right decision. It's a huge decision, but it's also not a complete fork in the road. If this doesn't work out, there's a very good chance that I could apply for the peace corps later and be accepted again. That being said, I don't think that will happen. Herr Boyfriend and I are very devoted to one another.

News in that front: I know I said I was going to spend my spring break there in my last post, well now those plans have changed. I'm now going to go spend about 2 months with him this summer. I'm going to take german and cook and make out in beer gardens and do all the wonderful things you can do in Europe in the summer. Also, this way I'll be able to go to Paris for at least 1 weekend. I pretty much could not be more excited about this trip. yip yip!

so, back to reading and writing and stressing. see y'all later. oh, and does anyone know when that groundhog comes out and looks for his shadow? I want it to be whichever one means winter will end sooner rather than later.

Monday, January 26, 2009

What I meant to say yesterday. or WTF Katu WTF

Right. Working a ton. Not keeping up with people. That is what I intended to write about...

Do you remember Tino was working on a short story? Well I asked for it to read/edit/give comments and she sent it to me... I even started reading it, and editing some parts - making comments, etc. Perhaps all of you should know I just went through a phase of reading books about writing fiction. My favorite of the bunch is by Sol Stein: On Writing.

Anyway, so I am reading along--- 10 pages or so in- editing like crazy- and this was 3 weeks ago or so. Then life interrupts and I put it down.

never to return.

-Right Tino-- so I still have your one-third-read/one-third-edited short story... Do you want the first third? or should I wait to finish it? I was thinking wait to finish...

What else? Skuh sent me this LOVELY personal email... and I put a ninja star on it (as my gmail is ninja themed) and never replied.

Then one of my favorite academics who is just now starting her tenure track job far away tagged me on facebook in a note: 25 random things about me. I am supposed to write a list of random things. First of all, I hate the word random. It is overused by people who don't want to think of the appropriate descriptive word. After that we have a list of 25 things that people on facebook don't already know about me. I have no intention of making that list. You see, I have a bit of a popularity complex. I friend everyone just to get my friend number higher. That means I have tons of "friends." The way I see it-- if they don't know those 25 things about me already-- then I don't want them to find out with a chain-letter list. Now, Mrs. Favorite-Academic, sure I like her TONS, and I think I will send her the link to this secret blog of mine so that she can learn those 25 things in blog form. But have I told her this? Have I sent Favorite-Academic the link? Not yet. I am just that awesome at keeping in touch.

And finally this blog- I haven't posted. This could be a good thing because it means I am using all of my time to work and sleep and walk the dogs and kiss the husband. It could be a good thing because life is peachy.

Until now.

I changed groups... And the group I joined happened to be Katu's group. Which is good because the Prof I work for is smart and she has money for lab supplies and plenty of work for us to do. But I was friends with Katu before and I wondered if it would affect our friendship. Guess what? It did.

Right so before I joined there was Katu and Pizza-Pan, the graduate students, a post doc and the Professor. Now there is Katu, Pizza-Pan, Nice-Girl, and me (the grad students), the same post doc and the Professor. Nice-Girl and I sit by each other and I (obviously by her name) am quite fond of her.

Now, Katu and I used to be lunch-on-the-weekend-friends. And lately Katu and Pizza-Pan go out to lunch together all of the time. But they don't invite me or Nice-Girl.

This is not a big deal itself. So this Friday I say to Katu: We never hang out anymore- let's have lunch this weekend. And she says: I don't know... my finances are kinda tight. I say we could bring lunches- but we change the topic...

Flash forward to this Sunday. Katu, Pizza-Pan, and I are working in the lab. Nice-Girl isn't around and neither is Postdoc. Then suddenly at lunch time- Katu and Pizza-Pan leave to have lunch together and even mention it to me when they get back.

WTF Katu. WTF!

So obviously, we aren't "friends" anymore in my book. Certainly not lunch-on-the-weekend-friends like we used to be.

So what could have happened?

(a) Katu's environment could have changed:
I think Katu feels like an older sibling when the mom just had a new baby. Katu used to be the smart and industrious one. And now, she is not the only one who is smart and industrious.

(b) Katu's vision of me could have changed:
She could be pissy because I openly LOVE working for our boss. I LOVE being at work and being in a lab that has money to be used for lab supplies. And she doesn't like research- she openly tells me- and I LOVE research. Before when we were friends- I was less happy: I was working for Catfish -without money for research supplies- with a broken instrument.

(c) It could be a combination of both. It could be that Katu isn't conscious of the fact that she has stopped opting into our friendship.

So right. It pissed me off. But writing about it has helped. And what else? It is okay. I have more friends than I need or can even keep up with. Katu was not the only friend. I can invest my time in other friends.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Keeping in Touch (or the lack of it)

Twenty five days in and I make my first post of the year. I've been doing really well at working lately: working and sleeping... and not much else beyond that. I'm not under pressure from any external forces- I just really like my job to the point of obsession- I can't get enough!

And suddenly I find all of the balance I had in my life is gone. I work and sleep-- and walk the dogs on occasion. I haven't even been doing cardio or weights or yoga- nothing physical. I haven't been writing or reading. I haven't been making lunches... I just stock the work freezer with lean cuisines and pull one down whenever I get hungry.

I'm sleepy. More later.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Argentine penguins

Hi boys! I put up a new header for this bloggy-poo. It's a penguin in Argentina. If that was a recording, it would be me saying "Argentina" in a fake Spanish accent. You're missing out.

It has been forever and a day since I have even looked at blogs. As I was running this morning (in an attempt to shed some of the TEN POUNDS I've gained since leaving for school in August), I was thinking that I've met my match in grad school. Or maybe it's grad school + having a serious boyfriend, both for the first time at the same time. I guess time will tell. Time being next semester since it's my second semester, I know which professors not to take if I want a social life . . . or any life. Also, Herr Boyfriend is back in Germany.

Here is a picture of the larger town outside of the small town he's originally from:
Is that not RIDICULOUSLY beautiful? I mean, I'm sure it doesn't look like that all the time, but really, is that even necessary?

So, Herr Boyfriend is still that, my boyfriend. We're doing long distance with the help of webcams via skype, international (read: expensive) text messages, emails, real-live love letters, interactive internet games (I kick ass at Chinese Checkers, but lose miserably at bowling), and trans-Atlantic visits every few months. I'm just waiting on his boss's ok for buying a plane ticket to spend my spring break in Germany. He's going to come in July.

The eventual idea is that after we both finish school, me about 2 months after him, I will move over the big blue ocean and live with him. It's a big decision and there are a TON of "ifs" along with way. But we're both very much devoted to one another and want this to last.

The funny part comes in with my mother. In order to prepare her for this potential cohabitation or, as she would say, living in sin, I mentioned that I would go live with Herr Boyfriend unmarried to being with. She seemed ok with this at first but a few days later, she brings it up in convo again and says that she thinks we should lay out a specific time period for me living with him (unmarried) over there. And then she mentions that stupid, oft-repeated "statistic" of more cohabiting couples getting divorced than those who never lived together.

This notion has always seemed a bit hokey to me. But now that I actually think about it, it just seems like an awfully misinformed statistic put forth by the people who make money off of marriages, church people.

First of all, all people are not equal in terms of social standing and background. The people who are more likely to only live together after marriage also probably hold more traditional values than cohabitants. If they are more traditional-minded, wouldn't they start off being less likely to divorce?

Secondly, getting married is F-ing expensive if you don't just go to the court house. And we should all thank society for informing us that just going to the courthouse is insufficient. I would think that some people live together because they just don't have enough money to get married.

I don't know, maybe I'm all wrong and getting married is the bee's knees while living together is the bee's elbows. Luckily, there are both people who live with a significant other and people who are married who contribute to this bloggy, so I would love to hear from you guys.

In my situation, I'm almost certain that I wouldn't be able to afford my own housing in Germany, nor would I be able to navigate all the bureaucratic BS (I could barely do it in France, and I speak their language more or less). And if I opt to stay in the US and find a job here, it just makes it that much more difficult to uproot later down the road if/when we do get married.

So yeah, that's that. School starts in another 2 weeks or so. I'm not looking forward to going back to a real winter, but not living with my parents will be nice. Even if the alternative is a dorm.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

lavender-scented womb

The Yoga teacher certification program is finally underway.
It is quite the time-consuming endeavor, not to mention physically ambitious. We have class two days a week (Wed and Sun) for three hours each time.
We are charged with:
1) writing a gratitude journal entry every day; we are encouraged to focus on the things for which we are grateful, but are free to write on anything we desire
2) meditating twice daily and keeping a record of our sessions; it is recommended to meditate twenty minutes per session, although we are required to sit in meditation for as long and as often as we are able
3) taking at least one yogic meal per day, as well as keeping a record of this meal; the guidelines for having a yogic meal are as follows: remain seated; no conversation while chewing; while eating, reduce any external distractions -- no reading, watching TV, listening to music, etc.; wait until food is completely chewed and swallowed before picking up your next bite; refrain from putting more than two handfuls of food on your plate at any one time, finish eating your portions and wait 3-5 minutes before taking more food on your plate; and finally, wait until food is completed digested (2-6 hours) before taking you next meal
4) meeting with our teacher-training partner/group once per week for 2-3 to practice performing and leading asanas
5) observing one yoga class per week
6) practicing the 5 Wonderful Precepts: 1) non-violence (vegetarianism), 2) non-stealing and non-oppression (volunteerism), 3) sexual integrity (don't be a hoe), 4) loving speech and deep listening (no gossip, don't be a Debbie Downer), & 5) mindful consumption (no caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes or drugs)
7) practicing daily
We also have quite a bit of homework.

The daily practices are intense. They begin at 6:15 in the morning, when the sun has yet to rise and many are still asleep and waiting for the day to begin. They are held, currently, in the Acadiana Center for the Arts on the corner of Jefferson and Vermillion, which is an incredible building. The studio is a small room off to the left. It is long and narrow, completely dark with the exception of candles interspersed along the walls and it is warm, cozy and smells of lavender. Tuesday morning when I walked in for my first practice, my immediate and visceral reaction was, "This place is like a lavender-scented womb," immediately followed by, "Oh God, I don't know if I can do this." We practice Ashtanga Yoga for an hour and twenty-five minutes and it's humbling/discouraging cause there are things that I cannot do, that the other 56 year-old teacher-in-training can. But then again, she has been practicing a lot longer than I have . . . but still. She's thirty years my senior and in much better shape. That's depressing.
At any rate, I've only practiced in the studio twice and each time, about twenty minutes into the session, I'm sweating bullets. I can do most of the poses, with the exception of a standing/balance pose, and all balance poses that require serious upper body strength like a hand- or headstand. After just two classes, though, I've never wanted to conquer a headstand so badly in my life. And before this training is said and done, I vow to do a headstand, dammit, even if it kills me. Anyway, we reach the end of the practice and I'm sweaty and rumpled but energized and somehow new and we sink into Shivasana, or "relaxation pose." And both yesterday and today, for some unknown reason, I wept a little. I suppose I'm healing.
After we "wake up" from relaxation pose, we meditate together for twenty minutes. I've learned in a short period of time that I have quite the restless, self-nullifying mind. However, this foray into the practice of meditation has been less frustrating than in the past. Now whenever my mind wanders or gets distracted, I just go back to my breath. I have to do it A LOT but it truly is that simple.
I'm sure with enough practice, I'll get better at both Yoga and meditation. But it sure is going to be a challenging, up-road battle to get there.
But hey, I love a challenge! Also, what in this world is worth doing if it's easy or if it doesn't teach you something about yourself and life?

In general, I'd say I'm feeling pretty good about 2009. How does everyone else feel about the New Year?