Saturday, December 20, 2008

Pod World

I have...FINALLY...discovered the wonderful world of Podcasts. I had heard people speak of this world on many occasions, but I had never truly experienced it myself. I recently discovered that has an extensive list of fantastic podcasts available to be devoured by my ipod. You can search by title or by subject. I know, I know, I am so behind the times. I get it. Remember, I just finished an entire semester of "Modern English Grammar." I'm way up on the grammar times. Which leads me to one of my most favorite findings this afternoon: A six minute weekly program from Minnesota public radio boasting to discuss all things grammar and the English language. It's called "Grammar Grater," and I think we are going to be really good friends. I am also subscribed to "Crash Course in Islam" because I feel like being able to understand things that I don't quite yet understand.

I'm serious. This might be one of the best things I have ever discovered on my own through many other people mentioning it to me as if I knew exactly what they were talking about. I only recently discovered that I could manually update my ipod. No more lost or triplicated music!

This is a good Christmas gift to myself. Free, too!

I'm not going to tell you exactly why, but sometimes, if you let things go and stop worrying about them (, they take care of themselves. SOMETIMES.

I think the sun'll come out tomorrow. Seriously.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Two Words with Different Meanings and a Quest for Holiday Pastries...aka...Spirit

Why oh why can't the British think of a different name for their favorite holiday treat: the Mince Pie. I know what many of you are thinking. Mince pies? Beef pies? As a holiday...treat? But no. In this case, "mince" does not refer to ground meat. It refers to this really sweet cinnamon-y, nutmeg-y concoction that goes inside little pie pastries so everyone gets their own personal mince pie. The traditional recipe also calls for "suet" which is animal fat...which is, for all intents and purposes: Crisco. If there's one thing the British totally have a knack for, it's calling food items by horribly unappetizing names.

For example:
Bubble and Squeak: mashed potatoes and cabbage
Beans on Toast: beans on toast...but actually kind of good
Black Pudding: blood...basically
Spotted Dick: this one's a dessert
Clotted Cream
And, possibly the most well thought out name, almost as well thought out as naming your pet goldfish "vagina": The Faggot

Just to name a few.

So. I keep typing "mince pies" into my google recipe search, and I keep getting recipes for beef, lamb, and chicken pies. Sometimes I get a recipe for what I'm looking for, but I can never get a recipe for the actual mince. I'm hoping that Kroger or Schnucks will just happen to have it. I'd kind of like some mince pies...despite the name and the listed ingredient: suet. It honestly sounds like something you might feed a pig.

You know what there is much less of this year as well? Cookies. NO ONE has offered me a free Christmas cookie. I think other people have had them, or been offered them, but it has always been well out of my eye and ear-shot. Do they exist? Where did they go? Am I going to have to make ALL of my own Christmas goodies? (I do believe that my neighbors Amy and Jennifer are preparing cookies for my room mate and me, but I have nothing to tide me over until then).

I cleaned the kitchen yesterday. That's one goal accomplished.

Where are you Christmas? And by that I mean: where is the chocolate and where are the cookies?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Down Time

I put the lid on my work for last semester (hopefully) at about 5:30 p.m. yesterday. Fantastic. I'm currently sitting at my dining room table feeling the weight of absolutely nothing. The only thing that worries me is my desire to do too much, to set myself up for disappointment. So, I ask, should I make a list of goals to accomplish over the holidays? or should I avoid making any sort of plans and just enjoy the time? Or a mixture of both?

Today I am so excited about coffee that I think I may just sit here drinking it and thinking about how lovely it is. I cooked and listened to Fresh Air last night and learned about the culinary history of milk. It was phenomenal. You know what else is phenomenal? The prediction of a 100% chance of freezing precipitation last night that manifested itself in a few droplets of ice on my car this morning.

For anyone lucky enough to happen upon the back door to my apartment, the pile of rotting food is intentional. It's what some people like to call a compost heap. I am about to put my salad container from Whole Foods on top of it as well. That too will be intentional, as Whole Foods explained that the container will decompose in a compost heap within 90 days. Let's see....Also, Diana, I apologize that this often leads to a bowl full of moldy leftover veggies and tea bags in our kitchen. I'm trying to save the planet.

If you have yet to put a container of chocolate on your desk at work, may I suggest that you do so as soon as possible. I have had a very difficult time finding free, Christmas-y chocolate lying around as of late. I am very disappointed by this fact.

If you think it's too cold, try putting on a hat and a scarf. I find it to be more than bearable with those two essentials. Once you've done that, go for a walk.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

And the Rains Came Down and the Floods Came Up

I have been miss-stepping since I woke up this morning. It has been grand. I left my phone in Fargo's car last night, and had to use my actual alarm clock to wake up this morning, only I didn't hear it because I had my earplugs in and I was huddled on the far side of the bed. I woke up thirty minutes later thanks to Diana's alarm going off. It was raining when I woke up. I then promised to bring McDonald's to Fargo for holding onto my phone during her all-nighter in the Smith computer lab. But I missed breakfast. It was raining when I pulled angrily out of the drive through.

I picked up my phone and headed to the book store with the intention of reading the chapter I needed to in the book I've lost before doing the assignment that was due yesterday. However, the bookstore had blocked off the actual books section, and I could not read the book. I walked back to Patterson in the rain (I had an umbrella, but I was still wet when I got to my office).

I then began to look at the work I had cut out for me in this finals week. My students came in occasionally to turn in their final papers. They were all soaked from the rain. I began to feel a little hopeless about my assignments, but that hopelessness began to diminish when I began to slowly and methodically knock out small pieces of the work.

I then walked to my listening and speaking class in the rain. Talking to my international students was refreshing, and I'm very excited about their presentations on Thursday. I should have prepared them more for it, but I'm learning. I've got some fantastic ideas for a really unified curriculum for next session. I might work on it over the break. I'll probably work on it over the break.

It's still raining. I'm cutting deeper into my work, but that doesn't mean I still don't want to do it. I still don't want to do it. I'm tired of it. I'm tired of deadlines, but I guess I should get over that for, you know, life.

I cracked and bought some starbucks today. I now have the shakes. And it's still raining.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

If Anyone Out There is Still Listening

It's been a long time. Like a fool, I went and let the semester get the best of me. I buried myself under piles and piles of busy-ness and left no time for my soul, which requires a great deal of self reflection and friend time.

On the one hand, I have found a great outlet for service by focusing a good deal of my energy on trying to help my international students get acquainted with their new temporary "home." It comes from feeling so desperately alone in the middle of gigantic London. Not because Liam was an asshole,he wasn't, but because no one understood the cultural shock/stress I was experiencing. I have found great joy this semester in trying to introduce my students to different social aspects of Memphis. I got tired of hearing so many of them complaining about how boring it is. Yes, Memphis can be terribly boring, but it really just forces you to develop strong ties with friends and to lean on each other for entertainment. And if you don't have a car, it forces you to walk...a lot. Don't worry. I'm going to be hitting some of them up for payment soon...aka: teaching me a new language. I've already convinced a number of them to cook for me. WOO HOO!!

On the other hand, I have lost a great deal of the gravity that I was experiencing throughout the beginning of the semester. There have been moments where I've touched down and moments in which I have been floating aimlessly trying to grab onto what I thought I had figured out...make sense? I think teaching five classes and taking two online courses is a bit of an over-reach. I'm not sure what I was trying to prove at the beginning of the semester. I'm over that now.

Getting caught up in a new relationship has been challenging and enlightening. I find myself hyper aware of all the things I do...all the every relationship to basically self-destruct what's happening. It's kind of fantastic. I get to catch myself early on and begin to explore ways around it. I have recently discovered my own horrific obsession with fatalism. I have this insane propensity to want to be miserable because it often makes more sense than being happy. I like to blame other people for that, but it's pretty much my problem. I gotta work on it. Luckily I'm hanging out with a pretty understanding guy. I feel a bit liberated from my past need to cling. I feel encouraged to let go.

Next semester I am only taking on what I know I can handle, and I am assigning fewer papers for my 1020 classes. I think I'm also going to have them submit the papers online from now on. I like commenting on the computer. It's not fair to make them keep trying to figure out my handwriting. Also, I keep losing my pens.

So. It's almost time for me to not get paid for a while, which means: 1. I will have a lot more time to ramble on and on about my thoughts and feelings on this blog. 2. I will have a lot more time to clean and, hopefully, find my lost text book. 3. I will have a lot less money. 4. Someone may have to buy my drinks when I go out. See you all soon. I'm excited