Saturday, July 26, 2008

Disjointed blog: Movie talk, Cat talk, Car talk

I can never get through A League of Their Own without crying. Terminator gets me, too. Possibly the greatest romance ever told. Romeo n Juliet didn't go across time for each other.

Normally I'd be watching SNL at this point, but it appears we're not getting the local channels for some reason...

I mentioned this to Floyd, who recalled that I'd done some weed-wacking earlier. A certain , peculiar sound came to my mind, one that I heard just as I was using the wacker by the satellite dish. I guess I thought it was a weed. Unfortunately, I was informed that this is one weed that won't just grow back. Yeah, so...moving briskly along!

In other news, I'm going out of town for most of August. I was worried how Floyd would do taking care of the kitten and dog, but it seems that they're doing pretty well taking care of each other:

I love this one--looks like they fell asleep running:

And yes, we got the kitten as an accessory to the dog. As you can see, she is a miniature version of him, with all the same markings, even. Take that, Paris Hilton--what with your "Tinkerbell" dog and handbag. We just got a whole new kitten, straight up, to decorate our dog!

And my best news yet? I got a new car today! It doesn't make horrendous, gut-wrenching sounds when it's started, and *gasp* it isn't halfway rusted through in some places! Now, not to say the old truck wa'nt all that. It looked ugly but had brand new shocks, brakes, and many other essentials (I lost track). Still, I never had a connection with it, it was never "mine." The new one, was meant for me. I'm really trying to treasure this 'new car feeling' because it expires about as quickly as 'new car smell.'

It was interesting and horrible to get "financed." I am so naive about money and credit its embarassing, though I learned a lot today. Either way, what matters is that I used to just get a new back pack for the school year...this time I got a whole new ride! :)

Friday, July 25, 2008


We are as clouds that veil the midnight moon;
How restlessly they speed, and gleam, and quiver,
Streaking the darkness radiantly!--yet soon
Night closes round, and they are lost for ever;

Or like forgotten lyres, whose dissonant strings
Give various response to each varying blast,
To whose frail frame no second motion brings
One mood or modulation like the last.

We rest. -- A dream has power to poison sleep;
We rise. -- One wandering thought pollutes the day;
We feel, conceive or reason, laugh or weep;
Embrace fond woe, or cast our cares away:

It is the same!--For, be it joy or sorrow,
The path of its departure still is free:
Man's yesterday may ne'er be like his morrow;
Nought may endure but Mutability.

-- Percy Bysshe Shelly
(I can't believe ol' PB stole my blog title.)

A random acquaintance in the vague past once said to me, "You know what I like about you, Beeyotch? You can talk yourself into and out of just about anything. " I haven't seen or heard from this person in years, and can't rightly remember if his name was Jordan or Jason, but his words ring true to me. I can give you a perfectly reasoned and logical argument about why I should go into a physical therapist program, and not English literature (indeed, this decision kept me up late nights, at one point in the semi-near past).

I often trip over my own arguments before they're even on the page, because I already know the counter-argument, or figure there's one out there. This doesn't make me good at arguing, unfortunately; it makes me good at getting flustered. Anyway, all of this blathering on is an introduction to my good news, and that is (despite previous blogs such as this one) I will continue working at my present place of employment. Funny-those people who knew me weren't surprised to hear about my letter of resignation. Those same people are likely unsurprised by this latest piece of news. What can I say? I didn't pull the "two weeks notice" as stunt. It just turns out that the job was a lot more willing to work around me than I thought they'd be.

My "last day" was today. The younger doctor , the one who has now taken over the practice, talked to me. We really hashed some things out about reasons I should stay. Most significantly perhaps, a pay raise. One that made me agree to rescind said resignation letter.

A five-dollar-an-hour pay raise. To go along with my new title.


Yeah, I'm gonna have to get a t-shirt made (with my obnoxious title on it. yes, its so obnoxious I won't print it here, because its so obvious they made it up).

Office meeting next week to discuss staff changes, i.e. Crazy Beeyotch is gonna come down on you with the hurt if ya'll don't shape up. Punkasses.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

(Mis)Adventures with Kurt Vonnegut

I read a lot today. A lot of Kurt Vonnegut, to be precise. I first encountered this author during my road trip from LA to San Francisco in April 2007. Ethan Hawke read The Slaughterhouse Five on audio CD. I was distracted, of course, driving--but I recall it being a pleasant experience. And so it goes.
Today, I finished A Man Without a Country in a few hours. It started off with the wry humor and smugness that I always like to think I'll be able to accomplish myself some day. But then it turned into a bitter rant against the country. While still humorous at times (my favorite quote: "The last thing I ever wanted was to be alive when the three most powerful people on the whole planet would be named Bush, Dick and Colon") the whole thing smacked so much of bitterness that towards the end I could hardly choke it down.

George Bush is an asshole.
No one should own guns.
The earth is going to catch on fire at any given moment because of our consumption of fossil fuels.
The world is going to hell in a handbasket.
Oh yeah, and America sucks.

I was annoyed and disappointed to read this "great American author" and because it was reminiscent of a whiny student paper--moaning and complaining about the injustices of the world and life without offering a fingernail of support. There's no solution proposed. Its just bitching. Save it for your blog.
Well, that's just what I did (obviously).

The Vonnegut scenario continues because, as it happens, I checked out two of his books from the library. What do you do when you're disgusted with an author? Read another one of his books! I figured that Cat's Cradle was published 1973...maybe he wasn't as curmudgeony then. Gaw. This one has more of a plot line, so its not just spewing out raw bitter. There's a lot of random aliens, and insanity, and I'm liking it better. Still. He's so angry, so negative...I don't know how much more I can take of it. I'm not saying that the man doesn't come across a solid point every now and again, its just all the garbage inbetween.

He's such a fad. He's so that guy at the coffeehouse who chainsmokes and wears black turtlenecks and always looks around with disdain at the people who put cream or sugar in their coffee. He's that guy who's always preaching about some cause and rolling his eyes at you that you haven't heard about the rampant anthill burning on 12th st, or some other such disgrace to humankind. And yet, in all his disgust for the human race, he manages to spend a lot of time talking about "Wide Open Beavers" as if that's helping anything. Ass.

Ick. What drove me even more crazy was the bit in A Man without a Country when he goes over fan mail. What kind of fans do you have, who write this: "I'd love to know your thoughts for a woman of 43 who is finally going to have a child but is wary of bringing a new life into such a frightening world." Please. You're 43, and pregnant for the first time. Write the guy who talks about upskirt shots and women with their legs splayed wide open, cos he's your last hope for true human dignity.

I dunno. I'm mad because Vonnegut is supposed to be so "cool" and all the hipsters who don't read books like to read his books. And this is all he's got? Whining? Give me a break.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Medical Office Workers

Is it just me, or is the bulk of medical office workers a cranky, irritable bunch? I say this as a member of said profession, and feel myself more licensed to speak freely on account of this. Agh--it burns me up! That cheerless, monotone voice that greets you on the telephone after minutes of navigating through automated systems--the cheerless monotone voice that utters a few curt syllables before sending you back into the ethereal world of bad muzak and audio-mercials (I don't know the term for those lil blurbs during your hold time). How hard is it to offer a little intonation, a little emphasis or *gasp* a little human courtesy? I can gripe about phone etiquette all day long, seriously. My view is, if you don't know how to converse in a manner that exudes even a minimal veneer of kindness, then don't answer the phone (perhaps this explains the automated system?).

On the other hand: patients, do remember that the person you are speaking to is very busy, and it is not necessary for you to explain your plans for the entire day, and any opinions therein, in order for the employee to assist you. Also, it is not necessary for you to speak to the doctor. The doctor is seeing patients. You cannot be diagnosed over the phone (try putting the phone up to the puddle of blood, does this work?). Schedule an appointment, or go to the emergency room.

Today, I went to the office of an oral surgeon for a consultation. Impacted wisdom teeth, no biggie. I called an hour before my appointment to make sure my referral and x-rays are in place. I was answered with a sigh, and "hang on." After a few moments of hold music, the woman returned to the line and tersely replied, "Your things are here. See you in an hour." I felt like I had been a nuisance to this woman, and a detriment to her morning. And yet, it was very clearly stated on the intake forms--in all capital letters, no less--that the patient is responsible for securing x-rays and referrals. Even in abiding by office policy, I was an inconvenience.

Maybe they were mad because, on those intake forms, where everything was a barked order bordering on a threat, I found three spelling errors and circled them.

I was not greeted. The woman muttered "Can I help you?" without making eye contact, and while shuffling papers in an official manner. I shyly stated my name and presented my dental insurance card and my drivers license. Again, without looking at me, she said "You didn't bring your health insurance card?" I scrambled in my purse for the "requested" item and could feel the strain on the woman as she fought against rolling her eyes. I felt like a blundering idiot, and hoped against hope that no patient ever felt this way when entering my office. The recent offer of management rang in my memory, and I thought that I might just have to accept the offer on behalf of the common good, so that employees like these would no longer be allowed to intimidate patients--at least not under my watch.

As I was checking out (after being sufficiently impressed with the courtesy and 'bedside manner' of the oral surgeon) I was more comfortable, and the woman helping me was willing to smile. Once you've talked to the doctor, you enter a higher rank, I guess--or perhaps once its been determined that the insurance is legit. In the midst of our discussion regarding deductibles and annual maximums, a cellphone rang. Loudly. I recalled the domineering sign posted in front of the waiting room: "Absolutely NO cellphones. Turn cellphones OFF" The woman I was in mid-sentence with turned away from me and reached under the counter, producing a vibrating, singing, pink plastic monstrosity, and proceeded to answer it. She made her plans with the person on the phone, agreeing to meet after she got off of work at two. She hung up the phone and, without an apology or even an acknowledgement of the outrageous faux pas she has committed in front of my very eyes, asks when I would like to schedule the surgery.

I am livid. I am looking at other employees to see if anyone else has found this in the least bit out of place. No one seems to have noticed. So, now I'm helpless. I want to call her out for being unprofessional and straight out rude, but I'm stuck: I don't know which one of these ladies is going to be administering my anaesthesia, my IV, the nitrous...Do I really want to fly off the handle for what is apparently a common occurrence, and risk my own comfort? Call me paranoid, call me a wuss. I left without saying a word.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tempting offers

Introductory digression: I feel as rustic as can be, pouring homebrew from the spout in the garage with only the aid of moonlight! This kiwi-wheat is incredible! I've never seen anything like it sold, but I'd recommend it to anyone for a light summer beer. It's not as tart as something like "Summer Shandy," but holds all the smoothness of your "Hoegaarden" (forgive me if that's a mispelling).

My previous blog (here, if you're interested) talks about working for the sake of working, rather than out of a need to work. I also admit, however, that I am completely guilty of this very thing. For instance, I put in my two weeks and yet am readily taken in by their counter offer.

Let me be clear: I didn't put my two-weeks in out of hard feelings. Something has come up that will cause my absence for the larger part of July and August, and its something important enough to me that I would quit my job for it. I can't just "take off" for a month and expect my job to be waiting for me when I get back. They assure me otherwise. Even my co-workers, those that I was most worried about upsetting, are asking if I will come back.

My other reason for quitting, I admit, is that it was somewhat bothersome to me that, despite training 6 employees in the past two years (4 of whom still work there) and being directly and solely responsible for recovering thousands of dollars in unbilled transactions, I was never given a title. As far as my resume is concerned, I have never been more than someone's assistant. I understand that with a title, comes more responsibility, etc. The problem is, I have been understaking all that responsibility for some time now, bearing the brunt of co-worker's grumblings (even their grumblings against me when I settled fights), and yet the position/pay of office manager has been left with someone who has been on maternity leave for about two years.

(side note: while my current employer is not aware that I have a blog, or even an email for that matter, I only write about this freely because I have already discussed these things with them)

So I quit; my last day is in about a week. Now they are saying, dude, just come back after a month. There's a spot for you, and its a manager's position with corresponding pay raise. Come in once, maybe twice a week, whenever you want--make up your own hours. We need you.

Yowza. Just dim the lights, pour the martini, and call me tempted. It's really nice to be needed.

* * *

On the dance front, I have just begun rehearsal for a Labor Day performance. This same group also performed last year in the same locale, a great big wading pool downtown. Said wading pool is completely off limits to anyone without appropriate insurance policy, so its not exactly relaxing--and hey, we're only in it after months of rehearsal (of "choreographed splashing"). While the dance venue itself is essentially the same from last year (with a few different dancers), the venue has changed to include an auction of "local celebrity art." Now, I'm the last one to knock this great place I'm from, in fact I'm usually the first and last to defend it amongst friends, but as far as "local celebrities" are concerned, I wasn't sure exactly what she meant, this gal in charge. Then she mentioned the first volunteer to call with a contribution to the auction---*ahem* the mayor's wife. So, I guess I'm rollin' with the big-hitters, now. It should be a semi-intersting turn of events--likely including an unpleasant few weeks whilst I balance rehearsals with the start of the school year. I did the same thing last year, though, and lived to tell about it. In an ideal world, my dance rehearsals are an escape from the hustle n bustle of more demanding, if not thankless, everyday life.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Nine lives? Three down, six to go (and she's only 8 weeks old)

In previous blogs (Das Kitten and this one), I have discussed Kitten's near death experiences. She has always managed to pull through.

Today was closer than ever...but it wasn't hypoglycemia. Nope--no maple syrup required. Today's the day she finally jumped up high enough to take a chunk outta these puppies:

Warning: gratuitous photo of canine scrotum.

**balls shown not actual size**

Fortunately, I think she's gonna make it (she's quick, that one). I'm not quite as sure about the dog, however...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Yay for homework

I've gotten a lot done this week!
I am nearly through with Persuasion, our next book for group discussion (by group, I mean two of us at a bar, and a few people vicariously through email and phone conversation). In my summer class on Austen last year, the prof's famous mantra was "sometime next summer, when you're on the beach reading Jane Austen, think about this..." (after which he would introduce some intriguing tidbit). I'm just waiting for a nice sizzler, so we can have a Jane Austen bikini party.
I turned in my letter of resignation at work. This is bittersweet, to say the least. I am fortunate enough to say that I truly enjoy my job and get along with my coworkers (well, there's some love/hate bidness, but for the most part...) Nonetheless, due to extenuating circumstances surrounding the job and my own situation, the time has come .

Doc and I haven't really talked about it much. He is the one who asked me, during the interview, why he should hire me over the other applicants, many (if not all) of whom had previous office experience. I replied, point blank, "Because I'm going to work like a horse, with less mess." (I went home and told my husband that I blew the interview with that ridiculous statement.) Four years later, I have graduated from main therapy assistant to front desk to billing and personal injury specialist; I have trained six employees, four of whom have worked there for over a year now, if not longer. Doc still repeats the "horse" story-- verbatim-- when he is showing off about his staff.

I busted out the GRE book a few more times and, when I stop to pick up some notecards, I'll be unstoppable.
(until I get to the quantitative section, that is)

I polished off one brand-spankin-new syllabus for a remodeled Comp One course. This coming fall my classroom is web-enhanced, and I'd really like my syllabus design to take advantage of that. I haven't really even explored all of the possibilities just yet, but it was fun to revamp old assignments and "lectures" (if you can call the blatherings of a teaching assistant a 'lecture') with technological supplement in mind. Simply put, the world is at my fingerpoints. My biggest concern, at this point, is practice time--you know, I need to be able to navigate scary, expensive equipment with the help (and suggestions, I'm sure) of an audience!

Practically speaking, my students will be able to complete a large amount of their class work there, in the classroom. Now, I had a few fellow TAs suggested that this was a bad idea, that homework is homework, etc, and I should use time in the classroom for discussion and so on. Right. My version of leading discussion is turning red in the face and hoping someone else will raise their hand so that I don't have to have a ready response to the suggestions and comments. I am awful at facilitating discussion, and find that 80% of what comes out of my mouth is padding for the miniscule point I try to make. I have faith that with more experience, this will work itself out. In the meantime I have a media-enhanced classroom. Go watch youtube, kids.

Anyway, my take on the 'using classtime for classtime' is that its still classwork, and its ready access to a computer, which not all of my students have off campus. Besides, procrastination is procrastination. If they're not using allotted class time to write for me, then they're staying up till 2 am the night before and handing in a shotty essay.

Then again...with some of the latest conceptions(see blogs on concern for higher education) that higher education ought to consist of sitting in front of computer screens and having peer reviews--neglecting any type of teacher input-- part of me wants to get out of the digi-classroom, go all "O Captain my captain" and have class on the front lawn of the university. You know, make em write poetry or something.

More on syllabus type stuff later.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Two week's notice, and then some

I guess I've done a giant turnaround this summer--from looking at getting a second job, to reassessing my life, time and money and realizing that I don't want--and more importantedly don't need--the job I have. I write this cautiously, particularly considering Notorious phD's recent post about the necessity of second jobs for academics; I am in a position that does not require me to have a job outside of academia. I am very aware of my good fortune, and in order to not sound like a total pansy, I can only add that my good fortune comes with a price:

1.) government restitution for my dad's Vietnam-induced [mental] illness (thank you, Uncle Sam)
2.) working full-time to maintain a marriage--but he's really good looking, so he makes the job easy;)

I want to have the chip on my shoulder, knowing that I worked my way through grad school and maintained my GPA despite having outside employment (which is a no-no at my institution). But am I working because I have to? No, I'm working for the inward satisfaction of working, the feel of being in control. Each week, outside of all the crazy stress of juggling my own classwork and that of my students, I would enter this haven at the office, because there things weren't so theoretical--let's face it, they weren't so challenging (though I have often accused insurance reps of being theoretical: "In theory your insurance covers this...").

Work provided an easy sense of accomplishment that was comforting, especially while I was in the midst of three (if not four, five...) ongoing projects at school. What's even better is that when it came to dictating letters, my "expertise" was always deferred to (by doctors, even:) thus stroking my ego. But the bottom line is, when it came to the paycheck, there was little to be done with it. It did little more than pad my daily trips to the Student Union or local crap-dash Irish pub to drink beer with friends. I tend to work just to work, something I always held against my mother, textbook workaholic.

I have been an employee, at one company or another, since I was 14, when I replaced my sister (who had to quit as she went into labor with her first child) as a cleaning lady for local businesses. I was the only sophomore who didn't have to get my lunch money from my parents and when it came to the "extra-curricular activities" of a deviant high schooler, lets just say I was able to fund myself.

I enjoy working, and I am aware that I work for the sake of working.

I have the rest of my life to work.

Monday, July 7, 2008

I kicked dinner's ass tonight!

Normally on a hot & muggy-assed day like today, we either order out or grill. Today, however, Floyd was mowing the lawn (sorta...its kinda broken, so he just does chunks of the lawn at a time) so the grill was out of the picture. We didn't want to order out cos we need to watch our money for the rest of the summer. Why have one meal for $20 (wings/pizza) when you can spend that amount on say, 3-4 meals? And so, in 90 degree weather I donned my long sleeved shirt to guard against the freezing chill of the overly air-conditioned grocery store.

I thought I'd share this evening's success. We only have air conditioning in one room of our house, so we have to be very careful about what we cook if we don't want to be steamed out. This worked (in that it didn't cook us out).

"Chicken Athena" (with slight modifications made by me)
Note: This comes from a cookbook my aunt bought me for xmas, I don't know the name of it cos the cover is now missing (casualties of the kitchen). Every year growing up I would reveive a nice makeup kit from Lancome or Estee Lauder--I never had to buy makeup, ever! Then I got married and started getting cookbooks. Go figure.

You need:

*1 lb chicken, cubed (tonight I bought the pre-grilled/frozen chicken to save time/heat)
*2 cans (14 1/2 oz) stewed tomatoes (i get the kind that are spiced up w/ basil, etc)
*one jar marinated artichoke hearts (the marinade is pretty universal, unless you go to some fancy schmancy store where everything is gourmet, in which case you probably don't need my cooking advice anyway!)
*1 medium sized onion, chopped into big assed chunks.
*1/3 tsp rosemary, crushed
*crumbled feta (optional, but damn good. I recommend the kind laced w/ tomato and basil)
*a few handfuls of fresh spinach
*package tortellini (i get the green kind so's I can tell it apart from the chicken chunks and artichoke hearts, otherwise there's not enough color)
*1 tbsp olive oil

1.) In a big-assed skillet, brown the chicken/olive oil, then add the onion.
2.) add the tomatoes (sauce n all) plus the juice from the artichoke hearts. This is also a good time to add the pasta, as it soaks up alot of the liquid. Despite a few attempts with this recipe, I have yet to have it "thicken" as the original recipe supposes it will. Nonetheless, stir often for about 10 minutes.
3.) Add the artichokes and rosemary, plus the spinach. By the time the spinach gets good n slimy, the artichoke hearts have warmed up.
Its ready to serve! Sprinkle with feta if desired.

The best part? It only takes about 20 minutes and one dish to make this!!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Things that currently occupy my time

I have been camping a lot recently. All that rain we had? Right in my tent. Nah, not really--I'm actually pretty good at camping, I must say. I set up four tents in the pouring rain in under a half hour last friday, then proceeded to move the tents 200 yards over, in pouring rain and mud b/c my brother needed them there. It was pretty much down to this--either bitch and complain about the rain, or accept it and have fun with it. When was the last time I ran barefoot across a huge field, wielding a 3-man tent over my head, and slid down a mud hill? (Last Friday, if you must know!).
I earned the title "camping queen":
I brought 3 tents, 3 sleeping bags, 5 folding camp-chairs, 8 flashlights, 2 battery-powered alarm clocks, 2 (gigundo) tarps, a plethora of plastic bags (ALWAYS keep one set of clothes/underwear sealed in a plastic bag, so that not if but when all of your belongings are soaked, you can drive home in a dry set of clothes), 4 rain ponchos (they didn't work, though. Think I had it on inside out), 2 umbrellas, three fireside sandwich roasters, banana chips, and an assortment of noodles/inflatable swimming thingies. The finishing touch was the giant hockey goals attached to the top of the truck. My most glorious moment, however, was when my sister-in-law's flip-flops broke (the mud wasn't kind to any of our shoes) and I had an extra pair--in her size (they were pink and sparkly, slightly but comfortably platformed, for $6).
This weekend--actually tonight, we are leaving to my family cabin in Maryland. My great grandfather bought an acre patch for each of his kids, and the family still enjoys it today. There's a lake, a creek, a pond, an octagonal church with a preacher that my mom always picks fights with (she picks fights with a lot of people, this makes her particularly endearing), clean crisp air and lots of woods. Recently, and on several occasions, bears, bobcats and mountain lions have been sighted. My family doesn't do much for birthdays (there was always too many of us to keep track of) and reels away from Christmas, but we do the 4th of July like nobody's bidness. Blowing stuff up, burning things down, and creating general havoc--count us in. The locals (er, natives?) in the valley always come around for our fireworks shows; the sheriff is our cousin--he always chips in on the fireworks fund:)
I like to come "bearing gifts." I bought my mom the 2008 publisher's guide for children's writers/illustrators. Amazon sent the version for "Novel/Short story writers" instead. Rather than return it, I shipped it off to my brother in Cbus, so that his poetry and stories can grace more than just telephone poles (although I like his approach). I bought my mom the appropriate book for her goals. I then bought my sister three sets of bamboo knitting needles and lots of yarn--'spensive yarn that she wouldn't buy for herself. I bought each of the kids a little something from the dollar bin--fancy notepads, miniature plush puppies, scented markers (omGAWD they smell good). I also bought my husband a book about beer, because I love to see people read and that's one of the things he likes to read about (He is also partial to books of mechanical inclination, guitar books, cookbooks, MC Escher books). On a side note, i cannot wait to try his latest beer. Its a wheat beer that he flavored with fresh kiwi, and I've got to tell you, just from taste testing it in the first stages of fermentation, it is incredible! Don't let the kiwi throw you off--it has a mild and subtle finish which I find delectable.
School is coming around the corner, as is the GRE. All in good time. For the first time since I started the program, I want to be done.