Saturday, May 31, 2008

Whole lot of nothin'

I worked out. Like a crazy person. Then I ate cheese and had a beer.

Oh well.

I don't suppose I can create a whole blog post around my fattitude, my apathy, and my fatigue, so I leave you with this one question:

What is the one thing you want to do more than any other? And why aren't you doing it?

See you tomorrow.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Brainal Choice

Recent events have knocked me way out of sync. I am confused (and my left side hurts a whole bunch, in case you missed that), and I need unemotional people to tell me whether I am confused in an appropriate way or in a wrong and bad way.

Brainal Weather Concern

Since I got back from my brother's place on Sunday, I have felt far more calm about my dad's situation. I am aware that he is probably going to die pretty soon. I know it because the scientists tell us so. However, once a person has the pattern of the person you love most in the world NOT dying each and every time the scientists tell him he is going to die, a person stops ringing the alarm bell every time a scientist predicts the demise of the most beloved person in the whole world. One starts to have thoughts like, "Every time I skip the gym and eat cupcakes and cry, I am letting the terrorists win," and "Oh... what-e-ver. He never died all those other times, so he must be immortal."

I know the deal, but for some reason, what feels right is to give the cancer the finger and get on with my life - even though I know that the cancer, like the terrorists, can blow it all up any old time - and that I can do nothing about it.

So you tell me. Am I:

a) a bad person

b) defeating the terrorists


Mountain Climbing Ambition Issue

No matter what I do, the trip to Africa is going to be messed up. If my dad dies, it will be messed up because I will be so brainally twisted that I won't train. If he doesn't die, he will likely be very sick right about the time when I am supposed to leave for the trip. That means I will be in Africa for three weeks - with no immediate means of returning if something should go wrong. At the same time, I have read the trip insurance fine print, and it turns out that since I knew good and well my dad had leukemia when I booked the trip, I won't be entitled to a refund if I need to cancel or return early. So my plan is to behave as if the trip is on and then decide the day before we leave whether it would be appropriate for me to go.

Am I:

a) a bad person

b) defeating the terrorists

c) really stupid

Thank you in advance for your opinion.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Long Day

How is that possible?

I didn't do anything today, after all.

It was long because for the last four days, I have had sharp pains in my left side, which I know to be caused by a series of inflamed muscles. How do I know this? I know this because it has happened before. The last time it happened, I was 25. I had just lost my job, and my mother was in hospice care. And I got these strange knots under my rib cage that were sore and swollen and screamed at me every time I moved. So it is no mystery why I have them now.

I talked to my dad today. He was sitting on the deck, drinking coffee, watching the clouds go by. He spent the morning completing the electrical work on the lower deck, and he planned to complete some cosmetic work on the wall in the afternoon. He sounded fine.

Anyway, I am going to go to bed early and have a delicious time feeling sorry for myself. If it still hurts this bad on Monday, yes, I will go to a doctor.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


If my laptop worked, I would have posted from the road. It didn't, so I didn't.

My dad is the same.

* This is not my dad. I took this picture from a moving bus in Times Square. For those of you who don't live around here, it's the Naked Cowboy. I thought I would just toss this picture in for interest since I have nothing meaningful to say.

I am tired and sick.

More tomorrow.

Monday, May 26, 2008


When I got there on Friday night, I walked across the street and had a brief moment when I was convinced that God doesn't completely hate me and everyone in my family. It didn't last very long. (I'll tell you about it tomorrow).

I then stepped into the liquor store and bought a bottle of champagne that I could not afford. Also a few bumpers of Saison Dupont and a biggish Chimay Reserve. As I was paying, my brother drove up in front of the liquor store, wordlessly took my bags, and went back to buy about three times as much as beer as I had bought. When he got back in the car, we looked at each other for the briefest moment before saying nothing and driving back to the house.

My brother Buzz and his wife Leta have worked in television for most of their careers. As a result, they share a habit of closing awkward and painful moments by making a gesture very like the fading of a screen to black - and say: "and... scene."

Then we are free to break character, go for more drinks, re-stabilize our MELPs, whatever needs to be done to maintain the composure and dignity of a family sitting out behind a house situated in a golf course, getting drunk, talking about the death of its leader. That's what we did all weekend (except for when the baby could hear. Then we talked about whatever. And no, we have no problem drinking around the toddler).

Or not.

Depending on how you look at it.

On Friday at about noon, my dad was told for the second time to go home and polish up for an early death. He didn't ask questions because he already knows: six to eight weeks at best. Four weeks is more likely. Less than four would be common and less than two, improbable, but still possible. He felt quite good, so on the way home, he stopped at the local nursery to buy petunias to plant that afternoon. On the way back from the nursery, he called each of his kids and then his four brothers to give them the news, just like he did nine months ago when his doctors told him exactly the same thing, which is: recurrent Acute Myelogenous Leukemia is not treatable. You'll live longer if you just go home and dance around the house in your underpants. (I am not sure they said that part about the underpants, but it was definitely in the subtext. Party while you can. You don't have long).

Many of you already know that the doctors were wrong. He felt bad for a few weeks, and then slowly trended better. By the end of the eighth week, he was doing yard work and building a retaining wall out of Tennessee flag stone for a lower deck down by the water. By the end of week twelve, he had gone camping with his friends, raked and burned the leaves that were still green when he was told he about it to kick it, and made plans for a Christmas. He finished the wall - and built the deck. He never went back to the doctor to find out why he wasn't dead. He never even considered being re-evaluated for further treatment. "I am done with doctors," was all he would say. No one blamed him.

None of us blame him now, either, for saying he still doesn't completely buy that he is dying. He had is bad artificial knee drained last week and got a whalloping bunch of anti-biotics and now he is home feeling just about the same as he ever did. When I told him I would be within a six hour drive on Wednesday, he said, "Don't bother. We have plenty of time."

Or not.

Depending on how you look at it.

My dad got a lottery ticket of a break the last time he was told he was going to die. He should have, by every statistical and anecdotal measure, died. The fact that he didn't makes him one of the one hundred and twelve people since 1879 to have untreated AML and and not die of it. No one bought tickets for these odds, I admit. But who would?

We didn't have the courage to hope it would happen the first time. Can we do that this time? No. And yet we are not left with any choice. We have before us a man with no time left who insists he is not in any hurry to die and feels pretty good. He knows he is not likely to stay feeling good, but at the same time, he just had such a wholly unsatisfactory experience with medical people that he is unimpressed with their predictions of his demise. After all, they were wrong the last time. In fact, they have been wrong every time they predicted that dad would crash. (Three times, total).

So what do we do?

We wait. And wait. And if we are lucky we wait some more.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sin of the Week, 5/25/08

My major and minor crimes are boring. But here's one (or two) since the title of the post suggests crimes: Last night after spinning around in bed endlessly pretending to be asleep, I wished for my dad to die so that I could move on with my life. Then I sat up in bed and said out loud, to no one, "You could not be more evil. You are beyond hope of salvation."

Then I did restless leg yoga in bed for a few more hours and finally fell asleep near dawn, about a half an hour before the toddler of the house drove a race car over my left boob, calling it a "mountain."

Here are a few pictures of where I sometimes go on the weekends. It is my brother's house.

Tomorrow, I will describe* the weekend.

*My dad is fine right now. Depending on which end of the statistics you believe, this means that he just lived the last 5.84% of his life in relative peace and comfort - or the last 17.52%.

Friday, May 23, 2008


MELP, or Minimum Expected Level of Performance, is a value based on the number of classes I am teaching, the variety of life-stress I am anticipating, and the number of dollars not in my bank account times my waist measurement (in inches) divided by my hip measurement (in iches), rounded off to the nearest hundredth and scrawled on the back of an envelope and placed under a cookie bag on my desk. I permit myself to have a moderate level of healthy self-esteem if I maintain MELP.

Let me start over.

There are four levels of MELP.

Level One: whatever, whenever, just don't show up for work visibly drunk. (A little bit drunk is fine).

Level Two: whatever, most of the time, just don't show up for work visibly hung over.

Level Three: make it to the gym once a week, no visible holes or stains, grade the papers instead of throwing them directly in the trash.

Level Four: be attractive, polite, virtuous, strong, and competent in every measurable way.

Fall semester was a Level One in every way. It is positively bizarre that I did not get fired and I might have suffered a psychotic break and did so publicly right here on this blog.

I have been functioning somewhere between Level Two and Level Three all semester and I have even, on a few occasions, performed for an entire day or 1.5 days at a shiny, happy, church-going Level Four.


Today I am formally and officially going to do an unthinkable and unwise thing: I am not only going to GO to a Level Four, but also make it policy and tell the whole world, right here on this blog.

Oh and my dad 's surgery was canceled and he is on his way home because really there is no point in trying to fix the leg of a man who has leukemia.

Have a blessed day. I am going climbing.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

You guys are somenawseome

Big thank you to everyone who said a Hail Mary, or a novena, or even gave Jesus a brief wave this week. Ditto if you raised a glass of a substance known to impair judgment and said "here's to that guy with the big scary medical problem who is the dad of that girl in the computer whose blog I read sometimes."

Here is the news:

As of yesterday (my yesterday, which was Tuesday) my dad was running a fever and things looked un-good. His blood work looked a little bit funny and there was at least one surgeon running around in the hall with a two handled saw, ready to cut my dad's leg off. But then the doctors decided to do a leukemia scan (my dad agreed to this but told them he did not wish to know the results) and wait for the cultures to come back on the infection to decide anything.

Then it was Wednesday morning. My dad's fever went away and he felt better. The doctor's did not yet have lab results of any variety, but they decided that since dad was so hot to get out of the hospital, he could go home with a pic line and do six weeks of IV antibiotics from home (yes, you can do this if you are a veteran of medical everything). This plan was all chosen and the forms were signed.

I, in a very stupid but also very peaceful and zen moment, put my cell phone in my bag and went to the gym and did not look at it for 6 hours. Why I felt like I could do this is one of the great mysteries of my personality.

While I was tearing my hands up rock climbing, my actual real live dad called to tell me that he had reached a decision, based on his talks with his doctors, to just have the knee replacement surgery all over again - in like two days. So it went from "go home and juice up on anti-biotics" to "let's just get the offending parts out of your body right now" in the space of a few hours.

Now, since I did not get to the phone until right about now, which is to say after midnight, I don't know what to make of this.

Interpretation One: Dad's cultures came back from the lab and the stuff in his fake knee is so offensive that his doctors said "either lose the leg or lose the offensive fake knee parts" and that they said this based on the assumption that my dad does not currently have leukemia, ie, the leukemia lab work is not back yet.

Interpretation Two: Dad's cultures came back from the lab and the stuff in his fake knee is so offensive that his doctors said "either lose the leg or lose the offensive fake knee parts" and they said this based on decent looking leukemia scan results - ie, they felt like there a point to trying to save my dad's leg because so far it looks like he is not dying.

Interpretation Three: Is there a possible interpretation where the leukemia scan came back looking bad and the doctors decided to go forward with a messy and painful knee replacement surgery? I mean, what kind of treatment plan is it to give a guy who has less than two months left to live a new knee? What medical person would go forward with a major surgery intended to improve quality of life - for a guy who was known to be circling the drain?

Am I reaching here?

Whatever. I am going to bed.

But before I do, let me just say again that you, internet people, are some kind of awesome. Really. I ran my usual caper: giving God a sarcastic bag of nothing - but you all prayed and had cocktails for my dad and the news, though not a sun-drenched meadow of frolicking puppies, does not suck that much.



I love you.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

PAVTAC - St. Francis is definitely a member

I woke up after 4 or 5 hours of fitful sleep to the sound I hate most in the world: the sound of my Cat-head doing his morning sun-salutation. When the room brightens, he splays himself out in the sun and meows, full volume, until I get out of bed and go to the computer. (He prefers for me to type at the computer instead of sleeping). When he is convinced that I am not going to go back to sleep, he stations himself in the floor of the shower and spends his day alternately sleeping (little fucker) or batting my rosary beads around among discarded shampoo bottles and soap dregs of the shower. I used to think he did this because he is religious. I now know he does it because it is part to make sure the rift between me and Jesus is never fully bridged because my rosary beads are fully coated in soapy residue and this situation is an excellent excuse (for me) for continuing to give God (and Jesus) the stony silent treatment.

Thanks to everyone who commented on my inexcusable, whining, self-pitying post this morning. There are no words for you lovely and perfect you all are. Oh and I still know nothing about what is going on with my dad but I will post when I do.

May intensify this affect/effect


I am still waiting for news about my dad. I can't eat. I can't sleep.

The only thing I can do is climb - but not very well.

Please pray for us. Things do not look good.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

PAVTAC, save me

Anyone who has ever picked up my cat has experienced the same series of events, depending on the number of mili-seconds the victim was in close contact with Cat-head.

Event the first: the pick up

Picking up Cat-head is achieved in the usual manner. The victim picks up the cat. What's different about Cat-head is that he will go into what appears to be a blissful stupor at first contact. This is a ruse. What he is doing is marshaling his energies for a strike - with all his fangs - at the victim's jugular vein.

Event the second: the warning

During the two mili-second warning event, Cat-head will flatten his ears and make a sound kind of like what you would expect from a cornered, rabid coyote. It is not a nice sound. If the victim is in a position to make eye contact with Cat-head, eye contact is made. Thus ends event the second.

Event the third: the strike

If the victim does not immediately and unceremoniously drop Cat-head (he actually prefers a lack of ceremony, truly), Cat-head will bite the victim on any area of exposed flesh he can find. He prefers faces, arms and hands, but I suspect he chooses these locations for a strike because he knows that his biting will hurt you less if it is first intercepted by a turtleneck of a pair of blue jeans. For extra drama, his pupils will contract while he bites the victim, causing the victim to be convinced, if only for a brief second, that Cat-head is possessed by the Devil. Sometimes this belief persists well past the strike event. Other times it dissipates, and still others the belief remains operative forever.

Cat-head bit my dad one time, say, back in 1999 or thereabouts. It went down exactly as you see above. The only difference was that my dad was (is) allergic to Cat-head's venom or whatever, so my dad had to go to the hospital and get on lots of crazy ass drugs so his arm wouldn't be eaten alive by flesh eating something or other. My dad is, obviously (obviously!) one of the people who remains steadfast in his belief that my cat is Evil. I can't even pretend I disagree.

You would think that after that first biting incident, anyone and everyone I warned (and I did, believe me) would have the sense not to pick up my cat.

Tune in tomorrow to hear about how my Cat-head ruined by best friend's bachelorette party, wedding, AND honeymoon, all in one go.

Love, Nina

Monday, May 19, 2008

Circle the wagons

We need to have a talk.

My dad is once again in medical danger, and once again it is the kind of thing that we can't do much about but watch and wait.

Here's how you get into my dad's kind of trouble:

1) have bad knee
2) get knee replacement
3) get leukemia
4) get chemo
5) get staff infection
6) have staff infection "bond" to the titanium in the knee
7) lose short-lived chemo produced leukemia remission
8) get sent home to die
9) refuse to die and just keep being not dead for eight months
10) have all your teeth removed because the chemo destroyed them

and now we go to ...

11) find out the permanently infected knee is threatening to become systemic and that the leg may have to be amputated to save his life -- even though he no longer has leukemia. Is that irony? Or is it sarcasm... I get so confused.

Anyway, since you all know I am permanently off intercessory prayer, can you get on this for me?

I am going to go abuse alcohol now. Thanks.


Today I formally rededicate my blog, for five days, to the formal explaining of why the fictional organization PAVTAC (People Against Violence Toward Annoying Cats) is a necessary delusion around my house. If PAVTAC didn't stop me, I would throw my cat out the window.

Today's Cat-head story:

When I was 22 years old, I graduated from college and got a job. It wasn't a great one, but not long thereafter, I got a promotion (a promotion!) that required me to move from Charlotte, NC, to Raleigh, NC. Now, I hated Charlotte, North Carolina for a number of reasons, but one of the biggest was that at the time, I was a terrible snob* and there just weren't enough educated people (read: yankees) there for my liking. So the promotion was a great opportunity for me. I could move to a place with three universities within thirty miles of each other and live among other people who talked fast and understood that not talking in line at the grocery store is not rudeness, but a sign of respect for other peoples' time and precious energy. Yay!

My boss, however, knew only that my parents lived in Charlotte, North Carolina, and that by promoting me and moving me far far away from them, he was dealing me and my family a tough hand. (He had no idea how I felt about the redneckery of Charlotte). So in order to make this up to me, he went out to Big Al's (Crazy) Pet-o-rama and purchased a pure bred smoke persian cat, whose credentials read only that he had been sired by a cat named Dude and whelped by a cat named Maven. The papers said nothing else except for "This cat is Persian. Take him home. Please."

So my boss gave me the cat, and I was excited. Here was a dog that I would never have to walk! Here was a dog that could not bark! Here was a dog that would never smell like a dog!

I named him Itty Witty and then I got him food and a litter box. And we moved to Raleigh, NC, a place half run over with people from New Jersey. A bunch of my friends from college were in graduate school at UNC, so I had a handful of fast talking yankee friends to drink big blue cups of beer with, and all was well.

Except not so.

Itty Witty, now named Cat-head, was a pain in the ass. He would not be picked up, held, petted; indeed, he would not behave in any even slightly social way. In addition, he could not or would not eat anything that I fed him except canned tuna. Even this appeared to make him queasy. So I put him in my backpack (he bit me several times) and brought him to the vet. I left him there for the day, thinking when I returned, I would pay $50 or something and he would have a diagnosis: allergies, right?

When I returned for him at 4:30pm, the receptionist immediately paged the vet. All she said was "She's here." Hmmm, thought I. This must be had.

A few minutes later, the vet emerged wearing leather armor all the way up to his shoulders. He was also wearing a mask. He handed me my backpack, pulled down his mask, and said, "We need to have a talk."

What he told me is that my cat's personality was so foul, so violent, so anti-social, that if he had been born human, we might have been a candidate for one of those crenelated face masks a la Hannibal Lecter.


Then the vet recommended that the cat be de-clawed on all four feet AND that I consider having his teeth filed if he was ever going to be a threat to other people. Then he handed me a prescription for cat valium and a bag of food that cost more than a my fantasy running shoes. And I also got bill for $400. (It cost so much because he had to be tested for fifty or more maladies that might explain his poor behavior. None did. Plus he had injured four people - until the vet sedated him, which was $85 all by itself).

The new food cleared up Cat-head's food issues, but it didn't make him any happier. He uniformly hated me and everyone who ever entered my domicile. And yes, I later had reason to regret not having his teeth filed. I'll tell you about that tomorrow.

*I now know better. I no longer dislike redneckery. Quite the opposite.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sin of the Week, 5/18/08

I can't think of anything spectacular except for the that I skipped church because I got too busy with getting ready for the new semester to start. Oh, and I might also have been slightly heavy handed with the martini shaker, and I might have hated my cat a whole bunch, and I might have very briefly considered breaking into the Optician's Clinic and stealing contact lenses because my eyes have clearly (clearly!) not changed in the past year and I am out of contacts and tired of wearing my glasses and I don't want to pay $200 for an eye exam just to confirm that fact. Wait, that was more of a fantasy than a real intention, so it might be a simple case of repressed hostility directed at innocent eye-care practitioners. Hm.

See you tomorrow. (But only with my glasses on).

Saturday, May 17, 2008


One of the main problems with doing so much work is that I have fantasies about freezing the clock - you know - making the world stop so I can run around and catch up. Then when the laundry is folded and put away and the dishes are done and my toenails are painted, I could unfreeze the clock and rejoin the rest of you, who never have these kinds of time management problems.

And this fantasy got me to thinking about time, about how well we use it and how much of it we (I) waste. I have wasted most of the past week recovering from my classes. And feeling guilty that I didn't do a better job at them, in general. And even with more time on my hands, I have been wanting desperately to freeze the clock again, just so I can breathe, sit still, do nothing.

Then I got to thinking some more. In some places, the time goes from one zone to the next - places where you could wake up at 8am and still get to work by 8am because you drive across the time zone line. Or the other way, where you could leave work at 5pm and be home by 4:30. That might be the ideal place for me to run my show. Indiana, right?

If you lived in one of these towns, would you want to live on the later side of line, so you could sleep in? Or would you want to live on the earlier side, so you could get home earlier? Would you still read my blog if you lost an hour because.... never mind. Just keep showing up and I promise that some day soon, I will have something interesting to say.

Happy Saturday.

Friday, May 16, 2008

I am (not) sexy

This morning at 6:00am, I got up and went to the bathroom. While there, I examined the cuffs of my new Windstopper fleece that I bought for the Kili trip.

I was feeling happy about the stitching and construction and other aspects of design such as the cute little tab in the back. Then I realized that I should not be able to see behind my own head and that I should not be wearing my new fleece jacket at all since I ordered this lovely new jacket only three days ago, so it has not yet arrived. Also, admiring its cuffs and tabs would be impossible for another reason: I would never wear a fleece jacket to bed. Want to know what Nina sleeps in? It's the second reason I am not sexy:

Anyway there I was, in mid-realization that I was not awake.. and that since I was dreaming about peeing, I might actually be, in real life, peeing.

So I hurled myself out of bed and onto the floor, where I examined my situation and all related clothing items for any evidence of a flood. There was none. But gosh I felt stupid and when I climbed back in bed, I said a short intercessory prayer (you know I don't do those anymore) that I could get back to sleep and NOT dream about peeing or having to pee. And you know what? I couldn't get back to sleep anyway and I spent the whole day, in my nightgown, working on my budget to see if there would be any slight possible way I could cut back on work in the fall. That's right: working on my budget, in my nightgown, with my hair up and my glasses on.

You know you want me.

Have a good weekend.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


I got done with classes on Tuesday and fell apart. Aside from eating cheese, watching Arrested Development and Reno 911, I have done nothing at all. Except sleeping. I did do a fair amount of that.

Today I got up (late, of course), made coffee, ate half a bagel, and surveyed the damage. My apartment looks like a homeless person has been squatting here for the last six months. So that you understand what my apartment normally looks like, take a look:

Perhaps let's not show you what my place looks like right now. Let's just not do that.

Oh, ok. Here is a close up of a tiny portion of the rug, pre-vacuum.

Yeah. I am gross.

So this afternoon I clean and do laundry and then head out for a meeting at 4:30. Then tomorrow, work out like a crazy person. Crazy. Person.

Have a Thursday.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


My dad had all his teeth removed today. Most people who do this are getting dentures because their teeth are old and cruddy. Not so in the case of my dad.

Oh wait.

Depending on your definition of old, he might be. He is 68. It is a miracle that he is still with us. The other part is that his teeth are cruddy, but it is not because he failed to brush and floss. Chemotherapy weakened the enamel on his teeth and they are (were) not performing. The last time I saw him (two weeks ago) his teeth were literally falling out over stressors no more serious than a nacho.

This is no way to live.

So my brave and humble dad told his dentists to give him biters that would actually work. Today, it happened. He has $30,000 worth of permanent new fake teeth. Is that dentures? I don't even frikkin' know. But I do know how I would feel if I had someone remove all my teeth with the "idea" that some new biters would be installed in their place. (Not happy, and a lot scared). My dad is the bravest and the loveliest guy who ever lived. I was about a year old when this picture was taken. He is every bit as handsome now as the day this was taken.

I'll be crying over here in the corner until tomorrow. With my cupcake. (Oh dammit I already ate it).

See you tomorrow.

Can I get an amen?

Behold, dear reader, the last cupcake:

Today is the last day of the organized paper cutting, thumb-screwing, grade bribing, soul-deflating semester. Today.

I liberated myself from my office at 3:05pm and went directly to Magnolia for the last cupcake I will see until August 27th, when I return home from Africa.

Anyone who would a daily email detailing my workouts, my diet (including a full break down of micro and macro nutrients), and my pain level can email me at I am determined to get back in shape. I am determined to summit. And if you want to know, I am willing to tell all... down to the last scrap of wheat germ.

I love you. And love is all that matters.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Gear check

Bibi spent $518.33.

Sri spent $477.75.

Nina spent $219.87.

Of course, Nina still has to buy $100 more worth of wind-stopper fleece and a few more layers of whatever, so in the end I will about catch up to Sri. Then we will be basically set for Kilimanjaro. Now all that remains to be done is work out like crazy people, which we did right after we spent all that money. Then we went out and did... guess what we did? Same thing we always do after we work out: had a few drinks. I guess it was different in that we played bar trivia in the meantime.

Guess whose real name is Juan Rodriguez?


See you tomorrow.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

This week's crimes

1) I drank too much

2) I ate nachos

3) I spent an enormous amount of money on climbing gear

4) I ran into someone with my boob again

5) I flirted with a guy in a bar (see item 1)

6) I thought about making out with the guy in the bar (but did not)

7) I yelled at my cat (he bit me)

8) I lusted for chocolate (a clear sign of dementia)

9) I hated my students

10) I didn't call my step-mother today

Pray for me. Gracias.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


I hate my job at Panic so much that it would be difficult to write about it in even a slightly amusing way. Some quotes from my students yesterday might explain it better.

"Since we are in law school, I thought I would write my paper on how to bribe people. You know, because that might be illegal. Oh, and I'll give you a case of Vitamin Water if you give me a C."

Reader, I do not work at a law school. No! Also, the Vitamin Water is delicious and that fool is still failing my class.

"I had to skip history class to meet with you because even though I knew you'd be here later, I didn't want to miss my place in line."

Reader, I emailed the history department head and explained that history absences are not to be excused, and definitely not due to a student having a meeting with me. My students then claimed that I 'told' on them.

"I don't understand why I have to do all this work for a B. I high school I didn't do anything and I got Bs. What do you think this is?"

... college.

"Miss, why do you have to be like that? I don't have time to write this paper over again and my mom will kill me if I don't get an A."

I am definitely not giving you and A and I hope your mom kills you and goes to jail and doesn't have any more babies.

It'll be over soon. One more week.

Pray for me.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Might as well

I was trying to send Bibi a text message and I had the shakes and hit the camera icon, and I might as well show you.

This is what three hours of bouldering look like.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


What's that, you say?

Is it the average grade of my spring semester students?

Sadly, no. That number falls somewhere around 63%.

But I am 75% done grading rewrites and calculating grades. Forgive me if I don't jump up and down and act all excited, but I am just too tired. I am going to the gym tonight and then I will deal with students all day tomorrow and then Friday will arrive and I will curl up into a little tiny ball and start rocking.

Oh and don't even get me started about the number of students who tried to turn in late papers yesterday. Eight. And so I had to so no, eight times, to people who would wish me to believe that because I like them more than everyone else, naturally I would make an exception.

Naturally, I did not because it is not in my nature to announce (in writing) a No Late Papers Ever policy - and then not enforce it.

I am not fun anymore, I know. But if you hang around long enough, maybe I will be again. Someday. Maybe even 75% fun.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Notify the authorities

I got up and ate breakfast today. Seriously, I did. Just like a normal person who doesn't have thousands of papers to grade. How did I accomplish this?

1) Yesterday, during a twenty minute paper grading break, I went to the grocery store.

2) This morning, when I woke up at 6:30 (a bit early for me) I did not go back to sleep.

3) Instead I woke up and made coffee. Oh my God.

4) Then I ate plain non-fat yogurt, a tablespoon of wheat germ, and five almonds.

I think this is what they call being a normal human being who puts needs of self before needs of miscreants who can't be bothered to spell their own names correctly.

Of course, the fifteen minutes that I took to do something for myself this morning will probably result in a day chock full of sneering miscreants, but I do not regret my choice. I feel sort of human. I like it.

Normal post up tomorrow. Unless I choose to neglect you by continuing my selfish trend of eating breakfast. Who knows?

Monday, May 5, 2008

Student email

This is why I regularly want to pitch myself out the window. Oh wait. This is why I regularly want to shove my students off of cliffs into a fiery abyss.


Just wondering when the grades were going to be up , If a student doesn't pass your course and has to wait like I have all summer eng are full , getting grades in your course is like pulling teeth , this isn't the only course that I have taken but by far it is the most difficult to get my grades, Last time you emailed me you said Monday and here it is none of my grades are posted an I am off to work and wont have a chance to see them until tomorrow and hopefully can get an eng course so that my degree isn't delayed but just this course. The effort is on the students to pass but the teacher is expected to grade the papers in a timely manner.


Here is what I wrote back. To XXX.


You have not received feedback in a timely manner not because I have not been reading papers, but because you did not follow the directions and submit your papers in the right file type. All semester I received papers from you that I could not open. The course orientation and the contract you agreed to clearly state that all files are to be in .doc format, or I can’t read them. This requirement is in line with Sweet Little College policy as well. Please also note that most English teachers read ONE draft of a paper and the student has to live with the grade, whatever it is. I reread papers constantly to help students get better grades. As a result, I now have an entire semester’s worth of papers to grade in less than two weeks. Is it surprising that it would take me a little bit of time to accomplish that?

I am truly sorry that you are frustrated, but I am doing the best I can. Call me if you want to discuss this further.

Professor Nina

I might have been too nice. Or not. I have lost all perspective. What do you think?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Sin of the week, 5/4/08

The worst thing I did this week was be culturally insensitive and not care at all about it.

One of my students asked me what I was doing for summer vacation, and I mentioned that I was going to Africa.

"Oh, that's great," she replied. "You must be going over there to do relief work. What a great idea!"

"Oh," I said. "Yeah, I guess it's great. Yeah."

"So, what kind of work will you be doing? The math teacher is going to dig a well in a village in Kenya. It's so awesome!" she said.

"Oh," I said. "I, um, I am going to be bringing clothing* over there for, um, the mountain people in Tanzania."

"Clothing?" she said.

"Yeah. The don't have enough warm clothing up there."

"Africa is really hot, right?"

"Well yeah, but the mountains are colder. And stuff."

My student then figured out that I am just a smarmy American tourist with sporting ambitions and relatively little interest in the welfare of African people. And I felt shabby.

Shabby is what I am.

Get ready for Monday. It's on its way.

*We leave our gear behind when climbing in impoverished countries. The local guides can use it and we can get more at home. (But I am still shabby).

Saturday, May 3, 2008

My library

Well, yes, this is the "before" picture. One of the first things I am going to do when this megazord of grading is over is clean out filing cabinet and my book closet in an attempt, once again, to free up some space. Between me and that project... a sea of papers to grade.

Oh wait. I already complained about that. Sorry.

See you tomorrow.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Yes or no

I was over at LizB's place yesterday, and I saw this:


You can only say yes or no. You are NOT ALLOWED to explain ANYTHING unless someone messages you and asks!

Over 18? Yes
Danced in front of your mirror naked? No
Ever told a lie? Yes
Been arrested? No
Kissed a picture? Yes
Fallen asleep at work/school? Yes
Held an actual snake? Yes
Have YOU Ever run a red light? Yes
Ever drink and drive? Yes
Been suspended from school? No
Ever been fired from a job? Yes
Totaled a car/motorbike in an accident? No
Sang karaoke? No
Done something you told yourself you wouldn't? Yes
Laughed until something you were drinking came out your nose? Yes
Ever laughed until you wet yourself? YNo
Caught a snowflake on your tongue? Yes
Kissed in the rain? Yes
Sang in the shower? No
Sat on a rooftop? Yes
Thought about your past with regret? Yes
Been pushed in the pool with your clothes on? No
Shaved your head? No
Blacked out from drinking? Yes
Had a gym membership? Yes
Been in a band? No
Shot a gun? Yes
Liked someone with nobody else knowing about it? Yes
Played strip poker? No
Been to a strip joint? No
Donated Blood? Yes
Liked someone you shouldn't? Yes
Have a tattoo? No
Have or had any piercings besides ears? No
Made out with a complete stranger? No
Caught someone cheating on you? No
Skinny dipped? No
Regret any of your ex's? Yes
Been to a rodeo? Yes
Been to a NASCAR race? Yes
Been in Love? Yes

Maybe I should get naked more often.

Have an excellent weekend. And thank you for reading.

Thursday, May 1, 2008


Recently I made some hateful comments about how I didn't want any more stupid people to be born because the world seems to have an ample supply. Many of you thought this was heartless for me to say and some of you thought, I am sure, that since I am stupid myself, I injured the cause of my own kind by suggesting there should be fewer of us. Whatever.

Let me splain why I had that little tantrum about stupidity.

I have a student - not the first in my career - who spells his name four different ways, depending on his mood. He also writes his papers in text language, but that is another complaint entirely. So that I don't sound like I am singling out any ethnic or social group by way of splainin', I will use the name of a famous person who is most assuredly not attending college to make my point. To prove I am not even ganging up on men-folk, I will choose a woman's name.

The name shall be: Angelina Jolie.

Now, if you have an "Angelina Jolie" in your class, like I do, you expect that your Angelina Jolie will have nickname. Good. Let's say it is "Angie." Excellent! Let's rule in the possibility that Angelina, sometimes known as "Angie," will sometimes type "Angie Jolie" in the heading of her papers because she would assume I would know, based on the last name and my knowledge of her casual moniker, to whom the paper belonged. To whom the paper belonged!

Not so!

During the semester, I collected six formal papers from Angelina. On the first paper, she spelled her name:

Angelina F. Jolie. (Cool! She has a middle name!)

On second paper, she spelled her name:

Angie Farina J. (Huh. I wonder if this is Ms. Jolie?)

On her third paper, she spelled her name:

Angelina Farina Jolio (Oh shit. I wonder if this is the same person as Angie Farina J?)

On her fourth paper, she spelled her name:

Angelina Q. Jolio-Farina. (What the FUCK?)

Fifth paper?

Angie Jolie (Wow. It's almost clear to me who this is.)

Sixth paper:

Angelinina J. (Who the fuck is this?)

So when I returned her portfolio the other day, I asked, "What is your name, seriously?"

She replied, "Yo, miss, it's Ange."

"Really? No Angie? No second syllable?"

"Whatever, it's Ange."

"Ok. Look at all the ways you spelled your name this semester. Why did you do that?" I was a bit snappish.

"I was just keepin' things fresh."

"Really?" said I.

"I got to go," replied Angelina, Ange, Angie, and Farina Q Jolininio.


And then I had a breakdown and I begged Jesus to just make it stop.

And that's all the splainin' this "miss" is gonna do.

Happy Thursday.