Archive for the ‘It’s Educational!’ Category

Wow, hey, it’s been over a month since I last poured out my soul and neuroses here, eh?  I’d love to say that it’s because I’ve been sailing smoothly through life but alas, it’s mostly that I’ve grown weary of always having shit to bitch about and/or analyze.  Well, that and my brain and expository writing have not so much been friends recently.

So, Jen, what’s been going on?

I am 8 days from the end of the semester.  I have drafted 4 of my5 papers (thus far 29 pages of writing with another 7 to go…), shuddered at the sight of one of my two exams, and started reviewing for the second.  I have one paper due Sunday, one Monday, an exam Monday, an exam due Wednesday, two papers due next Friday and one due next Saturday.  I have completed my board postings and readings, and have had anxiety attacks from noon to 3 pm every day for close to a month.  I no longer get any sense of accomplishment at finishing tasks because there is always.something.else.  It’s sort of sucky.

In addition to the massive school thread, I decided back in October to do some editing of old poems.  So I messed around, rewrote, condensed, and then this past week I sent some out to various poetry contests on the theory that they aren’t doing me any good sitting on my hard drive and if nothing else, I really like having people read my writing, even if I have to pay them to do it.  I’m not all ‘I’m gonna WIN!’ or anything but I have at least gotten back to the point where I feel like I can write poetry that doesn’t suck.  That feels nice, honestly–it’s been a long time since I’ve tried to write creatively and I was starting to feel like maybe I’d been kidding myself that I could do it.

I have also been doing the visual arts thing from time to time, or at least playing around with it.  It turns out that, like my poetry, I like the pictures I draw.  Who knew?  And I like to paint, and I like to have ideas, and it’s pretty cool.

I have not played my dholak at all though.  I will.  Just not yet.

Otherwise, I am trying to keep my head from flying off of my body, trying to deal with the daily anxiety, trying to remember that I am really going to finish all of my work for the semester and am going to do it well, and trying to remember that my head *cannot actually* go flying off of my body even if it *feels like* I can’t keep it on.

And I’m excited about the holidays even though we don’t have a tree yet and the Halloween decorations are still up and I haven’t a clue when, how, or what I’m going to do about gifting this year.  I still can’t believe it’s December already.  I do think that we’re doing a Solstice something this year, Lucy and I.  I’ll come up with something.

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There was a whole big long entry here that must’ve been eaten.  That really sucks.

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Seriously, trying to write with two maniac children directly behind me is trying my ability to concentrate.

Last night was filled with those dreams that straddle reality and not-reality.  At one point I woke up panic-stricken that the dress I got for the wedding we’re attending next weekend is…unsuitable.  The husband assures me it is cute but I tend to not trust his opinion in such matters for, although he has an excellent eye when it comes to esthetics, he tends to see things as ‘cute’ that are more ‘frumpy’ or ‘lumpy’ when it comes to me.  Namely my big ole babygut.  I may be hauling out to Marshalls today in search of something less clingy (or clingy in better places) that is also breastfeedable.  No wait, that sounds wrong.  Something in which I can breastfeed.


My monstrous to-do list for the break is, mercifully, commensurate to the time left in my break.  Meaning, I will actually manage to get everything crossed off in time to start classes tomorrow.  This pleases me greatly.  More importantly, I did not leave until the last minute those tasks I was most dreading, which means that today will not suck.  There will be planting and organizing in the kids’ room and shredding and perhaps a decoupage project if I am feeling crafty.

Which I’m really not right now.


I am very excited about sending Lucy back to school tomorrow my classes starting.  I will probably be less excited come tomorrow night when I have assignments and reading and stuff, but at the moment I’m going to bask in the anticipation.

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I have officially been done with my classes since 2:03 pm on Saturday.  Not that I was counting or anything.  Let the partying commence!

By partying I mean organizing.  I am proud to say that I will be using my day of childcare to dig through last years’ summer stuff and (hopefully) pack up a ton to dispose of.  I am also hoping to tackle the crap on the balcony so that we can start to enjoy it again.  Maybe a bit ambitious but what the hell.  I realized yesterday that I have to get some place set up where I can enjoy quasi-nature and our balcony has the potential to be a nice little oasis if I can just get stuff planted and st up out there.  I only say this every year and never do it.  I’m going to clean this keyboard too; it’s really gross.

Maybe I’ll try to get one room of the house organized every day until my classes start up again.  See, Party!

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In no particular order:

  • Finished both exams and two of the three final papers, including the one for extra credit I couldn’t bring myself to blow off.  It still needs editing but what the hell, it’s extra credit.
  • Did quite well on botany exam, not as well on lab exam but I’m still pretty happy.  I really learned a lot in those classes and my interest in herbal medicine has been re-piqued (is that a word?)
  • Teas!  One of the mothers from Lucy’s school gave me some chrysanthemum tea and it is heavenly.  I forgot how good tea is when it’s good quality.   I of course went crazy and ordered a handful of other types–lychee, rose, jasmine oolong and jasmine green tea.  I tried the rose tea last night and it is absolutely divine.  What a  nice treat for myself!  I am so over grocery store teas 😛
  • I cannot wait for the semester to be over.  Seriously, this week has been exhausting and I’m not even that stressed out.
  • Rain can suck it.

Ok, that’s enough slacking.  Send good paper-writing vibes.

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Yeah, the catharsis of telling my business on the internet has been surpassed by the catharsis of a good sleep.  I can’t lie.

The past few weeks have been a journey of getting to know myself, trying to look honestly at my strengths and weaknesses, and all sorts of other psychobabble-esque crap.  Also, I’ve discovered that sometimes talking to myself in my head is more helpful than talking to myself here.  Just sayin’.  It was interesting to realize that I do so much writing for my classes that I don’t so much need the blawg to get stuff out of my head.

So yes, the past few weeks…trying to get outside, walking with the baby, breathing in what passes for fresh air in the flight path of La Guardia.  Spent an excellent day with mizz Luce at the botanical garden learning an eentsy bit of foraging, how to make seed bombs and compost cookies and cleaning up at the flea market.  I discovered I not only love Jerusalem artichokes but they grow in containers so there’s that for an upcoming project.  Once I finish finals and fun-reading, that is.

The boy is tearing up the vocabulary these days, keeping us on our toes trying to figure out if he is saying ‘no’ (nose), ‘no’ (nurse) or ‘no’ (stop it).  He rolls his r’s when he says ‘draw’, says ‘coo’ instead of school, andwhen he gets into batting stance, he says ‘guy’ (looks like he’s a lefty).  If you’re watching tv, he asks to put on baseball (tee?  bayball?’) and not only does he have a batting stance complete with follow-through, he has a leg kick he uses when he (‘whoa’ a la Joey Lawrence) throws the ball.

The girl has taken to writing books and is better than her mom at use of adjectives.  She has created a Crusader’s Club (for the Earth) and a spy club.  The latter is a bit of a disappointment for her as I put the ixnay on hosting her entire class for a spy club meeting.  I think mostly she likes the idea of wearing a disguise.

For the end of the semester, I have 3 papers, 2 finals and 15 questions of varying complexity to answer in three different classes.  Oh, and 100 pages of a book to read before I can answer 6 of the questions and do one of the papers.  I am not a happy bee right about now but it will feel damn good when I am finished next week.  Wish me luck.  Or sanity.  Or both.

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One of my assignments for this week was to write a one-scene continuation of the Glass Menagerie.  It ended up with a happy ending.  I gave a happy ending to Tennessee Williams.  This is a clear indicator that I have reached pessimism overload.  It didn’t start out happy but that’s sure as hell where it ended up.  WTF?  I am so not a happy ending sort of person.


As I was waiting for my yearly exam with my midwife, standing in the gown rewriting my history midterm essay on the counter next to the swabs and speculum, I realized that I may have gotten myself in over my head every-so-slightly this semester.  Four classes is definitely too many.  Or more specifically, four classes and two children is too many.  It’ll be ok and I’ll make it through–this isn’t one of those angsty freakouts–but in the future I must remember that school is a lot of work, kids are a lot of work, and the two together are massive.  Fun, but massive.


Sprouts are still sprouting.  Flowers blooming.  Geranium plant has taken over the entire window-area and needs desperately to be repotted.  Next week, if all goes well, I’ll be planting my pickling cukes, nasturtium and marigolds.  How’s that for Spring Break?  Don’t worry, I’ll flash my tits at the worms or something.


Late to the party as always, I just discovered both Regina Spektor and Feist.  Is there anyone else I should be listening to?  I’m trying to listen to mostly women artists for a while so I’m back in the Ani-Indigo Girls-Etta James groove but am always looking for more.  I feel a playlist coming on as soon as I get through midterms.

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There is a specific question for anyone from the Riot reading this on the feed at the bottom–I need advice about how to get myself to stop buying stuff.


I am thinking a lot about Tillie Olsen for my paper.  Thinking about privelege, about struggle, and about how my favorite thing about “I Stand Here Ironing” is that the narrator is a mother who sounds like a mother.  Slightly harried, proud and regretful at the same time, and a  mother and person at the same time.  I am excited to write my paper, and nervous to not do justice to this writer I have come to admire greatly both for her writing and for her life.  Her words are so powerful.  They make me want to write again, which is good since all of my classes are conducted in writing 🙂


We are growing things again here at chez Neko.  Over the past two days, we planted basil, chives, parsley, cilantro and thyme, plus this cheezy-ass Gothic Graveyard Garden I ordered from Tarzhay.  It is awesome.  We are growing moonflower, sensitive plant, dragon tree and black coleus (this last one amuses me as I spent the better part of last weekend trying to decipher photos of slides of coleus plant structure.  I find myself wondering how much different the chloroplasts must look if the leaves are black, which means I am actually learning in my botany class.)  I picked up marigold and nasturtium seeds as well as pickling cukes what can be grown in containers but we are waiting to plant those.  I think we’re going to give some tomatoes a go this year again because I think moisture was the problem last year.


What do both of the above sections have in common?  Buying things.  I have been a lean, mean buying machine.  This continues to be my weakest Riot section.  I would say that I suck at it except I really haven’t been able to find a way to make myself really try.  I see something, I can afford it, I buy it.  Books I need for class, new pants so I don’t have to live in sweats, pants for Chico, socks for C, feeding Lucy’s Littlest Pet Shop addiction.  It’s like a reward system for my good work but it isn’t something I want to keep up.  Everything gets used, we actually have room for most of it, but I want to get myself out of the habit of rewarding myself with STUFF.  I can’t seem to maintain any sort of resolve in this area.  How do you keep yourself from impulse purchases/reward purchases?  I am really feeling like I need to get this problem under control NOW.

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Hooray for Books!

I am once again reading fifteen books at once.  I have decided that this is actually me favorite way to read:  in clumps, grouped vaguely by subject matter, all at one time, and with a ratio of one fiction to eight nonfiction.  

I am researching a bit for the paper for my writing class and in the interim have come across about eight billion books on women and history and economics and the like so I’m just gonna read ’em all.  HA!

This is making it a bit difficult to maintain the train of thought in my history class though so I’m going to have to switch gears for at least a day to get caught up on that one.  We didn’t have a reading this week so I’m sort of out here in plants-and-women land which is ok for now but I have to make sure not to blow off my buddy Columbus in the meantime.  I’m lousy at pacing myself.

This whole having a paper is so exciting to me that I can hardly stand it.  I think maybe I’ve been missing writing a little more than I care to admit.  I had a field day in the crappy local b and n women’s studies section so clearly I’m into the whole research thing, although I think I am likely going overboard for a 3-5 page essay.  It’s exciting, though.  


The trouble with exciting is that my version of excited is less ‘happy bunny’ and more ‘grim determination.’  This makes me less than pleasant to be around most of the time.  I don’t know how to compartmentalize the parts of my life that don’t really intersect, like how to remember to smile at both my kids *and* my husband or how to take breaks to relax with all of them instead of just when the baby needs a nap.  I’m trying to figure it out but I think maybe in this case it’s more a matter of stopping the thinking long enough to let myself chill out a bit.  

I don’t know how people get shit done and have fun too and I’d really like to figure it out so that my family doesn’t dread being around me.

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Despite years of using them, I am still getting used to being the Thread Killer on message boards.  You know, the person who responds and suddenly everything goes silent.


This is infinitely frustrating when the message board is used to regulate discussion in one’s classes.  When one is graded on it.  When one asks direct freaking questions, for crap’s sake.  

I mean, seriously?  Do I come across as an asshole?  Because I’m starting to feel like maybe I’m sounding like an asshole when I make responses, even when I intend them to be earnest.  

Now, normally I’d not particularly care because hell, sometimes I get frustrated by stuff that I read and sometimes I am, in fact, an asshole.  But I’m really trying to phrase everything as clearly as possible to avoid confusion and still…..


Sigh.  Apparently even when I try to be nice and complimentary I come across as a snot.  At least it’s not happening in person where I have to look at people not answering me, but I am starting to feel like the discussion portion is a crock of crap if nobody bothers to discuss stuff with you past the perfunctory three peer responses we’re supposed to make.  I know it’s happening to other people on the board so I don’t feel singled out but I do have some serious insecurities about my ability to communicate intelligently without miles of drafts so I’m really not liking this for now.


I have my first paper draft due in a little under 2 weeks and I am hella excited about it.  I’ve started research and everything–it’s going to be on mothers and independence with comparisons of Tillie Olsen’s ‘I Stand Here Ironing’ and Doris Lessing’s ‘To Room Nineteen.’  I’m trying to maintain a focus on the implication that woman’s financial independence when she is not employed is dependent on her work as mother as laid out by Charlotte Perkins Gilman in ‘Women and Economics.’  I think it’s going to rock.  Or at least be interesting, considering that the two pieces were published in the early 60’s but take place in disparate times (Depression and 60’s) and involve mothers of different class backgrounds.  


Surprisingly, my favorite class by far thus far is my plants class.  It is rocking and we haven’t even gotten past cell parts and mitosis.  It’s so freaking cool.

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