November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving on a Card Table

This year marked my first Thanksgiving away from home. The holiday also gave me a much needed break from school, and an even more needed dose of boyfriend time.

Although my cooking generally teeters on the edge of barely edible mush laced with cayenne pepper, I stubbornly resigned to cook the entire meal: turkey, trimmings and pumpkin pie. I recruited Grandma Moore's recipes, lots of advice, and lots of butter.

My boyfriend did the grunt work on the mashed potatoes and the dressing, and I implanted butter under the turkey's skin, baked the pies, and made green bean casserole. We declared the feast a victory over small kitchen, inadequate utensils and general lack of experience in feast-cooking.

The card table in my living room has a weight limit that was thoroughly tested by our spread of food enough for 7-10 adults (we were only two). In a symbolic joining of Thanksgiving and Flagstaff, my steel water bottle was a testament to saving the environment; unning the dishwasher twice in one day, on the other hand, was a nod to America, the land of "infinite" natural resources.

My boyfriend and I agreed that Thanksgiving didn't feel like the real thing without our families, but that we liked the turkey and pumpkin pie just fine anyway. I suppose this Thanksgiving marks some newfound independence or culinary conquest, but I'm still looking forward to spending Christmas in Lincoln. I'm not a grown-up yet.

Counting the Informations

So as I was three-hole punching a thick stack of research articles I was supposed to read over the weekend, I began to wonder what the point of all this printing is.

Seriously. I have an enormous three-ring binder in which to bind all of my three-hole punched papers. I've read these papers, marked them with four different colors of pen, and pretty much forgotten all of the material already.

I have visions of myself one day opening this notebook for inspiration as I sit at my desk in Budapest, or Mandalay, or Tunis. Ah yes, back in ENG 548, we did talk about Content-Based Instruction--that's just what I need!

In reality, that notebook will likely gather dust in some plastic bin for all eternity.

The readings (which will likely be totally out of date in 3 years anyway) aside, I bought possibly the least practical teaching materials ever created. Okay fine, the least practical item to take along on an international flight to destination TBA: 500 laminated words with magnets that were hand cut out and assembled by my boyfriend and me after Thanksgiving dinner. The words themselves could potentially be a fun and useful classroom activity, but 500 magnets really increase the volume of that paper! I settled on a satisfactory method of organization that would no doubt make Martha Stewart cringe. I painstakingly grouped similar words together in stacks of about 10, fastened them with binder clips, and then sorted the stacks into 10 poly material button and string closure envelopes. It was a tedious process to say the least. Now I have a cubic foot of any future suitcase or desk drawer already spoken for. Let's hope they are useful.

Anyway, I think the underlying issue I want to write about is: how am I supposed to bring all of this information with me? My little brain is already on overload, and I haven't even finished my first semester.

I definitely need a stellar method of organization. Something better than poly envelopes and binder clips.

November 15, 2011

Just PRINT (Gonna be okay...any Gaga fans?)

I'm never sure why the blogging muse strike when it does, but here I am. I just did a victory dance after printing off my first graduate term paper. The topic was Foreign Language Anxiety, and foreign language or not, I'm an anxious person, and I think that topic (plus the mountain of other work) just fueled my fire. I made a commitment on Facebook to choose a topic like ESL Zen or Positive Psychology next semester, but my natural inclinations always take me to such dark places! My other paper this semester is about Cambodia's recovery from the Khmer Rouge (and the influence of English as a new beginning). Genocide, Holocaust, HIV/AIDS, Anxiety, etc....what is my problem with selecting a not-so-depressing topic?

Anyway, my general anxiety hit an apex today sometime between realizing that I can't please everyone all the time and flicking an enormous spider off of my sweatpants (and then crushing him to a bloody pulp). Luckily I have a stellar boyfriend who is just a phone call away, plenty of jasmine tea, and a new album--Florence and the Machine's "The Ceremonials". Good stuff. Helps me relax.

I think my experience with anxiety today helped me just push print tonight. It's a hard thing for me. I want everything to be perfect, even though I know that at some point, I've met my limit. It's kind of exhilarating to hold 18 pages of pieces of paper in your hand and know that your blood (paper cuts), sweat (riding a bike to my office), and tears (self-explanatory) went into creating that masterpiece (or total hot mess--fine lines here).

If you haven't ever, I suggest busting a move after you print a paper; it's a pretty spectacular way to celebrate.