More Than Ships Passing In the Night

Month: September, 2014

Two chairs and no serial killers

Sometimes all it takes for me to feel successful is to make it home in one piece.

For instance, today I did NOT get murdered by serial killers.

Context: I bought two chairs from two different sellers on Craigslist. I picked up both chairs on my way home from work this evening.

Not only did neither of the persons selling the chairs turn out to be serial killers (always a win, especially when you’re Craigslist shopping), but both happened to be very friendly and personable.

It’s a little unnerving because so far all of my experiences with Craigslist have been alarmingly positive. I’m afraid I may be developing an unrealistically rosy view of the site’s merits.

Or I just have a really good eye for great deals from nice people.

Anyway, I’m feeling really pleased with myself because I’ve been wanting chairs: a chair for the upstairs spare room that I’ve been redecorating (and lovingly referring to as the “Spare Oom” in honor of Mr. Tumnus), and a chair for my cubicle at work. I have a desk chair at work, but I wanted an additional chair because people are constantly coming in to my cubicle to talk with me and there is no convenient place for them to sit. I’m on a mission to make my cubicle into a warm, pleasant, inviting space; some additional seating seemed absolutely necessary toward this end.

So, as I was saying, I’m feeling really pleased with myself because I’ve had these specific goals for chairs and I went out, found what I wanted, got it, and then brought it home. And I only spent $125 in total.

In our house, we refer to this sort of accomplishment as “hunting it down and killing it.”

Can I just say this post is sounding unintentionally morbid?

Anyway, here are my trophies from today’s adventures:

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The latest addition to Spare Oom. The lighting is wacky, but the chair really is cute, I promise!

photo 2(3)

The chair that is going to my cubicle. The blue accent pillow next to it actually came with the other chair, but I’m going to use it to add a little bit of color to this one.

Lucy has already made herself at home, which bodes well for the chair in terms of its ability to communicate hospitality to any cubicle visitors.

 Furthermore, this business of searching for chairs on Craigslist has given me a new idea to explore: learning how to reupholster old chairs. THAT could be really fun!

All in all, it’s been a very successful day.

GRE: check.

That’s all, folks.

None of the things that I was worried about (waking up on time, finding the place, the parking situation) proved to be obstacles for me. The whole thing was rather uneventful. My preliminary scores were right on par with how I’d been doing on my practice tests, so I felt satisfied. I’m curious to get my final scores, which will include my essay scores.

My brain felt numb afterward and I felt off for the better part of the day. But eventually I became a person again.

I’m glad I went through with taking it. I’m glad I didn’t bomb it. But I’m mainly just glad that it’s finally over.

September panic attack (I’m okay, really)

Teaser: I’m currently working on a post about three females in literary fiction who inspire me. I originally wanted to make it a “Top 10” list, but after coming up with the first three, I’m having trouble coming up with seven more that are on par with them, so I might just cap it at three and talk more in-depth about each of them. I’m pretty excited about it. Extra teaser: all three are from children’s books. Hehe!

Things that I’m stressing out about right now:

1) I take the GRE the day after tomorrow

Here are the things that I’m actually worried about:

  • Waking up in time
  • Finding the place
  • The parking situation

That’s in addition to the math section, of course. The other night, I took another practice test, and my brain had completely unraveled by the time I got to the final math section. There was a question that completely stumped me that I just knew I should be able to solve but I could not for the life of me figure out where to start.  I’ll tell you what it was, because it seriously should not have train-wrecked me the way that it did.

As best as I can remember it:

“3x + 5000 = 6x + 10000. Solve for x (write the answer as a fraction).”

You’ve already solved it, right?

Yeah, not me. I was mystified. I stared and stared at the screen, feeling my IQ dropping by the second. This should not be that hard. I know how to do this. Why am I stuck on this?

In the end, after the test was over, I had to use this to figure out the answer.

I can crank out essays on topics about which I know absolutely nothing and I can consistently get an almost perfect score on the verbal reasoning sections, but math has been and always will be my kryptonite. There is some neural pathway in my brain that never fully developed with regard to math, so when the math problem-solving neurons try to fire, they just short-circuit my brain wiring instead and everything shuts down.

So, we’ll see how things go on Saturday…

2) Next week through February 2015

My friend is going on maternity leave starting Monday. She also happens to be my co-worker. Our office recently underwent some structural changes, including taking on the support work for additional programs in the law school as well as two co-workers leaving for jobs elsewhere.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • In July, we were a team of four, all of whom had been here anywhere between 2 – 5+ years.
  • We were in the process of hiring a fifth person for our team to replace a co-worker who had left back in the spring.
  • Immediately after we extended a job offer to the would-be fifth person, two of my co-workers gave their two weeks’ notice.
  • We were able to offer a job to our runner-up as well, without having to start the entire process from scratch.
  • In August, we were a team of four: myself, my 8-months-pregnant co-worker, and two new-hires.
  • The original plan was to hire a temp while my co-worker went on leave. Then we decided that it would be easier if I just covered for her while she was out.
  • So, now it’s September. Starting next week, we will be a team of three: myself and two new-hires.

This is what my support load looked like a year ago: 12 professors + 1 law school program.

This is what my support load looked like in August when we started supporting more law school programs: 12 professors + 1 law school program + 2 law school centers + 3 law school clinics

This is what my support load looks like now (well, starting Monday): 30 professors + 1 law school program + 2 law school centers + 3 law school clinics.

Now, I will qualify that by saying that 5 of those professors are not heavily involved with teaching this semester. Furthermore, of the 25 remaining professors, not every single one requires an extensive amount of support.

Also, I was the one who suggested that I cover for my co-worker in lieu of hiring a temp.

But still. It’s going to be an interesting semester! 😀

But wait, there’s more!

Our office historically has been in charge of facilitating and administering the law school exams at the end of every semester. Now, we are partnering with the Law Student Services department for this process. Think of the exam process as a three-part process: preparing the exams for administration, administering the exams, and processing the finished exams. Our office is now responsible for the first and third parts of the process.

The fun part is that for this upcoming exam season, between the Faculty Support Office and Law Student Services, I will be the only person on the team who has recently been involved with the entire process.

To further underscore my (lack of) experience, let me add this perspective: I formerly had two primary roles in the exam process – to make door signs with exam information for each day and to be the “floater.” Being the floater meant assisting the exam proctors with starting exams, filling in as a proctor whenever needed, and assisting my co-workers with their parts of the exam process when needed (counting exams, stapling print-outs, replenishing exam boxes, pulling exams, etc.)

My roles in the process now include preparing all of the exam boxes (we create a physical box for each exam being administered. In addition to the actual exams, these also include instructions for the proctors, attendance slips and course rosters for taking role, as well as ear plugs, extra pencils, extra scratch paper, extra blue books for the students, etc.); preparing the identifying labels that go on each box; pulling all exams for reschedules, accommodated students, and LLM students; transporting completed, exam-filled boxes from one building to the other for administration; making the door signs; and running completed scantrons through the scantron machine.

Oh, and pretending like I know the answers to all and any questions that my new co-workers (and Law Student Services) will inevitably have about the entire process.

LET THE GAMES BEGIN.

To my future son(s)

“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all you do be done in love.” (1 Corinthians 16:24)

GRE update. Also, I’m tired.

This morning, my body decided it would be fun to wake up around 4:15 am. It also decided that the only thing more fun than waking up at 4:15 am would be not going back to sleep right away.

Now it happened that, in a fit of nocturnal motivation prior to going to bed last night, I set my alarm clock for an earlier wake-up time than usual. For some reason, I had gotten it into my head that I would wake up totally down to go for a run at 6 am on a Monday morning.

Rookie mistake.

Instead, I was wide awake at 4:15 am and vaguely (not to mention briefly) contemplated going for a run then. You know those times when you wake up in the middle of the night/early morning and you feel like you could just get up and start your day? And you know that if you go back to bed and fall asleep, you’re going to wake up feeling more tired than you do right then? But there’s a part of you that’s all, “No one in their right mind voluntarily gets up at this heinous hour!” so you (try to) go back to sleep?

Yeah, that was my story at 4:15 this morning.

Meaning that when my alarm went off at 5:50, I lay there, listening to the Proclaimers singing “500 Miles,” and thought to myself, “That would make a great recessional.” And then turned off my alarm and decided to see how I felt when the second alarm went off.

And when the second alarm went off at 6 am, I said to myself, “This ain’t happening today.”

Now, for the sake of dramatic effect, you need to understand that – due to insane traffic during my morning commute lately – my target time to be leaving my house for work is 7:15 am.

In order to achieve that target time, I aim to get up between 6:15 and 6:30 am.

So, imagine my reaction this morning when the next time I checked my clock after turning off my 6 am alarm, I saw that it was now 6:57 am.

Did I leap out of bed in a flurry of panic?

Nope.

Instead, I rolled over and considered whether a desperate need for more sleep would constitute a reasonable justification for calling in sick today.

Finally, after 7 am, I dragged myself out of bed and commenced the morning routine in a foggy haze. Meaning I was literally disoriented. To the extent that my brain’s attempt to transmit information to my limbs in order to produce organized movement was only about 75% successful. And I kept forgetting where I was and what I was supposed to be doing.

Amazingly enough, I made it to work 1) on time and 2) in one piece. Given my decreased sense of awareness toward my surroundings, I may have qualified as a driving hazard, but somehow managed to avoid any unfortunate incidents.

Then, I was really busy all day at work.

Then, I came home and spent the evening taking a GRE practice test. Let me tell you, there were multiple points during this test when I desperately just wanted to shut my computer and walk away because I was tired of using my brain on big words and tricky equations.

Or I just seriously didn’t know how to answer the question, which made me feel helpless and stupid.

At the end, the practice test showed my scores for the verbal reasoning and quantitative (or, math) reasoning sections (apparently they don’t keep a GRE essay-grader on-call at all times to grade practice essays for the written portion. Rude. <–Kidding. Just so we’re clear.).

Warning: I’m going to brag just a teensy bit, because you’ve all had to endure my periodic complaints about studying for the GRE.

The scale for each section is 130-170.

My verbal reasoning score was 162.

My quantitative reasoning score was 151.

I’m particularly excited about that last score, because I really don’t get math, so the fact that I didn’t completely bomb my first practice test is very encouraging. There’s hope for me yet! 😀

Also, my test date is September 20th, which is a week from this Saturday.

EEEK!!!

Hopefully my actual scores won’t go down from my practice scores. THAT would be awkward.

(Side note: this is, I think, the second time that I’ve described my morning wake-up routine in detailed increments of time. Also, I just typed “morning” as “mourning,” which I think is some kind of Freudian slip. But I digress. I’m not sure if I should apologize for my weird tendency to provide morning timelines, but nevertheless, I want you to know that I am aware of and monitoring the situation. Over and out.)

My stream of consciousness: Unplugged edition

I don’t know if you’re paying attention to what has been going on in the world lately. If you have, then you know what I’m talking about. If you have not, let me tell you – there is some crazy scary stuff going down. And I don’t say that to make light of some very serious situations, but simply because I’m having trouble processing the information that I read in the news each morning.

Sometimes – a lot of times – I write “fluff” blog posts. Random, almost pointless ramblings about the most mundane and irrelevant things that I happen to be thinking about. And then I read the news headlines and I feel like an idiot because I just published a post about puggles and then saw this.

I don’t know how to synthesize. Finding the middle ground has always been a challenge for me. I know how to see things in extreme: I can debate both sides of the issue. But I can’t reconcile both sides of the issue together. So, lately, I find that I am self-consciously self-editing. I’ll make small talk with you. I can ask you how you’re doing, how your day was, what you did this week, etc. I’ll make small talk on my blog. I’ll write about the family dog, or the contents of my purse, or the wine bottle lamps that I’m making (my dad and I made one, incidentally, and it’s pretty cool). I’ll share funny videos and articles. Maybe I’ll throw in the occasional slightly-more-introspective-but-still-very-cliche-surface-level post about kindness. As if those things are what I spend the bulk of my time thinking about. As if my character could be reduced to a sort of two-dimensional self-centeredness. And I don’t say that as some sort of humble-brag about how I’m actually such a deep person.

My point is that the capacity for depth exists in all of us. But we don’t know what to do with that. At least, I don’t.

I believe that we are all created in the image of God, which means that, whether are not you embrace the faith that is true Christianity, we all are capable of reflecting facets of God’s image and that we are all complex beings. When I talk about my own depth, it is not a comparison statement – a weighing of myself against those around me. Rather, I am evaluating what I reflect against the knowledge that has been given to me. How am I using what I have been given? Am I using what I have been given? Or am I self-editing because I am afraid? Or worse, because I don’t know how to stop self-editing?

After all, if I write a post about puggles, you can turn around and say, “That was a really dumb post, Katie,” and I can be impervious to your criticism because, guess what? – I already know that it’s a dumb post. You’re telling me what I already know.

But if I write a post about something I really care about – my faith, my political views, my ethical views, my views about depression, pain, mental health, heck – even nutrition and exercise – then I am bound to offend someone. And if you turn around and challenge me on those posts, then it hurts. And it gets scary. And then I want to hide.

I will only share what does not matter to me, that way if you don’t like it, it does not matter to me.

I guess that’s the plight of the people-pleaser. I learned pretty early in life how to be a good chameleon: I figured out which parts of myself to reveal to which people, and adapted myself accordingly to various scenarios.

And when I can’t read the situation, then I err on the side of caution. Read: self-editing. Read: small talk. Read: “fluff.”

And now it kind of just happens automatically. It’s weird – I truly take my cues from the other person(s), to the point of adjusting my tone, volume, speech patterns, etc. to match theirs. I think that’s kind of creepy. My therapist tells me that it’s a useful skill in therapy – that counselors actually take classes and receive training to learn how to do that, because it fosters a better sense of connection and relating with the client. Which then raises the question: in our sessions,  is she adjusting to match me, or I to match her?

But it still leaves the unanswered question of what I would sound like, act like if I had no one against which to adjust myself. I want to be well-rounded, well-thought-out, well-spoken. But I also want to be well-liked, well-received, and well-regarded. Okay, that last one was slightly redundant, but I was really going to for the parallelism effect. Also, the word “well” sounds weird to me now.

My point is that…. I don’t know.

I don’t know what my point is.

For me, there is a disconnect between the conception of a thought and the expression of it. I don’t think in complete sentences. I think in abstract fragments, emotional impressions, one-liners, and visual images. Writing allows me to harness my thoughts into a (hopefully) coherent content. But sometimes I can’t. Sometimes my thoughts come out in jagged attempts at linear cohesion and all I can do is gesture hopelessly and sputter: “Puggles… world crises… it doesn’t add up… why am I acting so shallow?…  God help us all.”

Kyrie eleison.

Muggle the Puggle: Puppy love edition

Although I am a hard-core cat-lover (one word: Sasquatch) and have aspirations of being a crazy cat lady if nothing else pans out, I do find myself experiencing regular bouts of puppy fever. I want a canine companion who will go running walking with me. A bundle of unconditional, unquestioning, ever-forgiving love and devotion whose entire world revolves around me.

Not that I’m narcissistic or anything.

I just want a puppy.

In fact, I want THIS puppy:

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Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

“This popular toy breed loves people, whether that involves sitting on laps or going for long walks. The Cavalier is happy, trusting and easygoing, making friends everywhere he goes. Although he can be stubborn, he generally responds well to positive reinforcement and tends to be adaptable enough to sit quietly with an older person, then turn around and play with an active child.”

I know, I know. Now you want one too.

The other day, I was clicking through a slideshow of the top dog breeds for new owners. That was a mistake. It made my puppy fever flare up, which then led to browsing animal rescue sites, which was also a mistake.

Because now I want all the dogs.

It was especially unfortunate because, in looking at that slideshow, I discovered this specimen:

THE PUGGLE.

It’s what happens when a beagle and a pug get very creative.

And now I want one.

The Puggle

“The Puggle can be a robust little dog with the adventurous yet quieter spirit of a Beagle and the clever antics of a Pug. The best Puggles love to please and have a sense of humor, but, as with all designer mixes, his traits are not fixed, so he has been known to be a bit stubborn, distractible and not overtly affectionate.”

Puggle

I NEED THIS DOG IN MY LIFE. I shall call him “Muggle the Puggle” because it’s fun to say (and I’m a Harry Potter nerd), and we shall live happily ever after.

That is all.

But then, as I continued clicking through the list, I came to the dog that wins over all other dogs. The one that I must, on principle, always choose.

6wks-753-r

Oh.

rocky-the-shetland-sheepdog_46171_2010-05-25_w450

My.

Two Shelties in Grass

Goodness.

Shetland Sheepdog

“Don’t call him a little Collie! The Shetland Sheepdog is his own breed and has long been a family favorite for his happy face and loyal, smart and quirky personality. He learns tricks with ease and loves to show off, which, paired with his speed, makes him a great agility dog. Beware, though: The Sheltie is a barker, and don’t be surprised to find him herding other members of the family — both animal and human.”

So, I grew up with a Sheltie. Her name was Heidi. She fit pretty much all Sheltie stereotypes and perpetuated the Sheltie reputation for pure awesomeness.

Consequently, I am profoundly, unquestioningly, and indiscriminately biased in favor of all Shelties and would love to have another one some day.

Along with Muggle the Puggle and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that I’m thinking about naming “Gatsby.”

Also, this is entirely unrelated but I thought it was hilarious: Hello Kitty is not a kitty.

You’re welcome.

Also, I just wrote an entire blog post about puppies. It’s time to do some soul-searching again.