Saturday, October 15, 2011

Office Baby Showers Are Bad

Be warned, this is a venting post.

People are popping out babies at a ridiculous rate around here. Which is fine, as long as it's not me. Don't get me wrong, I love kids. I just want to be able to send them home when I'm done; I'll be the BEST Aunt in the world. My furry family keeps me busy enough (not to mention the Fiance who can be like a kid).

For the latest pregnancy, a coworker decided to have a baby shower for her. Here's the thing, I don't want to go. I know her only to say "Hi, how are you doing?" in the hallway. I don't even know if she has other kids. I think invitations like that are inappropriate and not to mention rude to the people who had babies the past two years and didn't get a baby shower at work. If I was one of those people who didn't get one I'd be hurt. I also don't like that they made a point to state (more than once I might add) where this woman registered. Not to mention she's worked here a little over a year and two of the women who didn't get one have worked here for many years.

I apologize to those who think baby showers at work are fine, but I'm entitled to my opinion. Just because people get along at work and are friendly doesn't mean they're really friends, and for me baby showers are for friends and family. I don't like them at work. After trying to find a legitimate way to get out of this one, well, I've decided to lie. I'm not proud of it, but it's better than being in an awkward situation for over an hour. And spending money on someone I don't really care about. I have better things to do with my sparse money. Like spend it on my furry family, which just got bigger. I'm going to have a meeting in another building (code for I'm going out to have lunch and hide).

Friday, March 18, 2011

Engaged . . . . Again

We've been through a lot, fiance and I. We've been together 14 years now. Engaged for a little more than 10 of those 14 years. Life happened and we were in a really bad place for many, many years. That's why we never went beyond the engagement part. I refused to get married to fix a problem, the problem gets fixed first, however I was committed to the relationship because I knew what was possible. A few of you know the back story, but to sum it all up for those of who don't, after a lot of pain I realized last year I had to leave. We were hurting each other and it wouldn't get any better. But then something amazing happened - S went into treatment and now is just over 5 months sober. He's been doing what he needs to do and I've been doing what I need to do, and it's coming together much faster than I ever thought it would. He's put his whole being into making this work and he's serious this time.

Before I explain what he did the other day, let me start with a nightmare I started to have a few years ago so you understand the impact of what recently happened. When he would drink he would often talk of getting me another ring. The one I had was "tarnished" and it had been taken off at the lowest points. I used to worry that someday when he'd be drinking he'd go out and buy a ring. So I'd often think about if he'd ask me right now, this very point in time, to marry him again what would I say? And I knew I'd say no. I used to dream it would happen and I'd say no.

But our lives are so different now. We've talked about how we're getting to know each other again. We've been through so much we aren't the same people we were 14 years ago. But it's working. About a month ago things started to really change for me. It's hard to explain because it's all about peace, trust, and my emotional state. I feel better than I have in a really, really long time. I'd forgotten how it felt to be like this because I've been in such a hostile, deteriorating situation for so long.

Monday he asked me to marry him again. He got down on one knee and pulled out a ring. It was amazing, not just the ring but everything. I instantly started to cry, and I mean a sobbing cry not a pretty cry. So many emotions hit me at one time. He was worried and asked me if I was saying yes. I did. He then assured me that he didn't charge it or borrow money. It was all his and paid for. Which for him is a big deal. He wanted this to be a fresh start for us. I now have a ring I can look at and there are absolutely no bad associations with it.

I didn't need a new ring, but in all honesty this one means more to me than the first one. There is so much more behind it, so much more emotion and meaning. He did it all by himself. And it's perfect. It's a promise of the good times to come.

I'm so giddy I feel like this is the first time I've ever been engaged. It truly is a new start. And I can finally let myself think about planning a wedding. After all these years we're finally moving forward.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Theoretically...Wait, I Meant Hypothetically

I think this post is just going to enhance my image as a science geek. But this has really, really been bothering me lately, and I know I can't be the only person.

Lately I've heard the word 'theoretically' thrown around. Some of these people have no science background so I can forgive them. Other people have no such excuse. Theoretically this, theoretically that. Blah, blah, blah.

Hey people - what you're talking about has nothing to do with a THEORY.

Let me elaborate for those of you who don't know what I'm talking about. To understand what a theory is, let's start with a hypothesis. A hypothesis is an educated guess based on observations and can be proven or disproven using well designed experiments. In other words, it may or may not be true but it's what you think will probably happen. In contrast, a theory is an explanation of a related observations from proven hypotheses verified multiple times by independent groups of researchers. In other words, a theory is generally accepted as having been proven and is true.

Do you see the difference? A hypothesis is maybe true, and a theory is accepted as true.

Now to those of you who know better - tossing this word around in an informal, conversational way, only serves to confuse the general public when you're trying to get them to understand science. Hypothetically and theoretically are NOT interchangeable. They mean very different things and shouldn't be used interchangeably. If we want people to understand science and understand what may be true and what is accepted as true we have to be consistent. Science is becoming a major component in the average person's life. We see more science based stories on the news and the media, or even your neighbor, may asks you about this or that study they heard about. They need to understand when they hear something is "just a theory" it doesn't mean it's a guess and unproven - it in fact means the opposite.

So for those of us who are involved in educating the public on science - please pay attention to what you say. Theoretically is not the same as hypothetically.

Thank you!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Grading Advice

I have a question for my blogiverse and twitter peeps out there. I'm currently grading papers which, first of all, are over due on my end because of the down time of OnlineU. But here's my question and keep in mind that more one student did this. I made the instructions of the assignment very clear on what the topic needed to be. This is my problem - some students wrote excellent papers, but on the WRONG topic. Normally I would tell them to do it over, but because of all the technical problems they're already well into their next assignment. I shouldn't hold it against them because of the technical issues and I don't want their current projects to be poor because they're trying to redo a past one.

I don't know how lenient I should be given the circumstances. Do I drop the papers a letter grade? More? These are really good papers, would have been an A if written about the right topic. How do other people handle it? I know these particular students are hard workers and obviously spent a lot of time on their papers.

Advise and opinions are greatly appreciated!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

It's Good When It Works

I love my OnlineU job. Absolutely, head-over-heals love it. But it's by no way perfect. You know how technology is great when it works? Well, this week it didn't. They upgraded to a new platform. It wasn't just the online classes but for the entire university. The university has a lot of ground locations; I just call it OnlineU because that's the part I'm teaching in.

I, along with several other faculty, was locked out of my class for several days. It was horrible timing, even though no timing would have been good. It overlapped when grades were due, the end of one unit, and the beginning of another. I could get into my live seminar but there was no audio and no presentation ability. Thank God for a rare moment of quick thinking on my part (patting myself on the back). I emailed my students the presentation and we walked through it and I taught via the chat function. We didn't cover everything I wanted but at least they got something out of it. So ever since I gained access I've been catching up on my discussion board posts and grading. Lots and lots of grading because I'm teaching two classes. My butt is sore, my muscles are stiff, and my back aches. I'd probably be done by now but I'm kind of obsessive in the feedback I give my students. I want them to know everything they did right, what they did wrong, and how they can fix it. Unfortunately, this is taking forever.

OK, venting over, I just needed a break. Back to grading!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Back from the Conference

This past week I was down south for a conference. Lately I've been going to the same state every few months. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't like it, I would just like to visit new places because I don't get to travel a lot. Conferences are my chance to see new places. At least it was in the 70s when back here at home it was snowing. Anyway, I was down south, left Tuesday came back Friday evening.

I look forward to this one every year. It's stuff I'm really interested in and the hardest part about it is choosing which session to go to because there are so many concurrent sessions. There were some I had to attend because they were presentations for The Grant. It was exciting to see how many people came. It's really, really good for us since our funders were also there and we are having our mid-year program evaluation this year. During the day the sessions were great, including the plenary sessions. Lunch and breakfast were lousy. I wish they hadn't provided it because then we could buy what we wanted and get reimbursed. The plenary sessions had extremely high-ranked government officials in our field. They all talked about the "elephant in the room" - funding. Our particular field is getting cut, dramatically in the new proposed budget. I think it's a threat to national security and local preparedness measures but it looks like it's going to be a fact. It sucks and I try not to think about it. Not sure what I'm going to do when The Grant runs out.

The evenings were fun. The first night I just stayed in my hotel room and got room service. I got in during the evening, then we had a networking session but I had to teach my seminar. I went back to the hotel room and taught my class. The next day was great. After the last session and a reception Frazzle (a PI on the grant who's hair is always frazzled) and Lawset (PI on The Grant also) went out to dinner at an Asian place, I had soup and sushi. It was fantastic. The conversations the three of got into, well, sometimes I just had to sit in listen in disbelief. We discussed:
  • Death. Frazzle wanted our opinion on a show idea he had. He wants to make a show about death. All aspects about death. He had obviously put a lot of thought into it so I did my best not to laugh. He wanted to start with a radio show and move into television.
  • Spirituality and Religion. Lawset started us talking about spirituality and religion. What we believed; what we think happens when we die; what about reincarnation.
  • Dream jobs. What would we love to do if we could do anything. I shocked them all when I said I'd become a vet if I was guaranteed a job working with tigers. Talked about shocked expressions.
  • Codependents. Frazzle has a sister who he says is crazy. He means it. He's an MD and they've apparently had problems with her most of her life. Right now she's not speaking to the family. Her partner is making things worse even though she thinks she's helping her. Frazzle made the comment that she is an out of control codependent and there's no hope for her.
Codependents are crazy too. That's what he said. That really stopped me. I just looked at him and said there is hope, there are different levels of codependency, and people can heal but it's a process. Frazzle and Lawset just looked at me. Of course they wanted to know why I said that. I've know them for years, especially Frazzle. And I know they have a high respect for me so they would often listen to what I had to say. Therefore, I told the truth. If me talking about it helps someone else, even if it's helping them by helping other people understand - I'll talk. I just looked at them and said "I'm a recovering codependent." Then we had an honest discussion about how hard it is, the process of healing and separating, and how it's not easy but also not hopeless. I said S was a recovering alcoholic. Lawset just looked at me said "That explains a lot." That sounds harsh when I type it but it wasn't, it was said in a kind way - like now she understands why we're not married after being together so long..  Like I said, we had a good discussion of what it's like for a codependent. I think Frazzle needed to hear it. And both of them thanked me for sharing something so personal.

After dinner Frazzle went back to his room and Lawset and I went to the lounge for some nightcaps. We talked a couple hours more about all sorts of things: education, goals, family, peers, character, priorities, perspectives on life.

The next night I had pizza from my favorite pizza place which we don't have here at home, did classwork and watched t.v. What people need to understand is that staying in the hotel room and doing nothing is like a mini-vacation for me.

I thought a lot about the time I spent with my coworkers. I'm very blessed to be where I'm at. I often browse ads, look at jobs, but I hesitate to apply for anything. I have it really good where I'm at right now. My boss likes and trusts me, she encourages me and supports me. My coworkers are usually good to be with, nothing is always perfect. I have flexibility in my job. And I have time to do things in my personal time. I've got it good and it makes me hesitate to move elsewhere.

But it's back to the grind tomorrow. The downside of the job. Meetings, meetings, meetings. But that occurs most places so it's something I have to do.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Fun at the Theatre

Last night S and I went out with Omate and her husband to the theatre. We have season tickets to a local university's productions. They're college students but really, really good. And the tickets are cheap. This one was a comedy. What made this particular one fantastic and created the need for me to blog was one of the characters. He was crazy hillbilly with a scraggly beard, overalls, and a very strong southern twang. When he talked and told stories his eyes got all buggy and crazy looking. He was frickin hilarious. So why did this particular character make my day? He looked like LB. And to picture him ending up like that, well, it gave me perverse satisfaction. Crazy and broke. Sounds mean, but you have to know the situation. I know Geeka understands.

It was great. And made the show even funnier.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

My Condensed Year-In-Review

I've contemplated doing this post for a while. Mainly, since New Year's when it would have made more sense, not at the end of January. So much has changed. There's been good and bad; emotional ups and downs. But I've been kind of forced to journal lately and it's reminded me how therapeutic writing can be. I want to make time for it - I need to make time for it. So, though I could write a book on this past year I'm going to give brief bulleted highlights. I'm trying to move on and not dwell. I also think I've been away from blogging so long none of my family will read this anymore, unless I tell them I've posted, which I won't.
  • Sis got married to the right man this time. I cried a lot before her first wedding and not out of happiness. This time I cried out of happiness. He completes her and makes her whole. I have a relationship with my sis I never thought I'd have. We talk now and don't fight. We support each other. I can cry on her shoulder. She's confident enough now with who she is that she isn't defensive all the time which makes it easier to talk. At her wedding the MC came up to me and asked if I would like to give a speech. I hadn't planned it. I had nothing written down, but looked at Sis and said "Sure, why not." So I spoke and brought the room to tears, including myself and sis. It was a speech for BIL (brother-in-law) not so much for Sis. I spoke from the heart, things I've felt for a long time and how he changed both of our lives for the better. I love him for what he's done for her, and me, and for how much he loves her.
  • Last winter we went through Snowpocalypse. It was ridiculous. I've never seen anything like it, the city was so disorganize and unprepared.
  • I've been to Atlanta several times this past year. All of the conferences I need to go to seem to be down there all the time. I like Atlanta, don't get me wrong. But part of the fun of traveling is getting to go different places, not the same place every time. And part of the fun of going down south is that it's warmer than up here but every time I've been down there it's had the same weather.
  • I reached my breaking point last year with Fiance. I've spent a lot of time getting strong enough emotionally to let go of him and our dreams. I no longer could handle the drinking. I wasn't happy, he wasn't happy, we were making each other miserable. It wasn't a good life. I was done. He entered out patient rehab for alcohol abuse in October and finished a couple weeks ago. Today he's been sober 112 days and we're dealing with the aftermath of years of emotional abuse. I'm in therapy and so is he. I've spent so many years pretending everything is OK to the outside world that it's hard to get it out and I need to get it out if we're to have any chance of making it. Hence the journaling I mentioned above. It's an order from my therapist because it's almost impossible for me to verbalize. So, we're working on it one day at a time.
  • My Omate was hired 50% on my part of the Grant. I had a talk with Boss about my job and how I have way too much admin stuff to do. I'm getting bored with my job. So we hired her to help so I can focus more on the research aspect. We get along fantastic and are great friends. We have complimentary skills, she enjoys the admin part and I enjoy the research part. She keeps me organized.
  • I got a second job at OnlineU. I always stayed away from online universities but because a couple friends of mine work for different ones I've gained a greater understanding and appreciation. I'm teaching various classes in the biological sciences and the first term just ended last week. I've always enjoyed teaching but I'm honestly surprised at how much I love this venue. I think I'm interacting more with my students in the online arena than in person. For in person classes I may only see my students during class time. For OnlineU I have to interact with them all week long, not just during the synchronous, live, once a week seminar. I really get to know them quickly. I've changed some perceptions about science. I get an amazing feeling of satisfaction teaching them why biology is important in their lives, that it may be hard but they can do it. And to have students tell me they've enjoyed my class, learned a lot, and what they've learned makes a difference in their lives - well, nothing compares to that. My grandma always said I had a God given gift to teach, to get people to understand concepts, to break down complicated things and make them easier to understand. I always thought I did, but now I really believe it. The next term begins next week and I teach two classes this term.
  • Fiance and I decided to move. We can't stand our landlord and I'm tired of living in the city. It's a nice neighborhood, but it's still in the city. It will make my commute to work longer but it will be worth it. Fiance's will be shorter. We had wanted to rent a house, something stand alone with a yard for gardening however we ended up with a townhouse. I'm actually moving into a place owned by one of my friends. She and her husband wanted to move closer to where they work and they knew S and I were looking. It makes their lives easier because they dont' have to sell it now, and it makes my life easier because I know my landlords and they don't care about my pets. She knows I take care of them, they're behaved and don't do damage. It's great having someone who doesn't care about my pets. We can even get a dog later if we want to.
  • I got a car and his name is Stewart. I've been told by many people I had to name it and that's what fit. It was my aunts and she finally decided to sell it to me. For super cheap too. That's part of the reason we decided it was a good time to move. I now have a car to commute. Well, it's a small AWD SUV, not a car.
  • I started Weight Watchers (WW) this past week. I used to do it. I had even lost 43 pounds but then, as happens, life got in the way. Dealing with personal things became more important than tracking what I was eating. I'm a stress eater so it hasn't been good. Now, I'm trying to focus more on myself.
  • We rescued two black and white dutch bunnies. It was unplanned. My not-so-bright neighbors (and know I'm usually very generous with people but in the case trust me that the statement is well earned) had them but they were neglected and abused. I made up a story and talked them into selling them to me. They are a source of constant entertainment. All they want is to be petted and fed and they're happy. They usually want petted more than they want fed.
  • I'm still the Project Director for the Grant at the NewCen, though that's not my official title it's what everyone call me and it matches my responsibilities. My responsibilities have grown immensely, hence the need for additional help. I enjoy my job. My boss appreciates me and most of the time I get along with my colleagues. I'm still the only PhD that works here so my position and responsibilities are unique. I've been added to another grant, which I'll call Grant2. I love it and can't wait to get more into the research.
  • DH and Setta are doing good. DH still takes his heart meds and we're still trying to find cat food that helps both DH's hairball problem and Setts's sensitive stomach. I am so sick of cleaning up vomit.
  • I've decided to take up crochet. We'll see how it goes. I might be too much of a perfectionist for it to work.
  • Now that I have a car I can truly be active in my local CART (County Animal Response Team). I'm looking forward to being more and more involved.
I'm sure there's stuff I've missed but all this is a lot anyway.

So I'm finally getting my life back together after earning my degree. First, the job. Then when I was OK with work I was mentally prepared to focus on my personal life. Life is getting better in all areas. The future is uncertain. I don't think too far ahead any more. Life is day by day, but I can't complain too much because it's getting better.