katernater: (actor • (fame))
I'm in such a good mood today. I feel like I made good progress on my NaNo project last night and I woke up this morning (at 11:15, which is really late for me) feeling really good. I spent some time by the pool this afternoon, watched an episode of Luther and then went out to pick up a couple of pies for my boss's birthday. While I was out I also got some Chinese food from this little place everyone at work's been recommending. For $8 I got, like, ten pounds of food. That's insane. And it was good, too. I don't eat out very often these days and when I do I'm pretty much looking for economy: how much is it, and how much of it can I keep for lunch tomorrow? I ate until I was stuffed and put the rest in the fridge. I didn't even touch the hot and sour soup I ordered. Maybe I'll go back for a snack later on.

I'm going to hang around here until it gets a little cooler outside, then I'll go out for a walk. I usually run in the mornings on Saturdays and Sundays, but I missed my window this morning because I slept in. I don't feel much like running with a stomach full of sesame chicken, either, so the walk will be nice. Tomorrow we're having a half-day workshop at the office, which should be interesting. It's mostly for the new teachers (we've hired on two new ones who are set to start this next term) and, since I still consider myself something of a newbie, it'll be good for me, too. After the workshop I'll run back to the apartment to pick up my stuff so I can go back to Fort Wayne for a few days. Wednesday is the Muse concert, so I'll drive down to Indianapolis sometime that afternoon, rendezvous with my brother and his girlfriend, and get my symphonic rock on. The new Preston-Child book comes out on Tuesday, too! Gah. This week is going to be amazing.

On Friday night, I was invited to a dinner and reception for the Rose-Hulman students. This last Thursday was my last day with them. Overall, the experience was very positive. There were a few things that I would have changed -- the lines of communication definitely needed to be clearer, and I would have liked more time to spend with them each week -- but I am very satisfied with the project. I hope that I will be able to revisit Rose-Hulman next year, with a new batch of students. Anyway, on Friday all of the Korean students got together at the coordinating professor's house and made an authentic Korean meal for everyone. I have never seen so much food, my god. The dining room table was jammed with plates, bowls and piles of steamed white rice. I had kim chi that just about took the roof of my mouth off. But it was so good. And it just kept coming: as soon as one dish was depleted, some mindful student swooped in with a fresh helping. And they really took care of me: they saw that I was being a bit indecisive about what to put on my plate and took it upon themselves to intervene, piling my plate with a bit of everything on the table. The professor whose house we were occupying is originally from Manchester, England, and he told us about growing up overseas (especially his time in Uganda, where he constantly had to look over his shoulder to avoid Idi Amin and his men) and the things he's learned in his travels. It was really neat to listen to him. I soak that kind of thing up like a sponge. A little while later the Koreans were doing shots of red wine around the dining room table. They would fill their red plastic cups, clink them together while saying something in Korean, and neck them back like champions. Everyone was feeling pretty loose at this point and the house was full of that rare kind of camaraderie that makes you feel good about being a part of something much bigger than yourself. A couple of Koreans slung their arms around my shoulder and guided me to the tableside, putting a red cup in my hand. Another student sloshed an inch and a half of wine into my cup and we all raised our drinks. "This drink is for Ms. Katherine. We love you, Ms. Katherine!" they said, while I blushed like a maniac. It turned out to be a terrific evening. I left feeling very happy. I am grateful that I am in a place -- and in a time in my life -- where I can experience nights like that. Taking this job has changed my life in so many good ways. I could not imagine being anywhere else right now.

All right. Time for that walk. Then I'm coming back, putting in some Castle and sitting down with a little light reading.
katernater: (doctor who • (blooper))
First of all, yes, I woke up early to watch the royal wedding. Not too much earlier than usual -- about a half an hour -- and I only got to see William and Kate (Catherine) after they left Westminster and got into their carriage, but, gosh, the whole thing was lovely. The world has made a habit of kicking us in the teeth lately, and this wedding was exactly the kind of happy spectacle we all needed. Congratulations to the happy couple!

Second, I don't know if you're following along on my Facebook, but a mother robin made a nest outside my window last weekend. And when I say "outside," I mean right the hell outside -- I can't open my window screen because she's got the back of the nest butted up against it. Anyway, I've sort of been photo-documenting what's been going on over the past week. I've gotten really attached to this mother robin, who I've named "Lucy," after John James Audubon's wife (ISN'T THAT DELICIOUSLY PRETENTIOUS OF ME?).

AND TODAY, YOU GUYS. TODAY THERE WAS AN EGG.

Pictures 'neath the cut )
katernater: (actor • (happy))
We watched The Truman Show in my CS class today, as part of a project on advertising and the media. I told my students that this movie was particularly interesting because, being released in 1998, it really hit before the big "reality TV craze" of the early millennium, and at the time raised some serious philosophical questions about what constitutes privacy and what right we have to safeguard our private lives from public opinion. Which probably would have opened up a very interesting discussion had their response not been "1998? Oh my god, that's so old."

You cut me to the quick, kids. I was a freshman in high school in 1998, but I am not old. Just so you know, the other day, when I bought The King's Speech at Wal-Mart, the cashier carded me because her register told her to check for I.D. before she potentially sold an R-rated movie to a minor. ("Now, honey, I know you ain't seventeen, but I've gotta' make extra sure.") So there.

I don't plan on doing much this evening. We're supposed to be getting an impressive line of thunderstorms later, so I'm going to try to write as much as possible before the lightning arrives and forces me to shut down my computer. No new news on the summer in Vermont, and I am starting to doubt that it will happen this year; the timing's just off and there's still so much for me to do here before I pack up and go somewhere else. (I still haven't started looking at health care plans -- or even gotten a library card.) If it's meant to be, it will find a way to happen. I've just got to do the best I can in the meantime.

And, in a move that was quite unlike me (but not in a bad way), I accepted an invitation of a co-worker to join her for church services this Easter Sunday. And, also unlike me, I think I'm actually looking forward to it. Plans to go home and see my family sort of fell apart this year and, for the first year in -- well, ever -- my extended family isn't getting together for the holiday. Maybe this is the reason.
katernater: (house • (ducklings))
I don't know why, but the soundtrack to the first two seasons of House, M.D. really ramps me up for warmer weather and puts me in a good mood. The nearest I can figure, I started watching House while in my penultimate semester of college, during the spring and summer of 2006. I was at a point in my life when I was really discovering who I was and what I stood for; in my experience, those pivotal points in a person's life are more than reflected in the music they listen to. I remember riding my geeky ten speed to campus; sitting out on the back porch of our much-too-expensive rental property, drinking beer and watching a group of long-haired hippies play hackeysack; burning Nag Champa to cover up the smell of my roommate's cigarette smoking. And through it all, a steady soundtrack of House-related music spun on all my mix CDs, my iPod, and my computer. Here are links to some of my favourites:

"Feelin' Alright" - Joe Cocker
"Got To Be More Careful" - Jon Cleary and the Absolute Monster Gentlemen
"Stranger In A Strange Land" - Leon Russell
"Honky Tonk Women" - Taj Mahal
"Love and Happiness" - Al Green

It's been a very laid-back, uncluttered kind of weekend. Yesterday I went to a baby shower for a co-worker. The weather has been absolutely gorgeous the last couple of days and all of the flowering trees are in full bloom, planting bright shocks of colour in every direction. Today I'm finishing some chores around the apartment, going to a block party, and stopping by the office for a bit to do some lesson planning. I have every hope that this week will be much better than last week. I guess coming at it with a positive attitude is half the fight.
katernater: (music • (mumford))
Co-workers and I went out to the Indian restaurant for lunch this afternoon and, I don't know why, but for some reason tandoori made everything seem less awful. I guess it's just knowing that we still consider one another to be members of the same team; that we all sink or swim together. Knowing that you've got someone there to wade through the mire with you makes wading through the mire less terrible. I would still like some closure regarding the whole communication issue but, for the most part, I'm feeling better today than I was yesterday.

Plus, one of our students was there at the same time and as he walked out the door he stopped by our table and told us that lunch was on him. I mean, free Indian food; that's a sign that the day has got to get better, right?

All right. I'm getting out of here. 'Time to enjoy some of this sunshine.

Weekend!

Apr. 1st, 2011 07:21 pm
katernater: (house • (couple))
I'm back in Valparaiso for the night. It's the midway point between Terre Haute and South Bend, where Todd and I will be road trippin' tomorrow to see Danny Boyle's Frankenstein at Notre Dame. I'm very excited to see the performance -- it will be livecast from the National Theater in London -- and to get some time to spend with Todd, who I feel I've barely seen since I moved to Terre Haute. I did the math and, if I can only get back to Valparaiso after the end of every term, I will only be able to see Todd five or six times a year. I think more of these weekend road trips are definitely in order. The trouble is, it's a three-and-a-half hour drive from Terre Haute to Valparaiso. Most of that (okay, all of that) is pastureland and cow country with very little geographical variety, which in turn makes the trip seem much, much longer. I work during the week and Todd has classes; the weekends are the only time when I have any sort of free time, but Todd is usually scheduled to work at the theater on Friday and Saturday nights. We have yet to find a workable compromise for time spent together. If we had a TARDIS, this would be much easier. (Actually, if we had a TARDIS, a lot of things would be much easier.)

As much as I am looking forward to seeing Benedict Cumberbatch get his Mary Shelley on, I'm equally as excited to retrieve some of my books from the Valparaiso apartment. I brought a huge storage container -- it has to be twenty or thirty gallons, easy -- and I have filled it to the brim with books. The book shelf at my apartment in Terre Haute has been hurting for company. I have more to move -- both here and at my parents' house -- but this will keep me happy until I can afford to rent a moving truck to haul the rest.

I was going to do laundry while Todd was at work today but he took the key to the laundry room with him. I guess that's the universe's way of telling me I should just chill out tonight.
katernater: (movie • (crashed))
[livejournal.com profile] silent_snark! I got your postcard! Thank you! The only thing better than getting a postcard is getting a postcard from Roswell, New Mexico. :D

Good start to this week. I'm pre-planning like a crazy person, making sure that I've got all of my bases covered in both classes. I feel like this term is shaping up to be much better than the last, at least in terms of organization. I've got a real feel for what's expected of me -- and what I should expect out of my students.

Also, living on one's own means making certain allowances for food choices. Microwavable meals, once the signal flare for singlehood, are pretty much a constant in a young adult professional's freezer. And, you know, I don't get in the habit of promoting specific products or anything, but through the end of August this year, if you buy a Healthy Choice entree you'll receive a purchase code that you can use on ChildHungerEndsHere.com, who will donate one meal on your behalf to local food banks. That's a damn cool promotion, if you ask me. (It kind of makes me feel better about the fact that I can't be bothered to cook real food most of the time.)

Todd and I are going to see Danny Boyle's Frankenstein this weekend! I can't waaaaaaaaait!
katernater: (castle • (midtown))
A lousy night of sleep progressed into, mostly, an okay day. It's week eight of a nine week term, which means that I am very nearly done with my first semester of teaching. I feel pretty good about everything at this point; I take pride in being a laid back, adaptable kind of person (an absolute necessity in this job) and I think I've been able to handle myself very well so far. Even so-called "crisis moments" don't really faze me as much as I thought they would. This morning, for example, I had prepared to do a combined class with one of my mentor teachers. We talked about a rough outline for the class on Friday, but it was understood that it was pretty much his show; I was just going to follow along and provide support where I was needed. (Which led me to exclaim, "Woo hoo! Free day!" in my head -- the kiss of death, certainly.) Ten minutes before class this morning I was told that my mentor teacher was sick and would not be coming in. I took about five seconds to panic (and plot the nearest route to a fire exit) before I kicked myself back into gear: I totally had this. My mentor teacher wasn't there, but there was absolutely no reason why I couldn't take on both classes and proceed with the planned activity myself. So that's what I did. And you know what? It worked. I probably didn't do it exactly to my mentor teacher's specifications and I'm sure that there are things I will change for future classes, but I think I did pretty well on my own, considering.

There's a necessary "no fear" attitude involved in teaching, I've discovered. So much of what I do on a day-to-day basis is entirely dependent on the individual needs of the students, so planning ahead -- while helpful -- is never the be-all, end-all for what's going to happen in a given class period. I have discovered in myself an incredible capacity to be receptive to change, to embrace uncertainty, and to be able to roll with the punches -- however fast and loose they might fly.

And that's a total 180 from where I was ten years ago or, hell, even three years ago. It used to be that when I came up against a situation that felt out of my control, I shut down or retreated (or both). I pushed the problem out of my way out of a fear of confrontation, or the possibility that I might get hurt or be disappointed. Now I have people -- students -- to whom I am accountable, and whose short-term welfare I am somewhat responsible for. That's really made me wake up "deal" with things in a more pro-active way. I think that this job -- and moving here and being on my own -- has made me brave. More so (and in an entirely new way) than I have ever been before. It's cool to know that there are still things about myself that I have yet to discover.

That's funny: I started out this post with every intention of ranting about not getting enough sleep/feeling cranky, but I think I just "well-adjusted" myself out of it. Yay, grown-up skills!

Still no cable, which means no Castle or House for me until Hulu posts them tomorrow. House I think I can handle, but waiting for Castle is going to be a monumental effort in patience. Graaar.
katernater: (doctor who • (river))
Photobucket

2010 has been a year of mixed blessings, but an absolutely fantastic year for music. I threw this EP together to showcase some of the songs I've been listening to during the last leg of the decade. Cheers to 2010, and here's to all of the new adventures and challenges that will come in 2011.

Happy New Year!

7 songs + individual download links + zip file under the cut )
katernater: (actor • (dom))
I just got an e-mail from the TESOL convention people, telling me that I did not get the travel grant award I applied for back in October. It would have covered the cost of registration plus something like a grand in other extraneous expenses. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed, but some things just aren't meant to be. My parents gave me $350 as a graduation present (which, conveniently, is the total cost of registration for the conference) but I might end up using it to pay bills this next month, as there will be no further financial aid checks to rely on. I'm actually okay with that. I mean, if I am meant to go to the conference then I will find a way to go to the conference. Right now, being in limbo as I am, things are tight and it's tough to see that far down the road. I remain optimistic, though. I have a meeting tomorrow which might open up some doors to jobs in the area. I'm not going to give up or get discouraged; plenty of grad students before me have gone through this exact thing, and in addition to having a terrific support system (Todd, my family, and my friends are amazing), I think I'm a pretty tough cookie. I can be incredibly persistent when going after something I want. It's going to take work, but I can't just sit on the sidelines and expect things to happen on their own. I've got to be pro-active about my future; got to go out there and make it happen for myself.

That being said, I wanted to take another opportunity to thank all of you for your support, good wishes, and presence over the last few months (and, for some of you, years). I know that I say I'll be all right on my own, and that most of the time I'm pretty insular when it comes to reaching out for help, but I can honestly say that there were times when I didn't know if I could do it on my own. Your words of support and your thoughts meant a lot to me during those moments. I was made stronger through your friendship. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

In my time off, I've been baking quite a bit. My mom and I have been experimenting with cookie recipes, to great success. I've made two batches of reindeer Oreo cookies in the last few days:

Photobucket

And if anyone would like the recipe, it's under this cut )
katernater: (misc • (laughs))
A mash-up of all of the films that came out in 2010:



It's awesome what we can create when we work together. :)

All right. Off to study.

Grateful.

Dec. 9th, 2010 02:48 pm
katernater: (doctor who • (snowfall))
Oh man, I really didn't expect it to be this emotional.

I mean, okay, yeah, today was my last official day of classes and I'm graduating on Sunday and everything, but I don't think the reality of being done really set in until just a couple of minutes ago, when I sent an e-mail to my TESOL adviser thanking her for everything she's done for me during my time at Valpo. I've told this story a thousand times, but I got into the TESOL certificate program because I was trying to avoid taking another class. It was complete chance that I came to love it as much as I do. And my adviser has been there for me every step of the way, whether it's critiquing my lesson plans, getting me the job at the VIC, or just being there to listen and relate when a lesson crashes or I have anxieties about being an okay teacher. Sending that e-mail (which got to be way more "cue the emotional guitar riff" than I originally intended) was kind of like acknowledging that, "Yep, it's over, you've got your degree -- now go out and do something good with it."

There's this feeling in my chest and it's either sadness or happiness or both, and I am just so grateful to have been given this chance, to have met these people, and to be aware of just how lucky I am to have been a part of it all.
katernater: (movie • (toothless))
"Somersault" is one of those words I never spell correctly the first time I type it. Too unnecessarily French, I think. Real challenge, little reward. It's like one of those transparent puzzle boxes with the ten dollar bill in the center that somebody always winds up sticking in the White Elephant exchange. As if choosing a gift at random from a pile wasn't stressful enough, you have to suffer the indignity of performing monkey-grade tricks to get to the real present.

So, somersault. I've done one, but never had to spell it. Thank god for spellcheck. Or Google keyword searches, which is how I actually learn how to spell 70% of the words I struggle with.

Here is a video of a panda bear doing a somersault.

There's no sound, so I suggest downloading "Spanish Flea" by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass and playing it in the background.

No, there really wasn't a point to this entry, was there?


[ ETA: ]
CAKE is dropping a new album in January! Wow. This is their first since 2004's "Pressure Chief," which failed to live up to just about every expectation I had for listenable music at the time. (To be fair to CAKE, I was in college and listening to a lot of Blind Melon when "Pressure Chief" dropped. It turns out I was wrong about a lot of things in college.)
katernater: (misc • (nyc))

Photobucket

+ 7 tracks | cover art | zip file +

That's okay; we're all stories in the end. )

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY BESTEST BESTIE!
katernater: (house • (champagne))
Photobucket

Epic weekend was epic.

Not only did I manage to find five people in the same room who loved Doctor Who, I also fulfilled my lifelong dream of playing tambourine in a rock-and-roll band.
katernater: (Default)
So, Tumblr has practically exploded the last couple of days with leaks from the Doctor Who Series 5 "Meanwhile, Inside the TARDIS..." bits and I have had to practically bite both of my thumbs off to keep from watching them, as my DVDs arrive on Tuesday and I am a big proponent of delaying any kind of personal pleasure for as long as possible. Or, at least until Tuesday. At the same time, I'm just like, "AUUGH, MATT SMITH, YOU CAN'T POSSIBLY KNOW WHAT YOUR CHARMINGLY IRREGULAR FACE DOES TO ME."

Galloping toward the end of the year, and there's still so much to do. Next Thursday we can order our graduation/commencement gear, which for Masters degree students includes a cap, gown, tassel, and hood. Commencement for December graduates will take place here, and I've been told that it will be all done up for Christmas which, honestly, is almost as exciting as getting the degree itself. It's been a rough semester. Well, not rough, but busy, and I've finally reached the point where I'm all, "Yeah, yeah, I've had just about enough of this school thing, let's get this over with." I still have no idea what I'm going to do after graduation. And I'm starting to be okay with that. I'll have a little money left over after graduation to pay rent and bills, so if I don't fall right into a job on January 1st, it's no real worry. I'll just get out there, network, glad-hand, and do my best. Besides, anything that I get is likely to be temporary anyway: Todd has another year of school left and after that, I'd really like to go overseas to teach. If not overseas, then definitely somewhere "new" in the continental United States. I am twenty-seven, have great ambition and relatively few things tying me down to one spot. Why not go out and see a bit of the world while I still have the energy?

I just finished watching Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story and he had this great line about having to believe that you can do something before you can actually do it -- "you have to believe that you can be a comedian before you can be a comedian, you have to believe you can be an astronaut before you can be an astronaut" -- and I was sitting there, thinking, "at this point, I really want to believe that I can pay my bills after I graduate." And then I thought, "well, that's a terrifically idiotic thing to believe in." And I started thinking that maybe I've got it all backwards: I can't keep thinking about life in terms of what it takes to survive life. Sure, making sure that you have food and shelter and clothes is very important, but if you're only worried about how you're going to get a job to make your next car payment, well, what kind of a life is that? I want to write. I want to teach. I want to travel and learn more about other cultures, and meet people, and help people. I've got to start believing in my ability to do those things, rather than all the stupid, myopic details that clutter up the rest of life.

But, just to be reasonable: paying the rent and being able to buy groceries are also important objectives. I slept with a beanie on my head last night because I'm a stickler about not turning on the heat until the middle of November. Frugality and self-esteem. These are a couple of the things I'm currently working on.
katernater: (actress • (gillian))
Today has already been one of the best birthdays I've ever had.

I've been busy enough to feel productive, but not to the point of being overwhelmed. I was on top of things in Japanese class -- I think even my professor could tell -- and we spent Beats & Hippies watching a documentary about Bob Dylan and the Beatles, which I really enjoyed. I was a little nervous about teaching today (I always am, before I go in), but the class was great -- my students even sang "Happy Birthday" to me at the end of class! When I got home, Todd had been out shopping and he was hiding something under his jacket. He told me to close my eyes, and when I opened them, he was holding a DVD copy of Hocus Pocus! I'd been looking for that movie for the longest time! Todd had to drive two towns over to find it. That, by itself, is enough to make it the sweetest birthday present I've ever received.

Later, we're going out to see RiffTrax Live: House on Haunted Hill (which also happens to be my favourite Vincent Price movie of all time), then out to dinner. This weekend we're going to Milwaukee to see Mumford & Sons! I'm very excited -- it's like an extended birthday!

Thanks, everyone, for your birthday wishes! I'm so blessed to have you as friends!

[ ETA : ]

Todd baked me a cake!

Photobucket

[ ETA 2 : ]

My ninth grade science teacher called and sang "Happy Birthday" into my voicemail.

BEST. BIRTHDAY. EVER.
katernater: (x • (road trip))
Photobucket


I talked with Todd and I feel better. Thank you all for sharing your experiences and positive thoughts.

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