katernater: (house • (pancakes))
So, the Titanic 3D trailer should not have made me as emotional as it did. But, gah, I can't help it. When it first came out, I saw it in theaters something like seven times. Do you know long that movie is? It's more than three hours. Three hours times seven: that's over twenty-one hours. Every day in the world, 490,000 babies are born. The amount of time I spent in the theater watching Titanic is roughly equivalent to the amount of time it took 490,000 people to enter the world. Ri-freakin'-diculous.

My goodness, I can't wait until this week is over. I'll be going home over the Thanksgiving holiday. We've got Wednesday off from school, so I will leave Tuesday afternoon right after class. I'm swinging 'round Tim's place on my way back through town on Sunday. We're doing Thanksgiving with our respective families this year. In December he'll spend the weekend before Christmas up in Fort Wayne with my family, and then I'll join him and his family in Indianapolis for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

...It feels really grown up to say that. I've never spent real Christmas away from my family before. And I don't think I would consider doing that for anyone but Tim.

On episode 1x03 of Fringe and it's started to get weird. I mean. Comparatively speaking. :\
katernater: (actor • (stripey))
I was feeling nostalgic for high school earlier today, for no reason in particular. I just sent off an e-mail to my former concert orchestra teacher, thanking him for the positive impact he had on my life. I told him that I, too, am now a teacher and while I don't teach music, I do carry some of his lessons with me "on stage" every day. Again, I don't know what prompted the retrospection. I guess it's in part because my 10-year reunion is coming up in 2012 and that, when face to face with visions of your high school self, it's hard not to take stock of what really mattered at the end of it all.

In other news, I have started watching the first season of Fringe. John Noble's character reminds me of too many of my relatives for comfort.

blessings.

Nov. 7th, 2011 09:23 pm
katernater: (actress • (hullo))
I'm sitting here at the kitchen table having just switched the contents of my "fall" purse to my "fall-winter transition" purse (yes, I have such a thing, shut up), writing a couple of notes that I'll drop in the mailbox tomorrow, listening to the Edward Scissorhands soundtrack and drinking Sleepytime Tea.

My life: it's not exactly the fast lane, but it suits me fine.
katernater: (movie • (playboy))
So it's the first week of November and my aspirations of starting a NaNo project have been hijacked by a visit (and two subsequent class observations) by home office, a cold, and an overwhelming feeling of exhaustion on account of both. I don't think I'm going to be nearly as productive as I had hoped this year. This week was pretty rough and I pretty much came home tonight, turned off my cell phone and fell into bed. If you texted or called and I didn't call you back, it was because I was engaging in some pretty serious Kate-and-pillow time and having my cell phone in the other room was roughly the real life equivalent of Frodo and Sam trying to get the ring to Mordor (albeit with less Lembas bread and a great deal more chintz, on account of my pillow scheme) and me starting to come down with a cold, which makes moving an even less appealing enterprise than usual. I have spent most of this evening watching episodes of American Horror Story (with Dylan McDermott replacing Matthew Fox as the most weepy character on prime time television) and mainlining cold medicine.

Last week was my birthday and I had a pretty good time. Tim came up for the weekend and we went to a staff Halloween party (as Johnny Cash and June Carter, respectively) and took a couple of walks, and held hands, and watched a football game, and stop me when this all gets too mushy to bear without an insulin shot. I'm going to Indianapolis to see him next weekend. We've already decided to spend Christmas together this year. There's even been talk of a skiing trip out west, maybe to Colorado. Neither of us can really afford extravagance -- he's a graduate student and I'm making a teacher's wage -- but I think we're mutually agreed upon the idea that, as long as we can see each other, anywhere we go will become like home. For my birthday, he bought me an Escher print (we had talked about our mutual love of Escher and Dali the first time we went out this year, which I really have to give it up to him for remembering), a bouquet of flowers (some of which I am pressing so I can keep), and an X-Men wall calendar of "epic battles" from 1995. (I love that this guy is as brilliant as all get out, but at the same time has total nerd tendencies. Like me.) On Sunday of last weekend we woke up and Tim cooked breakfast for us both -- complete with eggs and rashers and toast smeared with pumpkin butter -- and we listened to an episode of Cabin Pressure while we ate and my god, is there anything better than eating bacon and listening to Benedict Cumberbatch's voice with someone you love? You'd be hard-pressed to convince me that there is. Really.

I'm all caught up on my television shows and don't know what to watch next. [livejournal.com profile] another_myself recommended Revenge, and my dad has been talking up Person of Interest (of which I have watched half of the first episode, mostly because of Michael Emerson), but I haven't really found anything that captures my attention. Do you guys have any recommendations? What are you watching these days?
katernater: (house • (meaning))
It's been a couple of weeks since I've updated, and there's really been no down time in that two weeks. The end of any term is chaotic, this one made even more so by the fact that I had to helm a complete mock trial for my CS 5 class in a little less than a week (which we performed yesterday and which could not have gone any better) and that I've been more active on the weekends than my usual, sedentary schedule is used to. Last weekend I went back to Muncie to see Tim and to attend a friend's wedding. Tim and I continue to enjoy one another's company immensely. In fact, I'm heading back tomorrow for an overnight before I head back to my parents' place for the break week. Tim and I are going to go apple picking in the afternoon, then we're building a fire and camping out in his backyard overnight. I am still trying to figure out when my life turned into a Nora Ephron screenplay.

In other news, I've been completely slacking on my novel project lately. I said I was going to spend all of September outlining, but that never happened. My cork board is pretty barren. I hope to be able to develop some more ideas over the break. I'll lie in bed at night before falling asleep and I'll have these random ideas; sometimes entire scenes will play themselves out in my head, complete with dialogue. I haven't really been active with any other kind of writing lately, so I suppose my creative drive is pooling its resources into the novel concept. If I don't write for a while I start to get irritable. I'll be glad for the upcoming break, as it will give me an opportunity to kick start the creative process. (Which, for me, involves many cups of tea and an all-out staring contest with a blinking cursor.)

I feel like taking a bath. Gonna' put on some David Gray and pile on the bubbles.
katernater: (castle • (beckett))
It is such a perfect day outside: bright, sunny, breezy and hovering right around 65°. Quite a welcome relief from the triple digit temperatures we were sporting this time last month. I wore a sweater to work today -- the inaugural fall sweater -- and I think it had something to do with boosting my overall mood. I like summer, but fall is really where it's at.

There is nothing really of note to report. I've been busy with work, of course, but it's been the pleasant kind of occupation so far; I feel like I'm managing to stay on top of things and successfully handle obstacles when they appear. I've been trying to take a little time each day to meditate, which has also helped with my stress levels. I mean, there's no real science to it (it's pretty much just me sitting quietly for fifteen minutes to a half an hour), but it must be doing something because I am generally just more relaxed day-to-day than I have been in a while.

I've on a big "Victorian explorers" kick the last week or so, especially as regards British exploration of the Antarctic in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Scott, Shackleton, that kind of thing. I have no idea where it came from, but suddenly I was overwhelmed with the desire to read ALL THE BOOKS. I'm reading this book now, and I think I'll continue in the explorers vein when I go back to the library. I've heard positive things about The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon and I know the library has a couple of copies, so maybe I'll go there next.

I've also been streaming a lot of camp eighties horror movies. I watched An American Werewolf in London last night for the first time and loved it. The cooler weather puts me in mind of fall, which makes me think of Halloween, which is probably why I've been mainlining creature features.

I'm also putting the finishing touches on this year's autumn mix CD, so look for that in the coming weeks.

Castle comes back soon! Yay!
katernater: (doctor who • (far away))
Ever since the X-Files episode "Jose Chung's From Outer Space," I have had a soft spot in my heart for Charles Nelson Reilly. I was too young to really know him from his days on Match Game, or to have seen his appearances on The Tonight Show (which he did something like 106 times), but his role as the sardonic non-fiction science fiction novelist trying to work out the he-said-she-said of an alien abduction in a small town, well, it just stuck with me. I loved Reilly's comedic timing during the episode; I loved the dry wit he infused into that character, and the way that he danced on the border between serious documentarian and literary huckster. "Jose Chung" remains one of my absolute favorite-ever episodes of The X-Files, mostly for Reilly's performance -- and for Darin Morgan's spot-on and heartfelt script.

Anyway, the reason I mention it is because Netflix is instant-streaming The Life of Reilly, Reilly's completely autobiographical one-man show, filmed shortly before his death in 2007. I highly recommend it. Reilly moves seamlessly between moments of great guffawing laughter (such as when he talks about his first appearance on stage as Christopher Columbus, with a supporting cast that included a lisping boatswain), to heartbreak (his father's mental breakdown and subsequent institutionalization), to the philosophical.

At the end of the play, Reilly is talking about how he now teaches these masterclasses of acting students, and how his life experiences have prepared him for the role of teaching. And he's talking about how he sits down with these students, these potential impressarios of the stage and screen, and how it would be easy for him to think that he's sitting alone, when really he's not. In fact, he's sitting with the spirits of the people who have lived his life with him. He's sitting with his mother, and that lisping boatswain, and the man at NBC who told him "gay people will never be on television," and the woman who told him that one day he would be on Broadway, and the thirty students he's lost to AIDS over the years. He never does anything alone because, good or bad, those people and those memories are with him and have made him the man he is.

And I just thought that that was a wonderful idea. I thought about how now, when I'm in the classroom, I'm not really alone either. I'm up there with the spirit of my dad, who gave me the best advice I ever got from anyone -- "Find something you love doing, then find a way to make money at it." Check on both counts, dad. I'm up there with my mom, who always knew I'd grow up to be a teacher, even when I was desperate to prove the contrary. I'm up there with my high school speech coach, who gave me the courage and the platform I needed to get out of a crippling depression. I'm up there with Mr. Mustapha, another educator and changer of lives, who believed in me when I thought very little of myself. I'm up there with Kevin Elliot, my first kiss and high school crush, the first boy to whom I ever showed my underwear. (Not that there's been a lot happening in that department in the ensuing years.) And of course I stand with all of the friends that I've had and lost, and all of the co-workers at cruddy summer temp jobs, and the memories of family members long gone to whom I wish I'd had more than a passing connection. I love that image: not standing alone, but abreast of all of the people who have come into my life and made an impression, taught me things about the world and about myself, and whose influences combined have made me into the woman I am.

I don't know. Maybe it was the movie; maybe I've just been generally introspective this weekend (it's hard not to be, I think). But I'm sitting here, drinking tea and listening to the soundtrack from Life as a House and just feeling very grateful. And humble. And lucky. As complicated as life may get, I think that it's worthwhile remembering that we are not alone, no matter where we are.
katernater: (sherlock • (purple))
I go to the gym pretty much every day during the work week (and often on Saturdays) and have been faithful to that regimen for about a month and a half now. Today, though, as I stood in my office looking out on a gray, chilly campus, I just thought, You know what I want to do more than the gym? Go home, take a hot shower, make some tea, and curl up on my couch. So, huzzah! Here I am. The region is getting its first taste of the weather to come, and it just so happens that that kind of weather goes well with a mid-afternoon nap. I love autumn. It's absolutely my favorite season.

We're already into Week 5 of a nine-week term. I can't believe it; it's gone so quickly! I know that I say that every term, but this one seems to have just elapsed faster than any of the others. I guess sort of knowing what I'm doing contributes to that; when you have no idea what you're doing, each day seems to crawl by, right? I have a really great group of students this term and will be very sad to see them go at the end of it.

What else is new? Ah, I spent half my lunch hour today on the phone with a (very kind and patient) Verizon rep, trying to figure out why the mobile hotspot function on my cell phone wasn't working. It turned out to be something very simple and I felt bad for making the poor woman jump through about six technical manuals to come to that conclusion. I even figured out the problem while she had me on hold so she could go ask someone else what the problem might be. Anyway. The Internet and I back together in a firm embrace (I was without it last night and reduced to finding things other than RP tags and Tumblr to keep my occupied), so I'm happy. It's ridiculous how dependent on the internet I've become. Without it I feel rudderless, like, I'm supposed to entertain myself? Without tomhanksimals? LAME. I don't want to even speculate about what I would do in the event of the actual apocalypse, when the internet would probably cease to be because the satellites have been eaten by space beavers. I mean, I would hope I'd have other things to worry about at that point, but boy, I would sure miss having the internet around to tell me what to do.

I just remembered that I've not yet watched this week's Doctor Who episode. I am a bad fan. :(
katernater: (sanctuary • (vampire))
I've got to watch myself because I have a feeling I could get seriously caught up in the Fright Night re-make -- AKA: The Movie Whose Box Office Receipts Depend Solely On David Tennant Fangirls (Subheading: and for Very Good Reasons) -- and my credibility as a judicious, wizened movie-goer has already been compromised by the fact that I am more than a little in love with the original 1985 version. I'm not particularly impressed with Anton Yelchin as an actor, and Colin Farrell's best work (in my opinion) was in In Bruges and I really have no kink for seeing him swanning around in a wifebeater in the Nevada desert, trying to seduce Toni Collette. HOWEVER. This is one of those cinematic "perfect storms" which, through some odd confluence of casting and media hype, has made me believe that if I don't see it, I might just shrivel up and die. So, you know. I'll probably end up going.

Also, wasn't Apollo 18 supposed to be released this month? I'm really looking forward to that movie. (Here's the trailer, in case you missed it.)

SPACE, YOU SCARY.

My shoulder is back to normal, doing all of the things a shoulder is supposed to do. My dad and I were talking about it and I told him that I had just overexercised and he was like, "That's what happens when you get older," and there was a tense moment of silence on my end of the line because I was busy checking the Rascal™ Web site to see if I could get my mobility scooter in hot rod red. Seriously. I'm twenty-seven. Twenty-seven is not old. Twenty-seven does not even fit into the "older" category. In 1900, when the average life expectancy for a woman in the US was 48.3, sure, twenty-seven was old. Twilight territory. (Then again, in 1900 you were probably lucky to live long enough without contracting tetanus from rusty farm equipment or falling into a coal furnace.) Then again, there are times when I really feel my age. Like when I check my student roster and half my class turns out to be born after 1993. That's a pretty sobering moment. You were playing with Jurassic Park action figures while your students were still sucking amniotic fluid. Jeepers, that's rough.

Shoestring budget this month while I wait for my next paycheck. I'm learning to make choices about purchases based on what I actually need to get by, rather than what I want. I've stopped impulse buying, for the most part. That's been a real problem with me in the past. I think everyone should have the experience of living on their own, being in charge of their own finances, at some point in their life. It's at turns empowering and incredibly scary. You learn a lot about what you can actually live without. For instance: I just opened a Snickers bar I'd stashed in the freezer and accidentally dropped it in the trash can; pre-Terre Haute me might have left it there and gone for another one. Current!me was ready to launch a full-scale rescue mission to get that damn chocolate back.

It was delicious.
katernater: (lost • (linus))
I did something crazy bad to my shoulder while working out yesterday. I'm not quite sure what happened, but I have a feeling that my time on the elliptical machine -- when I was holding on to the moving handles and every time I pulled them back toward me it was like I was winding up to throw a shot put -- had something to do with it. I didn't really feel anything until I'd gotten off the machine and gone over to the drinking fountain to fill up my water bottle and, reaching down, heard (and felt) something in my neck/shoulder area go pop. An explosion of blue-black pain smacked my back teeth. My entire left side seized up and for a split second I was worried I might pass out. Whatever it was passed, though, and I made it out to my car okay. I think I just overdid it.

I went out after work looking for one of those electric heating pads, but they're all too expensive (like, $30 or $40). I ended up buying some one-time-use heat patches instead. The box came with a special warning: "DO NOT APPLY HEAT PATCH TO GENITALS OR EYE AREA." I sometimes regret not going to law school because you know there was a civil case that set that precedent, and I would have loved to have been a part of it.

Yoga tomorrow morning, if I wake up in time.
katernater: (actor • (tennant))
I spent part of today trading e-mails with a guy I'm pretty sure I've been secretly in love with since we met at a party my first week of college. He's invited me to spend Labor Day weekend with him at his family's lake cottage and I'm trying to be all nonchalant, like, "Oh yeah, I get invited to lake houses by hot guys all the time; where's my regatta scarf?" when, on the inside I'm really all, "206 is the magic number, baby, because that's how many bones you have and that's how many I'm planning to jump."

My parents and I drove up to Valpo last weekend to move my stuff out of Todd's apartment. He was decent enough to break down most of the furniture and move it into the living room, but I still had a ton of books and brik-a-brak to box up. We filled a whole UHaul trailer with my half of the apartment. I'm not going to lie: it felt good to get my stuff out of there. Todd and I are on good terms and can carry on a civil conversation, but I think this last weekend made the break-up, well, real. I still felt like I had a link to my old life with all of my furniture and books in another place. Todd wasn't there, which was okay. He got a chance to go home to Fort Wayne to see friends and family and he took it, so my parents and I could come and go from the apartment as we pleased. It took about an hour and a half. The only time that I really got somewhat nostalgic was when I went through all of the LPs we'd bought together; I was sad to leave "Beggar's Banquet" and "The Stranger," but Todd had bought those on his own and it wasn't right for me to take them. I don't have a turntable to play them on anyway. I was able to move some small things back to my apartment: pictures, some glassware, other small items. I really feel like I'm making this apartment -- this town -- my new home. I finally got a gym membership (and am currently sweating it twice a week in Zumba classes) and found a classic rock station that comes in clear on my stereo. I'm happy in my job, happy with the friendships I'm making, and happy with the new creative opportunity in my novel project. Money's tight and I'll be happy when I will be able to stop paying rent-and-a-half for two apartments, but I'm nowhere near starving or deprived. I'm just learning how to manage my money and my time more effectively.

I'm not in any hurry to date again. I like the freedom that being single provides, and I have always been happy in my own company. I'm open to whatever comes next, but I also think that this time is an excellent opportunity for me to find out who I am and what I want in a partner. And there's no rush to figure out either of those things.

I think [livejournal.com profile] another_myself and I are going to watch an episode of Doctor Who together tonight. I can't wait until the second half of the series; it's in, like, two weeks, right? I NEED MY DOCTOR. I AM MARTHA JONESIN'.

ALSO. [livejournal.com profile] awesomesquared, I AM LOOKING AT YOU AND YOU KNOW WHY.
katernater: (doctor who • (tardis))
I had horrible insomnia last night. Which is weird, because at seven o'clock I was leaning on my arm while typing up student evaluations, literally a minute or two away from faceplanting into my laptop. I went to bed around ten thirty but couldn't fall asleep. I eventually got up and tried sleeping on the couch, like a change of venue was the problem. It wasn't. (FYI: If any of you ever get up here to visit me I'm not making you sleep on that couch; it's like a topographical map with a slipcover.) I went back to my bedroom and toughed it out and I guess I fell asleep around two or two thirty. The good thing about the whole thing was that the sleeplessness gave me a chance to think and I essentially reworked my whole NaNo concept for this year. I mean, to the point where I've scrapped my original idea entirely and gone in a wholly different direction -- right down to characters, setting, plot and time period. I decided that, to do justice to my original idea, I'd have to build a time machine out of used dishwasher parts, travel back to 1970s Britain and make friends with glam rockers. It's hard to explain. I could do it, but I feel like I actually need to live over in the U.K. before I start aping their slang and mannerisms, you know? So I'm putting that idea on the back burner and working to develop another project I've been kicking around in my head. It's kind of Philip K. Dick meets Inception meets the general tone of any Pink Floyd album. I'm going to start all over with the outlining process and, fingers crossed, I'll be ready to start writing at the beginning of November.

Work has been kind of stressful this week but it's the last week of the term and that's to be expected. I've been cheered up by my co-workers, though, and it's really great to have that kind of support system at the ready. It's also great to be around people who come from so many different backgrounds and levels of experience but who, at the same time, are a lot like me. My boss found out that I was a Doctor Who fan today and we spent, like, twenty minutes talking about which Doctor from the "classic" series was the best. My boss grew up with Four. I told him that I liked Two. We both agreed that Ten was awesome. I finally feel like I'm becoming part of that group. At the beginning it was a little hard for me to acclimate to my new job. I mean, everyone was terrific and very helpful, but there was still that stigma, like, "You're still a newbie and we're not completely comfortable with you yet." I feel like I'm starting to really make a place and an identity for myself. I feel more comfortable joking around and offering my honest opinion about things; generally when I'm new I like to keep my head down until I've earned the right to say something. After almost eight months I think I'm at the point where I can show a little bit more of my personality and weigh in on things.

I am really lucky to be where I am. It's stressful at times and I'm still not completely sure what I'm doing (and probably won't be completely sure for a long time), but I feel happy here. And, my gosh, you know when prospective teachers give you that line, like, "If I can help just one student learn something, that will be enough."? That's mostly bull. Teaching is a numbers game. A lot of the time, if students are just meeting the benchmark you're happy. If they get the concept and can prove that they can follow through with it, hallelujah. If more than half of the class can string a sentence together without too much trouble? You're doing pretty damn well. But I had one student in my writing class this term who struggled and really had to work on her skills. I worked with her one-on-one, got her additional help outside of class, and her skills really improved. She turned in an awesome research paper to me today. It was worlds better than her writing at the beginning of the term. I almost got choked up reading it. Seeing her succeed made my entire term. It was as close as I've come in my life to knowing what being a parent is like -- if being a parent involves long explanations about punctuation and subject-verb agreement.

It's still hot outside but I'm going to try to run anyway. I didn't run last night and that might have been part of the reason I couldn't sleep. Apparently I just need to exhaust myself to the point of collapsing if I want to get a decent eight hours.
katernater: (movie • (pirate))
Thanks, all, for your thoughtful reading recommendations on my last post. In the end I decided to re-read the last book in the Pendergast series, as a refresher for the sequel that comes out at the beginning of next month. I'm sure I'm going to eat right through that book, though, so I'll be picking up some of your suggestions when I'm next at the library. (Which will hopefully be when Cute Bespectacled Librarian Boy is also working.) A lot of you recommended Game of Thrones, so I'll probably start there.

I got a Facebook message from one of my friends from graduate school this afternoon. She's currently teaching English as a second language at a women's college in Hiroshima. She wanted to let me know that there would be a couple of positions opening up at the college soon -- in September of this year and March of next. I checked out the position and it looks pretty interesting; you teach a bit and then participate in a group-focused research project, the subject and parameters of which are determined by your individual discipline. It sounds pretty cool. I mean, I wasn't exactly looking to go overseas within the next year (I have plans to do so eventually, but after I've accumulated a little stateside teaching cred first), but it's good to know that the opportunities are out there.

And, anywhere I go, I need to be sure that I can still see first run movies in theaters because, OH MY GOSH, YOU GUYS, THERE ARE COMIC BOOK MOVIE TRAILERS BEING LEAKED ALL OVER THE PLACE AND I'M JUST LIKE

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BECAUSE 2012 IS GONNA' BE THE YEAR OF THE NERD.

Brainwork.

Jul. 15th, 2011 07:52 am
katernater: (house • (communicate))
I made coffee for the first time in weeks today (it's been too humid out in the morning to even consider coffee) because I needed an extra boost to get through the day. I then changed my white shirt out for a coffee-colored one so that when I eventually spill half the mug on myself it will be less conspicuous.

Yes, this is the kind of adult I've grown into.
katernater: (actor • (stripey))
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katernater: (misc • (writer))
So, after living here for seven months I finally discovered that the apartment complex had a pool. (I really should have been tipped off earlier: seeing people wandering the cul-de-sacs with pool towels around their necks was clearly not just a sign that terrycloth was en vogue this summer.) I tracked it down and spent some time there this afternoon. I also discovered that, despite the best intentions of all the sunscreen in the world, a pale white girl of Anglo-Irish descent will still get a sunburn if she stays outside for more than an hour. (Warning: wince-inducing sunburn picture at the link.) It doesn't feel all that bad now, but I've stocked up on aloe for the foreseeable future. My legs, actually, feel the crankiest. They have had very limited sun exposure yet this summer and they are always prone to pinkening whenever I go out into the sun. Of course, the first burn of the summer is usually the worst. I tend to get one which, with repeated exposure to the elements, eventually evens out into a relatively pleasant-looking tan for the rest of the season.

I went out yesterday afternoon and bought a huge corkboard to use to start storyboarding my novel. As you can see, there's not much there yet:

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I've got this very ambitious, color-coded index card system going on in my head. Yellow cards are for character names and details, pink cards are for plot timeline, and green and orange cards (of which there are none) are for two other very important categories which I haven't thought of yet. I took a notepad and a pen to bed with me last night and actually woke up this morning with some things scribbled in it that I don't remember writing. Apparently my creativity can run on autopilot while the rest of me sleeps. It's like Skynet in here or something.
katernater: (doctor who • (trust me))
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I've always had an interest in the space program. Growing up, my family and I would spend weekends during the summer at our family's lake cottage, where an impressive telescope was in residence. Away from the bright lights of suburbia, my grandfather would swing the telescope toward the front bay window and point in the direction of the night sky. I'd look at the stars and imagine that I could see right past them to the heart of the universe. When I was eleven, my family took a trip to Johnson Space Center in Houston, where we actually got to see Mission Control. I knew I wasn't science or math-minded enough to ever actually get a job in the sciences, but I have always loved the space program. The ambition of it. The ability and drive inside of people that pushes them to break through physical and mental barriers to achieve something beyond themselves. I believe that the space program has been one of our truest, most noble endeavors as a species. It represents what is good about us, and what we can accomplish when we stand at the crux point of science and imagination.

I watched the last space shuttle launch with my class this morning. It was an amazing experience. In that room, watching the live feed as the shuttle gathered power to leave the earth, it didn't matter what country we came from or what language we spoke. We were the same because we could all appreciate what we were capable of as a people.

I don't mean for this post to be maudlin, or to polemicize about the end of the manned space program. While I strongly disagree with the decisions that have been made to gut the space program (or at least to freeze its budget until 2016), I do not think that today is the end of exploration. There will be other opportunities for us to discover our universe and other areas much closer to home. Divers have snapped the first photos of a fish that uses tools, and Italian archaeologists recently uncovered a skeleton which they believe to belong to Lisa Gherardini, the model for da Vinci's Mona Lisa. There's a whole lot more out there for us to find; we just have to be willing to open our eyes to see it.

In the meantime, check out this photo retrospective of the space shuttle program by the Denver Post. There are some truly stunning images there.
katernater: (actress • (poehler))
Oh my gosh, have you ever had one of those naps that's, like, "Hello, I'm going to fix everything that was wrong about today that you totally didn't know about, so you're welcome"? I have gotten out of the habit of taking naps. It's my schedule, I'm sure: get up in the morning, go to work until about three or four in the afternoon, come home, run, eat dinner, plan for the next day; there's not a lot of room in there for napping. Well, today I took a nap for the first time in months. 'Did it "classic style," too: I pretty much just faceplanted on the couch and didn't move from that position for an hour. It was awesome.

The term is clipping right along. We're already into the middle of Week 6, which leaves just three weeks until the end of the term. I finally feel like I'm hitting my stride with this research paper class. Last week was so revealing: I just let go of a lot of expectations and started focusing on what my students needed. I was putting a lot of (unintentional) pressure on them (and myself) and it just started to burn us all out. Last Thursday I brought in donut holes and green tea and we all sat around for the first part of class, discussing the research paper and fielding questions from one another. It was fantastic and I think it really helped overall class morale. I'm learning (sometimes painfully) that this whole process is really a complex balancing act and that, in the end, it's impossible to control everything. I've got to let some things go. I've got to give my students the information they need, but it's up to them to follow through on it.

Things are going well for me. Without getting too into it, I continue to develop myself spiritually and see daily improvement in my overall attitude and outlook on things. I'm learning to trust my instincts and to rely on my emotional barometer; if something upsets me, I allow it to upset me. If I'm happy, I'm comfortable saying that I'm happy. I am not doing as much free writing as I would like, but I think that's probably because I'm stacked to the ceiling with work stuff right now. My plan, by the end of summer, is to put some serious time into the rough scratchings of my novel. I would like to put together an outline by the end of August so that, if possible, I can do NaNoWriMo this year. I've always wanted to participate and I feel that the structure would compel me to write on a regular basis. Even if I end up missing the 50,000 word goal I will still have made some progress in the right direction. Is anyone else planning to participate this year? Can we be NaNo buddies? I can ply you with Oreo Balls and iTunes playlists.

Right. Off to grab a bite to eat and then grade some papers.
katernater: (house • (meaning))
I resisted as much as I could, but in the end I couldn't keep away from that movie shuffle meme that's been making its way around Tumblr. The premise is simple: leave up to four actors in my askbox and I will turn my iTunes on shuffle and create a movie poster and a synopsis of the imaginary film, based on whatever song comes up first. This has turned out to be more fun than I could have possibly imagined.

[livejournal.com profile] antiquitea gave me Michael Sheen, Hugh Laurie, and Billie Piper.

I'm actually half tempted to write a screenplay for this. )

I want to do more of these. If you'd like, leave up to four actors in the comments and I'll give 'em the same treatment.
katernater: (lost • (faraday))
I just got back from the INTERLINK potluck dinner. Once every term, all the teachers, staff and students from the program get together outside of class to share food and play games. This term we had the party at a park near my apartment. The weather had been shaky all day and we weren't sure it would play along, but it turned out to be a really nice evening. One of my students brought his family along. He has three little girls, all under the age of seven, and a little boy. His smallest girl, Sara, kept coming up to me and putting her arms up to be held. I'm not usually around a lot of kids and don't consider myself really good with them, but this girl was absolutely adorable, so I couldn't refuse. Every time I held her she kept putting her hands into my hair, running it through her fingers and playing with it. I melted. I just did. She would put her cheek on my shoulder and stroke my hair and I would feel her warm little breath on my neck. I think I carried her twice around the park and back before I returned her to her father. And his other little girl, Zahar, kept coming up to me and wrapping herself around my legs. At one point she tugged on the edge of my shirt to get my attention. I turned around and she pointed to my hand, which I showed to her, palm up. She then spit an ice cube into my open palm, giggled, and ran away. I'm not quite sure what kind of a cultural gesture that is, but I think it means we're best friends for life or something.

The latter half of this week was tough. By the time Thursday rolled around I felt like I had run out of steam. I had to really sit on some of my students today and that always makes me grouchy. We're really picking up speed on their research papers and it's especially difficult because many of them have never written anything like that before. I have to take them through the research process, the step-by-step outline and the citation process before they begin to write. A lot of things that I have taken for granted or committed to reflex memory -- like how to cite sources -- are completely new to them and it takes time to transfer that knowledge. Add to that the fact that our terms are only nine weeks and you really start to feel the crunch. I just need to pace myself and be available to answer questions when they have them. I also need to take this weekend to seriously decompress. I think the biggest thing I've got planned is going to see 'X-Men: First Class' (if it's still in theaters) and/or going to the library to apply for a library card. I'm ninety percent planned for Monday, so I can afford a little downtime.

I am also considering an X-Files series re-watch, starting this weekend. Who's with me?

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