Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Worms, Update

My dad feels the worms are not living up to their billing. They are apparently not eating the food he puts in, even though he put it into the microwave and cooled it down, chopping it to break it down for them. I don't know if they are dead. Perhaps it is too hot in that corner of the yard, but unfortunately, there isn't anywhere without some sun during the day. How disappointing!


I had two plagiarized homework assignments last night. I knew students were not reading The Turn of the Screw as they needed to, even though I found them an audiobook to listen to online, which helped, many of them told me. I had many different exercises and discussed the books from a number of angles, comparing its ambiguity and open-ended structure to that of the other works we studied this semester, so it wasn't totally unfamiliar territory, but the students are tired, as am I. Tomorrow is the last day of class before they take the exam on Thursday.
The two plagiarized assignments obviously came from the same Cliff's Notes or Spark Notes. They discussed two sections of the book we had not touched on at all in ways that were totally foreign to our discussion of the book. I told the students that if they used such sources without citing them (and I didn't want them to use any sources but those I gave them), they were plagiarizing, and would get an instant F on the paper without a chance to rewrite it. I used to fail them for the whole class, but have since eased up on that.
The student came to me after class and said he felt discouraged because he had just failed the paper I just gave back too. He is a student capable of much better work, but sleeps during and skips class all the time, and rarely turns in homework. I didn't make nice to him. He deserves to feel discouraged. Maybe he'll figure out how he ended up in this situation and change his ways next time.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Imagining Myself At Home

Now that I am considering looking into buying a house, I am looking at all sorts of places... condos at Woodbridge, duplexes in Tustin, 3 bedrooms in Lake Forest. R. says he doesn't want a condo, and that he'd like to avoid, if possible, those community fees most places hereabouts charge.
Of course I know there's the hurdle of the down payment to get over. There is no way we can fork over that money or anywhere close to it now. We'll have to get help somewhere. I have learned about some programs, but I'm not sure we'll be eligible, but I will still apply. One never knows.
But thinking about being a homeowner for the first time gives me an entirely different feeling about all the choices there are, one I haven't had before because I never truly thought we would be able to afford a house here. The economic bellyflop has given people like us an opening, even if it means a lot of pain for many many others.
I don't like the idea of taking a house out from under some family who lost it to foreclosure or taking advantage of someone's bad fortunes or even their poor judgment. It could so easily happen to us as well, and might if we aren't careful. But it's exciting, really. Just when I think I am stuck in my ways, I open a door and perceive myself as a different person.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Papers again

The Vertigo papers, papers on the topic of Hitchcock's film, have come in. So far, they are not so hot after all. I was going at it pretty hard, teaching that film, and learned some things from the discussion, but the papers did not turn out well. At least one pretty good student didn't turn in a paper at all. That disappoints me, and makes me feel I should change the assignment next semester. I will go back to one of my old assignments, since I have taught this film in the summer before. This time, the assignment itself asked the students to discuss a feminist topic, how one woman was substituted for another in the film, and what this might mean. Next time, I will ask them to focus on one motif in the film. That will force them to focus on the specifics of the film. This time, the papers are rather focusing on telling me about the characters, not the images in the film that would prove the assertions they are making. Though I discussed this in the drafts, they apparently couldn't pull it off, though they were fascinated with the movie and the idea that it was so complex it could open up in all these different ways.
So far, they are struggling with The Turn of the Screw. That is not unusual, but they are not reading it. That will be a problem next Thursday, when they have to write an essay in class about it.
Then the whole thing starts all over again with the new semester! AAAGGHHH!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


The Torah group met again last night. I hadn't had time to read the parashah for the evening, which was not a narrative. Instead, it described the specifications for building the Ark of the Covenant and setting up the Mishkan, the portable Holy of Holies that supposedly traveled through the desert with the Hebrew people on their way to the promised land.
The commentary said it was most likely never built, but we wondered at the absolutely shovel-ready detail of the instructions, which had to be followed to the T if the builders were to avoid death. What a deal! God offered this special partnership, and in return, the people were to turn over everything they had and risk death.
One amazing detail discussed a special form of ritual gambling for making decisions on which the leaders could not agree. The priests in the temple wore a special breastplate that contained something like dice. When such a difficult decision came up, they were to use those dice to decide the issue. Given that divination was a total no-no, this seems like a form of fudging. Also, although all graven images were supposedly forbidden, on the cover of the ark of the covenant itself, hammered out of a single piece of gold, were to be two cherubim, their wings spread, facing each other, with a space between them. God's voice would be issued from between these wings.
A cherub is not a rosy little angel of the sort we are used to imagining on Valentine's Day. Instead, it is a fearsome beast something like a sphynx, with the body of an animal and the head of a human. God set cherubim to guard Eden after the expulsion of Adam and Eve so humans wouldn't sneak back in.
One commentary said that the image of the cherubim evoked the idea that justice could not exist without communication between human beings. We need to face each other and engage in dialogue before God can be present in the world. That sounds like a Reconstructionist reading of the matter, one I feel comfortable with.
The whole deal of the Mishkan brings up the big controversy in Judaism: the conflict between the idea of God's immanence and God's transcendance. The big thing that was supposed to make this God different from the others of the period was that God could not be encompassed by a particular form or image. Yet that God was also seen as something different from the pagan gods who were supposed to be identical with forces of nature. It is a fine line, very abstract and hard to get one's mind around.
This section of the Torah is not, frankly, compelling to read, at least not for me. I love the narratives, the ancient stories of our extended family, with all their disfunctions and questionable exploits. I look forward to more of these shenanagans coming up soon.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Take a Break; Pay the Price

Yesterday I took a rare break to take my parents out and to find that worm farm. Consequently, I didn't spend part of the day talking to my students about their upcoming drafts, due today. They were pretty awful, and there were tons of emails from students fearing they didn't know how to write this paper that didn't get answered. Though I enjoyed the day, I kind of wish I'd spent a few hours reading those emails and responding to them.
One positive note: I won a prize in a drawing at Steinmart--a $10. gift certificate for a meal at Waters! That ought to pay for part of a lunch, anyhow.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

10,000 head

My dad is now a proud rancher of over 10,000 head... of worms. I met the worm compost lady in the parking lot of Starbucks, outside the Claim Jumper on Alton and Culver, asked a few questions, and became the new owner of the worm ranch, which I quickly drove over to my dad's place.
After about a half an hour, the ranch was up and running, the worms wriggling freely through their spacious new spread. I hope it works out; otherwise, I think my dad's heart will be broken.
We then went out to eat our father's day lunner (somewhere between lunch and dinner) at Bubba Gump in Anaheim. As usual, my dad, having ordered a pan browned tilapia with mango-pineapple salsa, declared that this had to be his best dinner yet, in all his almost 93 years! He scored mom's fries, her coleslaw, some of her fried mahi, and a couple of popcorn shrimp, along with a bodacious blueberry lemonade. You can't accuse him of not being enthusiastic or not having an appetite. No one wanted dessert--except mom. We got her some chocolate at the candy store a few doors down. My dad didn't eat his sugar-free peanut butter cup. He stashed it for tomorrow.


R and I have never owned a home. Although we have fantasized about doing it, the time and budget were never right. Now that the prices have come down so much, I, at least, am thinking about whether and how it might be a possibility. We could easily move out of this apartment and into another. There are many, such as a townhouse a few doors away, newly remodeled, that would suit us and take us out of this broken-down place, for the same price.
But I question whether we could not in fact get a place of our own for the same monthly price. That is why I would like to look into that. I will check out the HUD listing and find out how to go about it. There are all kinds of tax advantages for first time buyers we might be able to take advantage of and rebates and things designed to spark the market.
I know absolutely nothing about this subject, but that has never stopped me from getting involved in things in the past, so why not? If anyone has any ideas or suggestions, let me know.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Worms for Father's Day

My dad loves gardening, though it is difficult for him at this point in his life, when he must use a walker to get about and easily loses his balance or falls over his urine tube. One of his favorite activities in the past, until the board and care made him stop, was cutting up banana peels and other biodegradable garbage to make compost. It was smelly, and attracted fruit flies, so the state told the board and care it had to stop.
Recently, however, on a trip to the farmer's market at Laguna Hills on a Friday afternoon, I came upon the worm lady, who sells worm farms ("wriggler ranches," as they are called) to create compost out of scraps. I didn't know what to buy dad for father's day, so I mentioned this. His eyes lit up! This was just the ticket.
I scouted around online for the ranches, but decided it would be best to buy one locally, so I could help him to set it up rather than counting on the caregivers, who have other things to do, or expecting him to do it himself.
Yesterday at the farmer's market I did not have time to buy and drop off the ranch because I had a doctor's appointment, so I took a card from the worm lady and called her this morning, planning to have her explain the procedure to my dad. But she didn't answer the phone and wasn't available this afternoon. So I made a plan to meet her after she goes to church tomorrow morning in the parking lot of the church, which is coincidentally the same church that used to share a building with the synagogue I attend.
So tomorrow, before we head off for Bubba Gumps for dinner, I will be up to my elbows in worms, setting up the farm for dad.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Rara Avis

This semester I am rewarded by having at least one extremely gifted writer in my class. He quietly produces work that is smooth and intelligent, in prose as clear as my own. I have asked him in my emails throughout the semester and in comments on his papers what his story is, where he transferred from, since he is clearly a bit older than the average student, and certainly better read, and what his major is. But up till today, he has not responded to my questions. Today I asked him outright, and he told me that he just moved here from another state, and that he is not yet enrolled in college. He is thinking of going into a creative writing undergrad program and then to a graduate program in screenwriting.
I hope that I will have the pleasure of advising him in his choice of programs, writing him letters of recommendation, and otherwise shepherding him through this process. He has been a great addition to my class, and with his writing and assistance to others in discussion and peer review, has made my job lighter.

Shoes are hard

Yesterday I ran into Beth on campus, and she wondered at my small feet, which I had stuffed into some strappy sandals. If she looked closely, she would see that those feet are marked with lots of corns, calluses, and scars. I've had enormous corns cut off of both my little toes, which are now misshapen and sit uncomfortably in most shoes. My second toes are a little longer than my first, which also causes problems with some shoes. And I tend to walk toward the left and put my weight on my right foot/leg. All of these things cause problems I deal with in yoga, but also in buying/wearing certain kinds of shoes. Add to this the size of my feet, a 5--it's really hard to get 5s, as I've said before in discussing my mom's shoe-buying forays.
It's a little easier buying for myself because at least I know whether they fit or not when I put them on and try them (she doesn't anymore), but finding shoes of the sort I can wear and like and can afford is not easy. I have bought them on Ebay in the past, but just last week I bought three pair, and all three were too big, despite being called either size 5 (American) or 35 (4 1/2 European). The 5 was more like a 6; the 35 was more like a 5.5. I might be able to get away with the 35s, though they are loose and could create abrasions and blisters; however, the 5 was way too big, so I gave them to my parents' caregiver for her birthday. She loved them! At least that saved me a trip to the store.
I am frustrated. I'm going to have to arrange a trip to the outlet mall in Oceanside sometime; there are lots of shoe outlets there, and I can generally find something. But it's a pain to get there for someone who doesn't drive on freeways.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Not so Hot

Today in class, the discussion of the film didn't go so well. It seems that a number of people have not watched it again, after the initial time in class. I warned tham that writing about the film without watching it again would be impossible, since they would at most be able to recite the plot and repeat what was said in class, but I don't know how much effect that warning will have.
Though we have just as much classtime to devote to the film as during the regular semester, there's not much time for them to watch the film again, outside of class, and to let some of it perculate and sink in.
The paper topic asks them to think about how women are substituted for one another in the film and to choose either one of those substitutions or two to compare and discuss in the essay. All sorts of interesting parallels emerged in discussion. There are several choices of where they can go with this, but only if they know the film well enough to think of examples from it to prove their assertions.
These drafts might be terrible, or if they get inspired and watch the film again, they could be pretty good. There could also be a bunch of plagiarisms since the Internet is full of websites and commentary about the film. I've told them not to use any sources besides the film itself and our discussion of it. I'll have to watch out for that.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Teaching Vertigo in 4 days

I feel as though teaching a 6 week course is kind of like running a marathon. I no sooner finish with one text than I realize I have only three weeks left to do two more. I think that's called "hitting the wall." Yeah. I just did that.
I gave back the paper today, and thank goodness, the students are hot to trot, ready to plunge into Vertigo. We have found a copy online at YouTube, and they have been busy watching it, noticing all sorts of interesting little things I hadn't seen before... Scottie doesn't lock the door of his car, for instance, after he's fallen in love with Madeleine. Of course, I doubt he was ever shown locking it, but then I've never particularly noticed. I'll have to look next time I watch it, which should be tomorrow, maybe. But I can't find my DVD! Think I left it in the classroom.
Sigh. They have to produce a draft on this film by next Monday. Ha.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Movie and dinner

Shit. I just wrote a post and didn't save it. Now I have to write it all over again.
We went out for dinner and a movie at the dollar movie theater and Chinese bbq with R and M. I never thought I would like Sunshine Cleaning as much as I did. I can just imagine the director pitching it to the studio--you'll love this movie about two sisters down on their luck who get into the post-mortem cleaning business! But it was sweet, well-acted and affecting. Another great movie at the dollar cinema!
The BBQ though is probably not the place to go for dinner. The selection of dim sum was small and was looking a bit wilted by that time. I had a bite at lunchtime yesterday, and it was great, fresh and beautiful. But anything under heat lamps doesn't fare well after a while. Still, the duck was good.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Making a Life

Thinking about Jeremy forging out on his own, I was interested to hear the speaker at synagogue last night. The choir sang (that's me and my friends at synagogue) to celebrate 2 anniversaries of people in the choir--a 25th and 50th--graduation of some high school students in the community, and an interesting speaker presented some of his thoughts.
He was a famous neurosurgeon who was once an illegal immigrant from Mexicali working the tomato fields. By sheer dint of determination and intelligence, he made his way through Harvard med school, and now is head of his department at Johns Hopkins. But he is such a sweet, humble person, so kind. He is not Jewish, obviously, but seemed very intrigued and interested in our service.
His words about his life made me feel more secure about Jeremy finding his way. If this man could do it, without the benefit of a middle class upbringing, overcoming barriers of all kinds, then Jeremy can probably make a go of it as well, particularly since he does not aspire to Harvard Med and brain surgery.

Friday, June 12, 2009


I am beginning to grade the papers now. They seem stronger than the drafts, thank goodness. Most people did not take advantage of the opportunity to see me before the paper was due; I could not see them all the day before, and had made appointments in the couple of days before that, dismissing class very early to do it, but almost none of them took advantage of this. I spoke to a few by email; the rest were on their own, by their own will, but at the last moment regretted this choice. Oh well. Perhaps they will do something different on the second paper.
In this class I have one of those odd and very intelligent students, a bit arrogant, older than the others I think, who never turns in a stitch of work, but is always present and has carefully read the texts and in this case watched the movie. I sent him an email and have written on his work that he should drop the class because the class is half over, and he has a 0 average, having turned nothing in.
Jeremy took the assessment tests yesterday, and will probably be placed in basic math and Writing 1. I spoke to Julie, a colleague at school who is retiring, about doing my best to stay away from him on campus and resisting the urge to advise him. He'll come to me if he wants advice. I think she is right. I'll try hard to keep my mouth shut. He needs to make his own decisions and learn for himself.
I did speak to him about his desire to move out though. I told him it was going to cost a whole lot more than he imagined, and ran down the list of expenses he would experience. He thinks he will come to our house for supper most nights, or else I can give him the money I spend on his food every week and he can take care of himself. I can do that. He claims he can live on $40. per week for food, if he comes to our house on a regular basis for supper. He says he'll either forgo cable tv, or split the expense with the other three guys who will be living at his place. It will be an opportunity for him to find out what it costs to live. We had better not move to a smaller place because my guess is he'll be back, finding the living much more difficult and less fun than he imagined.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Going Green

I showed my class Hitchcock's film Vertigo this afternoon. I have taught that film before, but this time I am trying a new paper topic, one that Richard picked up from a student at UCI who had this assignment in a film class. It's a feminist topic, about substituting one woman for another, and what it might mean or show.
The students only have a week to get this thing done. I have done it before in the past, when I had been teaching it all year. But it's been 3 years or more since I have taught it at all and a year since I have taught a film, so it's challenging.
It's a good text to teach though, so complex and twisted, and so full of techniques and themes that pick up those of the previous text in the class. I think they have an instant in to the film because of that. It will make it easier to see those things.
One of the things that I always notice about the film is its use of the color green. Hitchcock bathes the film in this color, particularly in those parts that relate to the counterfeit romance the mad Scottie Ferguson feels for Madeleine Elster. At first it's embodied in a gorgeous silk gown worn by the false Madeleine; the last time we see it though, it's reduced to a tawdry flashing sign outside of the Empire Hotel, where Judy Barton, the Pygmalion-esque woman who played the part of Madeleine, lives. Clearly, Hitchcock wants us to see this romance for what it is, though of course Scottie is too far gone, and can't see that. Yet all the time, and this amuses me most about the film, it's a comment on Hitchcock's own parade of nearly identical blondes in his films. I can't exactly read the film against the grain, arguing that it's a straight sexist text. Hitchcock is already being ironic about the whole affair, commenting on himself and on the culture's substitution of one remade woman for another. Yet there is no one who is innocent in this affair, unless maybe we want to point to the true blonde, Midge, or to the real Madeleine Elster.


Part of the stomach stuff is no doubt attributable to the class. The other part is probably my dad. Then there's another thing: Jeremy. Jeremy is really being sweet these days, so it's not his behavior. It's just that I am doing a parental thing and worrying about his future.
He will be taking the assessment test at IVC tomorrow, and then will attend classes here, perhaps even during second summer session, if any are open by then. But he has already told me after taking four classes and perhaps passing 2, maybe one (we don't know yet) that he does not think he is really cut out for college. I think if he just agreed to use DS&P, things might be different, but it is up to him. But he would like to move out of the house.
We just don't have the money to do this for him, yet R. was talking about us moving into a one bedroom apartment so he could manage it. I don't think I could tolerate being an inch more cramped than I am now. Even if Jeremy were not living at the house, there would still be so much stuff, books, etc. We would be worse cramped than now, and my mess would accumulate faster. I couldn't stand that. He says not to worry, but I have been begging to move out for over a year now, and I don't want to wait much longer. It will always be something else.
Meanwhile, the apartment is a mess, the toilets don't work right, the stove is old and broken down, the carpets are disgusting, and the ceiling in the hall seems to be falling off piece by piece. Why should we pay the same thing we would pay for a brand new, clean apartment with working utilities just because it's difficult to move? I'm ready to pay for movers and do this thing myself, but know I can't because I can't pay for the security deposit. I'll just have to hang on a while more.

Student Drafts

The summer semester is now half over and I have not yet gotten the first papers, though I have (unfortunately) marked up the drafts. They are not good at all, and show that students have not for the most part understood what we have been talking about for three weeks now. They uniformly have not understood essay structure or how to analyze evidence, even though we spent weeks working on these things. I feel like a tape recorder, saying the same things to each student.
Today we watch the film Vertigo and go on to the second assignment, ready or not. I'm just hoping that somewhere between the first and second essay some of what I've been saying kicks in.
Six weeks is an awfully short time for that to happen. My stomach feels terrible every morning when I wake up. This pace is killing me.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


It turns out that all the hoo-hah with my father was caused by an allergic reaction to Levoquin, which I believe is a derivative of pennicylin (sp?). He has never been allergic to that before, but now he apparently is. Saddleback inexplicably replaced one derivative of pennicyclin with another, and he had another reaction! I don't think I'll take him back to that hospital again, though it might have been a fluke.
UCI kept my dad overnight, testing him all night long in the CT scanner, etc. They quickly determined what was wrong and released him. Though they are screwed up and disorganized, the medical care seems to be top notch, so we will stick with them.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Another Day, Another Hospital

I just got back from UCI hospital, where dad has been admitted. Ever since he got out of Saddleback on Thursday afternoon, he has been getting weaker and weaker, less able to walk, spending all his time sleeping (none too well) and not eating well either, which is unusual for him.
I went to his house this morning to water his plants, as promised. When I came back into the room to see if he was up, he started from his bed looking totally deranged and yelling that the bed was moving, and that I should put my hand on it. I did. It was of course not moving.
He could barely stand up, and his lip was swollen up. On his back, I soon discovered, there were red hives or some sort of lesion, not a lot of them, but some. He told me that he was hearing for the past week music in his head all the time he was sleeping, the same two songs, played over and over and over. He had no idea where they came from, though they sounded as if they were coming from outside his head. They weren't. They didn't continue when he got up, though.
After several tests, the doctors decided to keep him. We were there till 5:30 or 6:00 PM before he got to his room. I went across the street and bought him a Sudoku book, gave it to him, and went home.
I don't know how long they will keep him, or if it will help, but he asked a good question. Why did he get worse at home? Is there something there that is causing problems? Perhaps he is allergic to the detergent they are using. I should talk to them about this.


I went to see my parents yesterday--my usual weekend trip. On that day, I generally take them out for a little while to do errands or to go anywhere they feel like going. However, since my dad just came out of the hospital, and was clearly ill when he came out (though not as ill as when he went in), and also it looked like rain, I did not take him anywhere. He was weak, and all he wanted to do was to sleep. Obviously, this is not like his usual demeanor. His stomach was still bothering him, and this is troubling because my stomach is too. So I wonder whether this is the flu that I have passed along to him. Several of my students have been very ill. But besides the occasional stomach problem, which has persisted for over a week, a slight occasional nausea, I am fine. He had vomiting, a urinary tract infection, shortness of breath, congestion... but then he is 92.
My poor mom has not been out of the house since last week because she cannot go to the Center by herself. I do not trust the bus drivers to take her to the right place, and cannot afford the door-to-door service. If she were inadvertently left off in the wrong place, we would have lost her, since I doubt she would be able to articulate information that would help us to find her again. And she might walk right out of the Center and disappear.
All this tells me that if my dad goes first and she is left alone, I will have to find another living situation for her, where there are activities. She needs other people to talk to and things to do. I cannot provide all of this for her. The problem with that is that this sort of thing is very expensive, and our money will be cut back severely if dad goes first.
No wonder I feel anxious. I have been reading Lou's blog, in which she is intelligently making plans for her own future, and making decisions about who will inherit what. We own nothing, but I have not even made plans for my parents' deaths because I am afraid to spend money (lots of it) that we will need for the surviving parent's living expenses. Once the money is gone, it is gone. I can do nothing to replace it. If one of them died tomorrow, I would have a terrible time making hard decisions immediately because Jewish burials must take place within 24 hours of the death, under normal circumstances. This scares the hell out of me. I wish I knew what to do.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Summer Fruits

I love to eat and sometimes, to cook. My favorite thing to eat and to think about eating though, is anything involving summer fruits--cherries, watermelons, ripe, luscious nectarines and peaches are the epitome of deliciousness for me. I would much rather eat them than whipped cream, cake, etc. However, there is a down side to this. Though these fruits are lovely to look at, fragrant, delicious, and even healthy on top of everything else, too many of them will have a deliterious effect on one's stomach and sometimes even burn holes into her mouth! This happens to me sometimes.
I bought beautiful apricots and nectarines yesterday and have cherries in the fridge, but I have to lay off for a few days. My stomach is crying uncle.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Farmer's Market

I went to the Farmer's Market at Laguna Hills Mall with Liz today after yoga. I haven't gotten to go in a while. While we were there, I looked for, but did not see Reb and Lou. I think Reb is out of town. Perhaps Lou is also.
Since we were hungry, we went for fresh tamales. They were absolutely delicious! I had a sweet corn tamale with green sauce. I know I could never turn one of these out myself (way too lazy and tired), so it seemed like a good excuse to try one. Plus, they were cheap and wonderfully fresh. Liz had a chicken with sauce. I don't recall what kind of sauce, but she gave me a taste, and it was good.
I picked up my usual fish (John Dory). The Black Cod looked fabulous, but at $20. per pound, a bit pricey for me. And some of those nice black Cherokee tomatoes that looked so appetizing in Lou's blog last week detailing her shopping foray to the same market. Basil to go with it was also handy. Tonight we'll have a nice dinner with the fish, tomato salad, and perhaps some asparagus I have in the fridge and need to eat.


Another weekend. Weekends may be my busiest time because I want to get in yoga classes every day since I may not have time to do it sometimes during the week. These classes do more than exercise my body, though they certainly do that. I often awake in pain, since I am definitely out of alignment. I tend to sleep on my sides, which means that my hip hurts on my left side and I can't even bear much weight on my left side. My right groin muscles are very tight and I have a hard time lifting the right leg to 90 degrees. And my right arm and shoulder are tight and painful. My lower back also hurts sometimes.
More concerning, when I have a very full schedule, my anxiety begins acting up, throwing everything for a loop and making me miserable. I can't sleep at all, or I wake up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep, my mind full of worries.
So going to yoga class is a time to forget everything and just relax, concentrating on caring for my body and my mind. I feel satisfaction that when I leave class, although I may hurt somewhat, I have done something meaningful and accomplished something real for myself. I have actually become quite good at many asanas (postures), although I have always been notoriously poor at physical pursuits, cannot dance, have trouble imagining my body in space, etc. Not that I am going to let it go to my head. For every one asana I can do, there are many I cannot even begin to do. As my yoga teachers remind me, one is never "finished" with a given posture. There is always room for improvement. In that way, yoga is like writing.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

dad again

My dad was released from the hospital again, and since I didn't get home from work till about 4:30, he was calling all day, pathetically saying that he wanted to come home. I was angry at the doctors because yesterday, I asked the doctor in charge of his case to please not worry my dad because I was not going to be available till late in the day to pick him up. I didn't want the nurses or anyone to tell him it was time to go until I was on my way. And the doctor promised he would arrange that, but he didn't. It was a fiasco, and finally the board and care came to get him.
I wish there were something we could do to stop this crap from happening every month. And if he has to have antibiotics all the time, sometime they are bound to stop working. That specially bothers me because so many of my students are very sick with the flu. Jeremy says kids at his college are also sick.
Jeremy is planning to take assessment tests at my school, so maybe he will be attending classes there next year. I hope he doesn't fail the classes he is taking now. He says he isn't sure how he did on the exam in English. But even if he does pass, he may end up taking that class again at IVC. I think he is much more proficient now than he was, but he had a long way to go. He wants to take a math class for sure. We aren't sure what level.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Too Much to Do

The six week summer semester is intense. Add to that my personal intensity, and I have been racing through preparations for the first essay with record number of assignments. I always feel somewhat apprehensive, even in the full 16 week semester, about the first paper, since most students in the class have never written papers like this before, textual analysis about complex literary texts. I don't want them to learn by failing. Instead, I want to teach them the skills they need to know to write the paper, and then have them write it, having worked up to it step by step. But in 6 weeks, that means a lot of homework for them to do and for me to grade in a short amount of time.
With my dad needing to go to the ER and visits to see him, this is tough to pull off, especially if I am going to carry on my yoga and personal schedule. Several students in class today implored me to slow down a little, so I am going to try to do it. I will have more in-class assignments and fewer to do be done at home. But that was going to slow down anyhow after the first paper, as I told them. There will be more reading assignments and fewer written ones between papers, and I might consider making study questions extra-credit assignments rather than requirements, though that might mean the people who really need to do them won't, and those who don't will do them. It's their responsibility, after all.
In the second six-week semester, I'll try to pace myself a little, and see if this is more successful. But on the other hand, I have had several students tell me that the paraphrase exercises I have assigned have really helped, so maybe the class is working as I have planned.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Driving in the Wee Hours

A couple of years ago, I used to take Ambien for sleeping problems, but I would worry that one day, my parents' caregivers would call me and tell me I needed to come take dad or mom to the hospital in the middle of the night, and I wouldn't be able to get up.
I had to stop taking the medication anyhow because it was addictive and was actually keeping me from sleeping if I didn't continually increase the dose. So I cut it out, and now I was able to wake up at 2 AM to go to the ER at Saddleback, where dad was taken after not being able to breathe. It seems he had diarrhea all last night, and went to bed with a bad headache and stomach pain. He had already been taking antibiotic for the infection the doc identified on Friday. But it seems it wasn't the right medication, so the infection got worse and had a drastic effect on him. He woke up in the early hours not being able to breathe. The caregiver called me and asked if she should call the ambulance. Of course I said yes. By the time I got there, he had already been taken to Saddleback, where they do not have any of his current med. records. I didn't remember everything, but I was able to provide some info. Now he is in the hospital, and I hope we are able to lick this thing. I know it's temporary; every month, he has had an infection related to that tube in his urethra, but we don't have much choice.