Thanks I Hate It

I’m about to sound like a jerk and I know it, but I’m missing whatever gene makes a person beam with joy when others want to congratulate, nominate, or otherwise recognize the work someone does. I can’t stand recognition and awards. I. HATE. THEM. SO. MUCH.

Everyone seems to crave acknowledgement of their achievements, and everyone is supposed to be appreciative when someone wants to give it. I hear all the time about how great places to work always have a lot of recognition for their employees, but I think it is an empty gesture when it is not backed up with something tangible and substantially useful. No, I don’t mean some paperweight with your name on it. I mean a bonus, a salary increase, a change for the better in working conditions for all staff, a change in procedures. That’s some recognition I could get behind. Over the years I’ve received recognition awards or nominations for several things, and it always makes me want to crawl under the table and hide. In fact, when I know for sure I am going to be recognized for something at an awards ceremony, I do whatever I can to make sure I can’t be there. It is customary in my office to throw a little going away social for people when they are moving on, with cards and speeches and such. I have reminded my coworkers for years that we will not be doing that when I leave. I will pack up and move in the middle of the night with no notice if I have to.

Before you say it’s just sour grapes about my current career, let me tell you a story from way back in the stone ages…high school. I wish I could tell you what grade but I actually don’t remember things that most people consider important and my head is filled with weird minutia instead, like how my first track shoes were pink Sodapop high tops with Velcro on the top. Anyway…high school. The day came when people got invitations gleefully delivered to them in class stating their acceptance into the National Honor Society. Names were also read over the afternoon announcements. I could not have cared less about some honor society bullshit but I have lots of friends who were on the edges of their seats, waiting for their little invitations. Imagine my horror when I got one. Some of my friends didn’t. One of my best friends was crying in the middle of class because she didn’t get one. I would have loved to have given her mine because I knew how much it meant to her and I was not interested. Truthfully, she was probably more afraid of her parents being angry with her than disappointed about not getting in (THEM I can remember. They were mean to their daughters and weren’t shy about it.) but I’m sure she wanted it a little as well. She deserved it, too. She was brilliant and a great athlete and an all around good person (still is). I liked being an outsider, hanging with the stoners, and doing as little actual work as possible. I refused to take the high level math course, skipped track practice often, and only took the high level english course because liked the teacher. I did a book report on Bugliosi’s Helter Skelter – a move which these days would probably land someone in the guidance counselor’s office or getting a psych evaluation. I don’t think I took home a textbook, ever. I was just living my life, and I didn’t want accolades or expectations. So I said no thanks and people went bananas. My mother, the principal, the advisor, they were all clutching pearls at the thought of me refusing to be a part of this nonsense. And it was nonsense – they even said as much. You don’t have to actually do anything, they said, just go to the induction ceremony and be in it. What the eff for? I was going to get in to the local state college down the road with my grades (which was always my first choice because I liked hanging out in the city); it’s not like I was trying to go to Harvard. I didn’t need more things to list on my college applications. I couldn’t really explain to them why I wasn’t interested, I just knew I wasn’t, and I was mad about the exclusionary manner of so publicity choosing and announcing it to everyone. So it’s always been this way.

Cut to this past week when I get an email telling me about being nominated for some award that a committee wants to send on to one of our national organizations, and could I please send them a resume, and they are sorry it’s such a short turnaround time to ask for that. (LOL, as if I haven’t been working and re-working my resume since COVID hit.) I did reply with my resume, but I explained that it is only because they are under a time crunch and I imagine they are being expected to nominate someone. I also told them names of several other people that would be more appropriate and appreciative of the nomination if they had the time to change it. I was thanked and told that it was going to be me. That shouldn’t make me feel stabby, but it does. If you’ve ever gone to a national conference, you know how many award luncheons and miscellaneous recognition events there are. You most likely have not been to any of them because they are costly and it’s usually the upper-level bigwigs having social time. I feel like these organizations should be spending their time and money and energy not on recognition but on changing the profession for the better, bringing it into the present, being an advocate for their members. Real change, not a plaque.

I’m a jerk, right? I just want to do my work so I get a paycheck, and live my life. If you are in a recognition role, please remember that some of us hate it, and would rather give you suggestions on who really, really wants and needs that stuff to keep them going. It ain’t me. I’m not your gal.

Posted in Life | 5 Comments

FOOD: Air Fryer Bacon Wrapped Avocado Wedges with a Side of Radiation

I apologize for the blasphemous use of turkey bacon.

Last week I had the poor sense to look in the free section of Craigslist and saw an air fryer up for grabs. I briefly entertained the idea of another bulky kitchen appliance in our overcrowded kitchen. People seem to love these things, although when I asked my Facebook peanut gallery, I heard how often they used it, but not a compelling reason why. When I asked what they cooked in it I most often heard chicken wings. Look, as a Buffalo Girl, I love wings just as much as anyone, but I don’t ever want to cook them myself. I leave that kind of thing to the professionals. I also saw all the online recipe photos of fried chicken and chicken tenders and they honestly look dry and terrible so I wasn’t really understanding the devotion of the air fryer gang.

Later that same day I was at a friend’s house talking about her decluttering goals and she asked if I wanted her ex’s air fryer that had been sitting on the shelf for years. The coincidence was too strong to say no. Since then, I’ve been trying to figure out what the hubbub is about but I don’t get it. I made hard boiled eggs – I could also do that in a pot of water just as easily. I made sweet potato fries – they were meh. Then I heard about wrapping avocado wedges in bacon. That was actually a success if you can overlook the fact that I only had my husband’s turkey bacon in the house. That and how the heat sensor (part of the building fire alarm) in my kitchen went off when I opened the fryer drawer. Luckily it didn’t set off the building alarm or that would have an automatic yeet into the Dumpster for the fryer.

Anyway, you aren’t here for the commentary, you want the recipe. Keep in mind I am using an average sized ZENY fryer that is several years old, I think the wattage is @1500, and I really have no idea how to use it.

  • Preheat however you do that (I’m pretty sure I don’t do that correctly)
  • You’ll be cooking at 400 degrees F and depending on the type of bacon you use, the time could be anywhere from 5 minutes (turkey) to 8 minutes (pork).
  • Yes, you could totally do this in the oven but I would bump the temperature up to 425 and leave the wedges in for longer – probably 15 to 20 minutes, depending on your oven.

I used one average avocado and 8 slices of turkey bacon, much to my husband’s disapproval. He thought I was just going to waste the bacon by making something inedible. I almost did chuck everything in the trash because after cutting my 8 wedges of avocado, I discovered they had no intention of going quietly into that bacon. They didn’t want to be wrapped and kept sliding out of their little bacon sleeping bags. Nevertheless, I persisted.

  • I made these in two batches of four chunks each.
  • I didn’t want to use tongs because I was trying to keep my bacon from unrolling. That was a terrible mistake that caused a nice burn to my pinkie. Use fucking tongs.
  • If you are looking at the picture and thinking the bacon doesn’t look cooked, that’s partly because it is weird, disgusting turkey bacon and partly because I was afraid to burn the building down. I don’t fully trust this appliance.

In the end, these really did taste pretty good and weren’t hard to clean up after. I think it helped that I had a packet of Chick-fil-a avocado ranch dressing that I used as dipping sauce and you can’t go wrong with any kind of ranch for dipping. I even plated them all fancy using some of my antique uranium glass (yes, you can use it and no, you are not going to be poisoned). My husband is not one for compliments but they did seem to meet his approval. I mentioned to him that one downside to the air fryer is that I had to make this small amount of snacks in two batches, so it’s kind of inconvenient if you are cooking for more than one. I told him this could be great if he’s a widower someday however, he responded “Me Man. Me grill.” so I guess this will be up for grabs when I go, unless I chuck it before then.

Posted in Food, Health, Life, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

FOOD: Orange Cranberry Cakes for Mabon!

Mabon celebrates the autumnal equinox, when day and night are equal, and this year in the northern hemisphere it starts on September 21st, ending September 29. That’s the extent of witchy knowledge dropping for you today because my practice can best be described as Lazy AF. While orange and cranberry aren’t necessarily second harvest foods like squash or apples, making this always helps me feel like fall is near, even though it’s still way too hot outside. This is a pretty versatile recipe and can be made in a loaf pan or muffin tin. Because I’m me, I like any excuse to use my NordicWare skull cakelet pan.

This pan makes six big-ass mini cakes. It’s awesome.

There are three parts to this and two are optional, depending on how you want your cake. It’s a coffee cake consistency, in between a bread and a light dessert cake. First of all, grease whatever pan you’ve chosen to use and pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F.

The first part is optional but why would you not: Streusel topping! You need a small-medium bowl large enough to cut butter into the dry ingredients.

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons cold butter

You don’t need a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the dry ingredients; you can slice in opposite directions with a butter knife in each hand until it all looks nice and crumbly. Put the bowl in the fridge while you take care of the next part.

The second part is not optional (it’s your batter!) but you can still customize some things to your liking. Use a large mixing bowl for the dry ingredients and a medium bowl for the wet ingredients. I know, you are pulling out ALL the bowls from the cupboard. First the dry bowl…

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda (no, baking powder is not the same thing)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped cranberries

Look here, cooked fruit haters! I am one of you! If you want to leave them out and just make an orangey coffee cake you can totally do that. But I actually find chopping up the cranberries nice and small gives a tart little flavor surprise. I don’t hate it. But they have to be chopped up small, you savages – no one wants a big burst of squishy cranberry. Today, I only used @1/2 cup because that’s what I happened to have in the freezer. I usually buy 2-3 bags around Thanksgiving when they are on sale and freeze them for whatever during the year. Usually smoothies or this cake. So don’t fear the cranberries. I suppose if you have Craisins in the house you could chop some of those up instead. You do you. Now the wet bowl…

  • 1 egg (seriously, don’t ask me what size, just get a damn egg)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or because no one really keeps buttermilk around, use almost one cup of milk with about a teaspoon of lemon juice and let it sit @10 minutes so some curdling happens)
  • 1/3 cup of oil (I use canola)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest (you could also use orange extract or orange juice – I use a mix of Penzeys orange extract and dried orange peel because I love Penzeys)

You are first going to whisk the egg and two sugars together, then you can add the rest of the wet stuff. Pour the wet bowl into the dry bowl and mix gently to get the major lumps out, but don’t over-mix. As if I would even know what that means, because I can’t figure out how I can get lumps out without over-mixing. Do the best you can, and if you want to infuse your cooking with good intentions (love, good health, prosperity), stir in a clockwise motion. I probably should have started out telling you that, but I’m going to believe no one is going to try a recipe without reading it all the way through first. That’s a cooking tip from a Kitchen Witch (of which I am not one; I already told you I’m a Lazy Witch).

Depending on what type of pan you are using, you are going to place your streusel topping from the fridge in first or your batter in first. If you are using a loaf or cake pan, batter in first. If you are using some weirdo muffin or cakelet pan where the cool design in on the bottom (which will eventually be the top), you are going to put the streusel topping in first.

Cooking time also varies based on your pan and your oven. A loaf pan can be 45-60 minutes, depending on how deep your pan is. I would set a timer for 40 minutes to start with and keep checking after that so you don’t burn it. My skull cakelet pan took only 25 minutes. If you have the topping on top, try to cover the top loosely with aluminum foil halfway through so you don’t burn the good stuff. If you are going to glaze the finished product, be sure to let your cake cool completely first. This is especially important if you are going to remove your cake from the pan before glazing.

Successful cooled skulls with streusel topping that was placed on the bottom.

Glazing your cakes is another optional thing, and there are a ton of simple recipes to do this, but today I just used a mix of milk and powdered sugar, with a hit of vanilla. You could also use one cup of powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons of orange juice. Simple glazes abound on the Interwebz if you do a quick search but the two above work just as well. I like to glaze by placing my cakes over a wire rack which has a lined pan underneath, but you could also just dip the tops in the bowl of glaze as well. Enjoy!

Fresh skulls waiting for their glaze to dry, if they last that long.

Posted in Craftiness, Food, holidays, Life | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Six Months of Pandemic

March 13 is the last day I remember being in the office for a normal day, having a staff meeting about the coming apocalypse. Now it’s six months later and since the country hasn’t managed to come together with a plan everyone is willing to follow, we are still in this mess. Everyone who wants to lecture me about how America is “land of the free” can just fuck right off.

Just wear the damn mask already.

Our fashion statements have become masks (or lack of) and protest signs. Our exercise is walking the dog. Comfort food has become the only food but every time I venture out to get groceries I wonder “Is this a mistake?” or “Will it be here that I come into contact with someone who will make me sick?”

I have furlough time and leave time to take, and lots of it, but I’m afraid to go anywhere. Where will I eat? How clean is the room I’m staying in? Is it better to just continue to stay at home and be depressed that other people seem to be having a grand old time out there and I am making myself stay inside? How sick would we actually get? Is it worth it just to be someplace besides my apartment? Where can I go that is safe? Then I remember that where I am is not safe either, since I live in a dormitory with college students all around me for whom safety regulations are mere suggestions because of the lack of any real backing we have to enforce them.

Which all makes me think that maybe I SHOULD just drive around the country (because really, what other country will have us) and be happy and see what happens but I can imagine COVID-19 standing behind me, quietly whispering in my ear “Sure, you do that. Fuck around and find out.”

But I also think I will go crazy if I continue to sit here in front of the computer all day, every day, putting work into side hustles and job searches and house searches that all go nowhere. I’ve updated my resume at least 6 times since May, adding online courses I’ve completed and a book I wrote, trying to use real-life jargon rather than higher ed. specific lingo, and for what? I feels like I am prepping but maybe now is the time to be doing. Except it doesn’t feel safe enough to be doing either, so I’m in a limbo of staying safe for “later” but I can’t tell if later is now yet. I go to bed with all sorts of good ideas and wake up to scroll social media for hours, which accomplishes nothing and of course I knew that already, but it’s just comforting.

I have my cookbook out to make some orange-cranberry bread for fall (Mabon is @September 22), items to list on Poshmark, and a dog life jacket is on the way from Amazon because I hope this weekend I will finally not be afraid to wade through the sea of redneck tubers on the river to take the kayak out for the first time in maybe a year. I doubt I’ll really do anything more than bake the bread though, and that’s only if I get up right now.

Posted in college, covid, Health, higher education, Life, Residence Life, Student Affairs, Travel | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

And Then I Birthed a Book

Holy shitballs, y’all, I actually met a life goal during Coronacation. I’m a published author! Okay, self-published. So far only the Kindle version. With a few formatting errors I couldn’t work out or that just appeared after hitting the publish button (I swear). It might not even be very good. Hard to tell after looking at it so much. Wait, is this Imposter Syndrome or am I just being realistic? No idea right now.

In between giant bowls of Cap’n Crunch and binge-watching Shameless on Netflix, I finally got out of my head what I wanted to say about the weird world of living where you work. I keep thinking I should have said more on some topics and less on others, but oh well. It’s done. As soon as I figure out the Amazon manuscript template, the print version will be done as well but the bottom line is I DID IT. I am relieved that I could do something during the pandemic besides stress eat, internally scream during Teams meetings, and walk the dog.

I’m not very good at promoting my side hustles but this exists for Kindle at the moment, should you imagine that it is a thing that might interest you. If you have ever “lived the residence life” you might relate.

Posted in college, higher education, Humor, Life, Residence Life, Student Affairs | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I Wish I Could Play Dumb About Re-Opening Colleges

I can’t fall asleep at night but when I do, I can’t wake up in the morning. Everything hurts. A dull ache all the time, everywhere. My jaw is clenched and my eyes are too close to the computer screen in my makeshift office. I feel like my body has aged 40 years since March. I’m depressed and mean and unmotivated to do any work but it just keeps coming and none of it will ultimately be rewarding at all because I work in college housing and that’s a very bad idea right now.

If I didn’t have a dog to walk I wouldn’t leave the apartment at all and I am actually fine with that because I feel mostly safe, but that’s only because people haven’t moved in for the fall. I say mostly because there are contractors and operations people doing repairs throughout the building and from time to time I see them, and they aren’t wearing masks like they are supposed to here. And if our employees aren’t doing what they are supposed to when they think no one is looking, why do we expect college students to act any better? I know I don’t expect it. I get criticized for my negative attitude but I’m just seeing things as they are, and making common sense predictions based on what I see and know about people, not to mention what the summer students at numerous institutions have already proven for me.

Our work revolves around one set of assumptions, but that set changes nearly every day so these months have been wasted creating plans for realities that don’t exist because everyone knows what the safe things to do are, but those safe things are going to cost money. They are going to lose money. The top is fighting so hard to change as little as possible at the bottom in the name of financial solvency and I’m sure it’s laughable to look at it from the outside and wonder why we don’t just “call it” and say remote learning for the foreseeable future. April, May, June, July are a graveyard of plans that seemed good at the time but were thrown away when changing reality repeatedly hit a brick wall with the willfully obtuse. Why do I even keep working on these plans? Because I’m lucky to have a job? A job that will probably give me a ton of furlough days soon? Or layoffs? Or kill a few of us?

Now, students and families have caught on that even schools that seem to have a solid plan really don’t have THAT solid a plan. They’ve run out of patience and they want answers that don’t change. They want price reductions, they want the perceived value of what they are paying for, they want to live in the halls with others who will act reckless even though we will be the ones blamed when the students become ill. In all things, they want special accommodations because of their circumstances, but only the accommodations of their choosing, not accommodations that are reasonable and possible. They want to talk to a manager about when COVID-19 will stop fucking up their college experience.

The success of our colleges and the “traditional” college experience (which isn’t really that traditional and no longer exists) hinges on a face mask, bottle of sanitizer, and the personal responsibility of each student and employee on a campus. I’ve already seen that fail on a small scale during the summer. I don’t have faith.

Posted in college, Health, higher education, Life, Residence Life, Student Affairs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

When We Were Small

I grew up in the not great part of town.  There wasn’t a bad part, just parts that were better than others, and mine was less than.  Or so I’m told – I have always thought that my neighborhood was the best in the city.  All other places were boring or full of fancy snooty kids who lived on streets shaped like circles and got to shop at The Limited and Benetton instead of Goodwill. My part of town had the Erie Canal, and railroad tracks, and lots of wild places to build forts, and a giant expanse of athletic fields and park space that took up about half of my side of the tracks. In my part of town, we had government cheese and hand me downs and I didn’t know that was anything other than it should be. We wanted for nothing, even if our parents may have wanted more for us.

Back then, the canal was filthy and full of old shopping carts and fishing bobbers, and all sorts of other things that kids wanted to play with.  It wasn’t what it looks like now thanks to invasive zebra mussels clearing up the water. We would try tying together pieces of driftwood and random junk to build makeshift rafts that never floated and work on go-carts that had little to no go, always propelled by the youngest sibling in the group.

The woods around the railroad tracks and the tracks themselves were appealing in their danger. Although we rarely saw another person, the adults we did see occasionally looked pretty shady and we steered clear, running down onto one of the dead-end side streets where most of us lived. I was the odd man out, living on the main street, canal as my view out the bedroom window where I could watch the rain fall on the water and see the barges and tugboats go by. The tracks were good for hiking on because there was so much brush everywhere else and the older we got, the farther we would walk across one of the two train bridges that spanned the canal and connected the Tonawandas. It was a major victory once you were brave enough to make that shortcut but until then, the tracks gave us a great sledding hill, plenty of places to see rabbits and snakes, and hidden strawberry patches.

At what we considered the edge of the world, there was more wooded messy brush to play in and a ramshackle fort we would decorate by picking things out of the neighbor’s trash.  We moved in an upholstered chair once, thinking we were really fancy, only to find ourselves covered in flea bites.  We tried to hang curtains from the trees which angered the neighbor across the street and she came over and pulled them all down, so we learned to keep our kingdom hidden. We made trails and pretended we were on safaris, hunting for dangerous animals, although all we ever found was mosquito larvae in the industrial runoff stream nearby. I’m pretty sure we were trespassing on land belonging to the manufacturing plant on that side of the street, but no one ever bothered us besides that neighbor. We wouldn’t have understood anyway – if something wasn’t fenced in, how could it not be ours to play in?  As we got older, the edge of the world expanded a few blocks further to include a giant, flat hill that we would trek across because we knew (somehow) that there was a swampy pond where we could watch turtles lounge in the rainbow oil-slick water. The hill was a landfill, although we didn’t know it at the time.  We just knew no one was around to bother us and sometimes you found cool junk sitting on the ground.  And the turtles.

The baseball field fences at the park were easily climbed, the poison ivy was usually avoided, and we picked cherries and climbed the crabapple trees.  On summer nights, the snack shed was open for candy and pop while junior football practice or games went on in the back fields. Closer to the street was the wooden jungle gym that was a marvel of engineering to those of us who saw it being built.  Connected by beams and platforms it was new and fresh and irresistible (and full of splinters) and we completely ignored the warnings of the men who told us no one was allowed to play on it for days so the glue could cure.  Surely there was more than glue holding it together and we couldn’t see how this great castle could fall.  I don’t think it ever did, but it’s been replaced now anyway.  So many hours were spent walking on beams and jumping from platform to platform in an attempt to make it all the way around the structure without touching the ground.  It was the star of the park, especially once the blue concrete wading pool was no longer filled. I remember how exciting it was on a hot morning to watch the playground lady dig the wrench out of the wooden supply box so she could turn on the water to fill the pool.  The box held unlimited treasures, the best of which was boondoggle and multicolored wires for making whatever we wanted, and those loom-looper potholders.  The box was always locked and chained to the shelter that covered the sandbox unless you got a playground lady who didn’t really care if we plundered the supplies.  The good stuff came in on art days anyway, when the craft lady drove up with magical projects like plaster hand molds. We gave the playground ladies (rarely guys) no peace and were always there until the city’s whistle blew at noon and we went home for lunch until 1 when we could go back.

The city whistle also blew at 9p.m. and it’s how we knew to go home.  Now that I know what a “sundown town” is, I’m fairly confident that it told others to go home as well, although you won’t get anyone to admit it today, and newer residents wouldn’t even know what you’re talking about.  Growing up it was extremely rare to find families of color in the twin cities, even though there was a healthy population to the south and to the north of us.  It’s still pretty white. When we were small, race was a non-issue because we didn’t see anyone who didn’t look like us.

Those woods where we went on safari are gone now, as green lawns and newer, more aesthetic industrial buildings have taken over. One line of railroad tracks and the bridge we walked was taken out and the sledding hill was bulldozed back hundreds of feet to make a lawn and parking lot. The other set with the ominous jackknife bridge remains to loom over the new restaurants and upscale lofts, as kayaking tourists glide beneath it. I don’t know if the kids have found new wild places to play, but I hope they do.

Posted in Life, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Peace and Quarantine

I haven’t put gas in my car since March 13 and until yesterday when a guy bought my old bedframe off Craigslist, I hadn’t touched actual banknotes (aka cash) either.  It’s been a relief to live and work in the same apartment although I realize I’m in the minority about that.  I feel that quiet time is quickly coming to a close because the university is planning full speed ahead for fall, against any health expert’s recommendations and then my anxiety will ramp up again as I try to stay safe among people who don’t care about COVID-19.

I do have to leave several times a day to walk a dog, so it’s not like I’m a hermit. I’m getting plenty of sunshine and exercise.  I just don’t have to come in close contact with people besides my husband.  I have fears about how that may change in August.  I don’t have to share an office (or maybe I can continue to work at home, which is still on campus).  Either way, I don’t plan to have face to face conversations with people unless we are outside and an appropriate distance apart – preferably with one or both of us in masks.  Email, phone calls, and Zoom/Teams/Messenger are working fine for me right now and I don’t see why they shouldn’t continue into the future.  How my employer sees that is an unknown but for now, the only people working on campus are those who cannot do their work remotely.

Working remotely has plusses and minuses, as anyone who does this regularly already knows. It’s been interesting to see when I am most productive and how much MORE I actually work when I’m here instead of keeping standard office hours.  I used to be a real stickler about leaving the office on time because it’s hard to manage time when you live where you work.  Now the office is always RIGHT HERE and I’m checking email or working on projects more often.  It doesn’t help that my “office” is also my bedroom since it was the only place I could find room for the work computer I was allowed to check out. No, I don’t own a laptop or desktop – I have an old Samsung tablet, even older iPad mini, a kindle, and a phone – all of which seem to be at their limits for storage or updates. I’m also trying to manage work and personal projects together which is easier to do when everything is all in one place.  But harder to get any one of them done!  Currently, I’m working through a khan academy course on banking basics, virtually house shopping, decluttering by putting things on Craigslist and Poshmark (and then forgetting to check my email for inquiries or sales), and finally writing my book.  I’ll tell you I have the forward and first 2 chapters done, which sounds impressive until I also tell you that the chapters are each @5 Word document pages long.  I think that’s about 17 book pages total so…

But at least I’m writing again, even though it is slowly and probably not very well.  I’m spending less money too since I’m only ordering what I need and not just wandering aimlessly through stores as a pastime.  I wish I had gotten out of this habit years ago so I could have saved more and been in a better position now for house hunting. I’ve backed up my CDs, learned some random things from incident command centers to hospitality basics, to how employers treat their essential employees.  I wouldn’t mind things remaining as they are for some time, to give me time to do more home projects.  I would love to really clean out some major crap but I live with someone who feels accomplished by possessions. I’m guilty of that to a certain point (marbles, boots, hooded cashmere sweaters) but I also can let go of things that are no longer useful. To that end, I’ve felt really good when I use up an item and decide it doesn’t need to be replaced. Or something that had been largely decorative that I manage to find a good use for at last because it’s either that or chuck it.  I’ve had a lot of honest conversations about what purpose some things serve and if they are really ever going to serve MY life. That kitchen tool that helps you scrape citrus to get lemon zest?  Don’t know why I have that. I can’t remember a time I’ve ever used it and I’m sure I could accomplish the task with a plain old paring knife if I ever really had to, which I won’t. And books.  I know this is a sin to many book lovers, but I read books and move them on. I hate that most of the Little Libraries around here are currently closed or broken and open to the elements because that’s where I move most of them to. I keep very few. And health and beauty products, holy shit, so MANY bottles and jars of things that I just don’t really like that much, but there they all sit, taking up space from the few things that are actually good products.  One project right now is to use up the junk and stick with my simple favorites.  All those scented lotions can go.  The Bio-Oil that smells weird and is made from petroleum can go on my legs until it is gone. Use up those little trials size things, except the good stuff for travel.  That facial sunscreen that makes me break out can go on my arms to stop my rapidly developing farmer’s tan until it’s gone.  All I need is some cold process unscented soap (my favorite is Sisters Soaps out of Washington state) deodorant crystal, witch hazel, jojoba oil, Aquaphor, and cheap vitamin E sticks from Wal-Mart.  Turns out that’s pretty much it.  If I want to be fancy I also like a nice calming mask and some Alaffia black soap with peppermint. Tea tree and a 5% BP cream for the occasional breakout. Notice I didn’t mention any hair stuff. I didn’t forget.

I think I’ve gotten off topic but it’s time to walk the dog and then heat up dinner, so I can watch Netflix and neglect my book this evening.  A girl could get used to this.

Posted in college, Craftiness, Humor, Life, Residence Life, Student Affairs | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Can I Call It Writer’s Block If I Haven’t Started?

I grew up wanting to be a writer.  My early influences were fairy tales and Stephen King, which might explain some things. Throughout grade school until shortly after college, I wrote poetry and short stories, the likes of which would make me cringe today if I had kept any of it.  Actually, I might have kept some of it, somewhere, but I do distinctly remember destroying a good bit of drama-heavy high school prose. I was emo before emo was emo.

For years, I’ve been saying I want to write a book about what I do – a live-in/on university housing professional.  I’ve even had a title picked out: Living The Residence Life (similar to my largely unused Twitter handle, @livngthereslife), and I’ve joked about taking a year-long sabbatical to sit on a beach and write this.  Well, the beach is my bedroom thanks to COVID-19 and being considered “essential” (for now) is hardly a sabbatical, but maybe this is the time to get started.  Except I don’t know HOW to get started.  I suppose deciding what I want the purpose of the book to be would be a good place to start, even if once written (ha) it turns out to be something different. Do I want it to educate others about what we do? Do I want to write it for the housing pros so we can bond together about how ludicrous/rewarding/heartbreaking/stressful the job can be? Can it be both? Should it be neither?  I don’t know.  What I do know is that the book isn’t going to write itself, higher education seems to be imploding, and regret is a real bitch so I need to get to it. Maybe this 3:05 a.m. blog post (the first in nearly a year) is to help hold me accountable so that tomorrow (today) I will be motivated to start something of an outline and figure out where I already have material written that can be pulled together for some guideposts.

As I write that I look around my dark bedroom/current office at several half-finished craft projects, all the CDs I’ve been meaning to upload and organize, a sloppy list of an attempted monthly budget for when I move in to the “real” world some day, notes from an online FEMA course I just completed for fun, and a bill that I can’t remember if I paid.  Basically, I seem to have decided that now is the time for EVERYTHING. Wish me luck.

Posted in college, Humor, Life, Residence Life, Student Affairs | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Emergency Spam

Someone at work mentioned yesterday that SPAM was making a comeback.  We’re not talking about junk e-mails, we’re talking about Hormel’s canned cooked pork, launched in 1937, and grossing people out ever since.  I didn’t think it had ever really gone away because I’ve had a can of it in my cupboard since @1991.  The same can actually, until my husband ate it one day and I freaked out and bought a replacement that he now knows he is forbidden to touch.

SPAM #2, hiding but ever-present in my top cupboard.

Memories are hazy but my mom gave me the original can when (I think) I went off to college. Either that or my first apartment 4 years later but I’m pretty sure it was freshman year.  The gist of this weird gift was that it was emergency food, and I’d never go hungry if I had it. I should keep it “just in case”.

Never being that desperate I didn’t open the can, but it became a weird lucky charm over the years that always moved with me from place to place. As I told the story to my co-worker, I started to wonder if I really still had the can, it had been so long since I’d noticed it.  But yup, there it was last night, in the back of the top shelf behind the green tea bags and panko bread crumbs. And now you know.

Posted in college, Food, Humor, Life | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments