the january cocktail hour – boy, do i ever need a drink!

Welcome to our January happy hour! Come right in, make yourself comfortable and I’ll mix you up a drink. I don’t know about you, but January has been a rough month, so I really need a drink (or two or three!).  Today I’m serving up a new concoction I discovered at Lolita in Philadelphia: a jalapeno-cucumber margarita.  I’m not a big fan of sweet drinks, so this is perfect and refreshing.  Of course there will always be the old standbys of wine and beer.  I can also offer soda or seltzer water with lime if you prefer a non-alcoholic beverage.  Cheers!

I’m happy to see you.  We can mingle or we can sit, whatever is to your liking.  How are you surviving since the election?  Have you taken a stand in politics or are you sitting on the sidelines waiting for things to shake out? How are your resolutions coming along?  What kind of music are you listening to?  Have you indulged in any daydreams? Have you changed jobs or gone into retirement?  Have you seen any good movies or read any page-turners? Have you tried out any new restaurants or cooked anything wonderful at home?  Have you had any special family gatherings?

Some of you may remember my ambitious plans for 2017: here’s looking at you, twenty-seventeen

Well.  Let’s just say, at least for now, my plans have been slightly waylaid.

downtown Harper's Ferry
downtown Harper’s Ferry

“Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.” ~ Allen Saunders

The day after I signed up for three writing classes at the Bethesda Writer’s Center and one class through Fairfax County Adult Ed on starting a new business, I got a call from Virginia International University, a small private university not far from my house, to have a phone interview.  This was a shock as I had applied and been rejected for a job with them last August.  The phone interview was followed by a request to do a 20-minute teaching demo, which I also did.  They hired me as an adjunct to teach two intensive ESL classes, Mon-Thur (9:00-2:40).  I didn’t have much time to prepare as the classes started on Monday, January 16, on Martin Luther King Day, so I was pretty stressed out.

the town of Harper's Ferry
the town of Harper’s Ferry

When I teach, though I only have 20 contact hours/week, I end up working almost double that amount.  So, now and for the duration of the 7-week session, my time is not my own. Not only do I have to prepare for and mark papers for two classes, but I also am taking one writing class every Saturday for 6 weeks, and I have two more one-day classes I’ve signed up for, one this Thursday and one on a Saturday in March.  The writing teacher gives us writing assignments; we’re supposed to submit a piece for work-shopping every Saturday.  On Thursday night, I finished the two-night entrepreneurship course. In the last class, a speaker discussed franchising for most of the class, which I have no interest in!  It was mostly a waste of time and money.

Luckily the semesters are very short at 7 weeks, and I only have five more to go.  Also, as I’m an adjunct, VIU can either offer me a position next session or not, and I can choose to teach classes or not.  After seeing how much of my time is consumed, I’ve decided to either teach only one class, or none at all, in the next session.  It’s hardly worth it when I divide what I make per contact hour over the hours I actually work, plus take taxes off the top.  I’d rather focus on my personal goals.

That being said, the students are enjoyable.  I do love being in the classroom and interacting with my students, but I don’t enjoy the time I have to spend outside class hours to prepare.  As I am often a perfectionist, I can let the preparations get out of hand, and I never seem to know when to stop.

The Terrace Garage - Harper's Ferry
The Terrace Garage – Harper’s Ferry

On top of this, I applied back in December for The English Language Fellow Program, which sends experienced U.S. TESOL professionals on paid teaching assignments at universities and other academic institutions around the world.  It was quite an extensive application process; I had to write numerous essays about various aspects of teaching.  They don’t even look at an application until all references are turned in, and I knew my Chinese reference would hold me up.  Finally, in early January, after much prodding from a friend on the ground in China, my former supervisors submitted their references and I was contacted to have a Skype interview, which I did. The next day, I was informed that I’m now in the applicant pool and will be considered for programs worldwide.  Though there is no guarantee that I’ll get a fellowship, at least I’m happy I made it into the pool.  This would be for the 2017-2018 academic year.

So, this is why you haven’t seen much of me in the blogosphere. My classes end March 2, so I should have more time after that.

Wax Museum and Scoops
Wax Museum and Scoops

As for other random stuff in January, I’ve been to see three movies: Hidden Figures, Julieta, and La La Land.  I enjoyed them all, but I especially loved Hidden Figures because I grew up in southern Virginia near Langley during the early years of the NASA space program, and the fathers of many of my friends worked at NASA.  I also enjoyed the light-hearted romance and music in La La Land, as it gave me a welcome escape from the dark times our country is facing since January 20.

view above St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church in Harper's Ferry, West Virginia
view above St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia

By the way, I made up a January playlist on Spotify that you might enjoy.  I call it: of true detectives and highway vagabonds:

  • “Far From Any Road” – From the HBO Series True Detective / Soundtrack
  • “Highway Vagabond” – Miranda Lambert – the weight of these wings
  • “The Angry River” – True Detective (From the HBO Series)
  • “Inside Out” – Spoon – They Want My Soul
  • “Do You” – Spoon – They Want My Soul
  • “You Know I’m No Good” – Amy Winehouse – Back to Black
  • “Hold On” – Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls
  • “Gocce di memoria” – Giorgia – Spirito Libero
  • “Somebody’s Love” – Passenger – Somebody’s Love
  • “What I Am” – Edie Brickell & New Bohemians – Shooting Rubber Bands at the Stars
  • “Love of the Loveless” – Eels – Meet the Eels: Essential Eels Vol. 1
  • “Tighten Up” – The Black Keys – Brothers
  • “City of Stars – Ryan Gosling – From “La La Land” Soundtrack
  • “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” – Emma Stone – From “La La Land” Soundtrack

I haven’t had time for much else of interest, but I did go on Friday, January 13 to Harper’s Ferry in West Virginia for a bit of an outing.  It was before my first week of teaching and I was determined to do an outing each week on Friday (since I’m off); I’ve been trying hard not to let the job run me!  However, the following Friday was the inauguration and I didn’t want to go out in the traffic (and I certainly had no desire to attend the inauguration) and last Friday (the 27th), I had a mandatory teacher meeting (which I don’t get paid for, by the way).  So, it seems the job is running me after all.  The pictures scattered through this post are from Harper’s Ferry; I’ll write a blog post about it later.

The Small Arsenal - remains of a weapons storehouse in Harper's Ferry
The Small Arsenal – remains of a weapons storehouse in Harper’s Ferry
tree along the Potomac River
tree along the Potomac River

I finished reading several books this month.  My favorite was Nabokov’s Lolita, which is shocking by way of subject matter, but wonderful in terms of prose.  I listened to the audio book, and I felt thrilled with so many of Nabokov’s passages, just for his amazing use of language, that I had to go out and buy the book so I could reread many of the passages I listened to.  I plan to write about this in a separate post.  I also enjoyed City of Veils, by Zoë Ferraris.  It takes place in Saudi Arabia and is a murder story, not my usual cup of tea, but I love it because it portrays the nuances of Saudi culture.  I also listened to the audiobook Wanderlust: A Love Affair with Five Continents by Elisabeth Eaves, which I enjoyed because she traveled to places like Egypt and Yemen, echoing some of my own travels.  And everyone knows from my recent posts about visiting museums, that I also enjoyed the small book: How to Visit a Museum, by David Finn.

As for the aftermath of our election, I don’t want to ruin our cocktail hour, so I’ll write a separate post about it.  All I can say is I’m extremely proud of all the women who marched in the Women’s March on January 21, and I’m proud of the protestors at airports and at the White House who are protesting the Muslim Ban.  You can count me as part of the Resistance!!  We will NOT stand down.

St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church in Harper's Ferry, West Virginia
St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia

I hope you’ll share what’s been going on with you.  As always, I wish wonderful things for all of you. 🙂

17 thoughts on “the january cocktail hour – boy, do i ever need a drink!

  1. Wow, Cathy, when it rains it pours, doesn’t it! You sound incredibly busy with this last-minute job coming your way and all those classes you signed up for…too bad you couldn’t make it to the March; it was such an intense and exhilarating and scary experience all at once. The crowd was so thick for hours, we lost two from our small group and it took us two hours to find them again. Looking forward to the follow-up action – brainstorming groups getting together in different counties up here in the Highlands. I enjoyed seeing Harper’s Ferry pics again. I was there last summer and like you never found the time to write a post about it. Keep breathing. I hope that good offers will come your way soon.

    1. That’s for sure, Annette. I’m sure the march was a life-changing event. I’m so glad you went, and am very proud of all of you who attended in such great numbers! I really do hope we can resist the political agenda of this Republican administration. I get sicker of them with each passing day.

      Thanks so much for dropping by! Enjoy the rest of your weekend. 🙂

  2. You’ve been busy! I’ll bet time to relax is especially welcome. I’m neither a fan of cucumbers nor jalapeños and beer is a warm weather drink for me, so wine will be fine, always a favorite. Red if you have it. I’ve read a couple of books, easy reading, nothing earth-shaking or memorable, but pleasant. I am actively commenting on political issues on Facebook, emailing my state senators, hoping reality, the real kind, will return and the nightmare will soon end. I have managed to detach to the extent that I can participate in these discussions without feeling consumed or overwhelming despair, which relieves the stress to a manageable level.
    Tonight my dogs are requiring extra attention. My old Lady Bailey is having some kind of issue – if I sit in the floor next to her she settles down. If I get in my chair, she nuzzles, requiring attention, not normal for her. Does this mean I’ll be sleeping on the floor tonight? Younger Shasta girl is on hyper alert tonight, certain there are evil things outside. Probably either coyotes, deer, or people from down the road walking their dogs.
    Thank you for the wine and the company, but I have chewed your ear off for long enough now, and it’s time to go.

    1. I’ve been way too busy, Carol. I certainly do have some red wine, and may have a glass right now myself. I’ve been politically involved too; it can be quite time-consuming and emotionally draining, but we can’t sit by while our country goes down the tubes. Maybe your Shasta and Lady Bailey are sensing the bad political vibes in the atmosphere. I hope they’re okay now. It’s so nice to hear from you. It’s only now that I’ve had a moment to catch up on my blogging and comments. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. 🙂

  3. Amazing how swiftly it can all change, Cathy, and it’s all good news, isn’t it? Especially you making it onto the universities list. Amazing! All your efforts have to pay off eventually. 🙂
    We’re ok. Just getting over big time English colds and the weather, but Spring must be around the corner. Bad times for James. He’s job hunting… long story. Hoping for a good ending. Take care of yourself!

    1. It is amazing how all changed so quickly, Jo. I haven’t had a minute to catch my breath since it all started. The changes have thrown my other, more preferred plans, to the wind! I’m glad I made it into that applicant pool, but so far they haven’t contacted me about a position. They said it could happen anytime between now and summer, and there is no guarantee I’ll get the fellowship at all. In the meantime I’ve applied to go to Japan for 4 months, but if that doesn’t happen, I’ll still have fun going to Croatia, Prague and Budapest as I originally planned. My future is in the air for now. Are you off to Florence soon? Or maybe already there?

  4. Congratulations are in order!
    Bleak political news from the U.S. and sadly it is just the beginning….
    Thanks for the movie recommendations, playlist etc. hopefully these will help to distract from the current reality.

    1. Thanks so much, Peta. Yes, the bleak political news here just keeps getting more alarming by the minute.

      I need something to distract myself from our current reality. Or is it an alternative reality? Thanks so much for the good wishes!

    1. Too busy. I don’t like being this busy, to be honest. It’s simply too much. As for congrats on the job, though I do enjoy being in the classroom with my mostly Mongolian and Turkish students, I don’t enjoy all the time outside the classroom spent in preparation and marking.

      I need to explore more of Harper’s Ferry. I can’t believe I haven’t spent much time there except in brief pass-throughs. You’ve been more places in the US than I have, Anabel, or so it seems! 🙂

  5. Alcohol is much appreciated since the inauguration. Maybe too much appreciated? lol! The Lolita (margarita) sounds wonderful, thank you. You sound terribly busy! I don’t know if I could keep up with all that. It looks like you had a beautiful day for your visit to Harpers Ferry. Take care, and I hope you get a moment or two to rest. 🙂

    1. I’m depending on alcohol to get me through the days since the election, that’s for sure, Robin! I’m busy all right, more than I want to be. It’s either feast or famine it seems – either nothing to do or way too much. I only have two more weeks in this semester, and we’ll see what comes next. I hope all is well with you. 🙂

  6. I’m late again, I’m afraid, but I hope there will still be a drink left for me. I’d like a soda with lime, if you still have some. Congratulations on making it into the worldwide universities pool – what a great opportunity that will be if your name comes up. Congratulations, too, on the teaching job, although it does sound as if there is far more ‘office’ work than actual teaching. I think the schools get good value out of part time teachers – I speak from experience. Harpers Ferry looks lovely – I’m looking forward to seeing more of it in due course. As for me, we’ve just been in Florida because my hubby was attending a conference and then we took some days for relaxing and doing out own thing. The weather was perfect, which made a wonderful change from the dull, grey chilly weather we had been having at home. Apart from that I’ve not been doing anything very different, but tonight we are going to the theatre to see a dance theatre show which I am looking forward to.

    1. I’m glad you came even if you’re late, Elaine. So happy to have you and — of course — a soda with lime coming up! I sure hope I will get matched with a project with the English Language Fellow Program. Nothing so far, but I can be placed anytime between now and early summer. Yes, my current job has too much prep work; I hardly have time for anything fun, like blogging! I’m glad you got to go to Florida for some sunshine. I hope you had fun there. Did you enjoy the dance theatre show? Thanks so much for coming by. 🙂

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