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