13 October 2011

Teaching? Really?

After a brief hiatus, I'm back to blogging.  And as my first order of business, I suppose I should report that Monday, I will begin my first day of teaching.  No, no, I didn't quit my job in a fit of rage and exasperation.  Instead, I decided that perhaps it would be nice to have another outlet for all my non-existent free time.

A while back I sent my resume in to Rio Salado Community College.  It was just a whim, really.  Several friends of mine teach at various community colleges in the valley, so I thought I'd apply and see what happened.  I got a call last week, and lo and behold, got offered a position as an adjunct professor.  I'll be teached PAR102, and if you know anything at all about that class besides that it's a course for paralegals, then you're ahead of me.

It's all online, which is great because that means it won't interfere with 1) my trip to Austin in November, or 2) my holiday plans.  It pays great, so I'm hoping that I love it.

Wish me luck!  And you might want to throw in some wishes for my students.  We all know that I am not the most patient person on the planet.

24 May 2011

Fried plantains

AKA:  Yumminess, the likes of which you've never before experienced.  Nick taught me to make them during my visit.

Use coconut oil, which looks vaguely like Crisco when you buy it.  Heat it on top of the stove in a pretty sturdy pot until it liquifies and reaches a medium heat.

Use a mandoline or a food processor to turn your plantains into 1) very thin coin shapes, or 2) long, thin strips.  Plop them into the oil, and when they've browned on one side, flip them over.  They'll kind of start to float as they get done.

Nick wanted to try them with guacamole, which I think would have been really good.  Alas, all the avocadoes had gone bad, so we didn't get to make any.  We just sprinkled with salt while they were still hot, and they were SO good.


I'm not sure whether it's because of what I do for a living (probably), or because I just love baby cuteness (probably), but I can't think of a time in recent memory when I've been quite as excited as I was on May 13 to leave for Indianapolis.  My best friend, who's like my sister, had a baby boy back in February, and finally, I got to go visit them!

Nikki and me in 2006, law school graduation.

Nikki and I lived together for five years, from our second year in undergrad all the way through her graduation, which was my first year in law school.  After she graduated, she moved to Indianapolis, and then about a year later, she and Nick (another high school friend of mine) got married.  Now that I live in Arizona and she still lives in Indianapolis, I haven't gotten to see her nearly as often as I would like to.  Phone calls and texting are great, but it's not the same...especially if you lived together for as long as we did.

My flight landed really late.  Nikki picked me up, and we got to spend a little time catching up during the drive to her house.  I went straight to bed, and the next morning, I got to meet Baby Wyatt!  Oh, my goodness, he looks like Nick and he is just the happiest little man!  In my five days there, I think he cried maybe twice, and aside from a minor poo-in-the-bathtub incident, it was all smooth sailing.  In fact, I'm certain that the bathtub/poo ordeal was *waaay* more bothersome for me and his mama (given that we were the ones who cleaned it up) than it was for him.  Wyatt stayed calm and happy through the whole thing.  Pretty sure he even laughed.

Look at this sweet face.  I couldn't stop kissing it.


My favorite picture.  I cannot get enough of those eyes!
Aunties are supposed to spoil the baby, right?

I had an amazing time, and I needed it so badly.  Nikki let me hold and snuggle him lots and lots.  I even got to try to feed him once, but that didn't go so well.  Wyatt is NOT a bottle baby, and he's not afraid to say so!  I wish the best of luck to his future daycare workers...  Better them than me, though; I can't handle how sad and forlorn he sounded when all he wanted was to nurse.

Work has been particularly stressful lately, and just smelling that sweet baby smell and listening to Wyatt's coos and giggles fed my spirit.  Already, I can't wait to go back.

09 May 2011

If you're in the market for a painting...

A while back, I was reading BooMama's blog and she had a photo of a beautiful painting she'd just found at a little shop in Birmingham.  I fell in love immediately, and serendipitously, I had been searching for the perfect birthday gift for my mom.

My mom.  Impossible to buy gifts for because she never asks for anything (except practical things like vacuum cleaners and work shoes, which are not really all that much fun to buy).  We are not alike in this way; I ask for unpractical things all. the. time.  But I digress.

She'd just gotten a new position at work, which meant that she'd no longer be working as a floor nurse.  Instead, she had her own office, and she'd be handling infection control at her hospital.  Sounds icky to me, but really, she's been having lots of back and shoulder problems recently, so I was happy that the new position was less demanding physically.

Anyway, these paintings were perfect for her.  Kinda folksy, lots of bright colors, and scripture:  PER-FECT.  So, I Googled, and found out that the artist, Linda Dunn, has a business called Simply Hope.  I emailed her, and she is SWEET AS PIE, I tell you.  She and I communicated pretty regularly for a few months, and eventually,we settled on a design, the colors, and the verse she'd incorporate into the painting for my mama.  And she was so patient every time I changed my mind or had a question.  I can't wait to order a few more for some other people!

I had the gift shipped to my mom's house, mostly because I wanted her to die of anticipation while she was waiting to open it.  Long story short (and really, I am leaving out LOTS because before we could hang the painting in her office, we had to do some renovation -- that office was in awful shape):  SHE LOVED IT.  And so do I.

06 May 2011

The Tornado

I lived in Alabama for a long time.  My whole life, up until I moved across the country (for reasons that I cannot remember, and that I'm not sure I even knew at that time).  My home state gets its fair share of bad weather, and some of the clearest memories I have are the times spent staring at the television, wondering how long it would be before the tornado sirens started blaring.  I think I learned how to read a weather map about the same time I learned my multiplication tables.

I don't remember much about kindergarten, but I can still smell the wax used to polish the floors, and feel the coolness of the wood against the backs of my legs the first time the weather forced me to sit, Indian-style, in the hallway, arms folded to protect my face, while the wind howled outside and our teachers comforted us.

My friend, Staci, and I were in New Orleans buying her wedding gown when we first heard that Katrina had turned and was projected to hit Louisiana.  Both our mothers began calling ceaselessly until we assured them that we were in her car, headed back to Tuscaloosa.  Hurricanes in the Gulf beget tornadoes farther inland, and Katrina proved no exception.  Staci and I rode out the storm at my house in Northport, crammed for a while in my tiny guest bathroom -- because Alabama children are taught young that when bad weather heads your way, you set up camp in the center of your house, away from windows and doors.  I was in law school at the time, and my whole life was inside my laptop.  I wrapped it in some trash bags and put it in the dryer, reasoning that even if one of the pine trees in my backyard came through the roof, the double layer of protection would insure against water damage.  It's crazy what you start to prioritize as you come to terms with the idea of a tornado actually hitting your home. 

Thanks to James Spann and a lot of prayer, we got through just fine and were only minorly inconvenienced by an 8-hour power outage.  As everyone knows, thousands and thousands and thousands of people were not as lucky.

I, and hundreds of other students, spent the subsequent weeks volunteering -- collecting canned goods, serving food, doing anything we could to keep ourselves busy and make the displaced hurricane victims just a little more comfortable.  Students from Tulane and other NOLA schools moved to town and became our classmates and roommates for a semester, and our friends for a lifetime.  We all seemed to feel helpless individually, but we took solace in the fact that together, maybe we could accomplish something.

It's the helplessness that grips me now.

Here I am, thousands of miles and four states away from Tuscaloosa, which was my home for seven years.  I see photos, and I hear stories, and I am just so sad.  The years I spent in Tuscaloosa are easily some of the funnest, most precious parts of my life, and the friends I made there are still among the people I hold most dear.  To see the city destroyed, and then to be too far away to help rebuild it -- well, it frankly sucks.  Writing a check or buying a t-shirt just does not leave me with the same sense of having helped anybody, and though I've done both, I wish more than anything that I could do more.

Parts of Choctaw County, where I grew up, were just leveled.  My dad likened it to having a vacuum cleaner run loose through the woods, 200-year old oak trees splintered like twigs along the way.  My mom told me that today alone, my home church (First Assembly of God) fed nearly 150 people who had been affected by the tornadoes there.  To put that in perspective, the entire population of Choctaw County hovers around 15,000.  And they fed 150 on a. single. day.

On a brighter note, I am proud.  I'm proud of the resilience shown by so many of my fellow Alabamians.  Their unwavering hope and faith that everything will get back to normal.  Their untiring work, not only for themselves and their neighbors, but for people they don't even know.  For all the people harboring negative impressions about the South, I believe that when they read the NY Times, or listen to a story on NPR, or watch CNN to see the latest news about the storm damage, what they see will be our fierce determination, our dedication to our neighbors in need, and our satisfaction in having gathered together to help ourselves.  And they will see that even in the face of adversity and death and destruction, our spirit not only survives, but thrives.