Sunday, August 29, 2010

Did I say I would let you know...

Hmmm, I'll get you some photos in a few days. In the mean time, here are some highlights:

I teach 24 senior IB Biology students (IB Bio II), about 33 juniors (IB Bio I), and approximately 90 Environmental Science students of various ages but who are primarily juniors. I also have juniors in my homeroom...a school phenomenon which, based on having attended high school, I should have anticipated, but didn't. Other things I should have anticipated but didn't include 17-year-olds throwing scissors around a room, approximately 15 mold-growth on bread summer experiments, and a classroom full of unlabelled chemistry experiments from about 5 years' worth of teachers who stayed in my classroom for only a year.

Despite these unanticipated phenomena, things really are going great. I could work for 24 hours a day, but, based on my 6:45 am arrival time, I've set 4:45 pm as my going home time, which I stick to every day. I take papers home to grade but I have left my classroom at 4:45 every day and still gotten my classes planned, despite some days when it seemed highly unlikely. I pick up my baby boy and spend about 2 hours with him each night, which is sub-optimal, but I also get weekends with him and, in the future, long uninterrupted periods of time that would be out of the question in any other job.

I'm enjoying my regular-level Environmental Science class more than I anticipated because there's less pressure to perform and I think that the IB curriculum may actually be easier to tackle than I feared. We'll see how my scores turn out but there seems to be adequate time to practice the test inside of the prescribed curriculum. I enjoy reminding myself about the science I don't remember so well and I find that I learn things more quickly now than I did when I was in high school. Turns out all that "learning to learn" business isn't totally made up. Anyway, as I said, pictures will follow. The only pictures I've taken lately are of my boy, who can stand up (assisted) but otherwise refuses to meet milestones.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

High School, here I come

Well, the decision's been made. In about two weeks, I enter the wild world of teaching high school. "How did this happen?", you may wonder? "I thought you were having a great time investigating the microbial ecology of freshwater zooplankton disease dynamics." If you said that, you're totally right. I have had a great time. I have really enjoyed research, but, I can't be a PostDoc forever and appealing opportunities are hard to come by. So, when I got an email in my inbox looking for someone to teach IB Biology at a school in a charming Atlanta suburb, a school that already employs a friend of mine, a school that values higher education in its teachers and makes an effort to streamline the transition into teaching for those who are willing to work in their advanced programs, well, when I got that email, I sent in my resume. The rest is history.

I know that lots of things are going to change for me, not the least of which is the structured schedule that starts at 7am. That's right, I have to be at my job, which is about 30 miles from my house, at 7am. Fortunately, I've grown accustomed to an early wake-up call (or maybe I should say 'wake-up cry'). Anyway, I'll miss my time at Georgia Tech but, honestly, it's way past time for me to move on. I've been here for 15 years. I've never been anywhere for 15 years! It's longer than I was in school before I came to Georgia Tech! If I add my education all up together, more than half of it was at Georgia Tech! Seriously, I never really envisioned myself as a "Georgia Tech person" and, yet, somehow, I've become an institution. I've been here longer than the campanile and it's on the logo! So, if I wasn't an adult before, I am now. I'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

What does it say about me that I love Sue Sylvester?

i just posted the following quote to my facebook status update:

"Oh Dear God, please, please, stop talking. I'm trying desperately to ignore the treacly sweet inanity of your asinine conversation but now I've got bile in my mouth and I will hold my tongue no further." -Sue Sylvester

How many times has this sentiment crossed my mind? How many? Is that okay? Am I a bitter, middle aged prude obsessed with a cheerleading team on the inside?

Here's a whole list of quotes that makes me love her all the more. Sigh. I'm going to copy the diary entry for you because I'm currently watching it...

Dear Journal, Feeling listless again today. It began at dawn, when I tried to make a smoothie out of beef bones, breaking my juicer. And then at Cheerios practice, disaster. It was unmistakable. It was like spotting the first spark on the Hindenburg. A quiver. That quiver will lose us Nationals. Without a championship, I'll lose my endorsements, and without those endorsements, I won't be able to buy my hovercraft.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Sick days, home sick, away without leave actually

I have the worst cold I've had since I was a kid. It makes me think of being a kid because of that and because my baby has it and I'm mothering a sick person, which I've never done and so I keep thinking about the only reference I have, my own mother. She mothered me when I was sick, obviously, and that happened when I was a kid. I would bring him 7-up but he's too small so I just stroke his head and whisper that I'm sorry he's sick. This reminds me of the fact that that's what my grandmother did when she came to visit my mom when my mom was dying. That is incredibly sad so, to lighten the mood, I'll tell the following story:

I walked down to the mailbox this morning to put my netflix movies in it and, had the garbage men come, to roll back up the garbage can. My 80+-year-old chatty neighbor was just getting out of his car as I walked back toward my house. When I got ready to open the door to go in, I turned to see him standing in his driveway facing me.

Me: [motions to throat]

Him: You don't have laryngitis do you!?!

Me: [clears throat and croaks] No, just a real sore throat.

Him: Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. I noticed you've been home a lot. Does the baby have it too?

(My porch is approximately 50 yards from his driveway so I sort of have to shout.)

Me: He sure does.

Him: [cups hand near ear]

Me: [clears throat again] HE SURE DOES!

Him: [cups hand near ear again] I couldn't hear you. A plane was flying over.

Me: YES! YES, HE HAS IT TOO!!! [turns toward door]

Him: Well, I sure hope you feel better soon...

Me: THANKS! HAVE A GOOD DAY!!! [turns and goes into house]

Do you think that, by the time he asked me to repeat myself the second time, he had forgotten about the beginning of the conversation and my motion toward my throat? Or do you think maybe he forgot about how people shouldn't force people with sore throats to shout? Or maybe he is just that desperate to talk to someone besides his wife. It's hard to say.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Marine Lorax?

The Lorax spoke for the trees 'cause the trees have no tongues. We all went crazy and started climbing onto "save the rainforest" movement. Paper got recycled and people scolded each other about the trees that went into their wasteful print jobs. I'm not sure it helped but we all realized that there was a crisis. Our parents and grandparents shook their heads sadly and talked about how, "All this used to be forest." We didn't maybe realize that, as we spoke, we were doing the same thing to the oceans.

The dead zone, the garbage patch, and now this. It's not going to be okay, you know? I just don't think it's going to be okay. We'll be explaining to our children about how we used to be able to just put bait on a line, catch a fish from the ocean, and eat it. They'll be like, "WHAAAA!?!" I'm not sure what to do. I'm excited to have a friend working on the problem. She realized it was a big deal years ago...What the f- are we gonna do?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

What women talk about...

I feel annoyed when men talk about how hard women are to understand. There are several reasons. It's hard to break down. But, a friend of mine recently said that he hates working in majority male workplaces because these environments tend to nurture conversations that revolve around sex and sports. The friend doesn't like to talk about either topic with his coworkers. This observation by my friend led me to consider what gets discussed in primarily female environments and it's not so easy to describe. This makes me think two things: (1) If I go around saying that all men talk about is sex and sports, gobs and tons of men would agree with me, but, I would be alienating and excluding lots of other men who don't. (2) If the men who say that women are hard to understand fall into the category of men who talk primarily about sex and sports, I can see how they would feel confused by the proverbial women, who have more than two topics of conversation. On the other hand, we have Randy Travis who extols that old men will "talk about the weather...forever and ever amen," while old women will "talk about old men." I think he's referring primarily to old farmers, whose jobs depend on the weather.

Now I will stop rambling to describe what I have thought of in terms of things I talk about when only women are around that I would not talk about if a man or two were present:

(1) My weight. Including my attempts to lose weight, how badly I have eaten recently, how fat I have become or fear I will become, and any recent fluctuations in my weight. This also includes conversations that fall under the umbrella of assuming that my companions worry about their weights as much as I do.

(2) Men. Sorry, I know it's cliche but it's true. Randy Travis is not totally wrong. It probably has to do with the minority's reliance on the majority, etc. Anyway, I talk to my female friends about my husband, their partners, the way men do things or don't do things, differences between genders (the conversation I'm currently sharing falls into category number 2), etc.

(2) How cute things are. This is the one that I mentioned to my friend. Many women will talk about pop idols but, in science, I find that lots of women like to talk about how cute baby animals and various microbes are (I'm a microbiologist). Also, sometimes, tiny glassware (particularly organic chemists).

All of this caused me to think about what I talk about when men are around. Some things that I talk about in the all-female lab would just stay in rotation, is what I've decided. No new topics that I can think of. Gender neutral topics include:

(1) Books that aren't totally embarassingly girly (i.e., romance novels, which go into the upper category).

(2) NPR. Always good for a conversation with other highly educated liberals.

(3) Funny stuff. As opposed to cute stuff. Videos of people falling down are one example. Having seen someone fall down would be another example.

(4) Science itself. You know, when we talk about work or what we're actually working on. What do you mean I never actually work!?!

(5) Politics and religion. These topics should never be discussed at work but often are.

Finally, the friend was saying that he wanted women around so that he could get away from the sex and sports talk. I replied that I also might enjoy having men around, but, then I remembered what we talk about when there aren't men around and realized that it's often me who started the conversation and that I might feel annoyed to not be able to gripe about my weight...or, you know, my period or breasts or whatever...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Oh, that sleep talkin' man

Surely you've all seen this but I just want to say that I love it. Allegedly, he talks in his sleep and his wife records it and puts it on the blog. I don't really care if it's true. I'm rarely this clever, asleep or awake. Everything he says makes me happy and laughy and, unlike me and the rest of you, he says something every day. He can be depended upon. Some of my favorites include, "Don't put the duck there, it's totally irresponsible. Put him on the swing, he'll have much more fun." and today's, "God, you whine like whale song. But a lot less eerie and beautiful and more, well, fucking annoying." Actually, all of today's are hilarious, which makes me feel a little like a grump-a-potamus because his wife does a little disclaimer about how unkind he was last night. Love. this. guy.

Oh, one more thing, this site confirms my suspicion that we're all more clever and enlightened when we're sleeping and that we, therefore, should prioritize sleep if we want to be smart.