Friday, August 27, 2010

Talk Talk Talk!

*Random topic* :)

I am no sociologist by an definition of the term.. just a casual people watcher.  It's fun to watch people interact - family, friends, strangers.. couples, individuals... all offer a glimpse into the sea of humanity.

I've been spending time with a diverse group of friends lately, as well as my usual encounters with friends at work.  It's so neat to see the varied dynamics that exist between these various social networks of mine.  Take my friend Collin for example.  He and I can gab on the phone for what sometimes turns into an hour.. when perhaps neither one of us has any particular story in mind to discuss when making the call.  For some, the conversation just flows... my maternal grandmother and I were like this as well.  The phone call would start with "how are you?"... and we'd end up chatting about nothing and everything.

With others, the conversations can be deep discussions about concerns, dreams and life stories... where moments of quiet are not awkward silences, but a time for reflection and processing.  Sometimes the physical presence of the other person is all that is needed for communication.

The next time you're out in a crowd of people, or simply hanging out with your bff... take note of the communication occurring around you.  You might be amazed at how each individual, each situation, each group has their own subtle form of communication.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I Did it!!!!

I got an e-mail yesterday from my graduate adviser that my masters portfolio project passed... which means my degree program is complete.  I have graduated from UB's Graduate School of Education!!!

It's odd not having a ceremony to attend... or wear the cap and gown.  The ceremonies can be tediously long, but they give a sense of completion - of finalization to the long journey a person has traveled.  I opted not to attend the commencement this past May since I still had the big project to do.. and it wouldn't have felt right to go through the pomp and circumstance only to go home after and do homework.  Still... my diploma should be sent out in September.

I'm still getting used to the idea of not having homework to do.  This is the first summer in a long time that I haven't been taking classes, and at UB, classes resume for the fall semester in late August.  I'm trying to break back into the habit of reading for fun --- something that has not been possible for quite some time thanks to being overwhelmed with course readings and assignments.  Every time I pick up my book, I get the feeling that I should be doing something that's due for class some time soon.  Old habits are hard to break, but I will delight in breaking this one.

I have met some wonderful professors and instructors over my academic career.  Some of them have been wonderful mentors, friends and reminders of why I love teaching.  Without their patience, understanding and sensitivity, this road would have been a much harder one to travel.

I have to say... here in print.. where everyone can see... that I could not have come this far without the love and support of my family and close friends.  There were many many times when I felt overwhelmed by the work I was doing.  The light at the end of the tunnel seemed so far off for such a long time.  My family -- most especially my parents -- always had faith in me, and my good friends -- especially my Walmart co-workers and UB classmates -- were always there to cheer me on and boost my self esteem when it was so badly deflated.  I owe so many of you a debt of gratitude for your love and support.

The job market for teachers remains turbulent and it seems less and less likely that I will find a position before the start of this school year.  So... I am exploring other options for employment that might not include teaching.  As much as I love the career I worked so hard for, I can't magically make jobs appear, and it's time to be supporting myself and moving forward. There are no plans to go "back" to college for a new degree... I have enough debt from the bachelors and masters to last me quite a while... but perhaps my degrees will open up doors that I had not considered before.  Only God knows.

When I first enrolled in UB back in 2003, I sat on my patio late at night feeling so overwhelmed.  I never thought I'd get through that first semester, yet alone complete two degrees.  Everything seemed to be changing so fast, the work too hard, the campus too big.  I had no idea what I had gotten myself into.  But here I am... looking back.. and I can finally say: I did it!

Saturday, August 7, 2010


My Dad's Mom used to remind me in her dry/sarcastic way that "small things amuse small minds".  I'm going to have to disagree with that old cliche... some times it's the small things, or the simple things in life that can be pretty cool.

Some things that make me excited are admittedly odd.  I tend to see things in a different light than others.   One such thing is my obsession with using vintage technology (prior to the 1970's) in the everyday life of the twenty first century.  Combine this with my love of classic rotary phones and you have a nerd fest in progress.

Sharing a home with my parents, I also share the usage of our "landline".  Growing up, I would have never guessed that having a "house phone" would be considered optional -- but the wave of mobile phones has made the traditional land line telephones one option among many.  Personally, I do prefer the quality of calls made by land lines over cell phones... and appreciate the reliability and 911 tracking service that you can not get from digital and/or mobile phone service.  I'm also not a huge fan of using my cell phone for making long phone calls... especially when "out and about".  Seriously, do I need to be gabbing with someone while I'm grocery shopping at Wegmans??  If I hear one more person in the bathroom stall talking on their phone I may scream.  Leave me a voice mail.. I'll get back to you.

Cell phones are for Internet (when a computer is not available), texting, and quick phone calls when not at home.  Otherwise.. as my friends know.. I'm calling you from home.

Back to the telephone itself.  I am obsessed with vintage phones.. probably because I have always loved the story of how my grandparents first met.. and I also love the classic look, feel (many older phones are HEAVY) and sound of a classic phone... the zip of the dial and the sound of a real brass bell ringer that puts a cell ringtone to shame.  These workhorses of Ma Bell were built to do one job well.. and to do it for a life time.  I like to keep the tradition going.

Well.. some techno geek out there has helped to make it possible for young-fogeys like myself to keep our retro lifestyles alive.  Someone created a device that allows you to link any house phone to your cell phone via bluetooth!  When I read about it in an online forum I subscribe to, I hopped in the car, drove to Radioshak and bought this little gem.

For my birthday, my Mom bought me a Western Electric 500 telephone in mint green.... green has always been my favorite color.  It's been the phone next to my bed for a little over a month now, and I've loved using it.  While I make most my calls on it (my other living room phone being from the 1940s), my friends won't call me on the house phone.. since they never know who will answer.  It's easier for them to call me on the cell.. the little square that I detest holding up to me ear.  Now.. I have the best of both world. (and yes.. I stole the picture below from the Internet)

You pick up this 40+ year old phone and you will hear a dial tone.. and yes... the rotary dial will dial out (though you need the cell phone's key pad for * and #).  Best of all, when someone calls my cell, and it is linked to the rotary phone.. that great brass ringer goes off instead of hearing the pre-recorded "vintage telephone" ringtone I downloaded years ago.

See.. only I would be excited about this!

So yes, I found another way to preserve a piece of the past while making it relevant to the present.  I was worried about how well the quality would be since the device is a bluetooth after all (which are known for being sketchy)... but the sound quality is EXCELLENT.

Who's giddy with geekish excitement?  That would be me.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Tempus Fugit!

Time does indeed fly.  I can't believe it's August already!!  Soon, my favorite season of the year will be here... FALL!!  Crisp air, hay rides, apple cider, pumpkins, Halloween.... all right around the corner.

For those that haven't yet heard, I did indeed interview for a year long term teaching position at the middle school I have been subbing at over the past school year.  I thought the interview went very well.. I was comfortable, my answers were all well thought out.  I did not make it to a second interview however.  It was none-the-less a learning experience.. I can now be a little more comfortable and prepared for any other future interviews -- but I am disappointed.  This position was the only real hope I had at getting a job away from retail in the near future.. my only real hope of moving forward with my life... and in a school environment I loved and had made friends in.  I just keep telling myself it was not my time.  Patience was always a virtue I lacked!

I've been picking up more hours at the retail hell I've been employed at for the past 9 1/2 years.  Slowly, I've been paying money towards bills that I have accumulated... looking forward to operating in the black for a change, and starting to pay off my massive amounts of student loans.  The idea of having a savings account again is a nice thought.

Since the likely hood of finding a full time teaching position for the fall is slim, I debated doing the retail gig full time.  Even working over 30 hours a week (not that I would be guaranteed that many hours), I'd still be making under $20,000 a year.  That wouldn't help me much in my goal to get an apartment of my own.  Sigh....

Anyway... I just figured it was time for me to update this blog and let people in cyberspace know I am still alive.  I'm still puttering around, searching for a new career, eagerly awaiting the results of my masters portfolio project so I can say I am done with grad school.  Though I have been frustrated with the current job situation, my heart is gladdened by the many family and friends in my life who let me know daily that I am loved.  Sometimes we need to look at what we do have, instead of what we don't have.  A lesson I am trying hard to learn.