16 March 2017

When too much is too much...

My Allen Face...or annoyed face.
We all have breaking points. Some of us have higher pain (emotional and physical) thresholds than others of us. Some people thrive on deadlines and last minute pressure, other people fold in the face of increased intensity.

I'm not sure which one of those categories best suits me. In reality, I think that it fluctuates, as I'm sure it does for most people. But right now I am feeling close to the edge of my patience, my sanity, and my ability to interact with others in any way other than with anger, and y'all, that just isn't me.

2017 has been rough so far. I started out way back in 2016 losing Daisy. I have joked since she came into my life that when I lost her I'd have to be hospitalized because I would lose such a big part of my own soul there wouldn't be much left.

And then it happened and it was terrible and awful and my heart hurt then and hurts now every time I think of her or see her face come up in my FB timeline. I want to simultaneously carry a copy An American Greyhound in Yorkshire around with me all the time and rip it to shreds because I can't stand to see her eyes staring out from the front of it. My rational mind reminds me that all dog lovers and pet parents go through this when their animals depart this life, but my heart screams into its own vacuum that it was too soon or not fair or my fault, and that I will never ever let myself be hurt like that again.

I said that after Clowny, and Jeany, and Hunky, and Profile, and Franny, and Zooey, and Lizzard, and Bo...and Buffy...and Midgit...and I always do, over and over.

So  I started my new semester on the back foot due to that familiar upturned beehive that is my brain and things were not any better at work. I am not able nor willing to go into details here (or anywhere, really), but vicarious trauma is real, y'all.  It leads to weird things like physical pain, memory loss, insomnia and at the very least, irritability. Next week is our spring break and I will only be down here once for a meeting...and it's like a reward, dessert at the end of a meal of nothing but olives and asparagus. I'm hoping to get my head on straight again during those 5 very short days of doing almost nothing.

But then again, those are five days that start with coffee meetings without Daisy, so I'm not holding my breath.

You're my back bone.
You're my cornerstone.
You're my crutch when my legs stop moving.
You're my head start.
You're my rugged heart.
You're the pulse that I've always needed.
Like a drum, baby, don't stop beating.
Like a drum, baby, don't stop beating.
Like a drum, baby, don't stop beating.
Like a drum, my heart never stops beating...
For you, for you.

(from Gone, Gone, Gone by Phillip Phillips)

07 February 2017

FTH Oopsie Daisy, 14 August 2004 - 2 December 2016

She truly was transcontinental.
You know, I'm sitting here staring at the blank screen and can't even bring myself to type the words that she's gone...and she's been gone for two months now.  I still expect to come home and hear her whistling from the bedroom, demanding that I hurry up and let her out. But the whistle has fallen silent.

I listen for her toenails on the hardwood floors and remember how, when we lived in the UK, she made no sound at all on the carpet and could sneak up on me, suddenly jamming that needle nose into my ear and exhaling. There's nothing in my ear now, no cold nose or loud exhalation of warm doggie breath. It's just silent.

I call the other two dogs by her name and they look at me, with a mixture (I think) of confusion and sadness, wondering simultaneously who I am talking to and where Daisy is. I wonder that too.  Is she with the Fab Five Plus Clowny? Are they now the Magnificent Seven? I don't get answers, though. As always, my Bridge Pack is silent.

We see things that she would have loved, go to places that made her happy, and the memories are sometimes so strong that I can smell her Frito Feet and feel her nose pressed up against my neck, as she would do to make sure of me. I think for a moment that I can hear her Snappy Jaw that should have struck fear, but didn't, not in me...but there is no snappy jaw, not anymore. Everything is silent.

She was a larger sized female for her breed, but she was Bryn's Little Big sister.  She was a good foot taller than Willow, and lorded that size over her Little Little Sister. They still run and play and I can hear their tags jangling as they bound up and down the stairs. But Daisy's tags, still on her purple dragonfly collar, remain silent.

I want a do-over.  I want more time. I want for her to not have suffered through the heart murmur and the heart disease and the Lasix. I want to take her to Ireland and to Canada. I want her to have the jacket with all the little patches from everywhere she was able to visit. All these things I want...and all she wanted was to be able to rest.  Rest well, my world traveler, my Psycho Puppy Girl, my Angel...my Mei Mei.  You earned it.  I just wish it wasn't so silent around here.

19 January 2017

Second verse, same as the...I've lost count

And yet, my lesson I have not learned.
Well, it has happened again. I have become utterly broken and tired and overwhelmed and...and...and I have decided to apply to grad school. But this time, rather than just stopping after the cursory search of programs here at Clemson and online programs at other institutions, I have actually begun filling out the application.

Okay, yeah, I've done that before too, fair enough. You have a long memory, my Lettuce readers.  But this time, there seems to be intent and follow through happening, and I've announced my intentions to the world so I have accountability when I feel ready to give up.

What? Yes, okay, FINE, I have done all of this before as Hubs so helpfully reminded me last night when I announced my intention, and by the end of that conversation I had almost talked myself out of even waiting for a response to the inquiry email I sent the department yesterday. Almost.

Just now I have saved the application because my few minutes of calm have broken out in nasty cases of barely controlled chaos as they so often do on this job. I am spinning plates and rapidly applying imaginary bursts of extinguisher to my smoldering hair.

The truth of the matter here is that I am not as confident in my interpreting skills as I was when I entered the field TOO MANY YEARS AGO TO ADMIT, so I am starting to look both at what I feel is my calling (scary prospect) and what I can do that will be a transferable skill when we move back abroad.

Oh, yes, we will be moving back abroad...where? I'm not sure (thank you Brexit), but somewhere that is decidedly NOT HERE. And that, my precious Lettuce readers, is as much of a political statement as you will see in the Lettuce these days. New Year's Resolution, that.

11 July 2016

A Monday Morning Warning, or Two.

Photo of print copy of Clobberpaws
Clobberpaws Print Proof
So it is not at all a surprise to anyone that knows me that I do not like to talk on the phone. I am much more coherent and clear in text, and I like having a record of what I've said but more importantly what has been said to me. So if you have lured me into a website that  says that in a few clicks I can get the information I want but then require my phone number, I know that you're going to ring me and you can know that I will not answer when you do.

I have two cases in point here, and to be fair, if I had just googled these two outfits ahead of time I would have seen all the negative reviews and steered clear. But I did not, so I could not, and now I'm getting landlined like there is no tomorrow (nod to Cougar Town there). So here we go. Writers (and generally others as well), beware!

The first mistake was listening to ads on the radio and television for LendingTree.com.  I mean come on, the ad on telly is like a nod to the intersection of Sesame Street and Avenue Q! Go to their website and enter your info and then you have a bounty of options to choose from for mortgages, refinances, loans, and so forth.  Sounds great!

I'll tell you what it REALLY sounds like: LANDLINED.  I hadn't even gotten all of the info rendered on my screen before our phone started ringing. After the third call in a row (I think? Might have been fourth), Hubs answered it and spent a good long while waiting for the very excited someone from QuickenLoans (I'd be wary of them as well) to stop talking so that he could try to tell her he wasn't interested right now and could we just call them back when we were, please? For the new few days, I got several calls a day (that I did not answer) and at least two emails just from QuickenLoans.  Other companies rang/emailed us as well, seemingly on repeat, even though we had made no attempt to get more information from them.

Here's the kicker...the reviews that I should have looked at first, admittedly...say that when you submit info to LendingTree.com, they immediately give your info to all the companies that even remotely suit your parameters.  Now to be fair, they do say that they ask for your phone number so that they can pass it on to the companies that could help you with your inquiry.  I just thought they would at LEAST wait until I had picked an offer "for more information," but no.  Avoid. Avoid, avoid, AVOID.

Okay, number two is the "new" self-publishing arm of Simon&Schuster publishing house.  Like other traditional publishers, S&S have made the leap to reach out to those of us that want a bit more control in our publishing process and introduced "self-publishing." They offer you a guide to self publishing once you sign up for it and give them your email address and...yep, here it is, your phone number.

Got a call this morning from "Archway Publishing," the self-publishing arm of S&S.  Only they are only Archway in name...they are, in fact, run by Author Solutions which as far as I can tell is an outdated form of a vanity press.  I didn't press on far enough to see the price list for myself, but others report charges upward of $1k to publish your book and AS is enough of a scary thing in the realm of self-publishing that I am still as of this writing looking for a way to get OFF their list.

It is easy enough to publish with Amazon's KDP and CreateSpace and their services are professional looking as is their product. Lulu.com was my first foray into self-publishing and it also offers a professional product at no cost to the author.  In my mind, the fees that they charge from each purchase are well worth what you get in the end.

So yeah, I'm ignoring my landline now...and so very thankful for caller ID.

30 March 2016

On regime change and the politics of long work weeks.

Regime change or administration change can be tricky at best. There are those mourning the change, those hungry for change, and those to whom the change will make little to no difference in daily function.  I'm not really sure which one best represents me, but I will tell you that a bit of change has made a huge difference in my motivation.

Remember the thinly veiled posts about not being valued at work, or being told that my professional development was not important, etc.? There were lots of them.  I had days where I had to blog or I'd lose my mind and, even worse, my temper.

Not anymore. Even though I am still working insane hours (some weeks in this semester, for instance, contained multiple days where I worked upwards of 10 hours...in the past that would have still equalled 37.5 but no longer), I have gained the power/kahones/whatever to say to whomever needs telling that I have worked more than my fair share and will be taking some time off, or that if the students aren't here I really don't have a need to be here.

Gone are the days of hearing second and third hand that I am lazy and need to be given work to keep me busy.  Adios to the insinuations that because my desk is clean, I must not be working.  And it isn't just the replacement of one person that has led to this over all office climate change...there are only two of us still here that were here when I started working in this office.  

The culture has shifted, and I believe for the better.  Though the Canadian tourists above are often the first and last thing I see in a day AND are often in the dark due to early starts and late arrivals back at my car, I really am enjoying my work and that has been a long time coming.

27 March 2016

On Feeling the Bern and other political nonsense.

My hair was feeling the bern from the color, still.
So you may or may not have noticed, if you follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or just down the street, that we have an election coming up this fall here in the good old USA.  While I am utterly heartbroken at the prospect of losing our current Commander in Chief and his warm, friendly, witty, and definitely egalitarian ways, I'm looking forward to November this summer's Democratic Convention with hope, yet again, just like I did right before fleeing to the UK for two years.

You've probably ascertained if you know me from the above social media OR you read the title of this blog post that my preferred candidate for the Democratic nomination and the White House is Senator Bernie Sanders, currently of Vermont. There are many reasons why I'm supporting Bernie, not the least of which is his socialist leanings which I share.

Okay, take a breath, I did NOT say I AM a socialist.  Further, I didn't say he was, because he isn't.  Democratic Socialism is a different breed from pure, unadulterated German/Chinese/Russian Socialism of years past (and, in some cases, present). 

We okay now? Well, if not, you might not want to continue, because I'm going to tell you why I don't care for the other candidates in the race.  

First, the other strong Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton.  I'm not going to support her just because she is a woman, or because she made it through a nasty patch of cheating by her (I am sorry but he is just still adorable, reprehensible or not!) husband, or because she has already lived in the White House once and most likely had a hand in what I consider to be a fairly successful administration.  I've looked at her issues and policies but more importantly I've listened to her when she has told us what she will do for us as President...and I'm not sure I trust her.  I can't put my finger on it any more succinctly than that, really.  Nowt to do with any of the myriad of scandals that she is presently or has been involved with/in, at all. (Don't bring up Benghazi to me or I will either walk away from the conversation or explode, I'm not sure which.)

That said, if she wins the Democratic nomination (and the world ends) (just kidding) (kinda), I will vote for her come November.  Sound like I'm wishy-washy and fickle? Just let me tell you about what's happening on the other side of the aisle from where most of my beliefs find their home, and stay tuned because there IS a Republican that I would have voted for had I no other choice...and not just because of his hair.

By this point there are only three candidates really competing for the Republican nomination (now that someone told Ben Carson he actually WASN'T winning and Rubio picked up his toys and went home to Florida...or Washington, not sure which): Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich.

Yeah, THAT Donald Trump.  Star of the small screen boardroom, misogynistic tyrant, and (it has become apparent in his stumping) under the radar racist.  You have to know if you know me at all that this man speaks NONE of what I see as my truth.  Walls between us and Mexico? Halting Muslims that want to come to the United States? Bulking up the military to be even more of a bully in the world than we already are?  If that's "Making America Great Again," I will take the Slightly Less Great but Still Not Racist and Evil America that we have now, thanks.

Then there's Ted Cruz. There was actually a study done to find out why Ted Cruz's face causes people not to trust him: turns out his smiles don't go all the way to his eyes and that indicates shenanigans afoot.  Never mind his promise to "carpet bomb" our enemies.  Carpet bomb, y'all! There was one debate where he used the word murder so many times that I not only lost count I no longer WANTED to count...and not just about THEM murdering US, but US doing the murdering.  I find him terrifying and not at all the wholesome Christian he pretends to be.

Finally, still hanging on in the race with a slightly better chance than a snowball in the Midlands is Kasich.  I will admit that I don't know much about him...who really expected him to be around this long?  He was passed over in debates and resorted to joking along with Ben Carson about not having any air time.  He went from someone I thought was NOTSOBAD while campaigning in Idaho to SUDDENLYVERYRELIGIOUS when it came to the Southern primaries.  But he doesn't scare me like the other two do, not really.

The one that I would have voted for if I had to and he hadn't dropped out was Rand Paul, and that's because he just didn't sound all that conservative to me.  I promise, it was nothing to do with his hair or the eye-rolling he did whenever Trump spoke in the first debates.  Nothing at all.

My other mini rant has to do with the media coverage of the side of the aisle that I am supporting.  How much coverage does Bernie get for doing anything well or leading in any polls?  Zero to notenoughtonotice.  Hillary sneezes and someone is telling "the Democratic frontrunner and likely candidate" bless you.  Even NPR, my beloved NPR, is leaning toward Hillary and to me that isn't right.  She's got enough help, thank you very much, she doesn't need any more.

Don't even get me STARTED on superdelegates.  Super my foot. 

So yay! The Lettuce is back!  Don't worry, it won't be long before I've forgotten this blog yet again...

20 March 2016

Lettuce Hard Reboot

The watchers, Bryn and Willow.

Yeah, so...um...hi.

It's been a year plus since I've updated the Lettuce, and that is embarrassing and mortifying and actually...freeing.  I have no precedent set, really, anymore. I can talk about whatever I like.


I think a bit of catch-up is in order, though that seems to be all I do around here.  I'd make promises to be more timely, to push out more content, but let's be honest, shall we? Haven't heard a peep about "When will you post again?" "What's going on at the Lettuce?" "Are you still alive?" but that's all right.  

So, let's see... last post was last March and I believe that I was ranting about something related to snow, leave time, work, or Sandy Paws, not sure which.  I skipped Sandy Paws last year, and was glad of it...so glad that I went again this year and was reminded why I had stopped going. Surely I can find something more interesting to talk about.

Rebooting. Watch this space. Loading, please wait...

20 March 2015

Flashback Post: The Aftermath of Snowmaggedon 2015

Rock on with your bad icicle selves...
First, please read this: In which I rant...

Now, as you know, there was another Winter Weather Event here in the Carolinas a few weeks ago.  Our meteorologists went crazy predicting 10 inches of snow and ice and all sorts of mayhem.  Didn't happen exactly like that but apparently there was enough chaos of the frozen variety that my University closed for a day and a half.

And once again, thanks to those who can afford time at work without pay, some of it was not "forgiven" by the governor's office.  Seriously, if you're going to order us to leave then go on and pay us for the time that we are not permitted to be at work.  It just makes sense...

19 March 2015

I'm so out of the loop I'm a straight line...or a t-plane.

Tá mé na hÉireann.
So what started out as nostalgic blog reading led me to this post: SP14 Wrap Up which further led me to thinking about why I didn't go to Sandy Paws this year...and why I'm kind of glad.

But first, in case you've forgotten who I am because it's been so long since I've posted, I'm still at Clemson, I'm 37 days from summer break from Clemson, I still live in Greenville with Hubs and Daisy and Bryn.  I'm still me.

I'm still not as good of a dog parent as I could be.  Life still gets in the way of keeping toenails perfectly trimmed and practicing our obedience lessons.  I'm still not earning any part of my living, really, through writing.  But I carry on and I dream of a day when "going to work" means "going to my home office and writing for 8 hours."

But back to what led me to open this post and write...I was looking at the experience I had last year at Sandy Paws...the people that were nasty to me and Anne about not having greyhounds at the end of our leashes, the people that laughed when Bryn nearly pulled me off my feet, and all the other experiences we had that made me feel like an outsider.

Well, I have to share that instead of going back to that pit of thinly veiled anti-racing sentiment and Greyhounds Only Breed Snobbery for the chance to see a handful of people that I truly adore, this year Bryn and I walked in the Greenville SC. St. Patrick's Day parade and she didn't pull me down!  No harness, no prong collar (because I'm still just not going to do that to a sensitive breed like a Wolfhound if I can help it), just a martingale and a leash.  I could not have been more proud of her and I'm still telling anyone that will listen about it.

As far as work goes, I am encountering new challenges like t-planes, compilers, ethnography and research rigor and I think I'm muddling through it all right.  I have an amazing staff of women that caption and interpret for Clemson.  Does it make sense to say I love what I do but I don't love my job?  Anyway.  Off to do more things that "aren't really important" in the name of keeping up my skills and certification until I get to go home and see that fuzzy face up there.

23 June 2014

A post (about me) that I didn't think I'd be writing quite so soon...

I'm cheating by putting up a picture of my perfect Daisy MeiMei.
Just to get all your guesses out of the way, I'm not pregnant nor getting divorced nor moving back to the UK (nor anywhere else for that matter).  THE DOGS ARE BOTH FINE. I'm not changing jobs and I haven't gotten published.  What I am about to tell you is a big deal, and the fact that I'm doing it via The Lettuce should indicate my level of cowardice at the thought of disappointing some of my good friends, but I suppose it is what it is.

I am no longer pescetarian (eating no meat save fish).  I have reintroduced meat into my diet for several reasons, and I wanted to share those as well as what has happened since this change occurred. Part of the reason I haven't said much about this has been I was not sure that it could be done...but I seem none the worse for wear, so I thought that it was time to come clean.  I was never what I refer to as an ethical vegetarian/pescetarian.  What I mean by that is that I did not stop eating all meat save fish because of my beliefs about animal rights.  While I do believe that there are huge changes needed in the humane way animals are treated, that did not make the decision for me and did not keep me on this path for almost three years.

I stopped eating meat save fish in June of 2011 because it made me feel bad when I ate it.  That is the long and short of it.  I had been telling myself in posts such as this one that I was not going to eat meat anymore out of some reverence for nature...and I think that was partially true, but something else was going on.  I talked to a friend of mine, Joanne, who had been vegetarian in the past but had gone back to eating meat.  I asked her why she made that decision and she said it was very simple:  "My body wanted meat."

My body made a similar decision about two months ago, so I started upping the amount of meat substitutes that I ate in an attempt to ward off that feeling.  After all, this was the right thing I was doing, wasn't it? The noble and earth conscious thing?  Maybe.  But that didn't help how I felt.  I tried to expand my horizons as far as vegetarian cooking went.  I added more fish to our diet.  But still it was there, the feeling that something wasn't right.

A month ago I made a decision after talking about it with Hubs that I would try eating meat and see what happened.  If it made me sick at worst or left me no better off than I was at best, we would investigate what else could be going on with me.  So I tried it...and nothing happened...nothing bad anyway.  Unlike "real" vegetarians which I think now I will never be, if I'm honest, I had been consuming muscle protein the whole time because I continued to eat fish.  So my body had no trouble with the meat I tried.

Now what am I?  What label do I apply to myself and my diet?  The real truth is that I am me, no more, no less.  There are groups...clubs almost, that you belong to when you're trying to live a more vegetarian life. I never fit in any of them.  Maybe if I had been more sensible about how I ate 20 years ago when I tried this the first time I might still be eating a meat free diet.  But maybe not.  Maybe I'm learning that I am selfish, and what I like to eat and what seems to make me feel the best is my primary concern...instead of the state of the world and animals and farming and all that. I don't feel like a bad person for making my choice...but one has to wonder why I haven't said much about it up until now if there is nothing to feel guilty about in my decision.

I believe that the reason for my silence has been simple:  I have some very good friends that have been very helpful to me as I navigated my own pescetarian path, and one of my greatest character flaws is that worry far too much about disappointing others while dishing out almost pathological neglect on myself.  I don't want them to be disappointed in me when they read this...though I'm sure they know me well enough to have been just waiting for this day to come.  I will never be a "real" vegetarian.  But I'm doing what I feel is best for me, and that's all I can do.

When too much is too much...

My Allen Face...or annoyed face. We all have breaking points. Some of us have higher pain (emotional and physical) thresholds than other...