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My mother always said “You gotta get them on the rug before you can pull it out from under them”. And never have truer words been spoken. Until that is, you are the one on the rug and The Powers That Be decide said rug should operate like a roller-coaster.

The Powers That Be, forthwith to be referenced as “TPTB” are starting to piss me off.

Let me clarify: TPTB are the are college elders who decide your provisional fate in the doctoral program. In the best case scenario, they guide, they advise, they extol academic wisdom and virtue; in the worst case scenario, and that’s exactly what I am talking about here, they fuck with your very existence.

In the last 4 months, the TPTB has decided:

  • That the “roadmap” or document stating “things you can expect from u while you are here” (a basic agreement issued to any student in higher education) is null and void
  • I now have an extra class to take
  • I also have an internal realignment where I will now take up to 4 methodology courses
  • Where in the past, if you fail candidacy, you can do a maters thesis and based on its success/failure, you can/cannot continue on to a doctorate, now, if you fail candidacy, you risk being tossed out wholesale
  • The document I signed that guaranteed 4 years of funding is null and void
  • That candidacy, which is supposed to occur in the fall, is now, after securing internships and other travel/moving arrangements, occurs in the summer

TPTB, in short, have decided to become a bunch of bastards. TPTB, additionally, have made it pretty clear that I cannot trust them in any way, shape, or form. Which sucks rocks when you’ve hitched your wagon to them for 4 years.

Not that all the changes are bad, these are tough times, I understand the funding crisis, and another class won’t kill… But when we signed, what essentially is binding agreement, and TPTB has reneged on half of it within a 4 month period, I have to wonder what the bloody hell I have gotten myself into.

Seriously, this is beyond the Pale.

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I awoke at the magical and lovely hour of 5:45am today because the neighbor above me has a toddler more akin to a Tasmanian Devil than a human child. Said child ran frequent laps around their apartment and was dragging furniture along with it which presents itself like thunder down below in my apartment.

This wouldn’t be so bad if I had gone to sleep at a reasonable hour, which I did not because said child was doing the same activity until well after 10pm, making it impossible for me to get my work done before 1am.

I’ve spoken to my neighbor three times now, hell, I’ve even taken to banging on the ceiling with my shoe. Mostly, I find myself staying out of my apartment until late at night which is a shit-policy because it really only rewards bad behavior.

I finally bit the bullet and went to the building manager. Manager had words with the tenant above and came back with the two most dreaded words in the English language: Single-Mother.

“She doesn’t know what to do The child will not quiet down and she is a single mother.”

Groan!

I’m not a cold-hearted bitch, at least, not all the time, so I automatically generate some sympathy for this woman. The manager said she moved to campus late, couldn’t have known the floors were paper thin, is looking off-campus for housing, and will try to keep the noise down.

My options in this situation? Complain. Call them. Don’t go to her door. If enough complaints are racked up, they’ll break her lease and she can move.

Great. I know what it was like to find housing here. It’s a competitive sport where you best bring your mouth guard. I really don’t want to be the impetus for this woman and child getting tossed out, but dammit, I need sleep and I need some peace and quiet to get work done.

So now I am pitted up against Single Mom and Child. It sucks. I hear her leave at 7am and return after 7pm. I’m sure this kid is in daycare all day so I totally understand the  desire to run like crazy once home. I also understand the desire for Single Mom to want to spend time with her progeny before she goes to bed.

What I don’t understand is the apartment management pitting us up against each like this. I blame them for placing her in a building that is all couples and no children. I really blame them for putting her on the second floor. Single Mom may not have known the floors are paper thin but building management damn well did.

But Single Mom also needs to realize that part of the reason her child is so effen crazy is because it is sleep deprived. Yes, I know, I don’t have children, but I have siblings and friends with children and know enough that toddlers require more sleep than 6 hours a night. Hell, I know I certainly do.

And since there is plenty of blame to go around, I know I could try and be more understanding. However, I was here first (I was), I pay rent too, and the big marketing scheme for this little building is that it caters to “adults and professionals looking for quiet and peaceful living”. So I don’t feel like I should have to stay away from my apartment, coming home ridiculously late on the off-chance that it might be quiet enough to work.

I passed Single Mom in the hallway getting mail. She gave me the stink-eye like no one’s business. I went back to my apartment and Child above began playing with its (I have no idea the gender) favorite toy – the couch, which it drags around the apartment floor.

Well, the passive-aggressive battle lines apparently have been drawn. It will be interesting to see where this all leads.

This blog was sent to me by my favorite Serbian Gypsy and all I can say is: “Miss Golightly! I protest!”

It’s a blog listing the hottest heads of state in order of smokiness and while I generally agree with #1, 2 and 3, Hello, #2, and where have YOU been all my life?, I am protesting my Vladimir being left hanging at a lowly 24 while the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko holds the #15 spot.

Are you people off your ever-livin-rockers? 15?? Have you failed to note the comb-over? The CHiPs-style mustache? His overall general creepiness likened to that of a cattle rapist and/or Hitler’s lost nephew? 15????

And greetings, Number 27! What is a nice looking man like you hanging out at an awful ranking like this?

And Mister Prime Minister of Slovenia…there’s something I should be writing here but I find myself oddly hypnotized by your piercing blue eyes…so clear – so pretty – so very, very shiny….

Protests are limited to their comments section, which I find unsatisfactory and thus forcing me to seek justice for Vladimir elsewhere.

Lukashenko, please. Someone has creepy-uncle issues.

I had new tires placed on my car yesterday and because I forgot to bring a book, I was stuck in the waiting room reading years-old magazines and listening to the radio. In the hour and a half I spent there, the 1984 charity anthem “Feed the World” played no less than 4 times. I’ve easily heard that song a dozen times a day for the last few weeks.

I think I may have this song on vinyl somewhere, but to hear it played in this new millenium always makes me cringe.

“Do they know its Christmas time at all?…..Feed the world/Let them know its Christmas time”. How very Western-centric that song is. How very Christian-centric. How very dated.

I can excuse the song for the time, but to continue playing this song every year grates the nerve in light of a new found realization that hey! there’s a lot of other religions out there! Granted, the song was targeting famine relief in Ethiopia which is 60% Christian…but it’s also 30% Muslim and 2% Animist…so, no, they don’t know it’s Christmas time and even if they did I’m sure they don’t give a damn…as would the 67% percent of the world that isn’t Christian either.

I’m thinking the Pagans, Wiccans, and Druids of the world need to stage a major Take Back the Night and reclaim the season’s true celebrations of Solstice. Maybe it would give me relief from well-intentioned albeit highly misguided Christmas diddies.

Every other year, Sailor and I trade off going back to Detroit or staying here in Erie for  T-Giving or Giftmasukah. Whether I prefer to spend time with his passive-aggressive-big-on-uncomfortable-silences-in between-the-food-and-excessive-drinking-clan or spending time with my own personal verbal-pre-emptive strike-force-with-the-pleasing-tendency-towards-the-excessive-imbibing-of-alcoholic-beverages-that-can only-be-described-as-not a holiday-but-a-24/7-“happy hour”-while-waiting-for-a-good-old-fashion-Irish knife-fight-to-break-out, is simply a matter of asking myself what side of the bed did I wake up on.

Sigh….

I really don’t wanna do it this year.

Honestly, aside from our mutual predilection towards sizing up liquor purchases based on the quality of bottle with which to make a Molotov Cocktail, how the hell did I ever come to share genetic material with these people?

Let us review 2009:

Big Sis engaged in a trans-continental verbal smackdown of La Parentsia after Father Unit spilled the beans to Mother Gossip about something or other where Mother Unit invariably spread the word around the hood. They waged a three month war of Celtic-Silence which translates into not arguing with each other but through all the people in their lives over the phone. They apparently came to an accord but until the treaty is signed I want nothing to do with that mess.

Second Son then got involved, don’t ask how, but Irish-Saga-Made-Short is that he thinks the family needs to forgive him for effing up his first marriage with another woman 7 years older and her own epic tale that results in my brother being husband #3 in as much as 7 years…(which, side note, I actually have forgiven him, in fact, I’m rooting for them as a couple for the simple reason that he will stay married to this harlot forever out of stubborn pride and to prove a point he certainly will not remember in another ten years, and quite frankly, my brother deserves the merry hell that woman will give him until he is dead).

Where was I?

Father and Mother Unit simply refuse to believe they have done anything wrong – ever – even in light of the overwhelming evidence of a gaggle of supremely messed up kids. But then, if their measure for this success centers around the fact that none of us are on an international watch list, yet, or by the fact that none of us have been picked up, drunk, singing Christmas Carols along the freeway in June in the last 10 years, well, they should consider raising the bar.

Of course, there’s also Third Son, aka the 30 year old child still living in my parents’ basement smoking everything but his bed linens and who always seems to be just one step shy of attending a Star Trek convention…He’s been unemployed for a while. His last job, where everyone hated him for his ignorant and racist attitude….well, if it were me, if I knew everyone hated me and then mysteriously, one day, I am asked out to lunch where I am offered a joint…let’s just say I wouldn’t be too surprised at returning to work to find a drug test waiting for me….

First Son is in a tiff with me for un-friending him on Facebook. I just figured that he should save his hate and vitriol for family gatherings and not post that shit on my wall.

Of course, I’m a perfect ray of sunshine. I don’t what the hell is wrong with those other people.

Sailor’s family is supremely uncomplicated by comparison. All I have to do is sit next to Grandma E and remind her who I am every ten minutes until I’m drunk enough to forget who I am to answer. A relatively simple evening, geopolitcally speaking.

I’m thinking we should stay put. I have the excellent excuse of having ventured into No Man’s Land by staying with sister for T-Giving…that should satisfy some quota somewhere. But then, there’s something to be said for tradition…

Wow, long time with no posts. I have no explanation really except to say that after a particularly brutal school term, I needed to a serious mental reboot. While I am working on school project this summer, I am also getting in my fair share of trashy novels and summer sun.

So Sailor actually has most of the summer off, but since he needs to update his Coast Guard license, he is still not in town as he needs to attend classes all over Hell’s Half Acre and take various exams as far away as Virginia.

What this means to me is that not only is Sailor gone, again, but I now have the added benefit of being car-less. As a one car family, Sailor needs it to travel so I am walking or biking my way around Erie…which fairly sucks by the way…

Mostly this is because Erie has, possibly, the worst population of drivers outside of Boston. Pedestrian signals are merely an annoyance and my mere existence in a crosswalk is apparently cause for vehicular manslaughter. A woman actually jumped the curb in her car on 38th street yesterday and nearly took me out in the process. This is because she was texting while driving. After the car came to a stop, she didn’t even bother to look to see if she had struck anyone or anything, she merely resumed texting until I started banging on the hood of her car demanding for her to step out.

There’s also a ass-hat that works at the Veterans Hospital that somehow has the idea that my bike is required to stop and let him turn into the hospital when I have the mother-effin right of way. So everyday has become a game of chicken where I am rushing ahead to avoid getting hit by this jerk-off.

My favorite people are the car load of reprobate teens who thought it amusing to lean out the window and try to push me off my bike. I guess it didn’t occur to them that such an act could quite conceivably kill me, so I didn’t feel too badly about grabbing the kid by the hair and half pulling him out the car window…little bastard…he screamed like a little boy.

But the strangest reaction I receive is from my co-workers. If I bike to work, this is somehow all right, but if I walk, then this is cause for concern. Why didn’t you just call me??

But whether I bike or walk, I encounter the same issues: hostile motorists who do not respect the law or my right of way. Barring that, when I just don’t feel like possibly getting killed and decide on traversing the sidewalk, there’s also the people who leave their kid’s toys everywhere, or who have spectacularly decrepit cement, or terrifically overgrown bushes and trees, or cars who block the sidewalk thus forcing one back into traffic.

So this interesting little experiment continues for the foreseeable future. Sailor return this week, but I am going to continue to walk and ride to work. I like the exercise, I like the time to myself, and maybe I just like the thrill of the evident danger that is cruising the streets of Erie.

Tally to date: Cars – 0, Inmate – 6.

If you haven’t heard, a Philadelphia man was shot in a movie theater on Christmas Day for refusing to keep quiet during the film.

2628423331_d7680e9aa4While I don’t approve of the violence, I certainly understand the impulse that drove the shooter to his actions. Seriously, I get this. Total no brainer. People, in general, have become such complete barbarians in public, I’m more surprised that incidents like these doesn’t happen everyday.

For instance, I can not remember the last the time I saw a movie that wasn’t interupted with cell phones, people talking, or people getting up out of their seats every few minutes.

Libraries apparently have become the place to hang out with your teenage pals have a raucous good time.

Grocery shopping with your four sullen teenagers who skulk about, hogging lanes, not watching where they’re going, and have zero sense of their spatial relations, or, shopping with your screaming child in an SUV-styled grocery cart that crash into eneryone’s shins, apparently is now the accepted norm.

Noisy, crying, ill-behaved children in nice restaurants alongside the people who have no voice control or no sense of discretion sitting at the next table? Go ahead, complain, I dare you. Be forewarned that you will be viewed as the problem in that scenario,

Having to listen to other people’s loud and inconsequential phone conversations every damn place you go is now required.

Society’s utter lack of shame, or the absence of the implementation of shame as a social control, has removed any refuge from such boorish behavior. There is is simply no one place a person can go anymore and expect that rules of common courtesy be adhered to and I can easily see how the noise and constant harangue of these intrusions can cause someone to snap as it did in that movie theater.

How do you enforce the concept of common courtesy or appropriate behavioral norms? I can just see the ridiculous backlash heading this way in the form of movie theaters installing security to protect against violence as opposed to simply asking rude customers to shut the hell up. However, maybe starting with a few armed guards in movie theaters to ensure the domestic peace and quiet might not be such a bad idea.

Atheists have an interesting gig come holiday season. Thanksgiving is okay and obviously New Years doesn’t bother me, but it is exceptionally tough to navigate Christmas.

I didn’t believe in a god from a very young age and this carried over into any secular sense of Christmas as well. If I didn’t believe in an Almighty traffic cop in the sky, you sure as hell weren’t going to get me to believe in a red-suited fat man popping down the chimney. I remember my dad having a talk with me when I was six asking me to keep my opinions to myself so as not to ruin the holiday for my older siblings.

And so it has gone. I suffer in silence every year through the holiday I hate the most.

Not that there weren’t parts of it I enjoyed. We used to sit around the Christmas tree with my dad listening to the Mormon Tabernacle choir on the stereo with the all the lights off just talking about whatever. I really could have done without the presents. Receiving them has always embarassed me.  Just sitting like that, around the tree, with the TV off, drinking mother’s lethal eggnog was enough and I looked forward to that every year.

winter_solstice_pivatoI liked walking around the neighborhood at night looking at the lighted houses. The tackier the decorations, the better I say. Bring me back the 1970’s anytime. And I love Solstice. Always have. Something about celebrating the sun standing still and the longest night of the year has always appealed to me. 

But as a married adult, I am more trapped by all this holiday hooplah than ever. Sailor and I don’t put up lights, we don’t have a tree, and we don’t send out cards. But Sailor’s family is all into this nonsense and they “tolerate” my atheism (although not a single damn one of them goes to church) so long as I play nice through what I believe is hipocritcal nonsense. I’m expected to give and receive the knick-knack junk I whole heartedly detest, to put in the time on Giftmas Eve and Day and to attend holiday parties with the same people I see week after week. And I do it. Every damn year. Because I love Sailor and these tribal rituals are deemed somehow necessary in his family’s life. 

But here’s the thing, I would actually play ball and cease being so pissy about all of this any of them actually believed in any of this either.

Sailor’s family do what they do only because it has been so deeply programmed into them as the socially appropriate response to the season. And that’s crap. I shouldn’t be made to feel guilty about wanting to ignore it all for simply enabling their bad habit.

I forgive it in my own parents because they do go to church. They do actually believe in all of this. Wholeheartedly. And despite our differences in philosophy, their staunch belief makes all this activity easier to deal with.

But, for better or worse, I also belong to Sailor’s tribe now and, per usual, I am making nice.

I try to focus on the one year where I got to do what I wanted. December 25th, 2004, Sailor and I, back in Maine, out on the island. We watched all 13 hours of the Lord of the Rings extended dvd’s along with a quite few appendices. We stopped only for soup, eggnog, and the brief run with the puppy dog through snow in the cemetery next door.

Best day ever. My happy place. You can be sure I’ll be focusing on that during the next holiday party.

An oldie but exceptional goodie from the brilliant mind at Indexed

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images1It’s final exam time and per usual, I am appalled at what I find myself consuming after 12 hours in the lab.

All those healthy habits you pick up as an adult after college? Out the window!

With limited facilities at my end of campus and only a drug store and a fast food chain within a reasonable walking distance, I’ve been having odd negotiations and rationalizations with myself in front of the vending machines after having been in front a computer for 8 hours straight…

Payday or Snickers bar? Payday has peanuts and peanuts have protein, but then, maybe, Cheezits? Less sugar? But more salt. How long has that gronala bar been in this machine? What the hell are Soy Flakes? Hmmmm….

And so it goes. I don’t drink soda, but exhaustion at this time of term has me guzzling Dr. Pepper like it was the 1970’s. Caffeine induced paranoid delusions inevitably follow with the obligatory sugar crash. But I use the time I have productively in a frenzied wave of energy. A lot gets accomplished.

I try to bring food from home to the lab, but I haven’t been to the store in weeks. No time. Too many papers, projects, tests, and study sessions. Just as well, we have no refrigerator or microwave available.

And don’t get me started about the pooch. She’s always pissy this time of term. She barricades the front door by moving the couch in front of it. More than once has her dog bed ended up in the bathroom and chairs have been drug into the kitchen. There’s nothing more stressful than a crabby mastif.

Not that I blame her. But she doesn’t listen to reason. I followed her around the house last night begging for just 2 more days  of patience and then everything will get back to normal.

She doesn’t believe though.

Sometimes, neither do I.