Monday, May 18, 2009

Eating Disorders

I’m pretty sure I have some kind of food addiction. Addictions are really trendy these days, at least on TV (I’m trying to lighten the mood here); but it’s really hard for me to admit that I might have an eating disorder. I have no evidence to back this up other than my almost uncontrollable urge to eat, even when I’m not hungry (which is most of the time, because I feel like I’m always eating). I have horrible eating habits, and every time I try to change them I fail very quickly, even if I'm doing that thing where I make small decisions and don't let myself get overwhelmed by the 200 pounds (yes, really) I need to lose. I'm really unhappy with how I look, and it's not as easy as "stop eating." I need some help, and I need some money to do it. I want to sit down with someone who can help me plan. I want to talk to someone about this in some detail but I'm not good at opening myself up like this.

Yet another reason to have a steady income: I want to be able to plan my meals better, to go to the grocery store and buy a lot of fruits and veggies (ick), to plan meals better. I'm finally wanting to make healthy meals.

I want to join a gym, but those cost money that I don't have. I liked Curves when I went for a little while, and Lucille Roberts looks promising, too; I want to go to a women's gym. But aside from the financial aspects, I need someone to go with because otherwise I'll stop going.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Some Tidbits

I've been very busy taking some movies and having fun editing them in iMovie. About two weeks ago the director of the LIU Writing Center stepped down (she's been directing the Writing Center since 1997, I believe), so we had a party for her (although she's still on staff in the English department):



And last Thursday was Commencement; Ken Burns gave a very nice speech:


Although it was rainy throughout, the weather cleared up and Mom, Dad, Anne, Bill, Chris, and I met up with Audrey for lunch and spent the afternoon in Brooklyn.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Religion & Religulous

Last night, Chris and I watched Religulous. I was prepared to dislike it, mostly because a lifetime of being a practicing Catholic has taught me to be very wary of people who believe that those who are religious are somehow illogical, non-questioning sheep. Obviously this is not the mindset of all atheists and agnostics; there are those of other faiths, as well as those who aren't religious at all, with whom I've had really interesting religious discussions. But hearing religion being equated with idiocy has causes my shackles (such as they are) to be raised when it comes to nearly any film that is made in the same vein as Religulous.

My Twitter friend Michael had blogged his reaction to Religulous back in October, although he only just pointed me to the post last night (not only did I just see the movie, I've only met Michael recently). He makes many good points that I agree with, and written better than I could have. But a few things persist in my mind anyway:

1.) I think that Bill Maher is correct in asserting that we need to be skeptical, questioning the religion around us - even our own. (I have many questions about Catholicism that I'd like answered, and it's one of the reasons I'd like to take a couple classes in theology.) But a difference I see between believers (of any religion) and non-believers (of all religions) is that when it comes down to it, you make a choice about whether you're willing to believe. If you can't or won't make that jump, then you not as likely to accept that leap-of-faith mindset from others. While I recognize the incongruities in Catholicism, for example, I choose to believe there might be aspects that I simply cannot understand right now. And while it's hard to accept, I have to be okay with that right now. (And this is not easy for a girl who questions everything.) And there's a difference between coming at religion historically (which is what Maher did) versus coming at it theologically or dogmatically.

2.) I was interested in seeing if and how Maher would bring Catholicism into the film: He talked to two Catholic priests, I believe, one of whom was a Ph.D. who worked at the Vatican Observatory, the other of whom was a "high-ranking priest" in the Vatican. Both were very funny and obviously sharp, and Maher was entertained and respectful. I wish Maher had interviewed them: (a) more extensively; and (b) more about religion and the conflicting religious tenets about which he was arguing.

3.) On a related note, there seemed a distinct lack of mainstream religious leaders represented. Perhaps I missed it, but few actual religious leaders were interviewed from any religious denomination: The two Catholic priests; one Rebbe; a religious leader or two from small, one-of churches; one fellow who believed he was Jesus resurrected and had 10,000 followers. I would have liked to see a more systematic, in-depth response, not just Maher telling religious followers that they were wrong, or the brief clips of interviews.

3.) Maher consistently interrupted those whom he was interviewing, not often allowing them complete sentences. (I was entertained by the rabbi who kept shushing him.) I wanted to hear more from those he was interviewing.

Also, what was with the melodramatic ending? I was entertained by some of Maher's jokes, but I have a hard time believing that either folks following religion or not following religion will cause our planet to (apparently) suffer a nuclear holocaust.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

End of Grad School - Almost

Tuesday was my last day of class, and the end of my coursework I need for my Master's degree. I was fairly bouncy, especially because I got to hand in all the work that had been piling up (namely the paper I had to write), so my last class was relief at being done, concern about my grade, and concern about the block on my account (because I owe school $115, and oh, apparently I still have a library book that I can't find). Nevertheless, the rest of this week I have officially given myself off, have granted myself permission to watch TV all day if I want, and to not sub and not feel guilty about it. Yesterday and day I have been the official lazy girl of Long Island.

I'm feeling a combination of relief at being done with my coursework, and anxiety about the future. (The job market is old news, but I can still be worried.) This afternoon I got an e-mail from the New York City Dept. of Education that began: "As you may have heard, Chancellor Joel Klein announced yesterday that there will be new guidelines that principals must follow when hiring teachers for the 2009-2010 school year. Specifically, due to uncertain economic times and reduced budgets, schools have been restricted to filling vacancies through the internal transfer process, meaning they can only consider current NYC DOE teachers who apply to change schools or who have been placed in excess. Later in the summer, this hiring restriction may be lifted if we find there is a lack of internal candidates available in a subject or geographic area." So in essence, it looks bad in getting a job unless you already have a job. This seems backwards somehow, but there’s not much I can do except keep applying to any job, both within the field and education and outside the field of education, I think I can do.

The employment position for summer is tenuous. I cannot find the words to explain how much I want to go to DMAC but I doubt I will be able to go unless I win a scholarship, and there’s no word on that. And not wanting to be a pessimist, but deciding to go with realism, I suspect I won’t get any funding from the DMAC people. I had signed up to work at the English Summer Institute again this summer, and was going to work there in July and tutor at ARC. However, because of funding one section of ESI was canceled and I got the shaft. I completely understand how these things sometimes happen, but the reasoning behind the job being rescinded was that I had already worked ESI last summer (which is true), but I would also be tutoring at ARC. Of course, the situation is a complete catch-22: I can’t afford just to work at ARC, but I could have swung it if I was also working ESI (which I can’t work because it was thought I’d be working at ARC) – so now there’s a distinct possibility I can’t tutor at ARC either because I need something more full time. I’ve been applying for summer school teaching gigs, but really I’m just applying for anything that looks halfway decent, which means also applying for jobs that pay $7/hour.

This week was further made awesome by my having lost my cell phone yet again. This time I managed to drop my iPhone in the subway, and I didn’t realize I had dropped it until I was at the next station. Thinking I had left it in one of the restrooms at school, I turned around and went back to LIU, but of course it wasn’t there. Things worked out, as they seem to do for me in these cases; a very nice (I think Russian or Ukrainian) woman found my phone and left a message for JB in upstate New York. I called her and traipsed down to Sheepshead Bay on Tuesday morning to pick it up. It was quite an adventure: It was raining; I had no umbrella; I was wearing my new sandals (because it’s spring, damnit); the subway stop I was supposed to get off at was closed for construction, so I got off at the next stop and had a slightly longer walk to find the address. Coming back I went to the original subway station that I’d wanted to get off at and discovered that at least going the uptown side was open, but I had misjudged the amount of time I needed to travel within Brooklyn and I was 25 minutes late for work, rather dampened and already tired by the process but I got my iPhone back and my peeps at work were very understanding.

Tuesday evening I met Chris and a bunch of his tech guys Twitter friends for dinner at Hill Country. It was fabulous as always, but I ate way too much meat (and only meat). It’s rare that I eat too much meat in one sitting, and yesterday I found that all I wanted was a nice leafy salad for dinner. And chicken. No more red meat for the day, if you please.

But the good news of the week is that I am one thesis away from completing my Master's degree. I'm feeling good about this for the first time all semester.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Self-Esteem

For a number of years, when I moved to Long Island, I worked a couple of jobs that really kicked me in the proverbial gut; they were, without exaggeration, soul-sucking jobs with bosses that were outright nasty (not a word I use lightly), who berated me in public (not that berating me privately would have been more acceptable). I was extremely unhappy, and sad, and I was convinced that I never wanted to work in the business world ever again. My self-esteem, which I have to say has never been really that high anyway, was in the negatives, and I merely state a fact when I say I can't remember a single nice thing said to be at a job between June 2001 and May 2003; that's two years of learning how not to be a boss and learning what I'd be willing to put up with.

When I started tutoring, I got my first positive feedback about a month after I started. I remember this clearly because it was the day before my birthday, and it was the first positive reinforcement I'd gotten from any job since my gig as a research assistant in Allentown. (That was possibly the only office job I've had I liked.) I got another one a few weeks later. They came in the form of a response to the Conference Reports we wrote after each tutoring session. I still have copies of them, and once in a while I take them out to look at them. (Hear that knocking? It's the Schmaltz Police.) My now-former director who responded to these Conference Reports wrote me a glowing note of recommendation a month or two, and it was such a glowing recommendation that I was a bit surprised, such that I began reconsidering my career path. Not that I don't still want to teach, but I began reconsidering the level and environment.

What's making me really pause to rethink this is a comparably small e-mail I received yesterday morning. And the end of March I applied for a scholarship for the Writing Center Summer Institute, which is being held at Temple University in Philadelphia in mid-July. I applied only a few hours before the deadline, not really putting too much thought into the application, thinking that really, I would just apply because the original phrasing had led me to believe that the $800 registration fee would be covered. Well, this wasn't quite the case. I was offered a partial scholarship that would cover about 25% of the registration fee but I realize that I simply can't afford to go.

I'm in the works of seeing if something else can be worked out, but I'm doubtful. Aside from the registration, there's transportation, housing, and food, and that adds up to money I don't have. But what's given me pause is a statement from the woman who informed me that I had won this scholarship: She said that the committee had been very impressed with my application and very much wanted to have me attend. She noted that the competition had been fierce, and that I was the only GTA an offer was extended to.