Thursday, April 24, 2014

Trips, Ticks, and Ticking Things off the List

This semester has been brutal. There have been good days and there have been bad days. There has been a lot of work and a lot of fun. Recently I have been enjoying the wonderful weather, and every free chance I get I try to spend some time outside. The unfortunate result of that in the last week is a rather sudden exponential increase in TICKS. If you've seen me recently you know how obsessed I am with this situation. Virginia, I feel, is rather infamous for ravenous mosquitoes, those black and white striped suckers that can come out any time of day and wreak havoc on your attempt to have a good time outside. Certainly Virginia has ticks. But, in my experience, they were always a very occasional critter, especially compared to the mosquitoes. Missouri doesn't seem as mosquito infested, but they make up for it in excessive numbers of those grimy skin burrowing buggers. After a Saturday evening walk I found three on me and a few on Dominic. As of yesterday I was still finding them on Ripley - five in total I believe. I even found on on my WALL this morning, his little arms reached out to latch on to someone. Even worse: I lost him! In short (not really) this is my public service announcement for Missourians: the ticks are out! BE PREPARED. 

(In fact, I just reached over to rub Ripley's side and felt yet another one!!! And I've checked her and checked to get the tweezers. You've been forewarned...)

Some other updates, in no particular order:

1) I will be in Bangladesh from approximately June 19-August 19. It might be more like the 20th, I don't have flight details yet. I will be in DC for orientation June 17-18. This does mean that I will be in Richmond for some time before that, though I'm not sure when. Probably around the 9thish. Still working out transportation and travel partners. Dominic *might* be coming, which would be our first trip home together since we moved. 

2) Next Friday, May 2, I will be defending my dissertation proposal. It has been quite the process but I do look forward to talking about my research plans with my committee and getting some very valuable and much needed feedback. I do hope it goes well. One more big thing that will be done this semester so that I can officially start my PhD work in the Fall.

3) For my Preparing Future Faculty program we were assigned teachers at universities unlike Mizzou (not massive, research universities) to shadow. Last week I shadowed a wonderful professor who teaches at a community college near Kansas City. It was a fantastic experience. I got to sit in on one of her classes and I was amazed at how engaged the students were (much more so than some of the undergraduate classes I have sat in on at Mizzou and taken at Mason). The age range of her students this semester is 17 to 92! How awesome is that? I got to sit in on a faculty senate meeting and talked for quite a while to another professor who was also from Virginia. They were all very open about the good and the bad of working at a community college (politics and funding problems, no research obligation, focus on teaching). It was very informative and gave me some insight into a different academic route to take. I really appreciate her allowing me to follow her around for a day and answer my constant questions. 

4) That evening Devon and I went to an awesome talk by Piper Kerman, author of the memoir Orange is the New Black, the book that the Netflix show is loosely based on (many of you know this!). I can't wait to dive into the book, because the show is amazing...I'm only a little obsessed. Kerman discussed many of the problems with our prison system today (namely that way too many Americans spend way too much time behind bars). You should check out her website if you have any interest in these sorts of things.

5) Dominic shaved his beard this morning. It was an epic beard. Rest in Peace epic beard. Until you return next winter, I'm sure. (every time he walks in here I have a "whoa! who is that guy?!" moment; he looks about 10 years younger!)

6) For those of you who knew I was doing it, my dog poop scoopin' job is over. They were a great couple to work with but due to circumstances I was laid off. The extra money was really nice while it lasted. Oh well, such is the plight of the academic (unless you are in one of those wealthy fields, whatever those might be). I'm very slowly learning to embrace it.

7) I am really excited for the Fall semester as I will be teaching my first course. It will be Introduction to Multiculturalism and I get to write my own syllabus, lectures, the whole kit and caboodle. I have always wanted to teach so I am really looking forward to this opportunity to both get my feet wet and see how well suited to it I actually am. 

I think that is all for now. Things have been pretty hectic but this week has been a small lull as I wait for some things. Still, things are busy. This semester I have tried a succession of techniques to manage my to-do list: cutting back on me time, cutting back on social time, cutting back on TV/relaxation time, cutting back on sleep, cutting back on chores, even cutting back on work time. None if it works. There just isn't enough time. The first thing that always seems to go though is keeping up with the long distance friends and family that I love and I do apologize for that. For me, when I get overwhelmed, I often just need to be alone and recharge. I just hope that I get to see all of you in person very, very soon!

Sending lots of love, as always.