Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Roller Coaster of Emotions

Yes, I am a girl therefore I can be moody, but yesterday, I noticed my emotions were on a crazy roller coaster ride. It went something like this:

ANXIETY: We were discussing our upcoming test and even though I have always tested well, I was fretful because numerous students have told me that this particular professor's tests can be difficult.

ANGER/RESENTMENT: We played "Jeopardy" in class to review our test material (kudos to the professor for creativity). My partners and I soon found competitiveness taking over and rearing its ugly head. We were angry that our buzzer wasn't working, felt cheated on a few answers, resented the one girl in class who seemed to know every single question..... I'm thinking "Jeopardy" might not be a great idea after all if it is going to cause such high blood pressure.

EXCITEMENT: In my Public Relations class, we had a guest speaker. Right now, I'd really like to pursue a PR job, so I was naturally excited to have someone who could share his first-hand experience with the field.

REGRET: Said PR guy began to spout off his many internships held while in college. I have had one and hoped to have another this semester, but there was no time left to give at the end of the day. In short, my family obligations outweighed the need for another internship. Nevertheless, I still felt regret for all the potential networking and experience I lost out on. And, once again, it felt as if there was no hope for a "country girl" to land a PR position when the majority of PR jobs are in the big city.

HAPPINESS: I didn't have to listen to a lecture. That always makes my ADD-hard-to-pay-attention-for-an-hour self happy. Plus, we were recording our fake news segment and I laughed...a lot.

MORE HAPPINESS: Back-to-back joy as I learned that we are going to be watching a movie in Media Law this week. Awesome!! (To clarify: movie was for educational purposes and, sadly, no popcorn was involved.)

SATISFACTION: Our entire broadcast crew has figured out the rhythm and flow to producing segments. We are actually ahead of the entire class even though we have the fewest number of team members in our crew.

FRUSTRATION: Returning my glasses which actually make my vision worse. Frustrated that I paid almost $200 for plain ol' reading glasses (which you can pick up at any drug store in America) when, from what I can tell, I might not need any in the first place. Hoping I can get my money back in the end or frustration may turn to anger.

EXHAUSTION: I'm not sure why school is so draining, but by the time I get home, I'm pooped!

FEAR/UNCERTAINTY/WORRY/ETC: My consent companions who show up when I'm driving or going for a walk or whatever, usually related to "what will I do after graduation" or "what do you really want to do with your life?" I ask them to leave, but I'm certain they will try to show up again tomorrow.

See what I mean? It's a crazy roller coaster ride of emotions. Don't worry--I medicated with a package of peanut M&M's and felt better. :)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Don't Forget to Blink

I've been having a bit of trouble focusing. Not focusing as in "I can't concentrate on one thing" (although one could argue...), but focusing with my eyes. I wore glasses my entire life until about four years ago when a optometrist told me that he could write me a slight perscription but I didn't have to have it. At that point, I ditched glasses for good.

Since that time, I took on a job that involved countless hours of computer time and then I decided to go back to college where I would be reading endless chapters from my textbooks, reading projected slides on the walls of my classroom and significantly adding to the hours I spend glaring into a computer screen. Things have started to get noticably fuzzy for me again, not to mention that I've been coming home with frequent headaches. So, off to the optometrist I went.

Turns out, my vision is actually pretty good, but I am getting a pair of reading glasses for reading & computer work. My eyes have gotten so used to having to constantly focus on something that they kind of get "stuck" in that position, so glasses should help my eyes not to work so hard.

One interesting tid-bit that I walked away with was that I'm probably not blinking enough. The doc said that a person normally blinks 16 times per minute, but when you are concentrating on a computer screen, it slows down to one or two times per minute! Yikes! Not only does that lead to eye strain and headaches, but it also creates dry eyes.

His solution: stick a note on my computer screen that says, "Blink." Simple enough.

So, the tip of the day: Don't forget to blink!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Out of My Element (Or In It?)

Today I was a substitute teacher at our local school. I was actually kind of looking forward to the experience because I did a quick count and calculated that I had not subbed in close to 13 years. Yikes! It really only seems like yesterday!! I was interested in being in the school as a non-parent to see what things were like (perception is often different than reality). Also, I was considering part of a "trial run" on my part. I am so conflicted right now about whether to get my teacher certification after I graduate or actually work in the field of my degree.

Guess what? I left today feeling no more decisive.

I really like the community atmosphere of the school, but I also know that no school is without controversy at times and there's always difficult parents or students to throw into the mix.

I really like the feeling of helping a kid understand a concept. I had to help explain pronouns and antecedents to 7th graders today (despite the fact that I totally couldn't remember what an antecedent was and had to look it up!). I really liked how it felt when I could break it down so the kid could "get it."

However, I didn't like dealing with the kids who were constantly distracting others and not getting work done. I know part of this has to do with the fact that I am not really the authority as a sub, but it is frustrating nonetheless. I'm sure that there have to be some helpful classroom management skills out there that I could learn if I did decide to teach.

I really, really liked how quickly the day passed. There aren't too many jobs that are considered 8-3 (of course, few teachers actually leave at 3 and many end up working evenings and weekends), but no one would argue that it isn't a great job (time-wise) for a mom.

There are so many conflicting factors that both draw me to teaching and at the same time, make me want to run in the opposite direction. Plus, I've got to remember that I can't base the teaching profession on our small school--most schools aren't like ours.

I'm even more confused than ever before. Maybe I should move to a communist country where they can just assign me a job so I can get on with my life.

{just kiddin'}

Monday, September 22, 2008

Early Birds

I've never been a morning person.


So, you'll understand why I think it's quite an accomplishment when I say that I crawled out of bed at 5:50 a.m. this morning, exercised for 40 minutes, warmed up breakfast (because I put on my Holly Homemaker apron last night and whipped up some blueberry muffins from scratch, thank-you-very-much), showered, dressed, managed the dressing/hair-fixing of two more females in the house, dropped them off at school and still got to school on time.

I do realize that plenty of grown-ups actually get up before dawn each day and this is nothing new in the world of the average adult, but as Mr. T would say, "I pity the fool." It's been a great perk of being a stay-at-home mom for ten years.

The thing is, as badly as I hate to hear the alarm go off before sunrise and as badly as I hate to roll out of bed and exercise before my eyes have even adjusted to the glare of the t.v. set, it actually has made my days much more productive: I get my exercise out of the way for the day, I get to shower and dress in peace before the kids arise, and if I'm lucky I might even get a few extra chores done before the madness of the day begins. Yep, it's working out pretty well for me (I just wish I could somehow figure out how to give up staying up until midnight).

I guess they were right: the early bird does get the worm...or at least a few extra minutes to eat her worm in peace.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Is Every Job Just "A Job?"

Throughout my life, it has been my goal to have a career, not a job...not just any career, but a career that made a difference. The young dreamer in me once aspired to be an astronaut complete with adventure and meaningful scientific research. I distinctly remember a night when I laid in my bedroom floor as a kid drawing a sketch of a large house filled with individual apartments--a homeless shelter for families (though I'm sure I had never seen a homeless person by that point in my young life). My high school teachers encouraged me to join their ranks. I thought that perhaps I might be able to inspire minds with creativity in the classroom or at least show love to a kid who might not get much at home. And, of course, I always desired to be a mother--the ultimate opportunity to make a difference in the world.

I became a mother, a teacher (though not in the education system), a sometimes adventurer, and do-gooder (though I have not built any homeless shelters in my time), but something has happened to my career ambitions in the year since I headed back to college. Suddenly, the idealism of my youth (and adulthood) has faded. Though my classes usually invigorate me with new excitement about what could be, suddenly every job--even the ones I long for--just seems like... a job.

It is often quoted, "find something you love to do and you will never have to work a day in your life." I totally believe this statement to be true because I there have been times when I was glad to work overtime or weekends or late nights because I was loving every minute of whatever it was that I was doing. I have always had one or two jobs floating around my head that I would love to try if given the opportunity, but lately, those things just seem unimportant or impractical or just another way to pass time. After all, I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who are living their dream job who watch the clock all day or live for the weekend. They go through the motions and get the work done, but it's still a job...a way to make money.

This new attitude of mine is disheartening. I wonder if it's fear talking. I am finally arriving at the jumping-off point of my life, the time I am supposed to swim confidently in the direction of my dreams. But leaving the familiar behind is difficult and filled with "what-ifs."

Still, I continue to wonder...are all jobs just "a job" in the end? Will I ever be able to turn off the alarm clock each morning without moaning and groaning because I am excited about the opportunities of a new day?

I hope.

Friday, September 12, 2008


Today, a guy makes an announcement in class (and in front of our professor) that you can go to ratemyprofessors.com and (what else?) rate your professors.

I've gotta say, that would scare me as a teacher. People say things on the internet under the security of anonymity that they would never say otherwise. I can only imagine what kind of mean-spirited things that show up on our end-of-the-semester class "satisfaction" surveys (whatever they're called). Still, I would think that there would be less negative reports on the surveys than there might be online because the audience is different: one is written knowing that the professors will get all comments sent to them, while website reviews are written with a student audience in mind.

I decided to investigate the site for myself.

I looked up the professor that I believed to be the hardest and most strict of all the classes I have taken. Granted, this was a professor that I loved because I learned a tremendous amount about a subject that I cared so little about, but I felt that others probably didn't share the same affinity. There was a zero tolerance policy for tardiness, cell phones and in-class snacking...three things that college students love.

Wow. I was wrong! Out of 7 pages of reviews, only 2 were negative and the rest praised the professor's excellent teaching skills and understanding of the subject matter. I was floored. Even the negative ratings weren't so negative.

Of course, there were some professors with negative ratings, but--let's face it--not all teachers are great teachers. I don't believe in publicly bashing someone, but if there are specific complaints about a class, I think it's fair to address those things.

When I fill out the end-of-semester surveys, it's been my policy to always end on a high note. Even if you have a complaint, I think you should report a positive to balance it out. If you have no complaints at all and/or really enjoyed a class, I think you should report that as well both for the benefit of "the powers that be" and the teacher him/herself.

Everybody likes to get a pat on the back. I'm glad to see students using this website to do so.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Campus Organizations

The one thing that I feel like I missed out on by side-stepping college in my younger days was campus organizations. Actually, I was involved in at least one back in the day (it was a pretty cool one--we booked concerts on campus and dealt with the behind-the-scenes stuff) but there were so many other great opportunities that I missed out on. Many students probably don't understand the potential that organizations have for networking and contacts as well as once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that could impact their careers down the road.

Yesterday, I decided to hang around for the first meeting of our department's campus club. I'll admit, I felt out of my element as a "grown up" joining a campus club, but I tried my best to get over those feelings because I really want to be a part of some of the activities that this club usually plans. Last year, I missed out on a chance to visit a radio station, a television studio and a major (really major) advertising agency.

Many people promote being a part of campus organizations for the resume boosting potential. Personally, I don't think this applies quite as much to the adult student because employers are more interested in your work history and job skills set than whether you were a Delta Delta Gamma or sold plants for the Biology Club. But it definitely can't hurt.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Kickin' It "Old School"

Yea, the college students are pretty cool with me being a University Mama and besides the wedding ring and the gradually developing forehead wrinkles, you might not be able to tell us apart.

Unless it's during a class lecture.

You see, the new generation does one of two things during lectures:
a) listens
b) checks their Facebook page (if we are in the computer lab. For the record, it is a really annoying and disrespectful habit that I can't believe professors don't crack down on).

What do us "old timers" do? Take notes. Yep, notes with actual pen and actual paper. Despite the risk of carpal tunnel, I take notes. Despite the fact that I am contributing to the depleting the rain forest, I take notes.

Why? Well, for starters, old habits die hard. It's the way I was raised, I guess you could say. Secondly, some research has suggested that actually writing down information makes your brain more likely to recall it. Since I am a tactile learner (I "learn by doing") and visual learner (I "learn by seeing"), this makes sense to me. Plus, we all know repetition is the key to memory. We all know repetition is the key to memory. (See what I mean? You won't forget it now--lol.)

My younger co-eds simply download and print off the professor's typed PowerPoint notes. It certainly is not a bad way to study, but it's just not for me. I must have a photographic memory because I tend to remember how I wrote certain notes down & random things like where they were on the page, how they were organized, if I drew any corresponding doodles, etc...

Yea, right: photographic memory.

Anyway, my fondness for old fashioned note taking does tend to date me, but who cares. I say I'm starting a revolution. "What's old is new again," right?