Sunday, August 16, 2009

You came in with the breeze...

...on Sunday morning, you sure have changed since yesterday.
Anyone else remember that song? Ah, it takes me back.
For the past week, my beloved sunny South Carolina has been anything but sunny. It's been switching between stormy, drizzly, and gloomy. I know we could use the rain, and I remember that last August it was like this for a few weeks too, but it sure is depressing. Somehow it seems to match certain events in my life lately.
My classes are starting soon, and I found out yesterday that the financial aid department has screwed up my awards. My husband says they'll be able to fix it easily on Monday, but I'm not so sure. I always seem to have the worst luck with things like this. I haven't even bought my textbooks yet, so I need my financial aid awards ASAP. I'm worried that, due to the nature of the office's error, I'm going to have to start the whole process over and re-apply for what I was already awarded and it will be several weeks before I see a dime of it. I know it's pointless to sit here and worry about it, but unfortunately that's one of the things I'm best at.
My car had been acting up, getting progressively worse over the summer. After I dropped a few hundred bucks on it during our vacation fiasco in May, I thought everything would be all right with it. No such luck. It started shuddering and making noises, and then on Friday it had one heck of a time even getting over 15 mph. I began toying with the idea of trading it in for something more reliable, because I had a feeling the transmission's days were numbered. So yesterday, we spent the day browsing used car lots. Long story short, the last place we went to took a look at my car to get an idea of how much I would get for a trade-in, and they ran a quick test to come up with a number. The number they gave me was half of the Kelly Blue Book value, because the "tranny" as the salesman called it (interestingly I've only heard that term associated with transvestites before this), was ready to fall out- in addition to everything else that was wrong with it. Sigh. Two hours later, I waved good-bye to the car I had driven since junior year of high school and rode off into the sunset in a shiny green car that's only a couple of years old. I hate the idea of having to deal with a monthly car payment, but it's better that than my old car keel over on the highway and have to pay for a tow and thousands of dollars' worth of repairs on the spot. The new one isn't nearly as sporty as my old one, sadly. It's an actual "grown-up" car, with four doors and everything. Weird. But even weirder than that, last night after I got home, I was cleaning out my purse and I found a fortune from a fortune cookie I got a couple weeks ago. The fortune reads, "Something on four wheels will soon be a good investment for you." There are lucky numbers on the back, and I'm really tempted to play them in the lottery!
The other big news that I haven't felt much like talking about is that my grandma, who I'm very close to, has been having health problems for the past year and a half, and was officially diagnosed with cancer about two weeks ago. She's been hospitalized since then at one of the top cancer centers in the country, but the symptoms of her particular cancer are making it next to impossible for her to eat anything. The prognosis they gave her was not very bright, but also not terribly dire; however, with her caloric intake hovering around 500 per day, her condition is not improving. I had already planned to drive up for a few days this coming Thanksgiving, but yesterday my parents called to say that they were flying me up next weekend to see her. I need to visit her, but I'm also terrified of it. I don't think I can eloborate any more about it right now, I'm finding that it's even difficult to type about this.
Meanwhile, it's really been helping to play with my cats. It's comforting that no matter what is happening in the outside world, cats still need attention every morning at 5:00 am and kittens still cause mayhem in surprising ways.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Long See No Time?

Where have I been? Around.
But I've been doing lots of things this summer. I can't believe it's August already and classes begin *gulp* next week. I'm a little reluctant to go back because I'm nervous about starting my thesis for real. I already have a fat stack of library books on my desk waiting to be skimmed for potential interest to my project. I found a professor who is willing to direct my thesis, and my adviser says it sounds promising. Let me tell you, it gets a whole lot scarier once you tell people your ideas and commit to following through with it. I've also signed on to do part-time environmental volunteer work in exchange for room and board on the island where I will do research.
In addition to getting that set up, I've been tutoring several students multiple times a week in ESL, reading, grammar, writing- anything you can imagine that has to do with the English language. It's actually a lot of fun, and I'll continue to work with three of my students throughout the school year. I'm glad I get to keep working with them, but I don't doubt it will be a full schedule what with taking classes full time, not to mention my assistantship, which I've already started. My professor e-mailed me early in the summer to see if I'd be interested in helping him with one of his many projects over the break. No assistantship was available for the summer, so he's been giving me as many hours as I want on his own dime. I really like working with him, I just hope he's not putting any kind of financial burden on himself to keep this going. I'll be happy once the department is handing out my paychecks again in a couple of weeks. Right now, my work with him consists of proof-reading typed transcripts of letters written by Civil War veterans with the original handwritten manuscripts. It's incredibly interesting, but every now and then I give myself a bit of a headache trying to figure out what a certain word is.
I got my back-to-school haircut this morning, hurrah! I realized I hadn't been to get a trim since March... wow. Slightly embarrassing when my hair stylist pointed this out to me. But she's great and understands how scatter-brained us grad students can be. I just need to do a bit of back-to-school shopping and I'll be set. I got myself a couple of spiffy new lunch boxes-- well, bento boxes-- in Osaka, so that base is covered.

Things I want to do before summer vacation ends:
1. Go to the beach. The ocean beach, not the lake beach.
2. Finish the novel I'm reading.
3. Go for a walk by the river.
4. Get Korean ice cream one more time (melon flavor of course).
5. Sip a pina colada in my back yard.