Thursday, September 17, 2009

And, scene...

The dissertation defense is complete. I am officially, Dr. Rochelle Gregory, PhD. I had some great feedback during my defense from my committee members, all of whom commented on my blogging over the past five years. So, I'm thinking of pursuing what Dr. Greer referred to as a "professional intellectual" more seriously. He suggested blogging about disability and rhetoric since I have the expertise, interest, and education. So, that's what I've been thinking about in more detail over the past couple days. That, and other things. Now, I just need to get the revisions made and turn in this bad boy.... Hahh, the sound of a done dissertation is wonderful...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The end is near...

Yes, the dissertation is turned in. And, a defense date has been announced. August 26th at 1:00 on the 9th floor conference room.

I'm going to gather some resources so that I feel the confidence that I hope to project.

Now, what to do about this blog... I'm thinking of changing the name and moving forward with it. Blogging on FYC theory, disability theory, new book ideas, etc. Because I've got several.

Graduation: December 17th. (I'm so random this morning)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

June Expense Report

Okay. I've got 10 minutes to type up the blog before I have to get back to cleaning the house. My mother, father, sister, her boyfriend, her twins, my aunt, and my grandfather will be here with me, my boys, and Marc in about 2 hours. It's going to be a looooooong day.

But, here's my June expense report. Some areas were a great improvement. Others could use some more work.
  • Groceries $589.42 (Huge improvement from last month--$400 less than last month)
  • Healthcare/Medical 562.21 (This will probably be a bit high for a while.)
  • Education 476.60 (This is high b/c I had to buy a buttload of books for next fall and for my dissertation. This should go down a lot next month.)
  • Mom 300.00
  • Car Payment 300.00
  • Utilities 290.00
  • Gasoline 259.48
  • Restaurant 202.83 (A huge improvement from the $400 we spent last month.)
  • Travel 190.00
  • Home Improvement 159.35 (This was a bit higher b/c I did some home improvements in the yard. Dirt therapy.)
  • Insurance 150.00
  • Entertainment 128.43
  • Telephone 111.55
  • Cable 100.00
  • Hobbies 93.39 (This went down b/c I dropped Tobey from karate.)
  • Service Fees 77.00 (Okay, this is seriously all my fault and way too much--six $10 overdraft fees to move money from savings to checking when I don't pay attention and have insufficient funds in my checking. I have GOT to do better here.)
  • General Merch. 62.28
  • Auto 57.69 (Yearly inspection and oil change.)
  • Clothing 39.40
  • Other 40.00
Total Expenses for June 1st - June 27th: $3910. (Not really an improvement from last month. However, my income did go up this month since I'm finally getting child support for the first time in almost a year. Still, I've got some work to do here.)

Overall, medical went way up, but that was to be expected between my minor medical procedure and Tobey's medication. It will probably go down some in the next couple months, but not by much. However, I was able to compensate for the increase in medical expenses with less grocery expenses.

Education was way up, but that was including a Sallie Mae payment and some much needed resources for the fall and my dissertation. That will go down dramatically next month. But, I need to start thinking about the student loan payments that'll be there in the next couple months.

Still, the winner for this month were the groceries and restaurant expenses, which went waaaay down. Last month was almost $1100. This month, $800. That was a huge improvement for us, especially considering that this is the summer when the boys are home and doing nothing but eating, sleeping, and swimming.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Interesting Quote for the Day...

While reading Michael Shermer's Why People Believe Weird Things, I came across this quote from The Satanism Scare by James Richardson, Joel Best, and David Bromley about the witchcraft/devil worshipping scares of the fifteenth, eighteenth, and twentieth centuries, and I immediately thought about the recent "Obama is a socialist" craze that's been filtering through the media here lately. (I even saw a bumper sticker at Wal-Mart yesterday that featured the Obama trademarked sunrise with the statement underneath: "Socialism. Poverty Trickling Up")

So, Richardson, Best, and Bromley describe a moral panic as "a condition, episode, person or group of persons emerges to become defined as a threat to societal values and interests; its nature is presented in a stylized and stereotypical fashion by the mass media; the moral barricades are manned by editors, politicians and other right-thinking people; socially accredited experts pronounce their diagnoses and solutions; ways of coping are evlauted or resorted to; the condition then disappears, submerges or deteriorates.' Such events are used as weapons 'for various political groups in their campaigns' when someone stands to gain and someone stands to lose by the focus on such events and their outcome" (qtd in Shermer 106).

Therefore, question: Who needs the moral panic that Obama is a socialist?!? Answer: FoxNews. "Talk-show hosts, book publishers, anti-cult groups, fundamentalists, and certain religious groups" all thrive on such claims (Shermer 107).

One has to wonder whether the exec's at FoxNews didn't high five each other the night Obama was elected. I mean, would 4 years of a McCain love-in really help their ratings? The whole Obama is a socialist ploy is the gift that keeps on giving FoxNews.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Update on the finances...

So, my goals were to cut my grocery bills in 1/2 and to not eat out this entire month of June.

Update: While I have eaten out this month on several occasions, I have cut my restaurant spending in half, which is good. Whereas I might spend $5-10 per meal for myself, this month, so far, I've spent no more than $3 for myself by eating off the a la carte menus.

I've also cut my grocery bills in 1/2. Whereas I usually spend $200 every 7-10 days for groceries, I have spent this month only $200 on groceries for the first two weeks of June.

Ten more days until payday and when I need to reassess my spending this month.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Rhetoric of Autism Speaks

I wrote this blog entry several years ago on the rhetoric of "tragedy" in an Autism Speaks online video and I recently revisited it for my dissertation. So, I thought I would repost it here in case some of my colleagues might be interested.

On May 13, 2006, Katherine McCarron, a three year-old autistic girl, was allegedly murdered by her mother, Dr. Karen McCarron, by suffocation. In the months that have followed, however, autism advocates and disability rights organizations have been outraged with the sympathy Dr. McCarron has received in the media for having the "burden" of raising an autistic child. Not Dead Yet argues, "Recent media coverage of mothers being charged with killing or attempting to kill their disabled daughters solicits sympathy and understanding for the heinous acts." In fact, Autism Speaks, a national organization dedicated to "funding global biomedical research into the causes, prevention, treatments, and cure for autism; to raising public awareness about autism and its effects on individuals, families, and society; and to bringing hope to all who deal with the hardships of this disorder," has even produced and published Autism Everyday, a video available online that attempts to show the everyday struggles parents of autistic children face daily.

However, Autism Everyday has came under intense scrutiny in the past couple months for its negative and fatalistic portrayal of autistic children and the struggles parents face when raising autistic children. Critics have charged that this video portrays autistic children as economic and emotional burdens on their families. One alarming part of the documentary shows a mother discussing (in front of her autistic child) how she's contemplated driving herself and her autistic daughter off of the George Washington Bridge. This mother admits that the only reason she hasn't done so already is because of the needs of her "normal" child. I, too, found this video disturbing when I first watched it in late May following my own son's autism diagnosis. I remember too vividly thinking that for these women, "autism" was a death sentence. The tragedy that defined their lives.

A rhetorical analysis based on Kenneth Burke's theory of cluster criticism of the short documentary (it runs approximately 14 minutes long) would supports such criticisms. Specifically, the directors predominately show throughout the movie the burdens and heartbreak associated with raising a child with autism. The mothers interviewed in the documentary make statements that
  • they've had to "give up" their entire lives to autism,
  • "people have no idea" as to "how difficult life is on a day-to-day basis" for families with autistic children,
  • the condition is "heartbreaking,"
  • these autistic children are violent, disruptive, and take the joy out of everyday life,
  • other siblings suffer due to one child's autism,
  • these parents of autistic children are left "angry," "helpless," and "disappointed,"
  • these parents have had their children "taken away from them" by autism, and
  • these parents "cannot accept that we have to throw away this generation of children" to autism.
Likewise, supporters of the movie argue that it "was the most realistic portrayal of the struggles and heartbreaks of autism [...] ever seen. It was realistic, did not just show the 'success' stories, and did not glorify autism" and that the video "really hits home [ regard to] children suffering from different forms of the disorder. The pain and frustration that families of autistic children go through was powerfully conveyed" (Autism Everyday).

Again, such descriptors as "heartbreaking," "angry," "helpless," and "suffering" illustrate the common ideological and rhetorical thread throughout the movie that autistic children are emotional and financial burdens on their families. In fact, the mothers only mention the words "loving" and "hope" in the final minute of the movie and there is no discussion in regard to the children's accomplishments, potentials, or capabilities. The autistic children throughout the movie are portrayed overwhelmingly negative and tragically.

What might be the purpose of funding and distributing a documentary that portrays autism so negatively, especially considering Autism Speaks' mission of "funding global biomedical research [...]; raising public awareness about autism [...]; and to bring hope to all who deal with the hardships of this disorder"? I believe that the rhetoric within the movie answers this question. If we're to accept that producers Lauren Thierry, Jim Watkins, and Eric Solomon selectively choose the footage that was to be used in the final cut, such words as "cure" and "prevention" further the organization's mission--finding a "cure" and "preventing" autism. This movie, then, helps support the Autism Speaks' cause of raising money for autism research aimed at "curing" and "preventing" autism.

Portraying autism as the tragedy that defines one's life is an emotional appeal that plays on the heartstrings (and wallets) of viewers. Would it have been as effective to discuss the biological or behavioral factors that contribute to the frustrations associated with autism? No, probably not. Seeing frustrated and frazzled, white, divorced, middle-aged women is more effective at garnering a "sympathy" response from audiences than seeing women who deal with autism day-in and day-out but live a relatively "normal" life--a life that isn't fatalistically defined by autism. Who would contribute money for a cause that isn't "terrible," "heartbreaking," and "devastating" in every possible way?

Important to note, though, is that it's sentiments like these, that autism is a heartbreaking disorder that leaves parents shattered and children suffering and struggling, that seem to reinforce the ideology that it's okay to murder one's autistic child. These children, it would seem, bring nothing but misery and hopelessness onto their families. This ideological stance argues that murdering the disabled is probably the best thing for the children, their families, and society-at-large. And, it's for this reason that it's important to identify the rhetorical clusters that construct the ideologies of autism.

However, this ideological stance is not indicative of the entire autism communities' approach to autism research, funding, and support. In fact, groups like the Autism Assembly "share the common goal of seeking acceptance for those on the autistic spectrum, who aim to educate about autism, and who are not seeking a cure for autism. This is part of the global autism rights movement." Therefore, if the movie were produced for a different organization, one that supports acceptance and does not support a "cure" for autism, the rhetorical "clusters" might've been completely different.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

June Mini-Resolution

I'm coming to a close with my PhD (sooner rather than later), and I tend to need "goals" in my life to work for and toward. I guess it's just part of my personality. So, I think I'm going to start making mini-resolutions each month. And, my first one is going to be related to my finances. After going through my expenses for the month of May, I've made a mini-resolution for the month of June:
  • No dining out in restaurants for the entire month of June.
If I spent almost $400 last month eating out, let's see how much better I can do. It'll take some planning and foresight on my part, especially with the boys, but let's see how well I/we can do.

(And, for the record, since paying off my credit cards in February, I have not charged on them sense. Debit card, all the way. Not too bad, I'd say.)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Today and Tomorrow...

Okay. Today, finish up Methodology chapter. Tomorrow, start on Conclusion. Finish Conclusion by beginning of next week.

I keep hoping that if I write it down over and over--my to-do list--it'll sink in some how and get done.

Ohhhh, I so want this to be done.

Monday, May 25, 2009

May Expense Report

I've decided to start a monthly addition to my little blog on my money. I did this a while back ago when I paid off all of my credit card debt (which was ultimately in the $18,000 range), but I'm going to continue this sort of disclosure here each month.

Since I'm quite sure that nobody is reading my blog (hi, Alison and Chris), I'm not really concerned that I'm "spreading all the business." Rather, I want to start making myself more accountable for the money that I make and the money that I spend. I'm a big girl, so I need to pull up my big girl panties and start being more honest with myself about my spending habits. The goal: Nothing earth shattering, I just want to be spend my money well. I want to be a responsible adult who can keep her shit together. That's all.

So, BoA's online banking service has a nifty little feature that lets you "see" where all of your money is going by dividing your expenses into categories, adding up those categories, and giving a percentage of those expenses in relation to one's monthly income. I've listed my May expenses according to percentage of income and I've also included my justifications/rationales/freak out thoughts for my or your amusement.

My May Expense Report [gulp] from April 25th -May 25th:

  • Groceries: $900 [What the hell?!? I spent $900 on groceries last month!?!]
  • Utilities: $405 [This includes electricity, water, telephone, and internet. Yes, internet is a utility that we can't live without. Facebook is a necessity.]
  • Restaurants: $371 [OMG! I spent more than $1200 last month just on FOOD!?! Okay, I have two growing boys and a Marc but still $1200 on FOOD?!?]
  • Healthcare/Medical: $369 [Okay, this isn't entirely accurate/fair. There are several visits to the pediatric neurologist and psychiatrist in here for Tobey, which are not regular expenses. But, this is also my trips to Wal-Greens, which would include my (abso-freakin-lutely) necessary sunblock, make-up, Slim-Fast shakes, and hair color. Still, that's a lot of sunblock and make-up.]
  • Car Payment: $300
  • Hobbies: $284 [This includes the boys' karate and my dirt therapy. This is a bit inflated because I went a bit crazy in my dissertation-depression and bought a crapload of plants last month.]
  • Gas: $269 [Not too bad.]
  • Insurance: $186 [This is car and life for me and the boys. Gotta have it.]
  • Service Charges/Fees: $153 [Okay, in my defense most of this is to the TWU library for overdue books, which I had to have for my dissertation, and the overdraft fees ($10) from savings to checking. We'll just think of the TWU library part as a "donation."]
  • General Merchandise: $133 [Stuff from Wal-Mart odd and ends]
  • Satellite: $100
  • Other Expenses: $242 [This includes my monthly charitable donation, entertainment, dry cleaning, home improvement--odds and ends "stuff."]
Total Expenses: $3750ish

Yikes. Because, let's just be honest here. We all know that I don't bring home $4000 a month. The worst part of the whole thing, the part that makes me shake my head--I spent $100 last month just at Sonic. Only Sonic. That means, I spent almost $100 on Diet Dr. Pepper's with Vanilla. Ho-ly Crap. The worst part is that this doesn't include sending my mother any money, which I need to be doing like I promised her.

So, what is going to be different next month. Let's start with the restaurants. We are going to cut waaaaay back on the restaurant expenses. I'm thinking in the $150 range next month. I'm also going on a Sonic haitus. Cold-turkey. I've got to do better about running to Sonic for a drink when I'm at home bored.

I'm also going to start looking for ways to cut back on my grocery expenses. I recognize that Alex and Tobey are growing boys but seriously, $900!!! That's just outrageous. I probably need to own up to my newfound love of all things salty, which means frequent, unnecessary trips to Earl's for chips, dip, beer. That's gotta go, too.

So, my resolution for May 25th - June 25th: Stay home. Don't spend money. Eat what's in the house.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

What I need to do in the next couple days/weeks...

Between now and end of May:
  • Finish up the methodology chapter.
  • Start writing (and finish) the conclusion.
June 1st and July 1st:
  • Finish up odds and ends in all the chapters.
Holy crap. This thing might actually get done. Now, if I could just quit stalling on Blogger and Facebook long enough to actually write something.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Summer Resolutions

So, it's May 2009 and time for my annual summer resolutions. I'm going to teach Summer II, but in the meantime, I've got 2 months to work on these resolutions. Tobey is going to summer school, Alex is going to karate-camps, and here's what I'm going to do:
  • Finish up my dissertation. Whether I graduate in August or December, I will have the dissertation done and defended at the end of the summer. I've got about 20-30 pages left to generate and then I'll work on the revisions... Nothing too extreme though. T is pleased with what I've done so far so I'm not too worried about accomplishing this goal this summer.
  • Work out 5x week on the treadmill or elliptical.
  • Live healthier lifestyle. I'm going to do a raw-food, vegan detox diet for a couple weeks to get back into a healthier lifestyle. Hopefully, much of it will "stick" after summer is over. I think I'm going to juice and experiment with new recipes for veggie and fruit juices and smoothies, and I'm really kinda excited about this. I need some balance, figuratively.
  • Practice yoga. I need more balance, literally.
  • Practice meditation.
  • Clean my house from top-to-bottom. Garage, closets, bookshelves. Again, balance.
  • Take the boys to the movies.
  • Take the boys to the pool.
  • Take a roadtrip with mom and the boys to Colorado to visit Donna.
  • Go to the club with Marc.
  • Take a roadtrip with Marc somewhere. Anywhere. Maybe Houston. Maybe Kansas.
  • Reconnect with Marc. I have a great boyfriend. We just haven't seen much of each other lately.
  • Take the boys to Six Flags.
  • Start learning Italian. I'm going to Italy in January, after all.
  • Stop drinking. Not that I drink a lot. But, again, it's going to be the summer of healthy living.
  • Apply to University of Hawaii's disability certificate program. I'm thinking of working on an online certificate from the University of Hawaii in Disability and Diversity Studies. I would wouldn't really be like school...mostly just interesting opportunities to read and think about Disability Studies. (And, I can stall paying on my student loans until I pay off my car.)
  • Work on my custom textbook for Comp I and II at NCTC. I'm excited about this.
  • Work on WPA-stuff--adjunct training, research workshops, stuff like that...
  • Work on course-prep on ANGEL for Fall 2009. This is probably going to be much more fun because I have a lot more time to get my stuff together.
  • Read all the books I've bought but haven't gotten around to: Revolutionary Road, No Country for Old Men, Love in the Time of Cholera, Everything is Illuminated...
  • Clean and organize my office. I finally feel like I'm not going to get fired any day, so it's probably time to "make" it more my own. See if Keith and Chris would be okay with painting it. Putting up a couple of posters. Getting some plants. Organizing it. Did I mention that I needed balance?
That's the plan so far. I'm excited and ready to get to feeling more like myself.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Here's why I'm exhausted...

I want a wife. Just like in Judy Brady's short essay/story, I want a wife, too.

I want a wife who will take the boys to the park on a beautiful, sunny 80 degree Saturday afternoon while I work on stringing together something that resembles a chapter in a dissertation.

I want a wife who will cook a healthy, balanced dinner because I'm too busy grading the last of my English Comp I students' papers.

I want a wife who will finish washing, folding, and putting away the laundry while I answer the 100+ emails sitting in my 'inbox.'

I want a wife who will clean up the living room and kitchen while I read and put together an assignment/lesson on Chapter 12's discussion on integrating visuals/images into documents for my tech writing class.

I want a wife who will put kiddos to bed and read them bedtime stories--and not run out of the room after 2 minutes--while I compile notes on The Wasteland for my Brit Lit class.

I want a wife who will shop for groceries--always using her coupons and driving around for the best deals--while I read and respond to students' rough drafts.

I want a wife who will drive little boys to pediatric physicians/neurologists/ psychiatrists while I finish reading and taking notes on another book on "autism as mercury poisoning/braindamage/a disaster."

I want a wife who will explain to my 11 year-old son for the 100th time why I don't have the emotional strength, physical endurance, and/or financial reserves for a pet. Even though, I understand that "every kid needs a dog."

I want a wife who will fill out the 25 page educational assessment forms for the upcoming ARD while I have student conferences.

I want a wife who will attend ARD meetings while I teach class and hold office hours.

I want a wife who will remind me when I step on the bathroom scale that--despite my 10 pound weight gain and bloated and pale complexion--I look great.

I want a wife who will keep the bank account balanced so that I can buy groceries/gas/hair spray without worrying about whether there is any cash in the account.

I want a wife who will tell the cashier at Wal-Mart to "suck it" when my [autistic] son starts singing the theme song to Thomas the Tank Engine at the top of his lungs and she yells back to "Be quiet!"

I want a wife who will explain to my officemate, Keith, that this is just a really rough semester/year for me and that I promise I am not usually this manic/tired/depressed/anxious.

I want a wife who will reassure me that I'm doing a great job at work/school/home even though I feel like everything is slipping slowly through the cracks.

Like Brady concludes at the end of her essay, with all the tasks that a wife does, who wouldn't want one?!?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What they don't tell you in the Autism books...

I posted this story a while back on one of my blogs, but I wanted to share it here for some of my mommy friends who have their own potty stories...

So, I wrote my research paper in Film as Rhetoric back in the fall of 2006 on the depiction of autism in movies as a temporal or transitory condition--a character device that imbues a sort of mystique to a particular character. I've seen probably about 10,000+ feature films and made-for-tv movies to date and each worse than the one before.

And, within each movie, the autistic character suddenly becomes not all that autistic by the third act of the movie. In one movie, Molly, an autistic woman is "cured" of her autism through a controversial, experimental brain surgery. In another, the autistic 4 year-old "snaps out" of his autism long enough to shoot the father who abandoned him 4 years before when his father tries to strangle his mother. (Yea. Tobey would probably be grabbing a gun, unlocking the safety, and shooting a man square in the heart.)

What they also don't show in the movies? That autistic children shove food in their mouths and are prone to choking. That they have zero sense of danger. And, that they are very difficult to potty train--something I have worked with Tobey on for many, many years. It's been slow going and we have to do "potty cheers" when Tobey poops in the toilet and not his underwear ("Poo poo in tha Pot'ay, Poo poo in tha Pot'ay..."--you get the jest).

So, one night about two years ago, as I was sitting at the computer enthralled in Ed White's Teaching and Assessing Writing and typing away, Tobey came into the living room, "poo poo in tha pot'ay!" I responded, "Great job," and went back to work.

He came back about 2 minutes later: "Poo poo in tha pot'ay!" I responded, "Yea, I know. Great job!!"

Tobey was still not satisifed. So, he went into the bathroom and came back a minute later: "Momma, poo poo in the po'tay!!" To get my attention this time, Tobey had reached into the toilet, pulled out the poop, and brought it to me in the living room to show me just exactly what he'd done. And, that he wanted me to sing the song.

So, I cheered for his wet poo dripping all over the floor. Then I washed his bottom. And, hands. And, went back to work. Yes, that is something they never show in the movies.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

PCA/ ACA Conference

Just got back from 'Nawlens after attending the PCA/ ACA conference w/ Marc. Couple thoughts that I've learned since attending PCA/ACA (Popular Culture of America/ American Culture Association):
  1. I love that my area of interest means I present on a panel with two papers on House. How freakin' awesome is that?!?
  2. There nothing better for my money than an entire panel on "Post-colonialism and Women's Liberation in the Appropriation of Homosexuality in Katy Perry's 'I Kissed a Girl.'"
  3. People take comic books VERY serious.
  4. Answer: A Tool. Question: What do we call you behind your back if you leave your ringer on, answer your cell when it goes off during a session, and then announce to the entire room that you've got to go?
  5. It's possible to write 6 different papers on the Saw franchise.
  6. Answer: A Tool. Question: What do we call you when you are too distracted texting to get your question out during the Q & A? (If you have a question, can you stop texting for 20 seconds before asking it? You look like jerk when you're too distracted by your cell phone to ask the question you raised your hand to ask.)
  7. All conferences should be held in really boring cities like DeMoine or Cincinatti. It's really hard to talk yourself into attending a panel in an overpriced and pretenious hotel when there are too many distractions outside.
  8. Just "winging it" isn't typically the best approach to a conference paper.
  9. A film clip and a powerpoint is just an excuse to watch television at a conference if there is no content to the presentation. I'm not saying, I'm just saying.
  10. You do not need to put your credientials on your boarding pass. Southwest Airlines does not care that you are "Ima Hogg, PhD."
  11. How can you, in good moral standing, rationalize charging $15 for a piece of french bread and 3 shrimp? [I'm looking at you, Bourbon Street.]
  12. It's quite obvious who the "working girls" and tourists are in 'Nawlens. I'm not saying, but I'm just saying.
  13. How can you not have tap water? A facet. A glass. Tap water.
Still, the trip was great. I love my gals, Donna and Emily. And, I'll never drink another Hurricane for as long as I live.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Things Marc and I have argued about...

I'm moving most of my blog over from Myspace to this blog to archive some of the material before I take my Myspace site down. So, this was something that I posted a couple months ago:


Well, I am--apparently--late to the 2003 book, Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About by Mil Millington. It seems pretty cute and I've seen references to it just this past week on three separate occasions.

So, in an effort to avoid writing on the never ending hell that is my doctoral dissertation, I offer for your amusement:

Things My Boyfriend and I Have Argued About:

1. Conserving energy. (i.e., turning off the lights when you leave a room, closing the refrigerator door, turning off the water when brushing your teeth). Since I pay the electric bill each month, I'll let you guess who was nagging whom.

2. The over-use of the words "sanctimonious," "metadiscourse," and "retarded" in casual conversations. (I like to find ways to get $10 words--like "heretofore"--in everyday conversations. And, we had a huge knock down drag out over the Black Eye Pea's use of the word "retarded" in their song "Let's Get Retarded." Marc said the word was used in part of a larger discursive conversation; I disagreed. Strongly. For about 3 hours.)

3. Myspace Friend Lists. This one actually went on waaay too long on my part. Like 4 hours. Okay, more like 6. (He has an ex-friend of mine as a "friend" on his myspace. I want her deleted. He doesn't care--"It's myspace. Who gives a fuck?" I feel like it's a high school party and I'm the only one not invited.)

4. Ex-girlfriends. (He uninvited me to a wedding, after I drove 3 hours to get there, because his ex-girlfriend was attending.)

5. A Chiptole Burrito. (I was hungry. He wasn't. He implied I was weak. I turned into the Hulk to prove him wrong.)

6. Nacho Cheese, aka "The Nacho Cheese Fight." (I ordered a side of queso at Taco Bueno, which he confiscated when I went to the bathroom. I was furious. If he wanted queso, he could've ordered his own.)

7. A Slice of Cheesecake. (Instead of a birthday cake, he brought me a slice of cheesecake. Not even an entire cheesecake. And, it was 4 hours late. And, I don't like cheesecake.)

8. My Driving.

9. His Driving.

10. Grammar. (I was editing a paper of his. He was mad because I found some errors. Sue me.)

11. Whether he should stay up all night and sleep all day. (I write this knowing full well that it's 1:00 a.m. in the morning.)

12. Whether the boys should've had to walk home from school in the cold.

13. The use of the preposition "of" and "because" in a sentence. (We're nerds. That's what nerds do.)

14. Whether or not I actually had a migraine one night.

15. Whether or not he was being "ugly" to me about my migraine.

16. Five dollars. (It was my $5.00 He said that's "not money." I said that "it sure as hell is when it's my money.")

17. Whether we see more of "his" movies or "mine." (Exhibit A, B, and C: Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, The Dark Night.)

18. Whether ghosts exist or not. (Yea, not too proud of this one.)

19. The fact that I'm a great girlfriend. (During those times that he "forgets." Does he think his chicken breast cooks itself?)

20. Whether I'm really a feminist. (Because I cooked said chicken breast for him.)

21. Whether I would want clean clothes taken out of the dryer and put on top of dirty clothes or pt on the bed, aka "The Dryer Fight." ([cue sarcasm] Because it just makes complete sense to put clean, dry clothes on top of dirty, nasty, wet ones.) I'm not kidding here. We fought for 4 hours over whether I was saying he was "stupid" for putting clean clothes on top of the dirty ones. For the record, I wasn't saying he was stupid. Just careless. That's different.

22. A Burger King Whopper Junior. (It was Spain. I was hungry. (I'm noticing a pattern here.) Anyways, I was willing to pay $7.00 for a Whopper Junior. He told me to suck it up and eat the tapas. To quit being a baby and a pain in the ass. I told him to suck it. If I wanted a Whopper Junior, I make my own money. I'll sure as hell buy myself a Whopper Junior. He walked off and left me sitting alone (with my burger) on a street corner in Spain. But, he did come back. After 45 minutes.)

23. Whether I should be watching Pride and Prejudice/ Bridget Jones' Diary/ Sex and the City/ Arrested Development/ Scrubs for the 1000th time. Even if I can recite the dialogue. And, the plot never changes.

24. Why he isn't an organ donor. (Needless to say, this fight went on for several hours. He response: "Respect my decision." My retort: "I don't have to respect your decision. It's stupid. And, so what if I don't respect it. What are you going to do about it? Command that I respect it?")

25. The T.V. Remote. (He bought the t.v. I pay the cable. He keeps putting it on BET. I keep going back to HGTV.)

26. Whether he was being a dick. (He was. I got mad. Problem: We were driving back from Houston to Dallas. I pulled over at a Dairy Queen in the middle of nowhere and threatened to just "walk home" from here. I'm anything, if not, sensible.)

27. Who's the bigger pack-rat. (He is. Do we really need copies of student papers from 2003? Boxes of random wires/computer parts? And, if he disagrees, he can write his own flippin' blog.)

28. Arguments. (Who started them. Who's arguing and who's "just talking." Who's yelling and who's just "talking loud with inflection.")

29. Whether I roll my head when I roll my eyes. (which I do.)

30. Whether you can say "never" and "always" in a fight. (I say it's always a good idea to never say "never" in a fight.)

31. Whether psychology is complete bunk that applies to ALL human beings or just the Westerners that most Western psychologists have studied. (Do we really know that the stages of development are the same for the Amazon tribes that have never been exposed to modern civilizations? I say not. And, yes, we really did argue of this.)

32. Whether anime is just a glorified genre of "cartoon."

33. Whether the thermostat should be set at 73 or 78 degrees at night. (Heretofore, we are back at the beginning. See fight 1.)

34. Whether he should clip his toe nails in my bed. (Please note the first person possessive pronoun in "MY bed.")

35. Whether it's possible to or whether one should stop buying plants.

36. Whether my feet are cold or not.

And, for all of you who say that you NEVER fight with your sig other, you can suck it. Because, we're just practicing for the Big One. And, because we've tackled nacho cheese, his driving, and my cold feet, we'll be prepared to tackle anything.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My Dissertation Schedule

Okay, Friends. I need help.

I'm presenting for you my schedule to get this dissertation done by the end of the Spring semester. So far, I have about 1/3 of Chapter 1 written and most of Chapters 3 and 4 completed. That's about 100 pages, so far. And, T has said that the 100 pages I've written so far is really good, solid stuff. So, I'm feeling pretty good about the (hopefully, minimum) revisions that will be required later.

However, I need timelines, deadlines, and schedules. I'm a bit type A, if you haven't ever noticed.

So, here is my schedule for the next four months:

Now -- End of January: Finish first 1/3 of Chapter 1 (almost there)
Feb 1 - 15: Finish 2nd third of Chapter 1
Feb 15 - 28: Finish final 3rd of Chapter 1
Mar 1 - 20: Finish up Chapters 3 and 4 (almost there)
Mar 21 - 31: Finish Chapter 2 (Methodology)
April 1 - 30: Write Chapter 5 (Conclusion (haven't started))
May 1st: Turn in complete dissertation to T (YEA!!)

(And, fingers crossed)
late May - early June: To committee members
late June: Defend!!
July 10th: Dissertation to Grad Office

(Worst case scenario, I defend in August/September and graduate in December. Not the plan but wouldn't be the worst thing to happen.)

Now, what I need from YOU!! I need you to be my pain-in-my-ass. I need you to ask me every time you see me, notice I'm online, comment on my facebook, and run into my on campus: "How much have you written today?!?" I need you to hound me so that I begin to hate you and everyone who looks like you. That's your job. Forget your other jobs. Your new assignment is to help me get this done. Got it?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

My little snot...

My latest installment in Adventures in Autism...

So, last night before bed, I walk/stumble/crawl into the bathroom to find it completely covered in water. Water on the floor, on the toilet, on the laboratory. The water on the floor had to be at least a good 1/2 in high. I sighed, cleaned up the water, and went to sleep. I just couldn't manage to care in my exhaustion.

But, I woke up at 2 a.m. a bit cold so I stumbled over to the closet to get a blanket. Except that they were all wet. Apparently, Tobey tried to clean up the water in the bathroom with 4-5 bath towels. However, rather than putting the towels in the laundry room, he put them back into the closet. On top of my blankets. Soaking wet.

Whatever. I'm too tired to care. I turn up the heat and just go back to bed. Jet lag still sucks.

This morning, I wake up to get ready for work. Workout. Shower. Get lunches made and boys off to school. And, when I went into the bathroom to fix my hair and put some make up on, I pull open the laboratory drawer in the bathroom to find it completely flooded. My make up. Toothbrushes. Cotton swabs. Best of all, two small, plastic figurines of Wawa Woobzy floating in a 2 inch pool of water next to my eyeliner. The little snot turned my drawer into a swimming pool. Needless to say, Momma was not looking too cute this morning before stopping off at Walgreens.

[sighs and pounds head on the desk]

Monday, January 19, 2009

New Year's Financial Resolutions...

Each new year, I tend to reassess my financial situation from the previous and for the current year. I've made LOTS of positive financial changes last year, and I'm excited and looking forward to the upcoming year. Most notably, my new job at NCTC has boosted more than just my checking account. I finally feel like the "grown up" that I am. Finally. I earn enough money that I can provide for my children all on my own and I'm paying off my debt steadily.

(And, just as nice as the financial reassurances, the job has also given me a much needed boost to my confidence. I feel good about what I'm teaching and the contributions I can make toward the college and my students. Last semester was a bit rough but I'm really excited about starting the spring semester, and I'm looking forward to what I can do for my students and the college.)

But, back to my finances... I probably should be more embarrassed about this, but I guess I'm not since I'm putting this out into the universe...

So, here's the cold, hard truth: Raising a family on your own while working on a Ph.D. is pretty much a financial nightmare. It's impossible to raise two small children on a GTA's monthly salary. At least, it's impossible without going into serious credit card and student loan debt. However, I make no appologies: Supplementing my meager GTA income with student loans, credit cards, and additional part-time adjuncting jobs made sure that the boys had health insurance, food to eat (even if it was sometimes just Totino's pizzas and pb & j sandwiches), and clothes on their backs (even if they often came from the resale store, much to my ex-husband's chagrine.)

I've charged on credit cards Alex's dental expenses, much needed groceries, back-to-school supplies, and the occasional winter coat at Old Navy. While I've driven a car with 200,000+ miles for the past 8 years and my boys haven't been able to do extra-curricular activities because we couldn't afford them, I must admit that I owed more than $14,000 in credit card debt in October. (In my defense, $8,000 of that debt was carried over from my divorce, which is another financial story. But, considering that I once owed $18,000 after my divorce, the fact that I paid it down so much is still quite an accomplishment.)

However, thanks to a small financial windfall here, an Earned Income Tax credit there, a whole lotta skimping and saving, and a new job w/ a "grown up" paycheck, I can say that by March 2009, I will have paid off more than $14,000 in credit card debt.

Here's the breakdown:
  • As of 10/1/08, total outstanding credit card debt: $14,179
  • As of 12/1/08, total outstanding credit card debt: $6,179
  • As of 1/21/09, total outstanding credit card debt: $3,436
  • As of 3/01/09, total outstanding credit card debt: $0
While I will have to start on my student loans next and I did buy a (new to me) used car this fall that I won't have paid off until the summer (fingers crossed), I'm feeling really proud of my accomplishments. Toot, toot.