Parker Barker

I know I never update this thing, so I’m sure it never even gets looked at anymore. That doesn’t really matter, though, because I just need to use it as a release today.


Last week we took my dog Parker to the vet to see if he could have some growths removed.  He’s a miniature schnauzer, so growths are fairly common, but he’s almost 16 so we weren’t sure if they could do surgery or not.  The vet wanted to remove them, though. I was so scared he wouldn’t wake up from the anesthesia, but he did.  An hour after he woke up, he had his first seizure.  The vet gave him some medicine and kept him for observation, and he had another seizure that night.  The vet kept him again, and this time he went 24-hours without having one so they sent him home.


Parker was doing so well.  He was eating and drinking well.  He was moving around better than he was before the surgery.  My parents thought the worst was over.  My mom called me this morning, though, saying that Parker had another seizure.  At first she didn’t know what was going on.  She picked him up, and he had lost control of his bladder and bowel movements.  He was moving rigidly and sporadically.  His jaw was clenched.  And he kept whining, almost crying.  She said it sounded like he was saying “Mom! Mom!”  (I know it sounds silly, but I swear he can talk sometimes.)  Mom called my dad at work to have him look up the number for the vet because she couldn’t get into the phone book because Parker was so hard to control.  Dad locked up the store and went home.  They called the vet and drove 25 miles to take him to the closest vet.  The vet had to give him an injection to get the seizure to fully stop.  They’re keeping him for awhile to get him on medication to try to control the seizures.  The vet thinks he has a brain tumor, which means things could continue to get worse.


I know Parker has had a long and awesome life filled with people who love him and spoil him, but the thought of him not being here anymore scares me.  He’s been my best friend since I was in 2nd grade.  We’d play tag together.  He let me dress him up.  When I was sad, he’d lay by me for hours and lick my tears away.  Now he’s sick and he’s scared and there’s nothing I can do about it because I live three hours away.  I did go visit him the weekend before he had his surgery, but that’s not enough.  I feel like I’m failing him, like he’s going to think I don’t love him because I’m not there to help him like he was always there to help me.  I love him so much, and I don’t want him to be in pain.  I pray that he’s not in too much pain because I couldn’t stand it.  He’s my baby.  He’s my best friend.



Light at the end of the tunnel (and not even in a death way)

Some progress has been made with the school work. Yay.

Now I only have 13 research papers left to grade. Until people turn them in late, that is.

I have written 9 pages of my Angels and Devils paper, which means only 3 pages left.  I picked a dumb topic.  Remind me to stay away from paradoxes.  They hurt your brain and make you want to jump out a window head first.

Lesson plans are almost complete.  I just need to write 3 more pages of the introductory paper, finish making a rubric, complete a few more odds and ends, and put it all together.

Surrealism is being postponed until next weekend, which is a-ok.

I feel much better now than I did at the beginning of the weekend. Progress was made. The end is in sight. I think I might actually survive this semester, which is, to put it simply, a miracle.

This is today’s chosen method of procrastination.

What better time to catch up on my poor, neglected blog then when I have major papers/projects due?  I know I certainly can’t think of one, but that could be because my supply of motivation has run dry.

So let’s begin the update.

First, grad school blows.  Don’t get me wrong, I love teaching composition, but that’s where the love begins and ends.  I’m student-ed out.  It doesn’t help that I find the majority of the classes I’m taking this semester fairly worthless.  (I’ll spare you that never-ending rant, though.)  What am I looking forward to the most, you ask?  This semester ending.  All that stands in my way is the following:

  1. 12-page paper over Milton’s Paradise Lost and Pullman’s His Dark Materials
  2. Teaching unit over a human-interest essay complete with objectives, teaching notes, teacher’s notes, handouts, criteria sheet, peer response guide, and rubric.  Add on a 5-page paper explaining my rationale, and it’s complete
  3. 7-page paper over Surrealist movies
  4. 1 reaction paper over a Surrealist movie
  5. 1 book, A Thousand Acres
  6. 36 research papers that need to be graded

When do I have to complete all of these items?  Too soon.  The last item is due not quite two weeks from today, but the majority are due next week.  True, I’ve known for many, many weeks that these projects were due; but unfortunately, my motivation disappeared back toward the end of February.  Will I complete everything?  Sure.  Will they be amazing.  Unlikely.  Will I go celebrate by eating awesome Mexican food and drinking $1 margaritas?  Without a doubt, yes.

Once this semester is over, I get to go to London.  I know I should be beyond excited, but school has gotten me so depressed that I’m having a hard time acting excited.  I’m hoping once this semester is officially over the excitement will come rushing in.  Oh . . . by the way . . . I need a paper topic for my London trip.  I’m pathetic and can’t think of anything to write about.  It can be absolutely anything–place, person, event, etc.  Suggestions are always welcome.

After London, I’ll be taking a class over Arthurian Legend in Lit and Film.

After Arthurian Legend in Lit and Film, fall semester begins.  This means thesis writing is just around the corner.   Oh joy . . .

I agree with Eric.  (He’s also suffering through grad school right now.)  The hardest part about getting your Master’s degree is actually staying in school long enough to get your Master’s degree.

This is all my life consists of at the moment.  If  you want to see what I’ve read, check out the “Books Read in 2011” tab.  They’re mostly for school.  One day I’ll have time to read whatever I want to read.  For now?  I’ll quit complaining and get back to work.

Hope your lives are much less complaint-filled.


I’m 85% sure that London will be my “home” from May 31 to June 9th-ish!

I’m saving/begging/taking more financial aid to save enough money to go on a trip for college credit. I figure it can be viewed as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I should take it. Right?

For those of you seasoned travelers, any tips? I’ve never left the country or even been on a plane, so I’m slightly nervous. Also, for those of you who have been to London, what are the “must sees?”

Definitely more to come…if it becomes a certainty that is.

The American West in Lit and Film

I’m a little over halfway finished with the semester, so I figured that it was about time to post an update.  I haven’t been reading a whole lot outside of class, so I decided to share what I’ve been reading for The American West.

The first book assigned was Owen Wister’s The Virginian.

“His background is shadowy, his presence commanding.  He brings law and order to a frontier town and wins the  love of a pretty schoolteacher from the East.  He is the Virginian–the first fully realized cowboy hero in American literature, a near-mythic figure whose idealized image has profoundly influenced our national consciousness.  This enduring work of fiction marks his first appearance in popular culture–the birth of a legend that lives with us still.”–description from back of novel

I was pleasantly surprised when I started this book.  Initially, I guess I was expecting some cheesy, horribly written novel, such as you would find in a grocery store.  Surprisingly, Owen Wister is a pretty good writer; I even marked some fairly eloquent and insightful quotations throughout the novel.

Next, we read Shane by Jack Schaefer.

“He rode into our valley in the summer of ’89, a slim man, dressed in black. ‘Call me Shane,’ he said.  He never told us more.

There was a deadly calm in the valley that seemed to focus on Shane.

‘There’s something about him,’ Mother said.  ‘Something . . . dangerous.’

‘He’s danger all right,’ Father said, ‘ but not to us.’

‘He’s like one of these here slow-burning fuses,’ the mule skinner said.  ‘Quiet . . . so quiet you forget it’s burning till it sets off a hell of a blow of trouble.  And there’s trouble brewing.'”–excerpt on back of novel

I did not enjoy Shane very much as it was an actual dime novel.  Schaefer’s characterization of the characters was commendable, but the novel lacked that extra something.  It served as a good example of the Hollywood-ized West and a coming-of-age story, as well.

We just finished reading We Pointed Them North: Recollections of a Cowpuncher.  It is a memoir of sorts about the life of E. C. “Teddy Blue” Abbott as recorded by Helena Huntington Smith.

“E. C. Abbott was a cowboy in the great days of the 1870s and 1880s.  He came up the trail to Montana from Texas with the long-horned herds that were to stock the northern ranges; he punched cows in Montana when there wasn’t a fence in the territory; and he married a daughter of Granville Stuart, the famous early-day stockman and Montana pioneer.  For more than fifty years he was known to cowmen from Texas to Alberta as “Teddy Blue.”

This is his story, as told to Helena Huntington Smith, who says, ‘My part was to keep out of the way and not mess it up by being literary.”–description from back of novel

I loved this book.  By reading it, I feel like I now have a better picture of what the American West was truly like, not just the American West of Hollywood.  Abbott did not leave out the gritty details of the lifestyle of cowpunchers, but he never stated anything in an offensive way.  If you’re looking for a non-fiction book about the West, I highly recommend this book.

In addition to reading literature, we watch various film portrayals of the American West.  We’ve watched the following:

A Fistful of Dollars
My Darling Clementine
The Man from Texas
Pale Rider
Along Came Jones
High Noon
Gunsmoke–“Kangaroo” and “Saludos”

Most of the films are pretty cheesy, especially Shane.  The best film thus far has been Tombstone but only because Val Kilmer kills it in that movie.

We still have two more books to read and at least 5 or 6 movies to watch, so I’ll finish updating at the end of the semester.

Decisions, Decisions

Classes officially start tomorrow, but I don’t have to start until Thursday.  The closer it gets to the start of the semester, the more I debate whether I want to drop a class.  My advisor swears that I’ll be fine, but I’m feeling very apprehensive and it’s putting a damper on my school spirit.

As of now, I’ll be teaching two sections of Composition 101 and taking 10 credit hours.  A lot of people have told me that it’s a lot, but it seems to be the norm here.  I’m sure I could handle it.  I’m not sure that I want to handle it though.  (Yes, maybe I’m feeling lazy.)

Grad school just wasn’t the plan for me initially.  Summer class wasn’t in the plan either.  I’m feeling really burnt out after my summer classes too, so I guess I don’t want to overdo it.  I guess I’m just worried that I’m being lazy and a bad grad student by wanting to drop a class.  Or maybe I am just desperate to get out of taking Middle English Lit.

I dunno.

As of now, my schedule is alright.

Monday: Class 10-10:50; Class 6-8:50
Tuesday: Teach 9:30-10:50; Teach 11-12:20; Office Hours 2-3:20; Class 3:30-4:50; Class 5-7:50
Wednesday: Nada
Thursday: Teach 9:30-10:50; Teach 11-12:20; Office Hours 2-3:20; Class 3:30-4:50
Friday: Nada

It seems somewhat easy in writing (minus my hell-ish Tuesdays), but I’m afraid it’s going to be too much.  In my defense, I am planning on tutoring and doing college prep activities at the middle/high school here on my days off.  (Extra moolah is always welcome.)

Oh decisions, decisions…

I welcome any and all opinions on the subject.

Summer Update

About a month and a half ago I finished reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.  Unfortunately, my summer classes started and I had zero time to write a review.  I’d rather not try to give an in-depth review two months after the fact, but I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed the book.  Yes, it dragged on in spots (what 500+ page book doesn’t?), but the storyline was unique (somewhat) and very interesting and engaging.  Magicians. 1800s. England. Napoleon.  What more can you ask for?  I recommend this book.  Warning: You have to be in the mood to read it.

Since Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, I’ve read the four Jane Austen novels for my class–four novels, three weeks.  I’m not gonna lie.  It was horrible.  I read Northanger Abbey, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, and Emma.  The books were enjoyable, but they did get a little old after reading four in a row, especially since they’re all the same thing…for the most part.  Add in writing a total of 45 one to two page mini-essays and a 15-page research paper and you can confidently tell anyone that I’m disgusted with Austen.  (Sorry all you Austen fanatics.)

Monday marks my last week for Sherlock Holmes.  Having never read or even watched any Sherlock Holmes before, I was ridiculously excited for this class.  It’s been a lot of fun (much better than Austen), but I’m already getting tired of reading Doyle.  All the mysteries start to sound alike.  Other than lots of short stories, we’ve read A Study in Scarlet and The Hound of the Baskervilles–I enjoyed both immensely.  We’ve also been watching a movie every day.  I’ve seen a lot of Basil Rathbone and one ridiculous Dudley Moore.  I’ve enjoyed reading the stories more than watching them being they usually attempt to turn a 10-15 page story into an hour-long movie–gets a little boring in spots.  One interesting thing about the class–there is a 75-year-old doctor in it.  Apparently he is a “Sherlockian” and takes the class whenever it’s offered.  It’s fun listening to him explain various elements, point out discrepencies, and discuss his personal theories.  Although it’s been fun, I’m ready to be finished with class, especially since I have to move into a new apartment next week. (Long story. Not overly happy about it.)

In other news, my leech marks are now 99% gone.  After my foot exploded with infection (literally), I made a trip to the health center and ended up having to take antibiotics for 10 days.  They worked.  I’m infection free.  And after 2 months, my foot looks normal. Yay.

Summer is almost over.  One week of class.  One week to write paper for class. One week to create syllabus and 3 weeks worth of lesson plans.  Fourth week, classes start.  FYI: I didn’t procrastinate on the lesson planning.  We’re having a workshop that week, so I don’t even find out the requirements for the class until then.

That is all.

Summer School Official

Who knew the transition from undergrad to grad would be such a pain?!  It took two weeks to get enrolled in my summer classes, but as of today it’s finally finished!  Enrollment: check.  Books: check.  Monies: check (on Monday anyway).

I’m excited but a little nervous to be taking my first grad classes, especially since they’re intense 3-week classes.  This might have been a dumb idea.

Jane Austen in my first class.  It starts on the 21st.  I’ll be reading Northanger Abbey, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park and Emma.  In addition, I’ll have my first grad paper to write–15-18 pages.  It’s a little daunting, but I know I’ll be fine.

Sherlock Holmes will start right after Jane Austen finishes (July 12th).  I don’t know exactly what stories we’ll be reading, but I had to purchase the complete series so I’m hoping we aren’t required to read the entire 1,200 page book in 3 weeks. =)

My summer will certainly fly by now!

I’m getting further in Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrell.  I’m hoping I can finish it before class starts.  I’m on page 616 of 846.  I love it!  I’ll try to write somewhat of a review once I finish.

One last thing: my leech bite.  It’s been 10 days and it’s getting worse.  It’s ridiculously red, itches like crazy, and is swollen to about the size of a quarter.  I don’t know much about leech bites, but I’m thinking something isn’t quite right, especially on-line sources said they heal in a week.  I’ll be headed to the health center Monday at 9, so we’ll see how that goes.

Summer Adventure #1

To celebrate Memorial Day, Eric and I spent the day in the river–wading, fishing, and sunning. It was a nice relaxing day after his family reunion the previous two days.

It was perfect–until we got ready to leave that is. I looked down because my foot stung and noticed I had something by the edge of my river shoe. I initially thought it was some random river debris but I was wrong. It was a leech.

I thought I handled myself well. I stuck my foot out at Eric and continued to squeal “Get it off!” until he pried it off my foot. It bled a lot. Apparently they release stuff to stop your blood from clotting.

Anyway, while wiping off blood, I noticed that my friendly leech was a mother because all her little babies were still clinging to my foot.

Those little suckers were hard to grab so Eric scrubbed my foot with the nearby swimming towel.

I refused to carry the towel but Eric was nice and grabbed it for me and even offered to wash it to destroy all the little baby leeches.

As soon as I made it home, I took a scalding shower and scrubbed myself raw. The feeling of creepy crawlies on my skin has finally passed but I do have two red sores on my right foot from my leech.

It looks like a vampire bit my foot.

Summer School It Is

My job hunt has been very unsuccessful.  I haven’t heard back from anyone, even after following up on applications.  Due to rapidly decreasing funds and increasing boredom, I’ve decided to take summer classes.

I settled on taking an online Jane Austen class and the Sherlock Holmes class.

Even though I’m not the hugest Austen fan and I’ve never read any of the Sherlock Holmes books, I’m excited and think they should both be fun classes.