With a whopping three of them already behind me, I think of the -and-a-half updates as the slowest time of the year, what with the last three months being the dead of winter. And yet, as always, a lot of stuff happened this quarter.
All right, y’all know the deal by now – I have only a passing interest in movies anymore, and the Oscars are nearly unwatchable. Blah, blah, blah, cranky old lady, get off my lawn! So I decided rather than ranting, I’d tell you about my favorite Oscar tradition. The one I always carry out whether I get to watch the Oscars, or whether my three-year-old is screaming at the top of her lungs to please, please, please let her watch anything else at all. Honestly, I had to agree with her. We settled on YouTube videos of Simon’s Cat.
So instead of an Oscar recap, I bring you pizza! I’ve been making my own pizza on Oscar night since I was a teenager, and as time has gone on, the pizza recipe has only improved. Our latest, most favorite incarnation is a recipe from Cook’s Country. Nothing out there compares. It takes advance planning, because the dough is required to rise in the refrigerator for 24 hours, but it’s worth it. It also makes a complete and total mess of the kitchen, but again, it’s worth it.
I hope you enjoyed your Oscar night as much as I enjoyed my pizza.
My favorite author Nick Hornby was recently in town promoting his new book, Funny Girl. You probably already know that I’m a massive Hornby fan, but if you need a primer on why, I turn you to my post from the last time he was in town promoting Juliet, Naked.
I hadn’t finished Juliet, Naked when I wrote that last piece six years ago. It is a beautiful novel. It is at the top of my Hornby list, and that is a very high position to occupy. I’d have to read them back to back, but Juliet might even beat out High Fidelity as my favorite Hornby work. Or, it might not be discernible. High Fidelity is about obsession and music in youth (20s). I was young when I read it. Juliet is about obsession and music as an adult (30s-40s), and I was an adult when I read it. High Fidelity introduced me Hornby. Juliet made me cry.
New Year’s resolutions seem to be just another thing that I don’t have the time or energy for any more. I know, generally, what I want to be like and what I want to get done, and I’ll get to it when I can.
So I wan’t interested in doing a resolution post this year, but I am sort-of interested in taking stock, in a totally non-crunchy way. This was one of those ‘learning’ years. Years in which a bunch of stuff blindsides you and you have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, take stock of what was broken and what wasn’t, and move on.
I made one big decision and had one big realization this year. The decision was to start teaching as a career, and to be clear, that came first. I’ve thought about teaching lots of times, and it was why I entered into a Master’s program in the first place, though I lost track of that goal very early on. When I took a short gig scoring standardized tests, there were a lot of things about that weird job that felt very right. The first thing you have to do before scoring the tests (I was scoring a 10th grade writing assessment) is learn the material on which the students were being tested. This couldn’t have made me feel more at home, for it was a lot like school. Then you had to learn how to internalize a rubric to score all the tests by the same criteria. This was more challenging than I thought it would be, and though I don’t think any rubric, especially one for a standardized test, is flawless, it was a worthy challenge. Finally, I had the chance to read really good papers, middle-of-the-road-papers, and bad papers, and in each case, I was sorry I couldn’t offer feedback to the kids. So this very short, very bizarre experience sent me walking back down the career education path.
The realization came much later. You could call it an epiphany, if you really wanted. After Shaun was laid off, we both sent out a flurry of resumes. I figured I’d be the first one to land a job, because I have a resume that lends itself to different fields and I talk a good talk in an interview. Plus, I didn’t need a career-type job the way he did, I just needed to earn some cash. I knew the job I found wasn’t a forever job and I knew that it was a somewhat boring job. I didn’t know I was walking into a complete and total disaster. I’ve had a few disaster jobs throughout my career, ones I hated and that didn’t last long. In each case, the job was very different than advertised, and the company was batshit insane. These dread-inducing jobs – I thought I’d seen the last of those. I thought they were a vestige of my younger, more vulnerable days. How on Earth did I get here, I wondered. Did I miss the warning signs out of fear of the flophouse, or was the employer that dishonest? A little fear, a lot of dishonesty. However, that’s when it occurred to me that there does not exist a job within the private sector that I would like. I’m not built for business. I’m an academic. I always have been and I always will be. And since I can’t afford to stay in school forever, that really leaves me one other option. Teaching.
And so I begin 2015 happily unemployed and returning to school, briefly, to obtain an ESL (English as a Second Language) certificate. That plus my Master’s degree should land me a job in community college. When I was looking for a teaching job this summer, without any actual teaching experience, I had several people suggest getting certified in ESL, and I sort of half-listened. But the more the idea bounced around in my head, the more it started to make sense. Hey, you know what you’re really good at, self? English. Hey, you know what you really enjoyed in college (outside of music), self? Learning a foreign language and linguistics. So I like the idea as a foray into teaching, that can then be leveraged into teaching other subjects, if I so choose.
The reflection part comes in that I don’t know if I would’ve come to this conclusion so quickly, and acted so quickly, if I wasn’t so miserable. I thought, after the gig this summer, that I would leisurely look for a teaching job and find just the right thing. Obviously that idea flew out the window and all of the unhappiness led to some fast and furious introspection. Misery is a breeding ground for introspection, which is why artists are so frequently miserable. Not that I wouldn’t like to be a great artist, but I am just so tired of being miserable.
I am really excited about all that I have planned for 2015. I don’t know why I kept straying off the education path. And I can only hope that I’ve called my calling correctly. I take refuge in a comment from a friend, “I definitely see you in a teaching role. In fact, now that you mentioned it, I can’t see you any other way.”
Neither can I. And that gives me a great deal of hope.
I guess my mind was preoccupied because I forgot to add Pomplamoose’s 30 Rock to the best of 2014. It was one of my favorite songs of the year and definitely my favorite video. We also went to see Pomplamoose on tour in September which was pretty awesome (despite a pretty terrible, unfriendly-to-the-older-folks venue), and that should’ve been a highlight in my 2014 year-in-review. Yeesh, getting senile.
I’m not entirely sure I want to remember the last half of 2014. It just doesn’t seem like a lot of good things happened, and when one is writing or reading a year-in-review, I think one wants to write or read good things. Somehow, even though I am a perennial pessimist, I cannot help but think that all the bad things are just paving the way to a much better 2015. So here is a look back at 2014, warts and all. Continue reading
The third installment of the DSP Playlist.
You Go Down Smooth by Lake Street Dive
All About That Bass by Meghan Trainor
30 Rock by Pomplamoose
We Belong Together by Randy Newman
December 1963 by The Four Seasons
One Belief Away by Bonnie Raitt
Here Comes My Baby by Cat Stevens
Goodnight, Sweetheart by The McGuire Sisters
Cecilia by Simon & Garfunkel
Getting Ready for Christmas Day by Paul Simon
(Hey Now) Girls Just Wanna Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper
Peg by Steely Dan
Six O’Clock by The Lovin’ Spoonful
Love Minus Zero/No Limit by Bob Dylan
It Must’ve Been Ol’ Santa Claus by Harry Connick, Jr.
Cocaine by Eric Clapton
Jennifer Juniper by Donovan
Brown-Eyed Girl by Van Morrison
Stuck in the Middle with You by Stealer’s Wheel
We’ll Meet Again by Stephen Colbert
I’m Stepping Out by John Lennon
’39 by Queen
Lola by The Kinks
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Jack Johnson
Santa Baby by Eartha Kitt
Hey Bulldog by The Beatles
Those Were the Days by Mary Hopkin
You Can’t Do Me by Madeleine Peyroux
In the Summertime by Mungo Jerry
Hey Julie by Fountains of Wayne
Ooh La La by Faces
Song: Ooh La La
Favorite Lyric: Poor young grandson, there’s nothing I can say
You’ll have to learn, just like me, and that’s the hardest way
Significance: The first comment underneath this song on YouTube says, “Rushmore brought me here,” and I’m thinking that’s probably what brought me here too. (Never read the comments on the internet. It’s such a long, deep rabbit hole of stupidity.) I think this is a really fun song, and it makes for a fitting end to DSP 3 and the year. Who wouldn’t like to start off the year with the knowledge of how it was going to end up, or just in general have a better understanding of themselves? Happy New Year!
Song: Hey Julie
Artist: Fountains of Wayne
Favorite Lyric: Why must I spend my time filling up my mind
With facts and figures that never add up anyway?
Significance: I thought this would be a fitting entry since I quit an Office Space/Hey Julie-type job just yesterday. Once upon a time, I thought a desk job was supposed to be a lofty goal, and now I don’t understand how people can stand it. The songs and movies that have infiltrated the culture seem to suggest that no one can, and yet somehow they continue to exist. So while I artfully implement a plan to not take any more sucky office jobs, you can listen to this song.
Song: In the Summertime
Artist: Mungo Jerry
Favorite Lyric: If her daddy’s rich take her out for a meal
If her daddy’s poor just do what you feel
Significance: I used this song to edit my Hawaiian vacation video, because how could you not? My video had a few things going for it that this one doesn’t, including better video quality and, if I do say so myself, better looking people. Plus all my flash frames were intentional. Still, I can’t believe how many scary old ’70s videos I’ve been able to find on YouTube. Amazing how we can use new technology to exploit the failings of old technology.