Category Archives: Personal

Stories about my life.

Wisdom from Dad I

It would be easy to fall into the blame game and tear down my dad.  Okay, he was human.  But he also had some good advice, in those rare moments I actually asked for help or bothered to listen to him.  He also knew a lot about cars.

While in college I was complaining about some core requirement I had to take.  His comment was that in every class, “You can always learn something.”  We might have been wandering campus on parents weekend.  Our favorite activity was to skip every scheduled activity and walk through the parking lots and look at the cars that the parents drove.  Attending a private school attended by many affluent students made for interesting cars to drool over.  We would get to the football game about half-time and decide we were having too good of a time to attend.

“You can always learn something.”  You might learn some math theory.  You might learn never to show a movie on a rainy afternoon.  You might learn you really do hate history, but you can always learn something.  I grumbled and felt misunderstood, I am sure, but the core idea, “You can always learn something,” has gotten me through a lot of really bad meetings and workshops.

I don’t want to say that I have lowered my expectations, but with teaching workshops if you can walk away with one good idea that you can use, it was worth attending the meeting.  Anything after that is a bonus.  The meeting where you count the times the speaker says, “Umm,” will make you more aware, maybe even paranoid, when you walk back in your classroom.  My Calculus II professor who got so excited about math that he jumped on furniture while teaching still reminds me to enjoy what you do.  He would get so excited solving integrals that he would jump on a slant-topped desk-top lectern that no one used and was thrown in the corner.  This made his neck the same height as the loop in the cord attached to the screen so if he tipped we all thought he would hang himself.  He certainly kept my attention.

I have learned not to tell people I won’t read the PowerPoint to them, if I plan on doing that.  I have learned that it is okay to have a lab be a task completion or a contest and that not everything needs to have a formal write up.  I have felt my students’ pain when trying to follow lab directions for the first time and getting totally lost and frustrated. It may be the fiftieth time today I have been asked that question, but it is the first time this student asked and she deserves a response without frustration and attitude.  And I obviously need to rewrite the directions!

This is especially pertinent this summer.  As I watch my Facebook friends post from Paris, Spain, Glacier National Park, and Iceland just to name a few spots, when asked about my summer plans I say that I am staying in Florida and that I am attending too many workshops.  I need remember, “You can always learn something.”

Maybe I will learn to save money for a vacation next summer!

No one told me…

From before I can even remember I thought you had to grow up and buy a house.  This is particularly ironic because we lived in an apartment until my mom died and I went to live with my grandparents.  I was 14.  I needed to own a house someday.

So, I grew up, moved 1000 miles away from everyone and was doing really well living in an apartment.  If the AC went out, they fixed it.  If the toilet ran, they fixed it.  When the AC drain backed up again, they still fixed it.  Garbage disposal backed up, the nice gentleman came and fussed at me for putting potato peelings in it, but he fixed it.  For free.  But I was an adult so I bought a condo.  I had heard about being “house poor” and was willing to go through that for four or five years.  That was eight years ago but who is counting?

This morning as I left to take the cats to an overdue vet check-up, the city water person was digging out the main cut off.  “That’s odd, ” I thought but kept going.  Oh yes, backing up momentarily.  A year ago the couple across from me had a son and a daughter approximately 4 years old and six.   The main water cut off is out by the road in a metal box 8 to 12 inches below the yard.  It has a lid, but the grounds people hit it with the mower frequently so it is never where it is supposed to be.  The kids filled the hole with dirt one day.  It wasn’t my yard so, live and let live.

Where was I?  The county guy was getting to the cut offs.  I know I paid my bill, and the one nice thing is they actually still knock on your door and try to get you to pay before they turn off the water here.  It is amazing what you find out spending as much time sitting on my balcony as I do.  Evictions happen early Sunday morning if you were wondering.   This is a mixture of owners and renters.  The neighbors have barely lived there a month, so I assumed this was some routine, overdue maintenance.

So, I take the cats to the vet.  Bring them home.  Decompress from being overly nervous cat-mommy and head upstairs.  The carpet is wet.  Great – I guess I forgot to empty the steam cleaner yesterday.  I turn it on.  Bubbles, bubbles, warm bubbly water.  Now I am really confused.  You see where this is going, I didn’t at the time.   I go to the bathroom to empty the waste bin on the steam cleaner.  Puddle.  Under the clothes basket with the CLEAN clothes in it.  Panic.  Did I pull a hose lose when I got the cat carriers out this morning?  I store them next to the washer.  I am not good in a crisis.  Even one as minor as this.  I did laundry last two days ago and this is warm water.  Mop, mop, mop.  Move washer and dryer to see the hoses.  No leaks that I can see.  Wait, brain is working.  I go knock on the neighbors door.  Ring the bell.  Hear them inside.  Repeat.  Ah, avoiding me, very mature.  Did I mention the condos are mirror images of each other, so their washer would be just a thin wall away from mine?

Go home, watch the washer through an entire load to make sure there are no leaks.  Go extract as much water as I can from the carpet, it is only wet in this weird 2 by 3 foot area at the foot of the stairs.  No need to panic, I suppose,  but no one told me these things happen when you decide to buy your own place.  And you can’t just call the main office in a dither and have someone come fix it.  You have to fix it.  Or worse yet decide what service person to call,  wait for them to come and pay them for a service call, even if they can’t do anything. No one told me, which I guess is just as well.  I kinda like it here.


Happy Birthday

No, it is not my birthday, but one of my favorite stories is how I got my name, Anne Marie.  Well, you see I was supposed to be Michelle. Actually, I was supposed to be Michael.  My mother was sure I was going to be a boy.  I was a surprise after all.  Mom had been told she couldn’t have kids and my parents had been married a little bit and, yep, surprise.  Time to sell the pool table so the baby can have a room.

This, of course,  was back in 1967 when fathers paced in a waiting room, smoking cigarettes and apparently watching TV while their wives gave birth.  I was born after Dad had been watching That Girl, hence I was named Anne Marie.  Mom wasn’t thrilled.  In fact, I rarely remember her using my name.  I was Casper, or some other nickname. Grandma liked Anne Marie but in one of the few fights I ever won with her, I decided about the age of six that I was Anne not Anne Marie.  Probably because I had announced that I got my middle name from my aunt Marie and was promptly told I was wrong.  Aunt Marie was cool, she walked around with a transistor radio in her back pocket and was always carrying a barn cat.   After that I was just Anne, but I still like the story behind my name.That Girl