25 September 2007

Just Ask

Yesterday I learned a valuable lesson in asking for what you want or what you deserve. Let's just say you never want your boss to call you up and demand to give you a big raise. I mean, you do, of course, but when it happens and when said boss actually says "I'm appalled at your pay rate -- why haven't you said anything before?", well, you tend to feel like a dumbass. The new manager at Giant Test Prep Company, Inc. called me to say just that, and while at this point in my life getting a four dollar an hour raise for the few hours I work there a week will sadly be a noticeable improvement in my finances, my reaction was also an equal mixture of kicking myself for not bringing up the subject myself sooner. Anyway, that is my lesson for everyone for the week: think you're underpaid? Ask for more. If you're a grad student, at least you'll all get a good laugh out of it. Want some help on a project? Ask. Want to pick the brain of someone wiser and more experienced than yourself, as I did yesterday with the incomparable V.? Ask. Other advice for the week: enjoy the full harvest moon tomorrow night. Go pick some squash. Or eat some squash. Or read about the Columbian exchange and the importance of squash in New World diets.

20 September 2007

So, To Explain

I've crossed the two-week not-blogging line, but my reason was very good -- much fun, many awesome guests, fabulous food and shoes! Obviously, shoes. I uploaded lots of photos, but I thought I should probably explain them as well. R. and S., of The Law School fame, visited for the last week and half (and sadly left today) and for R.'s early b-day we took them both horseback riding. On the beach. As one of our guides said when we explained that neither had ever ridden a horse before and that this was R.'s birthday treat: "And you're doing this to her?" It was actually a lot of fun for all of us. I had only ridden horses a handful of times as a teenager, usually bareback, so it was a mostly new experience for me as well. Photos are clickable and the most entertaining ones might be of S. and R. comforting each other in relief after they were finally freed of their steeds.

In other news, I turned thirty-two yesterday! I just realized when I typed it that it's like a double sweet sixteen, except that I felt approximately sixty all day since we were sore and bruised from the aforementioned horses and since we hadn't really slept in a week due to many overdue late night talks. And, you know, since I'm freaking thirty-two and the warranty on this model seems to be running down fast. I'm embracing my inner snarky Golden Girl now, it's never too early. I was spoiled with lots of yummy food, a pedicure, a stop off at the discount shop for some $10 shoes that are oh-so-fabulous, cocktails and Thai food and fun conversation with lots of good friends. And as if that wasn't enough, candlelit cake and fun gifts after we came home. E. outdid herself on the cake front once again with a beautiful caramel butterscotch cake with dark chocolate initials and leaves (Which she made by painting chocolate on leaves, of course. Probably camellia leaves. I didn't ask, but that's kind of how she rolls. Amazing.) Again, photos are flickr-able. I'm just sorry the cake isn't!

And now, unto the breach. Today was the first day back at school that it really felt like being back. Vacation officially feels very very over. I'm looking forward to teaching this fall, since I get to teach one of the all-freshman sections (I'm not being sarcastic, I really do like them). Classes don't start until Monday, but we had meetings and greetings, and meet-and-greets all day, and for the first time all summer there were Other People in my office wing. It was kind of a shock, I'll admit.

04 September 2007

Nicer Bigger Teflon Rellenos

I have learned several valuable lessons and/or pieces of information in the past week and a half, both in British Columbia and in the past few days back at home.

1) Canadians are just nicer than Americans. More polite, all of it, the stereotypes really are true. The buses in Vancouver actually flash two line messages saying "Sorry...Not in Service" instead of just "Not in Service." Now all our buses look rude and abrupt to me. Also, many Canadians really will apologize to you when you step on their toes. I actually tested this out repeatedly and, let's assume, unintentionally.

2) My snotty attitude toward nature on the East Coast (i.e., "you call that a tree? how cute," or "that puny hill is Mt. Such and Such?") being from the West Coast correlates almost exactly to the assumed attitude someone from BC could have to the Pacific Northwest, were they not so damned polite. It was just like the natural environment here. Except bigger. Everything was way bigger. Plus, fewer billboards, which just emphasized how freaking big everything was. It was an incredible week -- mostly we did a lot of hiking and oohing and aahing. We're definitely going back to Vancouver for a city fix, it's super-Euro and cool and we didn't get to spend much time there.

3) Lesson learned by our entire household upon our return: don't put a Teflon wok on the burner, turn it onto a relatively high heat with a little oil in it, and then answer the phone (roomie was making popcorn for our movie night). Let's just say, the fire was small and localized, but the fumes were unbelievably profuse. We all, plus kitty, literally locked ourselves in my room as the least-fumigated place in the house and watched Dreamgirls. Which was great. Or that could be the Teflon poisoning talking, who knows. I think it was great. Seriously, that stuff kills birds -- if my dissertation is poor quality now, I'm totally blaming the wok. It took two full days with the doors wide open to air the house out.

4) Screw Labor Day barbecues. The food to have in celebration of working people is definitely homemade chiles rellenos with beans and rice, fried plaintain chips and mango slices. Sadly, we eschewed the mojitos because the Teflon had already killed all of our brain cell quota for the week. But the rellenos, they were so good.