Sunday, January 17, 2010

Full Stop

or, "From Crazed to Dazed"

In our last episode, Miss Chef and I had returned from a memorable trip to parts north--New Jersey suburbia, and the bustle of Manhattan. Our return flight was Friday morning, to allow Miss Chef and I to get back to our busy work schedules. Our flight was delayed, so almost immediately upon arrival, Miss Chef changed and headed back out to work. Yep, that's right: she's a workaholic.

My plan was to spend the weekend re-working and tightening up my syllabus, and maybe writing some conversations to introduce each week's topic. I really should have started it the week before Christmas, since school was out and my evenings were free. I wasn't looking forward to cramming all that work into the last weekend of my vacation.

But our last day in Jersey, I was thrown for a loop. I got the following email from my department head:

I hope you enjoyed a nice holiday season.

Yesterday we closed the FRE101 course for the winter term due to low enrollment. We’ll try again for spring!

The subject line read "Schedule Change." Change?!? That's like saying death is a change in living status. Hmph. I had a hard time deciding how I felt: shocked, relieved, disappointed, excited, worried. "Hey, glad I didn't spend all that time before Christmas working on an unneeded syllabus!" "Damn, I hope word hasn't spread throught the student body that my class sucks." "Wow, I'll have plenty of free time again." "Shit, what the hell am I going to do with myself?"

And, as Miss Chef pointed out, "I bought you that nice briefcase for Christmas, and now you don't have any use for it."

I feel about half as bad as I would have if I'd been fired. I mean, it's not like they're going to go through the headache of finding another (well-qualified, happy to work part-time) French instructor. And I assume there will eventually be student demand for a French course again. Still, there's a sense of rejection there--probably more so because I'm female. (Is that sexist?)

Anyway, my point is supposed to be that I'm feeling a bit at loose ends. Add to that Miss Chef's absence this weekend, visiting her family and some of our friends in Alabama. For various reasons, I opted not to dip back into my vacation days to go with her, though I would dearly love to see Mobile again.

Just as I was coming to terms with missing out on the fun, near the end of the week, I realized I had Monday off. A three-day weekend? Double drat! Not only was it too late to change my mind about those vacation hours, but now I had three whole days at home, Chefless. *sniffle* *pout*

I have never felt so negative about a day off in my life.

Maybe I should explain a little. I lived alone for five years in graduate school. I made some friends; our department was small, my program even smaller. We all knew each other, for better or worse. But, between being alone, being single and in a years-long dry spell, and, as it turns out, going too far down the wrong path, I ended up in therapy. Nothing serious, in fact most of the people I knew in grad school had been or were going through counseling. Suffice it to say that, in spite of how important those grad-school years have been to my mind and my career, they were probably the worst days of my life.

This weekend alone, without a course to prepare, was starting to feel like my endless, dreary weekends alone in my apartment. And I know that depression is not something you get over like the flu; it's always ready to come back into your life. So I got proactive.

I emailed some friends, explaining my predicament. One couple apologized, saying they were going to be out of town. The other never emailed back. Oh dread...I started making up a list of projects to keep myself busy: get my oil changed. Hair cut. Trim shrubs.

Miss Chef left Friday morning, with my admonishment to call when she got home. (I never used to worry about people traveling...) That afternoon at work, I placed my cell phone on my desk, so I could grab it when she called. Around 4:00, it buzzed with a text message...but it wasn't from Miss Chef: "J & J are coming over to have some adult beverages. We'd love it if you could come by."

Sweet! My going-out-of-town friends had decided to have a happy hour at their place, partly for me. Not only would that keep me from moping around Friday night, but if things worked out right, I'd have a great excuse to drag around the house Saturday morning!

So my weekend is turning out to be only half-bad. Friday was wonderful fun, and I did spend Saturday doing absolutely nothing, even though I felt fine when I got up. My other friend called this afternoon to accept my suggestion to see a movie. (We saw Up in the Air, with George Clooney. I'd love to hang out with that man for a day. He seems fun. And yes, hot.) And it turns out I have a doctor's appointment Monday afternoon I'd forgotten about.

And so, feeling not so bad off, I'm spending the evening doing something I haven't had much time for: cooking. I'm camera-less too, this weekend, so I was unable to take any pictures, but I'm making an easy Coq au Vin. Do you want the recipe? I'm using this one I found at To summarize: in a heavy dutch oven, brown some bacon, pull it out; brown some chicken, pull it out. Brown some onions, garlic & carrot, add some wine and cook a few minutes, then put the meat back in with broth, herbs and more wine. Simmer 45 minutes, serve over egg noodles.

One pot; what's not to like? And baby, I gotta tell you--it smells good in here!

And yes, Miss Chef did eventually call me...after I called her and left a message. Humph. I may make a point of eating all this coq au vin before she gets home.

Today's post feels especially self-absorbed to me, especially considering the plight of Haitians this week. As I mentioned in a comment to Liz, I've been wanting to write about the earthquake and its aftermath, but I have no idea what to write. Only that I feel terrible, and I hope that we--the rest of the world--don't get bored and turn away when it doesn't get better in a week or two. I wish I could hold someone's hand, but all I can do is send some money. And I feel good that I have money to send, thanks to my crazy, two-job schedule the last several months.

God bless Haiti--they need it more than America.

Oh, and the picture...well, I told you I'm camera-less, so I thought I'd repost my fixed-up photo of the whale at the Museum of Natural History. Just 'cause...he's a pretty cool whale, I think.


  1. Well shoot, I wish the law school would call me and tell me all my classes were cancelled due to low enrollment and I get the next semester off! Actually, that's not entirely true because I would then have another semester added on to the end of my program, which would suck. Royally. I can see how such a last minute "change" would really mess things up for you though. I am absolutely sure you should not take it personally though. I mean, much as I hate to say it, there isn't much call for French these days. Now if you were teaching Spanish...

    Anyway, it sounds like your weekend worked out alright. Too bad you are not closer - I'd have invited you over for chicken chasing in the barn. It's all very well to build them a new coop, but it's even BETTER when they actually learn to USE it!!

    Love the whale. I feel like one sometimes, but maybe not quite one that big.

  2. You know what I think? I think that sometimes... when things are really awful somewhere else and we are so powerless and the suffering is so awful... I think that can add to our loneliness, our self centeredness. I think it's like a defense mechanism. We can't fix what's outside of us and so we pull everything inside. Pile on top of that the alone-ness and the history you shared... I think your feelings are natural and normal.

    If only you weren't so far away from me... we totally could have hung out!

  3. Yollar next time you're stuck at home. I may do the same - Sarah's doing a lot of traveling and I'm stuck home watching crummy movies.

  4. Hey Flart, somehow I missed your post when it came out on Sunday, I just now I went looking for ya. Durn, your class was cancelled, however, I think you needed to slow down some anyway. Talking about being alone - I was a latchkey kid, so if I had the place to myself, I goet all excited. I'd sit in school all day, looking out the window, just waiting to be able to take my key out of my book bag and let myself in to an empty house. Oh, those were the days. Hope all is well.

  5. Like Joanna said, I was a latch key kid. And an only-child, so being alone for long periods of time is something I enjoy and look forward to. I have no problems keeping myself happy and occupied when I'm alone. It's when people are all around me that I feel anxious and scatter brained and tense.
    Thankfully my kids and my hubby (he's an only-child, too) respect how I feel and give me my space.

    I know you feel about not wanting to post about anything self-centered when Haiti has been going through their tragedies. That is one reason why I waited a week after the earthquakes to post about me selling my mare. Even though it was so terribly sad for me, it felt less important than what the people of Haiti have been suffering through.

    Hang in there, and try to enjoy your little vacation time. You've earned it with the crazy busy schedule you've had this past year.



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