I write from the Radisson Hotel Miami. From my window I can see Biscayne Bay and a whole heck of a lot of buildings and cars. This part of Florida is weird to me because it doesn't seem or look like the Florida I know at all (Northwest Florida, Gulf Coast). It's like being in an entirely different state. We flew over the Everglades, which looked very different from high up than from low down, as we started to land.
I'm here for 2 back-to-back conferences. This is International Education Week (nationally) so it was a very busy time for me to leave the office. But these 2 conferences are challenging and thought-provoking, and I expect to come home with many good ideas which -- get this -- I may actually have some time to implement.
Usually I return from conferences and toss a stack of notes in a corner and head out running again. But the fact that we have the new staff member and that the office is finally fully staffed is giving me new hope. A few weeks ago someone suggested something to me that's rather outside the box I usually work in, and instead of wanting to cry and get under my desk, I said, "Wow! That's really exciting! I look forward to exploring that with you!"
It's been at least three years since I've felt that kind of hope and excitement. I'm really grateful for this new perspective. I'm scheduled to do lots of class talks about study abroad in the upcoming weeks; starting in the Spring I hope to be going out to area high schools, too.
AND, we just learned that 2006 has been designated by Congress as the Year of Study Abroad. Some pretty exciting opportunities coming up. Yesterday afternoon was the gallery opening for our Hot Shots from Hot Spots photo contest. What a delight to be able to meet with the students and hear the stories behind their photos...to see their experiences through their eyes. I tend to be a homebody myself, but I am ABSOLUTELY COMMITTED to providing opportunities for students to learn that there is a world outside of Texas, where people think differently than we do.
I learned that very thing on a study abroad program, 17 years ago, and since that time it has been my mission to continue helping land-locked Texans like me learn that same thing.
As my former boss and mentor, Tom, says: International education is the best hope we have for creating a peaceful world, where people talk and work together rather than fighting with each other.
Isn't it miraculous how the body machine heals itself? After 2.5 days of feeling really bad, Ken got up this morning and said he was starting to feel human again. :) (Yesterday he told me it felt like someone had pitchforked him in the gut and wiggled it all around. I said, "Well, isn't that basically what they did?")
Testing gingerbread person recipes -- right now I have chilling two kinds of dough: one made with Splenda that took MUCH more butter and many extra spices, and one made with brown sugar that has only ginger. The minimalist gingerbread!
I am charged with providing the viands for the reception on December 18 following our Service of Lessons and Carols; and have been specifically asked to supply "mulled cider and gingerbread people" (potentially a problem 'cause I could only find a "gingerbread BOY" cookie cutter!)
But then later I looked at the event website and realized that it is promising "English gingerbread cookies." Ummmmmmmm.....would any of my English readers care to comment on what the genuine article might be?
Thanks for the prayers. Ken did fine, though the surgery (a click there is not for the faint of heart!) took 4 hours instead of 1 or 2 as they thought. Won't give you TMI here, but suffice it to say the condition had progressed quite a lot and there was a lot of cleanup to be done. They were able to do it laparoscopically, though. Very grateful for that.
I was about ready to jump out of my skin by the time the doctor finally came out (and did he ever look beat!) And - joy of joys! - he brought PHOTOS of what he had done inside my dear sweetie! Talk about surreal. And he left them with me. I guess we can put them in the scrapbook.
Ken is, as expected, very sore; and the long time under anesthesia meant a longer time waking up and feeling alive again. We weren't discharged until 6 this evening. I brought him home, put to bed, ran to the grocery for Rx, soups, Ensure, pasta.....he needs a soft and mostly liquid diet for several days. I said, "The Braces Diet!" because that's what I had to fix for Bran right after he got his braces on.
I ran out of reading yesterday - a fate worse than death! I had finished 2 newspapers, Brideshead Revisited and a great book by Susan Wittig Albert about career change and was reduced to buying People magazine from the gift shop. :P And there were a number of choices, and THAT was the most attractive one. Yuck.
Anyway, I ran home midday today to pay the staff and, O, what a gift! my new copy of the brand spanking new Jan Karon book was on the porch! Light from Heaven is, as you may know, the last in the wonderful Mitford series. I had forgotten it was coming, that I had pre-ordered it. Thanks, I needed that! I'm only about halfway through and imagine I will pass out before I finish it tonight. Leaving more fun for tomorrow!
Thank you, Lord, for a successful surgery; that the worst of the pain is over; for our skillful and kind doctor who was willing to spend so long to do a good job laparoscopically; for the funny and gentle nursing staff; that we were NOT waked up all night; that my hips didn't actually freeze permanently in the position in which I slept in the chair. And for our friends and family who held us up. I felt y'all!
Ken is having surgery tomorrow (Thursday). It's to repair his hiatal hernia....technical name for the surgery is a laparoscopic Nissen fundoplication. I find that intensely amusing...as if he were having a quantity of Pat Robertsons multiplied into his gut.
He IS hoping to lose some weight as a result of the surgery...I certainly would if Pat Robertson got anywhere near me!
Won't you please keep us in your prayers? If all goes well and he can have the laparoscopic variety, we should be home by Friday. If they have to open him up, it will be a few more days in the hospital.
...as I learn this morning that Texans voted (yes by 76%) yesterday to pass an amendment to our (already enormous) State constitution, banning same-sex marriage.
Here is what it says: "The constitutional amendment providing that marriage in this state consists only of the union of one man and one woman and prohibiting this state or a political subdivision of this state from creating or recognizing any legal status identical or similar to marriage."
There's been a lot of fussing back and forth ... does the way this is worded threaten traditional marriage? does it nullify common-law marriage? (In Texas, all you have to do is cohabit and say, 'we're married,' and you are married by common law.)
No matter about all of that....I'm just sick about the intent of it. It's a mean-spirited thing, intended to slap at people who already don't have a right, and to tell them, "AND YOU NEVER WILL, EITHER!"
I had to wait 34 years to find the person I wanted to marry. What if, having finally gotten there, I'd been told, "No, sorry. We don't approve and you aren't allowed to make a home with this man and his son" (which home, I would argue, has been greatly to the benefit of all three of us over the years)? Marriage is love, as I see on many blogs I read.
Thirty years ago, I'd certainly have been told such a thing if Ken had been African-American. Now, we see inter-racial couples in the Weddings section of the paper every week. In small-town Texas! Who would have thought it!?
Sorry, folks. This is wrong, and time will bear me out. In the meantime, I have to say I am sorry to those for whom my one vote did not prevail.
First day in the new office. It's nice but just across the hall from the ladies' room, so everone who goes in there peers at me. Think I need to leave the door mostly shut.
I moved everything over Friday afternoon, and unpacked it Saturday. One of my exceptionally valued associates is much more unhappy about it than I am, and I've been trying to help her see the good side. As I said (I think) it's just across the hall and down two doors; but it's a break with the past 10 years we've worked together in that we are no longer in the same suite of offices ... within hollerin' distance.
It's likely just going to be a matter of time. :)
Last night Ken and I attended a wonderful concert of Purcell music at UNT. Such riches of musical talent, just a few blocks from us, and we so rarely take advantage of it! Partly because their concerts usually start at 8:00 p.m., at which time this lady wants to be in bed!
Maybe this is what fibromyalgia feels like? I am so exhausted I can hardly bear to be upright. I know I didn't get enough sleep last night, but GEEZ!
Today I checked a reference, hired someone, finished that paperwork, decided to move my office tomorrow, consoled someone who was feeling unhappy about me moving (just across the hall, but it will make a real difference in our work configuration). I myself am deeply ambivalent about change and find it very exhausting. Maybe that's the problem.
My RevGals books came but they have the messed up cover. :( I hope they can be replaced quickly!