Monday, January 31, 2011

Bitchin' and Moanin'

I know BuffState is, well, a state school, but it's week number two of the semester and I had to deal with two broken printers and three out-of-order copy machines in the library today.

I know BSC's students don't pay private school tuition or anything, but SOME of the money we pay goes towards general up-keep and what-not ...right? Because I know it doesn't go toward clearing the sidewalks of ice and snow in a semi-quick manner.

And because you have to swipe your student ID to print (and because they DON'T PUT A SIGN ON THE BROKEN PRINTER), I was charged twice for printing something that was never printed. And then I had to pay again to actually print it.

Then when I tried to copy my papers... well you get it.

So much for making things easier for your students, SUNY College at Buffalo.

Thanks. You're doing a great job.

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

13 States, 1 Province.

Man, I miss taking vacations. Or trips. Or just weekend get-a-ways.

I would have to say my favorite spot for getting away is Toronto. And Rochester. And Pittsburgh.
That's if I'm choosing places that have no family members living in them.
Although if I looked out the window and then was asked to pick a city to get away to, I would probably pick Siesta Key, FL.

In all honesty I really have not been many places in my life. I've lived in and around Western New York all of my life. Went to school in Rochester and lived there for a total of six years or so. That's technically WNY, right? I've visited Orlando and St. Petersburg and Fort Myers and Tampa and Sarasota in Florida. I've never been to NYC, but I've been to Toronto and Pittsburgh, which are pretty large cities. As is Washington DC & Baltimore.  I love that area.  I'd really love to go back there. I went to a music festival in Illinois called Cornerstone, but I really have no idea which part of the state it was in. Saratoga Springs, NY is a pretty amazing place to visit. I have a feeling it is quite pricey to live though.

I've driven through a lot of places. And I've camped in the wilderness.

Needless to say, I have not been on a trip-- even just for the day-- in quite a while.  Being out of work for over six months will do that to you.
It would be cool to go somewhere new on my next trip, but visiting a place I've been before is easier. There isn't a learning curve. I know where the cool coffee joints are and the cheap pubs and the great people watching is. I don't have to look for the markets and the record stores and the book shops on a map or anything, I just jump on the train or subway or rickshaw and I'm there.

I'm trying to think... How many states and provinces and countries have I been in or through?

New York
West Virginia
South Carolina
North Carolina
Tennessee (I think?)

Do you have me beat?
Where's the next great place I should visit (in North America) if I had the chance?
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Saturday, January 29, 2011

I Start on Monday.

My apologies to all of my hundreds of thousands of readers who have been waiting for a chazblog post since Wednesday, but the past couple days has been pretty insane. And by insane I mean busy.

Let's start out by saying that I have not been called in to work ALL WEEK. It is frustrating to say the least. Unlike some people, I actually have to work for a living. I need to work. Not so I can buy the latest issue of Tiger Beat or a new weekend fedora but to pay bills. Being unemployed and relying on Unemployment Insurance and a we'll-call-you-when-we-feel-like-it job just is not cutting it. What happened to the people I interviewed with three weeks ago?? They said they would be back in contact with me the following week. THE FOLLOWING WEEK WAS TWO WEEKS AGO. I am worthless. I am not as great as I think. I need to stop thinking so glass-is-half-full all the time and start lowering my standards. I applied at Tops Friendly Markets and Wegmans and-- ugh!-- Starbucks. Even though I have a Master's Degree.

But then I came home Wednesday evening and there was a message on the machine:

"Hi Charles, this is so-and-so from NCCC. We have a job that starts next week that we'd like to offer you. If you're interested, please call me back at--"

Wait, did I hear that right? A what? A jobby-job? For me? Starting next week?

I called her right back even though it was after six-thirty in the evening. I left her a message that, yes, I was very much interested and if needed I would produce her a male heir and that she could call me back any time to go over the details.
The crazy thing is that she called me back five minutes later. We agreed to meet at the school on Friday.

So Thursday I decided to get my car inspected. The Blue Lady (my car) has always given me problems. She is temperamental and moody and I was just so nervous about getting her inspected. I knew she probably needed new breaks. And last night when I used my wipers (while parked) the driver's side wiper had flown off. And there was a rubbing sound when I turn right sometimes if I had my foot on the gas... in other words there were all kinds of problems. I took her in, gave the keys to the counter service boy, and sat and read a book, trying not to think about my car. Every time I am in a mechanic's waiting room all I can think of is the infamous quote from one of my college roommates:

If it's my ass or my car, just knock me out, fix it, and don't tell me what you did.

The kid came back a half hour later and informed me I just needed new wipers. What?? That's it??

I hurried out of there as soon as possible just in case they realized they forgot to check something.

I rested up Thursday night so I was ready for my Friday morning meeting with MY NEW BOSS.

I was so paranoid on my way to the meeting. Was that a rattling I heard? Did the mechanic forget to tighten something down after my inspection? Were my breaks slipping a bit? Maybe I really did need new breaks. What if they just GAVE OUT on my way to my meeting. I knew for a fact I didn't pass any tractor trailer run-offs between my apartment and the school. What was my best option (and safest. For me) if my breaks just stopped working? I decided to stay an even safer distance from the car in front of me. But WHY IS THIS GUY DRIVING SO SLOW? THE SPEED LIMIT IS SIXTY-FIVE FOR CHRISSAKES GET INTO THE RIGHT LANE IF YOU'RE GOING TO GO SO SLOW.

Needless to say, I got to my appointment in one piece. I was actually early (no surprise if you know me).
The class I will be teaching runs through March, at which point there should be at least one other class for me to start teaching. I will be teaching adult learners, which is the same type of students that I had at my last job. The job that I loved. The job that was ripped out of my hands at the beginning of last summer.
Enough about that job. I HAVE A NEW JOB!

I start on Monday.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


What would you do if all technology just stopped working?

I know I would need to find a new way to wake up in time for work.

I guess first things first is we should define "technology." In my opinion technology is anything that runs on electricity or a battery or an engine. So what are you left with?

No phones.
No televisions.
No lights.
No cars.
No clocks.
No mp3 players.

It's a good thing there wouldn't be any automobiles because the traffic lights would be out of order. The only way to travel would be on foot or on bicycle. The only way we would have to communicate with each other is face to face. Or passing notes.
How would we tell time?

Would life as we know it fall apart? Would the crime rates go up? Or would we go back to the "olden days"? Would we be a closer-knit society?

Could the shops in the Elmwood Village stay open? The coffee shops would need to find a new (or old!) way to make coffee. The hairdressers & barbers would need to cut (no pun intended!) some of what they offer. No more perms. No more blow drying. The dry cleaners would have to close up all together, yes?

Think of your daily schedule. How often do you use something that runs on a battery, on electricity, or a motor?

I think I would need to invest in a rooster. Or three.
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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Kids Today

I hate to be a crotchety old man at the age of 34, but kids today are ridiculous.

I know I nay be a little older than your average state college student, but I'm not so out of touch that I don't "get it." I may be losing my hair, but I'm not losing my mind. If you want to slouch your pants and show what kind of boxers you're wearing, fine. If you want to wear your baseball cap on backwards or sideways, more power to you. I won't make any comments about how you look uneducated and immature. Neither of those fashion statements don't directly effect me.

But when you sit next to me IN A COLLEGE CLASSROOM and complain in a non-whisper to the kid sitting on the other side of you about who the hell knows what, then we're getting into actions that effect me. Directly.

Maybe you're at school on your parents' dime, but I'm not. I'm in class because I want to, not because I have to. If you don't want to be in class, go outside. Go home. Go away.

Here's another thing: when did teachers start handing out study guides For midterms and exams? I've had two classes this week and in both at least one student asked if there would be study guides available for the tests. REALLY?

Okay. End of rant.
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Monday, January 24, 2011

Music Equals Blah

Today was cold. Very cold. I know some people here in Buffalo thrive on the cold & snow and sometimes use the "it was WAY colder when I was in undergrad" argument to explain that it's not as cold as the thermometer tells us, but if it's under sixty degrees, then that's cold in my book.

If the below freezing temperatures and snow covered sidewalks weren't enough, a set of songs from my iPod came on, which made my mood exponentially worse.
As everyone who has ever lived a semi-interesting life knows, music gives us certain memories when we hear them and these three songs in particular reminded me quite a bit of summer, the beach, and a much warmer time.

I just wanted to drive and drive until I hit the southern coast or the sun or a beach. My heart was breaking for white sand instead of dirty white snow. But I can't just leave. I have roots here now. Or obligations to say the least. The days of driving & driving until I run out of gas are over. I'm a grown-up now. How ironic that I figured this out while listening to songs from my youth.

I am so over winter. The four seasons are over rated.

For those interested, the three songs that prompted this post are:

"All Summer" by Kid Cudi
"The First Day of Spring" by The Gandharvas
"Ocean Breathes Salty" by Sun Kil Moon
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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Entry Twenty

I was thinking all day about what my entry 20 post would be about. It's twenty, so it should be a big deal, right? A milestone of some kind?


If 20 was a big deal, we'd be able to drink when we were that age.
Not that I'm saying Entry Twenty One will be a bigger deal.

I spent most of today at a family gathering. A holiday dessert party. In other words I spent most of today hearing about aches and pains, the best place to store your parent or grandparent, and which friends and family members have died or are on Death's Door.

Good times.

And there were a boat load of desserts. Cakes, pies, jello molds, cookies, cupcakes, strudels, etc.
The last thing ANYONE in our family needs is more dessert, but "it's the holidays!"

Wait, what?

It's almost February. "The Holidays" are over. The rule should be: A week after New Year's Day the terms "Happy Holidays," "Happy New Years," and "the holidays" should NOT be permitted. No exceptions.

Am I right?
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Entry Nineteen

Women and their mothers. Am I right?
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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Entry Eighteen

I just can't win.

I had it all planned out. Even though I only slept for a few hours last night, I was going to force myself to stay awake and then go to bed at ten o'clock tonight (I know a 10pm bed time on a Saturday is early. I'm an old man at 34, what can I say?), and I'd be all set. I'd be back to normal.

But then I was invited to watch the Syracuse Orangemen basketball at a local Irish pub. And I had a few beers, and the Orange ended up getting beat, so I had a couple more beers than I planned, and I had a beef on weck sandwich, and by the time I got home... IKEA couch was like kryptonite. I was useless against its power.

Two hours later, when I woke up, u was completely refreshed and completely NOT tired.

So much for sleeping through the night.

I wonder if watching the Orange play at an Irish pub was bad luck?
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Entry Seventeen

I often sleep horribly because I have so much on my mind.

Or because I eat too late. Or too early.
The last week or so has been pretty crazy with the Too Much On My Mind crap. First there's the nostalgia (see Entry Sixteen), then there's the news that Keith Olbermann left MSNBC, then there's the news that Aaron Sorkin is working on another television show for a channel I don't have. I get stressed out and hyped up about the stupidest things.  Why?  Why can't I just calm the hell down and relax?  Is it anxiety?  Probably.  It runs in my family pretty rampantly.  But I don't get anxious about enclosed spaces or being in a room full of strangers or silverfish.  I get anxious about TV. And memories.  And food.

I went to bed at 2am and woke up around 630am.  My plan is to eat, do a bit of reading, and then extend my birthday weekend even longer by going to the pub for drinks, a late lunch, and drinks.  By ten o'clock tonight I should be fatigued enough to fall asleep.  And then I can end this sleeplessness cycle.

For the moment.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Entry Sixteen

I have been super extremely nostalgic today.

I've been thinking WAY too much about high school and the nineties and life before all this technology took control of my life. I'm not exactly sure why my mind has wandered to my younger self and my old friends and the times we used to have.
They weren't always good times, but they were memorable.

"This little group has always been and always will until the end..."

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if my friends and I stayed together, stayed alive, stayed in one piece... would I be a different person? Would I be in a different place? Would I still be alive?

I think it's better that I don't think about it. For now.
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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Entry Fifteen

Thirty Four isn't so bad.

Today is my birthday. I don't feel older. Don't get me wrong: I feel old, I mean, I'm not nineteen anymore, but I don't FEEL old. Right now.

I still mentally see myself as my 20 year old self. Everytime I walk passed a mirror I'm still taken by surprise.
Who's that old, balding dude?

Oh. That's ME.

Right. I'm not in high school anymore with my car full of friends and head full of hair and bed full of girls.

I like being older, but I hate it. All the rest if you thirty-somethings out there know what I'm saying.
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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Entry Fourteen

I had so much to write about earlier. I was so depressed and pissed off and angry and... then I got on the computer and did job searches and filled out applications and then I got hungry and then I read a bit ("Juliet, Naked" by Nick Hornby), and read a bit more, and then I saw I only had fifty more pages to go so I finished it, but I wasn't in the mood to do anything strenuous, so I grabbed the next book in my stack and read some more ("Gang Leader For A Day" by Sudhir Venkatesh) until I started to doze off.

I hate looking for work and applying for jobs and filling out applications. I feel like a failure. I have a friggin' masters degree for chrissakes. Why is it so hard to get employed??

I just want to work.
I swear to God I'll work for free for a week just to show you I'm an amazing employee. Just hire me.


It's so hard to think and act positively when things are going badly.

I should have written earlier. This wouldn't have been so rambling and whiny and poor-me.

I'll do better. I'll be better.
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Monday, January 17, 2011

Entry Thirteen

Lucky number 13. I should have written about my luck (or lack there of) in this post.
But I already did that. And no one wants me to repeat myself.

It's bad enough I'm polluting Twitter and Facebook with my opinions and musings, but now I'm blogging too. God save the internet.

It's not like anyone listens to me anyway. So if I repeat myself or go on and on and on about the war or the education system or crappy television or music, no one will notice, really.

If a guy blogs and no one reads it, did he make a sound? Or a difference?

And would anyone care?
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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Entry Twelve

I just finished watching the Golden Globes.
Of the three or four movies I actually saw in the theater this year, they all were nominated. I have a pretty good record (films seen to films nominated) this year!

The movies I've seen in the theater in the past year:

The Social Network.
The King's Speech.
Alice in Wonderland.

I think that's it. It's a pretty sad list. I mean, I went to Film School for crying out loud. I am embarrassed that I've only seen four movies in the theater all year.

We have to fix that for 2011.

The Golden Globes have taught me a few things:

I need to see "The Kids Are All Right."
"Burlesque" still appears to be unwatchable.
Robert Downey Jr. Is turning into my generation's Jack Nicholson.

I am VERY happy that two artists I have been a fan of for years and years won awards tonight: Aaron Sorkin and Trent Reznor. They both worked on "The Social Network": Mr. Sorkin wrote the script and Mr. Reznor wrote the score (with Atticus Ross). It's always nice when someone you love gets recognition for their talents.

I can't believe "I'm Still Here" wasn't nominated for anything!
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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Entry Eleven

What is the greatest place in Buffalo?
I mean, I know why people like Buffalo: the people. And the fact that houses & apartments are so cheap.

But what is the best place in this fine city?

I used to say Caffe Aroma. But now that I don't work there anymore, I have kind of moved on. It's small and it's snobby and... half of that is why I loved it so much.

Could HSBC Arena be the best place? The Sabres are a great team, but is that because of where they play? I think not. Besides, everytime I think of the Arena, I miss The Aud just a little bit more.

I guess Elmwood Village is a place. But it's a collection of places really. Can the entire village be the best place in Buffalo if it includes a fast-food coffee shop and a handful of empty high-rent storefronts? Elmwood Village ten years ago was better. Smaller, yes, but definitely less high-end and trendy.

Hertel Avenue reminds me a lot of what Elmwood used to be. Or what Allen could be. Just with more Italians. The locally owned shops and restaurants, the old-fashioned movie theater (that still shows indie and art-house films!), and the combination of new and old architecture is a great draw for locals. But it's hard to tell out-of-towners about it because it's not really near any hotels.

The Old Pink is great. But dirty. And anyone over 30 has had enough late nights at The Pink to last a lifetime.

Fayretty's is cool, but only when it's warm out. The same with Cozumel. Or anywhere with a decent patio.

Speaking of bars, could Chippewa be considered the best place in Buffalo? It's pretty popular on weekends and after a Sabres game and after Thursday At The Square. But again, it's mostly for the under-30 crowd, yes?

Should I be throwing places under the bus because I'm "too old" to enjoy them? I must admit my favorite place in Buffalo no longer exists. It's literally a hole in the ground. I enjoyed my younger days there and I feel as if I'd still be hanging out on Franklin near West Huron if that club wasn't run into the ground, left empty for over four years, and then used as a make-shift shelter and dumpster by vagrants, and then eventually torn down.

So what is YOUR vote for The Best Place in Buffalo? Is it somewhere that's still standing and in operation (as opposed to my vote!)? Why does it get your vote?
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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Entry Ten

I dislike movies and books and stories about alcoholics and drug addicts.

It's not because I am an addict or something. I'm not. Really. Stop looking at me like that!

The reason I don't like stories about addicts is because they're so predictable. The story can end in one of two ways: they overcome the monkey on their back and get clean, or their addiction gets the best of them and they die.

There's no other ending to a story about an addict.

My major issue is from a writer's point of view. There's no creativity.

That's all, really. End of rant.

And I'm not a drug addict or an alcoholic. Seriously.
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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Entry Nine

This blogging thing is hard, sometimes.

I told myself that I would at least attempt to put up one a day this year. I'm not exactly sure why I decided that. Maybe it's so that I can "keep the creative juices flowing" or something equally creepy sounding. Or Maybe it's so that I can have something to show for myself. I feel like the last year has been a blur. I really don't remember much other than losing my job. Did I accomplish anything? I'm not sure.

If you were to take a piece of paper and list every year you have been alive on the left side and then put one word representing that year on the right, what word would describe 2010? What did you do last year? What about 1995? 2003? It's hard, yes? Think of the one thing you did that defines that year. A trip you took. A person you met. A concert you attended.

But getting back to blogging.
Why am I doing this? Why does anyone do this? Why do people do anything on the internet? Status updates and tweets and blogs and picture posting... it's all, well, boring... am I right? The question "why bother?" come up a lot while wandering through the internet.

A fan site based on the Aaron Spelling show "Charmed"? Really?
A Facebook status about what your child just said? Who cares?
A tweet explaining what your dream? How interesting!

And that's not to say I am not guilty of some of these boring, useless, and ridiculous activities. I share asinine trivia and liberal political rants and blogs that no one cares about or will read. But I do it anyway.

That's what the internet is for! I'm not going to scribble away in a journal like I did when I was a teenager. I'm going to blog. And maybe this is not for you.

I told myself that I would blog at least once a day this year and I'm still not exactly sure why.
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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Entry Eight

I am not very superstitious.
True story.

I never put much stock in shooting stars or crossing fingers or knocking on wood. I never make a wish at 11:11. If something is meant to happen, it will. Walking under a ladder or breaking a mirror isn't going to affect that event from occurring.

But at the same time, u have always had bad luck.

"If it wasn't for bad luck, you'd have no luck at all."

And the last seven plus months have been incredibly unlucky. Maybe there's been an increase of black cats crossing in front of me. I have never been very good at thinking and acting positively. Will looking on the bright side help? Will wishing on The First Star I See Tonight change my luck?

Knowing my track record, that "star" will be a satellite.
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Monday, January 10, 2011

Entry Seven

I'm really not sure how much more can go wrong. I lost a job that I loved in June. I spent every single day of the rest of the summer & early fall looking for work, applying for jobs, sending out resumes and applications, digitally pounding the pavement.
Big jobs, small jobs, part-time & full-time. Jobs I wanted and jobs that would pay the bills.

I just want to work as a teacher. And be able to pay my bills. On time. And maybe save a little cash-money for an eventual vacation. Or new car. I have never owned a new car. Is that odd for an almost mid-30s-something?
The problem is that I hate money. I hate what it does and I hate what it stands for. I hate that the world revolves around it and thus my life revolves around it too.

I would give anything to live a life where I wouldn't NEED money. I'm not saying I want to give away everything and walk the earth It something. I just wish there was something other than money.

Maybe we can go back to the barter system? I'll teach your children if you clean my teeth and supply me with food & shelter!
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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Entry Six


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Friday, January 7, 2011

Entry Five

I read something today that kind of struck a nerve. I don't have the exact quote, but it basically said that the more someone blogs, the less unique they become.

I'm not sure how much I agree with that idea, but I'm also not sure if I disagree. Blogging involves revealing secrets and "telling" people things about yourself that you would not normally divulge. Bloggers and writers are more honest when they type. The more "stuff" someone reveals, the less of themselves is left.

Does this make you less unique? If I share all if my secrets, does that mean I'm less me than before I revealed those secrets? Do all bloggers become more similar the more they write/publish blogs?

Is society and technology just attempting to make everyone the same?

I also believe technology (& society) is making everyone more solitary, but that's for another post.
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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Entry Four

Why do I continue to waste my time, my evenings, my life on these trashy or poorly written or unrealistic television shows?

I keep telling myself they'll get better but they never do.

I refuse to calculate how much of my life has been wasted on this garbage.
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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Entry Three

I'm not really a big video game person. This makes me an oddity to many of my friends and family. Don't get me wrong-- I like, no, LOVE technology and all that comes along with it-- but I just never got into video games.

I grew up with a Commodore 128, not an Atari. I had a baseball game on there and some roll-playing game, but mostly it was used to learn how to type and to make obnoxious homemade signs and greeting cards (printed on a dot-matrix printer!).

So when I visit with my friends, or I go to a family party and we get to the inevitable "so now what?" point in the day, I always stray away from the Wii or XCube or Nintendo or GameBox.

I don't need video games to have a good time.

Besides, I like games you can have a conversation while playing: Gin Rummy or Monopoly or Uno or Candyland are cool with me. This probably makes me seem like a square. Or an Amish. Or a Ludditte. But what will you do if the power goes out?

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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Entry Two (part 2)

I killed that interview.

I felt a bit stressed as I waited for them to call me back, but then a prospect came out of his interview and made a comment about the lesson plan I was reviewing:

"Oh wow, your plan is all typed up?"

Those eight words relaxed me completely.

I answered their questions and asked them a few, then taught my lesson. I wrote an error-filled paragraph on the board (there WAS a dry-erase board!) and then went through the capitalization errors, spelling and mechanics errors and even a dangling participial correction.

Many kudos were thrown my way, and then we sat around and chatted a bit more. They told me they were very interested in me, but they needed to finish this week's interviews. They told me next week they would be making decisions.
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Entry Two (part 1)

I'm early. That's no surprise if you know me. I got in my car at 1:45pm for a four o'clock appointment at NCCC. The weather in Buffalo is snowy and cold, so I wanted to warm my car up & wait for the snow to melt off it.

If you've ever seen my snow brush, you'd understand.

I was nervous on my way here. Not because of the interview, but for everything leading up to it.

What if the roads were bad? What if my car breaks down and I have to walk 45 miles? What if a semi jack-knifes and I'm put behind schedule?

The roads turned out to be fine, so I set the cruise control for five miles over the speed limit (getting pulled over would NOT have helped!) and set off for the college.

About five miles from my appointment I got stuck behind a pick-up carrying lumber. I gave him some room because all I could imagine was one of the 2X4s flying through my windshield.
That would have set me behind schedule, I think.

I'm not really nervous about the interview or the ten minute lesson I have to present, but if they don't have a dry-erase board in the room we're in, I'm going to have to improvise!

More soon.
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Monday, January 3, 2011

Entry One

I need a new planner. It's the new year, and I want to be more organized.
Or maybe I should just go with the flow. Fly by the seat of my pants. A planner would force me to organize my life. It would also give me that AMAZING feeling everytime I cross an item off of a To Do list.

You know how great that feels.

I think I also need one of those files in a box. I can't think of the name of it, but it's like a file cabinet but smaller and with a handle so I can bring it around with me.
I could be a traveling teacher. Or something.

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