Sunday, January 17, 2016

A New Year Wedding Celebration

One of the first important things I did this new year was attend the joyful occasion of my dear friend Joanne's wedding celebration. She and Jose are such an inspirational couple. I love how simultaneously fun and nerdy and cool they are together. Being a part of the celebration felt like falling in love again!

They asked their guests to come in fancy vintage wear, from the decade of our choice. The happy couple looked amazing in their finery ... including Fluevogs, of course. :-) My little family and I did the 1940s, also with Fluevogs (no pic of my husband, alas, but he wore his fanciest Fluevogs, the black Wisdoms).

First dance
My little guy and I hanging out. Yes, those are flamingos on my dress! He's wearing a WWII London evacuee costume (I know, so awkward, but I had to get him period clothes at the last minute). The googly eyes didn't come with the costume; those were from Shirl. :)
The Fluevog ladies after dancing. The bride replaced her Vogs with the most adorable bunny slippers.
My outfit details: Dress: Tatyana via ModCloth | Cardi: LOFT | Shoes: Fluevog Liz

I must add, the music that evening was fantastic. Their DJ did an '80s mix with a few songs from other decades thrown in, and it was consistently good. I was on my feet sweating off the food and wine almost the whole time!

Congratulations to the happy couple. Here's to many more years of joy to come!

xo, Gladys

Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year's Resolutions

So I shared this great video produced by Dr. Mike Evans on the effectiveness of New Year's resolutions exactly a couple of years ago, but it deserves to be seen again: "You are 10 times more likely to stick with a change made at the New Year." There may be a couple of reasons for this. The video is quick and informative, so give it a (re-)watch.

It seems that every time I make New Year's resolutions (serious ones that I write down rather than just tell people about offhandedly), I actually do stick to them for at least 6 months. And yes, changing habits a little at a time makes a difference.

This coming year, my resolutions focus on practicing and improving my writing. I've spent the past year helping students work on their writing skills. It's my turn to level up.
  1. I'm planning to start this Jane-a-Day 5-year daily journal that uses Jane Austen's writings as prompts for very brief daily musings. I received it as a present a couple of years ago, but I could never get my act together. I start it in 2016. It requires just a quick sentence per day, so it shouldn't be too difficult to keep up (and yet I'm still probably going to miss days here and there).
  2. I've also decided that November is a bad time to write a novel when you're teaching three classes, hence NaNoWriMo is not going to happen for me during their official month. But I'm happy to start a daily 30-minute writing habit, whether it's writing something new or revising/editing. But the writing habit has to be focused on a creative work rather than my journal, blog, or academic work.
  3. However, it wouldn't be good to ignore my academic work. I have an essay that was accepted for publication (!!) so I'll be working on revising that once I get the readers' notes from the editors. I also want to write at least one essay on my new long-term project that I can submit for publication somewhere.
  4. I've asked my significant other to get the writer's app Scrivener for me as a present so that I can revise my writing in a more orderly manner.
Looking at this list, I'm excited. For #2, I don't expect to write anything publishable. I just need the practice so that I can improve. (I tell my students this all the time -- writing is recursive. So you need to write, revise, revise again, get feedback, write some more, revise again, get more feedback, revise again, get even more feedback, and, if you're lucky, finally edit.) I'll need to ask someone to read a draft, which will be scary, but I'll cross that bridge when I get there.

I also have to add a #5: the usual resolution to improve my health. In my case, I've gained quite a bit of uncomfortable weight, which I'll blame on teaching. I'm not a freak about becoming skinny, but teaching really screws up my daily life. For one thing, it's crazy how sedentary it all is. I stand for hours at a time when I'm teaching. However, my campus is not only super small but it's completely flat. There are no acres of hills for me to run across just to make it to my next class or appointment. Also, I can't tell you how much time I spend sitting so that I can grade all the writing I have to assign. Whew.

For another thing, I'm always up super late working on my class prep. I've mentioned before that I need to work on not changing up so much of my syllabi. In any case, when I don't get enough sleep, it causes a cascade of problems: I get hungry when I should be sleeping, I'm more likely to choose poorly (sugary and/or carb-y things), and my body doesn't have enough time to repair itself which leads to bloating and inflammation. Long story short, I'm not healthy at the end of a semester. It's definitely time to harness the power of a New Year's resolution to change things!

Anyway, good luck on crafting your own resolutions! Here's to an amazing new year. May it be peaceful, kind, and righteous.

xo, Gladys

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Another Semester Done

I just finished another semester of teaching three courses. I have to say, practice does lead to improvement, if not perfection. While I once again hit some snags and irritations that I will have to figure out how to get around (a significant one being the students' inability to afford their books), I felt much more confident this semester. I definitely made things harder for myself by switching up the books and other content (thus necessitating new prep and some sleepless nights), but I can't help it; I strive to improve my craft as much as I can because I am responsible for the well-being, at least to an extent, of my students. That trust is sacred to me, cheesy as that sounds.

I will be changing things up again next semester, although hopefully not as drastically as before -- we will see. Classes don't start for at least a month so I have some time to decide how to retool my syllabi.

One thing I learned is that I shouldn't be afraid to rant when it's warranted (in this case, I was really angry about the Islamophobia that is happening everywhere). I actually had to stop myself because I realized I was yelling in the classroom. But it was the ranting that made a real difference for some of the students, and I know this because they said/wrote so. They felt that I really cared about the world, about them, and about our shared future. They called it being "passionate." Like last semester, I received some kind thank-yous from students, but this time around a few students gave me gifts and others wrote really thoughtful reflection papers on their progress as writers and thinkers.

Another thing I learned is that, along the same vein as the ranting, students really like to see my personality and glimpses of the real me. I have this problem with self-presentation, where I have two main professional personas that I default to. One is the more fun one that likes to talk "real" and sometimes gossip, and the other is my formal lecturer/interview persona. I need to fix the second version to make her more like the first, which is more the real me, anyway. But obviously I'd prefer a middle ground between the two when I relate to my students. Oversharing and being buddy-buddy could lead to misunderstandings and hurt feelings when grading time comes around. At the end of the day, the power differential between me and my students is much too great for true friendship to develop during a class. It's sad but that's how academia is structured here.

Finally, I also learned that young students really love their music. On the last day of one of my classes, we had a potluck and it turned into an impromptu dance and lip-sync party! I didn't perform (um, no way), but I enjoyed how comfortable they were with each other. Students in that particular class have made friends with each other, to the point where they hang out and study with each other for other classes, too, and I actually think that's one good way to gauge the success of a semester of teaching.

Next time, I'll talk a bit about my upcoming New Year resolutions. If you celebrate a holiday this time of year, I hope your holiday celebrations and preparations are going well!

xo, Gladys

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Happy Snapshots: Summer 2015

I went to Western Europe for the first time this past summer. I went with one of my sisters to London (with brief visits to Bath and Cardiff, Wales), Edinburgh, and Paris. It was a very quick but lovely trip. Here are some photos!

Requisite tourist-y photo with the London Eye in the background (on the Jubilee Bridge)

My younger sister and I got lost while trying to walk to London's West End, and we managed to run into the little cul-de-sac where part of the Philippine Embassy was. Of course we had to take a dorky pic.

I met my friend B at the Tate Modern Museum and afterward we walked across the Millennium Bridge toward St. Paul's Cathedral.

A "street" performance in front of the British National Museum (not an actual street there)

Are you surprised that we made it to Cardiff, Wales, to check out the Doctor Who Experience/Museum? Loved seeing a life-size police box in person.

This was the site of so many great Doctor Who episodes (the Russell Davies years).

This was taken outside the Roman Baths in Bath. The walls activated my trypophobia a bit, but I made sure not to look too closely!

Lovely Fluevogs (Arabella) by the bath

Tea time at the famous Pump Room

More tea, this time in Edinburgh, Scotland

Walking up the Granny Steps towards the Edinburgh Castle

Taking selfies in front Notre Dame just to show we were there. There was no way we were going to wait in those huge lines to get inside. I know. We made really bad tourists.

Posing at one of the many bridges in central Paris. Check out the locks.

Sorry this was basically just a photo dump. I don't have much time to write a longer reflection on the trip, though, to be honest, I probably need to take the time to reflect on it more. I came back from the trip and had to start teaching less than a week later. I was pretty jet-lagged for the first few weeks of the fall semester and I'm not sure that I've quite recovered yet! But it was great to be there. I even saved my sister from getting pick-pocketed/mugged. I want to return with my husband next time.

xo, Gladys

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Happy Snapshots: Spring 2015

This past June and July have been a little busier for me than in past years. I was able to meet a writing deadline this week, so I'm feeling pretty happy with myself. Note that I don't expect anything to come out of it; I did submit something for publication (academic), but it's the completion of a writing project that is always a victory for me, even if it's minor.

As I sorta promised, here are some pics from our Colorado vacation. We stayed at a rented guest house on a crazy-beautiful 17-acre place in Durango. This was the yard, you know, where a herd of deer would just hang out and eat the grass and gallop into the forest when they heard a car coming down the long driveway:

Herd of deer

Me on a horse for the first time ever! My companion was named Cielo and he LOOOOOVED to eat. He was big and slow. (Btw, I wish I'd worn a better hat, but I don't have any cowboy hats.)

My little guy (waving) on his horse named Burrito

I love that he's still so cuddly.

It was a nice vacation, although I was scrambling to finish grading during a good chunk of the week. I did finish grading on time, though. And it was a nice place to relax outside of reading student papers.

Here are a couple of other photos from earlier this year. This one with M and E was a selfie taken after we watched the musical play, Pride and Prejudice, at the La Mirada Theatre. It was really well-done and really fun. The three of us went as a birthday celebration for me. What a great ladies' night out!

Do you notice that my front teeth look more prominent? I started wearing Invisalign braces back in February, and with the realignment, you can see that my teeth are wider than they used to look. Yes, I'm finally straightening my teeth in my thirties.

Finally, this photo is of a pair of cool socks that my older sister got for me as a thank-you. They're all titles of banned books. What a super cool way to celebrate such great books!

So you see, I have been taking photos and doing other stuff besides teaching and grading. I wish I had more time for the blog -- it's a good way to practice writing and journaling -- but I hope this will do for now. Have a great rest of the summer!

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