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I have too much stuff. Really. The fiber stuff may be breeding in the night. Every time I think I've got the last of it, more turns up. And the school stuff is definitely breeding too. Kevin gets a medal for keeping his mouth shut about it. He did say I'm not allowed to buy any more until it all fits in its boxes. He then clarified that I am allowed to buy more boxes. He must love me lots.

In other news. Wisdom teeth are useless and the fact that mine came in perfectly straight and so were not pulled and so get cavities irritates me a great deal. The fact that the filling fell out on Saturday was also irritating. And painful. The dentist and I had a long talk yesterday, and mine will go away in June, ending that specific irritation forever. For right now, the hole in my tooth is sealed. I have never appreciated a glass of cold water so much.

The baby blanket that needs to be done yesterday is crawling along. The fact that I am splitting my time equally between packing and whimpering is not helping. There is a container of loose tea in the knitting bag that I keep forgetting to drop off at the new place. Also some heating pads. I don't even remember when I put them in there. It (the blanket) is green and white and I like it. It will be done sometime. I hope.

The baby (K's nephew) the blanket is for was born healthy last week, so that is good news. His name is Asher Odin, which I am not so sure about. Maybe it's just that I'm a teacher, but I can think of too many bad nicknames for Asher. And if you're going to pick a Norse god, Thor or Loke have way more personality.

Moving day is Saturday. Wish me luck.
It's still on -- K and I are moving in together. We have started moving stuff to the new place, and negotiations are proceeding well. I haven't lived with anyone since college (8 years) and he hasn't had a roommate for a number of years either. He is saying little about the yarn and knitting library (larger than I'd realized when it's not tucked away on shelves), and I am trying to bite my tongue about the kitchen gadgets.

His couch is ugly, but it's more comfortable than mine, so my couch (actually a daybed) is going away. His pots and pans are nicer (this is undisputed), so mine will live in the attic. I like my drinking glasses (classic French cafe glasses), and he likes his (cut glass, fancier), so we are trying to decide which to use. I have a knife block that will fit all of our nice knives, but he likes his boring wooden one better (it won't fit all the knives). I think I'll win knifeblock negotiations. I have a fabulous bright multicolored striped rug that he thinks is too loud, so it's going in the office rather than the living room. To be fair, it would be REALLY ugly with his couch. Between the two of us, we may never need to buy tea again.

All in all, negotiations are still polite and are going well. We may both survive this move. But really -- who needs a bagel slicer, old-fashioned milkshake machine, portable bar, and a pasta maker? I mean, really! We have a bread knife, two blenders, lots of glasses, and boxed pasta. And that was just one box last night . . .

There would be pictures of all this stuff, but I seem to have packed the batteries somewhere safe.
Fair warning -- there are mood swings on the horizon. Probably many of them. At least for the rest of the month. After a fabulous birthday, real life is raising its head again and making faces at me.

K's stepfather died yesterday night. They weren't terribly close, but it's still upsetting for K. Plus he's worried about school and job hunting and the move. I'm worried about him.

Moving is stressing me out. Stress makes me cranky and sick. This move is a good plan. But still. I have to pack and throw away and clean. I am bad at these things. Very bad. And the sick part sucks too. Not very sick, but uncomfortable at irregular intervals.

My doctor friend has 10 more days of AIDS meds. So far all the tests are good, and the hospital is sometimes sticking to the 40 hour per week medical restriction she's supposed to be on until the end of the meds. She is coping, but tired and stressed. I'm still worried about her too.

Also, for the record, I deal badly with change. I hate it. Even good change sucks.

So, for the next month, take the mood swings with a grain of salt and watch for the knitting. I'm working on a garter stitch project. I'll take pictures at some point.
I am 30 today. I sort of feel like it ought to upset me, but it doesn't. Sure, it's a milestone, but it's a good milestone. I am in a good place.

I am employed at a job I love. Today, an architect transitioning to teaching observed my crazy 2nd hour class having mostly unstructured time, and thought it was a fabulous lesson. (Draw an abstract picture on a piece of paper. Have a student go to the board without seeing the picture. Have the other students describe the picture using words only so that the student at the board can replicate it. Don't laugh too hard.)

I am moving in with my boyfriend at the end of this month. He is fabulous to me and will (please God!) find work soon so he stops going totally nuts. It's a much nicer apartment and I will no longer be driving back and forth every other day between our two places.

I have fabulous friends. I have teacher friends, gaming friends, recently reconnected high school friends, college friends, and internet friends. I am loved.

There are plenty of challenges on the horizon, but for today, I am going to enjoy being 30 and happy. Life is good.
K and I cooked dinner two nights ago. He foolishly told me to find a recipe I wanted on the internet. Any recipe. I selected Indian peanut chicken, so we bought chicken, peanuts, and chilis and started cooking. What could possibly go wrong?

A few things I didn't realize before cooking -- K's brown sugar was a solid block (a washed screwdriver makes a good chisel to extract 2 tablespoons of the stuff), not all spices come ground (hammers are good for this), and peanuts are not the same as peanut pieces (another good hammer use). Despite unconventional cooking tools, the chicken is delicious and we will definitely use that recipe again.

This cooking example is a good metaphor for K and I overall. We don't always do things the easy way with each other, but we laugh, and both like the results. This is why we have decided to move in together starting April 1.

Not all of my friends are convinced this is a good plan. However, these are not friends that have met K. The ones who have met him think it's at least a workable plan. I myself have had second (and third and fourth and . . . ) thoughts. There are certainly some challenges.

We will be moving into a rental unit that the other half of my mother's house. Now don't get me wrong -- I love and respect my mom. She is an amazing woman. But I've lived with her for a total of about 6 months since the beginning of college (counting summers), and a grand total of 3 weeks since graduating college. We are both very opinionated women and when we are close, sparks can fly.

Plus, it's moving back into my mom's house. It feels like a defeat. Like I can't make it on my own. That's not the reason, but it feels that way.

K is still unemployed. The economy still sucks. He's sent out 100+ resumes and had 3 interviews, 2 of which were not even in his field. He will run out of money at the end of this month. Unemployment will pay only about half of his expenses in his current apartment. His lease is up. He needs to move. He will probably be able to find work over the summer, but with this economy, I don't want to count on it.

I can afford my apartment, but it is not a nice place. The kitchen is so small as to be practically useless, the old carpet is disgusting, and it is just small all over. The only plus is that it's cheap and close to my work. Theoretically, K could move in with me, but that would mean 2 people, 3 cats, and 3 ferrets in a tiny apartment. It strikes me as a perfect recipe for murder.

We're not signing a lease someplace new until K has a stable job.

My mom's apartment is only slightly more than what I'm paying now (she's discounting by $500/month because we will be responsible for helping out with maintenance on the building and she really wants me closer to her again) and it's 2 bedrooms. It has a full size kitchen, in unit laundry, and a big enough living room that we could have friends over. Cooking will be easier, K and I won't be driving back and forth between each other's places every other night, I can put my very fat cat on a diet, and I will have K there every night, and K will be able to chip in a few hundred dollars a month even on unemployment. Financially, I should come out ahead even with the extra gas and insurance. The downside is that my commute will get a lot longer.

K feels bad about the commute getting longer. He feels bad that he is not contributing more. He is going crazy sitting home. However, this is the best option for right now. If the commute truly makes me nuts, I'm only locked into it for April and May. We could look for other solutions over the summer. If the commute doesn't make me nuts, K and I will probably live there for a year to save money, pay off debts, and get ready to buy a place.

And, there is always the fallback plan. If K and I stop working as a couple once we're living together, he moves out and I still have a fabulous place I can afford. Or I could find a new and better apartment closer to school over the summer.

So -- reality check time -- am I as crazy? Or is this a decent plan? Have I thought through most of the issues? I think I would prefer honest feedback over kind lies.
Here are the incoherent ones coursing through my brain. There is no cohesiveness.

Students are remarkably dumb sometimes. Today I presented them with the shocking truth that to pass, one must HAND THINGS IN. "I didn't finish it," does not earn you points. In fact, it brings the dreaded teacher response, "Why not? It was due 2 weeks ago. Yes, it is now half off, but half points are better than the zero currently gracing my gradebook."

I had a very productive day. I don't know about the kids.

The other thing I hate from students is, "I didn't know how to do it." This gets the invariable response, "When did you come and ask me?" Or "What do the directions say?" And yet they always look surprised.

OK -- just one more. "I was absent. It was excused." Yes, you were. You are still responsible for making up the work that you missed. Your excused absense just means that I have to let you make it up. Excused does not mean you get full points without doing anything.

Maybe more than one. "I can't come in outside of school to make it up. I take the bus." Yes. But you missed work, particularly labwork, that must be made up with me, here, at school. I teach and you have classes. This means that you need to come in before or after school to make it up or take the zero and don't complain that you're failing. Ask your parents, or your aunt, or your friend, or someone else to come pick you up. Or even, provided it's above 20F out and you have a hat, walk home. You are still responsible.

In case you haven't guessed yet, progress reports are entered next week. It's always a fun part of the quarter.

The bus driver taking us to the academic bowl meet last night got lost twice. It's an unfortunate skill in a bus driver. The following was a sample of conversation from this ride:
ME: You are going the wrong way. We need to turn around.
Bus driver: But we're still on Midlothian. The directions say to take Midlothian.
ME: You are going in the wrong direction on Midlothian. Please turn around.
BD: But we haven't seen 176 yet, so I shouldn't turn.
ME: 176 is behind us. We need to go the opposite way.
BD: We're coming up on 60. That's the same as 176, right?
ME: No.
We finally stopped and asked a gas station. I was right. We turned around.

On that same bus ride (after the freezing rain stopped, but while still snowing), we skidded once for about 30 ft into an intersection, and passed at least 3 accidents. The kids all ended up safely back at school, but it was more exciting than I needed it to be.

The ride to work this morning was still exciting. I passed 5 accidents this morning (2 at the same intersection), and skidded myself rather terrifyingly (but only once. I love traction control. However, it can only do so much with a flat sheet of ice once called a road). I started intentionally going over all the potholes, because potholes provide traction. Traction is good when driving.

I have knitting tonight. I think I need it. Please God, let the roads be salted.

PS My doctor friend is OK and back at work. Thanks for all your kind thoughts and support. I'll let you know in 5.5 weeks when we get the final confirmation that she is really fine.
I am in Michigan today with my best friend. I got here yesterday. I am not here because K and I broke up or are having doubts or any of that. I am here because two people love me with all their hearts.

My best friend is a doctor. She is a good doctor, and loves her job. (Well, except when there are three 36 hour shifts in a week. Then, not so much.) Unfortunately, there is a downside to this career. There are sharp things and there are sick people. And sometimes, just sometimes, those two things meet in a doctor's finger. My best friend's finger. This is what the medical profession terms, "Not good." It is even more not good when the sick person in this equation has full blown AIDS.

She will be fine. There is a treatment regimen. If you have a known HIV exposure and start getting treatment within some number of hours (72?), the odds of getting HIV yourself are 1 in 800,000. Those are good odds. Plus, it was a "low risk" stick. (feel free to laugh ironically here) That means that she scraped her finger with a needle and did not jab it into a artery or vein. So, she will be fine.

But she is scared. I can't blame her. I am scared.

My best friend was exposed to HIV two days ago. I don't even have a pair of socks ready for her.

There is nothing I can do to fix this. All we can do is wait.

She called me crying at midnight on Friday. K was the one who heard the phone and made sure I answered it. We had of course had the more sensible discussion earlier in the day. I told her to call if she needed to. She did. As I am listening and trying to calm the more irrational fears, K looks over at me and says, "Go to Detroit tomorrow. It's just Valentine's Day." He is wonderful. Did I mention that?

So I am in Detroit. It is better than doing nothing. I am addicting her to silly facebook games so she doesn't go crazy sitting still (the medicine makes her tired and sick). I am providing regular distraction. The two of us have laughed through terrible times before (some hers, plenty mine). This will not be any different.

She told me last night that just having me here is making her calmer. She slept through the night last night.

This is a perfect way to spend the Valentine's Day Weekend.
I was just looking at today's question -- if you could have any job in the world, what would it be? -- and I realized how lucky I am.

My answer is teaching science. To high school kids. Even on the bad days. I just have the best job ever.

I was actually going to write about this even if that wasn't the question, but still -- I am terribly lucky. I get to spend each day teaching kids about science. In class, we do fun stuff with diet coke, mentos, mythbusters, and most recently, pulleys. And if I feel like letting the kids get me off topic, we end up talking about other cool stuff. Today it was phobias, weather, dangerous spiders, and roller coasters. One student started doing spontaneous research on other poisonous insects (how could I say no? He WANTED to research!). We may not have been on topic, but their class was ahead and they were all listening and paying attention.

I have the perfect job. Life is good.
I have been on my uber austerity budget for about 3 weeks now, and there is a LOT of money in the bank. I was apparently wasting quite a bit. Still, this weekend, I eased up a little bit. I took myself out to dinner on Thursday (my favorite take-out, $12), took K out to dinner on Friday (Thai, $32), and went to see Mongolian Throat singers on Saturday night ($11). Together, this would have been a whole week's worth of spending. I also stocked up on basics again. I now have a good supply of dried cranberries, meatballs, pasta sauce, and chocolate.

I am going to keep with the intense budget for the forseeable future, with the odd break weekend. I like having money in the bank. It is nice to have $300 extra with payday on Friday. The only thing I might have to buy this week is some gas.

Plus, I am thinking about moving. Probably around the end of March. And the scary part -- K and I will be living together if all goes well. Money will be needed for this plan to work.

There are still some roadblocks. The company that told K they want him to come in for second interview will actually need to hire him. I could still freak out and screw up the plan. However, it is looking likely.

K keeps printing out floorplans of nice places that we could afford if we were living together.

So, please keep your fingers crossed for me, and for K's (possible) new job.
I just wanted to pop my head in and say that I am still alive. Finances are still scary and there is some big stuff coming up that is warping my brain. Still, life is in perspective. K got laid off, putting my financial troubles off the scary map. I have a regular paycheck and that is a good thing. Budgeting means buying almost nothing, but hey -- all the bills are getting paid and I am eating regular and healthy meals.

I leave you with a quote from my classroom last week, "Hey! There are ducks on my shirt!"