A step off

Things aren’t going particularly smoothly this semester.

For some reason, the groove just hasn’t clicked. I feel like I’m just sort of out of sync with the whole world right now.

It actually ended up resulting in a good cry in a stall of a less frequently used campus bathroom after someone snapped at me over something trivial I wasn’t paying attention to. (Yes, I should have been, but since the only loss was my own hot dog bun…. really?)

Not really sure how to fix it…. but really hoping that groove settles in fast!

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Constantly Craving by Marilyn Meberg

Constantly Craving by Marilyn Meberg is the latest book that I’ve received from Thomas Nelson for reviewing.

There’s been a lot of books with themes of cravings… mostly along the lines of following God and not our flesh. This is not one of those books.

This is a book that discusses many of the areas where we always find ourselves wanting more no matter how much we have. It doesn’t get into things like addictions or personal weaknesses, these are areas that everyone tends to feel, like relationships.

But rather than go the route of beating ourselves up over these cravings, or being a how-to on trying to make them stop, Marilyn shows them simply as being signs pointing to the fact that we are made for more than just the human experience.

It’s a fun read, and has a lot of stories and real life examples… but the whole different approach towards the topic of cravings was really what stood out to me. It’s so much of a change to have a discussion of the topic that doesn’t totally revolve around trying to make cravings go away.

Definitely a good book!

Amazon page for the book
Thmas Nelson’s page for the book

Search scares me sometimes

Google sort of scares me sometimes.

The most recent….

I’ve had the same cell number since I first got a cell, about 6 years ago.

This summer, I started getting voicemails from random people about sprinkler systems. All calls from out of state (our state only has a few area codes).

One person addressed the person they thought would be hearing the message by their first name… a fairly common name.

Another person mentioned that he was the best at troubleshooting a certain model of sprinkler.

So… on a whim… I decided to google.. using just that first name and the model name.

Before I’d even hit enter… it popped up a suggestion… that was a man’s name. Same first name with a last name. I decided to hit it.

The very first link on the results was the linkedin page for the man. Who works for a landscaping company in town.

I clicked on the webpage link for the company…. and on their page that lists their services…. that model of sprinkler was one of only a few listed that they install.

For some reason, this sort of scares me a bit.

It seems like you should need a lot more info than just a first name and a sprinkler type to track someone down. (Well, I suppose google probably used location too by looking at who my internet provider is… but still…)

I mean… do I really want someone tracking me down that easy with just my first name, city, and something that I do or am good at?

I suppose that was common way back when…. back when you could address a letter to bob the builder and what city and have the local postman know exactly what carpenter named bob you meant.

But in the internet age? It sort of scares me.

The orange sky

Back when I was an older kid, I remember riding my bike around after dark…. and sometimes just sitting at the edge of a wheat field and looking out across the field to the eastern sky.

Because where I lived in the far west suburbs, the sky in the east always sort of looked like dawn. There was an orangish glow that spread out along the horizon as far to the north and the south as I could see… created by the lights of the city.

I can remember one christmas that I was at my grandma’s house, and was outside waiting for parents, and stared at the slightly orangish grey night sky. I remember thinking how awful it was, and how much I really would hate to have that sky.

We moved into town when I was 15… and I guess somewhere along the way I got used to it. Pretty much everywhere I’ve lived since then has been close enough to the city to be under its glow.

Last night, we drove out to an observatory… about 4 or 5 miles from where I grew up… to watch the meteor shower. And we didn’t even have to go inside to see tons more stars than even hint to exist from our house.

My daughter was amazed at even being able to see lighter and darker areas…. and millions and millions of stars instead of the hundred or so brightest ones that have always been in her sky.

And at the sunrise… that was actually still just the city glow. It was actually kind of hard to really explain to her that what seems like dark to her at night is actually still caught up in the reflection of millions and millions of lights that she may not even see but still distort the view.

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Besides just being a reminder of something I miss but forget about in daily life… it also made me wonder a bit.

How much do we miss the vastness of God because of “glow”?

As numerous as the stars…. is amazing and awe-inspiring in the country.

In the city? Well, if I gave it some time to come up with a strategy to section off parts so I didn’t double count, the task totally seems do-able.

How many other ways do I not even realize how little I see, from the effects of glow off of things that aren’t even in my range of vision?

How many ways I am so used to an orangish grey, that I forget that things aren’t supposed to be that way?

And how do I get to “the country” to see a more accurate view?

The air of answer

There’s something about the arrival of an answer to a problem…. or even part of an answer… that feels like there’s suddenly air to breathe again…. as if you’d been holding your breathe.

A piece of the puzzle fell into place today.

Someone at work is quitting. Ok, so they aren’t actually quitting, but they are taking a job in another completely different department, so to our department, they are basically quitting.

Someone who previously worked 3 days a week in the office.

And… randomly… instead of giving all three days to the next person with seniority, the supervisor is giving a day each to three people.

As it happens… I have an open day in my week, because one half of the class has clinicals on one day, and the other has them on the other day.

And so I no longer have an open day.

But… I now have 7 hours a week that are a sure thing! No wondering on how the schedule is going to look, or what events are when… though I will still be working events and have the unpredictable hours for those…

But now 7 hours a week are firm.

Doesn’t sound like much, but that’s basically $50 a day after taxes… or an extra $200 or so a month!

Doesn’t make a giant dent in the short term issues… but that makes a pretty good sized one in the longer term budget!

Still waiting/hoping/praying/worrying for a few more pieces to fall into place… but a very nice sigh of relief to have some of the picture a bit more into view. 🙂

Loans and issues

So I guess I haven’t really gone into what happened with the school loans and why the craziness.

So, way back when I first applied to the program, I’d done the first financial aid app before I’d been accepted into the program… because it was due before that point. So they’d made up my offer letter based on general student schedules.

So, when they made the one for this year… the one that I signed and accepted…. the one that had the numbers on it that I was looking at for feasibility, they basically just updated that one for the new year’s numbers.

Nobody (including me, because I should have) caught that because I’m in this program, my schedule isn’t just the general fall and spring schedule…. because we have classes that are required to be taken in both summers.

So, the numbers should have reflected the extra semester. But they didn’t.

And there is a max cap of student loans that you can take out per year… and I was at the max in those numbers.

And so, they had to correct things… which didn’t actually even get done until I’d already started summer classes and was late on getting all of my books and such.

So the amount of loans that would have covered 2 semesters with about $1,000 each semester to cover books and help supplement on other expenses…. ends up not quite covering three.

Summer was covered, but for both fall and spring I’ll owe about $300 on each, plus be on my own for covering books and all of my other bills.

And of course I only find this out after I’ve already started classes… and with basically two months to come up with the money for majorly expensive books for fall, and three months to come up with the first $300 tuition payment.

Or, I can do a payment plan that spreads the $600 over 12 months… but that has a $140 fee. 😦

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So that’s where the financial chaos is coming from right now.

I’m working with the books… but unfortunately, the program usually mostly the same books all the way through, so the first semester has big expenses on big books instead of each semester having more smaller ones.

And unlike a lot of colleges, the school library doesn’t keep a set of books in the reference section to use in the library only.

Plus my math book is brand new this year, so there’s not a used book market on it.

But, on the math, there are rental services that will rent it to me for $60 for the semester. Or $40 for 30 days… which I’m actually considering doing, and then making copies of the pages with the problems for the sections that the syllabus will say that we will be covering.

Rental services don’t make as much sense for the other books… where I will be needing them for multiple semesters, though it might with the workbooks… which I’m still waiting to find out if I really have to have, or whether they are just to help the student but not for credit.

So I’m trying to figure out on those if I can get by with using an older edition of the books. For example, one is $180 for the 2010 edition, but the 2005 edition is only $40. With 5 years apart, there will obviously be some differences in the editions from changes in technology…. but is the hit to my grade from not having read the new additional parts going to be worth the extra $140? I’m thinking probably not.

With the rental and the old editions…. I can get my books down under $200…. for a total needed soon of $500.

Which sounds a big less intimidating than $600 in books and having to come up with $900…. but only marginally.

From my budget right now… $500 is still pretty darn crazy to try and pull out of thin air in two months while still keeping critical things like water and electricity on.

Do I really need the extra $40 a month for gas that’s only used for hot water heater, and so basically only used for showers right now? It’s summer… maybe the cold will feel good. lol

Olympics of half-empty.

Olympics and gloomy spells make for interesting observations.

I can’t say I really watch sports ever, but with kiddo being into sports, particularly volleyball and basketball which are both summer sports, the TV has been on olympics almost every time that I’ve walked through a room she’s in this week. (well, after camp each day anyway..)

And amid all of the much deserved cheering for the medal winners… it’s sort of interesting to notice some of the less cheerful sides.

I wonder a bit…. how many broken hearts and shattered identities come from all of this. All those competitors who have spent so much of their lives training so much of their efforts on these dreams… but just weren’t quite the best. When they are obviously the best around back in their homes.. and probably have been for quite some time. How tough has it got to be to come to grips with the fact that even if you are the fastest person on the entire continent you come from, you still might just be the person coming in last in this race.

How many people watching the games and hearing so much about them everywhere they turn are nursing wounds as former stars who had dreams, but had them die… due to injury… due to circumstances… due to life in general. Some due to giving up, some from mistakes, some from no fault of their own. Some from just not being physically capable no matter how hard they pushed themselves and trained.

At the same time, I’m sort of baffled at some of the patriotism and seeming personal feelings of accomplishment of random non-athlete people. Things like people who couldn’t do a backflip to save their life bragging on facebook to people they know in other countries… as if they had anything to do with the team’s victory except living in the same country. Does some distant connection based only on where some lines of division happened to have been drawn really give any latitude to brag on anything really? (Even better, person on that particular incident happened to live in far south texas… as in formerly mexico. Guess they are glad to war went how it did, so they could rub in random loose connections at people who probably don’t really care?)

And maybe the darkest story I’ve seen this week…. the story of the chinese athlete who won a medal… only to be later told that two of her grandparents died over a year ago, and her mom has been battling cancer for a long time. They decided not to tell her for all of this time because it might make her lose focus on her training for the gold. Really? Can you imagine a worse way to be told that basically your feelings don’t matter at all if they get in the way of how you perform? How much would you even feel like you mattered as a person?

And that has been your stressed-out and pessimistic feeling guide to the olympics. Feel free to dump out the half empty glass for something that tastes better!