Sunday, October 27, 2013

If You Can't Beat 'Em, Tweet 'Em

I recently set up my own Twitter account. It's something I resisted doing for a long time, partly because of the fact that I had to practically arm-wrestle some of my students in order to get them to stop Tweeting during class.

I also noticed that several people on Twitter post pictures of themselves, which is one of the reasons I never joined Facebook. I am not photogenic AT ALL, because I think I look like a cartoon character who hasn't slept in five days, drinks too much coffee, and would rather use her hairbrush to throw it at someone who cut in front of her in line than to use it to brush her hair.

I also read other people's Tweets, which said stuff like "Watching TV" and "Just bought a new shirt" or "I'm eating pizza right now." Several celebrities who shall remain nameless respond to their fans on Twitter, but then most of their Tweets just say stuff like, "Thanks for watching!" and "Happy Birthday, Fan Whose Name I'll Forget in Two Seconds!" If I really want to read something that makes me bored, I'll go back to reading the scholarly books and articles for my dissertation. I don't see why it's necessary to Tweet about every single thing I'm doing, especially because then I'd just be Tweeting something like, "Listening to Miley Cyrus' new song for the twentieth time." (What? I like her!)

But I started reading Tweets by people like Conan O'Brien, who posts at least one hilarious Tweet a day. I also noticed that several writers I admire are on Twitter, like Joyce Carol Oates, Anne Lamott, Jen Lancaster, Dave Barry, and Amy Tan. The cool thing about that is that I don't have to wait until their next book to come out before I can read something else that they wrote.

I also thought that maybe Twitter would be good writing practice. I've had writer's block lately, and I thought that maybe a Tweet could turn into a blog post or I could even use it in one of my manuscripts.

So I'm on Twitter now. I had to put "Weird Workaholic" as my username, because "Neurotic Workaholic" was apparently too long. (I kind of wanted to put "Weird Al Workaholic", but that would've been too long too.) I suppose I AM pretty weird, because I don't know a lot of other thirty-two-year-olds who listen to Miley Cyrus or who plot revenge (usually my plots include whoopee cushions or water balloons) against people who annoy her.

I've written about Twitter before and included my own Tweets in previous blog posts, so I may "recycle" some of those Tweets. But I also came up with some new Tweets, because there's always something ELSE for me to obsess over. I'm not posting any pictures of myself, though, because I don't want any of my students, classmates, or professors to know who "Neurotic Workaholic" is. I also really do think I look like a sleep-deprived, misanthropic, and caffeine-addicted cartoon character.

What about you? Are you on Twitter? If you are, what kinds of things do you Tweet about? If you're not on Twitter, what made you decide not to set up your own account?

By the way, you can check out my Twitter page here.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Selective Truth Telling

I heard through the grapevine that some people from my high school graduating class may be planning a fifteen year reunion. When I heard about it, my initial reaction was, Jeez, I'm getting old. And then I ran to my bathroom mirror to see if I needed to get Botox yet. (I don't need to, but I kind of don't want to anyway; I'm afraid I'll look like the female version of Bruce Jenner.)

I have mixed feelings about going to the reunion. I don't really keep in touch with anyone from high school anymore. On the one hand, it might be nice to see everyone again, and I am curious to see how everyone is doing. I did Google a few of them years ago, and I found out that at least two classmates married each other, one of them became a farmer, and another person may or may not have gotten arrested (though that may just be someone who has the exact same name as my former classmate and happens to live in the same town).

I'm not on Facebook, which would probably be a more reliable source of information. I have little interest in joining Facebook, partly because I'm not photogenic; I would probably just post pictures of food, my favorite books or authors, and stuff like Buckingham Fountain, the lake, and independent bookstores. I'd also post pictures of my loud neighbors (with their faces blurred) when they're drunk and passed out in the hallway (I have found more than one of them using the hallway as a bed and/or as a place to throw up) and captions that say stuff like, "This is your brain on drugs." (Incidentally, the last time I saw my classmates was at a wedding several years ago, where several of them got very drunk AND loud.)

I don't know if I want to go back though. There were at least one or two other reunions before this upcoming one, and I didn't go to those either. I figure that at a reunion, everyone will be reminiscing and saying, "Do you remember when..." I also figure that everyone will remember all the embarrassing things that I did. Then they'll have a lot of laughs at my expense, just like they did all the time when we were teenagers.

If I did go back, I think I'd probably engage in what some people call "lying" but what I call "selective truth telling". Here are a few examples:

I live in a really great apartment in Chicago. There's a lot of space and I get along really well with my neighbors.
The truth: I live in a tiny studio in a building with neighbors who may or may not have sold their souls for beer.

I'm not married, but I am dating. I've dated several amazing guys that I'm still friends with.
The truth: I'm married to my work. I've dated a guy who flirted with the waitress right in front of me, a guy who turned out to be at least thirty or forty pounds heavier than he looked in his profile pictures, a guy who insulted me for working in retail, and a guy who told me that I reminded him of his ex-girlfriend, the one who he still had nightmares about. And those are just SOME of the guys who are on my NEVER DATE AGAIN list. If I ever saw any of those guys on the street, I'd buy a Chicago hot dog (or better yet, a nice, big, greasy piece of Chicago-style pizza) that I could then throw at them.

It's so great to see you! We should totally keep in touch from now on. 
The truth: I'm still mad at you for making me cry/mocking me/excluding me/believing the lies your manipulative boyfriend told you about me back in high school, and you'd better run fast before I start throwing pizza and hot dogs.

My career is going really well. I make a lot of money, and I'm like those teachers in those inspirational teacher movies.
Truth: I have to work additional jobs just to make ends meet, like retail jobs where I get bossed around by twenty-two-year-old supervisors on power trips. I also have finally inspired my students to stop texting during class, partly because I turn into the neurotic, female version of Mr. Hyde when I catch them taking out their cell phones.

I've changed a lot since high school, and I live a different life now. But there's a part of me that's afraid that if I go back I'll become the person I was before. I'm afraid that they'll judge me for still being in school, even though it is graduate school. I'm also afraid that I might head butt one or more of the people who bullied me, especially if they start up again. I really wish I could be like this girl in what I think is the coolest film preview ever. Then no one would DARE mess with me at the reunion:

Maybe they've changed too, at least some of them. Maybe it wouldn't be like when we were teenagers. Or maybe not. 

I don't really want to go. Like I said, I don't keep in touch with anyone from high school anymore, so I'm not really motivated to go back. And anyway, it hasn't quite been fifteen years yet, so I still have time to make up my mind.

What about you? Did you go to your high school reunion? If there hasn't been a reunion for your class yet, do you think that you will go if there is one?

Monday, October 7, 2013

When (Almost) Everything Goes Wrong

The past couple weeks have been very difficult for me, and it seems like one bad thing kept happening after another. Here are some examples:

1. I haven't been sleeping very well lately, partly because I've been stressed out over my dissertation and partly because my new neighbor is very enthusiastic about her dates (and yes, I said "dates", because I've seen her come in and out of the building with different ones). She's so enthusiastic that I initially thought she kept watching a documentary on orangutans on Animal Planet. I was tempted to slip a note under her door or perhaps put a big sign on my window where she can see it, one that says, "THE WHOLE BUILDING CAN HEAR WHAT YOU'RE DOING."

2. One of my fellow graduate students recently won a prestigious award for her work. I can't help feeling jealous every time I hear about one of my classmates' accomplishments. I confided to this student about my struggles with my work on a couple occasions; she responded by emphasizing the fact that she was doing really well or that her professors had praised her work.

3. For every class I teach, there's always at least one or two students who are perpetually tardy or absent. One student waltzed in more than half an hour late. She is full of excuses. When I confronted her after class, she said, "I'll try not to be more than fifteen minutes late next time."

4. I gave up the chance to go to a one-night writing class at StoryStudio in order to stay home and do research for my dissertation. I spent hours making a list of books that I needed to check out of the library at my school. But it wasn't until after I got to campus the next day that I realized I left the list at home.

5. One of the other members on my dissertation committee read the draft that I spent all summer working on. I'd like to say that he had nothing but positive feedback on what I wrote and that I didn't feel like drowning my sorrows in M&Ms after I read his comments. I'd also like to say that I didn't run out of cereal and ate ice cream for breakfast instead. But then I'd just be lying.

6. Three guys "winked" at me in one day, which I was flattered by, until I read their profiles. One guy was thirty years older than me. Another guy wrote that he was looking for "discreet fun" (which may explain why he didn't put any pictures of himself in his profile). Another guy looked like he was at least seventy pounds overweight, though he was arrogant enough to describe himself as athletic and toned, and he wrote that he did not want to date any "heavy women".

7. A fourth guy also contacted me that day, though at least he wrote an e-mail. But his pictures in his profile looked familiar, so I went through all the e-mails I'd received and realized that he'd already sent me the exact same e-mail two months before, word for word. I think he must send the exact same e-mail to all the women he contacts on

8. And the award for the creepiest e-mail I've ever received goes to the loser on plentyoffish who offered to be my "financial benefactor" and to send me money. I never said ANYTHING about money in my profile. I think he either was trying to "hire" me for you-know-what or he sees himself as some kind of gross sugar daddy. I was furious that he may or may not have thought I was a prostitute or a sugar baby. I blocked him from contacting me again and immediately reported him to the site, though I really wanted to whap his face with my laptop.

9. A woman on the bus cursed at me in front of everyone else, because I accidentally caused her to miss her stop. I didn't move out of the way fast enough when she was trying to get off the bus through the back door (I tried to move out of the way, but the bus was too crowded), and the bus driver ignored her calls to stop. So she screamed at him and me.

10. Every time my parents call (and they insist on calling several times a week) they either ask when I'm going to be done with my dissertation or they tell me what I should do when I finish my dissertation. They've already decided which schools I should apply to, where I should live, and what kind of car I should get. There are several schools in the Chicago area, but they are pressuring me to leave Chicago. They've been pressuring me to leave the city that I love for years. I know that eventually I may end up in a college town, depending on where I get hired, but ultimately, where I live and teach is going to be my decision. For years, I've been trying to make my parents see that I have the right to live my life on my terms.

11. During a class discussion one day, the majority of the students actively participated the whole time, which was rare. They talked about the characters in the book we were studying as if the characters were real people. They said stuff like, "I am so mad at that character right now! I can't believe he did that!" I could tell that the book really affected them, and they said it was because they really liked it and they thought the author was really good. They wanted to know what else the author had written, and I saw several of the students write down the titles I gave them.

That was one of those rare days that made me remember why I've kept teaching all these years. I love it when the students get excited about what they're reading or writing. They were inspired by what they read in the book, and that inspired me.

Even though it seems like everything else in my life is going wrong right now (and I can't help but blame myself for most of what's happening, except for the jerks on those dating sites), that day in the classroom made me feel like I'm doing at least one thing right.

What about you? Do you ever go through those times where it feels like everything's going wrong? What makes you feel better?