Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wow can this year suck any more?!?

2009 isn't even half over and the disappointments and frustrations keep piling on. Yesterday in class my professor (who is also the MAT director) let me know she had received a letter from the Office of Graduate Student Services (OGS), a letter I had not received myself basically stating that I wouldn't be graduating due to the "incomplete" still on my record from Fall and some question about my workshop credits I took. So, I went to the office this afternoon to talk to the woman in charge of this. Of course it's none other than the same woman who was "so offended" by my e-mails at the beginning of the Fall semester because I was basically talking to her as a peer, which is apparently a crime in academia. Talking to her was useless: I'm not graduating, and it's all my fault because my advisor didn't get the grade changed and didn't amend my academic planning form to include the two workshops I took to fulfill the graduate credit levels. So, it's not that I didn't meet actual requirements, it's that certain paperwork was never filled out or changed. And of course, I am not notified of this until after it's too late to do anything about it other than the initial letter way back in February. Obviously I didn't fully understand all that needed to be done so I could graduate as far as changing my academic plan or I would've done it.

Obviously several things bothered me, the first of which was how I was treated. It was not the "I'm really sorry about this" or "let's make sure everything gets settled" or even "I'm here to help" type of attitudes, but more of the "you're a complete idiot" attitude and "I have better things to do than to discuss it with you." There was no sympathy for anything; no thought about how this affects me; nothing. I was a lowly subject in her fiefdom. I hope one day I get the opportunity to tell her what I really think about her. The other thing that bothers me is the whole absence of humanity. This could all be solved by a few simple key strokes. I would be getting the degree I earned and could move on with my life. But no, because some arbitrary deadline passed and the person who was supposed to take care of it didn't, I have to postpone any plans I had as far as graduation goes until August. What does it hurt her to just say, "OK, you got the credits you needed so let's just change the form and all we need is your professor to get her butt in gear and get that grade changed." No, since the official changes are after a random day, I have to wait until August. It would be one thing if I were missing a class or short on credits, but I'm not. I have done and passed everything I was asked to do, but now some simple paperwork is missing that I obviously didn't know about and I'm the idiot since I'm not an expert on how to finish the MAT program. I'm SOOO glad I didn't spend money on announcements and getting a party together. I did buy the robe and hood because I was going to walk, but now walking in August doesn't really excite me all that much. I think it's because I wanted to graduate with my friends who were also in the program and now I can't. Kind of ruins the moment. It technically shouldn't stop me from getting a job, but still I just want to be done with this already. I'm tired of school and more tired of all the politics and idiots I have to deal with on a daily basis.

So yeah, I came home and seriously wanted to break something, but didn't. I was soooooo mad, but ended up breaking down. This is all coming at the worst possible time. Losing the house, having to move, getting everything done with school, and now one of the lone bright spots I was looking forward to is taken away from me and at the very least put on hold. I hope the people that caused this to me one day get to see what they did and actually understand the immense amount of sadness, frustration, and anguish they caused all in the name of deadlines and power.

I have already e-mailed the director of the School of Music- the only person who seems to actually be supportive- and talked to the director of the MAT (she was the one that said it wouldn't affect my job search). The director of the School of Music is going to meet with my advisor I think tomorrow and see what happened. Of course nothing will happen to anyone except me. I mean, heck, since I was two days late in realizing I had neglected to turn in an assignment that's what caused the whole incomplete thing in the first place! So, if I'm late it costs me and if someone else is late it costs me too! Seriously, this whole experience has been botched from day one. I should've known being the first person in 10 years to go through the MAT from music would be this bad, but no, I had faith they knew what to do. Nope, not even close. The scary thing is things could've been even WORSE if I hadn't said things along the way (like with my supervising teacher!). I've really enjoyed my graduate classes, my graduate professors, and my classmates, but this will definitely leave a sour taste in my mouth. If I'm ever in the position to donate money to KSU, it certainly won't be to the College of Education OR the School of Music. The only department I have dealt with regularly that hasn't royally screwed me over is the athletic department! Seriously!

The lone benefit of this is that I will be able to attend my sister-in-law's graduation, which is the day before when mine would've been. She is graduating from medical school in Maryland, which I think is most impressive and awesome. Getting a master's degree is cool for me (I'm the first of my siblings to get one though was the last to get my bachelor's), but graduating from medical school is way higher on the hierarchy of accomplishments in my humble opinion. PLUS I get to see Andy, Heather, and Heather's family again! Doube bonus! =)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Wow it's over!

It's Sunday night and I don't have any lesson plans to worry about. What a great feeling! I officially finished student teaching on Friday, though after school I still had the district's Spaghetti Dinner fundraiser concert and today I posted my final blog reports for the week. It was definitely one of those surreal moments when I walked out of the school Friday afternoon realizing I was done with student teaching. Even at the end of each class it really didn't hit me that would be the last time I'd be in front of them as their teacher. I had really stop running the choirs a few weeks ago other than warm-ups, but still most didn't even know it was my last day. Not until near the end of our portion of the Spaghetti Dinner did Mr. Suzelis acknowledge me as the student teacher and the fact that it was my last day. In my general music classes, some students did know, plus I told them and got class pictures of each class. I wish I had remembered to get class pictures from last nine weeks, but I never managed to do it. I can say happily that no students were happy to see me go...none of them said "YES!" when they found out it was my last day or that it was coming up soon. In fact, some even said "oh come on, stay another week!"

Anyway, so it's all done. It is quite a wonderful feeling to be done, but in all honesty I can't really enjoy it all that much. It's much more of one more major thing out of the way so I can get on to the next major thing: moving. We spent much of the day Saturday packing and loading my car and Mom's. I was pretty frustrated with the whole process and having temps in the mid to upper 80's didn't help. It's hard enough moving, but not even having the proper equipment to even do it sucks too, kind of like the situation this past winter having to manually shovel the entire driveway with over a foot of snow on the ground. We have made great strides in getting rid of things, but even after all that there is so much more we have and seeing it all and realizing it all (well, most) has to get moved in the next 2 weeks is daunting indeed.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Week Late...

With all the doom and gloom around me (and stress...sheesh!) I decided I needed to blog about something fun and uplifting. I had a really enjoyable Spring Break visiting my brother Andy and sister-in-law Heather in Maryland one more time before they move to Nashville, so I figured I needed to blog about it, even if it was over a week ago now! I've discovered that student teaching really affects my desire to blog. I get home and the last thing I want to do is sit down and type a bunch of stuff. Never mind the fact that I have to write a weekly lesson review and a weekly overall review for my supervisor. If you'd like to read some of that, click on my profile and then go down to my blog list and click on "Jon's Student Teaching Journal."

Speaking of student teaching, I am about to start my LAST WEEK and I am WAY excited. Before starting this I sent my final lesson plans over to my cooperating teacher. What a great feeling to have those done for the week and have them be my last. I'm really excited for the week, though I have my final evaluation tomorrow during my 7th grade general music class. I just had an evaluation last Wednesday that went as my "midterm" and I did pretty well. I'm always a little nervous going into these things, but I feel confident with the plans I have, plus I won't be teaching the class right before, so I have time to really prepare.

OK on to what I really wanted to blog about! I left directly from school on Saturday April 4th. We had solo & ensemble event at Barberton High School all day, so I made sure when I left to meet at Southeast Middle School that I was already packed. We got back around 4:30 and I went straight to Maryland with just one stop along the way. I got to Andy and Heather's by 9:45, which was a little earlier than I had thought. It was great seeing them again and having the chance to just talk and relax. The first thing I did on Monday was get a haircut and shave!

On the left, before the haircut; on the right, after the haircut, but before the shave!

On the left, I did briefly consider keeping a goatee...briefly; on the right, after I shaved it all off!

Looking at it on the surface, we really didn't "do" much since both Andy and Heather are still working. Despite that, we still had a lot of time to talk and spend together, but I still had a large amount of time to not do anything, which is what I wanted to do. I wanted my break to actually be a break; a time for me to relax and recooperate. Too often I'll go somewhere on vacation and will do so much "stuff" that I come back from my vacation even more tired than before. I had a few sights I wanted to see while I was down there, but nothing much. I got to see most of them and the ones I didn't weren't a big deal. I had originally hoped to get tickets to go up in the Washington Monument and see the rest of the Holocaust Museum, but as the time came up to do it, I lost the motivation to get up super early and go get those tickets. Oh well...instead, I spent much of the day (Friday April 10) walking around Washington, DC in 70 degree weather taking pictures and enjoying the sights. We also had a great time on Monday night coloring Easter eggs and decorating cookies!

Left, Andy and Heather showing some of their creations; Right, me decorating cookies

Left, my best decorated egg...frickin sweet! Right, enjoying the frosting...mmmmmm

I also visited Fort McHenry in Baltimore on Tuesday April 7. I have really grown to love and appreciate the Star-Spangled Banner since I have sung it so many times and in so many places, so I always wanted to visit the place that inspired it. The day I went was a little chilly and windy, but it was a nice trip and I got some great pictures along with an unexpected tour of the inner harbor area of Baltimore after I missed the signs to Ft. McHenry (it's not as clear as the maps indicate!). True to form, while I was confused for a little while, I found my way with no phone calls and no GPS. The only thing disappointing to me was that they were flying a small 50-star flag on the pole over the fort. I was hoping to see a large 15-star, 15-striped flag like the one that inspired the national anthem. I guess it was too windy??

Left, inside Ft. McHenry in Baltimore with the flag pole in the background; Right, at the fort with the Harbor and Francis Scott Key Bridge in the was where the British warships fired from.

Left, looking up the flag pole at Ft. McHenry. The flagpole is on the site of the original; Right, me in front of the fort

As much fun as I had on my little excursions, I have to say my best day was Thursday April 9, which was spent mostly with Heather's family as they celebrated the life of their grandpa Leonard Aamodt at his funeral in Silver Spring, Maryland. He died the morning of April 7th, the same day we found out about the house. Right before I left to go to Maryland I was made aware of his condition, so I knew it was very likely he would pass while I was there. The family was simply waiting for him to go, so they had plenty of time to say their goodbyes. The only plans it really affected were the plans we had made to attend an Orioles-Yankees game on Wednesday April 8 and Heather and I were going to go to the Baltimore Visionary Art Museum that day as well. Instead, Andy and Heather took Heather's brother Robi and their uncle Grant to Harrisonburg, Virginia for the first service there. I could've gone with them, but elected not to since I'd have to sit in the back seat with two other people for 2 hours, plus it gave me an opportunity to have some alone time. I ended up visiting a friend in Arlington, Virginia that night. Anyway, back to the 9th. I hadn't seen any of Heather's family since Andy and Heather's wedding in 2007, but it didn't seem like it had been that long. We talked like we'd just seen each other recently or something. They had no problem with me being there despite the fact that I never formally met Grandpa Aamodt. Even then, after the funeral I kind of felt like I knew him a little after hearing so many wonderful stories and seeing so many pictures. I even got to see the house that he had raised his family in. All in all, it was a great day (and the weather was beautiful). The gravesight in Silver Spring was really wonderful with a cherry tree in full bloom right over the plot. About the only downsides to the day were not having any lunch (though the dinner we had later more than made up for it) and seeing the grounds crew at the cemetery actually start buring Grandpa Aamodt complete with the backhoe pounding the dirt down. I'd never seen the actual burial part I see WHY they tend to not do that while the family is still there. It wasn't like we were there that long, but I guess the grounds crew was in a hurry or something because they tried to get us out in a hurry. It was fun having Heather's sister Kristie in the car with us. She's hillarious, so the car ride to the cemetery and then to the restaurant after the graveside service were a lot of fun. The time with the family at dinner (we at at the Macaroni Grill in Silver Spring...oh it was nice!) was a lot of fun too. I wish the Aamodt's were my in-laws too!! :)

Anyway, right when I was leaving, Andy told me "sorry we weren't more fun" but really, I had a great time. I didn't go down there to be entertained, I went down to get away and to relax and both of those were accomplished. I'm so glad I was down there when we found out about the made dealing with it a lot easier. The only bad thing was I had to leave and come back home, something that was not at all easy for me. But that week was something I needed in more ways than one!!! I am seriously considering moving to Nashville (where Heather and Andy are moving) if the right job is available there. As much as I love being home in Kent, maybe I need to get away for awhile again. The job search will see what happens for sure and where life takes me! Thanks again Andy and Heather for a great week!

Left, my first visit was to the new Nationals Park...I love baseball and the many ballparks it has! Right, one of many pictures I took in front of the Capitol

The weather was fantastic the day I went to DC! On the left is a garden near the White House that had a great view of the Washington Monument; Right, a small garden across Pennsylvania Avenue (the part closed to traffic) from the White House.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Unexpected

One of my worst fears was realized yesterday as I was informed that our house has been sold. Even though I knew it was a possibility that it could happen, I never really thought that anyone would buy our house as it stands now. As much as I love the house, I'm not blind; it has an enormous amount of problems that need addressed. In the end, the house was bought by our neighbors for just $4,500 or so more than my parents paid for the house in 1982, so in effect they paid far less than we did even back then. As it stands now, we have to be out of the house by May 15th, which is the day before I graduate. So, even though I only have two weeks of student teaching, I now have the added stress of packing the house up and figuring out what to get rid of.

I'm currently in Laurel, Maryland on Spring Break visiting my brother Andy and sister in law Heather. They got their own bad news yesterday that Heather's grandpa had passed away, though it was hardly unexpected as he had been very ill for some time. Today they are going to a funeral in Harrisonburg, Virgina (about 2.5 hours from here) and then tomorrow they have another one in this area (Silver Spring, Maryland). I considered going since I do know Heather's family (pretty much just from the wedding) and I am here, but decided to go to the service tomorrow so I don't crowd the car ride to Harrisonburg today and so the family can gather together. I am looking forward to seeing them again, though am disappointed I won't get to do the things I had planned for today with Andy and Heather, namely a trip to the Baltimore Visionary Art museum and an Orioles-Yankees game at Camden Yards.

As for the house, though, yesterday was difficult and I'm still adjusting to it. It feels like someone died almost. As I mentioned above, it was bought by our neighbors. My dad sent an e-mail out with some more details about everything and stated he was told "they are very sensitive to the situation and are afraid of a confrontation - by who I don't know - but they understand why the house is being sold and the situation that puts [my mom], Jon and Katie in." Personally, even if they said that I think it's a pile of BS because not once did they ever stop over and speak to us about the situation or see what we were planning on doing if the house was sold or actually foreclosed on. No, the only thing they know is whatever the realtor told them. And the whole confrontation thing? Are they serious?!? Gee, I don't know WHY we'd be upset they we're losing our house of 26 FREAKIN years and have to have our lives completely turned upside down and get to go "stay" at the grandparents house for who knows how long. It shows how much they know us...which is very little. We've lived next door for like 15 years or so and they don't even know how we'd react. I don't blame them for buying the house, but to say I don't feel somewhat betrayed isn't true either, especially in light of how no one really came to talk to us about the situation; they just swooped in and took full advantage.

As I stated to my mom and my brother and I talked about, the house is sold "as is" meaning we will be taking EVERYTHING of value, including any improvements made to the house that we own, like the garage door opener, the motion detector lights, etc. I also made it clear we are not doing them ANY favors in terms of cleaning the house and to be quite honest, I won't be doing ANY yardwork no matter how much the yard grows before May 15. Why should I spend any money on gas to run the mower for something that is being taken-- ripped-- away from me? So I hope they enjoy our meadow until then!

What's next isn't much of a joy either. I hate moving, but have never actually had to move an entire house. I've only done little apartment moves when I went on my mission and to BYU-Idaho each year. At this point, I will probably move in with my Ridinger grandparents since they have more room. My mom will go to my Derby grandparents. Not sure where Katie will go, though she had plans to move out anyway, just not this soon. While living with the grandparents is certainly not the worst aspect of this, it will be largely inconvenient, so getting a job so I can get a place of my own is now completely paramount. As I mentioned when this whole soap opera started, I won't be "living" with them, I will be "staying" with them. It's their house, not mine, so I will be an extended guest for the most part. Now WHERE I end up remains to be seen as well. I love Kent and have a lot of roots there, but now that the house is gone, one of the biggest roots is gone. I don't know how much I could take being in Kent but not being able to go "home." So leaving Kent has become a much larger possibility, all depending on where I can get a job, whether it be in teaching or not. And I don't even want to THINK about how lame holidays are going to be now. Ugh. If I'm still not in my own place by Christmas heaven help me!