I just opened  an Etsy Shop called Paisley’s Frippery. At the moment, I only have one item listed (but I have three of this item in stock).

photo 1

I do intend to add more items in the coming weeks.

However, you, my readers, get a special coupon code for 10% off your first purchase. Just type in dailypaisley1 at check out to receive your discount.


My lizard brain wanted to keep him

But my pre-frontal cortex discovered something

But my pre-frontal cortex is quiet

As female pre-frontal cortexes should be

I knew early on that I could live without him

I knew a break up would suck

(unlike the vacuum cleaner he never ran)

But I was strong

And desirable

Until I was broken

Before the lizard got loud

I walked with confidence

Like I was the tallest person in the room

(and in those heels, I usually was)

Then, my foot dragged

And dragged

Until I could barely lift it

The Cole Haans went to the back of the closet

The loafers came out

One morning

The family wheelchair waited for me

At the bottom of the stairs

I descended the stairs

On my bum

Arms lifting and lowering

Until I got to the chair

That took me to the hospital

That turned the lizard’s volume up.


“No one will want you.

No one will take care of you.

You are damaged.

He’s all you have.”

He still wouldn’t run the vacuum.


The cortex told me I was strong

And desirable

And I would stand again

Break ups suck

Like the vacuum I learned to run

From a seated position

February 25th

Five years ago today, at 2:36 p.m. (pronounced time), my sister died. It seems like so much less time and so much more time all at once.

While driving to work today, I started thinking about all of the love in that room: The over-night nurse that came in at regular intervals to put chap stick on my sister’s dried lips; the friend that brought in soft towels from home because the hospital towels were “too scratchy”; the abundantly-available parent bracelets that allowed visitors to stay all night; the pizza in the reserved play room; the hotel room across the street for too many overnight guests. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is an amazing place.

I thought about my dad and how he did not leave her side once, how he told her it was okay, even though he didn’t want her to go.

I thought about how absent I was from everything. I thought about how angry I became because of it. I thought about how I fell out of the chair when she stopped breathing.

Now I’m thinking about how angry I am that she wasn’t at my wedding, how sad I am that she never met my husband, how she died knowing I was unhappy in my relationship, but afraid to change it. She told me I was being stupid. She told me to get out. She told me I was smart and beautiful.

And I miss her every single day.

Now, with splotchy face, I have to go teach a class.

While reading my friend and colleague’s blog post “Why Buy the Cow? An Open Letter to the Full-Time Faculty of American Colleges and Universities”, I felt compelled to respond. I just don’t know how to respond. This open letter is not really meant for me; I know the adjunct situation. I already understand the borrowed hours, the lack of sleep. This open letter is meant for those who do not know, the full-time faculty member who assumes that we have “a pretty good gig.” If I also worked full-time elsewhere and could assess my students via multiple-choice exams, I suppose I would have a “pretty good gig.” But, like my aforementioned colleague, I teach composition. Assessment happens with essays. A Scan-tron cannot grade those.

I am always working. Last night, while at a hockey game, I was responding to student emails. I logged on to Blackboard to check on my online courses. I cheered when we scored. I chanted, “Ref, you suck!” I looked up an article on Lena Dunham’s Vogue photo-shoot for a future class discussion.

That’s not to say that my full-time faculty counterpart (I’m not sure I like that word) does not do the same thing. I am sure many of them do. It’s part of the job. I get paid $25,000 a year, gross (no benefits, except for optional 401A). My counterpart? Around $60,000 a year, plus benefits. Granted, full-time faculty have many obligations: committee work, scholarly work, and classroom work. Adjuncts technically only have the classroom obligation, but, adjuncts like my aforementioned colleague (let’s call her Emily from now on, as that is her name) and me, voluntarily participate in scholarly endeavors outside of our required classroom work.

Does that make us fools? Or does that make us professors?

I’m beginning to wonder if the concepts aren’t mutually exclusive.

Emily mentioned the dread of the follow-up questions after we are asked, “What do you do?” and we answer, “I’m a college professor.” There are always follow-up questions. “Oh, where?” When I list two colleges and explain that they are both part-time gigs, I can see the disappointment. Their faces say, “Oh, she’s not really a professor.” Sometimes I believe it.

My husband refers to my situation as “shiny jet syndrome.” My husband is a licensed commercial pilot, though he no longer flies professionally. The pilot is also over-worked and under-paid until he is able to move up the ranks (which takes forever). But, saying you’re a pilot and knowing that, one day (AKA, never), you will fly the future-equivalent of the Concorde, has prestige, even though the bank account does not reflect this prestige. I have “shiny jet syndrome”: I say I’m a college professor because I like the sound. I like what that means to others. I don’t like the truth of my situation (over-worked and under-paid), but I also don’t like the fact that I do this willingly. This was not a career I was forced into; I chose it, knowing the full consequences of that decision.

So, if I chose this career, with full knowledge of what it meant, why am I complaining?

I don’t know. I don’t know.

I’m sitting in a computer lab on campus in a workshop about using WordPress as a learning tool. Hmmm. I already use WikiSpaces as a learning tool. I wonder if WordPress will work better. Perhaps if the students see it as their own and not a group project, there will be more accountability and, maybe, more interest.

Kilts for All!

My husband and I attended a lovely wedding this past weekend (8/17). On 8/5, a message went out on Facebook with last minute details. It was revealed that most of the men attending the wedding would be wearing kilts. Not wanting my husband to be left out, I marched myself over to the local Jo-Ann Fabrics during Teacher Appreciation Week (extra 25% off pretty much everything) to buy the supplies necessary to make a kilt.

I found this YouTube video very helpful:

I went fabric shopping on 8/10. I was, of course, nervous that I would not find any tartan patterns that didn’t look like Christmas. I found two.
A quick text message to the husband and I bought five yards of the green. I spent about $20 on the fabric and notions, and I have enough fabric left over to make myself something. Probably a pleated skirt since I know how to do that now.

I began with cutting the fabric almost in half length wise (as the video suggests). Luckily, plaid has built-in guides for cutting in a straight line. I also have a rotary cutter, which makes life much easier.

Since my fabric only has one salvage edge, I began by hemming the other three sides. I didn’t want to hem after the pleats were sewn in.


Then came the fun part: the pleats. I pleated about three or four times before I got it to look the way I wanted.


I finished the kilt before 5pm. I was darn proud of myself.

I spend the next week looking all over the house for my husband’s poet shirt. My mother and I made him a Renaissance ensemble before we were married. I found the other pieces, but no shirt. So, on 8/16 (remember, the wedding was on 8/17), I decided to make him a new shirt.

The end results were not perfect, but he looked good. At least, I think so.

I’ve been wanting to write a memoir about the times I had with my sister. I had (have) no idea how I want to go about it, how I want it to look, or how I want it to feel. I know I am tired of writing about the end of her life. I’d rather write about the living part.

When I moved out of my parents’ house and into my husband’s house, I remembered a tiny mason jar my sister gave me for Christmas one year. She called it a memory jar; it was filled with slips of paper with short phrases written on them. These phrases would trigger a memory and laughter.

I think this summer, with a number of other projects (including a hypertext), I’m going to write out the memory that each slip of paper represents. I will post the drafts here, and I hope I will get some constructive criticism  My sister’s story wants so much to be told, and I want it told right. I know I have some pretty talented people reading this. 

I submitted this blog entry to AdjunctNation.com about twelve days ago and have yet to hear anything regarding its posting. So, I’m posting it here.


I had been dealing with intermittent blurry vision in my left eye for about two months. It wasn’t too annoying, and it usually went away after a few minutes. I was hoping it would continue to be a minor nuisance (or go away) until the end of the semester so I could properly deal with it without having to cancel any classes.


This was not to be.


Two weeks before the end of the semester, I was doing some grocery shopping. I came around the corner to see what yogurt was on sale and I lost complete vision in my eye. I couldn’t read the expiration dates on the yogurt. I moved to the checkout, hoping my vision would clear, as usual.


It did not. Driving home was interesting.


After hours of crying, my vision slowly cleared. I knew I couldn’t wait until the end of the semester to deal with this. I made an appointment with my neurologist and canceled my classes.


The sad thing is I was more worried about canceling my penultimate week of classes than I was about my vision. I had had an attack of optic neuritis before (I have MS), so I figured I would go on IV steroids and it would clear up and everything would be fine. I was, however, worried that I wouldn’t be hired back for canceling a week of class meetings at the end of the semester.


It wasn’t optic neuritis. It was (it is) Ohthoff’s Phenomenon (we think). Not only did the steroids not help, they made me nauseated, a side effect I’ve never had before (I’ve been on IV at least once a year since 2007). I spent four days in bed (not grading). The whole time, I was so worried about the security of my job, worried that I was failing the students, worried that I was inconveniencing everyone. The (very real) possibility of a blown vein barely crossed my mind.


The worry probably made me sicker than the steroids.


It turned out that my worries were unfounded, at least at one school. A colleague expressed her sympathy and just wanted me to get better. “Your students will understand,” she said. It concerns me, however, that I felt it was necessary to worry at all. I was having a legitimate medical emergency, after all. I wasn’t canceling classes for a girl’s weekend in Vegas. But the instability of the adjunct contract is so centered in my thinking that I will teach classes with strep throat rather than cancel (and that’s not hyperbole). I don’t want to appear undependable.  I don’t want to remind anyone that I am expendable.  I do, after all, need the money to pay for insurance so that I can go to a neuro-ophthalmologist to figure out why my peripheral vision is still blurry and if I will ever get better.


Good thing it’s summer; I won’t have to cancel classes for the appointment.




When I was a girl, my mother had a simple rule with regards to parties: I had to have a paper invitation in order to attend. I’m not sure what the reasoning behind this was; probably some simple way to make sure the parents were aware that their child was having a party. Because a ten-year old couldn’t write up a fake invitation.

In my early teens, the tradition of paper invitations was quickly going out of style. Invitations were verbal; they were in the form of phone calls or wide-ruled note paper shoved in a locker. This made my mother’s rule difficult to follow. But I followed it.

Eventually, Mom gave up on the rule. I was relieved; it made attending casual parties much easier.

Of course, now invitations are sent as evites via Facebook or email. I’ve heard that some people are even sending wedding invitations in this manner. I wonder how my mother would have dealt with this phenomenon with this rule of hers.

Just musing…

The Sweet Life

P1The Sweet Life Bakery, located in downtown Vineland, NJ, made our beautiful wedding cupcake tower. My husband and I have enjoyed many breakfasts, lunches, and afternoon coffee and scones there. They have the best hollandaise sauce I have ever tasted.

However, just like many businesses, the economic downturn has forced them to reduce their business. Starting the week of February 16th, they will only be open for retail business Fridays and Saturdays so that they can focus more time on their cake business (the aspect of their business that is profitable at the moment). That means they will no longer be serving breakfast or lunch, but we can still get a great cup of coffee and some pastry on Fridays and Saturdays.

I wanted to post this in hopes that my friends in the area might continue to support them. They are nice people and have always treated their customers well. I am hoping that they will be able to once again serve breakfast (I will miss that hollandaise sauce) once things turn around.

So, if you are ever in the Vineland area on a Friday or Saturday (they close at 2 on Saturdays, but they are open until 6 on Fridays), stop in for some coffee and a carrot cupcake. Also, they are starting to host cooking classes on Thursday nights.

The Paper Kind

Creative living.

I Will Start This Blog. I Mean It!

Adventures in cranky essays and rhyming poetry from an unlikely single mom.