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On my 17th birthday, my then sort-of boyfriend gave me two music tapes as presents (yes, tapes. It was the 90s). One of them was the Alanis Morissette's "Jagged Little Pill" album. He didn't know much about modern popular music and his sister recommended it. At the time I wasn't really into it. I thanked him, of course. It was super nice of him but I put the tape away in my tape tower and didn't listen to it much. A year and a half later my Dad was having a birthday party and one of his friend's daughter came over too. We were hanging out in my room and she wanted to listen to it. To my utter surprise I knew and loved most of the songs on the album because they were all over the radio at the time. I didn't realize I had them. I listened to that album a lot after that. It still remains one of my favorite albums to this day.

I was thinking lately that I might have another album that I put away but might appreciate now as my musical taste evolved. A long time ago, maybe a dozen years or so, I got "Broadways Greatest Love Songs" CD as a present. I think it was from Bear but I can't be sure. Most likely from him. I liked two songs on that album right way, "On my Own" from Les Miserables (which I already knew and loved) and "I Don't Know How to Love Him" from Jesus Christ Superstar (which I discovered on that album). I didn't really care about others. I only downloaded the two songs into my iTunes, once I got iTunes, and put the CD away. Because I was making my Broadway playlist recently, and musicals are on my mind, it occurred to me that I should try it again. I know more of Broadway now. I listened to and saw more shows. My tastes certainly have changed. And I was right. I put it on today and I totally love it. I know more songs from that CD and more musicals. It's funny when that happens.

I have a week to catch up but there isn't that much. Last Sunday and Monday, we went to Long Island to visit Bear's parents for Labor Day weekend. His father was turning 75 on this Tuesday, September 8, so they were also having a little birthday party. On Sunday, Bear's brother John and his girlfriend Laurie came over and we had a nice dinner. I even came down to have ice cream cake once Tanya was sleeping.

On Monday, I was making soup for Tanya in my mother-in-law's kitchen when disaster struck. The blender she gave me to grind the chicken and blend the soup had a loose bottom. Not loose enough to notice but loose enough for soup to start to escape from the bottom as it reached good consistency. As I lifted the top portion of the blender and my mother-in-law tried to help, the bottom fell out completely and all the soup, with nice organic ingredients, ended up on the counter and floor and pants and slippers. I wanted to cry. Well, I just had to start over and make the soup all over again. There was no carrot or potato or celery in the house so we sent Bear's father to the store. The second soup came out fine and I double checked the blender super carefully.

Because of Labor Day weekend, I had to work on Tuesday instead of Monday and then again Thursday. My parents are on vacation in Aruba so Bear took three days off this week to take care of Tanya when I'm at work. (He usually watches her on Monday since it's his day off and my Mom has Thursdays). He was really nervous about it since last time he watched her all day was May. But he did fine, of course. She really mastered walking now - it's so fun to watch.

On Wednesday, when we were both home, we decided to go to Brighton Beach for variety in the morning. (Brighton Beach in Brooklyn is the center of Russian community and it has a Boardwalk and a beach). We played on the playground near the beach and I went to the Russian book store while she napped in her stroller, with Bear walking back and forth, to pick up a book and toys for Jo, who is turning 2 in October. It got pretty hot but it was still nice to do something different. I also cooked a lot on Wednesday - in addition to another batch of soup for Tanya (with my immersion blender this type and old school grinder)- I made cabbage stir fry and chicken and pasta. And on Thursday I made rice using chicken broth from the soup, instead of water.

By the way, my parents might be on vacation in Aruba but my Mom Skypes me some mornings while she's having breakfast on the balcony overlooking the beach. Technology is pretty amazing.

Work has been good so far. The classes are nice and small, so the commenting on drafts is much more manageable. The drafts, which I got on Thursday, are also only three pages long, so it's hasn't been too stressful getting them all done. I managed to get a lot done this morning, working for maybe three hours while Bear took Tanya for a walk. And I like my students, especially the second class where the students actually brought up passages in the reading that weren't as clear. The drafts are pretty terrible - mostly summary and not a lot of analysis - but that is typical of first papers. I know they will get better. We are going to work on topic sentences on Monday. They need some.

I'm still reading Sacks. I'm more than two-thirds through. (I used to have really fast reading speed until I was 17 and read "War and Peace." Reading that book slowed down my reading speed and it stayed that way. It's weird). Definitely enjoying it. He was friends with Auden, which was weird since I read Christopher Isherwood's "Christopher and his Kind" not that long ago and he and Auden were best friends. Like all the people I read about knew each other.

I bought the HumbleBook Bundle from Neil Gaiman this morning but I still need to figure out how to download it. But first, I really just want to finish Sacks.
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I can never sleep properly before the first day of school. I'm not nervous about work or meeting new students. I think my brain is just trying to make sure that I'm not late and that I prepared all my first day handouts.

My parents came over last evening and stayed overnight since I had to leave by 6:30 and my Mom is watching Tanya. Bear is away until Saturday afternoon. She roped my Dad into working from my place (his work allows occasional work from home days) so he could help out too when he wasn't working. They are also leaving for a vacation in Aruba tomorrow for 10 days, so both were looking forward to spending time with their granddaughter.

I made sure to say goodbye to Tanya before I left because that is a better option that just disappearing on her. She's been waking up between 6 and 7 lately anyway, so I didn't really wake her up. No crying - pretty successful exit.

My commute is pretty long. I need to take a subway and a train. Since I only have to travel twice a week and I can get a lot of work done on the way, I don't really mind it too much, especially in the morning. I got the luxury of reading my book for a few hours. The beginning of the semester, before the grading starts in earnest is pretty nice. Most of my planning handouts are ready and I can read for pleasure guilt free.

I stopped by the corner store to get my bagel with cream cheese, which I eat later when I get on the train and caught the subway. I saw a very gorgeous sunrise this morning. The subway travels above ground for the while and the window across from me was bright pink with the sun disk all dimmed and slightly yellow. Very lovely.

I was reading On the Move , the autobiography by Oliver Sacks. Since his death on Sunday I just wanted to get started on it. I just finished reading Roadside Picnic by Strugatsky brothers, so the timing was right. (I'm still working on the Hamilton biography but that book is long, so I will break it with other books. And I usually read two or three books at a time). I'm almost 100 pages into the book - I read the first three chapters. I find it interesting that he doesn't really discuss his childhood. He starts as a teenager getting his first motorcycle. As motorcycle enthusiast, it is a major part of his identity, so I understand his choice. It is just unusual not to have a general run through of dates/parents/siblings/childhood memories. Some details make their way through the narrative as he goes along but mostly, the early chapters are his late teens/20s - college/medical school/travels. Some of his other books (I read 2 so far - Mind's Eye and An Anthropologist on Mars ) have autobiographical details, especially Mind's Eye which deals with his eye cancer and perception. But those focus more on his later life. This autobiography is definitely surprising in details about his youth like motorcycles or weight training. And there are his travel letters and accounts which are an entertaining read. I'm definitely enjoying the book so far.

I also listened to my iPod when not reading a book. I haven't recharged it in a month I think - there was just no time with looking after Tanya all the time. We listen to the radio at home or to CDs. (On Tuesday, Tanya rummaged through Bear's CDs, found a CD of sci-fi music from movies and TV and dragged it to the living room. So I put it on. She didn't care for early tracks like Twilight Zone but when I put in Halloween, she just started dancing to the scary horror movie music. It was hysterical). Last week, in anticipation of listening to my music again, I made a Favorite Broadway playlist - taking two tracks from all the musicals I have. I wanted to just have one favorite track per musical but that was too hard. Even two was hard but I stuck through it. My 'flaw' in this playlist was adding songs from Buffy Musical - now I just want to rewatch the whole episode (I picked Rest in Peace and Standing), which will lead to watching more Buffy episodes. Other musicals included Aida, Anything Goes, Avenue Q, Jesus Christ Superstar, Les Miserables, Cabaret, Hedwig, If/Then, Into the Woods, Once, Rent, Buffy and Rocky Horror. I should probably add Dr. Horrible.

I got some time in the morning before my classes started, since there was no office hour today. I had to print and photocopy syllabi, reading guides, rosters, writing samples and a lot of paperwork. I also put together the first assignment question. We are starting with Jane Goodall's reading again "In the Forest of Gombe" but I am asking them to see the drawbacks to some of her concepts. New approach. Maybe I can teach some critical thinking!

First class is really easy. I talk about the syllabus and class requirements and then the students write a writing sample. During that time I reread the first essay and prepped my discussion question for next week during the first section and read the writing samples from the first section in my second one. (I teach two sections of Basic Composition). My second section filled up - so it has good number of students. I don't have to worry about cancellation, which is a relief.

After my classes, I stopped by the department and said hello to more colleagues I haven't seen all summer and then started making my way home.

It was very hot today and the subway station tried to boil us all alive, I think. It was so hot with no air conditioner. It was a relief when a train pulled up.

Good first day overall. Now I'm home alone with Tanya for 48 hours before Bear comes back. Then we will travel to Long Island for Labor Day weekend. So still a bit of vacation left before the semester really starts.

On exciting front, Tanya is starting to be braver in walking. Lately she's been holding on to just one hand, but yesterday she did a few steps by herself if I let go her hand several times and even started walking by herself from a standing position. Just a few steps but very exciting.

And in TMI, I really hope my body gets the message soon that I weaned and haven't nursed her for over a week now. My boobs are very uncomfortable. No one tells you these things. It's like postpartum. It sucks but no one really mentions the details beforehand.

And in exciting news my friend Janna is pregnant with her second baby. The first one is turning 2 in a month. I probably won't have the time but I found the birth record cross stitch kit anyway to try to make it for the baby. I'm trying to be optimistic about having the time to cross stitch again. Last time I make anything was Tanya's birth record, just before she was born.

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