the Mammal Chronicles: July 2006

when it comes right down to it, ya lactate or ya don't.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

6 am

I've been up all night, and while it is not the reason why I haven't been able to sleep, this song has been running incessantly through my head:

My husband showed it to me a couple days ago. It's strangely catchy, but mostly it's hilarious: the narrative thread is that our hero is obsessed with a bot in a chatroom named Anna. "She gets rid of all the spammers" and "she can ban you, ban you so hard." He obsesses over her while riding a dune buggy (notably, not on a dune), while pedaling a boat (note that in Europe apparently you drive dune buggies American-style, while sitting on the left, but pedal boats European-style, while sitting on the right), and, of course, while deejaying at a nightclub. Eventually, in an eighties-esque twist (and in eighties-esque clothes), Anna turns out not to be a bot at all. Of course.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

ninety inches

You'd think after my last post I would hesitate to write about my mom again, and I do, believe me. But this explains so much about how I turned out the way I did:

Yesterday mom commented again how she had gained a lot of weight. Bear in mind that, at barely 5 feet tall, at her last doctor's appointment she was about 90 pounds.

"Mom," I told her, "you are as small now as you have ever been in your life."

"No, I'm as large as I've ever been," she protested.

She asked that I measure her waist. Thinking perhaps that actual numbers will knock some sense into her, I went to get a measuring tape. As I do, she mentions that on tv she heard them say that if your waist is bigger than 90" you should go to the doctor.

I measure her waist. It comes to 31".

She pauses. "Meaure my belly then." I comply. It is 32".

I then measure my own waist to give her some basis for comparison: 33". "Mom, my waist is bigger than your belly."

"That can't be," she says, "It doesn't look like your waist is bigger than my belly. Maybe because you are so tall." (I'm 5'7")

She's pretty silent after this. Somehow, she can't reconcile the image of the woman in her head with the actual numbers. But I'm sure by tomorrow she will find an explanation that will support her unshakable belief that she is overweight.

Friday, July 07, 2006

The Spa - Chair Report

I'm a bit happier today because my department chair rearranged my schedule. It's still not my absolute top pick of classes, but it is much closer. I'm still a bit overwhelmed at the amount of work I have to do before school starts. Here's a summary:

  • Plan my fall classes, one of which I have not taught in two years so it will take some doing.
  • Plan a new class I will be teaching in Winter. If I don't do it now, I'll never have time in the fall. This will be a lot of work because it requires learning state standards and working with a new community partner for the service learning portion of the class. It also may require learning everything I can about Oaxacan art (which I know nothing about).
  • Reformulate another class for winter with another new community partner.
  • Rewrite an article.
  • Edit several other people's articles.
  • Co-write a conference paper.
  • Publicize one of my service learning projects in order to recruit participants in time for fall.
  • Organize materials previously collected for a community partner for distribution to same.
  • Compile and write my annual report for the tenure police.

All this by September 15! Eek!

So you can see why I needed a vacation. Now, by popular demand, the spa report:

  • Red Rock: Spa facilities are mostly wood and in keeping with the clean, modern lines of the rest of the resort. It's fairly small, but what it has that the rest don't are the sort of classes you might find at a destination spa rather than a casino spa (Yoga, meditation, hiking, etc. Some of the excursions are extra, but most of the classes are included). Another nice feature is the private outdoor pool area (not clothing optional) for spa patrons. Both in the hotel room and in the spa itself, Red Rock had the best soaps and lotions (Essentiel Elements, scented with real essential oils).

  • Signature/MGM Grand: Didn't partake of the spa here, which was the same for both hotels. Signature, however, had the best in-room bathtubs, which were enormous and had jets. The in-room bath products were by June Jacobs, and I loved the grapefruit shower gel (grapefruit is probably my favorite scent in the whole world). If I had opted to try the spa, this is the treatment I would have gotten:

    (100 Minutes - $280)
    The treatment originates from the Turkish Hammam, which is a spa tradition dating back thousands of years, popular throughout the Mediterranean region. The ritual begins with a scrub made with Turkish coffee grinds and Brown Sugar blended with crushed Walnut Husks and fragrant Cinnamon and Cardamom. The body wrap that follows contains coffee extract, which will stimulate the tissues for cellulite reduction. Milk proteins, Aloe and Seaweed help nourish the skin. Enjoy a scalp massage during the body wrap before beginning a vigorous, deep pressure massage, performed with Orange or Lavender body butter.

  • THE hotel at Mandalay Bay: I'll give a more complete description on this one since I didn't cover this hotel in my last post. We had a two room suite at THE hotel, with a full bath and a washroom. The tub was enormous, though it didn't have jets. There was a 42" Plasma in the living room, a regular crt television (about 30"?) in the bedroom, and a small plasma in the bathroom (which was at an odd angle for in tub viewing). The living room also had a wet bar and the decor was really nice, but showing the first signs of wear. Their use of THE whatever could get tiresome. For example, the restaurant was called THE cafe, the shop was THE store, and the toilet paper had a sticker on it that said THE tp. In-room bath products were Bathe by Gilchrist Soames and smelled like Japanese Ramune candy(1). There were two spas I tried here, Bathhouse at THE hotel and the Spa at Mandalay. The Bathhouse spa was small and dark. Decorated mostly in slate, it was so dark and severe I felt like I was in a dystopian sci-fi fantasy (which, given my predilection for sci-fi, you'd think I'd like, but for spa atmosphere it didn't really do it for me). It was also showing definite signs of wear with white hardwater stains on the slate and grimy upholstery. They did, however, have the most comfy robes, which were knit like a sweater rather than the usual terrycloth. The Spa at Mandalay in contrast was a world apart: The spa was spacious to the point of being cavernous and the surroundings were regal. I felt like I was ancient Roman nobility (mind you, I've never been to Rome and I know next to nothing about Roman antiquity -- this is my Sci Fi channel fantasy of what it would be like if I were on the Stargate planet that emulated the Roman era). It also had the best free snacks: nuts, mini-muffins, fruit and juice.

So, to recap, the best overall resort experience was Red Rock, but the Spa at Mandalay Bay is worth a day trip on its own.

(1)Ramune is actually a soda, like 7-up. I think the name is just a phoneticization of "Lemonade" -- remember that in Japanese, "R" is pronounced like "L" (contrary to popular notion that it is the opposite). It comes in a really cool bottle where you pop a glass marble from the top down into the drink and have to avoid having the marble block the opening again while you drink it. The bath products, however, smelled not like the soda but the candy that is made to look and taste like the soda, if that makes any sense.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Can't Sleep

I just got email from my boss telling me what my class choices are for fall. After much haggling in the past couple of weeks, she had promised to give me several options. The options she came up with? Two identical schedules with identical classes. The only difference is that for one of the time slots I have the choice between a (possibly) team taught section (if enrollment is high enough) or an honors section of the same class. Either way I'm teaching two sections of a class I didn't want to teach at all. It's no secret that I'm unhappy in my job. The tenure process is stressful, I'm often overworked, I'm paid less than people who were just hired, and the environment is oppressive. So I'm awake and unable to sleep stressing about stupid things like not getting the classes I want to teach, even though I'm on vacation in a lovely hotel.

A quick review:

Red Rock Station was just fabulous. The rooms are stylishly and lushly decorated (very modern with lots of clean lines and dark wood) with a 42" plasma in the main room and a smaller plasma above the tub in the bathroom. The pool area is amazing. You have to rent the cabanas and "cabeds" (which are cabanas in which the entire space is taken up by a huge bed) but the large, round beds with half moon shades over them are free. Cushy lounge chairs are half submerged in the pool so you can sun with your legs in the water. For a few photos of us enjoying the poolside splendor (and those round poolside beds), head to my daughter's site.

Signature at the MGM Grand is nice, but not as splendiferous as Red Rock. While everything is brand spanking new and tastefully decorated, something about the room says "hotel" while the rooms at the Red Rock felt like someone's hip apartment. There's a high definition plasma tv in the main room (though it appears to be about 20 or 25" compared to the massive one at Red Rock) and a small one in the bathroom (smaller than the bathroom tv at Red Rock). You can either go to the pool of the main hotel (which is crowded but has a lazy river) or one exclusive to Signature, but that one is really bland. Neither pool area compares remotely to RR. The plusses: A kitchenette in the room complete with fridge, stove, microwave, blender, toaster and coffeemaker. The bathtub is gigantic and has jets. For eats, the sandwiches at 'wichcraft are really good.

Tomorrow we head to THE Hotel at Mandalay Bay (Yes, they actually capitalize all the letters in "the"), report to follow.

But despite my luxe surroundings, I'm awake, looking at the coming year: the loads of work I have to complete this summer, the class load come fall, and already counting the weeks to next summer before this one is even out. It's easy for me to get caught up in resentment and bitterness toward my oppressors -- um, employers. I can't let the bitterness keep its hold on me. I have to learn to let go. Wish me luck.