Monday, January 28, 2008

A little sick to my stomach

I'm presenting at a conference in April, and it is a conference I'm excited about for several reasons. First, I presented at it last year and found the audience to be really receptive to my ideas. My panel offered really great feedback, which will help me revise my paper if I ever get time to go back to it. Second, I proposed the panel that I am presenting with. I hand picked the people who are presenting with me, and they are all interested in topics that I am. I'm really excited to get to talk to these people. Third, one of my best friends is presenting at the conference, so she and I get the chance to catch up.

Despite all of this the act of purchasing my ticket, which I did today, has made me a little sick to my stomach. I will be away from Wild Man for at least two nights and possibly three. This is the first time I will have been away from him overnight since he was born. I know that C is perfectly capable, and I know they will be fine together on their own. In fact, I'm quite sure they will have fun without me. After all, Wild Man and I generally manage to have a good time when C has had to travel. I also know that I will get more out of the conference than I did last year when I had C and Wild Man in tow. But I know that some part of me will be a wreck without my boy, even for only two nights.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Oh, No!

Oh, No! is Wild Man's newest favorite phrase, and he says it all the time. This morning, as I was loading him into the car to take him to school, I dropped my bag and he said "Oh, No!" Then, he dropped his sippy cup and it began rolling down the driveway. This also elicited an "Oh, No!" When we got to school, he dropped his hat, lost his balance and fell, and saw one of his friends drop her pacifier. Each of these events prompted him to say "Oh, No!"

Why I call him Wild Man

I'm breaking with my habit of not posting pictures of Wild Man. Frankly, I just have to post these. They demonstrate beautifully why I call him Wild Man.

Wild Man received this injury when he decided to walk down the small sliding board that is in his classroom. He, of course, fell and hit his nose. Not only did he give himself a nosebleed, but he also has a nice bit of carpet burn right down the middle of this nose.

On Monday, Wild Man's school was closed, and in an attempt to keep him amused, C & I decided to finger paint with him. Wild Man quickly decided it was more fun to paint his face. Check out the crazy look in his eyes. I think he looks a bit like a Mad Scientist myself. Regardless of the mess (and there was a big mess!) he had a ball.

*In keeping with my agreement with C about posting pictures, I will only leave these up for a few days.

The Bad-Mommy Brigade

Ayelet Waldman's essay in NYmag, "The Bad-Mommy Brigade," is laugh-out loud funny, but it also raises some compelling questions about mothering in 2008. Check it out.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Is it possible?

A few minutes ago, as I left the restroom, I paused to wash my hands and to make sure I didn't have any of my lunch in my teeth. As I adjusted the v-neck sweater I'm wearing, I noticed something: I no longer have the voluptuous breasts of a newly lactating mother. In fact, if it is possible, I think my breasts are smaller now than they were before I got pregnant with Wild Man. I think I want to cry a little.

Don't get me wrong--I'm perfectly happy with my body. I'm petite, and I have a really high metabolism. I rarely have the time to work out, and I can eat mostly what I want and don't have to diet, not even to lose my pregnancy weight. I'm small chested, and I've always been happy with that. But it was really nice to have some cleavage for a while! I enjoyed having something to fill out the v-neck tops that I prefer. I don't want the double-Ds that came home from the hospital with me, but I would have preferred not to lose a half a size as a result of breast feeding either.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

And so it begins

C is in the middle of applying for jobs yet again. His field's annual conference takes place next month, so he is obsessed with checking his email, checking our voice mail, and checking the mail. He has applied for 61 jobs, some of which are directly in his field but most of which are in his general time period. He also applied for a number of generalist positions. Thus far he has 4 interviews scheduled for the conference. This number is promising because the conference is over 4 weeks away, and most of the schools he applied to are just now reviewing applications. He is hoping for 8 to 10 interviews; I keep reminding him that he only needs one so long as that one ends with an offer.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Blowing Kisses

Wild Man has recently added something new to his drop-off routine. A typical morning goes something like this:
  • Arrive at school and cross the parking lot to the building, with Wild Man in my arms. I occasionally let him walk, which generally makes the walk about 15 times longer because he has to stop and touch every rock and blade of grass we encounter.
  • Enter building.
  • Say hello to the fish in the school's fish tank--"Hi, hi, hi fissies!"
  • Go to classroom and wriggle out of my arms to say "Hi, hi, hi" to Miss Manna (also known as Miss Amanda) and to Miss Key (aka Miss Kelli).
  • Refuse to stand still so I can take his jacket off.
  • Distribute his things to the appropriate places while he finds his BFF.
  • Hug BFF while screaming her name with glee.
He is usually so excited to see his buddies that I am able to leave without him getting upset; in fact, he often tells me "Bye" before I'm even ready to go! This morning we were arrived a little late, so he was just in time for snack. I stayed around while the teachers got the children situated at their little table, and then I headed out as soon as Wild Man had his goldfish crackers in front of him. I said "Mommy's leaving. I love you. Have a good day." He responded "Bye Mimi." And then he blew me a kiss! C's been trying to teach him to do this for weeks, but he has steadfastly refused to do it. This morning Wild Man did it of his own accord at just the right moment. It made my morning.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

C and my blog

So I asked the question I did last week out of curiosity. I really wondered whose spouse/partner read their blogs on a regular basis and how other blogging women felt about that. I wonder because a lot of our friends read my blog on a fairly regular basis, and everyone assumes that C reads it too. On more than one occasion he has been asked his opinion on a post I've written. He also received a fair amount of ribbing after I posted about his concerns with Wild Man and makeup. C doesn't read my blog, and to be quite honest, I like it that way. In fact, I've asked him not to read it. I don't, as AcadeMama succinctly said in her comments, blog about anything that I wouldn't discuss with him. And as Anastasia said, I talk to C about almost everything that I blog about. In fact, he knows a lot about the blogs I read as I often talk to him about the posts I find interesting and the virtual relationships I have developed. Quite honestly, he isn't interested in reading my blog; he has said it would be akin to reading my journal, and since he certainly wouldn't want me to read his journal, he isn't going to read mine. He has my blog bookmarked on his computer, and occasionally he'll go to it when I specifically ask him to. Other than that, I actually think he forgets that I blog unless I bring it up.

An invitation

I've been asked to join the blogging men over at The Rhetorical Situation, and as I have been venturing into politics and all things rhetorical more frequently, I've accepted the invitation. I will continue to blog here (I don't think I could stop at this point if I tried!), but I hope you will all check out The Rhetorical Situation. I hope to bring a different perspective to the blog--I won't be blogging about sports, guys, that's for sure! I also anticipate quite a few heated discussions amongst all the contributors, but hey, isn't that what rhetoric is all about? I feel certain Solon and Harrogate would agree!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Weird question for my readers

So I could create one of those handy little poles that e-blogger now helps one create, but I figured why bother. I'm posing a question to my readers, at least my readers who are also bloggers. For those of you who are married, does your spouse know you blog? Does said spouse read your blog? I will elaborate on this once I hear from some of you.

Back in my office

Today is the first day of 2008 that I've spent in my office on campus--almost the whole day. I've been experimenting with working at home, and I have to say, I think I like working at home better. Yes, there are all the distractions of home--TV, housework, laundry, etc. Yesterday, for example, I started my day off by vacuuming the entire house and mopping the kitchen floor rather than just sitting down at work. But there are an equal number of distractions at school--as evidenced by the number of conversations I had today. I think I will be spending more time working from home this semester, as I have proven to myself that I can get as much work done from home as I can from school.

On a different note, I have written over 35 pages for my Wharton chapter, and there is still no end in sight. I realize now that I could devote my entire dissertation to this novel. To put an end to my writing I'm imposing a deadline on myself: I must submit a complete draft of this chapter to my advisor by Jan. 30, 2008. After all, I've got to move on to other chapters. . . right?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Kevin, You were robbed!!!

So I confess--I watch Project Runway. And I have only one thing to say about last night's episode (freely admitting that I only saw the last 20 minutes): Kevin was robbed! I agree that his dress wasn't great, but this was his only misstep thus far in the competition. Ricky, who struggles every single week, should have been sent home! That's all. I will now return to my dissertation.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Sexism, Politics, and the Separation of Spheres

Can I just say how the current primaries and the resulting media coverage very nicely illustrate how there is, in fact, absolutely no separation of spheres? I mean, if there were, we clearly wouldn't care about Hillary Clinton's recent emotional outpouring or whether or not Barack Obama takes his kids to school. We also wouldn't be debating whether or not crying helps politicians in their negotiations with foreign leaders. What am I talking about? I'm referring to the blatantly sexist comment that Maureen Down quoted in her NYTimes op-ed. She wrote

"When I walked into the office Monday, people were clustering around a computer to watch what they thought they would never see: Hillary Clinton with the unmistakable look of
tears in her eyes.

A woman gazing at the screen was grimacing, saying it was bad. Three guys watched it
over and over, drawn to the 'humanized' Hillary. One reporter who covers security issues
cringed. 'We are at war,' he said. 'Is this how she’ll talk to Kim Jong-il?'"

Come on!! Why include this blatantly sexist quotation? I mean, George Bush cries all the time and no one questions his ability to handle foreign leaders because of it. (Keep in mind I do think we should question his ability, but not because he cries.)

As I wrote yesterday, I'm seriously annoyed with the media's coverage of Hillary Clinton (and yes, I'm very pleased she won the NH primary yesterday!). First they criticize her for not being emotional enough, a criticism she has addressed herself, which Dowd quotes

“'If you get too emotional, that undercuts you,' Hillary said. 'A man can cry; we know that.
Lots of our leaders have cried. But a woman, it’s a different kind of dynamic.'”

I want to say a few things about this quotation. First, Clinton is absolutely right--men can cry in politics. When they do, we see them as human, as moved, and as genuinely concerned--again think about all the times George Bush has cried. As far as I know, we haven't ever questioned his motives for shedding tears in an emotional moment. But, as Clinton correctly points out and as has happened to her, if a woman cries, she is immediately seen as emotional, as out of control, as--gasp!--irrational. Yet, in Clinton's case, the media also chastised her for not showing any emotion. She can't win for losing. Second, why does Dowd refer to her as Hillary? She never once refers to Barack Obama or John Edwards by their first names. Why is she so disrespectful to Clinton? She refers to her by her first name because she is a woman, plain and simple. And before someone comments that perhaps Dowd refers to Clinton by her first name so as not to confuse her with her husband, I don't believe that is the reason either. I mean those of us who take the time to read the NY Times opinion page (yes, I am being a bit elitist here) realize which Clinton is running for president. Dowd is being as sexist--and yes, a woman can be sexist towards another woman.

One more thing: I'm sick and tired of the likability issue. I for one don't give a fig if the president is likable. I want a president I can trust to do a good job. I mean, look what likability has gotten us in the past 8 years.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

I'm in love with Gloria Steinem

Read her op-ed entitled "Women are Never Front-Runners" to see why.

Thanks to k8 and Anastasia for posting the link.

Hillary gets emotional

Apparently this is my morning to be pissed off because all the stories about Hillary Rodham Clinton getting emotional are pissing me off too. I mean, give me a flippin' break! The media villifies her for being too pragmatic, too focused, too robotic, and (gasp!) not feminine enough. And then when she gets emotional (have you seen the coverage? I actually think she responded to the question from the heart and got choked up.), the media castigates her for showing what they've said she was lacking--emotion! Ok, I get the point that she needs to allow herself to be unscripted more often, and to a certain extent, I agree. But cut the woman some slack! She responded the way the media and political pundits have been wanting her to respond: in the moment, without considering the implication of her response. Why isn't anyone asking why Barack Obama or John Edwards aren't showing more emotion? Hmmm. . . could it be because they're men?

Really, really, really pissed

A few months ago I deleted a post about my mother-in-law because I wanted to make an effort to appreciate the things about her that I really like rather than focus on the things I don't like. Well this post isn't about my MIL directly; it is about my sister-in-law, but it indirectly involves my MIL.

I first want to say that I've been sitting at my computer reading emails and checking out the few news sites I visit every day, trying to talk myself out of writing about a phone call that C received from my SIL last night. I really don't want to be the person who never says anything positive about my in-laws. But then as I almost had myself talked out of writing about said phone call I heard a little voice in my head say "M, she never has anything positive to say about you and she specifically called last night in an attempt to start an argument with your husband, which would have resulted in an argument between you and C." Bottom line, I'm pissed, and I'm blogging about it.

First some background: C grew up in a very small Southern town (the former cabbage capital of the world), which I've said before. But he didn't grow up in some backwater place; it is 40 minutes from a city of 1 million people. Said city isn't a booming metropolis, by any stretch of the imagination, but it is the most liberal city in our Home State (and that is actually saying something). My point is that while Cabbage Town is very small the people in it live very close to a big city, most of whom work in the big city or at least visit the big city at least once a week. These are not people who have lived exclusively in a small town and know nothing of the world. While they are conservative politically and socially, they are, by and large, educated individuals, most of whom defy the stereotypes surrounding small town individuals. That said, most of them, especially the mothers, do fulfill one stereotype: they expect their children to stay in the same small town. It is expected that the children of Cabbage Town will marry other children of Cabbage Town. When they marry outside of Cabbage Town it is expected that they will either live in Big City close to Cabbage Town or move their families to Cabbage Town. C did neither of those things, and he is constantly reminded of this. Usually the reminders come in the form of a phone call from Yetta. The phone calls almost always go something like this:

Yetta: Do you remember X, the girl you once held hands with on the playground with when you were 4?

C: Um, no, I don't remember her.

Yetta: Well I ran into her mother yesterday at the Piggly Wiggly, and she asked about you. I always thought the two of you would have made such a cute couple . . .maybe if you and she had gotten together you would live closer to Cabbage Town.

C: I have no idea who you're talking about; how do you remember this stuff?

Last night the phone call was from C's sister, whom I am henceforth affectionately calling Pita (as in pain in the ass).

Pita: Mom is buying some furniture from the store in ritzy suburb of Big City.

C: That's great. I know she's been wanting to get some new things.

Pita: Did you know X works there now?

C: Um, X? I don't think I know her.

Pita: Yes, you do! You dated her when you were a sophomore in high school!

C: Um, I did? (Pause as he tries to remember.) You know that was about 15 years ? X? Oh, yes, I remember her. We went out two or three times. How is she? (at this point he looked at me with the "please get me off the phone look." Unfortunately I was putting Wild Man to bed and couldn't help.)

Pita: Wasn't she the girl who said she was pregnant while you were dating? What was that about?

C: I have no idea what you're talking about.

Pita: Were you such a slut in high school that you don't remember this girl? How many people did you sleep with? Does M know about this?

So what was she talking about? C has carefully reconstructed his past in an attempt to figure out what the hell his sister was getting at. C did have a brief relationship with this woman when they were teenagers. Was she ever pregnant? C has no idea, but apparently years later (about 5 years well after they stopped seeing each other and no longer spoke) a friend of hers told several people in Cabbage Town that she had been pregnant in high school. This got back to Yetta and Pita, who at the time interrogated C about it, who knew nothing about it. He was urged to contact her to get to the bottom of the rumor--and to satisfy their warped sense of small town curiosity.

Pita apparently continued with the questions for a few more minutes until it became clear that she was not going to provoke a response out of C and then she abruptly ended the conversation. C and I didn't have a chance to talk about the entire conversation until this morning, and as he told me about the conversation (and the past events) I got more and more angry. Here is why I am angry:
  • Pita only called to try to get a rise out of C; once she realized she couldn't accomplish that, she got off the phone.
  • These phone calls are pointless, annoying, and completely disrespectful of our marriage.
  • I feel like she called to start an argument between me and C.
  • And finally, I pissed because in a weird way she succeeded. C and I didn't have an argument, but here I am so pissed that I'm blogging about it.
I do not understand the motivation behind calling a family member with the sole purpose to start an argument, either with that family member to between that family member and someone else. What kind of person does that? My sister-in-law, that's who. And this isn't the first time she's done it, and I know it won't be the last. The other annoying thing is that there is absolutely no point in confronting her about it. If C were to call her and tell her she's out of line and that her behavior is inappropriate and unacceptable, he would only succeed in giving her what she wants. Ignoring her is the best way to shut her down.

In the past year, Pita has done some fairly despicable things (including calling me and my other sister-in-law ugly, ugly names behind our backs), and I no longer trust her, like her, or want to be around her. I realize after rereading what I've written that it may seem like I'm totally blowing this out of proportion (and I have been known to do that), but I can't believe she was trying to do anything other than start something. I want to yell at her "This is the sort of thing you do when you're in middle school!!" I am sorry she is so unhappy with her own life that she feels she has to actively try to make other people unhappy too, but I am so tired of her crap.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Belated New Year's Resolution

I making a belated New Year's Resolution. Here it is: I vow to try to stop reading online entertainment news sites and to stop watching any sort of entertainment television at all. I'm making this resolution largely because of the recent coverage of Britney Spears' life. Somehow I had managed not to hear anything about her life for several days. This morning I turned on the Today show (Wild Man is absolutely in love with Meredith Vierra), and I saw Matt Lauer interviewing Starr Jones about Britney Spears. As I watched (I swear this stuff is like a train wreck; it becomes physically impossible to look away), I became disgusted. Disgusted with the paparazzi--is it really necessary to surround an ambulance to photograph a troubled young woman as her vitals are taken? Disgusted with the news media--is it really necessary to discuss this stuff on the Today Show? I mean, I know the show isn't exactly hard hitting news, but it isn't Entertainment Tonight either. And finally disgusted with myself--why was I watching? Why is it any of my business what is going on in this young woman's life? It isn't, quite frankly. So I've decided that the only way I can make a difference is to stop watching.

Pink Dresses and Boys

I subscribe to a magazine called Cookie, and it is essentially Vogue for mommies. A typical issue includes articles on absurdly priced cashmere sweaters for toddlers and interviews with designers who make outrageously priced baby furniture (are there actually people who pay $250 for a high chair?!?). Aside from these things I actually like the magazine because every month there are a few really well written essays that I like so much that I read them aloud to C, and we end up talking about them for a while. Yesterday morning I was reading an article entitled "The Pink Dress" by Sarah Hoffman. I was so moved and upset by the essay that I made C stop what he was doing and listen as I read it to him. We were both speechless for a few minutes, and I asked him: what we would do if Wild Man announced "I'm going to wear dresses to school"? We talked about it for awhile, and we decided that we'd try our best to be as understanding, supportive, and just plain cool as Hoffman and her husband.

Despite our agreement on the issue of letting Wild Man wear a dress to school if he wants to and if he feels wearing a dress is a true expression of himself, I find myself still thinking about the article and what we would do if Wild Man really wanted to wear dresses. C brought up a very good point: our geographic location will likely affect how willing we are to let Wild Man wear a dress to school. Although Hoffman doesn't say where she and her family live, based on the fact that she writes for a magazine based out of New York, I am assuming she lives in the city or in a suburb of the city (I freely admit that this assumption could be completely wrong; she could live in Small Town, USA for all I know). I am also going to assume that if she does live in such a location that the people in her community are likely somewhat more liberal than the average American--again, I could be wrong. While we don't live in Small Town, USA, we do live in Small City, USA in a very conservative state. The kids at Wild Man's school routinely wear big cowboy belt buckles and cowboy boots, and while I'm not assuming anything about their parents' political or parenting beliefs based on how their kids are dressed, I am assuming (I know, I'm doing a lot of assuming in this post . . .) that most kids and parents in our area wouldn't know what to do if Wild Man showed up at school in a dress. Given the culture of our current city, I'm not altogether certain I would be comfortable letting Wild Man wear a dress to school.

Which takes me to my next point, this article made me face some of my own gender hang ups. After reading the essay, I had to ask myself "Do I think it is ok for a boy to wear a dress to school?" As much as I've read and as much as I really do believe that gender is largely learned, I have to admit that I don't know how I feel about this. Part of my hesitation and my concern comes from the fact that in our society boys don't wear dresses. Hoffman writes about her 4 year old son wanting to wear a dress to school, and as she describes it, 4 year olds seem to be fairly accepting of such differences; none of her son's classmates really see anything wrong with him wearing a dress. The 5 year olds on the playground, however, are the ones who give her son a hard time, telling him he isn't a boy and that he is a sissy. While Hoffman and her husband did a great job preparing their son for such things and he responds positively, their experience, as positive and enlightening as it is, is limited because their son is 4. What happens when he turns 5, 6, 7, and so on. How will he be treated if he wants to wear a dress to high school? How do you prepare your child for the ridicule s/he will likely endure for wanting to go against our cultural norms? I'm worried and anxious about issues like these because I don't want to Wild Man to be ridiculed for wanting to be himself. But I do want him to have the freedom and to develop the confidence to be himself, even if that means wearing dresses to school.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Back to work

Wild Man's school reopened today, and he happily returned to his teachers and playmates. I was prepared for him to be clingy when we got there, and I informed C that we had better be prepared to wait for a while until he got used to everything again. C gave me a knowing look, but he said nothing. Wild Man seemed to know where we were going, and he chatted away on the car ride to school. When we walked into his classroom he gave his teacher a big hug, immediately ran to their toys, and started playing. We stayed for a few minutes to make sure he was ok, but after watching him dance around with his two of his classmates, slide down the indoor sliding board (face first, of course!), and talk to the hamster, we decided to go. I called "Bye" to him, and he waved at me, as happy as he could be to be back with his buddies.

Today has been somewhat harder on me though. I'm trying to work, but I keep thinking about him. Today is the first day that I haven't gone to nurse him in the middle of the day. He nursed almost every day around this time during the break, but in an effort to begin weaning (something I so not ready to do), I've decided to cut out the middle of the day session. I've reasoned that I will have to wean one day, and I'll be able to get more work done if my day is no longer cut in half. I'm not getting much done, however, and I'm seriously contemplating picking him up earlier than usual today just because I miss him!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


My mother and mother-in-law are incapable of communicating with one another, despite the fact that they live less than 30 miles from each other. Each will actually call C or me and say, "Could you tell M's mom so and so?" and vice versa.

This Christmas, I bought my dad and my MIL gifts from E-bay Express this year, and in my naivete, I had both gifts sent to my parents' house. In hindsight, I realize I should have paid for the gifts separately and had Dad's shipped to my parents' house and Yetta's to her house. I reasoned, however, that it was easier to do a single checkout and that my mom could drop off Yetta's gift at her office, which is only about 15 minutes away from my parents' house. When I asked my mom to do this favor for me, she immediately agreed, saying she'd call Yetta and ask her when she could drop it off. Now I had these gifts shipped the week after Thanksgiving, so there was no rush for my mom to get it to Yetta. There was plenty of time to get the gift to her before Christmas. When I talked to my mom later in the week, she asked me to talk to Yetta to find out when she could drop off the gift, and I told my mom that Yetta didn't have to be there; she could just drop it off with the receptionist. At this point, I called Yetta and asked her to call my mom to figure out when they could meet to exchange the gift. I did this because Yetta is much more social than my mom, and I figured she'd take the initiative. She didn't. I finally got my mom to agree to take it to work with her (she manages a coffee shop in the local mall) and asked Yetta to drive by and pick it up. Yetta said she'd try, but given her work schedule she wasn't sure she'd make it before traffic got bad (an understandable excuse in my mind as I've tried to get out of this particular parking lot during the holidays and it has taken up to an hour). When she didn't manage to get to the mall to pick it up, I gave up. C told Yetta just to call my mom and they could figure it out. I talked to my mom a little while ago to say "Happy New Year!", and she informed me that Yetta "still hasn't called me. What am I supposed to do with this gift, M?" I took a deep breath and as calmly as I could said "Mom, the phone works both ways; you could just as easily call her and figure something out." To which my mom said, "Oh, I guess I could do that," in a tone of voice that tells me she won't. So it is New Year's Day, and Yetta still doesn't have her complete Christmas gift from us, which upsets me because I spent a lot of time thinking about what to get her and I know she'll love it. But why they can't call each other, I don't know.

Timing continued

C & I discussed the timing issue yesterday, and he re-framed it for me in a way that takes some of the pressure off of me. He said that as far as he is concerned our decision will be based solely on whether or not he gets a tenure-track job this year. I know that won't be the only factor (a lot also depends on how much work I get done in the next 6 to 9 months), but having him frame it that way took a lot of the pressure off of me. I've also decided to try not to think about it so much. Honestly, as I told C yesterday, I'm surprised that I'm thinking about a second baby so soon after Wild Man. Watching him toddle around the living room as I type this, I'm reminded to take life one day at a time, something I'm not always good at. I don't want to become so focused on the timing of a second child that I miss out on things with Wild Man.