Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A love letter to C

Today is C and my eighth wedding anniversary. As I said to him yesterday, some days it seems like only yesterday that we were married, and other days it seems like we've been married forever. I honestly have to struggle to remember my life before C was a part of it. We started dating over 11 years ago (the 12th anniversary of our first date is in October). I realized yesterday that we've spent over a third of our lives together. He is a wonderful husband, father, and friend. I love him for so many reasons; here are just a few.
  • I can be a bit much at times, and he reminds me not to take myself so seriously.
  • He is my biggest supporter, especially in terms of my work. He often listens to me expound on my academic inadequacies, but he also encourages me to remember that I am smart, capable, and hard-working.
  • He makes really good grilled cheese sandwiches.
  • He fries an egg just the way I like it.
  • Sometimes he gets up with Wild Man (who tends to wake up at the ungodly hour of 6:00 am), closes the door to our bedroom, and lets me sleep in.
  • He gives me a big hug when I do the same for him.
  • He tells me to go out with my friends more often.
  • He goes to the grocery store.
  • He stays home with Wild Man when he is sick so I can keep working on my dissertation.
  • He wipes off the floor under Wild Man's chair every night after dinner.
  • He hangs clothes out on the clothesline for me.
  • He rubs my feet regularly and rarely complains that I almost never return the favor.
  • He recently apologized for making me move to another country.
  • He is my partner in every sense of the word.
  • He loves me, with all my quirks and neuroses and oddities. In fact, sometimes I think he loves me because of those things.
  • I love him because he is C.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Holy Cow!

I just read an article titled "Oh Baby! Newborn twins tip scales at 23 pounds." I've always been glad that Wild Man weighed a modest 7 pounds even at birth. Thinking of carrying twins, one who weighed over 10 pounds and the other who weighed over 12 pounds at birth, makes me nauseous and hurt. I will likely never say what I'm about to say about childbirth ever again: thank God for C-sections!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

300 Posts!

Apparently some time last week, I posted my 300th post. Yay for me!!

Text Messages

If my sister sends me one more text message today, I'm going to reach through my cell phone and strangle her. I appreciate that she is busy and often doesn't have the time to call, especially considering when she does call I inevitably end up on the phone for over an hour. But I am also busy, albeit in a different way. My sister's job is high stress at various times of the day and the month; during off times, she has work to do, but she is not swamped. Thus, she has time to send 45 text messages on certain days. I'm not kidding; she wants to have entire conversations through one-line text messages. It is really, really annoying.

I know she doesn't call because she assumes I am working--as I have been today. But what she doesn't seem to understand (despite the fact that I have told her this at least twice) is that it takes a lot of time to read and respond to her text messages. And I can't just ignore them because when I do that she sends the same message over and over again until I respond. I've actually taken to telling Wild Man's teachers to call me on my office phone if there is an emergency rather than on my cell so I can turn my cell phone off and ignore my sister.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Confusion, Crying, and then Clarification

While I was on my research trip I received an email from the head of the Women's Studies program at CU, with whom I met when we visited CU Land. During that visit she had asked me to teach 1 course this fall, which I happily agreed to do. Last week's email asked me to teach a course in the fall and in the spring--courses I haven't taught before, but ones I can easily teach. Needless to say, I was very, very excited and responded immediately, telling her that I would love to teach both courses. I felt a huge sense of relief too; I felt like I had a reason to move to CU Land--not just that I was moving because my husband got a job there.

I checked my email a little while ago for the first time since Friday morning, and there was a message from the head of WS at CU Land telling me that due to operational issues she wasn't able to offer me what she told me she was going to be able to in her last email. She then told me the upper-level course on Women's Slave Narratives we'd discussed would be available for the Fall, although she didn't specify which Fall. Given the nature of the email, I assumed that both courses had been nixed due to budget issues and that she was asking me to teach in the Fall of 2009. I emailed her back and told her I understood and asked her to clarify when she wanted me to teach the upper-level course. I then called C, who is teaching today, and explained the situation to him and promptly started crying for a bunch of reasons. First, I haven't not worked since I was 18, and the idea of not working has been creating a bit of an identity crisis for me. Second, C is making a really good salary, but Canadian taxes are high. Over a third of his salary will go to taxes, so the extra money, although not essential to our survival, would have been nice. Third, I really feel like I'm coming into my own as a teacher; I'm at a place where I am confident in my teaching abilities, and I want to keep teaching. Plus, I'm a happier person, and thus, a happier wife, mother, and dissertator, when I'm teaching.

As C was listening to me and trying to reassure me that everything would be fine, I received an email from Dr. Philosophy (this is the best pseudonym I can come up with right now since I don't know this woman very well; about the only thing I do know is that she is the head of the WS program and she teaches philosophy). Apparently I overreacted to her vaguely worded email. She does want me to teach, but because of budget reasons she can't offer me the one-year, part-time appointment which she had worked out. So I will be teaching the upper-level course in the Fall. There are no guarantees for the Spring, but if the course generates interest, I will likely be offered a course in the Spring. It all worked out in my favor, thankfully, but I'm still feeling a bit frustrated that her email was so vaguely worded as to make me think I would not have a position in her program at all this year, and I also wish I was not so prone to assume the worst.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


I am home. It was well worth getting up at 4:15 this morning to make a 6:00 flight; I walked off the plane in Southwest College Town at 12:30. C was holding Wild Man, and it took him a few seconds to realize I was standing in front of him. When he realized it was me, he said "Mama," laughed, and literally jumped into my arms. He spent the rest of the day making sure I didn't leave his sight. We even took a nap together this afternoon. He is asleep now, and I'm looking forward to a quiet evening with my husband. I will, of course, probably be asleep very soon, but it is good to be home.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I miss my son

This is the longest I've ever gone without seeing him, and I miss my son. I've gotten a lot of work done and have a lot of fun with D, but I'm ready to go home and kiss my boy.

*Note I did not write all of the following posts today, although it does appear that way. My internet connection has been spotty, so I've written these throughout the week and have only been able to post them today.

New Haven, Day 4

Someone just handed me the original manuscript of The House of Mirth. I am in literary heaven. . .

I also just learned, after spending 45 minutes looking through the letters Wharton wrote around the time she published The House of Mirth, that I can't read French as well as I thought. Apparently if I want to read these letters I need a translator.

As I flipped the letters over I realize that Wharton reused her old typescripts. Several of the letters her secretary wrote for her in 1919 had fragments from The Age of Innocence on the back of them.

New Haven, Day 3

After a rather harrowing morning, we finally made it to New Haven. D isn't the most energetic of individuals, and she opted against going to check on the car last night after we had dinner. She didn't want to walk "that far." Her logic was that she'd parked it at the end of the block around 4:30; following the 2 hour rule, the car was safe until 10:00 this morning. When she went to get it this morning, it was gone. She called me on my cell, and I walked down to help her look for it. I read the street sign on the telephone pole right in front of where she said she'd parked it. It read "Street cleaning every 2nd & 4th Wednesday, April 1-Nov. 30 8 am -12 pm TOW ZONE." Yes, her car had been towed. She knows me well enough to know I was annoyed at her laziness, and I know her well enough to know that if I said too much she'd be in a foul mood for the rest of our time together. So we walked back to the apartment; she pulled out the phone book, and I got on-line. Within 5 minutes, she found the department of the Boston Police to call about towed cars, and in another 5 minutes she knew where the car was. She said she was going to take the T (the Boston subway) to get it, and I just gave her a look. (Last night, I outlined my research plan for the rest of the week, and I really didn't want to spend anymore time than was absolutely necessary to get the car back; I really wanted to get to the Beinecke in time to get through the letters Phelps wrote to George Eliot today). She caught my meaning, and she said she'd take a cab if I'd help her hail it. So we went outside, and I got her a cab; she was back with the car in about 45 minutes, and we were on our way to New Haven.

As soon as I started reading the letters Phelps wrote to Eliot, I was no longer annoyed. I hit the jackpot. Not only to these letters directly reference the publication of The Story of Avis as well as the emotional and physical toll writing the novel took on Phelps, but they include some fairly blatant statements about marriage. Most of what is in the letters is expressed in the novel itself, but having it in Phelps's own words will make my argument stronger. My entire trip was worth it just to see these 4 letters.

Tomorrow I will spend the entire day with Wharton, and although I don’t really expect to find anything new, I am so excited to look at this collection.

Phelps to Jewett

Here is a letter, which I transcribed this morning (Tuesday) that Elizabeth Stuart Phelps wrote to Sarah Orne Jewett on 14th June 1888:

Dear girl:
Are you there? Are you anywhere? How are you? What? Where? Why? Whence? Are you strong again? Do let me know. And when will you come to see me?

Yours always lovingly,


I love this letter from one friend to another. I especially like that Phelps dispenses with all the usual niceties. She just begins and asks Jewett how she is before demanding to know when she will come to see her.

Boston, Day 2

I think I should have skipped the Ph.D. and just gotten my MLS. This job looks like lots of fun. . .

Boston, Day 1

I spent the day going through the many letters of Fanny Kemble that the Houghton Library has. I'm a bit cross-eyed from trying to decipher her handwriting. I'm not sure at this point if any of the letters I transcribed will be useful in my chapter on Kemble, but as several discuss her divorce from Pierce Butler in detail, I am hoping I will at least be able to use something from them to contextualize the publication of her 1838 journal.

D and I wandered around Boston a bit this afternoon before having dinner in an Irish pub. I'd forgotten how much I like Boston. I lived an hour and a half from the city while I was working on my MA, over 8 years ago. I spent some time in Boston then, but I haven't been here since I finished my MA. It is much calmer than New York, which is a city I also love. It feels smaller to me somehow, which I know doesn't make sense. But as D pointed out, the buildings are smaller, which makes the city feel more open than New York.

This evening D let me use her computer, which has a camera installed, to chat with C and Wild Man. It was good to see my little boy, but he got a bit upset when he realized he could see me but couldn't touch me. When our connections ended abruptly (the apartment we're staying in has a very slow connection speed), he started crying, which made me want to start crying too. He seems to be doing well, and Yetta and Pita, who, for once, isn't living up to her name, are following most of my instructions. C keeps saying, "No, Wild Man can't eat that." Otherwise, things are fine. Tomorrow I start on Phelps. I'm hoping I can finish up at the Houghton in the morning before heading over to the Schlessinger Library, which is part of Radcliffe. Here's hoping I actually find something useful.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Sex and the City: The Movie

I saw the movie on Friday, and it was fabulous. It lived up to my expectations, and in some cases, even exceeded them!


I left this morning for my long planned research trip to the North East. This week I will be in the archives of Harvard and Yale. I'm looking forward to the research (I mean, I'll be looking at the original manuscript of The House of Mirth and letters that Elizabeth Stuart Phelps exchanged with George Eliot), but leaving this morning was not easy at all. C's mom and sister are in town to help C out with Wild Man (I am, by the way, loving the fact that they both had to come to do all the stuff that I do!) and to keep him distracted from my absence. Wild Man knew something was up when he saw me wheel a suitcase down the hall, but he was happily playing with Aunt Pita when C and I left for the airport. I talked to C a little while ago, and Wild Man has only asked for me once. I'm happy to know that he's happy.

My friend D, who was my roommate when we were both completing our MAs, lives within driving distance to Boston, so she's decided to hang out with me for the week. While I'm at Harvard's various libraries, she's going to be finishing up the last chapter of her dissertation. Then she has graciously offered to drive me to New Haven and hang out with me there. I'm glad to have her to distract me. . . right now six days feels like an eternity.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

"Sexism and the City"

My good friend Supadiscomama, who blogs at The Rhetorical Situation, and I are having a SATC extravaganza this Friday night. Along with some other lovely ladies who love the show almost as much as we do, we're going to see the movie and then have cocktails while we dish about the movie. Mr. Supadicomama and C are both fans of the show (granted neither is as ardent a fan as either of us), and both want to see the film. Given this, I was interested in the article entitled "Sexism and the City" published in this week's Newsweek. I have read no reviews of the movie and surprisingly little press (I am a fan; I didn't want to be disappointed or angered by "bad" reviews), so a lot of the article was surprising to me. Are most men so anti-SATC as this article describes? Are men so threatened by a film that has 4 women in the lead roles that they have gone on-line to give a film bad reviews, a film that most haven't seen? I don't know what to do with this. I'd like to believe that American men are more mature than this, but I have a feeling I may be wrong.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Baby-sitter success

Despite our worries, last night was a rousing success. Wild Man's baby-sitter, Miss A, who is a teacher at his school, arrived promptly at 6:00, and she listened to all of my neurotic instructions. I kept apologizing for telling her so much; I mean she took care of him for 6 1/2 hours a day for 6 months before he moved to another room. He loves her, she loves him, and they know each other. Still, C and I were both concerned that Wild Man would give her trouble, especially when it came to bed time. But he went to bed fairly easily. And as far as we can tell, she followed our instructions perfectly. She did let him stay up a little later than usual, but I had told her that was ok. Miss A played with him while C and I finished getting ready, and then she started giving him his bath just as we were leaving. Wild Man apparently conned her into reading way more than the allotted 4 books before bedtime, but he was in his crib by 7:40, which is only a little later than usual. He didn't fall asleep right away, which isn't out of the ordinary. He didn't, however, ask for me or ask to nurse, which is huge. He was asleep by 8:00, and Miss A said she spent the next hour watching TV. As C and I drove away, we looked at each other and said, "This is really weird" at the same time. I kept my cell phone on the table throughout dinner, which was super tasty, but she never called. After dinner, we walked around a local fountain for a bit and just talked. It was so nice to put on perfume and a heels, to have a nice meal and to drink a fancy cocktail, and to talk to my husband without worrying if Wild Man was going to try to eat the table cloth, dump ketchup on himself, or have a meltdown. I'm not sure why we haven't done that before, but if Miss A is willing, we're definitely going to do it again.

All in all, it was a wonderful birthday!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

A night out

Today is my birthday, and C and I have decided to be extravagant. We've actually hired a baby-sitter, something we've never done before. Wild Man and I just spent the last 45 minutes going through my closet determining which shoes go best with the dress I'm going to wear. Yes, that's right--I'm wearing a dress and heels, we're going out to a fancy restaurant for my birthday, and we hired a baby-sitter all in the same night!

Notes from CU Land

Overall our trip to CU Land was a rousing success. It was stressful, as we tried to cram as much as we could into the 4 days we were there. We looked at about 20 town houses/houses with a real estate agent and 2 rental properties; we visited 3 schools for Wild Man (I wanted to visit another one that was highly recommended by one of the faculty members in C's department, but we ran out of time); and we drove over the entire city at least 3 times in the process of accomplishing these things. Wild Man had a few meltdowns, but overall, he was a dream. I mean, by the end of every day, I was a bit cranky by how much time we'd spent in the car, so I totally understood why he was cranky too. Here are a few highlights from our trip.
  • The chair of C's department, whom I am naming Dr. Nice Guy, and his wife, Mrs. Nice Lady, were wonderful. They went out of their way to make us feel welcome and to answer any and all questions we had. Dr. Nice Guy even drove C around town one evening and helped him determine the best areas for us to look at homes.
  • First, Dr. Nice Guy convinced one of the grad students in the department, who is out of the country for the summer, to let us stay in her house so we didn't have to stay in a hotel room. This was extremely generous of this woman, especially considering all her furniture is vintage (on a side note, the house was cute, but the interior looked like a page out of Architectural Digest circa 1950; everything was retro-modern, including the 1950s toaster that I'm certain she stole from my grandmother!), and one of the house guests was a 19-month-old. Having a kitchen and a yard made our lives much, much easier. In fact, we only ate out twice during our entire stay, and Wild Man burnt off lots of energy pulling Dr. Nice Guy's son's wagon around the back yard.
  • Second, Dr. Nice Guy pestered the dean into pestering the head of the Women's Studies department into meeting with me. I went into this meeting with no guarantees of a job and came out 45 minutes later with the promise of a part-time gig. It seems that CU doesn't have anyone who can tackle both race and gender in literature, and apparently their Women's Studies students are very interested in such issues. I quickly explained that I had in fact taught all the courses on my CV. The head of Women's Studies was confused because technically my title is Teacher's Assistant; she thought I had graded for all the courses (about 8 different courses). Once I explained I had taught every one of them myself, she said, "Well, so tell me what you can teach at CU." After brainstorming for about 10 minutes, she asked me to teach a course on Women's Slave Narratives, so I'm very, very excited. She's supposed to get back to me by mid-June to let me know if I'll start in the Fall or the Spring, but either way, I know I will be teaching sooner rather than later.
  • Third, Mrs. Nice Lady, who is a teacher at a secondary school in CU Land, explained the Canadian school system to me. By Wednesday, I was getting very, very frustrated with our real estate agent, whom I felt was being dismissive about my questions regarding school districts. She kept saying, "Well, it all depends on where you want to send him. . ." and then would change the subject. It seems that CU Land only has 1 school district, which is very, very good (Mrs. Nice Lady has sent me the stats via email, and I'm really impressed). But we can choose to send Wild Man to public school, Catholic school, or French-immersion school. Catholic schools are fully subsidized by the provincial government, and many of these are very good. I didn't know this, so every time the real estate agent said, "It depends on if you choose public or Catholic school" I wanted to throttle her. Once Mrs. Nice Lady explained this, I suddenly understood: I was asking the wrong questions. C and I have since learned enough to decide that if we're in CU Land long enough we will send Wild Man to the French immersion school, which is essentially a magnate school. It is part of the public school system, but we have to sign him up for the school about a year in advance.
Overall, I returned to Southwest College Town relieved. CU Land is a place we will be happy. Now I just have to prep for my upcoming research trip to the Northeast, pack up our house, and finish the Phelps chapter and make good headway on the Kemble/Wilson chapter before we move in August.