Thursday, July 31, 2008


Dear Oxymoron,

Writing your tribute has been difficult as well, my friend. But difficult in ways that writing the previous tributes were not. When I think of you, Oxymoron, I find myself not wanting to cry but smiling. I find myself thinking of all the outrageous moments we've had together, and I realize there are far, far too many to count. So, in your honor, here is a list of our top ten moments.

M & Oxymoron's Top Ten List

10. Our first beginning of the year party in Southwest College Town: you joked that you needed someone to count the number of beers you were drinking to ensure you didn't get intoxicated and then try to talk to any professors. Mid-way through the evening, you and C were standing around the keg (yes, even faculty parties in Southwest College Town include kegs), and I walked over and said: "Oxymoron, that makes 3, so be sure you don't talk to any professors now!"

9. Fussee hommes!

8. Movie night with the Mormon missionaries: "We're already familiar with God, and we're getting to watch a movie. Could you come back later?"

7. "Oxymoron, could you please close your curtains before you take off your clothes?"

6. Shirley Manson & Freddie Mecury, not to mention a wine-swilling Cyndi Crawford, Wham!, and Ozzy Osbourne

5. The Listening Room

4. Beer Bongs

3. Your naked ass, along with Harrogate's and C's, pressed up against my sliding glass door, followed by you scrubbing my sliding glass door with Windex.

2. "So, I think I knocked up Mrs. Oxy on the day that you and C announced you were pregnant. . ."

1. Balls, balls, and more balls

These memories will keep me laughing for a long, long time. Thanks, Oxymoron.

Much love,

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Empty, but blessed

Our house in Southwest College Town is empty, except for the few things we need to make it through the night. Tomorrow, we will get up, have breakfast at our favorite restaurant, take Wild Man to school, and then C will hit the road with our two cats and our turtle. I will then clean out our rented house and take some things to our friends' house, with whom Wild Man and I will be staying until I finish teaching next week.

C and I had a long talk today. He has asked me (well, actually he shouted it because we were both feeling a lot of frustration today) to try to change my attitude about this move. I've been, as most of you know, emotional for the last few days, and that emotion has had more of an impact on my husband than I realized. He thought I was angry with him and blaming him for the move, which couldn't be farther from the truth. Admittedly, right now, I'm not thrilled with the idea of moving, but I do know this is the right decision for our family. CU is an excellent place for C to begin his career as a tenure track professor, and if things continue to work in my favor, this may also be a really good move for me professionally. It is hard to leave people I love so much. But I am so proud of C. He has worked so hard for this, and I really do like CU Land. It is hard to remember that as we say good-bye. So for the rest of my time in Southwest College Town, I'm going to try very hard to remember how blessed I am--blessed to have a wonderful husband and son, to have a terrific group of friends who have become my extended family, and to have really supportive "virtual" friends.

Monday, July 28, 2008


Other than a few odds and ends, we are packed, and frankly, I am amazed. Two men packed the contents of our entire house in just over 8 hours. Even more amazing, C received a phone call from the person driving the moving van, and the moving van will be arriving in CU Land late Saturday afternoon. This means that we will have furniture by the time Wild Man and I arrive next week. C called me with this news as I was leaving the gym, and my entire mood changed. I went from anxious to somewhat relieved. Now I do not have to figure out how to keep Wild Man occupied for any length of time in an empty three-story town home. C will be able to set Wild Man's room up for him, which will make the transition much easier on him. Now I don't feel like I'm putting him through something horrific.

The Movers . . .

. . . have arrived, and they are methodically packing our house. In the 2 plus hours they've been here, they've already packed our entire kitchen and living room. It is equally nice and disconcerting having someone else do this for us.

I'm thinking and feeling lots of things right now, but my primary concern is Wild Man. He was fairly upset this morning when I left to go teach, and C said he had to stay with him for about 20 minutes before Wild Man was willing to go to his teacher. He apparently kept asking for me, and C thinks Wild Man thought I was going away. That is a fair assumption. He did see me putting clothes into a suitcase this morning. My plan this afternoon is to keep him away from the house as long as possible. Judging from the way the guys (did I mention there is only 2 of them) are packing, I'd say they'll be done by 6:00 or so, if not earlier. I know it will be disconcerting for him to see boxes everywhere, but I'm hoping he'll be able to deal with that better than seeing people packing up all of our things.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


Dear P-duck,

I've been thinking for days what I wanted to say to you before I leave, and I'm still not sure what I want to say. There is so much to say that I'm having a hard time getting it into a letter.

We've been through a lot together--both good and bad. We've held each others' hands through some fairly awful experiences--car accidents, deployments, and sick babies to name only a few. I want you to know that I wouldn't have had it any other way. I wouldn't have wanted to have anyone else by my side, and I was so glad that C and I could be there for you and Mr. P-duck when you all needed us.

I hope you know that we will be back in Southwest College Town in an instant if you ever need anything.

I love you, my friend, and that really says it all.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

To Harrogate

Dear Harrogate,

Yours is the second in the series of tributes I have planned in the next week, and given your relationship with Supadiscomama, it seems appropriate that yours should follow hers.

I love you, my friend, because, despite (or perhaps in spite) of your cynicism about all things political you always manage to find the best in those you love. Your inability to see or even say anything negative about those you care about is so wonderful, and as much as I have mocked you for it, it is the thing I love best about you. But there are so many things I love about you, and I want to share a few with you.
  • You are always happy to offer a hug, and as a hugger myself, I appreciate that.
  • You constantly remind me that I, in fact, can do what it is that I've set out to do at Southwest College.
  • You are one of the few men I've ever met who is willing to let me (or any of your female friends) cry on your shoulder without showing any signs of discomfort, and you often join me when I need to cry.
  • You laugh, love, and live with your whole heart.
I want to share one of my fondest memories of you, Harrogate, keeping in mind that there are far too many to count. The day your son was born C and I visited you and Supadiscomama at the hospital. As I held Supadisco-T in my arms, several of our friends asked me about my decision to give birth Wild Man, with whom I was about 6 months pregnant at the time, without medication. The discussion got uncomfortable, and I was upset by it. I tried hard not to show it because I didn't want to take away from the obvious joy you and Supadiscomama felt. But as C and I left, I remember that you pulled me aside and you said, "M, ignore them. If that is what you want to do, you can do it." I will never forget that on one of the happiest days of your life when you had so much more to think about you took a moment to encourage me. I will miss being able to walk down to your office for that (sometimes daily) dose of encouragement, but I know you will continue to offer it up in other ways.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Dear Supadiscomama,

I'm writing this to you because I know that you will tell me to shut up if I attempt to tell you any of these things in person. And frankly, I don't think I could get through this without dissolving into tears if I attempted to tell you in person.

I remember the first day we met, almost 5 years ago now. Your then boyfriend introduced us, and over lunch during orientation we chatted about grad school, life in Southwest College Town, and moving. I doubt either of us realized how close we would become and the life experiences we would share in the next five years.

I could go on and on the things we've done together (too many margaritas and cosmos to count; shopping for shoes and then baby clothes; wedding showers and baby showers; Sex and the City finales and premiers; disagreements and reconciliations; lots of gossip and even more laughs). I simply want to tell you that I will miss you more than words can express. I will miss everything about you, my dear friend, from your blunt way of putting things to the tender way you pick my son up to the way you inspire me to get to the gym. Most of all I will miss just talking to you.

As we have done so many times in our relationship I will rely on Sex and the City to say what I find I cannot say.

In Season 6, as Samantha is battling breast cancer, Carrie tells Petrovsky the following: "Samantha is my friend. She's my family. My insides. She will be fine because she has to be fine. That's how important she is to me." That is precisely how I feel about you.


Friday, July 18, 2008

Do men really find pregnancy sexy?

I'm still thinking about sex and pregnancy. But now I'm wondering whether men really find pregnancy sexy? According to Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt finds pregnancy incredibly sexy, and while I do realize she is trying to promote an image of herself and of them as a couple, her comments have made me consider the sexiness of pregnancy from another angle, especially after reading "Pregnant sex brings thrills, fears." I'm not sure what I want to say about this, but I am thinking about it. Perhaps later I will have something more insightful to say, but for now, I'm throwing this out there (and I'm hoping that the few men who read this blog will actually comment): do men (and I mean real men, not Brad Pitt) actually find a pregnant woman sexy? Do most men want to have sex with their pregnant wives or girlfriends? Do men find pregnant women, whom they have no connection to, sexually attractive? I also want to point out, as Academama did in her comment on my original post, there is a difference between finding someone sexy and wanting to have sex with someone.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Freaking out

That sums up how I'm feeling lately. I'm making a concerted effort not to look at the calendar because if I did I would be forced to reckon with the reality that we will have movers in our home in under 2 weeks, which means that C leaves for CU Land in exactly 2 weeks and that Wild Man and I will be moving in with our good friends Supadiscomama, Supadiscodaddy, and Supadisco-T in 2 weeks. All of this means than in 3 weeks from tomorrow Wild Man and I board a plane for CU Land and we will be leaving all of our friends we love so much (in fact, these people are not my friends; they are my family and I really, really mean that) behind.

Add to that the fact that I have to get this damned chapter finished by the beginning of next week so I can focus on getting my house organized for moving and the million other things that have to get done, and I'm freaking out more than a little. In fact, I need to quit blogging and go to work right now. At least if I stop blogging I'm a lot less likely to start crying.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Yard sales . . .

are a pain.

That said we got rid of some junk and made some money. But I'm glad it's over.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


This is a common refrain in our house right now. In fact, it is usually followed by "Away, Daddy!" This means C is often left out of snuggles, hugs, and kisses as Wild Man is very much preoccupied with me. This also means that I cannot check email, sit on the couch, water my plants, wash dishes, or even go to the bathroom out of Wild Man's eyesight. I'm glad my son loves me so much, but sometimes I just need a bit more space. I was reminded of this need for space this morning as I was editing a passage of my Phelps chapter. In The Story of Avis, Avis, who is a painter, is forced to lock her young son out of her studio at one point just so she can steal a few hours to work on a painting. When she unlocks the studio door, "Van, all paint and patience, like a spaniel lies curled upon the floor, with his lips against the studio-door. The stout little lover, faithful in exile, has lain and kissed the threshold till he has kissed himself asleep."

The Sexiness of Pregnancy

I logged on to this morning (yes, yes, I know; I'm colluding in the celebrity nature of our culture.) and saw this headline: "Jessica Alba on Pregnancy: 'I Never Felt Less Sexy." This comes after Vanity Fair's recent interview with Angelina Jolie in which she declares "[Pregnancy] makes me feel like a woman. It makes me feel that all the things about my body are suddenly there for a reason. It makes you feel round and supple, and to have a little life inside you is amazing. . . I’m fortunate. I think some women have a different experience depending on their partner. I think that affects it. I happen to be with somebody who finds pregnancy very sexy. So that makes me feel very sexy.” This got me thinking; does the average woman (and no, I don't think either Jessica Alba or Angelina Jolie are the average woman) feel sexy during pregnancy?

I enjoyed my pregnancy with Wild Man (for the most part), and I suppose I felt sexier for a period. But by the end, which I think is really the part that most women remember the most vividly, I felt far from sexy. Is it now fashionable to spin pregnancy as sexy, or is it, indeed, sexy for some women?

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Wild Man has been officially weaned for well over a month now, and to be honest, I've avoided blogging about it because I've been surprised by my reaction. I didn't want to wean Wild Man, but as I discussed here I felt like I needed to wean him prior to the research trip I took in June. I didn't want to be away for a week, leaving C to figure out how to handle Wild Man's requests for Mommy and to nurse. By the time we weaned completely Wild Man was only nursing in the evening, but he was still nursing to sleep at least three times a week. Before we could wean completely we had to teach him how to put himself to sleep, which was surprisingly easy. Our trip to CU Land, however, delayed the process because we were in a strange place, and Wild Man was sleeping on a pallet on the floor, not in a crib. In fact, during that trip, he ended up sleeping with us a lot, so even though we had planned to spend that week weaning completely, we didn't wean him until the week before I left for my research trip.

While I was gone, Wild Man apparently only for Mommy a few times at bedtime, and he didn't ask about nursing at all. When I returned, however, he immediately asked to nurse at bedtime, and he wasn't too pleased when I replied "No, you're a big boy, and you don't need to nurse anymore." This continued for a few days, but by the end of the week, he seemed to have forgotten about nursing altogether and hasn't asked about it since. His reaction didn't surprise me, but mine did.

Leading up to my trip I had dreaded weaning. I did not want to wean him, and I knew that if I wasn't going away for a week I probably wouldn't have. I expected to miss those quiet moments we shared together in the evening. I expected my breasts to fill up, to need to pump while I was gone, and to leak for weeks afterward. I expected to cry. And I expected that I would need to fight the urge to nurse him when he asked for it. But none of that happened. I did (and do) miss that time with Wild Man, but I didn't cry, I didn't feel emotional, I didn't miss the actual nursing itself. My body didn't respond at all either--no swelling, no engorgement, no need to pump, no leaking. I didn't want to start nursing again as soon as I saw my son either. In fact, what I felt more than anything was an overwhelming sense of relief. After 9 months of pregnancy and 19 months of breastfeeding, I felt like my body was my own again. And I like that feeling. All in all, I'm pleased that weaning was much less traumatic on both of us than I had anticipated.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Sensitive Boy

Last week, when I picked Wild Man up from school, one of his friends Emmie was crying. She had just woken up from her nap about 10 minutes before I arrived (I so wish Wild Man napped as long as Emmie does; 3 plus hours on average! The teachers often have to wake her up so she can join the other kids for snack time). She was crying because the teacher had asked her to put her puppy in her cubby so she wouldn't get him covered in strawberries, which was the snack time food of the day. When Wild Man noticed Emmie crying, he immediately walked away from where he and I stood by the door and gave her a hug. He then returned to me and told me "Emmie sad, Mommy." I thought "how sweet," told his teachers good-bye, and took him to the car. About 5 minutes into our drive home, Wild Man began crying. When I asked him what was wrong he said "Emmie sad. Emmie need hug." My sensitive boy was crying because he had left his friend crying and he wanted to make her feel better. I again thought "how sweet," and I immediately shared the story with C when we got home.

I've thought about this event a bit over the past few days, and the more I think about it the more it bothers me. Here's why: I see so much of myself in my child. He is thoughtful (well, as thoughtful as a toddler can be), sensitive, kind, independent, determined, curious, and loving. But he is also willful, stubborn, demanding, abrupt, and sensitive. Yes, I listed sensitive twice, which I admit seems sort of odd, especially given that I've listed it along side the not so great traits my son and I share. I do want my son to be sensitive to other people's feelings and sensitive to the world around him. But I do not want him to be overly sensitive. I was an overly sensitive child--I would cry at the drop of a hat. I would cry when I was in trouble, I would cry when I was mad, I would cry when I was sad, I would cry when my friends were in trouble or sad. You get the picture: anytime I felt any sort of emotion (other than happiness) I would cry. And I don't just mean a few tears. I mean loud, blubbering crying that left my face red and blotchy for hours. My siblings, in fact, called me "cry-baby." This wasn't just a phase either. I reacted this way well into high school and college. As I've gotten older, I've become able to control my tendency to cry (especially once I realized that many people regard crying as a form of emotional manipulation, even though I don't cry on purpose; it truly is an emotional response in my case), but I am still a self-described crier. But I don't want my son to be so sensitive that he cries at the drop of a hat; this is one trait that I don't want him to share.

C and I talked about this recently, and he asked me point blank if this is a gender thing for me. I seriously considered that: would I be concerned about crying and sensitivity if Wild Man were a girl? Am I concerned that he will be labeled the overly sensitive boy, a label that could be damaging for various reasons? The answer is no. This isn't about gender for me; if he were a girl, I'd likely be more concerned about sensitivity and crying. I don't want him (or any subsequent children, assuming we have more) to be as fragile as I was as a child. I want him to be sensitive and aware of his emotions without allowing them to overwhelm him, as I really think I did. I don't want people to be fearful of telling him things because they're concerned he'll start crying. I want to figure out a way to preserve his sensitivity while encouraging him to have a thicker skin than I did.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Being "Smart"

Anastasia has a very interesting post about telling her daughter Kizzy she is smart. I won't try to sum up her point, but it got me thinking about my own childhood, how C and I praise Wild Man, and what traits of mine Wild Man has inherited.

As Anastasia points out, many academics were told as children they were smart. While this wasn't the case in my family (my parents are not big praisers; I can count on my hands the number of times my mother has told me she was proud of me, but that's a separate issue), I can relate to this. I was told in school that I was smart, my grandparents told me I was smart, and I was on the advanced placement track in high school. I knew I was smart. School was something I excelled at, plain and simple. In retrospect, I excelled at lots of things, but I wasn't really encouraged. Since doing well in school didn't force my parents to get involved in other activities, it was acceptable. I put much more pressure on myself than my parents ever did. In fact, my mom tells people that I was never punished for bringing home a bad grade because I would always come home in tears and immediately begin studying harder. In contrast, my sister, who is also very smart, didn't care a lot about school. She wanted to have fun and be with her friends (things I also wanted to do, but as my friends were as "smart" as I was, we usually ended up studying together). My sister could have done much better in school if she wanted to. At some point in our childhoods, my sister decided she was the pretty one, and I decided I was the smart one. These labels have haunted us through adulthood and make our own relationship difficult.
My sister has passed some of these hang ups onto her own kids by constantly telling her daughter how pretty and smart she is, and telling her son he is so handsome and smart. I know that she is trying to give them the sense of positive self-esteem that she feels our parents, particularly our mother, didn't give to us. But I've always found her constant mantras of positive self-esteem somewhat troubling and, truth be told, irritating.

With Wild Man, C and I do not tell him he is smart. I mean he is a toddler, so he doesn't yet understand smart. We do praise him when he figures things out, and we do teach him things. But we don't try to pressure him at all. When Yetta and Pita were here a few weeks ago, they constantly commented on how smart Wild Man is and how much he knows in comparison to his cousins. I felt that their statements were more about the way we parent as opposed to the way C's brother and sister-in-law parent than they were about Wild Man. On the day before she left, however, Yetta told C and I that she really thinks Wild Man has above average intelligence and she really thinks we need to encourage that as much as possible.

Here's the thing: it is impossible to tell how "smart" Wild Man is right now. He is 20-months old. Yes, he is learning his letters, his shapes, and his numbers. He listens really well, loves to draw, and will "read" books for up to an hour. He has a rather large vocabulary and is beginning to be able to identify feelings. But he also loves to run, jump, and tumble, and he still has temper tantrums, mood swings, and meltdowns. I was really put off by Yetta's willingness to label his as "extraordinary" because most of his abilities are a product of being in our house. C and I are both academics, so we encourage him to read, to look at pictures, and to figure things out on his own. I don't want him to be labeled as anything--at least not right now. I definitely don't want him to label himself in comparison to others as I did. I want him to know that he will succeed and fail at many things in life, and all of those successes and failures will make him a better person. Most of all, I really just want him to figure things out for himself. I don't want a role or an identity to be imposed on him. So C and I will try not to emphasize one trait over another.

*Incidentally, C was known as an athlete, and even almost 20 years after he graduated from high school, the people he grew up with still think of him that way. And while he loves sports, he feels like this was a path that was chosen for him. As a result, his decision to become an art historian wasn't received very well by his parents (especially his father) or lots of his hometown friends. He also wants Wild Man to figure out things for himself.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Women and Fertility

This morning I clicked on MSNBC's Women's Health page, as I often do, to peruse the headlines and see if there was anything I wanted to read. I found an article entitled "Not ready for baby? Protect your fertility." Before I could stop myself I clicked on the link and read the opening paragraph:

You've yet to hear a single tick-tock, but lurking beneath your killer abs is a biological clock that will start buzzing eventually — and you can only hit the snooze button so many times.

The rhetoric of these types of articles makes me livid for several reasons. I am really tired of the rhetoric of fear that pervades all articles, news shows, and even many commercials about babies, children, fertility, and women trying to get pregnant. Most women know that if they want to have children they have a limited window. Do really need to remind them that they "can only hit the snooze button so many times?" Is is possible for a writer to invent a better (and perhaps more appropriate) metaphor? Can we have articles about men needing to have babies before they're at risk of throwing their backs out when they pick them up?

Granted this article actually focuses on proactive ways women can "protect" their fertility, but even the use of the word "protect" creates the idea of fear. This sort of rhetoric is troubling to me because it implies that women are supposed to have babies, that women who have children when they're older are abnormal, and that all women are dying to have babies. And this just isn't the case.


A few weeks ago, one of my bloggy friends, Jennie, and I realized that we actually live with in driving distance of one another. Since I'm about to relocate to another country soon, we decided we should seize the opportunity and meet. So on Saturday C and I loaded Wild Man into the car (and all the paraphernalia that it takes to keep him amused for an hour and a half car ride), and we spent a wonderful day with Jennie, who blogs at My Handful, and her family. It was so great to actually meet Jennie, although it felt a bit odd to know so much about someone I've never actually met. We had a delightful time chatting while the boys played together. I was a bit sad leaving though, as I really think we could become good friends if only we weren't moving to the wilds of Canada.

Thanks for having us over, Jennie. We all had such a good time--in fact, C is trying to convince me to buy Wild Man a slip 'n slide to use for the rest of the summer. But I actually think he wants one for himself.