Thursday, September 25, 2008


Thursday is my day to work from home. I haven't worked from home consistently in over a year and a half. Our schedules dictated that I was the one who took Wild Man to school, which meant it was easier (logistically) to work from my office at Southwest College Town. That meant I actually had to put clothes on every single day. Since C takes Wild Man to school on Thursdays I don't have to get dressed all day long if I don't want to. I forgot how productive I can be while wearing my pajamas!

For Supadisco-T

Wild Man's best friend, Supadisco-T, is having tubes put in his ears this morning. I wanted to let him and his parents know that we're thinking about him today. Here's a clip from his favorite movie to let him know that Wild Man would love to help him recuperate today.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

One more thing. . .

Why does my mother-in-law insist on saying things like: "For God's sake, be sure to keep hold of Wild Man in the airport!"? This comment was prompted when C reminded her that we are traveling to see our friends Solon and Megs this weekend. C, being the smartass that he is, responded: "Nope, we figured we'd let him check us in while we parked the car."

Oh, and she also tells me I'm perverted for taking pictures of Wild Man running around the backyard in the sprinkler naked: "What if a pedophile saw them, M? What is he was kidnapped because of those photos?" Yeah, because I'm planning on putting those photos up on a billboard in downtown CU Land along with Wild Man's name, our address, and our phone number.

I am, as far as my mother-in-law is concerned, an idiot with no common sense, and apparently Wild Man is damn lucky to have made it to almost 2.

Two year olds

Here's another piece of useful information: toddlers do not know that they are toddlers. Most don't even know how old they are. Most don't even count yet, and if they do, they don't really know what it means. Yes, my kid is bright--he talks in complete sentences most of the time, he can take the phone apart and put it back together (literally, we have an old fashioned rotary phone, and he does take it apart), and he knows his colors and his ABCs. But, in fact, he doesn't know that he is turning 2 next month, and no, he is not excited about his birthday.

Thanks for allowing me that sarcastic rant. If it wasn't for this blog I would have ranted all over Pita, and as you all well know, that wouldn't have been a wise idea.

More weird things about CU Land

We've been here for almost 2 months, and we're only now figuring out the trash pick-up. That's right, it has taken C, with his Ph.D., and me, with my almost Ph.D., 6 weeks to figure out when to put out our trash and recycling. Why do you ask? Well, my friends, because it is never picked up on the same day of the week. Last week, the trash and recycling trucks came on Wednesday morning (I remember because Wild Man loves to watch the recycling truck, so we looked at it for a good 10 minutes). The week before they came on Tuesday, and this week, they come tomorrow. Logically you'd think that next week, they'll come on Friday, but no. Next week they skip our neighborhood altogether because in CU Land we go one full week a month without any trash pick-up. Normally, this wouldn't bother me, but here's the thing: there is a 4 bag limit. Yes, we're recycling so much more than we did in Southwest College Town, and yes, we no longer have to schlepp it to the recycling center. But we still average a full bag of trash about every 4 days, sometimes more often when Wild Man has had a particularly stinky diaper or we have to empty our cats' litter box. So in the 10 plus days our trash isn't picked up, C and I are cramming everything into each bag we can before we empty the trash and put in a new bag. This, my friends, is just plain odd to me.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A conversation with my father

I was originally going to post this on the other blob in which I participate, The Rhetorical Situation, but as it verges into the personal at times, I decided to post it here.

Sunday is the day I talk to my parents. I occasionally chat with my mom during the week, but for whatever reason, I usually only talk to my dad on Sunday. Lately the conversation has been rather mundane, almost to the point that I'm annoyed when we talk. This past Sunday, however, my dad surprised me by asking my opinion on something. He asked me why Democrats dislike Sarah Palin so much. This question took me off guard for several reasons. First, my dad and I avoid talking politics because when we do talk politics we usually end up yelling at each other. Second, my dad made it clear that he was only asking for information; he didn't want to get into a political debate. Rather, he wanted to understand some of the things being said about Palin. I tried, the best I could, to explain that I couldn't offer an opinion for all Democrats, so I tried to articulate why I think Palin is a bad choice for VP, without going into why I will not be voting for McCain. I told him that Palin is inarticulate, inexperienced, and ignorant about many things. I also said that I think McCain was pandering to women by choosing her. My dad then asked "But why are Gloria Steinem and NOW so anti-Palin? Don't feminists support all women?" I think my dad asked a question that a lot of Americans are also asking themselves, so I tried to explain, again from my perspective, as best I could. I said, yes, in theory, feminism is about improving life for all women. But Palin isn't representative of most American women. In fact Palin's situation is sort of unique. She is a working mother who has a supportive spouse and a network of family around to help her. Further, I said, her policies, and Republican policies in general, aren't supportive of women. He seemed to understand this, and we had a really good conversation without any yelling.

The conversation prompted me to consider how it is that my dad, a former self-proclaimed "flower child" who dropped acid, smoked pot, and wore his hair long, could become so conservative. It also made me wonder yet again how our politics can be so different. My dad is liberal socially (he supports gay marriage and a woman's right to choose), but he is very conservative in terms of crime and defense (and he, unfortunately, tends to vote for people who are equally conservative in those areas, negating his social liberalism). I can't account for all of my dad's conservative beliefs (although I do think his decision to join the military in the early 1970s profoundly affected his "hippie" views), but I do know that he has become increasingly conservative about military matters since September 11th. My dad is a firefighter, and he was profoundly affected by the number of firefighters killed on September 11th. Since that time he's become increasingly conservative and willing to follow our military leaders into any war that will ensure that the individuals responsible for September 11th are brought to justice. His brand of justice, needless to say, is vastly different from my own. Recently, however, my dad has begun to make some statements that lead me to think he is not so sure the Iraq War, of which he was once an ardent supporter, was the best idea. He has been out of the military for some time, but he continued to work in a military fire department, as a civil service firefighter, until he retired last year. I know several of the young GIs he worked with are currently on their second tour in Iraq, and one come home severely injured from fighting a fire caused by a bombing. I don't know if this accounts for his change or not, but I do know he seems to be rethinking some of his positions.

Given this I was more than a bit surprised to have a fairly open conversation with my dad regarding the current Presidential campaign. I don't think my dad will suddenly change his mind and vote Democrat, but the conversation does give me hope that maybe, just maybe the tide is changing in the U.S.

Friday, September 19, 2008

A conclusion

I finally have a conclusion for my Phelps chapter! I'm going to take some time today to read over the entire chapter (it is the longest thing I've ever written at 60-plus pages) and send it off to my advisor next week. I already know where I need to revise it, but now, I'm ready to move on to the next chapter.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Here's a tip

I've just finished printing off and reading the 20-plus abstracts I received for my panel, and I want to offer some tips to any of my readers who may be submitting an abstract in the future.

  • put your name and your email address on the abstract
  • single space the abstract
  • give the paper a title
  • and, finally, PROOFREAD!
Seriously, you'd think full profs at fairly well known and well respected institutions would make sure they don't send off an abstract with typos and misspellings in it. . .

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

How cool is this!?

I'm putting together a panel at a regional version of the Major Conference in my area, and I've received about 18 proposals. Apparently people liked my CFP, which I'd thought was sort of vague.

Here's the cool thing: 2 very cool scholars that I've read, one of whom I use fairly extensively in my Wharton chapter, have submitted abstracts to my panel!

The Holidays

Yes, I know it is only mid-September, but C and I are already getting the "What are you doing for the holidays?" question from his family. My family, as I've said before, is more laid back (read: passive) and doesn't think about the holidays until a week before. Both approaches are annoying. So what are we doing for the holidays? I have no idea. C and I are in total disagreement, although we're not fighting about it. I've made it clear that I'll go along with whatever he wants to do, since, in truth, Christmas tends to be a bigger deal to him than it is to me. Here are our options.

1. Stay in CU Land, enjoy a white (possibly) Christmas with just the three of us. This option, as I'm sure you're all anticipating, appeals to me quite a lot. No fuss, no muss. No stress, no tension. Just me, C, and Wild Man. What could be better?

2. Travel to Home State and divide our time between the 2 families. There are actually 2 variations on this option.
A. Fly to Home State, spend about 8 days, dividing said days between our 2 families, and fly back to CU Land. This is an ok option, so long as we are able to devise a schedule before we leave CU Land and get our especially stubborn families to abide by it. The biggest issue is cost. Wild Man will be 2 by Christmas, which means no more flying for free. Do we really want to spend $800 plus to be moderately stressed out for a week. C, who desperately wants to go hunting with his brother, says yes. I say, let's think about it some more.

B. Drive to Home State, with a side trip to Mountain State where my grandparents live, spend 3 days with them, continue on to Home State, spend 6 days with them, drive back to CU Land. Although this plan would be moderately less expensive and allow me to see my grandparents, none of us wants to spend 4 days in the car with Wild Man.

3. M's sister and her family, who will have relocated to the Midwest by then, travel to CU Land to visit us for the holidays. I also like this option. Our schedule and lives are only moderately disrupted and someone actually makes an effort to come see us. C has agreed that if my sister and her hubby actually decide to do this by mid-October (yes, he's a planner) we'll with this option.

So what do we do until we decide? We deflect the questions coming from Yetta and Pita, and we continue to discuss it amongst ourselves. I also try to figure out why I let a holiday visit stress me out so much, at C's request. But then, I already know the answer to that. It stresses me out because
  • I'm not in my environment.
  • Wild Man is not in his environment.
  • We're pulled in 18 different directions (frankly, a summer trip is just easier).
  • Yetta and Pita assume total control of Christmas, making my mother, who refuses to speak up for herself, feel marginalized. Note: all three of them irritate me equally about this.
  • We never get to see people we want to see. It still comes as a surprise to our families that we have friends in the city where we both grew up and went to college.
  • It is just a hassle, plain and simple.
But, as I said, we don't have to decide now. I just wish I could quit thinking about it. On the upside, we aren't getting any questions about Thanksgiving--at least not since C informed his mother that Canada doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving at the same time as the U.S.

Stuck in my head

This song, by Glen Hansard and from the very beautiful film "Once," is stuck in my head, so I thought I'd share it with my friends.

Friday, September 12, 2008

A better outlook

Apparently the secret to a better attitude is venting as well as consciously trying to have a better attitude. After yesterday's post, I sucked up my bad attitude and tried to work. I started by rereading my chapter, hoping the work I've already done would inspire me to complete the next section. Lo and behold, I found a connection I'd completely forgotten about, and I was suddenly able to finish the section I've been working on for two weeks. I wrote about 3 pages yesterday, as well as revised another section.

I then took some time for me and went running (well, sort of) for the first time since we've been in CU Land. On top of all of that Wild Man only woke up once last night, which means I was able to get caught up on my sleep. He did fuss a bit at drop off this morning, but rather than clinging to either me or C he went right to his teacher and asked for a hug. I've run a few necessary errands this morning, and I am now going to the library (since I finally have a CU id card) to check out books. Keep your fingers crossed that I can keep up this positive attitude.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

One more thing, Part 2

I also forgot to mention that C said to me last week: "I think we should move our plans to have a second baby up. What do you think?"

One more thing

I forgot to say this: I taught my first class on Tuesday, and it went really well. The young women (only women!) are really bright and interested in the material. We don't meet again until Tuesday, and two of them have already posted really smart questions on the discussion board. I wanted to add that to remind myself of the things I am enjoying about CU and CU Land.

Warning: Pity Party Ahead

Well, it is Thursday again, and I'm feeling blah. I honestly don't know what other word to use. That's not true either. I'm feeling tired, frustrated, uninspired, annoyed, lonely, and a whole host of other things. So I'm issuing a fair warning; you're entering the throws of a pity party in which I attempt to be rational.

First, let me say this: I am seriously displeased with my reaction to this move and how my reaction is making my husband feel. I have been (and often continue to be) incredibly selfish. Before we left Southwest College Town I was so focused on my dissertation and on my feelings about the move that I honestly forgot to say "C, how are you doing? I know this is a huge life change for you. What can I do to make it better for you?" And considering all the things he did to make the move easier on me, I feel really terrible about that. We've talked about that a lot, and I've apologized a lot. He seems to understand, but I don't think he's forgiven me. Every time I get upset or I complain about something he says, "I'm sorry you feel that way. I wish I could fix it since it is my fault." He truly thinks I blame him for everything I'm feeling right now, and no matter how much I tell him I'm not upset with him in anyway at all, he doesn't believe me. So I'm seriously working on being a better wife.

Second, for all my whirlwind of emotions, I really, really like CU Land. This is a wonderful city--aside from the very annoying traffic that is largely the cause of poor city planning. There are lots of beautiful parks, 3 great farmer's markets (1 of which is open all year round), and lots of family oriented activities. We've taken Wild Man somewhere different every Saturday to do something he's never done before. And this weekend is no exception: at his request, we're planning to take him on a ride on one of the city buses (yes, I know this seems odd, but every time we go out we see about 50 buses. Wild Man declares "Big bus, Mommy! My turn to ride!" Apparently on the way to school this morning, he told C "Daddy, me ride big bus!"). We're also investigating the possibility of taking him horseback riding since he's recently become obsessed with horses. Where CU Land is lacking, for me, is the opportunity to meet new people. Unlike with our move to Southwest College Town, where I had a core group of good friends within 2 months of arriving there, I already know it will be difficult for me to meet people here. I have met one cool person, but she commutes 3 hours and is only in CU Land 3 days a week. C, on the other hand, has met lots of people in his department and even went out for beers with a few last weekend. Most of the people in his department, however, don't have kids, so although I was included in the invitation, they didn't think to issue the invitation early enough in the week for us to get a babysitter. My solution to this is to be more proactive and to get out of my shell a bit more. Mrs. Nice Guy takes yoga classes every Monday evening, so I'm going to call her this weekend to get the info on that. I'm also going to make more of an effort to get to know Blue & Brown-Eyed Girls' Mom, with whom I've had lots of nice chats with when I run into her when we're both corralling our toddlers outside. I know this part of life will get better too, but it will take effort on my part. Frankly I miss being able to pick up the phone and say "Hey, Supadiscomama, Harrogate, P-duck, L, Sarah, Ms. Reads, and/or any of my other friends in Southwest College Town do you want to go do anything?"

Third, I'm feeling a bit marginalized in my department. Nothing has gone right in terms of me getting set up there. I don't feel like anything has been explained to me in terms of office policy, and therefore, I keep asking the wrong person questions--and namely the wrong person is the lead admin assistant, who frankly, is a bit off-putting and not remotely helpful. For example, I asked this person, who is also new to the department, about passwords and keys. She tersely emailed me back telling me she didn't know that information and told me who to ask. I clearly offended her by asking that questions, but then, I had no idea she wouldn't know the answer. I'm learning some things are cultural--like not returning emails or phone calls right away. In the States, when I make a phone call or send an email, I generally get a response right away, even if the response is only "I received your call/email. I'll get back to you as soon as I can." Here, people don't get back to you until they are able to answer your question, which means I often don't get responses for a week, which I find really annoying. I understand it might take awhile to answer my question, but could you at least let me know that you've received the question?

Fourth, Wild Man is not sleeping well. Rather he's waking up between 3 & 4 times a night and needing help going back to sleep, which means I'm not sleeping well as he wants nothing to do with C in the middle of the night. This has made it virtually impossible to get us all on a morning schedule as I find myself need an extra hour of sleep in the morning to even make it through the day. Every night I set my alarm for 6:30 and tell myself this will be the morning I get up and get dressed and ready before I wake Wild Man and C up at 7:00. And every night as I crawl back into bed at 3:30 (or whatever time) I turn the alarm off because I know I'll be too exhausted to wake up at 6:30. So this morning we all slept until 7:30, and when I finally woke up, I then had to prod C awake (which irritates me to no end!). I then had to rush us all through breakfast and our other morning routines to ensure that Wild Man and C were ready to leave at 8:30 to avoid most of the morning traffic to get Wild Man to school before 9 so he wouldn't miss morning snack (I've decided to work from home on Thursdays). I like the mornings to be calm and quiet. I don't enjoy feeling like a drill sergeant. I also don't enjoy going through the day half-asleep. I feel like I have a newborn again. C and I have talked about this too, and other than letting Wild Man cry it out, neither of us is sure how to get him back to sleeping through the night.

Fifth, none of this is making me want to work on my dissertation, which is the most annoying thing I am experiencing right now. I'm so flipping close to finishing this Phelps chapter, and frankly I need to move on if I'm going to meet my other deadlines and defend on time.

So that's where I am and how I'm feeling right now. Tomorrow will be better I know. Heck, if I can get something done today, today will be better. Ok, I'm going to refill my coffee cup and get to work.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Jolie exhausted caring for twins

So I ask this: why is this news? Of course the woman is exhausted. She has 6 children, 2 of whom are infant twins, both of whom she is breastfeeding. Oh, and yep, her partner has already gone back to work. I don't mean to be unsympathetic, but why is it news that Angelina Jolie is struggling to adapt to life with newborn twins and struggling to balance caring for all of her children? I mean, I only had one kid, and I wanted to nap all the time.

But I'm misdirecting my irritation. I'm not irritated at Jolie. She is, after all, staying out of the spotlight for a change. I'm irritated at the media who has to make an issue of this. Leave the woman alone. What she's gone through--a C-section, breastfeeding multiples, and caring for 4 other children (reportedly only with the help of grandparents, no nannies)--is enough to exhaust any mortal woman. On the heels of stories portraying Sarah Palin as a superwoman for returning to work only 3 days after giving birth to her youngest child, this story has me irritated. Palin isn't a superwoman for going back to work; she's like many, many women I know. My sister went back to work in a week, and I was attending meetings in 2 weeks. Perhaps if either of us held positions in politics we'd have gone back to work sooner. Here's my point: both of these women are being represented as superwomen (although this story paints Jolie as a fallen one), and neither of them are. They are mothers, and while that might make them super to some degree, it doesn't make them invincible.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Progress. . .

After my 4th phone call to the dean's office, I finally have confirmation that my contract has been processed. I should have a CU id and email by tomorrow. Apparently there was a mis-communication in the payroll office, which held up my contract. The people in payroll thought they didn't have my work permit. They neglected to call the dean's office to find out where it was. The admin assistant, who has been very helpful, finally got someone to tell her "We don't have M's work permit." To which the nice admin assistant said, "You people are idiots. I sent it weeks ago; would you look for it?" They did, they found it, and I am in the system.

I found all of this out this morning after C and Wild Man dropped me off at the Women's Studies office. Monday is my day to work while C and Wild Man hang out. After a nice chat with the admin assistant in my department, who so kindly offered to copy my syllabi for me (hey, I'm a lecturer. It took CU 4 weeks to process my contract; I'm not taking anything for granted.), I headed over to the library. I finally figured out that I can in fact put materials on course reserve without a CU id. I spent the morning doing just that, and my course in finally planned! Unfortunately, I can't set up a account without a CU email, but with any luck, I'll be able to that tomorrow before I teach. Getting that accomplished has made me feel much more positive about CU and working here than I have in weeks. I have about an hour or so before C and Wild Man pick me up, so I'm off to get a little work done on my dissertation.

Friday, September 05, 2008

In light of current debates surrounding . . .

abstinence education, I am posting the above images, which I first saw on profgrrrl's blog. I have also posted them on The Rhetorical Situation, where I occasionally blog about pop culture and politics.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Bye-bye, Mommy Part 2

Wild Man's first day of school was a success. He did cry at one point and ask for me, but this happened when his class was leaving the playground and going inside. During our visits the past two weeks, this has been the most confusing moment for him, and either C or I have been there to help him understand what was happening. His teachers, whom I like very, very much, said he calmed down once they explained that he was going to be at school the rest of the day and that we'd be back to get him after afternoon playtime. He ate his lunch well, and he went right to sleep at naptime, which was the part of the day I'd been most worried about.

As good as his day was, he didn't let me talk to his teachers at much length. As soon as he heard my voice, he ran over to me, grabbed my hand, and said "Bye-bye, Mommy." This time he meant that he was ready to leave. In fact, he continued saying this until we left. When I lifted him up to put him in his car seat, I received a big kiss and was told "Love you, Mommy." And C wonders why I was upset yesterday morning.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Nice, real nice

I'm feeling more than a bit frustrated with my status (or lack thereof) at CU. So I realize I'm only a lecturer, and I also realize that the primary reason anyone even looked at my CV--let alone allowed me to create 2 cool courses to teach over the next year--is because the dean really wanted to hire C. Fine, I can accept that. I do not expect anything fancy at all. Hell, I'm a grad student. I wouldn't know what to do with anything fancy. What I do expect is to have my contract processed in a timely manner so that I can prep the course these people hired me to teach. Yes, that's right, I turned my contract in the day after Wild Man and I arrived in CU Land--on August 8th. And today is September 2nd, and classes start this week. My contract still has not been processed. What does this mean do you ask? It means that I cannot
  • establish a CU Land email account.
  • open up a CU Land account.
  • establish a CU Land Web CT account.
  • check books out from the CU Land library.
  • request articles from the CU Land library.
I was finally able to get keys to my office today because the admin assistant in my office decided to help me out. Oh, and yes, that's right. I paid a $25 deposit per key that I received for a total of $75. Nice, real nice.

Bye-bye, Mommy

That is what Wild Man said to me this morning after C and I dropped him off for his first day at his new school. We've been visiting for 2 weeks, so he was well prepared for this. He had a moment when he realized we were leaving, but as soon as his teachers told him to line up to go outside, he ran over to the door. Then he turned to me and waved as he said, "Bye-bye, Mommy." Then he walked through the school and put his "bum on the door" just as he was instructed.

Drop off for me was not so easy. It was not as difficult as the very first time I took him to school, but still, it was a little upsetting. As we walked to the car, I wiped away a few tears, and C asked me why I was upset. I love my husband so much, but I swear he just doesn't get it. To him, this means more freedom to work; it means that Wild Man will be in a safe environment where he will be having fun; and it means that he doesn't have to try to juggle caring for an active toddler while writing or prepping or the like. While it also means all of those things for me, it also means that I will be away from my boy. I am excited to get back to work--I've not been sleeping well the last week because I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about my dissertation--but I actually liked being home with Wild Man. So I told C that it will just take a little while for me to get used to the new schedule. Today, I'll be thinking of my little guy a lot.

As long as we're on the topic. . .

Sarah Palin is also not a bad mother because her daughter is 17 & pregnant. As Supadiscomama points out at The Rhetorical Situation, it makes her a mother with a daughter who had unprotected sex. I'd venture to guess that most of the idiots making comments like this were also teens having unprotected sex. Bristol Palin and her boyfriend made a mistake that does not need to be addressed in front of the entire country. Leave the kid alone and focus on the issues. If anything make it about the inadequacies of abstinence education.


Profgrrrrl has voiced my precise sentiments on the media's comments regarding Sarah Palin and her husband's decision to have their youngest son once an amnio revealed that he likely had Down Syndrome. Now I realize that this is being played up by the McCain campaign as a right-to-life issue, but if the left were to respond to this (and honestly, I'm not at all sure they should) they need to emphasize only one thing--very briefly--and move on: Palin and her husband had the ability to make that choice and that is a choice that every woman should have the right to make.

On a personal note, I don't see how this makes Palin a hero. Yes, she made a difficult choice for her family, and yes, having a child with Down Syndrome will complicate their life. But as for making her a hero? In my mind that recalls images of a bygone era when children with Down Syndrome were referred to as "Mongoloids" and doctors immediately advised parents to institutionalize their children. Trig Palin, as I'm sure his parents would tell anyone who commented on this, will have a long productive life thanks to the fact that we now know more than ever about Down Syndrome. A good mother, I would say yes, but a hero, no.