Wednesday, December 31, 2008

We have returned

For now, that says it all. I'm sure I'll be blogging about the 11 day trip soon, but for now, I am just so glad to be in my own home with my own bed and my own things. I will say the trip was very eventful, but most of the events were positive ones. Yetta did try to initiate one fight, but C's rather unexpected response ended it fairly quickly. We have no elaborate plans for New Year's Eve. Both C and Wild Man are getting over pretty yucky colds, so we're going to lay low.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Tale Wherein My Parents are Assertive

Earlier this afternoon, I called my parents and explained the various options Yetta had come up with for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. My mom asked me point blank what I wanted to do, and I told her that I really just wanted to have a huge glass of red wine, which given my current pregnant state is out of the question. I also told her that C, Wild Man, and I would be spending a significant portion of Christmas Day with her, my dad, and my brother whatever they decided. I assured her I would be ok with whatever they wanted to do, even if that meant I had to have two Christmas dinners or if we just went over to her house to eat grilled cheese sandwiches. She said she'd talk to my dad and call me back later. Now, given past experiences, I fully expected my mother to call and say "M, we'll do whatever you want. If it is easier on you for us to come to Yetta's house for Christmas dinner then that is what we'll do." I have to say, my parents shocked the hell out of me today.

When my mom called, the whole conversation started differently. She asked no questions about Yetta's plans at all. She said they'd be happy to attend Christmas Eve dinner with C's family as our family really doesn't have any elaborate Christmas Eve traditions. Then she said, "But, M, you know, we do have our own Christmas traditions. Your father and I would like to introduce Wild Man to those traditions, so we'd like to have Christmas dinner at our house. We'll have our traditional dinner (which is a very untraditional chicken teriyaki, rice casserole, and stir fry), open presents, and take family pictures. If this causes you major problems, let me know, and we'll figure something out." I said, "Mom, if this is what you and Dad want to do, we'll make it happen. After all, our family traditions are as important as C's family's traditions."

I don't know if I can express what a rare thing it is for my parents to be so assertive. Frankly, I don't care if this causes Yetta or Pita to have a global meltdown. My parents actually told me what they want to do, and I'm thrilled that they did.

Heading out

Tomorrow, provided the weather cooperates, we're heading out to begin our holiday travels. First, we're traveling to my grandparents; we'll spend the weekend with them. I'm very excited about this leg of the trip because we haven't seen my grandparents in a while. On top of that, my sister and her family will be there for the weekend, which means that I will get to see my entire family in a one week period, something that doesn't often happen.

From there, we head to Home State. We'll spend the first few days with C's family as Pita is going out of town the day after Christmas. She is, by the way, already living up to her name by making lots of plans and lots of demands about where we'll be and when we'll be with her and Yetta. We got a phone call this morning from Pita and Yetta, and C ended up pissed off and they both ended up cussing and in tears. This, my friends, is precisely why I'd prefer to stay in CU Land for the holidays. The problems seem to be as follows:
  • My parents are anti-social. Well, we all knew that, and while it doesn't exactly make me happy, it is a fact of life.
  • Yetta is tired of making everyone happy; she is especially tired of accommodating my parents. Um, ok. First, my parents don't require any accommodation. In fact, they are passive to the point of absurdity. They are not going to invite C's family to their home; it just isn't going to happen. They are happy, however, to join in any festivities that C's family wants to include them in. They are also equally happy to stay home and spend time with us.
  • Yetta is tired of being the planner. Well, she does this to herself, quite frankly. She wants to be in control plain and simple. She's already planned extensive things for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and she's pissed b/c my parents have declined one of the invitations (this is, apparently, why they aren't accommodating.). Yetta is pissed b/c this means that we have to go to my parents house on Christmas Day instead of just spending the whole day with her. We would have done that anyway b/c I want to see my family!
  • Pita is pissed b/c she's convinced she won't get to see Wild Man enough--b/c I'm unreasonable with his schedule and will likely refuse to let her spend time with him alone. I have no response to this whatsoever.
So that is what I have to look forward to, and we aren't even there yet. I've already informed C that this will be our last holiday trip if they initiate any kind of fight at all. In fact, at the suggestion of a fight, I'm packing Wild Man up and heading to my family's house. I'm not putting myself or Wild Man through that crap.

And what kills me the most is that it doesn't have to be like this. It could be simple and lovely. C actually thanked my mom today for not doing this sort of crap. He said "You can be difficult in your own way, but you never pull these sorts of demands on us. I appreciate that." I know my mom appreciated him saying that; I sure did.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Dissertation Frustration, part I have lost count

Usually when I write a post with this title, I'm frustrated by myself. Well, I'm happy to report that I'm quite pleased with my progress. Since the beginning of November, I've written 35 pages of the chapter I'm currently working on (which, if we're keeping track, is the last actual chapter!). I have laid out the theoretical framework and discussed one of the texts. I still need to write the section on the next text, which I had hoped to have finished before Christmas. So, for a change, I'm not frustrated with myself or my progress. I am frustrated with the lull that is about to happen with my work.

This week is the last real time I'll have to work on my dissertation for at least 2 weeks, and more likely 3. Why? Well, we leave on Friday to travel to my grandparents for the weekend, and from there, we head to Home State on Monday or Tuesday until the 29th. Then we head back to CU Land. But when return, Wild Man's school will be closed until the 5th. So C and I will attempt to divide the day up (he'll likely get the morning, and I'll likely get the afternoon) so we can both try ever so feebly to get some work done during the week Wild Man is home with us. C is working on a book prospectus and prepping a grad class (the first he's ever taught), and I have to do some course prep of my own as well as finish this chapter. If I could have 2 weeks to work uninterrupted, I think I could have a really solid draft of this chapter done by Jan. 5th. But I'm not going to get that. I'll have to make do with what ever moments I can steal while we're visiting family, and given past experience, there won't be many. I really wish we had decided to stay in CU Land and work, work, work, but alas. I think it is too late to cancel the trip now. . . I feel so close to finishing that I don't want to stop working. I just want to finish the damn thing!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Is it . . .

too early to take a nap?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Feeling Decadent

For the second Thursday in a row, C and I have hired a babysitter to watch Wild Man so we could attend his department holiday party last week and mine tonight. I have to say, I feel a bit decadent. Last week, things were a bit more rushed, as the party started earlier. We dropped Wild Man off at Dr. Nice Guy's house because his teenage son had graciously agreed to watch Wild Man. Now, Wild Man loves both of Dr. Nice Guy's sons, but he loves this one in particular, whom I will call T. In fact, it had been several weeks since Wild Man had seen him, but last week he ran up the steps to their house calling out his name. When we got to their house after the party, around 7:30 or so, Wild Man absolutely refused to leave. He behaved perfectly for T, and then, we arrived. He threw a huge tantrum, which is fairly unusual for him, because he didn't want to leave T. This week T came over to our house as my department party started later. When I told him what time we'd be home, T encouraged us to stay out later than we'd planned. After we left the party, we actually went out for dessert just the two of us. I honestly can't remember the last time I was out after 7:00 with my husband. Oh, yes I can: my birthday in June. It is so lovely to have a reliable, trustworthy, and affordable babysitter.

Wild Man-isms

I'm in need of a good laugh today, so I thought I'd share a few Wild Man-isms. Feel free to share ones from your own kids.
  • Don't tickle my butt, Daddy!
  • Roar, growl, roar! (He has recently decided he is a dinosaur.)
  • Pearlie, do you want to eat the Christmas Tree? (Pearlie is one of our cats.)
  • I have to fart, Mommy.
  • Let's eat snow.
  • Don't pee in the bathtub! (I think he was talking to himself when he said this, but I can't be sure.)
  • Theresa (one if his buddies from school) likes to shake her bootie.
  • Mommy, I need cookies--now!
  • I not! (He usually says this when you ask him to do something he doesn't want to do, as in, I am not going to pick up my toys right now!)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

L and Run, World Run

I'm adding my good friend L, who blogs at Run, World Run, to my blogroll in a shameless attempt to get her to blog more frequently!

Today vs. Yesterday

Yesterday was very productive for me. I wrote a total of 5 pages, reorganized a rather large section of my current chapter, and graded 3 papers. Today has not been so productive, at least not in terms of my dissertation. I began the day much earlier than usual, at 6:00 am, as I had to be on campus by 8:30 to give my final. That means the entire family had to be up and out the door by 8:00, no easy task, I tell you. As I have blogged recently, C is wonderful on many levels; he is not, however, wonderful about getting up in the morning. I could set 3 alarm clocks, and he would somehow manage to sleep through every single one of them. Me, I'm the type of person who wakes up 5 minutes before the alarm goes off. In fact, when we still lived in Southwest College Town and C had to be out of the house by 6:45 to make his 8:00 class (he had a 50 minute commute), I always awoke to his alarm and then woke him up. Getting C out of bed most mornings takes a good 10 minutes. But I digress. . . We were all up, dressed, fed, and out the door by 8:15, a small miracle because since we've moved to CU Land we're seem to be perpetually 5 minutes late.

Now that I'm nearing the end of the day, I can reflect on what I've accomplished.
  • given an exam, following CU's fairly strict rules (including filling out lots of paperwork, which no one warned me about)
  • graded 6 8-page papers, several quizzes, and 2 response papers
  • graded 1 exam from a course I taught at Southwest College Town this summer (the student received an incomplete due to illness, and has only just made up the final) and emailed the grade to the appropriate person
  • returned books to the library
  • outlined the next large section of my current chapter, which means I should be able to write this entire section tomorrow
And for the rest of the day, I'm going to pick Wild Man up at school, and we're going to the mall. Why am I subjecting myself to this torture so close to Christmas? Well, C has a meeting on campus until 5:15 today, which means there is little point in going home as we'd have to turn around to get him after being home for less than 30 minutes, and there isn't much else to do with Wild Man on this side of town considering it is 28 degrees outside. So the mall it is!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


This morning I decided to channel all my frustration at life in general into my dissertation. Thus far, I've already written 2 1/2 pages, and I have a clear idea of what I want to write after my lunch break. I have to say, I'm feeling pretty proud of myself right now!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Freedom, Sweet, Sweet Freedom

For the first time in I can't even remember how long (since we moved to CU Land at least), Wild Man amiably agreed to permit his father put him to bed. Well, ok, he didn't so much agree as I slipped out of the room right after story time just as C turned the lights out. I did, however, fully anticipate that I'd be back in Wild Man's room within 5 minutes as whenever I do this, I'm usually met by cries of "Mommy, I need my Mommy! No Daddy, Mommy!" But this evening Wild Man apparently cuddled up to C and dozed off within 15 minutes. I'm usually in there for at least half an hour, generally longer. But not tonight! It's 8:15, and I have the whole evening to myself! Too bad I actually have to go grade a paper. . .

Job frustration

My friends who know me well know that I don't always deal with change very well. I am, by nature, a creature of routine. I like to know when things are going to happen so that I can plan. Of course, the fact that I've chosen to pursue a career in academia means that there is often a lot of uncertainty in my life.

As I wrote last week, the job situation is not good at CU, at least not for me. I met with Dr. Feminist last week, and she has been able to earmark one course for me next year, in the spring. She can't guarantee anything for the fall because of budget limitations. She told me that she was able to give me two courses this year because the Dean had "found" the money, which I knew. But this year's assignments didn't come with any guarantee that the Dean would "find" money again, which I didn't know. Let me clarify: I knew that I primarily got hired because of C, and frankly, I was (and am) ok with that. But I knew that I would only continue teaching at CU because of me; C may have gotten me in the door, but I am the one who has to keep me hear and, ultimately, turn the job into a tenure-track line. The Dean (who is, of course, no longer the Dean) did, however, lead us to believe that there would be a few years of part-time funding for me since she realized that me teaching here was a retention issue for C. It seems that this wasn't the case. The money was guaranteed only for this year, and now if Women's Studies wants to keep hiring me to teach part-time, they have to lobby the new Dean for money. Well, since I've been hired, the economy has gone to crap, and CU is at the end of a budget cycle. Deans and department heads across the board are starting to be conservative with their spending as they have no guarantees from the Canadian government what sort of funding they will get for the next 3-year budget cycle.

So what does this mean for us? Dr. Nice Guy, C's department head, was told point blank by the new Dean that she couldn't come up with any money for me, either for a term-appointment or a tenure-track line, unless C was in a position to leave. Meaning either one or both of us has to get a job at a comparable school and use that as leverage to get me a tenure-track job in either Women's Studies or English. I know all you academics are thinking: not so unusual. Well, this is actually a bit unusual for CU, which has a history of partner placement. In fact, both Dr. Nice Guy and the previous Dean had told C on multiple occasions (before he accepted the job) that I probably wouldn't have to have a job offer to secure a tenure track line at CU. He was told over and over again that they value their employees, have strong retention policies, and have high rates of partner placement. While I never really believed this (it seemed too good to be true), it did provide us both with a modicum of comfort. Now it seems that we will have to do things the old-fashioned way.

So why is this a source of so much frustration, since I knew inherently all along that this is the route we'd have to go? For two reasons. First, I'm now in the position of not having a teaching position for the fall. I am, of course, already looking. I'm being pro-active, which isn't always something I'm great at. I've already contacted the head of the English Department (the whole reason I didn't get courses there this year was because they had already hired all their part-time people by the time C was offered the job), and he has seemed very receptive. I have a meeting with him next week. Second, C loves his job. As nervous as he was about taking a position at an R1, he loves it, as I knew he would. He's already been asked to present at his field's major conference next spring, submitted an internal grant for research money, and proposed a major curiculum change for his department. On top of that, he has been solicited by a publisher to turn his dissertation into a book, and he actually has time to work on a book prospectus. He has also started working on an article. Because he was teaching a 4-4 load and commuting an hour each way, he didn't have time to do these things when he was lecturing at the small liberal arts college near Southwest College Town, a job that was slowly sucking the life out of him. In short, my husband is flourishing here. I don't want to be the reason he has to leave CU. I honestly don't see myself getting a job at a comparable school the first year on the market, which will be next year. And given the nature of my field and the economy, I am fully aware it will likely take me two years (if not more) to even get an offer. All of which means, I will be facing some job uncertainty for a while. It's times like these when I ask myself: M, why didn't you go to nursing school?

Friday, December 05, 2008

Wild Man and morning sickness

First, I want to say that the all day sickness I experience while pregnant has subsided. Now I'm just sick first thing in the morning and that's it. This I can handle. And this also seems to be waning. If I actually get to sleep past 7:30 (a rare thing, let me tell you), I manage not to vomit. But every day this week I've been up much, much earlier than that, so I generally start my day with my head in the toilet.

This morning, as he has done many mornings, Wild Man followed me into the bathroom. As soon as I knelt in front of the toilet he asked "Mommy, are you ok?" Then he tried to close the toilet, saying "You no sick today, Mommy." I think he meant "Tough it out, Mom. Mind over matter!" When he realized that I was, in fact, going to be sick, he stood right beside me and rubbed my back while I heaved my guts up into the toilet. When I was done, he said, "It's all better now, Mommy" and gave me hug. Then, as I stood up, he patted my tummy and said "You be nice to Mommy, Z." I swear that kid knows exactly how to make my heart melt.

Just to prove that Wild Man isn't all sweetness and light: when he isn't rubbing my back while I vomit, he is pretending to vomit in his potty. I have to tell you, it's really painful to laugh and vomit at the same time.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Coming out of the closet

Following yesterday's post on keeping things close to my vest, I've decided to come out of the closet.

I am 12 weeks pregnant.

I feel like I needed to give that one some space to sink in, if not for all my friends in the blogosphere then for me. Yes, I am 12 weeks pregnant, and I am still digesting that information. Whereas it took us about 7 or 8 months (depending on if you ask me or C) of actively trying to conceive Wild Man, we conceived our second child after a five minute conversation that went something like this.

C: I think we should talk about having another baby.

M: Um, are you crazy?

C: Seriously, now is as good a time as any. In fact, if you got pregnant right now, the baby would be born in June, right? We'd both be home the entire summer, which would be great. We wouldn't have to rush back to work. We'd actually have time to get acclimated before the fall semester starts. You'll be finished with your dissertation, and you'd have the baby before you go on the job market. Wild Man will be almost 3. I think it is a great time.

M: Um, are you crazy?

And I really did think that was the end of the conversation. But apparently in the throws of passion, when asked about birth control, I said, "What the hell?" which is, actually, the sort of thing I would say as I assumed it would take work to get pregnant a second time, just as it took some work (not a lot, mind you) to get pregnant the first time. Apparently, it didn't take much work at all.

When my period was late, I thought, "Huh, I guess I could be pregnant, but really, it isn't possible. We always use protection, except for that one time." I waited a few days, and when I said something to C, he said "You're pregnant. Let's go buy a test." So we did, and I took it the next morning, all the while knowing I wasn't pregnant. Well, I was. And this time the experience of taking a pregnancy test was completely different. With Wild Man I woke up early, took the test, waited for the results, and then, when I saw the positive sign, I woke up C and showed him the test. We both cried a little and were so excited. This time I thought I'd try to do the same thing. But while I was taking the test Wild Man woke up and needed to use the potty, so while I was peeing on a stick, Wild Man was peeing in his little potty while C supervised the both of us. The test showed a positive sign within 30 seconds. C smiled and kissed me; I felt a little sick to my stomach. I mean, here's the thing: I feel like we've got the parenting thing down--with one kid. What's going to happen when we throw another kid into the mix? I guess you could say I've been feeling a bit ambivalent about this second pregnancy.

Slowly, I've come to terms with the idea of a second baby. It helped that C named the baby almost immediately, just as he did with Wild Man. Whereas Wild Man was known as the Seedling in utero, our second child has been dubbed Z, as in zygote. I have to hand it to my husband; he is a pretty wonderful guy. He understood my ambivalence completely, and as if to help me through that, he embraced this pregnancy wholeheartedly from the beginning. He immediately began talking to Z. Well before I began experiencing morning sickness (or, rather, all day sickness followed by gut wrenching vomiting that Wild Man now frequently imitates), he stocked up on ginger ale, crackers, club soda, and life savers, all things that helped my nausea when I was carrying Wild Man. He met with all the right people at CU to find out about paternal leave, and he has determined that he will be the one to take that leave rather than me as he will get almost his full salary whereas I'd get peanuts. As he has fallen in love with Z, he's made me see how we can make this work, and he's helped me fall in love with Z too.

So there it is. I will be about 34 weeks pregnant when I defend my dissertation. I will have a 2 month old in tow when I walk across the stage to receive my hood (and I will be getting that hood even if I have to nurse Z while my adviser puts it on me!). Despite my initial ambivalence and all the things we still have to figure out, I feel good about this new journey we're taking. I'm well aware of all the complications of being an academic couple with two children, and I'm well aware how I'm likely to be viewed by my peers when they learn that I have 2 young children. But I know we can do this, and more to the point, I know this is right for us.

*On a side note, I have yet to share any of this information with any faculty members of Southwest College. If you know me in real life, I'd appreciate it if you'd keep this information to yourself for the time being.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Keeping things close to my vest

I generally think of myself as an open person. While I'm not the sort of person who rambles off my life story when someone asks me "How are you doing, M?", I am fairly open with close friends and colleagues. Or at least I used to be. I am realizing that since we've moved to CU Land I'm much less open with the details of my life.

To some degree, I feel like I'm constantly on guard here, particularly when I'm on campus. I'm slowly learning that many of my colleagues don't have a lot of tact, so that doesn't necessarily make me want to reveal things about my life to them. Here's an example of a tactless colleague: yesterday, I had a lengthy conversation with one of my office mates, the first one I've had with this person, in fact. She was very pleasant and informative, and she shared a lot of information about CU Land that I didn't know. She is also a grad student, although at CU, and is teaching part-time in the Women's Studies department while she finishes her dissertation. She asked me how I ended up here from Southwest College Town (which is a very reasonable question), and as I explained the circumstances, she said "Well, that's just bad timing, isn't it?" I gave her a "what the hell are you talking about?" and she elaborated. CU has a policy of writing into new hires' contracts that they will hire their partners in X number of years if the partner has completed her dissertation. She then said, "Too bad you weren't finished when your husband went on the market!" I knew all of this, and while I really wanted to say "Thanks for pointing out the obvious and the impossible!" I just changed the subject. We then got on the topic of post-docs, and she asked if I was going to try to apply for one. I explained that most post-docs in my field require the candidate to teach at the institution or to do research at another institution; since we have Wild Man, that really isn't an option for us. To which she replied, "That is just monumentally bad timing, isn't it? Why would you have a baby while working on your doctorate?" And no, my friends, she wasn't joking. She was quite serious. I have no idea how to respond to such questions other than to tell people off (and this didn't seem like the best tactic to take), so I just said "Well, there isn't really a perfect time to have a baby." Thankfully the conversation ended soon after this, but I have had a number of conversations with colleagues who have demonstrated a similar lack of tact--although none have said things about my decision to have a child.

Another reason why I'm playing things close to the vest is the uncertainty of my situation here. I wrote a few days ago that Dr. Feminist was exploring the option of hiring me for a term-appointment, which would eventually become a tenure-track position. Well, largely because of the sucky economy, that is not going to happen this year, and now the department is struggling to find two courses for me. As a result of my uncertain status, I find myself very mindful of what I say to people. I'm much more likely to talk about my teaching or my work than to share stories about Wild Man; in fact, lots of times, I find myself consciously avoiding talking about Wild Man. I feel like I'm trying to cultivate an image of myself that may or may not be true in an effort to have these people take me seriously so that they will give me a job at some point in the future. And while I understand that is all part of "playing the game," I feel like I'm being false, like I'm not being myself, and that bothers me. I'm missing the freedom that comes with being a definite part of the department, and I don't like feeling as though I'm always on display, even if that isn't necessarily true.