Thursday, April 30, 2009

Still here

No, I haven't dropped off the face of the earth. I've just been swamped with grading, last minute dissertation stuff, and organizing the house in advance of my mother-in-law's arrival. We have managed to squeeze in some fun, including a trip to the nearest zoo. Wild Man had a ball, and he especially loved seeing the hippos. The kid is obsessed with hippos, so he was quite pleased to see two up close and personal. I'll post more once I wrap my head around the fact that I am defending in less than a week. . .

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A little annoyed

Given the problems some of my friends (real and bloggy) have had with their advisers, I always hesitate to complain about mine. On an average day, she is wonderful. She is precisely what I needed in terms of an adviser; she takes a back seat approach to my research and writing, but when I need her, she immediately steps up. She provides great feedback and is a wonderful editor. On top of all that, we think and work a lot alike, so the relationship has been a great one. That said, she is an associate dean, and I am the last student whom she will be a dissertation adviser for. Her job as a dean means she's often out of town or hard to pin down for meetings. Given that I'm finishing from distances and about 90% of our communication for the past 9 months has occurred through email and Facebook, this hasn't been a problem. There have been a few times, however, that she hasn't gotten back to me quickly. This tends to happen when she has a week that is jam-packed with meetings. When she does answer, she is always apologetic and helpful. I usually just go with the flow, but this week, I'm not feeling so understanding. I've sent her 4 emails in the last 10 days or so, and I havent' heard anything from her at all. The emails were fairly important too--at least as far as I'm concerned! In one I asked for direction about a conclusion--specifically whether I need to try to write one before my defense, which is in two weeks; in the other I asked about including images of Edith Wharton's home The Mount in my chapter on Wharton. This one isn't so major as we can decide later, but it would be nice to go ahead and start talking to the people at The Mount to get permission to use images of the house. I've sent each email again, and still haven't heard anything. I'm fairly certain she's in town b/c I haven't received the typical response to my emails indicating that she is out of town. So what do I do? C has advised me to let it go; I can't address either issue without her input, so he thinks I should just wait until I do hear from her. If I don't have a conclusion, it isn't my fault, according to his theory. But two of my other committee members have already asked about a conclusion. . . I think I'll give her until tomorrow and then I start pestering again.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

It is official

I just sent my introduction to my committee. They now have a complete copy of my entire dissertation. Well, they have everything but the bibliography. I need to make some minor changes to it, and I will send that to them later today. I must say, this feels very, very odd.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Apparently there is a bonus to getting a doctorate in English, especially when your dissertation focuses on gender issues. Thus far, I've applied for part-time teaching in 3 departments at CU: English, Women's Studies (applying is a formality; I know I'll be teaching one course in the fall), and Writing.

That makes me feel better about my prospects for employment next year.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Labor worries

It's 6:30 in the morning, and I'm up early, as usual, to get some work done before C and Wild Man wake up. But I've been up much longer than usual this morning, and I haven't been working. I've been worrying about labor. I'm finding it odd that I'm worried about labor with my second pregnancy since I wasn't really worried about labor when I carried Wild Man. I have quite a few concerns this time, though, and most of them are connected to my ability to have another unmedicated birth.

I'm worried because I haven't done any of the preparation I did when I was carrying Wild Man. My whole world has centered around my dissertation and taking care of my son that I haven't set aside the time to prepare my body for labor. This concerns me, and apparently, as he revealed at our most recent appointment with my midwife, it concerns C too. With Wild Man, we took Bradley Method classes, we did relaxation exercises every day for about 5 months, and I exercised daily. This time around, I've managed to start walking as the weather has gotten warmer, and I certainly spend a lot of time chasing Wild Man. Other than that, I think we've practiced our relaxation techniques twice, and I haven't done any of the ab or back exercises I did last time. I have been doing kegels quite regularly, so that's a bonus. I'm not worried about my mental ability to handle the pain. But I'm really worried about my stamina. I'm just not in the physical shape I was in when I carried Wild Man. I'm worried if I have a really long labor I'll get exhausted.

C and I talked about this some last night, as well as with my midwife. We have come up with some solutions. She thinks its fine for me to start exercising more now, and by exercising more she means taking walks. As she put it, it's a bit late in my pregnancy to start doing more than that, especially given how many braxton-hicks contractions I'm already having. C also broke out our Bradley Method book last night and started re-reading it. He asked me a lot of questions about what worked for me last time in terms of pain management, and he pointed out a few things that didn't work. Starting this weekend, I'm going to make more time for me--even if that means I set aside 20 minutes--to do my exercises. This is something that is really important to me, almost as important as finishing the dissertation. So I need to quit worrying about it and do some things to get prepared.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

It's official . . .

I no longer have a belly button. In fact, this morning as I got dressed Wild Man noticed and asked, "Mommy, what happened to your belly button?"

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

To Committee

I just sent off my Wharton chapter, which means my committee now has all three chapters. I have a week to get out the introduction. I managed to put together 5 pages yesterday, and I am feeling confident about today's progress.

For the first time, I think I may actually accomplish this. . .

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

After . . .

almost two years (not consecutively, but still) of working on my Wharton chapter, it is finally finished. Sure it tops out at 70 pages, and I could still say more. But it's done. I'm treating myself to lunch, and then I'm going to hit the introduction this afternoon.

I think . . .

the end is in sight.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A note to the obnoxious men I encountered at Starbucks yesterday

On days when Wild Man is home with us, as he was yesterday, I've gotten into the habit of leaving the house as soon as he goes down for a nap and heading over to the nearest Starbucks to get some work done. I generally find a quiet spot and work for a few hours. Yesterday I followed my routine, with one exception. My usual Starbucks was packed, so I headed over to one a few blocks away. There were plenty of open tables, so I didn't have a hard time finding a spot. I got a cup of tea and quickly started working. About an hour in two men sat near me. Now, I totally get that I was working in a public place and that I have to put up with some amount of conversation and noise. I'm cool with that. I've even gotten quite good at blocking it out. I'll also credit most of my fellow patrons. When they see my papers, books, and laptop spread out on a table, most seem to get I'm working, and they also seem to understand I'm not an undergrad (perhaps the big pregnant belly gives it away?!). They are respectful of my space, and it seems that most make an effort to keep their conversations to themselves. These two men, however, were among the most obnoxious I have ever encountered at any Starbucks, so here are a few tips for them.
  • The entire store does not care about your summer travel plans. We are especially not interested in hearing an account of the wonders of Vienna, with frequent reminders to your friend, that while you clearly know how wonderful it is you have never been there.
  • We are equally uninterested in hearing how pedantic Florida is. You're entitled to your opinion, but the barista doesn't want to hear it over the screech of the steamer.
  • Don't list all the horrific things about CU Land, at least not at a level that would entertain everyone in Carnegie Hall.
  • All in all, here's a tip: be mindful of your environment and respectful of others. Sure, have the conversation you want to have and sit where you want to sit, but don't shout your conversation. I'm quite sure you're life is wonderful, but frankly, I don't want to hear about it.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

I love my husband

For weeks I've been telling C we need a night out. We did manage a brief one in February before I left for my conference. His mom and sister were here, so after Wild Man went to bed, we went out--at night! I can't remember the last time we did that. The evening itself wasn't very exciting. We went to a local restaurant, sat in the bar, and talked. But it was nice to be out of the house at a time when we're usually in our pjs, watching TV, or working on our computers.

In the past few months, C has gotten several last minute invites from colleagues to go out. The invitations always include me, but they are issued so late that it makes it impossible to get a babysitter. Sometimes C goes, and sometimes he doesn't. This week one of his colleagues, whom I like a lot, sent him an email invite for a party this coming weekend. I didn't think a lot about it when C mentioned it because, frankly, I'm in a dissertation haze.

Well, last night at dinner, he brought up the party again and asked if I wanted to do. I said, well, sure, it sounds like fun, but it's Wednesday. I doubt we can get a babysitter. He said, we already have one. It seems he called Dr. Nice Guy's eldest son, who has sat for Wild Man before, the day he received the invite and lined it all up. I love that he did this for me. I am so excited that I might even wear a dress!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Diaper Bag: Pink or Black

In my on-going saga of what diaper bag to buy, I've finally decided on the one I want. I was even on the verge of purchasing it tonight. But then I looked at one more site in my quest to get the best possible price, and I discovered it comes in a new pattern. So now I have a new dilemma: do I get the desired diaper bag in a neutral black, or do I get it in a fun pink pattern with brown accents? I'm not inclined to get the pink pattern because Z will be a girl. I actually really like the pink! I have to decide soon as I want to have it shipped to my mother-in-law to save on international shipping, and she can bring it to CU Land when she visits in May.


I really wish I didn't have to be on campus today. It would be much easier to work if I wasn't wearing pants.

Monday, April 06, 2009

This just in . . .

being a mom and writing a dissertation is really, really hard.

Early mornings

For the past 2 weeks or so, I've been getting up between 6 and 6:30 in an attempt to have some quiet time to work. I think better in the morning, so this is a practice that has worked for me in the past. Even if I'm only about to stake out 30 minutes for myself I use that time to map out my day and figure out what needs to be done. This worked for the first week or so, and then Wild Man started waking up about 15 minutes after me.

In the past few months we have worked out lots of sleeping issues with him (sorry, I'm not blogging about any of these issues because as soon as I do, Wild Man will regress and we'll have to tackle them all over again!). The one issue that we haven't worked out is the fact that he wants me first thing in the morning. This isn't helped by the fact that C is virtually impossible to get up in the morning. If I let Wild Man holler until C woke up, I'd be listening to him holler for at least 15 minutes! So the past few mornings, Wild Man has joined me when I get up early to work. In fact, as I type this, he is watching "Thomas the Tank Engine." So this hasn't been the most productive of mornings, but at least I was greeted with Wild Man saying, "I love you, Mommy," when I walked into his room a little while ago.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Little feet make it hard to work

So far this morning, I've added 3 pages to my restructured intro to my third chapter. I just finished lunch and am about to make some serious progress toward today's goal: revising 15 pages of the chapter. I have one little problem. I have a pair of little feet (at least I think they are feet) sticking into my ribs. It hurts to sit, it hurts to stand, it just hurts. I've tried everything I can think of to get Z to move, but she is not budging. So I continue to work, taking frequent breaks to rub my painful ribs. . .

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

I hope this is a good thing. . .

The head of the English Department just emailed me to let me know that the job ads are going up in the next few days. He then added. "I really look forward to receiving your application." It isn't a promise, I know, but it does make me feel slightly more optimistic than I felt earlier today.

Just one more thing. . .

This morning I got up early to get some work done, and before I started revising a new section, I checked my email. I had wonderful news awaiting me, let me tell you. It seems that CU has finally finalized the undergraduate budget for 2009-2010. Dr. Feminist emailed me late last night to find out if I could teach in the Spring rather than the Fall and to let me know the jobs would be posted soon (even though the course has been "promised" to me, I still have to apply for it). I emailed her back and told her that the switch wouldn't be a problem, and I then asked her if this meant that I wouldn't be getting one course each term. I told C about this on the way to school today, and he, of course, got stressed out. My teaching in the Fall had been the basis of our decision for him to take parental leave in the fall to be home with Z. If I'm not teaching, it may make more sense for me to take leave for more than just the summer, and then he could take leave in the Spring.

This creates somewhat of a financial mess for us, though. While C will get 95% of his pay, I will only receive 55% of mine because I'm only a part-time employee. This means our monthly income will drop by about $1,000, and that is the money that pays for Wild Man's school. If I don't teach in the Fall, we have to pull Wild Man out of school; there is absolutely no way around this, unless I am able to find a full-time job (which means I wouldn't be teaching). Frankly, the thought of going back to fundraising or grant writing makes me want to vomit. I loved both when I did them, but I didn't spend the last 6 years of my life in grad school, busting my ass to get my Ph.D. so I could go back to grant writing. I know that it would only be temporary, and I also know that since I've done it before I could do it again (assuming, of course, I could even find a job). But add to my extreme desire not to do it the fact that I'm having a baby in June. Doing something other than teaching would seriously limit the time I get with Z. I am fully aware how lucky I've been that my work, thus far, enables me to spend so much time with Wild Man. I never take that for granted. This is one of the reasons I like academia so much. Yes, we send him to daycare 4 days a week for 7 hours a day, but when he is home with us, one of us is always present. The very nature of our work makes that possible. I can't imagine working 40 hours a week and being away from a newborn for all that time. I can't. The thought of it makes me burst into tears (in fact, there I go again).

So for now, I continue to hope that by some miracle of miracles I will get part-time teaching in the fall in another department. I continue to hope that the head of the English department, who was so wonderful when I met him in December, proves to be as wonderful as I originally thought.

And somehow in the midst of all this crap, I keep working on my dissertation. . .