Monday, December 20, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Interview and Europe bound

I have an interview!  Hooray!  I received an email last week, and then, after several days of phone tag, I finally confirmed the time and place yesterday.  I'm hoping for at least one more, but I'm not optimistic.  I'm thrilled to have one.  Now I have to start planning the trip to the conference, which will be difficult to say the least.

Tomorrow we leave for an 11 day trip to Europe.  I'm excited, but I also think we're a bit crazy.  I've spent the day packing and organizing.  Tomorrow will be stressful, not impossible but stressful.  I still have some packing to do, so I'm off to get that finished.  I may not be able to post while we're away, so I wish everyone a wonderful holiday.  Thanks for hanging out with me in the cyber world!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Tuesday, December 07, 2010


As I wrote a few days ago, I'm still processing my grandmother's death.  I'm angry about a lot of things.  Namely I'm angry that I always have to be the adult.  In my immediate family, meaning my parents and my two siblings, I'm the youngest (that's right, I'm the youngest), but in so many ways I'm the adult.  I'm the one who tells people to go to the doctor; I'm the to help my parents figure out how to hire a good contractor; and I'm the one my niece and nephew turn to when they are concerned about their mother's health. 

When everything was going down with my gram, I was the one to tell my mom to get in the car and go so she could say good-bye, and I'm the one who called my sister to say, "Look, you're the closest one out of our family.  Get your ass there now."  For once my sister listened.  My mom delayed, waiting on her sister-in-law to drive through Home State and pick her up.  Thus, my mom didn't make it to the hospital until half an hour before my gram was taken off the ventilator.  (On some level, I do get this.  My mom was hoping if she stayed away my gram would get better, as she has in the past.  On another level, I'm pissed that my mom delayed, forcing her youngest sister to make the decision to end life support without my mother's input.). 

I'm also angry at my mom's oldest sister for not stepping up and following my gram's wishes more closely.  My grandmother never wanted to be put on life support.  In fact, she had a living will--she'd had one for well over a decade.  The circumstances necessitated that she be put on life support as paramedics found her not breathing.  As soon as it became clear she has suffered major brain damage, everyone should have agreed, including my mom's oldest sister, that Gram be taken off life support once my grandfather and their four children (my mom and her three siblings) had time to say good-bye.  My aunt disagreed.  In fact, she argued with my mom's youngest sister (Aunt S), who is a nurse and had medical power-of-attorney.  She refused to return to the hospital the night we took my gram off life support until Aunt S told her she was taking her off life support with or without the oldest aunt there.  She then showed up and behaved very, very strangely (yes, even strangely for someone about to watch her mother die).  So, in the end, it became a case of the youngest being forced to be the most responsible.

Finally, I'm pissed at my dad who refused to come to the funeral.  Yes, you read that right.  Apparently, my parents didn't have anyone to watch their cats.  Yes, again, you read that right.  My dad tried to get my brother to stay, but he refused.  And frankly, damn right he did.  J wanted to say good-bye to his grandmother and attend her funeral.  My parents couldn't come up with a single other person to take care of their cats.  And because this all happened on the weekend they couldn't board them (or so they said).  When I heard this, I was speechless, literally.  And, as is my way, I tried to fix it.  I called Pita, who drives past my parent's neighborhood every day on her way to work, and asked her to take care of the cats.  She immediately agreed, so I called my dad back.  He wasn't happy I interfered, but he said that was fine.  He'd leave with my mom.  Pita called Archer a half an hour later to say she'd talked to my dad and that he told her he and my mom had discussed it.  He wouldn't be going.  I called my dad again.  He said it was settled.  I said point blank, "You will be expected to be there.  Grandpa will want you there.  Mom will want you there.  I need you there."  He didn't say anything, so I said, "You know, Dad, I don't ask you for much, but I'm asking you for this.  I need you to be there."  He said, "Ok, M, I'll be there.  Have Pita call me again."  Then he hung up on me.  Archer called Pita again, and she called my dad.  She called back about 15 minutes later.  She told Archer, "He said he didn't need me. He's not going."  I haven't spoken to my father since. 

For me, this is the ultimate refusal.  I told my father as clearly as I could that I needed him.  I get that this isn't about me.  I get that my dad has some health issues that make it difficult for him to travel.  I get that death is hard.  I get all of that.  But I also know that I've lived in Canada for 3 years, and my father still doesn't have a passport.  Bear was in the hospital when he was 4 weeks old, and my father couldn't come to help or to see him because he doesn't have a passport.  I've lived away from Home State for 12 years, and my father has been to visit me in my own home 3 times, one of which was when he helped me move when I started working on my Master's degree.  He's seen Wild Man about 6 times, and he's seen Bear twice.  And it isn't just me.  He hasn't seen my sister in over 2 years, and unless she makes it to Home State, she won't see him anytime soon. 

You see, attending my grandmother's funeral was about more than saying good-bye to my grandmother.  My entire family was together, save my sister's husband (who had only met my grandmother 2 times and didn't want to sacrifice his Thanksgiving with his daughters from his first marriage) and my dad.  This was the first time since 1990 all 10 of my grandparents' grandchildren were together.  This was the first time since 2007 my sister, brother, and I were together.  This was the first time my father would have seen all 4 of his grandchildren together.  And he stayed home to take care of my mom's cats.  He stayed home when I specifically asked him to come because I needed him.  This one is going to take a long, long time for me to get over.

Oh, and I really, really miss my grandmother.

Snow day part three

So tomorrow will be the third snow day in a row in CU Land.  This means that the last two days of class for the fall semester have been canceled.  This means that Archer and I have been home with Bear and Wild Man for the last two days, stuck in the house.  Wild Man loves the snow and has made several trips outside to play in the snow.  Bear, who is getting over a bad cold, hates the snow.  In fact, we took him outside briefly today, and he cried the entire time. 

In addition to being snow bound with two children who are getting a bit stir crazy, I have four sets of papers to grade by next Wednesday, including final papers for 2 classes (I'm still getting caught up from the week I was out of town for my grandmother's funeral). I have an exam to write, and all of my students are emailing me because they have final papers due soon and they don't know when they'll see me again!  I'm obsessively checking email in the hopes that I will receive an interview request for my field's big conference which is at the first of the year.  I'm trying to get ready for the holiday, which also means dealing with Archer's family's passive-aggressive comments about how we privilege our careers over our family, i.e. them, every year.  Oh, and we're traveling to Europe for 11 days in less than 10 days for Archer to do some research.  Yes, we will be in Europe for Christmas, which is the reason for all the passive-aggressive comments.  Archer keeps asking me why I'm so tense.  Maybe I should tell him to read this post. . .

Saturday, December 04, 2010


That's what I'm doing right now.  I am still processing my grandmother's deal, which was, all things considered, relatively unexpected.  Lots of things happened last week that I'm working through.  I'm angry--not at my grandmother--but at several family members.  I'll be writing about all of this in the near future.  But now I just wanted to say that I'm here.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My grandmother

My grandmother died on Monday morning.  She was 85 and had not been in the best of health; however, her death came as a bit of a shock.  On Friday evening, my aunt and uncle, with whom my grandparents live, took them out to dinner, at my grandmother's request.  When the returned home, my grandmother, who suffered from senility, complained of a headache and went to her room to change into her pajamas.  She passed out, and Aunt F went to her while my uncle called the paramedics.  They then called my other aunt, who is a cardiac care nurse, and she instructed Aunt F on how to administer CPR.  When the paramedics arrived, they had to intubate Gram, even though that is not something she would have wanted.  By late Saturday afternoon, it was apparent that Gram had suffered severe brain damage, likely due to being deprived of oxygen.  Ironically, her heart never stopped beating. 

Archer, the boys, and I left for the States on Sunday around 10:00 am.  By 8:30 Sunday night, I was sitting with my Gram, as I called her, holding her hand.  It was clear to me, however, that my Gram was not present, something my youngest aunt, Aunt S, wholeheartedly agreed with.  She had already discussed turning off Gram's ventilator with her siblings, including my mom, and they had all agreed, with deep reservations.  My mom arrived later that evening, around 10, and at mine and Aunt S's urging, my Gram was taken off the ventilator around 11:15 Sunday night, and she died at 5:50 Monday morning.  She was a great lady, who did not hesitate to tell you what she thought.  In fact, she strongly disapproved of many of my life choices, arguing that I didn't need to pursue my doctorate and that I needed to stay home with Wild Man and Bear.  As long as Archer had a good job, she argued there was no need for me to work, and certainly no need for me to be so educated, as she put it.  While she never hesitated to tell me these things, she also ended every conversation we had by saying, "I love you so much, M."  I know my Gram didn't approve of all my choices, but I never doubted how much she loved me and my boys. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Good for the soul

That is what listening to Wild Man's running commentary while he colors is.


I received an email last night (who sends these sorts of things out on Saturday night?) telling me that the essay I submitted to THE journal in my field hadn't been accepted.  It was the nicest rejection I've ever gotten. I also received feedback from two reviewers.  The first reviewer's tone was a bit jerky, although the comments were helpful.  The second reviewer said the essay is original and well written, but that I need to reframe the argument a bit.  That makes sense to me.  It doesn't make me happy because it means a lot of work--work that I don't have time to sit down and do write now since I'm teaching 3 courses that involve a lot of grading--as in I just returned a stack of papers, have 2 more stacks to grade, and get another stack this week.  I can do the revisions, but they aren't, unfortunately, the kinds of revisions that I can do quickly and send the essay back out next week.  So now I get to think for a while and try to figure out where to go from here.  I've been slowly revising another essay that I could focus on for the next few weeks (when I'm not grading and sending out job letters).  With any luck, I could have that out by December so that I still have something on my CV that is under review.  I feel like I need that to be somewhat competitive on the market.

And while I knew this journal was a long shot, I was really hoping for a revise and resubmit.  I need some positive feedback on my work--something more than "this is original and well written, but the argument doesn't make sense."

Friday, November 12, 2010

To the student who addresses emails to Mrs. Archer

Dear Student,

Thank you for the email asking me to read your essay for your political science class.  I'll be sure to get right on that since I don't teach political science.  I'm happy to help you in any way possible.  You'll forgive me if I can't comment on content as I'm not a political scientist, and you'll understand if you don't get it back right away since I have a stack of my own students' papers to grade.

I'd also like to remind you that I introduced myself to class as Dr. M on the first day, and I made it very clear that I prefer to be addressed in that way.  My name is not now nor has it ever been Mrs. Archer.  In fact the only person who uses that name is my mother-in-law, who not only does not know how to use email but is even less likely to be willing to proofread your political science essay for you.  In the future, direct all emails to Dr. M--that is if you want me to respond.

Dr. M

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Progress for me at CU

As I've written (or at least as I think I've written), Archer and I have met with the Faculty Retention Officer of CU (I'll call her J), and she's become a great advocate for us in terms of trying to negotiate a more permanent position for me at CU.  I think it helps that we know each other outside of the university (Wild Man goes to JK and daycare with her daughter, and Bear and her son were in the same daycare room all last winter) and that we like each other personally (we've been to lunch twice, once professionally and again just because we like each other).  I ran into J picking Wild Man up from JK the other day, and she said something along the lines of, "I've passed your info onto the Provost, and he has already spoken to Dr. English and Dr. Writing.  Next week he has a meeting to discuss this with the dean of your faculty. I don't know what will happen, but I wanted you to know that you haven't been forgotten."  So this seems like good news, right?  But, as usual, I took it with a grain of salt.  I told Archer, but at this point, neither of us is putting much stock in anything.

Monday morning Dr. Nice Guy (in case you're losing track of all my pseudonyms, Dr. Nice Guy is the former chair of Archer's department) stopped Archer and said, "What has J told you?"  Archer said, "Well, she's really talked to M, so you should ask her."  Dr. Nice Guy found me later that day and asked me what I knew.  I relayed the info that J had passed on, and I also told him that I know that "Dr. Writing and Dr. English have been talking about me.  They have both written letters for my job letters, and both have explicitly told me they will do what they can to keep me at CU.  Beyond that, I don't know much."  He then said, "Well I got a phone call from the dean this weekend asking my opinion, and I told them how wonderful you are.  I don't really know what's happening beyond general conversation, but I wanted you to know that the dean is finally paying attention.  I think that's progress."

I guess it is, right?   

Narrowly avoided

So one of the unbloggable issues has been resolved, and now I feel like I can blog about it--cryptically.  The issue was career related, and it was a university wide issue.  It has something to do with contract negotiations.  All part-time faculty members at CU now have new contracts, and while they are far from perfect, they are significantly better than what they were.  I'm relieved.  A potentially bad situation for me professionally and for us personally has been narrowly avoided thanks, in part, to Dr. Writing's mad negotiation skills.

Friday, November 05, 2010

A brief update

I've been thinking about my earlier post since I put it up, and I've seriously considered taking it down for a variety of reasons.  I'm going to leave it up, however, because writing it has helped me come to the realization that I'm in a big place of self doubt right now.  And I need to try to move past that.  I'm also  slowly starting to understand that just because Archer and I see us as a package deal professionally doesn't mean that every one else does.  I need to not doubt myself or us because of other people's perceptions.

And that is my profound thought of the day.

I don't know what to write

*Warning: As I wrote this post, I seriously contemplated deleting it because I know I sound like a whiny little bitch in this post.  I don't enjoy sounding like a whiny little bitch, but I'm trying to process all of this so that I feel and sound less like a whiny little bitch.

I have a lot of stuff swirling around in my brain, but I'm not sure what to write about.  A lot of the things I'm thinking are angry, irrational, and just down right ugly.  I've been thinking a lot about my previous post, and I want to say something really deep and profound about my feelings regarding Archer's current and potential professional success.  But I'm neither thinking nor feeling something deep or profound.  I have figured out why I'm bothered by this particular visit and the comments made by Dr. Bigwig and his partner (who is also an emerging scholar in the field of underwater basket weaving).

Both apparently questioned Archer about the job market and the possibility that he could leave CU.  Now, CU is a Research 1 institution.  Archer has access to a fair amount of research money (in fact, he's been awarded three internal research grants in the 2 years we've been here).  He is expected to do research, and he is getting a lot done.  His work is important for lots of reasons, but primarily because his read of a particular underwater basket is changing how all underwater baskets are viewed in the Gulf of Mexico during the Early Modern Period.  Given his work, I totally get why he wants to stay at CU.  Hell, I'd like to stay at CU.  I've been working on some projects of my own that would be much easier for me to accomplish if I were t-t at CU.  But here's the thing.  I'm not t-t.  I have no access to research money.  In fact, aside from getting reimbursed for professional memberships, I don't get anything in the way of support.  But I digress.

When Dr. Bigwig and his partner (sorry, I know this person deserves a pseudonym, but I'm all tapped out right now) questioned Archer about where he'd accept a position, he gave his standard response: "We'll go where M and I are both able to secure t-t positions." They apparently made some comments like, "Well, you're doing such important work.  We hope you won't consider a position at a place that won't allow you to keep up with your research."  So they don't want him to take a job at a school that is primarily focused on teaching.  I get that; I really do.  And before I type the next sentence, I also get that they don't know me.  They don't know anything about my work or what I do.  But as Archer relayed this whole story, I just got more and more pissed off because I was thinking, as I wrote in my last post, "But what about me?"

I'm so tired of hearing: "Archer is so great.  He's so smart.  He needs to be at an R1.  You can't leave CU, M.  It wouldn't be fair to him."  (OK, so no one has ever said the last two sentences, but I feel like that is heavily implied.  Or perhaps I'm extremely paranoid and am inferring it.)  Every time Archer goes to a conference or a faculty meeting, this is the message he comes back with.  It pisses me off.  It pisses me off because I feel like these people, who don't know me, who don't know anything about our marriage, and who don't know anything about my abilities, are thinking, "Wow, she is really selfish for asking him to move away from such a great gig.  She has a job, and while it isn't t-t, it is a good job.  She makes more money than she would in the States.  Given all his success, it makes more sense for them just to stay at CU, even if she isn't ever offered a t-t position.  His work is so important that they need to focus on him.  They don't even know if she's publishable."  And why does it bother me so much that these people I don't even know may or may not be thinking these things?  Well, apparently, here's where blogging leads to an epiphany: because that is what I think about myself. 

As I type this long, rambling post, I realize that I have no idea what my career would be like.  Yes, I have my doctorate.  Yes, I know I'm an excellent teacher, and I am a pretty good writer.  But no one has shown the interest in my work that people have shown in Archer's.  Maybe it would be better if I just reconciled myself to reaching part time so that Archer can focus on his work and secure tenure.  Maybe that is what makes the most sense for our family.

But I know that isn't what makes the most sense for me. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

Jobs, Archer, and Academia

Archer is back from his trip.  He gave a talk at a major U.S. university.  He was invited to give said talk by a major bigwig in his field.  I mean a MAJOR bigwig.  Dr. Bigwig likes Archer, he likes his work, and he even went so far as to tell Archer that he is right with his reading of underwater basket weaving whereas Dr. Bigwig, who has published about 10 books on underwater basket weaving, is wrong.  I'm really proud of Archer.  This is significant validation for his work.  It also means he has the potential to be someone in his field.  I want this for him because he deserves it and he has a lot to say.

But as he told me all of this I couldn't help but think: "What does this mean for me?  What does this mean for us?"

More to come . . .

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My Mom continued

This month has been punctuated by family visits for us.  First Yetta and Pita were here, and then my sister and my nephew came for a long weekend.  This week, as I wrote earlier, my mom is here. 

Having family visit during the semester is always stressful, but certain family members are more stressful than others.  Yetta is her own entity and she creates more havoc than I could convey in single post.  Pita, while she keeps the boys (especially Wild Man) occupied, tends to leave a path of destruction in her wake (call me crazy, but I expect a 44-year-old to hang up her towel rather than leave a soaking wet towel on my bed).  My sister is wonderful in terms of being helpful (she cooks and cleans), but her presence comes with a continuous commentary about how my house is dirty (um, yes, I have a full-time teaching job as does Archer, I'm on the job market, and I have two kids; my main priority is not making sure all the toy cars under the couch are put away every night), how my house is poorly decorated (suffice to say, I think my house is mostly lovely, but my sister doesn't like my penchant for real art or framed family photographs), and how I don't wear enough make up and need to color my hair to hide the gray (for reals, she says stuff like this).  So the first two family visits of the month were stressful.

A visit from my mom brings its own stresses.  But here is the primary reason why I'm glad my mom volunteered to help me out this week: she does stuff around the house without me asking her to and, most importantly, without judging me.  In fact, this morning as I was getting ready to head to campus with the boys, she said, "Tell me how to work your vacuum.  I'll vacuum the house for you.  Oh, and where's you're sewing kit?  I noticed when I was helping you put away laundry that one of your shirts needs to be fixed."  Not only do I appreciate that she freely offered to do these things, I love that she didn't judge me in her offer.

Oh, and it's also nice that she hangs up her towel and makes her own bed.

Monday, October 25, 2010

My Mom

My mom is in town to help me with Bear and Wild Man as Archer is going out of town this week.  Ordinarily, I wouldn't have asked anyone to come help for 2 nights, but Archer is gone the night I teach from 6 to 9.  So I needed someone to give the boys dinner, bathe them, and get them to bed.  My mom volunteered, and as I haven't seen her since July, it seemed like a good idea. 

Every visit with my mom brings up lots of issues--some good, some bad.  The first few days are about me negotiating the issues I have on my own so I can try to enjoy my time with my mom.  I'm still in the process of doing that.  I'm finding it somewhat easier this time, though, mainly because I'm trying to see my mom through Wild Man's eyes.  My son knows nothing of my complicated relationship with my mom.  He knows nothing of her bi-polar, of her tendency to over-medicate when she doesn't want to deal with the world, and of my associated trust issues.  He only knows that Nana has come to visit, and he is completely enamored of her.  Yesterday, while Bear napped and Archer and I both graded papers, my mom played Play-Dough with Wild Man for 2 hours.  Then they played hide-n-seek outside.  At bedtime, Wild Man demanded that Nana read the book we read every single night--the book that he reserves for me and refuses to let Archer read, the book that no one else has ever read to him.  This morning he wanted Nana to take him to school, and when I reminded him that Nana will be picking him up at school tomorrow and she is a little nervous driving in our city and that he needs to help her out, he walked right over to her and hugged her.  Then he said, "You can do it, Nana!"  As he said that, I thought that I can do it too.  I can let go of a lot of this baggage and focus on enjoying the relationship I have with my mom.  It isn't perfect, and it does need work.  I am often angry with her for various things, but she does love me.  I need to focus on that more.

Some day, I'll thank my son for reminding me that sometimes I need to get over myself and focus on all the fun I can have with my mom. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A meme

Like Kate, I first saw this meme at rented life's blog, but I didn't think about putting it on my blog until I read Kate's version.  I haven't been writing a lot, and what I have been writing is short and focused on the job market.  So, following Kate's lead, here are my responses to the meme in an attempt to liven my blog up a bit.
1. What is your favorite word? Wild Man and Bear's real names
What is your least favorite word? Like Kate, I really hate moist, but the panties comes a close second.
What turns you on? honesty, acceptance, humor, intelligence
What turns you off? drama, people who are self-centered, people who claim to be selfless
What is your favorite curse word? Wild Man is repeating things we say at the most inopportune moments, so I find myself spelling curse words a lot lately.  I really like how a-s-s sounds spelled out for some reason. 
What sound or noise do you love? Any sound of joy that my boys make, rain, opening a suitcase
What sound or noise do you hate? whining, my name being mispronounced
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? doula, elementary school teacher, professional organizer, actress, chef, journalist
What profession would you not like to try? medical doctor, nurse, vet, taxidermist
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? "This is a safe place.  You will never be judged here."

Your turn!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Happy 4th Birthday, Wild Man!

It is hard to believe that you are four years old today.  But it is equally hard to remember life without you.  Happy birthday, my sweet and wild boy!  You make every day an adventure.

I really hate . . .

paying to have my transcripts sent anywhere.  I hate it.  It's ridiculous, in my opinion.  They are, after all, my transcripts.  To pay $5 every time I need them sent somewhere really irritates me.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I will not succumb

To the job wiki that is.  I have lots of friends commenting on things they've read on various academic job wikis.  I'm staying far, far away from the one in my field.  I don't need the added anxiety.

In other news, I've got 3 more applications ready to go out tomorrow.  That brings my total to 12 or so.  By the end, I'll have sent out near 60.  I'm taking my time, even though that means I'm sending out some at the last minute, because I'm trying to tailor every letter not only to the add but to the stated mission of the department.  It is making it more time consuming, but I'm hoping it means I'll have a better year.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My life

Here is my professional life right now: teach, grade, teach, send out job materials, revise letters, think about writing, send out more job materials, and teach some more.

Here is my personal life: chase Bear and Wild Man, try to find time for me and Archer, and try not to think about work when I'm home.  I'm not so successful at the latter.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The Visit

Yetta and Pita left this yesterday morning.  I’m relieved that the visit is over.  It is also no surprise that the visit has left both Archer feeling really angry at Yetta in particular.  Here are the facts as I observed them, and I willingly admit that I am not remotely objective.

·       They left Cabbage Town on Wednesday, drove north, stopping in various locations, before their planned in CU Land arrival on mid-afternoon Friday.
·       They never called Archer at any point on their way to CU Land to let him know where they were or when we could expect them.  In fact, he had to call them Thursday evening so we could know when to expect them.  He only called because we both had to be on campus Friday and couldn’t leave until picking up the boys from JK and daycare.  If they arrived before 3:30 we had to coordinate how to let them into our house. 
·       When Archer spoke with them they said they would arrive around 2:30 on Friday.  They agreed to meet us at CU so they could give their friends a tour of the campus.
·       I had plans (which I made 2 months ago) to go shopping with a friend, and I was supposed to leave at 5:30, after, I assumed, Yetta and Pita’s arrival.
·       We got home at 4:30, having heard nothing from Yetta or Pita.  At that point they were 2 hours late. 
·       At 5, Archer, who had thought they would be at our house in time for dinner, ordered a pizza for he and the boys.
·       I left at 5:30 to meet my friend, and he took the boys to pick up the pizza.
·       At 6:30, he received a phone call from Yetta and Pita saying they were 15 minutes away.  The arrived at 7, 4.5 hours after they said they would be there.  They did not apologize for being late. In fact, they were upset that Archer and the boys had already eaten and that Archer refused to let the boys stay up past their bedtime (Bear is usually asleep by 7:45, and Wild Man goes to bed at 8:00.).  (On a side note, Archer is a stickler for schedule; he doesn’t like to deviate from the schedule for anyone, even me.)
·       In the middle of the night, after settling down a teething Bear, I heard Yetta vomiting in the downstairs bathroom, and I sent Archer to check on her. 
·       She was sick, and she said she was suffering from an attack of vertigo, which she was diagnosed with last year.  She has not had an attack in 6 months. (Apparently the dizziness of the vertigo makes her sick to her stomach.)
·       By Saturday morning, Yetta was clearly sick, and we all tried to help her out.  Pita got Yetta her anti-nausea meds, I kept the boys as quiet as possible, and Archer went out to get her gingerale and crackers to help settle her stomach.
·       By 9:30 it was really clear she wasn’t going to be able to do much for the day, so we adjusted the schedule to account for her absence.  She then had a 10 minute breakdown because she wasn’t able to take Wild Man and Bear shopping or attend Wild Man’s soccer practice.  She had said breakdown in front of my children, unnecessarily stressing out them both.
·       By noon she was miraculously recovered and able to go out to lunch with all of us because, as she told Archer, “There’s nothing here that I think my stomach can handle.” (Note: bagels, toast, bananas, applesauce, cheerios, turkey, and a lot of other plain foods were available in my refrigerator.)
·       After lunch she was feeling well enough to have Archer take her and her friends (who were staying at a nearby hotel) on a tour of the area.  She did, however, have a bucket in her lap the entire time in case she got sick.
·       For the rest of the afternoon, she sat on the couch and complained or slept while Pita and their friends played with Bear and Wild Man.  In fact, at Pita’s insistence Archer and I went out to dinner and Pita and their friends fed the boys and kept them entertained until we got home right at bedtime.  Yetta sat on the couch.
·     Sunday she woke up sick again, and we all urged her to go to the doctor.  She refused—until 3:00.  She then made Pita drive her to the nearest state and take her to the emergency room (Medicaid wouldn’t cover her visit to a hospital in Canada).  She got upset because her friends elected to stay in their hotel rather than go to the ER with her. 

So those are the facts.  Was she sick?  Yes, it was an attack of vertigo, for which I’m really, really sorry.  I wish she had felt better.  I wish she had been able to talk to and play with the boys more.  That said, I do feel like she amped up the drama whenever she could.  I’m sure she was sick.  I am not, however, sure how sick she was.  I feel like she made it out to be a lot worse than it was for the attention.  Unfortunately, she wasn’t very successful as Archer and I both took the, “well, I’m sorry your sick.  It seems like you just need to rest.  We have to go on with our day” approach.  She made it clear through some passive-aggressive comments (like “I guess I’ll just drive myself to the hospital.” and “Oh, you think I’ve ruined the whole weekend.”) that she was not happy with our behavior.  She also made it very clear that she was annoyed by all the attention Wild Man gave Pita and that she thinks I coddle Bear, who refused to go to her at all (he’s 15 months old; he is going through his “I only want Mommy!” phase.  He doesn’t even want Archer some days.).  It was an exhausting weekend because I felt like I was held captive in my house.  We couldn’t leave in case she needed us, and the few times one of us left, she made it really clear that “we deserted her.”  I’m glad it is over.  I’m even more glad I don’t have to see her again for a long time.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


Bear has recently learned how to say "Mommy!"  When children learn how to say this lovely word, most mothers find it endearing.  Bear, however, screams it at the top of his lungs over, and over, and over, and over again.  He calls Archer "Mommy!"; he calls Wild Man "Mommy!"; he calls his teachers at daycare "Mommy!"  It was endearing and lovely the first 20+ times he did it.  Now it is bordering on downright annoying.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


That one word sums up my day today.  Well, to be accurate, it sums up my life right now.  I feel like I'm struggling to keep it together, to keep my wits about me, and to keep my head above water.  Lots of things are happening, some good, some bad.  I don't feel like I'm dealing with any of them particularly well, and there are also some unbloggable issues going on in my life right now.  For now I'm here.  I'm not sure how often I'll be blogging in the next few weeks, as I'm swamped by teaching, job letters, writing, grading, and trying to maintain some semblance of normalcy at home.  I'm feeling stretched to my limits, and I need to take care of me.  I'm not having a lot of success on that front.  I'm working on it.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Oh, no he didn't!

This afternoon Wild Man looked at me and said, "Mommy, girls don't play with trucks.  Only boys do."  Yesterday he said to Archer, "Nah, nah, nah, boo-boo, you can't catch me." 

I must say I'm really pleased with all the great things he's learned after just three weeks in JK.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Archer, happiness, and changing my mindset

Yesterday, while sitting in the doctor's office, I read an article about changing how we think in an attempt to make ourselves happier.  Apparently, we can change the neural pathways in our brains to make ourselves happier.  I found myself thinking about this article after I dropped Archer off at his office this morning. 

We had a fairly difficult night last night.  Bear is cutting 3 molars, as well as 2 other teeth.  He also has a cold, so he isn't sleeping as well as he could.  He was up from 2-3:45 last night.  When he woke up, I nursed him back to sleep, but as soon as I put him in his crib he woke up.  I patted him on his back (while leaning over his crib) for 15 minutes; at that point, I'd been awake for 45 minutes and was getting frustrated.  I woke up Archer and asked him to take over.  He happily complied, but 10 minutes later, Bear started having a full-blown meltdown, so Archer took him downstairs to get him back to sleep.  Archer teaches on Friday mornings, so our tacit rule is that I handle the night shift on Thursday nights, just as he handles the night shift the night before I teach in the morning.  So I went downstairs to take over.  Archer told me to go back to bed, but I said, "Nope, you teach tomorrow.  I can handle it."  45 minutes later I was finally able to get Bear back to bed, and 30 minutes after that, I was finally asleep myself.  When Bear woke up at 6, Archer told me to sleep a little longer, and he took Bear downstairs.  They played, and Archer packed lunches, made snacks, unloaded the dishwasher, made coffee, and essentially did everything that has to be done in the morning to get us out the door one time.  When I woke up 6:50, I had a cup of coffee waiting for me, and I only had to make the boys toast and get them and myself dressed.  It was, for the most part, a good morning.

When I dropped Archer off, I accidentally locked the car without realizing it, making it impossible for him to get his bag out of the car.  He glared at me and said something unkind, and I said something unkind in return.  He walked off to his office without really saying goodbye.  As I drove away, I was thinking all sorts of uncharitable things, most of which are completely in accurate about my husband. Both of our actions erased all the good feelings I had about the morning. 

This happens a lot in our house/relationship lately.  Why?  Mainly, I think, because we're both stressed out about job stuff, neither of us is getting enough sleep, and we spend too much time together, although it isn't the right kind of time together.  We're still struggling to balance our relationship with the demands of one t-t job, one full-time, non-t-t teaching appointment, and two children.  More often than not our relationship gets put on the back burner, which sucks.  Our baby-sitter, whom we don't use often enough, is about to have her second child, so we have to find another sitter.  We have no family around to help us, and although we do have good friends who routinely offer to take the boys, these friends have two girls of their own, so we never take them up on there offer (nor do they take us up on our offer to watch their girls). 

As I was thinking uncharitable things, I remembered the article I read yesterday, and I decided that I was going to make a conscious effort when I'm annoyed or angry with Archer to remember why I love him.  So here are 10 reasons why I love Archer. 

1.  I love his smile.
2.  I love that he knows exactly how I take my coffee.
3.  I love that he knows what kind of french fries I like.
4.  I love his pancakes.
5.  I love the way his eyes crinkle when he is laughing with the boys.
6.  I love that he can change Bear's diaper faster than I can.
7.  I love his laugh.
8.  I love he is always willing to stop what he is doing and talk to me about my work.
9.  I love his hands.
10.  I love that he is always knows when I need some time to myself.

I'm going to do my best to make this an every day practice, to recognize the things I love and the things that make me happy.  I want to feel more relaxed and happier with myself rather than so focused on the negative all the time.  Without sounding corny, I do have a lot to be thankful for, and I'm going to make an effort to remember that.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Seriously, you call that a visit?

Yetta and Pita (who is recovering very well) arrive for a visit late Monday afternoon.  They are bringing two of their friends with them, as they are doing quite a lot of sight-seeing along the way.  I was under the impression that they would be in CU Land for the entire week, taking day trips while Bear and Wild Man are in school and Archer and I are working and spending the afternoons and evenings with us (or with the boys).  They are, in fact, leaving bright and early Thursday morning.  I don't know if I can effectively express why, but I'm really annoyed.  Here are a few reasons.
  • For the last few weeks Pita has been telling Wild Man very excitedly about this visit, and he is, thus, excited.  Right now it seems like she and Yetta will be spending 3 evenings with him, probably around 12 hours.  He is going to be really upset when he begins to understand how short their visit is.
  • Yetta isn't even staying with us.  She is staying at a hotel with the travel friends.  While this makes life easier on us in a lot of ways, it further limits the time she has with the boys.
  • Yetta has already made several comments about how she never sees the boys and how she is so excited to see them, but that she hates that it will be such a short visit.
Clearly, seeing the boys is not the primary purpose of this visit, which is fine.  They are entitled to take trips that are not associated with visiting us.  But don't get my children all excited about a trip in which you won't be spending much time with them.  Don't complain that you don't know Bear at all and then plan a trip to see him which will not enable you to develop that relationship further.  Oh, and don't plan a trip for the school/work week and then get annoyed that Archer and I will be working and Wild Man will be in school.  I'm trying really hard to focus on all the positive things (yes, including the fact that my teaching schedule means I won't have to spend much time with them), but this isn't going to be an easy trip for Wild Man, who loves Pita and Yetta dearly.  He is going to be upset when he learns that Yetta isn't staying at our house.  It is going to be equally difficult on Bear, who has a hard time adjusting to strangers.  He will not want to go to them, and they will not be here long enough for him to get used to him.  Archer and I will also be regaled with comments like, "Well, why doesn't Bear like me?  I don't understand it.  Wild Man would come right to me at this age." 

I can't believe I'm writing this, but I really wish they were staying longer.  Yes, that would be more stressful on me, but it would be so much better for Wild Man and Bear.

Monday, September 20, 2010

More Job Stuff

I hate all the emotional ups and downs that come with being on the job market.  Hate them.  I like to think of myself as a fairly even-keeled person.  Being on the job market throws me completely off balance.  One minute I'm excited about a job ad, and the next minute I want to cry in frustration.  I may need to go into therapy just to get through this search.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Bear Update

Bear had his 15 month check-up late last week.  He is doing great, although he has slowed down in both his height and his weight.  Bear was my big baby, weight 8 lbs. 6 oz and measuring 22.5 inches at birth.  I'm 5'3" and weigh 105 lbs. when I'm not pregnant, so for me, Bear was a big baby.  Like Wild Man, Bear gained weight quickly, but he started slowing down at about 6 months.  Between his 9 month and 12 month check up he only gained a pound and literally fell off the growth chart.  That concerned his doctor and prompted a series of weight checks.  As of last week he weight 22 lbs. and 6 oz., which is about 1.5 lbs. more than he weighed at his 12 month check up.  He is gaining weight, but he is doing so at his own rate.  He is currently in the 25th percentile for weight and the 26th for height (he is 30.5 inches long).  He is hitting all of his other developmental milestones, so the doctor is no longer concerned about his weight.  She is concerned about his head size.

Bear is 30.5 inches long, and his head circumference is 19.8 inches.  He is off the chart for his head size.  Our doctor has expressed some concern in the past, but as Archer and Wild Man both have large heads, she hasn't been too worried.  But since Bear has slowed down in every other aspect of his growth except his head, she is a bit concerned.  She is sending us to have an ultrasound of his head to make sure he doesn't have hydrocephalus.  She is fairly certain he doesn't as if he did he would likely have some developmental delays, but she wants to be certain.  I'm a little worried, as I am every time one of my children has to go to a specialist.  As I think I've blogged here before, I tend to worry more about Bear.  I'm not sure why, although I think a lot of it is connected to his hospital stay at 1 month old.  The referral may take a while to come through, so I have no idea when we'll know anything at all.

Olivia Place

I rarely plug websites or products.  With that said, I'm now going to plug one.  An old friend of mine runs Olivia Place, a website that offers daily specials on items for babies and kids.  The products on the site are great quality, and the deals can be spectacular.  Check it out.


I seem to have lost a lot of readers since I renamed my blog.  I'm apparently not tagging posts as well as I was either.  I'm trying to decide if I actually care about that.

Second full week

Tomorrow begins the second full week of school.  I'm not entirely sure how I feel about that.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Job Stuff

The fall job list in my field came out this week.  It is ok.  Thus far, there are about 45 jobs I will apply for, but most are not in my primary field.  After many conversations, Archer and I have decided that I will apply for everything that I'm qualified for this year, even generalist positions.  I can't imagine that if I were to secure a generalist position somewhere that CU would offer me a t-t position, but who knows?  I'm also applying for several post-docs.  This time I'm not holding back.

I've also asked the heads of the departments (all three of) that I teach in at CU to write me letters of recommendation.  In case you're wondering, yes, my asking served two purposes.  I think each of these people will write me a strong letter, but I also wanted them each to know that I'm on the market. 

Archer and I also met with the faculty retention officer (whom I will call VP, as she is a VP of something) of CU this week.  We've actually gotten to know VP outside of work a bit, as her daughter is in Wild Man's JK class and his daycare class and her son used to be in Bear's daycare class.  She is lovely, and I could actually see being her friend.  She was wonderful, and she asked lots of questions about what we want, what we think we could get elsewhere, and if we're happy in CU Land.  Given how Archer is getting some publishing done (2 articles accepted in the last 8 months and a letter of interest on his book project) and how I've managed to get some stuff out (1 article so far, and 1 more that I'm determined to get out by the end of the month) as well as all the teaching I'm doing, she thinks we have a strong case to make for pushing the departments and the dean to secure me something more permanent.  So I have to send her a current CV, and she's going to talk to the department heads.  She will then go to the Vice Provost, whom she expects will talk to the Dean of our faculty.  She was very clear that nothing can be done now, but she seems optimistic that something could be worked out for the 2011-2012 school year.  We'll see what we see.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Update on Pita

Pita was released from the hospital yesterday afternoon, and she was in the hospital for less than 24 hours.  Archer spoke with her yesterday, and she had no idea that Yetta had not informed us of the accident immediately.  In fact, one of the first things she said was, "Why didn't you call sooner?"  Archer explained that Yetta didn't call us to tell us of the accident and that Yetta was not returning his phone calls.  They talked for a while, and Pita is doing well, or as well as can be expected.  She suffered two broken ribs, a broken wrist, and has a huge gouge/cut on her arm, which is apparently the injury causing the most concern.  Yetta is already harping on her about how much the accident will cost--Pita was charged at fault (although the circumstances indicate that it wasn't her fault), and as Pita is on Yetta's car insurance, the accident will likely increase Yetta's insurance.  Yes, Yetta has found a way to make this all about her.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Random Updates

The fall semester started yesterday, so I've been preoccupied by all things teaching.  Here are some updates from my life.
  • I have a TA for the first time ever.  I'm not sure how I feel about this.  Obviously I'm excited not to grade papers for this course, but in some ways it also seems like a bit of a hassle to manage someone else's grading.  TA seems competent enough, so I'm hoping it all works out.
  • I finally finished the reading list for the course that I have no business teaching.  I added a unit on something that I find really interesting, and now, I'm rather excited about teaching the class.  Let's keep that one a secret, yes?
  • Archer and I have a meeting with the VP of Faculty Recruitment and Retention on Thursday.  She is meant to be our advocate at CU, and her primary purpose is to keep faculty here. We're hoping she can give us some tips on securing me a more permanent position.  As a bonus, her daughter is in Wild Man's day care and JK classes, and her son was in Bear's daycare class.  We've gotten to know her a little bit that way, so maybe that will make a difference.  Regardless of our personal connection, she is very nice and seems very concerned about some things we've been told by various administrators.
  • The job list in my field comes out on Thursday, so I've been communicating with people re: letters, essays, etc.  None of this is fun, at all.
  • My former adviser has taken an administrative position at Southwest College, and now she is impossible to get a hold of.  I've sent her two emails in the last week, and I haven't heard from her.  I may have to resort to messaging her on Facebook.
  • Pita, Archer's sister, was in a major car accident yesterday afternoon, and we were the last to find out.  She apparently ran into the back of a car on the interstate, prompting her to lose control of her truck, and was then hit by at least 2 other vehicles.  She flipped her truck several times, and she had to be removed from the car (it was upside down) by firefighters.  We only found out b/c Archer called his mom on her cell phone to ask a quick question.  Yetta was so hysterical that it was impossible to get any info out of her.  Archer's brother called us later in the evening, and I answered the phone.  I said, "So can we get some news from someone who isn't hysterical?"  He said, "Do you want the truth, or do you want what is circulating on the church prayer line?"  I had to crack up.  He then said, "No matter what Mom tells you, Pita wasn't airlifted to the hospital, and all things considering she has fairly minor injuries.  There is no reason for Archer to come home."
  • We've since learned that Pita has a broken wrist (which required surgery last night; she was out in under an hour), 2 broken ribs (although it may be just one; R, Archer's brother, says one, while Yetta says 2), and a large cut on her arm (this actually seems to be the most serious as it is so large that the doctor doesn't want to stitch it up; he has put a wet bandage on it to let it heal from the inside out).  The truck is total, and it seems likely that Pita was on her cell phone immediately before the crash.  
  • Bottom line: given the severity of the crash, she's lucky to be alive, and that is what we're focusing on in our house.
  • Archer is pissed at his mother, however, b/c he has been the last to receive information.  When family friends started posting updates about Pita on Facebook last night--updates that neither he nor R had received--he lost his temper.
  • Archer has been invited to give a talk at a big research university in the states by some bigwigs in his field.  He goes mid-week next month, which means, given my teaching schedule, we need someone to help out for a few days.  Our usual babysitter, who is also Bear's day care teacher, goes out on maternity leave next week, so we can't ask her as her baby is due the week before Archer leaves.  My sister can't come because of her work schedule, and it is too much to ask any of our friends, although our dear neighbors would help in a minute.  So I asked my mom if she could come help and visit for a week.  The caveat: I need her to pick Wild Man up at JK one afternoon, which requires that she drive (well, that, or that she hangs out in Archer's office all day long and then walks over to pick up Wild Man.  She would then have to go get Bear at daycare and then walk them both to my office so I could drive us all home after I'm done teaching.).  My mom absolutely refuses to drive in any city except the one she lives in.  She actually may not come because of this.  Seriously.  I'm trying to respect my mom's fears about getting lost, which do seem to be genuine, and to understand how those fears are amped by her bi-polar.  If you can't tell from my tone, I'm having a hard time.  If she doesn't come, I'll have to ask Yetta, who will happily drive, but she won't be able to get the boys dinner, a bath, and to bed when I'm teaching my night class.  My mom will be able to do those things easily, but she won't drive.  There are days when I wonder whose parents are less annoying, mine or Archer's.  And yes, I realize I'm being uncharitable.
  • I need to make an appointment with my doctor to discuss long term birth control options.  A third child is increasingly unlikely, but Archer informed me that he isn't ready to have a vasectomy just yet.  I'm tired of being on the pill, so I'm going to talk to my doctor about an IUD.  I've done some research and even considered getting one after Wild Man stopped nursing, but as we knew were likely to have a second child sooner rather than later, I didn't get one.  I'm feeling rather ambivalent about this, mainly because I'm tired of being responsible for birth control, but we'll see what we see.
  • That's it for now, although I could probably write for hours. 

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

First Day

I just got back from walking Wild Man to his first official day of JK.  After today, his daycare teachers will walk him.  I was a little emotional, and I thought I might cry after I dropped him off.  He, however, was not emotional at all.  In fact, when his teacher met him and his classmates at the door he didn't even look back at me as he followed her inside. 

I'm happy that this is turning out to be an easy transition for him.  I predict he will have a lot of fun and will learn a lot.  But I must also say that such transitions are not easy for me.  I have found this week to be very emotional for me.  It doesn't come as much of a surprise to me.  I tend to be emotional about changes, although I do think I adapt fairly well and quickly.  Part of me thinks it is because my own parents were not sentimental about anything.  I've responded in the opposite way.  In fact, I have been preparing for today since the beginning of July, starting with buying Wild Man a back pack and a lunchbox, as well as everything else he might need.  This past weekend he and I made a special trip to the grocery store to pick out snacks that he would like to pack for school.  My own parents were not very involved, so it is important to me to be as involved as possible.  I want to know what is going on in his life and I want him to know that his life is important to me.  I don't ever want him or Bear to feel like their lives are inconvenient or unimportant to me. 

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

That's my boy!

When Archer and I took Wild Man to tour his JK classroom and meet his teacher earlier this afternoon, we discovered that his teacher had misread his enrollment paperwork and had labeled his cubby, his coat hook, and his name badge with his first name although Wild Man goes by his middle name.  When he discovered this, Wild Man calmly walked over to his teacher, showed her his name badge, and said, "Mrs. Teacher, this should read W-I-L-D M-A-N.  That is my middle name, but it is what I like."  And then he continued to tell her this every time he saw his first name in other locations throughout the room. 

Wild Man and Junior Kindergarten

Tomorrow is Wild Man's first official day of Junior Kindergarten or JK, as it is most frequently called in the province where we live.  We just returned from meeting his teacher and exploring his classroom.  He was a bit overwhelmed, but he handled it really well.  I, however, was on the verge of tears the entire visit.  How is it possible that he starts JK tomorrow?  At moments like this, I wish we lived in the States, where he'd have at least another year before we had to start worrying about any sort of school.  That said, I do think he is ready for more intellectual stimulation than he gets at his daycare.  I know he will thrive, but tomorrow I will be a nervous wreck.

Monday, September 06, 2010


Tomorrow we leave the land of vacation, where Archer is ostensibly photographing various locations for both his work and his teaching.  We will return to reality.  Wild Man starts school in a week, and Archer and I both start the fall semester.  I think I'd rather stay on vacation.

*This entry was written last Thursday, but I wasn't able to publish it until today.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Friday, August 27, 2010


So, I will be able to send the article I've been working on out today or tomorrow at the latest.  I'm not sure if it is any good, though.  I'm too close to it.  Archer and another good friend have read it for me, and they both have said it makes a strong argument and is well written.  I trust them, but part of me is thinking: really?  You two think this is smart?  What is wrong with you?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Job Ads

Thanks to Academama's notification, I've been checking out some very early job ads.  And I just found one I'd kill for.  Ok, maybe I wouldn't kill for it, but I would certainly be very, very happy to have the job.  I'm not a perfect fit, but I think if I write a strong letter I could at least qualify for an interview.  Plus, it's in a prime location for my research.  Ok, now I'm officially interested in the job, which means I'll be disappointed if I don't get an interview.  I hate the job lists.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Kitchen Pictures

Here are some pictures of our finally completed kitchen.  Archer painted it a lovely butter yellow color, which makes me very, very happy.  In fact, the color changed the entire feel of the main floor of our home, making it much brighter and homier. 

A meltdown and another confession

After my last post, I had a major meltdown.  I was working in Archer's office that day as I needed to be on campus for various meetings, and I literally sobbed.  Archer was working as well, and he sat next to me and rubbed my back.  He was great.  He didn't try to get me to calm down, which is rare for him.  He just let me cry, which I needed to do.  Once I stopped crying I told him that I am not happy at CU.  This is a hard thing for me to say to him or even to write here, within the relative safety of my blog.  It's hard for lots of reasons, but mainly because I know how happy he is professionally and because I know how tough the academic job market is right now.  Even though my position isn't tenure-track, I do have a one-year contract with each department I work for, so I have more job security than many people adjuncting.  Admitting I'm unhappy makes me feel a little ungrateful.  But I digress.

Archer asked if I could explain why I'm unhappy.  Here are a few reasons:
  • I'm exhausted by inventing and teaching new courses every term, especially courses I'm not really qualified to teach.  For example, this term let's say I'm teaching a course in Jerk Studies.  See, I'm not professional in Jerk Studies.  Yes, I can teach Intro to Jerk Studies without a problem, and I can (and do) teach Professional Jerk Studies with a bit of prep.  I'm teaching this course though b/c someone in the writing department asked Dr. Nice Guy, the former chair of Archer's department, if I could teach this, given my interdisciplinary interest in books and the design of jerky spaces.  I said, "Um, well, no, not really.  But I could if I had to."  For me, "had to" meant "Sure, I can teach it if I must to ensure some sort of job security, but teaching it won't happen without a lot of stress on my part."  Dr. Nice Guy talked to Dr. Red (so named because of her lovely red hair), who asked me to write a course description.  I did, and voila.  Now I'm teaching this course.  I don't want to teach it.  At all.  It has been made very clear to me, however, that this is the course that could get me noticed by the powers that be.  Great!  I'll get noticed for doing something I am not qualified to do.  How wonderful for me!
  • I am tired of feeling like I don't belong.  I'm tired of being on the fringes of 3 departments.  
  • I am tired of feeling like I'm flying by the seat of my pants in the classroom.  I recognize that I am apparently good at teaching not totally prepared.  I am good at engaging students and getting them to participate, but I'm tired of working all day long to prep and then feeling like I still have no idea what I'm talking about.
After I explained all of these things to Archer, I told him that after this year, if we don't have any other job options and we are still at CU, I want to make some changes.  I will continue to teach in all 3 departments, so long as they will offer me positions.  I will not, however, design or accept any more courses that I am not interested in or that I am not qualified to teach.  It is just too stressful.  If that means that I only teach two courses a term, that's fine.  I would much rather take Bear out of full-time childcare and keep him home with me 2 or 3 days a week than go through the stress of teaching something I don't want and not qualified to teach.  If I only teach 2 courses a term and only put Bear in school 2 or 3 days a week, that does mean I will lose all of the time I currently have to get my own research and writing done.  But it will also mean that I'm a happier person, which, quite frankly, is more important to me. 

Here's the thing: I love teaching.  I love it.  I love everything about it.  When I'm in the classroom talking with students about something that excites me, I'm happy with my job.  When I'm writing, as much as I struggle to do it, I'm happy.  When I'm at a conference either giving or hearing a paper, I'm happy.  I love what I do.  I don't love what I do when I feel like I'm teaching something I shouldn't be.  Right now, I feel like a fraud.  I should not be teaching this class.  I will only be able to pull it off because the students don't know any better and, clearly, neither does the administration. 

I realize on some level that I'm being a whiny little brat.  I do know I'm lucky to have a job, but how lucky am I if I'm not completely happy with the job I have?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

This sucks

I just realized I'm scheduled to teach from 6 to 9 the night of Wild Man's fourth birthday.  This sucks.  I'm not sure if I can find a sub as it is a really specific class, but I'm damn sure going to try. 

My life in review

As the fall rapidly approaches, I've been thinking a lot about the past year.  Here is my life in review.
  • August 2009: I graduated with my doctorate in English, specializing in American literature, specifically African American lit and women writers.
  • September 2009: I prepared to return to work when Bear was approximately 11 weeks old.  Archer took the semester off and became a stay-at-home dad temporarily.
  • October 2009: I sent off my first official job letters.  Given the dismal job market and the fact that I applied somewhat selectively (I'll be blogging more about this soon, I think), I had an okay run.  I did not get any requests for interviews, but I did get several requests for my complete dossier, including one from Yale (too bad I can't put that on my CV, right?).
  • November 2009: Archer traveled to Spain for 2 weeks to do research, and my mom and brother came to CU Land to help me care for the boys.  I finally learned how hard my mom has worked to overcome the affects of being bipolar and started to deal with my anger regarding her diagnosis and how she and the rest of the family have handled (or perhaps haven't) her illness.  I attempted to start working on revising parts of my dissertation for publication, but was too overwhelmed by teaching and caring for the boys to get much done.
  • December 2009: Bear's first Christmas!  It was a truly wonderful time for our family.  I was finally able to stop worrying about the job market and focus on the good things in our lives.
  • January 2010: I faced the reality that I would not have any interviews and began considering the spring list.  Because of Archer's position at CU Land, we decided it wasn't beneficial for me to spend a lot of time applying to generalist positions, which tend to make up the spring list.  I sent out a few applications for post-docs, but for the most part, my job search was done.  We began to research our options for sending Wild Man to Junior Kindergarten, and we quickly realized we bought our house in the wrong neighborhood.  Damn real estate agents who don't listen!
  • February 2010: This will be known as the month of "The Confrontation with Yetta."  We traveled to Home State to visit family for a week, and the visit ended in a horrific confrontation with Yetta, one, if I'm being 100% honest about, I haven't completely forgiven her for.  But then, as my grandmother would say, it is hard to forgive when no one has asked for forgiveness.  I began to understand that she is not angry at me or at Archer, but at the circumstances that keep us so far from her.  I am, however, the most convenient target for that anger.  I also began to accept that I will always be a bit of an outcast to Yetta and Pita.
  • March 2010: Work, work, work.
  • April 2010: The winter term ended and I finally had some time to devote to my own work.  I started to feel energized about my work again.
  • May 2010: Summer teaching.  That says it all.
  • June 2010: Bear turned 1, and we began to discuss the possibility of a third child (I will also be blogging more about this).  I also finished teaching for the summer.
  • July 2010: I finally turned to my own research full steam for the first time since graduating.  I am currently still revising the article I'm working on, but I will send it out before school starts.  We visited family, and our nephew stayed with us for a month.  I learned the extent to which my sister's bipolar diagnosis has affected her children, and I also learned that no one had ever really talked to Brown-Eyes about it.  I lost a lot of research time as I devoted a lot of time to BE.  In some ways I feel like he became my third child during his long stay with us (almost a month, and it would have been longer if he had gotten his way).  He asked if he could come see us again, and Archer and I made it very clear that he is welcome in our home whenever and for however he'd like.  I miss him.
  • August 2010: Lots of blogging drama and relationship drama early this month, which is mostly resolved.  I'm continuing to work, and we visited our dear friends for our god-daughter's 2nd birthday.  We've been preparing Wild Man to start JK next month, and Bear started walking.  Life is stressful, chaotic, hectic, and eventful, but life is good.

A little music to start off the day

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

More changes

Because I needed to waste some time, I've just updated the look of my blog.  Check it out. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Wild Man

Wild Man starts Junior Kindergarten in 3 1/2 weeks.  He's excited, and I'm petrified.  When did he get so grown up?

Family and Academia

This weekend Archer was asked the following questions by a very famous scholar in his field: "Is your wife seeking a tenure track appointment at CU?  And you have two children?  How do you get anything done?"  Archer took these questions* very differently that I did--admittedly I wasn't present when the questions were asked.  When he relayed them to me, however, I became really annoyed.  To me, the implication behind these questions is that there can't be more than one working academic in a family, especially not if that family has more than one child.  And as an academic couple with two children, we're constantly faced with comments like this one.  On some level, I want to respond with something like this:

"We don't do it all.  In fact, we struggle every single day to get the bare minimum accomplished.  I finished my dissertation a year ago, and while I've been working on an article, I still haven't submitted anything for publication. Why?  Well, let's see.  I have 2 children, and I've taught 7 classes since Bear was born.  I submitted well over 50 job letters last year, and while I received some requests for more information, I didn't get any interviews, in part because the market is so bad but also because I have no publications.  I do, however, have an excellent teaching record and a great conference history.  As for Archer, he has, in fact, been awarded 3 grants: 2 to develop courses and 1 to start a new research project.  He has also written a book proposal (for which he's received a letter of interest from a reputable publisher), and he's also gotten an article published and another out for review.  How has he managed that you ask?  Well, he has the tenure-track position, which means he teaches 2 courses a term, one of which he gets a grader for.  He also has access to research money.  Yes, indeed, CU is very hospitable to academics with families, if you have a tenure track position.  If you don't, well, then you end up teaching a 4-4 load and have virtually no time to get your own work done, especially if you do have a family and if you actually want to spend time with your family.  The fact of the matter is academia is not hospitable to having a career and a family.  Is it possible?  Yes, but not without a lot of stress and effort.  So please stop asking stupid questions like, 'How do you do it?'"

Clearly that turned out to be much more of a rant than I had intended.  Being an academic and having a family is hard, plain and simple.  I don't like these questions because such questions make me face my own fear that this isn't possible, that life would be easier if I didn't have academic ambitions.  Then I could just teach during the week and hang out with my family the rest of the time.  Archer and I wouldn't have to worry about splitting work time evenly because I would be able to treat my job like a "normal 9 to 5 job."  The fact of the matter is that I struggle every single day.  Every evening I wonder if I spent enough time on my writing, my teaching, my children.  And the answer is usually, no, I didn't give enough time to anyone task.  And I'm not suggesting that the life of an academic is more difficult from that of any other parent--be the parent someone who stays home with the children or works outside the home.  I am suggesting that being a parent is hard, and in my case, being an academic and a parent is really hard.  I don't know how I do it all.  Most days I don't think I do any of it very well, so please, please, keep your questions to yourself.

*Archer interpreted the person to actually be saying something like this: "Wow, you and your wife both finished your dissertations after you had your eldest son!  And now you both teach at CU, and you have another child.  My goodness!  How do you do it?  I don't have any children, and I struggle to get my own work done."  Notice the fundamental difference in our interpretations.  Mine is, Archer said, cynical; his is, I said, overly optimistic.

Monday, August 16, 2010

It's official . . .

It's official!  I have updated my URL.  I have to admit the change feels good. 

Friday, August 13, 2010


I will be updating my URL in the next few days to reflect my recent name change.  If you'd like my URL please comment, and I will send it to you.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


We have returned from a lovely vacation in which we visited our dear friends.  Unfortunately we returned to a bit of a mess as our water heater died while we were away.  I'm very thankful for good neighbors and fast repair men.  The  water heater has already been replaced at no cost to us due to the extended warranty.  Now I try to clean the house and get back into the writing/prepping groove.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Update on Bear

We had Bear's check up today, and we discussed the bifid uvula that the clinic doctor discovered a few weeks ago when I took Bear in for a fever.

Our doctor gave Bear a thorough exam, and she agreed with the other doctor's assessment.  Bear does have a bifid uvula (which means that his uvula has a small cleft in it).  She, however, was much less concerned about a submucous cleft palate than the other doctor.  She said he would have had issues sucking and nursing if he had a submucous cleft palate, and she also said that he is speaking fairly clearly for a 13-month-old and that he shows no signs of hearing problems.  In fact, he responded to his name several times during the course of the exam.  She is going to refer us to an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist, but she said it would likely take a month or more before we had the appointment, maybe longer.  She urged us not to worry as Bear is in great health otherwise.

In more news, Bear took his first official steps last night!  He was cruising between the armoir and bed in our room, and he suddenly let go and took about 6 steps right to Archer.  He has staunchly refused to do it again though!  So at 13-months-old, Bear is walking!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010


The article I've been working on is really starting to take shape.  I have what I think is a solid draft finished.  I will take some time this evening to finish typing some last few sections, and then I will read through it tomorrow before sending it to a friend who offered to read it for me.  Then off it will go to the journal I've decided to send it to.  I'm really hoping this get published, but part of me is thinking: why would anyone want to read this?!?

More on Blogging and Life

There were so many great comments on my last post that I decided to write a new post rather than just respond to the comments.

Here are some thoughts.  And I'm going to stop referring to Archer (see previous post) in the third person.  It's annoying to write, and I imagine it is annoying to read.
  • Archer didn't tell me to take down the "deleted post."  When I realized how upset he was, I offered.  He thought about it for a while, and then asked me to take it down.  When he saw my reaction, which as I indicated before, I was totally unprepared for, he immediately changed his mind.  He stood over my shoulder as I took it down and asked me to leave it up.  It was important to me that I keep my word though, so I took it down.
  • Since I've deleted the post, I can't go back and reread it to tell if it was about my own failings, as Anastasia suggested.  I do know I wrote that I was uncomfortable with my feelings and that I do feel like some of the feelings stem from my own insecurities.  
  • After leaving the situation alone for a while, Archer and I talked again at length.  I now understand that he wasn't mad at my post.  He was upset that I wrote before he and I had really discussed it.  While that makes sense to me, I still don't feel like I did anything wrong.  I explained to him (again) that I often blog in an attempt to process thoughts and feelings before I talk those feelings out.  In lots of cases, it helps me to blog as I don't totally lose my cool about something that isn't worth losing my cool over (see every post I've ever written about Yetta, Pita, and my sister).  In this particular case, I didn't want to be jealous, so I wrote about why I was jealous before we talked about it.
  • It also seems that the some of the comments were what made him the most angry.  I pointed out that I have no control over what people comment, and that comments are a part of the blogging process.  
  • Archer has apologized.  In fact, he's done a lot of apologizing over the past few days as we both process the entire situation more.  He now realizes that he didn't handle the situation with his grad student very well.  He explained his thinking behind the process, and while I'm still bothered by it all, I see his logic (I won't share his logic though; that's his story to tell, not mine.).  I also don't believe he had any intention of making me jealous.  But I also don't think that he was thinking of me or of us when he was spending so much time with the GS, which he admitted.  He has also admitted that he's not great at balancing work and home and that he becomes consumed by work really easily.  He has instituted some house rules to make sure things like this never happen again.  
  • I've explained my changed feelings about blogging to him.  When I told him I was contemplating no longer blogging, Archer went silent.  He told me that he realizes how important this is to me.  He said he was very sorry that his actions changed my view of blogging.  He has urged me to continue blogging.  In fact, every time I've been at the computer to check email or steal a few moments of work in the past few days he has said to the boys, "Let's leave Mommy alone.  She needs some time to herself."  Ordinarily I would assume he was just trying to help me find a moment or two to finish a thought, but I think he was trying to tell me that he knows my blogging has value for me.  That means a lot to me.
So where does this leave me and my blog?  I will keep blogging for now.  Archer rarely reads my blog (he was prompted to on this fateful day by a passing comment a friend made in an email she sent to both of us, a comment that had absolutely nothing to do with the post in question).  I am reassured that Archer now has some understanding of how important blogging is to me, but I don't think I'll be comfortable talking to him about my blog or my bloggy friends for awhile.  

I also now realize that adjusting to life in CU Land has been much more difficult on on both Archer and me than I realized.  While we've made some friends, we don't have the network we had in the States.  I've come to rely on my blog as a way to maintain connections with people, even though some of the people I stay connected to I don't know in real life.  I also value the community I've become a part of through blogging.  I'm not willing to give that up, especially not when there is still so much uncertainty in our lives because of the job market and academia in general.  I don't know if we're going to be in CU Land next August, but I do know I can open up my laptop, write a post about anything, and start a conversation with people whose opinions I respect and value.  It also enables me to have conversations with dear friends that I don't get to see as often as I'd like.  Frankly, this blog and the friendships I've made through it brings me a lot of comfort.  It helps me feel a little less alone.  It also gives me a space to talk about things, like not always liking CU Land or being lonely, that I don't necessarily want to talk about with Archer because I don't want his feelings about CU Land to be completely influenced by my feelings.

As everyone who commented on the previous post stated, this is a blog for me and one that is mostly about me.  That is why I've renamed the blog.  This is a name that feels more appropriate to the kind of blogging I do now.

Thanks for all the support.  I'm not going anywhere anytime soon.