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.

A new pseudonym

As a result of last week's events, I have determined that I cannot give up blogging.  I have also determined that I don't want to start a new blog.  I don't know how long this particular blog will work for me, but it works for me now.  I'm keeping it.  I am, however, going to make some minor changes in an attempt to give myself and my family greater anonymity.  To that end, I'm changing my husband's pseudonym.  He will now be known as Archer.  This is a pseudonym that means nothing to anyone but me.  It doesn't even really apply to Archer, but I like it. 

Monday, August 02, 2010


I've been blogging now for almost 4 years.  I started this blog, which I renamed today, when I was about 6 or 7 months pregnant with Wild Man, who is now 3 years and 9 months old.  My life has changed a lot.  I started this blog as a way to explore and chronicle some of the changes I was facing at that particular moment in my life.  Along the way, I've used the blog as a journal, albeit a public one.  This blog has enabled me to explore, to vent, and to record my thoughts and feelings, among other things.  Along the way, I've made some friends and been able to keep in touch with others.  Some months I post a lot, and others I rarely post at all.  I must admit I've never really thought about what this blog meant to me until this week.

Last week I wrote a post that upset someone I love very much, and in an attempt to make that person feel better, I offered to take the post down.  When this person took me up on that offer, I had no idea that I would have such a visceral reaction, but I did.  I sobbed as I took down the post.  I felt like I was ripping a page out of my journal, a journal that I actually reread with some frequency to try to learn about myself.  It seems in the course of the past 4 years blogging has become central to my identity in a way that I couldn't have anticipated and in a way that I'm not entirely sure I'm comfortable with.

On some level, it does seem odd to me that I now feel like I need to blog.  I often put really private thoughts out into the world, and while I'm not usually seeking out feedback, I do find some comfort in knowing that someone, somewhere, even if that someone is a person I've never met and never will meet, reads and takes the time to comment on my thoughts.  I have long accepted the reality that blogging means I have to deal with comments I don't agree with or with people not fully understanding something I've written.  I've even pissed off perfect strangers a time or two, and I've also had dear friends misinterpret things I've said or take things I've said out of the context in which I intended them.  I have learned to live with that.  And while I do blog about the people in my life, I feel like this blog is primarily about me and my journey through life.  Blogging helps me stay self-aware.  It helps me process my thoughts and feelings (and now that I've used "my" and "me" so much I'm feeling more than a bit narcissistic).  I never thought that something I had written or the way that people had responded to something I had written would upset someone I love.  But it did.  As a result, my feelings about blogging have changed.

Blogging no longer feels as free as it did.  I've always self-censored in my feeble attempt to remain anonymous, but since most of my family members either don't access the internet or don't know what a blog is, I've never really worried about their reactions to anything I've written.  Now that I have inadvertently hurt someone, I'm unsure of how to proceed.  Do I keep writing and naively hope that I don't hurt this person again?  Do I change the nature of what I write, thus defeating one of the primary purposes of the blog?  Do stop blogging altogether?  Do I close this blog down and start a new one, in which I'm completely anonymous?  Do I tell this person that I'm sorry, but that I'm going to keep blogging because it is, after all, something that I do that I truly intend to be just for me (on some level, I'm really inclined to do this, but then, I also feel like this response is inherently disrespectful and dismissive of this individual's feelings)?  Or do I simply do my best to keep this person out of my blog altogether, something that is very difficult given the nature of our relationship?

In all honesty, I'm at a loss. I'm currently contemplating ways to continue blogging and to maintain this blog while achieving a greater sense of anonymity.  I'm honestly not sure that is possible or if that is even something that I want to do.  Ultimately I think I'll make some minor changes, including not discussing this blog at all outside the blogging world.  I hope that is enough to ease my anxiety and to make this person feel better about the fact that I now know I need to blog.