Friday, July 29, 2011

Writing, writing, writing

That is what I will be doing for the rest of the afternoon.

Busy work and family stuff

That is what I've been dealing with all morning.  I had to update my CV, draft an abstract, and send about 15 emails.  I've also been dealing with family stuff, which isn't always fun.  I'd really like to write more, but I'm afraid I'd end up composing a diatribe about the stupidity of various family members.  While that might help me relieve some stress, it wouldn't be very productive, at least not in regards to the writing goals I have to accomplish today.  I will say that Brown-Eyed Girl is facing an uphill battle when it comes to choosing a college which her mother (my sister) will approve of.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


That is what I've been doing this morning, and it feels very good to know that I can, in fact, still construct a sentence.

I am in . . .

funk.  I'm not sure why.  I had a good meeting with my new department head yesterday (for whom I'll have to think up an pseudonym at some point).  I think I've figured out the essay I've been working on, and I also may have figured out how to revise the essay that was rejected last spring.  But I'm still in a funk.  I'm going to force myself to work my way out of it.  I'll check in later to let you know how it is going.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A rhetorical question

Wonderful readers, I have a rhetorical question for you.  Let's say you have a dear friend who is struggling to improve a certain aspect of hir life.  Let's also say that you have observed certain things about your friend's actions and behavior that are possibly hindering hir struggle, things that the friend is clearly not conscious of.  Finally, let's say that you think that if your friend were more aware of these actions and behaviors, your friend might be able to address said struggles more fully.  Would you point out these actions and behaviors, knowing the friend might not take it well and that you maybe doing permanent damage to your friendship?  Or would you mind your own business?

*Note: we'll assume that none of these behaviors are life threatening to the friend or anyone else.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The dissertation

I've been rereading my dissertation in an attempt to glean something publishable out of it.  I've also been trying to determine how much work I will need to do to publish it as a book.  I came to the conclusion yesterday that my dissertation should never have been written.  Now, I'm not being self-deprecating.  I am not in the midst of an intellectual crisis.  I still stand by my ideas.  I still think the argument is sound.  I do not, however, think that the works I chose to put together should have been considered together.  And you know what, I'm happy to be able to admit that.  If I had it to do over again (which, given that I have to have a book for tenure at CU, I sort of do) I would focus on African American women writers.  Again, I do think the things I said about the white writers I focused on are valid, but I don't think those chapters work in connection to the discussion of African American writers.  I think, and at the time of my defense my committee agreed, that my chapter on African American women writers is the strongest.  I think I'm adding the most to the current critical conversation with my analysis of these writers.  Now I need to add about three more writers to the mix, craft a book prospectus, and get a contract.  While that is much easier said than done, I do feel like this is a much more manageable project than trying to connect four such disparate authors--authors I really struggled to connect when I was writing my dissertation.  So now that I have a clear plan, I feel like this is a project I can wrap my head around.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Have I mentioned. . .

that I'm likely going to have to go back on the job market this year?  Have I also mentioned that I'm not excited about doing so at all?

More on "The House"

 Here are some pictures of our backyard.  Realistically, this is what we paid for.  The lot is quite large, and in this part of town, a lot as large as ours is fairly unusual.  This is a shot of the whole back yard from the deck.  The building to the left is the detached garage.
 The rose garden with bird bath
 Bench in front of the perennial garden.  I'm not sure what the pole is, but I suspect it is for a pop-up clothesline which the sellers took down for showing the house.
Another shot of the rose garden, along with some bird feeders

Friday, July 22, 2011

The house

 I'm finally able to post some pictures of "The House."

The kitchen: it is huge, but it doesn't have a dishwasher.  It also needs to be updated a bit, especially the terra cotta paint--almost the exact color we painted over in the living room of our town house.  Seriously, I am starting to feel like we can't get away from this color.
 This is the formal living room.  I'm not 100% sure what we'll use it for, but I think it will be a grown up space.  It will not, however, be a "formal" anything.  Note: that is one of three gas fireplaces in the house.
 Picture window in formal living room: the Celtic stained glass accents will be removed by the sellers.
 Formal dining room, which is off of the formal living room: I think we'll end up using this as a dining room, but since we don't have a dining room table yet, I'm not sure what it will be right now.
 This is currently the den, I guess, and I think this will become our home office.  But I'm not sure.  It has a great deck that access the beautiful backyard.  If we want to entertain on the deck, I'm not sure I want people traipsing through the office to get to the deck, especially as Archer isn't the neatest office mate . . .
Formal dining room from the den: again, the Celtic inspired chandelier will go with the sellers.

Parenting Dilemmas

During our lengthy trip to Home State, we were able to spend a bit of time with some good friends from Southwest College Town.  On the way to Home State, we visited Solon and Megs  They have three children, two girls and a boy, and Archer and I are their youngest daughter's godparents.  Likewise they are Bear's godparents.  While we were together, I observed some very key differences between their girls and our boys (their son, whom I will call Ringo because he loves drums, just turned one, so any differences I noticed between him, his sisters, and our boys I'm going to attribute to age).  The key differences are fairly expected.  Solon and Megs's girls (whom I will call Aurora and Belle, in honor of their favorite princesses) are "quieter" and "calmer," but they also seem to listen better.  If Megs wanted Aurora, the eldest, (to Solon and Megs, if you're reading this, yes, I know these are totally lame pseudonyms, so you don't need to comment on the lameness) to do something, she asked, and more often than not, Aurora complied.  Similarly, if Solon needed Belle to do something, she complied, with only one exception that I recall.

In contrast, Archer and I find ourselves asking Wild Man and Bear to do the same thing over and over again.  For example, if I want Wild Man, who is about 4 months older than Aurora, to get dressed, I say, "Wild Man, here are you clothes.  Please get dressed."  He may take off his PJ bottoms as soon as I make the request, but before putting on his shorts, he gets distracted and starts playing.  I repeat the request, and completely absorbed in his imaginary world of who knows what, Wild Man ignores me.  I repeat the request a third time, and this time he may take off his PJ top.  Once that is off, he recalls the joy of being in his underwear and proceeds to perform the underwear dance for about 3 minutes.  I remind him again to get dressed, and usually by now, I'm starting to lose my patience.  Wild Man may pick up his shirt and toss it across the bedroom.  At this, I'm getting angry, so I raise my voice and tell him to come to me.  I then hand him each piece of clothing while he puts in on.  Only then is he dressed.  This, frankly, is a good morning.  Bad mornings include at least one trip to time out for Wild Man for not listening.  Bear is slightly more willing to get dressed, but then he is just two.  Unlike Wild Man, he is not able to dress himself.  It can, however, be a bit of a wrestling match to get him to stand still long enough to get clothes on him.

While we were with Solon and Megs, I watched Megs dress Aurora and Belle.  Megs said, "Aurora, here are your clothes.  Please put them on."  Aurora said something like, "I'd rather wear this shirt, Mommy."  Megs said, "Ok, now please get dressed."  And without saying anything else, Aurora did.  Belle had to be asked twice, but then she isn't quite three.  Whereas it took me about ten minutes to get Wild Man and Bear dressed, Aurora and Belle were dressed in under five minutes.  I also noticed that Megs never lost her patience (I lose my patience a lot), and she didn't seem frazzled at all.  Aurora and Belle listened to their mother and did what she asked.  I began to wonder if I was doing something wrong.

Fast forward to the end of our trip.  We spent a day and night with some other dear friends from Southwest College Town, who, by virtue of the academic job market, now live three hours from our parents.  Like us, Supadiscomama and Harrogate have two boys.  Captain and Climber (names that reflect their eldest son's love of pirates and their youngest son's propensity to climb up Supadiscomama) are 3 months older than Wild Man and ten months younger than Bear, respectively.  As with Ringo, I'm not including Climber in any observations because of his age.  In the time we were with them, I observed that Supadiscomama and Harrogate, like Archer and me, often had to repeat their instructions to Captain.  While he occasionally seemed to chose not to listen as an act of defiance (as does Wild Man), more often than not he just seemed too wrapped up in what he was doing to focus on his parents' instructions.  Like Archer and me, Captain's parents lost their patience and, after asking him to do something at least four times, sent him to time out for not listening.  Throughout the visit, both Wild Man and Captain struggled to focus on directions and to listen, but several times both did exactly what they were asked to do without hesitation or question. Following our time with Supadiscomama and Harrogate, I began to wonder if girls just listen better than boys, especially at this age. 

Since our return to CU Land, I've been thinking about this question a lot, primarily because some days I am literally at my wit's end.  When Wild Man doesn't listen, for whatever reason, I find myself losing my patience, as does Archer.  We both end up raising our voices, threatening, and taking things away all in an attempt to get Wild Man to do what we're asking.  We've tried a reward system, and that has worked with some success.  But we both think that at 4 1/2 there are some things Wild Man should be able to do without a reward--like getting dressed and brushing his teeth.  So at the end of most days, we're both annoyed with our child, and we're both feeling like horrible parents.  We've talked about this endlessly, and we've tried various things, including explaining consequences, giving warnings, etc.  No matter what we try it seems like we end up raising our voices and threatening, and in turn, Wild Man is now raising his voice at Bear.  So we've only succeeded in teaching him to yell at his little brother.  I feel like what we're doing just isn't working.  And, while Archer would argue that I'm overreacting, I feel like we're failing as parents, at least in this particular area.  Moreover, despite some research on the topic, I'm left with lots of questions and virtually no answers.  Are boys different than girls (which, ultimately, really isn't the point)?  What techniques are more effective helping boys learn to listen?  How can we help Wild Man and Bear to focus and listen without resorting to yelling and time outs?  Or are we simply expecting too much from our children, Wild Man especially?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Um, seriously?

I've spent the afternoon reading what was once (and still is by many) considered to be THE source on slavery in the American South.  While it has been helpful in helping me better understand the relative frequency of marriage ceremonies between enslaved individuals, I am astounded by the faulty conclusions the author makes over and over again.  Even though the book was written over 30 years ago (but it still widely cited by historians), I cannot believe the number of times the author makes unfounded claims.  The author even repeatedly offers compelling evidence to disprove his own points, but then goes on to reaffirm hir own argument.  Seriously, if this was considered ground breaking with such faulty argumentation can someone please explain to me why my essays keep getting rejected?


That's what I've been trying to do since we arrived back in CU Land.  The weather is unusually warm, so I've been working in my office on campus, which is air conditioned, unlike our townhouse (but our new house does have Central AC!).  I'm working on expanding the paper I presented in May, as I received lots of good feedback about my argument.  I've been wading through lots of historical sources and trying to historicize the events I'm talking about.  I'm not a historian, so finding what I need has been harder than I anticipated.  I've spent the better part of the past two days digging for sources on marriage laws during slavery in the U.S.  After three trips to the library, I think I now have the sources I need.  So I will now go back to work.

Monday, July 18, 2011


Since we've arrived back in CU Land, we've been asked numerous times, "How was your vacation?"  And while the answer is, "We had a nice time with our families and friends," I also want to say, "Visiting family is not a vacation." Here are some updates to reiterate that point.
  • I attended 2 doctor's appointments with my mom and took her to have an MRI.  The facial tics that I wrote about before are most likely a side-effect of one of her medications, which she is no longer taking.  Her MRI showed no problems, which is good.  I now have her permission to speak to her neurologist without her present.  
  • Wild Man had his first sleepover--with his 5-year-old cousin J.  He had a blast, but Yetta was mightily upset because the sleepover meant she got one less night with him.
  • Bear discovered the joys of the ocean, but his afraid of my dad for reasons I'm not entirely certain I can explain.
  • I spent lots of time with my sister-in-law, Aunt J.  We vented about being outsiders in the family, but we also just had fun.  Pita commented on the time we spent together, which meant she was unhappy that we didn't include her.
  • I was able to see my BF from high school and college twice, which is rare thing indeed.  I was very, very happy to get to hang out with her so much.
  • I had many conversations with my parents about selling their house and moving closer to her sisters.  I'm not sure I made any headway at all.
  • None of the homes we stayed at (with the exception of the home of our grad school friends who now live in Home State) were remotely child proofed.  Bear almost fell down more staircases than I care to count.  Being constantly vigilant to ensure he didn't injure himself or destroy my mom's or Yetta's countless knick knacks was exhausting for both of us.
  • I tried to have a conversation with Archer's brother, you know, just because.  After getting a series of monosyllabic answers, I gave up.  To be fair, I don't think Archer got much more than that out of him either.
  • Yetta was very displeased that we not only saw friends on our way to Home State but that we elected to stop overnight to see more friends on our way to CU Land.  Because you know, both side trips took time away from her.
  • We're already being interrogated about our plans for Christmas.
Despite all of this, the visit was nice.  It was, in fact, the most drama free visit we've had since I can remember.  Perhaps the last one that was this drama free was the August before Wild Man was born.  There were no arguments, very few recriminations about our chosen career fields, and no questions about when we're moving "home."  That made it very relaxing indeed.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

We're back . . .

in CU Land.  We've been home since Friday afternoon, after an arduous trek north.  Two and a half days in the car is not fun for anyone. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Home State

Archer, the boys, and I are coming to the end of our visit to Home State, and while I do have lots to write, I don't have much time. I will say it has been a good visit, mostly.  I'm still processing somethings, but in the meantime,  I thought I'd share a few pictures. 

Bear playing at Yetta's, wearing his 
Spiderman hat and shark rain boots

Wild Man enjoying one of the many great 
fountains in our home city

A giant tortoise at the serpentarium
Wild Man holding the baby 
alligator at the serpentarium

Bear enjoying the beach