Wednesday, February 29, 2012


I'm working on my job talk for CU (don't ask, please; I'll get annoyed all over again.  I will say, as I've posted previously, I have to have a formal interview, including giving a job talk, as part of my current position converting to a tenure track position), and I'm having a hard time focusing.  Why?  Well I'm thinking about too many things at once.  In addition to trying to cut about 15 pages out of a chapter that I'm already trying to edit into a journal article, I'm thinking about images to show during the talk.  I need to focus on one task rather than doing what I usually do.  I'm starting to think that I'm not as good at multitasking as I think I am. . .

Monday, February 27, 2012

Should we?

Friday is my 20-week ultrasound.  If we want to find out the sex of this alien who has invaded my body, Friday is the day we can try.  I say try because we were told that Bear was a girl, and most of you know the outcome of that story.  Currently, Archer and I are undecided as to whether or not we will find out.  Part of me really wants to know, as I've had enough surprises the last few months, but a little voice keeps saying, "Can you trust what the radiologist tells you?"  I will be having the ultrasound at the hospital this time, rather the private practice (or at least I think it was a private practice) where I had it last time.  Archer is leaning towards finding out, as well, but I think it will be a game day decision, so to speak.  So what say you, lovely readers, should we or shouldn't we?

Sunday, February 26, 2012


After a day of travel, we arrived home last night at 6:30.  The moment Bear was in the house he took off his shoes and his coat and ran to the playroom, yelling "Mommy, turn on the light!  I need to play!"  Wild Man sat down at the kitchen table and asked to do his homework, telling me "I want to play all day tomorrow, so let's do the work now!"  I think they were glad to be home.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The visit

Today is our last day in Home State.  We had back to CU Land early tomorrow morning.  The visit has gone well, although there have been moments of tension.  As I type this, I can hear Bear laughing as he chases Yetta's dog and Wild Man and Pita playing cards together.  Last night, Archer and I met my best friend from high school and her husband for dinner, while Pita and Yetta took care of the boys.  We stayed out till 11:30, lingering over drinks (club soda with lime for me), dinner,and dessert.  Later today, Yetta is taking me to get a massage, and this evening my parents and brother are coming over for dinner.  I'll chalk this one up as a good visit.

My grandfather's advice

On Sunday evening, Archer called my grandfather to tell him about the pregnancy.  My grandfather, who is 87, said, "Don't you know what causes that yet?"  And then he laughed.  He explained to Archer that he also knows about "surprises."  My mother was born on her older sister's first birthday, so I'm quite certain her arrival was a bit shocking as well.  After a few moments Archer passed the phone to me, and I chatted with my grandfather for awhile. As we were saying good-bye, he gave me one last piece of advice to share with Archer: "Tell him to sleep facing the wall from now on."  He was laughing loudly as he hung up the phone.  I love my grandfather.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Retail Therapy

So I lied; I'm not writing yet.  Here is something just for fun.  I'm thinking of ordering this for an interview blouse.

Clearing my mind

I'm writing in an attempt to clear my mind so I can get work done this afternoon.  I've already gotten a bit done this morning, but it is mainly what I classify as busy work--looking up citations, searching for articles, and going to the library.  In the midst of all that busy work, here is what is going on.
  • Archer has been trying to figure out the pregnancy and parental leave structure at CU and in our province.  You'd think this would be easy since he took parental leave when Bear was born, but no, it's proven to be incredibly difficult to figure out.  Why?  Well, this time we're both full-time employees of CU, and I've been working full-time for quite a while (at least as far as the province is concerned), even before I was considered a full-time by CU.  We thought this meant that we'd both be eligible for full benefits. But, no, as it turns out, only one of use is eligible.  So what does that mean?  Well, CU tops up the provincial subsidy for parental leave, which means full-time employees get 95% of their pay for 24 weeks of parental leave.  After the 24 weeks, employees receive the standard provincial subsidy which is 55% of their pay.  It turns out that if both parents are full-time employees only one is eligible for the top up.
  • This causes a glitch because we can't afford to go six months on 55% of my pay, not with the cost of childcare and the cost of purchasing a new car at sometime in the very near future.  Oh, and we have to declare permanent residency, which for Archer, Wild Man, and myself will cost us around $3,500 a person.  There are apparently ways around this, and we're trying to figure those ways out.
  • Figuring out these differences is also a source of stress.  Archer would rather talk to people we know and get info from them.  I would rather go see our HR rep and figure it out from one person who knows it all.  We've disagreed on whether it is a good idea to talk to our HR rep though.  Archer thinks it isn't a good idea until my contract is signed.  I say we already know that, barring a revolt on the part of the appointments committee, my position will convert, so let's deal with it now.  After waiting on Archer to make the appointment for a week (he volunteered to do it), I finally told him, "If you don't want to make the appointment, fine.  Tell me that.  I'll make it."  He made the appointment.
  • Dr. English found me in the hallway yesterday and said, "Oh, hey, M, can you get me a writing sample?"  To which I said, "Um, sure."  And of course I can, but getting him a writing sample creates a bit of a problem because the most polished essay I have right now is the one I was planning to present at my interview.  So now that will be the writing sample, and I'm revising a different essay for the job talk.  I know I should have been prepared for this, but honestly, we've been talking about this process since October.  At no point did he ever mention a writing sample.  I stupidly assumed that since, you know, I've been working at CU for 3 1/2 years I might not need to submit one.  
  • We leave on Saturday for a week in Home State.  Yetta has been great.  I said to Archer yesterday, "Wow, this is refreshing.  No one has called to tell us about plans or to say you have to be here at this time to do this. It's very nice."  Yes, well, I spoke too soon.  She called last night to say she's planned a family dinner for the only night I'm able to meet my best friend from high school (you know, the same friend whose wedding I was unable to attend, at least in part, because Yetta delayed making travel plans until the tickets to the out of the way location where the wedding was taking place were outrageous).  Yetta has already invited my brother and my parents to the family dinner, which is great, except I really want to see my friend.  So now I have to try to rearrange those plans.  Not a huge deal, but still it's annoying.
  • Oh, and I'm really stressed out about how everyone will react to the pregnancy.  Archer told his brother last night, and he was, as usual, very supportive.  I think my parents will be fine, although surprised.  Yetta and Pita will be thrilled, but they will also be hurt that we waited so long to tell them.  They will also start asking when we're moving closer to Home State, and they will also say many, many things about wanting a girl.  
  • I could go on and on, but you know, I'm tired.  I need to write.  So I'm going to put myself in the frame of mind to do that.

Monday, February 13, 2012

I'll say this here . . .

instead of Facebook, and there is a strong possibility that this post may disappear because, really, I'm not up for any kind of controversy.

That said, I find all the posts lambasting the organizers of the Grammys for asking Chris Brown to perform and the Grammy voters (who are the Grammy voters anyway?) a bit troubling.  Yes, he was convicted of battery.  Yes, he has admitted to beating the crap out of Rhiannon.  But, he served his time (probation, I think), attended court appointed counseling, and took anger management classes.  In our system, doesn't that mean he gets a second chance?  And given that he gets a second chance, doesn't that mean he gets the right to pursue his chosen career and, thus, succeed at it?

I do not think having him perform or even awarding him a Grammy is akin to saying his behavior was acceptable or that the Grammys (which is, apparently, some monolithic institution that influences every aspect of our society) condones his past behavior.  He did a terrible thing--a really, really terrible thing.  He was tried and convicted in a court of law, and as far as I know (and no, I'm not expert on the situation), he adhered to his sentence and fulfilled the terms of his punishment.  He deserves a second chance, at least in my opinion.  Why?  Well, I'm a big believer in therapy and anger management education, provided that one is working with a good therapist, is committed to therapy, and truly wants to learn how to control hir temper.  Why am I such a believer?  Well, it worked for my father.

*Edited on Feb. 15, 2012 to add: And clearly therapy doesn't work for everyone, as Chris Brown has demonstrated earlier this week.  Despite the obvious arrogance and just plain ignorance of this individual, I do believe that people, who make an honest effort to improve themselves, do deserve a second chance.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A confession, of sorts

For the past several months I've been obliquely referring to ongoing issues that I haven't been able to blog about--or, more accurately, that I haven't felt comfortable blogging about.  One issue was the process of converting my current appointment at CU to a tenure-track line.  For several months that conversion process was being discussed, but nothing firm was in place.  I was, thus, not comfortable discussing it until I knew that the process was going forward.  The other issue is a bit more personal and is loosely connected to my hesitancy to blog about the first issue.

I am currently 18 weeks pregnant.  I have not blogged about this previously, despite being a self-proclaimed academic mother, for several reasons.  First, and quite honestly, this was not a planned pregnancy.  I have previously blogged about the decision not to have a third child; despite my own desire for a third child, Archer and I decided a third child was not in the best interests of our family for a variety of reasons.  It seems, for me, that this decision was much more definite than I realized.  When I discovered I was pregnant last fall, it was unexpected.  To use the word shocked is accurate, although, in many ways, that word is not strong enough.  Without going into details, I will say that Archer had been waiting to get a referral to a urologist for several months (my one complaint about the Canadian healthcare system: if one is not deathly ill, it can takes months to see a specialist).  I also will say that I am well into my 30s, and I do know what causes pregnancy. Nonetheless, I was shocked.  I was terrified.  I was overwhelmed.  Archer was cautiously excited.  He was never completely comfortable with our decision to stop at two, so he was immediately happy, although well aware of the complications that come with another child.  I was not happy.  In fact, I spent the first two weeks of the pregnancy crying.  Sobbing is more accurate.  I contemplated ending the pregnancy, a decision that Archer hesitantly supported.  I had a long list of reasons as to why this was the most logical choice, and he admitted that he couldn't argue against my logic.  Despite his cautious happiness, he conceded that it made little sense to have a third child.  I even called my doctor to make the appointment, but ultimately, I couldn't do it.

Even almost three months later, I'm not sure I can explain why I didn't make that call.  I talked to two good friends, both of whom were incredibly supportive.  One friend, who had ended an unplanned pregnancy (under very, very different circumstances than mine), cautioned me that, even if I was sure in my decision, I would always wonder.  As I looked at Wild Man and Bear, I honestly wasn't sure I could deal with wondering when I already knew them.

Where am I now?  After many months of ambivalence, I'm slowly getting excited.  We've told very few people though.  Primarily because we opted to have genetic testing, in part because of my age and in part because I was not in a place to deal with any more surprises.  All of those tests have come back (these tests include an ultrasound and blood tests done at specific points in the first and second trimesters), and everything seems to be progressing normally.  We've both told our department chairs, and as you might expect, it's caused some complications to the interview process for me (which I'm sure I'll blog about later).  We've told Wild Man and Bear, and Wild Man is beyond excited.  Bear doesn't really seem to understand, although he is happy to talk to my growing bump.  Other than that, we've told about 10 or so close friends and my sister.  We are traveling to Home State next week for CU's spring break, and as we've never been able to tell our parents such news in person, we decided to tell them then.  I'll openly admit I've delayed telling them until the testing was done, as well as so I could get used to the idea. 

I'm still worried about how this will work.  Archer and I both have demanding jobs, and there are some days when I feel like we're barely keeping our heads above water with two careers and two children.  I'm worried that I won't be seen as a serious academic, especially by members of Research Department.  I'm worried about time and money and any number of things.  But when Wild Man launches into an argument as to why we should name the baby after his favorite Star Wars character, it is hard not to get excited.

*As an aside, to those of you who know me in real life, I'm sorry for coming out this way.  I am at a point where I feel the need to write about this as a way to process it all.  As I wrote above, our parents and extended families don't know yet, so please don't post about this on Facebook as I would hate for them to find out that way.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Working on the list

Today I've been hard at work on the list, you know, the one that never ends.   What have I done today?  I've finished putting together on a grant, one that involved much less work than the last one I submitted.*
I have met with three students, graded three papers, and answered countless emails.  I now need to grade about 12 more papers, but first, I'm off in search of caffeine.   

*I chose not to vet this one to the Research Guru before submitting it.  Why not?  Well, I don't really like RG, nor do I respect RG.  Further, this grant only funds conference travel, as such I didn't have to put together a lengthy proposal, so I didn't think I needed RG's feedback.  That may prove to be a mistake in the long run, but let me say my life has been less stressful knowing I didn't have to worry about RG's input. 

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

He's only 2 1/2

Bear, that is.  He is only 2 1/2.  But the potty humor has already started.  With Wild Man, I think we got a reprieve until 4.  No such luck with Bear.  This morning at breakfast, he looked at Wild Man and said, "Wild Man, do you have a penis?"  Apparently that is a joke in Bear's mind.  And Wild Man thought it was hilarious.  For the next 45 minutes, amidst getting dressed, packing backpacks, and brushing teeth, Bear would ask both Archer and Wild Man if they had penises.  Each of them, Archer included, would dissolve into giggles.  I was reminded by the reality of my life: I'm surrounded by little boys.

Monday, February 06, 2012

I live in a . . .

very loud house.  Wild Man and Bear are always talking--sometimes to me, sometimes to Archer, sometimes to each other.  They also talk to themselves all the time.  Sometimes I miss quiet.

Friday, February 03, 2012

A big deal

I rarely get caught up in politics to the extent that I engage in public debates with people or that I post something political on my Facebook page.  This week has been an exception.  I've been following the Susan G. Komen Foundation's decision to end funding to Planned Parenthood after this year's grant cycle really closely.  Why?  Well, PP means something to me, as does providing women with adequate health care.  I've been to PP before, and I fully support its mission.  It does so much more than offer abortions (in fact, only 3% of its total services are offering abortions), and I've gone to PP when I was new to an area and needed affordable health care.  I've had friends go there for birth control, pap smears, breast exams, and biopsies.  They have all reported receiving quality care and excellent counseling.  Given that most of these friends were uninsured undergrad and grad students at the time they went to PP, they were all thankful to receive such good care at a price they could afford. 

As for the Komen Foundation, there is a history of breast cancer in my family.  My great-grandmother survived breast cancer at a time the only treatment was a mastectomy, radiation, and prayer.  Add to the fact that she lived in a poor mining community in rural Appalachia, and she was damn lucky to survive.  I often think that her life would have been very different if she had access to the kind of health care PP offers women.  My aunt has also survived breast cancer.  I've worn pink ribbons, I've run in many "Race for the Cure" races, and I've supported their mission. 

So I followed the story closely and, perhaps, a bit rabidly.  I posted at least one thing about  on my Facebook page about the story every single day.  I also engaged in a public, albeit civilized, debate with my aunt about the story.  This aunt (who is the same aunt who survived breast cancer) is staunchly pro-life, and she viewed the decision to cut funding to PP as a pro-life decision (as an aside, I find it really interesting that in spite of trying to assure the public that this was not a decision motivated by the abortion debate most of those supporting the Komen Foundation's decision to stop funding PP did so on the basis of being pro-life).  She posted her support for the Komen Foundation, and I questioned the logic of the ruling.  She argued it was "saving lives" by cutting support to an organization that performs abortions, and I argued it was ironic to read the decision to stop providing funds for breast exams and general breast health as life saving in any way.  It was tense, but cordial, and it was telling how much the issue meant to both of us that we even broached it at all.

So it was a big deal to open my web browser and read the following headline: "Komen Cancer charity reverses, will fund Planned Parenthood."  To me, it was a very big deal.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

The never-ending list

So far today has been really productive.  In fact, I've crossed 9 items off of my to-do list.  But it seems like I've added at least that many to the list.  I think I need a cookie to get me through the rest of the afternoon.