Sunday, April 24, 2016

Weekly Check In: Grumpy Spring Edition

With Top Left Quadrant on hiatus (only for another week or two, though), it's time for check-in.

Last Week's Goals

1.  Research:  3x on Secondary Field Project.  1 task other research.

I did not manage 3x.  I think it was more like 1x.  Not good.  Didn't do other task either.  Hard week.

2. Health:  Eating well, taking my supplements, and moderating emotions.

I did eat well mostly, though I also had a donut when they were there.  Mostly great about taking my supplements.  I've managed to get back into a nightly Ben and Jerry's habit that is less than ideal.  I was pretty grumpy this week as well.  Considering how grumpy I was, I did pretty well moderating emotions.

3. Family:  Therapy, family time, and Passover.

I mostly kept up with pushing Spirited's therapy exercises, though last week was cancelled and the therapist didn't tell us, so since we were doing a second week of the same exercises, I wasn't as on top of it.  Since our last appointment, we haven't done the exercises but that's because of Passover, which I think is completely reasonable.  (People around here are very Christian and lack knowledge about Passover, so I feel like any time I educate people on Passover, I'm doing a good thing.  Explaining that Passover is so important that we didn't do the exercises comes under that heading to me.  This is a place where you go to workers in national grocery chains and they've never heard of matzah.  Really.)  I have to get back on top of it today because we have more exercises than we've had in the past.  Oy.  We had a lovely Passover, and Spirited tried nibbles of most of the traditional foods.  We also watched The Peanuts Movie for a family movie night, so I'm feeling pretty good about family time, which is good because I need to start grading today, which usually means disengaging from the family, closing the door, and working instead of hanging out.  So I'm glad we had some special moments.  If I'm organized and not stupid today, I may be able to make matzah brei.  I also managed to get something wonderful and ongoing organized for Spirited, which we're both enjoying a lot.
4. Gardening:  Water the outside plants.  I hope to start some tomato seeds indoors as well.  I really just need to get out there every day because it's so calming.  And we're finally having some decent weather!

Errgh.  Mostly I'm asking Husband to water.  I remember now how hard it is to get that done when I'm trying to leave for work.  I did not get the tomato seeds started, but I realized that it was a multi-stage job (because I had to clean the flats first because, yes, I am the most unclean person in the universe and did not clean them last year).  So I cleaned the flats and now it's just a matter of actually planting the seeds downstairs, which doesn't take long but can be hard to get to.

5. Work: get ahead in my reading, catch up on some email and spreadsheet work, and revise a big report before the onslaught of grading comes in on Friday.

I did get ahead in my reading, though that is an ongoing challenge.  I did catch up on the email and spreadsheet work.  I did NOT revise the big report.  In fact, I've made little progress on it because I was so busy and grumpy.  Now I've got to face the grading as well as the other stuff I have to do AND the report.  Why don't I learn from these situations?

So overall it was a hard week in that I had student conferences filling up every spare on-campus moment.  In addition to that, there was lots of student email conversation, which is normal for the seminars I'm teaching, but was more intense than usual.  And I was pretty grumpy.  I also found out that one thing I worked on a lot last term is now pretty much falling apart (not my fault at all, but disappointing nonetheless) and then I heard about a possible retirement that makes me want to run screaming for the hills.  A group I'm leading is currently entertaining options for our task that make no sense to me, and a non-member of the group is constantly asking me about it and giving me things to read.  A piece of service I used to really value with other leadership is now, under questionable leadership, the most annoying part of my week, and I'm sure I'm looking daggers at everyone because I'm so annoyed at the spectacularly bad leadership.

This upcoming week should be better because the student conferences are over and so I'm not so overscheduled.  I do have some annoying challenging (trying to moderate emotions here) meetings coming up but they should be okay.   Breathe deeply.  Move like water.  I swear that place should buy me weekly massages because the stress of not choking the living shit out of some asshole who desperately needs it is sometimes very acute, leaving my body, especially my shoulders, so tense it's ridiculous. 

Upcoming Week's Goals

1.  Research:  Try to get back to 3x.  Try to engage with or address one big source I've ILLd that must be returned very soon.  Touch Sabbatical application at least once?

2. Health:  Supplements, good food, be kind to self.  Sleep is good, and so is morale.

3. Family:  Therapy exercises!  Keep evenings for family time.

4. Gardening:  Try to get the tomato seeds planted.  Water.

5.  Work:  So I need to commit to a good grading clip, keep up with seminar students, post something on our LMS, get that report revised and send it out for comments, and generally work with a good clip and commitment.  I think I have to allow myself extra coffee as a reward/enticement.

About my attitude:  I've been pretty grumpy.  Why?  Part of it is just the time of year.  I see all my academic friends talking about sprinting to the finish line of their semesters with the imminent reward of summer spread out before them, but my quarter is really just beginning.  It's spring finally, and I want to be outside.  I think I always get grumpy at this point in the year actually.  Then there are things going on on campus that are grumpy-making:  that task I worked on last term falling apart and, though it's not ended yet, it seems all the possible endings are bad; a colleague I like is leaving; possible retirement = GAH and perversely makes me want to work on my sabbatical application; a project I'm leading is not going well and people are bugging me about it while part of me just wants to exit; I still haven't finished that damn report.  And then there's the fact that I really want to be working on my research, specifically Secondary Field Project.  While I recognize that I just have a busy teaching schedule and a lot of service, I am irked by the fact that I can't get any work done.  My overall morale is low because I feel like I can't get to work on this project that feels very urgent and important to me.  What's more, I feel called on to work on this project, like that's what I should be doing with my life right now.  I work at a place that systematically devalues what I do and what I think is important so that feeling of being out of place increases my sense of being angry at the institution.  (Though I know it sounds ridiculous to be mad at an institution for the way I allocate my time, there is a known problem at my place with high workload.  It's one of those thorny issues where everyone knows we need to reduce our workload, but we don't have the money to address it properly.  At the same time, we're now adding a whole new layer of administration, so there'll be less money to address the problem with!  So we just stay overworked on a teaching basis, so people want to do less with service, which is understandable, but in many ways totally irresponsible.  So some of us do a lot of service too.  It's not a surprise to be in this situation.)  What really surprises me out of the whole thing is actually how much I want to work on this project, not the high teaching or service load.   But I want desperately to work on this project.  I can't wait until summer, which is a very bad thing to think when you're not even at midterm yet.

So everyone, move like water, float like mist, and grade like tortoise!  Have a great week!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

TLQ-Style Goals for the Upcoming Week

So Top Left Quadrant is at the end of a session.  Many academics are in their last month or even weeks of the semester.  They can see the finish line and are sprinting toward it.  I envy all of you.  I hate being on the quarter system.  I have a couple more months to go.  MONTHS, I tell you.  (And miles to go before I sleep.)

Top Left Quadrant, for those of you not familiar, is a weekly accountability check-in for session and weekly goals.  I love it.  I look forward to checking in on the weekends.  It really helps keep me focused on MY goals (for research, health, all those things that are so easy to forget about in the heat of teaching).  So, with my apologies to readers who find this deadly dull, I'm going to be TLQing here on my blog until I can convince other TLQers to start up a new session!

Last week was just terrible terrible because almost every moment of each day was scheduled with a meeting, either with students or colleagues.  (The meetings with colleagues are definitely more challenging than the meetings with students, but for me being so overscheduled is very stressful.  Some days, I had to be "on" for 7 hours straight.  It's a wonder I didn't run screaming for the hills.  Scratch that -- I still might.)  Most days this week should be better because I have fewer meetings with colleagues, though a still crazy number of meetings with students.  Cross your fingers.  And toes.  And eyes.

Research has been going okay.  I manage to do 3x a week on my Secondary Field Project, though it's less clear that it leads to the monthly goal of 2y because I don't have any time to look through the 3x work to make sure it's leading to 2y.  Addressing that means making the time for that, but I'm not sure that's a good idea because I'm not sure I really have any more extra time that I can use without stressing myself out from lack of "me" time.  (I love my project, but it actually is challenging at an emotional level, so I don't think of it as "me" time.  "Me" time is watching Poirot or movies I've seen a million times or reading fun books.  I need that time too.)  Perhaps it's better to just wait for the summer and then go back.  (My big lesson from the last TLQ session was that I need to have goals that are reasonable during teaching time.  For example, I've bought several books on managing stress and anxiety, but I do need to commit to engaging in those exercises just like I'd commit to an exercise plan.  Those kinds of commitments to create new habits take a ton of my energy; I've noticed in the past that when I commit to working out, it takes a lot of my daily energy to make sure that I get that done.  I can't just slip it into my regular schedule.  Those big changes are best worked on during non-teaching time.  Perhaps getting the 3x in each week for my Secondary Field Project is just as much as I can do.  And that's okay.  My hope is that setting more reasonable goals for change will reduce my stress as well.)

This Week's Goals

1.  Research:  3x on Secondary Field Project.  There are a bunch of other research things I want to do (scary stuff associated with Forsythia, a little project; sabbatical application; other supportive activities on Secondary Field Project), but this week is likely to be difficult so how about just one task associated with any of the other research-related areas?

2. Health:  Eating well (which means remembering to eat in the face of all those damn appointments and making sure I consume healthy fare instead of lattes and donuts), taking my supplements, and moderating emotions are ever my goals.  I also need to take care of an injury I'm trying to recover from.  If I don't make some considerable effort here, I'm bitchy to all.  Moderating emotions and moving like water are very important here to keeping some lines between work and family as well.

3. Family:  I've learned to really focus here.  While there are tons of things I'd like to do on the family front, I can't.  It's SO hard on me to have to come home and drive some home project forward immediately.  I know because I do it everyday.  My big goal here is to keep on top of Spirited's therapy exercises.  It used to not be my responsibility to keep on top of this, but family morale on this got very low and so I took over.  It's a giant pain in the ass, honestly.  Part of me resents this a bit but I have to admit that for a long time, I mostly checked out of the therapy stuff because I wasn't the one taking Spirited to his regular appointment.  Now, for the good of all (i.e., so Absurdist Husband gets some time off from Spirited and I get some focused time with Spirited), I take Spirited to his regular appointment.  It does make sense for the person who knows most about them to lead the exercises.  Absurdist Husband does a lot, so I can't fault him.  It's just a bad situation.  I've pretty much held off on adding anything else to our family plate (like continuing music lessons or swimming or Cub Scouts for Spirited) until this therapy is done.  So keep on top of therapy is the main goal here.  Making sure to have some nice family time is another goal.  Passover's coming, so that's another big thing that will be happening later in the week.

4. Gardening:  Water the outside plants.  I hope to start some tomato seeds indoors as well.  I really just need to get out there every day because it's so calming.  And we're finally having some decent weather!

5. Work:  Now TLQ is not really for work but supposed to be about all those other things we lose track of because of work.  But I include work because projecting the week's work and dealing with it well is fundamental to my other goals, including health and family.  There are many ways to get work done.  I can be grumpy about it, wait to the last minute, and then torture my family with my need to get it all done right this very second.  Or I can think about it ahead of time, figure out what I'm going to need to do, and schedule and do it with the least amount of stress possible to myself and the family.  In short, I'm a reforming procrastinator who used to use stress to get stuff done.  This approach works a lot better for people with lots more energy than I have or fewer responsibilities overall.  I have been so much better about planning out reasonable amounts and approaches but it takes constant vigilance.  On Friday, I'll be collecting grading from all classes.  I'll need to turn around the smaller, but more intense, stack by the following Wednesday, which means working on that next Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday.  The other two stacks would be great to turn around by the following Friday, though I don't know if that's realistic.  But none of that is this week.  This week, I need to get ahead in my reading, catch up on some email and spreadsheet work, and revise a big report before the onslaught of grading comes in on Friday.

So I hope everyone has a lovely week.  I may blog the insanity throughout the week since I'm trying not to torture Absurdist Husband with tales of work woe and stupidity.  And there's always plenty of that around.  Complaining about it is necessary as we all know.

Move like water, all!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Secondary Field Project New Schedule Report

So after two weeks since I wrote my Ambitious Goal Schedule, I've found that I work the 3x I set for myself.  Whether that leads to the 2y goal in a month, I'm not sure yet, but so far I'm pretty hopeful.  Rather than working the mornings I imagined I would, I end up crowding the weekend with this work, but that's fine.  I seem to be getting it done anyway.

Strangely, in the last few days, I've also found myself thinking about Primary Field as well and two immediate projects:  1) a small project that would take a ton of research that I scoped out after my last article; 2) a huge monograph project that I've long thought I would do but don't want to do until Secondary Field Project is done.  That's been surprising because I haven't thought seriously about those projects in quite a while.  I think that's a good sign.

So I'm sick today -- I woke up with a terrible piercing headache and went back to sleep without finishing my coffee (unheard of).  I got up several hours later, but am still clearly sick and gross.  I have so much grading!  And I want to go back to sleep.  I'm clearly in the Yuck.  I shouldn't try to blog like this.  I'll just be a downer.  I'm reading a book that is all about controlling your headspace in order to control your stress (yes, I tried the CBT books, but I couldn't move forward with them much).  And sometimes, I'm learning, that means seeing the rabbithole of YUCK and making the choice not to go down it.  I'm sure I should go do something else.  Distraction would be good.  Hope you're all feeling well today.  It looks like a beautiful day from here.

10:38pm Addendum

Amazingly, I graded a whole set of projects today.  It was the easiest kind of grading of all the projects I have still in my stacks.  But since I'm sick and grumpy with an upset stomach (damn Tylenol on an empty stomach -- why oh why???), getting a whole set of grading done is pretty amazing.  I am very proud of myself.  And now I'm going to go and watch a Poirot. 

Monday, March 7, 2016

Secondary Field Project: Now with Deadlines

So with all the service I've been involved in, I've been taking it easy on Secondary Field Project, pouring more of my efforts into a sabbatical application.  (I bet my chair has had my sabbatical hopes in hir's I-hope-Earnest-forgets-about-this list.)  But now I realize that the timelines for Important Service and Dreamy Sabbatical conflict, dragging the Secondary Field Project out into a timeline that is really difficult for me to get excited about.

So with all the annual review and post-tenure review processes that exist at my institution, I've been wondering whether I should have a back-up Primary Field Project in order to continue to show good scholarly progress.  (I'm fine for this year and next year, I'm pretty sure, with what I've currently got in the pipeline.  But I worry about the year after that.  Furthermore, Secondary Field Project is in a field notoriously difficult to publish in and even when things do get published, they take for frigging ever; I've been warned that this project may be difficult to place.  Plus Secondary Field is really not as preferred as Primary Field, though I could argue against this because the department documents do explicitly include Secondary Field.)  Then I thought about this more;  shouldn't I be able to argue the worth of my Secondary Field Project by talking about how it serves Primary Field as well as my teaching in my annual review just as well as a sabbatical application?  (Logistically, a sabbatical application is longer and devoted to the project; annual review is much shorter and more inclined to lists than long explanations, but it can be done.)  So I should be able to argue that working on Secondary Field Project is just as important and scholarly as working on articles in Primary Field, though I'd prefer to have enough scholarly effort (read: publications) each year to get a raise. 

So last night I went back into my sabbatical application and really looked at what there is of the project and what still needs to be done.  Last night I put together a project planning document, which I can't believe I hadn't done.  (I think this is because of my own history with Primary Field versus Secondary Field.  I've always had trouble estimating output in Secondary Field.  But I've always been pretty good about planning for work in Primary Field, which doesn't mean my estimates are any more correct, but the nature of Primary Field scholarship sort of forces me to be more organized.)   Having a project planning document makes the whole project feel more real.  (I think I've always resisted treating Secondary Field like Primary Field, but I now think that my maintenance of these differences have led to my feeling that Secondary Field is not as important as Primary Field.  The first person I need to convince with arguments is myself.)

I've made all sorts of different plans in the past with Secondary Field Project, but they got real when I was thinking about a sabbatical.  I have kept plodding, but not at at any steady pace.  The reasonable deadlines I've set in the past just are not meaningful or urgent or exciting enough to really motivate me on a daily and weekly basis.   But it's clear having hazy ideas of when this project is going to get done only works if one can really imagine that a sabbatical is in the offing.  Lackadaisical and "reasonable" goals haven't worked and giving myself space and time hasn't worked.  Spreading out the work in a reasonable way leaves me looking at a multi-year timeline that just makes me depressed.  So I'm trying something different.

Instead, I'm trying ambitious goals.  The purpose of these ambitious goals is to keep up my enthusiasm and sense of urgency to keep me working on a weekly and every-other-day basis.  So now I have a goal of 2y per month.  In order to manage 2y per month (which might be an unreasonable goal, but let's wait and see), I have to work at least 3 times a week.  If I manage this and my summer goals, I'll have the whole thing drafted by the end of the year.  Now, there's a ton of work after that, but a draft!  Done by the end of 2016!  That's a very exciting goal to me.   Even if I don't manage 2y per month and the draft done by the end of the year, I bet I'll still be better off than if I continue with the non-inspiring but reasonable goal.  It could also be that by the end of the year I realize that project is bigger than I think it is, and I won't be done with a first draft for another six months.  Still.

So this week, I'm intending to work Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.  Or at least 3 out of 4. 

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Grass *Is* Greener: Counting My Blessings

I've been reading my own blog in small sips.  I know that's pretty self-involved, but from yesterday's reading -- so totally worth it.  I picked a 2010 post at random and ohmygoodness!  I was really pretty miserable!  The entire Absurdist Family was pretty miserable -- okay, mostly Absurdist Partner (we've gotten married since then) and me.  And so many of those issues have been resolved!  Now, I don't like this about myself but I am too often a glass-is-half-empty person.  I am great at noticing the things that, if they could only be fixed, would make things perfect.  Now this is not always such a terrible trait, but on a day by day basis, it can be pretty terrible to always focus on the bit marring the perfect picture, always focusing on "if only."  In fact, I really dislike this trait in others and have a big problem when others are wet blankets, but mostly because I am such a wet blanket myself.  (In fact, I have lost friends and even been pretty awful at times because of my inability to deal with others being wet blankets or depressed.  Lots of regret there, though I'm trying to stop investing so much time in the regret column of my life.  Maybe I should send cards to two people I feel I wronged.  Maybe I should just send them good thoughts a la Eat Pray Love when I think about them and move on.)  But reading that post of misery highlighted how wonderful things are now.  Yes, Spirited is a handful.  Yes, I'd love to be able to take a weekend day and just read.  Yes, I got the new Poets and Writers and wish I could go to a colony or a retreat for a month to write.  But so many things are pretty damn wonderful compared to where we were that I just want to focus on that right now.


We saved and scrimped and lived in an apartment for years with all our boxes in our so-called dining room, but we managed and now we own our own house.  No one can tell us when to take down our snowflakes from our windows.  I can put a big old political sign on my property if I want to.  We plant things and in a few months, once we figure out what to do about a fence, will likely get chickens.  Our dreams on this front have come true!  We've come a long way.

Absurdist Husband's Job

Absurdist Husband no longer works at a job he hates.  No more being on call or anything.  Instead, he's got his hands full with Spirited.  That's not an easy job by any means, but it's better than being caught in the crosshairs of stupid corporate contradictions and being called in the middle of the night.

My Job:  Tenured vs. the Tenure Track
My job.  Ohmigod!  The post I read was complaining about how I didn't get enough electives to teach.  Now, there were some problems there.  It was unfair.  And the person who did get the electives to teach that year did teach from my syllabus and then critique it to my face.  I actually really like that person.  But what bothers me about reading that post was I was perfectly happy to complain about it and be so miserable that lovely blogreaders were advising that I go on the market but I didn't think about what I could do to change the situation.  As it happened, I should've gone to my mentor about it and asked hir to intervene on my behalf.  In fact, I think that did happen at my annual review.  Life on the tenure-track can be very scary and disempowering, not knowing what you can address and what you better leave alone.  And I have to say:  having tenure is SO MUCH BETTER.  Now, I know I'm privileged.  And I know that many people lucky enough to get tenure enter a post-tenure slump, but I haven't because for me not being tenured was like having a muzzle over my mouth.  How could I enter a slump when I finally had the freedom to say what I thought and do what I want to do?  For me tenure meant putting my money where my muzzled mouth had been.

Now I understand that being tenured with its increased service demands can be hard for people.  But for me it means finally being able to do something about the problems I see!  And I am such a nicer person when I can fight the good fight rather than watching things I hate and not feeling like I can risk doing anything about them or coming out in a specific way about X or Y.  When I feel disempowered (which doesn't depend on being tenure-track -- if administration came down and slammed the things I want to do, I'd feel pretty disempowered), I get angry and bitter and fail to recognize the power I do have.  I don't feel that way anymore.  Later on, years after I wrote that miserable post, I discovered there were some great people willing to speak for me at various times when I felt like I couldn't, and they were happy to protect me because I wasn't yet tenured.  Now it's my job to protect the untenured.  That's not always a pleasant job because I have to risk saying hard things to others, but I'm happy to do it, especially because there are people in my department who think that tenure-track people should not be protected.   (I've recently learned that staff, too, need to be protected.  So while I've been tenured for only a year, in some situations I'm the only tenured person so I have to speak up and risk pissing people off.  It's difficult, but it's the way things should be so I'm glad to do it, happy to get to do it.)   I do a lot of service, but I believe in it, which is great.  Sometimes I pick up things for others not because I think that person particularly deserves help (in fact, there is a case where I picked up the pieces for someone who I think really doesn't do hir job at times) but I do it because I want to live in the kind of world where people do that for one another.

While my job is not ideal, and my core courses are focused in such a way that is not what I'd prefer, I am doing good work, and I get to teach other courses that I value amazingly and am just grateful to get to teach, courses that I'd be hard-pressed to get a crack at if I made a move.  In short, I like and value my job.  I know I can make a difference there.

Family of Origin

I still get mad at my parents for not being as loving and supportive (that is, loving and supportive at all -- they really show very little interest in me or my life -- they're not trying to be mean or anything -- they are just very self-involved -- hmmm, I wonder where I got that from) as I'd like.  (For example, my father is the kind of person who fills up the air with stories usually about his job, often telling the same stories twice or three times, though sometimes about other things, but never asks questions of any one else -- like, how is your job? -- and never listens to others' stories.  In short, he's just inconsiderate.  My mother is different -- she tries to be considerate when it suits her, but often gets it wrong.  The problem with her is that sometimes it suits her to be mean and bitchy, especially if there is something she wants.  She's lied and stolen money in recent years.)  I still invest too much time in the minus column of my life.  I know that I'm supposed to "accept and appreciate my parents as they are," but I can accept and appreciate them best from a distance.  I love them, but they are not good for me.  I've spent too much of my life already seeing things from their point of view and hearing about their troubles and ignoring myself in favor of them.  (That was my childhood but also many different parts of my adulthood as well as my experience of them whenever I see or talk to them.)  The most important thing is that I don't want to be like them.  I can't even imagine not being very interested in Spirited's life when he's an adult.  Instead I'll probably call him all the time until he avoids my calls.  My grandmother was like that -- maybe my parents just don't want to be like her.   It could also be that they don't like me very much (or feel guilty, which is what Absurdist Husband thinks, and they do have things to feel guilty about -- as in things I should've been taken away by Child Protective Services for) and so are not interested in me.  Whatever.  So we don't enjoy each other.  We don't talk much.  It's hard for me to "honor" them as a good Jew should, but there are mitigating circumstances, and I should just resolve to stop feeling guilty about that, stop feeling that I'm doing something wrong by not liking them much or feeling disappointed by them.  I wish I had loving supportive parents, but I'm lucky to have lovely supportive friends and should cultivate those relationships more.  I've built my own family who I love infinitely.  So things are not as I wish they were.  Grow up!  Enough already.

BUT I'm infinitely grateful for my sister, who is my favorite part of my family, and especially the lovely blogreaders who told me NOT to talk with her about presents I didn't like that she sent to Spirited.  (Those toys?  I did give them to Spirited when he was young, and they were always an issue.  He liked them too much.  Then I would hide them and many months later he'd ask where they are.  We keep saying we're going to remove them for good.  I have a good idea who to give them to now.)  Oh!  You all were so right!  Thank you for preventing me from being a total jerk to the person I adore most in my FOO (family of origin)!  I'd have hated damaging that relationship just because I don't feel seen for who I am in my FOO.  This is really an issue between my parents and me.  My sister and her family are lovely.  THANK YOU!

So my life is so much better than it was!  Even with getting older and having health problems and not getting enough sleep or time alone or time with Husband or time writing.  I love this life.

It scares me to click Publish here because I feel like saying my life is good will attract some kind of awfulness to slap me around with.  New mantra:  gratitude is not hubris.  Gratitude is not hubris. See what a mess I am?  Thank you, blogreaders.  My blogfriends past and present have really helped me through some hard times.  I appreciate you amazingly and hope I show it (even if my wordpress problems prevent me from commenting on your blogs -- you know who you are).  

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Winter Reset

We're having a snow day today.  Oh how I love snow days!  I actually drove to campus and back this morning already, partly before the snow started, partly in it, but it was early so it wasn't so bad.  This is great actually because I've become such a scaredy-cat.  In a health book I'm reading on peri-menopause, the author asserts that being really startled and more anxious than usual could be the result of a magnesium deficiency, which could explain why I turned into a super fraidy-cat this winter.  Which is not to say I haven't been really anxious about driving in the snow before, but this winter it's really over the top, which doesn't make sense because so far (knock on wood), the winter's actually been not that bad.  Armed with the idea that maybe it's just my anxiety (and a problem I can approach via my body rather than my head -- yay!), I've been buying supplements and so far, I feel better, which is a huge relief because with all my health problems, I really thought I was falling apart.  (Apparently the feeling that you're going to die soon or die on the roads is a very common symptom of anxiety disorder.  Finding this out is such a relief.)

This snow day is all the more lovely because things have been absolutely crazy.  Absolutely frigging crazy actually.  I'm currently leading a search, on my second year as head of Cool Service Project, and doing all I can for another Totally Worthwhile and Huge Service Project, which I think I will call Important Service from now on (because TWHSP is ridiculous).  Yes, this is a lot of service -- probably too much service -- but I really believe in all these things and am just one of those people who like to be involved and help.  Inevitably, I've also gotten sick with colds and a resurgence of an old medical problem.  And now I have a couple days at home!  I can catch up on grading without driving everyone crazy!  I can help Absurdist Husband catch a break here as well, so the entire family will be less stressed.  Snow days are like the world (or Storm, for the super-nerdy) saying that we need a break to recharge and reset.  Thank you, Storm and World!  I so need this.  

Look, everyone!  I actually wrote a post of gratitude!  (But don't tell anyone:  I wouldn't one anyone to think I've lost my sardonic edge.) ;)

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Epic Fails of Crap Mom

And now for a wonderful new feature. . .

The amazing adventures of our latest superhero, Crap Mom!

So Spirited's last piano class was today.  He's missed a couple piano classes already because I, Crap Mom, signed him up for a class in September that is practically impossible:  Saturday at 10am.  I realize normal people don't have a problem getting to a 10am class even when they live 35 minutes away, but I do.  Partly, this is because I teach all day Fridays and am tired and want to sleep in.  Since I want to sleep in anyway, if it looks like snow, which makes me nervous anyway since I'm anxiety-ridden about driving (though getting better), I just don't take him.  See?  Crap Mom.

Well, every normal person realizes that the last class is a recital, right?  Not our Crap Mom.  Because she didn't bother to call even though she is supposed to when missing a class.  So we turned up thinking we were early, but it turned out they were practicing for the recital beginning at 10:30.  Who knows what time they were supposed to get there?  (Not our Crap Mom!)

So he went with his class and I went to the recital hall and sat, sending Husband updates about the whole thing.  (We try to make sure neither of us misses a recital, but I wasn't going to tell him to jump in the car.)  I was a bit weepy when I saw the dancers and the choir (both things I had done for at least three years as a kid -- and that Spirited shows zero interest in).  Then the piano class was up.  Where's Spirited?  Am I not able to recognize my own kid?  Usually I can pick him out of any crowd in an instant.  Where's Spirited?  Is that the entire piano class?  Aren't there two that should be performing?  Maybe they're doing two groups of piano.  Where's my kid?  Is there another group coming out?  No, Strings is up next.  Where's Spirited?  Did he have a meltdown backstage?  While I've never known him to melt down in public (he saves his most dramatic emoting for home, where he can stomp and scream and slam and throw his toys), isn't finding out that you're supposed to be performing and not knowing what you're doing a recurring nightmare for many?  Maybe he freaked out.  Where is he?   

Too worried about what happened to Spirited to care too much that I was being incredibly rude by not watching the rest of the recital, I got up with all my stuff (including the grading that I couldn't get to because I was watching the recital rather than waiting outside his class) and went in search of him.  He was fine, running around in a big room where the kids hung out before they went on stage.  He got playing with a friend of his from another class that he knew from his Montessori school and just didn't pay attention to when he was supposed to be performing.  He was upset and wanted to cry but didn't.  He told me later that this was the worst Saturday of his whole life.  We went to Starbucks for a coffee (for Crap Mom) and pumpkin bread (for Spirited).

Sigh.  Lesson learned:  always call when Spirited misses a class.  It may be fine for me to be lackadaisical about classes I take, but:  Don't fuck up where your kid is concerned.

Stay tuned for further adventures of. . .Crap Mom!