Tuesday, December 30, 2008

End of Year Meme

As seen at Hilaire's and Dr. Crazy's:

1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before?

-Had a baby!
-Taught the SAT
-Taught at a community college
-Lived in a travel trailer at a campground for five months.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don't think I made any resolutions last year. For 2009, I'd like to keep up some daily or near-daily or at least regular progress (darling baby makes daily anything impossible) on my research/academic writing. I'd also like to get into writing essays, a long-promised goal.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
ME! In addition to me there were blogfriends, somewhat distant but very loving friends, and family of friends who all gave birth this year.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
My folks' family cat.

5. What countries did you visit?
Shockingly, none. But after 2007's adventures, staying in one place was enough.

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
Money. Much more regular income. And enough of it.

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
October 22: Absurdist Baby's birth!
October 10-11: his due date

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Is having a baby an achievement? Really just getting through the incredible stress of working so hard for so little was a huge achievement. Not getting more depressed than I got after my c-section was a huge achievement. Somehow managing to be on the market and teach two classes while pregnant and then in the first weeks with a baby -- I really don't know how I managed that.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not being more gracious.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I had a minor form of preeclampsia. I also had an unplanned C-section. I did have a terrible cold at one point that taught me that you can cough so much you throw up. I went in to check out a breast lump.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I did not make any fabulous purchases this year.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Absurdist Lover, at least in the five or so months. The world's: we received a lot of needed items like furniture through the whims of fate. One Tired Ema, whose mailed gift makes my continued working life possible. My sister, who has been fabulous.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Judgmental and Rigid Former Friend. When a very good friend of mine told her about some of my life's developments, JRFF said some really hurtful and terrible things, the kinds of things that you don't say about a friend and call her a friend. These things inevitably got back to me (especially since I told my very good friend that I didn't feel I was a good enough friend to JRFF), but when she wrote to me, she was all kindness. Yet I know what she really thinks of me. I've thought often of addressing it, sending her an email telling her I know what she really thinks. But I haven't.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Rent and bills. Vitamins and supplements for pregnancy. Medical expenses.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Oh the baby, what else? And that I got four interviews at MLA. Christmas.

16. What song will always remind you of 2008?
Probably the MASH theme song, just because I watch that show virtually every day.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?
happier, I think, thinner, poorer

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
I wish I'd written more.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
I spent Christmas cutting fudge for presents, being with Absurdist Lover and Baby, and then went to my folks and ate Christmas dinner.

21. Did you fall in love in 2008?
Only with Absurdist Baby.

22. How many one-night stands?
Zero, thank you very much.

23. What was your favorite TV program?

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Judgmental and Rigid Former Friend.

25. What was the best book you read?
I've read very few books this year. Early on in the pregnancy, I could only focus on mysteries -- so I reread Agatha Christie's and read an Elizabeth George. Then I started Middlemarch and was reading it for six months in tiny drips. But I listened to both Steve Martin's Born Standing Up and Barbara Kingsolver et al's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Kingsolver et al get my vote -- yes, even over Middlemarch. (I prefer nonfiction to fiction. I don't mean to. I wanted to be a novelist, for goodness sakes. But there it is.)

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I am totally behind the times and made no musical discoveries this year. In fact, I listened to classical music throughout the pregnancy.

27. What did you want and get?
A very healthy baby. Interviews.

28. What did you want and not get?
Financial stability, though with Absurdist Lover having gotten a full-time job recently, I think our financial position is changing.

29. What was your favorite film of this year?
Would you believe that even though Sex and the City and Mamma Mia came out this year, I have not seen either. The only movie I saw in the theater this year was The Dark Knight.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
36 (gulp). I took care of the baby and then went out to dinner with the fam.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Financial or romantic stability.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
As long as it covers me up, it's okay.

33. What kept you sane?
IMing Maude.

34. What celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
Local farming/eating.

36. Who did you miss?
Maude. Jane D. All my friends in Grad City.

37. Who was the best new person you met?
My midwife. I also felt like I met my sister all over again.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.
Nothing happens the way you want it to, but that's okay. Also, having a baby puts you more in touch with your own childhood and sense of wonder.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Quickie Post

I'm sorry, everyone, for being the worst blogger ever. It's been bedlam. First it took me forever to finish grading -- I was so behind and behind and behind -- then Absurdist Lover got a full-time job so I went on full-time baby duty, which meant that on good days I got a shower and on bad days I didn't even get to eat.

I've been lucky even with this horrendously bad job market (probably search committees realize that I am the type to drive myself crazy staying up all night after overcommitting myself instead of being a sane balanced person who knows how to say no) and had a couple of phone interviews. Today, we're going to MLA for in-person interviews. Traveling with baby? Oy gevalt. Wish us luck. Last night, Absurdist Baby was completely inconsolable for the first time. Wailing, he refused my breast, fell asleep to a bottle of formula, then woke up and wailed again, ate again, wailed again. He finally accepted my breast again and slept, but it was awful to hear him cry the piercing cry, the one that I can usually stem by breastfeeding him. He's only two months! He's not allowed to wean himself, especially when I want him to have breastmilk antibodies for two years. (That's a lot of pumping.)

I'm nervous about these interviews -- I have a good number of them and I saw that even today an interesting job in my field was posted -- but it feels like we have so much on the line. We're really just waiting, struggling along the best we can here in Overpriced Urban Home City, until next fall when I hope I'll be chugging down the tenure track. But I'm a dork in interviews. And the only way we make it now is by assuming that everything will be different in the fall. Gulp.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

From Grading Jail

Psst. Can you sneak me in a book? A blog? Anything?

Today is the last day of classes -- and because I was gone and never really caught up with anything, I've been grading, grading, grading all week. Now it's Thursday of Grading Jail Week -- and after four projects, I just had to stop. I realize I have about two hours and way too many projects to do. I realize that this is also prime time because Absurdist Baby is sleeping on the couch nestled in his boppy -- and won't be for long. But I just can't. I can't, I tell you. I've graded and graded. I just can't grade no more! Not to mention, I'm not going to be done. I still have a big project that there is no way I'll get graded today in time for class. I just have to think of something else.

Absurdist Baby is growing by leaps and bounds. He's huge now. It's weird to think he's only seven weeks old, when to me he seems like such a person. He's very strong. I half expect him to leap up and start walking. Or at least crawling, because he kicks his legs so much. He's incredibly active and not just by couch potato standards. (Absurdist Lover is one of those can't-sit-still people -- and he's surprised by how active AB is.)

The job market. Ah the job market. Well, I only managed to send out 23 applications. The baby has made it pretty near impossible to get to the computer, so it's been very hard to put together job letters and materials. I've been incredibly lucky this year though -- I have a totally respectable (amazing, considering that the economy has been getting departments to shut down searches right and left) number of interviews, both phone and at MLA. In fact, I have one phone interview tomorrow -- and if I could I would actually focus on that for a second instead of all this grading, grading, grading. And then there's the work for the office that I am totally behind on. I now realize that being a parent really does mean feeling bad at everything -- I'm a bad parent, bad bookkeeper, bad teacher, bad scholar, bad interviewee. Though I really better spend some time preparing for this interview or I'll be a bad parent and teacher because I won't have a decent job! And the one tomorrow is one of the better ones I'm interviewing for. Sigh. I never know what to say to some of those canned questions. I'm a thoughtful and reflective teacher. Really. Pay no attention to this swiss-cheese brain and this tongue-tied babble. I'm smart! Really!! I have ideas.

Nice talking to you out there again. Lately I've barely been able to put together a coherent thought, let alone a self to actually write from out into the world. I read blogs a little to assure myself that there is actually a world out there beyond babyness. Though I confess I'm looking forward to a couple days of no grading and no thinking about interviews (not until late next week, alas, when it will be my birthday) to sit around, watch movies, and nurseplaynapbe with the baby. And

Christmas is coming! Christmas is coming! Christmas is coming!

(I love Christmas. I really do.)

I think I'm going to bake presents this year, because I have no money for anything else.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Some Notes from this Time in My Life

I'm exhausted. 3 weeks of maternity leave is not enough. Dear reader, don't ever do this. Especially don't do this when you're recovering from a c-section. I feel okay from the c-section, if a bit alienated from my body since there is a whole area that is still numbish. But with the baby, I have no time to get anything done -- and though I have to work because the money (and still I have no idea where next month's rent is going to come from), I have to say I really do resent anything standing in the way of me being there for the baby. For sure, I don't feel like I'm doing anything well -- not the two classes I'm teaching, not the books I'm supposed to be keeping for the office, not the job market, not being a good mom. There's so much on the mom front that I want to talk about -- but since this is the first time in weeks I've even been able to steal away from all the other stuff, this is the best I can do. I'm learning to say "sorry, this is the best I can do" a lot.

Absurdist Baby eats all the time. All the time. He's getting these super-fat cheeks.

I've found that having a baby has refocused me. My priorities have shifted, though sometimes it takes me being at wit's end to remember that AB is more important than anything -- and I have to just let other things -- application deadlines, for example -- go.

I know I haven't bought anything for myself in a long time. But I can't imagine what I would get for myself. All I want is to know that my little family will not end up on the street. I'd like to be able to provide a roof over our heads. Pay my bills. Take Mr. Tabby to the vet. I hope Santa and all of heaven's angels are listening.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Oh Calliope, Sit with Me a While

What a wonderful idea for a quizzy! As seen at Hilaire's.

Your result for The A-Muse-ing Test...

Your muse is Calliope!

40% Calliope, 10% Thalia, 0% Urania, 0% Clio, 10% Erato, 10% Euterpe, 10% Melpomene, 10% Polyhymnia and 10% Terpsichore!

Calliope is the oldest and wisest of the muses. She is called "The One of Beautiful Speech." Calliope is the muse of epic or heroic poetry and may have been the very one that inspired Homer when he wrote the Illiad and the Odyessy.

Allow Calliope to inspire you.

Begin by trying out different rhyme schemes, to see what you like best. Find a safe comfortable place to work where you will not be disturbed. Bring a candle, some paper, and pens or pencils. Ask Calliope to come and sit with you for a while. Then light your candle for your fire of inspiration. Relax and let your mind go. Put your pen to the paper and just let things go. You may be surprised to see what you come up with as you allow your inner thoughts to take form on paper.

Don't be discouraged if it doesn't come easily the first time. Sometimes the best things come with persistence and patience.

Take The A-Muse-ing Test at HelloQuizzy

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Meet Absurdist Baby!

Here he is, this baby I'm totally in love with. You can see he is just kicking back, taking a little doze. He loves having his arms over his head when he sleeps. He is also just the most peaceful sweet thing in the world when he sleeps. Holding him gives me a high, which should make him a controlled substance. I just adore him.

I've also learned a lot about myself through the whole experience -- such as that I'm very proud and that I'm not good at relaxing. I started off at the birth center and ended up having a c-section at a hospital, exactly the scenario I most feared. But it was okay, a disappointment, of course, but it could've been worse. And most important, the baby is healthy and happy.

Mmmm. Don't you just want to kick back on some blankets and snuggle with him? Or is it just me?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Absurdist Baby or Little Eng?

Or Wee Eng? Anyway, he was born Wednesday, Oct 22 at 5:44am. I went into labor at 9pm on Monday. C-section. Yes, there's a story there. Later.

He's adorable. Pics are forthcoming, but he's asleep in my arms right now, and it's amazing I've managed this much. Also, we're in the hospital, and I'm tired. More soon, I hope.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Still Pregnant

What else is there to say? Doesn't the little bugger know that 19 is a very good number??? My body tricked me this morning when these hard contractions woke me up. It's a very strange thing to be anxiously awaiting pain! All through the breathing, I was hoping, hoping, hoping that today would be the day. Nope. I did, however, ask my subs to take over my classes. I need to not worry about school right now. Of course, I also need to worry about the job market. Sigh.

I hope to have good news soon, my friends.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Waiting Game Stats

  • 3 job applications out
  • 0 baby arrived
  • 4 days overdue
  • 2 friends of friends given birth on or since my due date
  • 2 feet of unusual size
  • 2 medical practitioners telling me to be very careful about what I eat because I wouldn't want the baby to get huge while I'm overdue
  • not anywhere near enough contractions
  • not 1, but 2 giant stacks of paper to grade not to mention the little stacks that students would really like to get back asap
  • 1 grumpy absent-minded pregnant lady who feels like a pink hippopotamus: you know, sorta cute, but in an ungainly dorky way

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Not Loralei Lee, But the Real Marilyn! (Oh Norma Jean!)

It's a bit scary how accurate this is, though maybe I'm just tired and feeling especially vulnerable. As seen at Maude's place:

Your result for Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz ...

You Are a Marilyn!


You are a Marilyn -- "I am affectionate and skeptical."

Marilyns are responsible, trustworthy, and value loyalty to family, friends, groups, and causes. Their personalities range broadly from reserved and timid to outspoken and confrontative.

How to Get Along with Me

  • Be direct and clear
  • Listen to me carefully
  • Don't judge me for my anxiety
  • Work things through with me
  • Reassure me that everything is OK between us
  • Laugh and make jokes with me
  • Gently push me toward new experiences
  • Try not to overreact to my overreacting.

What I Like About Being a Marilyn

  • being committed and faithful to family and friends
  • being responsible and hardworking
  • being compassionate toward others
  • having intellect and wit
  • being a nonconformist
  • confronting danger bravely
  • being direct and assertive

What's Hard About Being a Marilyn
  • the constant push and pull involved in trying to make up my mind
  • procrastinating because of fear of failure; having little confidence in myself
  • fearing being abandoned or taken advantage of
  • exhausting myself by worrying and scanning for danger
  • wishing I had a rule book at work so I could do everything right
  • being too critical of myself when I haven't lived up to my expectations

Marilyns as Children Often
  • are friendly, likable, and dependable, and/or sarcastic, bossy, and stubborn
  • are anxious and hypervigilant; anticipate danger
  • form a team of "us against them" with a best friend or parent
  • look to groups or authorities to protect them and/or question authority and rebel
  • are neglected or abused, come from unpredictable or alcoholic families, and/or take on the fearfulness of an overly anxious parent

Marilyns as Parents
  • are often loving, nurturing, and have a strong sense of duty
  • are sometimes reluctant to give their children independence
  • worry more than most that their children will get hurt
  • sometimes have trouble saying no and setting boundaries

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Still Here, Still Pregnant, Still with Elephant Feet

I know I should be updating the world -- especially about how I have these fabulous friends in Grad City who totally surprised me by loading two boxes full of stuff that I then got to open at my shower, some 1,800 miles away. They are so sweet. As is One Tired Ema, who sent me a wonderful package as well. I, however, am not sweet. I am big and pregnant and grumpy. I am sick of myself and of being the hugest person alive. I just sent Absurdist Lover for chocolate -- no better direction than that. I don't know what I hope he'll bring back really, except that it should be chocolate and there should be a lot of it. According to the midwife, I'm due a week from today and look like I will go to term. I'm also uninducable at this point, at least as of Wednesday. I get non-stress tests all the time now and checked every five or so days. I'm ready to be done. I also spent a big part of the day in Grading Jail. Waaaaaaa. I'm just too grumpy to post right now. Did I mention that I'm also preparing job materials? Teaching two classes of unmotivated students who think they are still in high school? See why I don't post more often? I hope I'll have something nicer to say soon. Until then, I should probably only talk to the two people who can deal with me right now. Absurdist Lover will soon lose his patience. And I can't blame him. I'm awful.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sock Silliness

As seen over at Hilaire's:

What Your Socks Say About You

You Are:

- Simply outstanding

- Brave to the core

- A person of depth

- Infinitely wise

Monday, September 22, 2008

Baby Shower/Online Meet-Up

So my baby shower in Urban Home City is this Saturday, to which only a scant few friends will be able to attend because they/you are strewn all over the country. So I was thinking on Sunday about having some kind of online meet-up, not just to celebrate the soon-to-be-arriving baby or my last days of pregnancy (37 weeks!), but just to connect. It will be good for my brain and mood, especially since my pregnancy has gotten complicated (definite mild preeclampsia, people -- my right foot especially seems to have its own elephantitis -- why my left foot seems to drain a bit when I put it up and my right foot doesn't? a mystery. plus, I have a cold!!!). So here's the question for all you smart bloggerandonline folk: would it be better to go ahead and meet up on this here blog, crazymedusa style, or to get a private chat room? If we did it here, I could mix my blogger and real life friends, which might be fun. But of course, comments are maybe not a good replacement for running chat. Hmmm. See why I need your wisdom? It's this pregnancy brain. What say you, oh wise internetsmartfolk?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

First-Year College Students

Inspired by Kate's recent post on gender and students, I found I basically usurped her comments. But I keep thinking that there are all these issues about teaching, scholarship, and service that I want to address -- and where better than my blog?! (Certainly better than going nuts on someone's comments!) So here goes.

Fundamentally, I can't forget that traditional-age first-year students are straight from high school -- some of those high schools were public, some private. Some students had great preparations, some not so much. But one issue that I've had to address with my community college students this week is that I'm not a high school teacher: I will not chase them around for their assignments if they don't turn them in. It's just as easy to fill in zero on my spreadsheet as anything else. If they need help beyond what I can give, there are plenty of resources on campuses designed with their needs in mind, and it's not my job to go ahead and fill in every blank they have. I've had to give several students in one class and more than half in the other my come-to-Jesus speech (I know this is offensive, but I can't think of a better way to say it right now) about getting their assignments done: if they're not able to keep up now, they should just drop. Period. Some students are really not ready to be in college or are in college for reasons other than learning (though I didn't say that). I don't care about turning all my students into great students. They have to come halfway to meet the challenge, which often includes actually having to approach me and ask me for specific help if they need it; if they flake out on that, well, that's too bad for them. (There are shy students in the world, and I try to be as approachable as possible, but there's a limit.)

So why am I so harsh? Well, actually it's because I realize that my students at least are used to looking at their teacher as a surrogate parent, someone they are going to test the boundaries with. Because I really believe that part of my job is to help them make the transition to more self-determined, agency-filled young adults, I believe I do them a disservice if I hold their hands too much and if I give in too much. If they need additional resources to help them with my class, I'm happy to point them in the right direction. I do think long and hard about whether my class is fulfilling what they need, but I also realize that different students need different things -- and I don't worry too much that I'm in the wrong, at least not in front of them. I will spend long hours in office hours at times with certain students. But I don't waste my time over the ones who are just whingers or complainers. The complainers and ones who aren't turning in their assignments need tough love. Period. The whingers probably need to panic anyway. I'm happy to answer their questions and talk with them and everything. But I don't assume that all the panic is about me -- they are making a huge transition in their lives and the first semester is all panic anyway. And if you think about it, they should be panicking. After a lifetime, for many of them, of people holding their hand and coaching them through and helping them figure things out, now they are mostly on their own. Who wouldn't panic?

So this is my sermon on why I feel tough love is often the appropriate response to students. I'll put away the soapbox now. Have a great Saturday!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Quick Reflection on the First Week of School, Other Goodness, and One Worry

So I've noticed how high I get after teaching! Sometimes I'm super-tired, to be sure, sometimes cranky that it didn't go better. But I love talking with students about intellectual work! Love it! So much better than teaching the SAT! I've already started getting the pesky emails that do exactly what I told them not to do (don't send me emails without your names, because fabdancer211 doesn't tell me who you are; don't demonstrate to me that you haven't checked in with colleagues about your emergency absence before you email me) -- and I'm sure that I'll hate teaching again very soon. After all, I only have letters to read, nothing to grade, though that too will change soon. Both classes are very structured with coordinators who gave me varying amounts of materials. Both classes have way more individual assignments than I EVER give in these kinds of courses. So I'm teaching differently, but I thought with the pregnancy and impending baby it's probably better not to try to reinvent the wheel, try to figure out how much wiggle room there was, etc. So I'm basically following other people's syllabi, though I already ran into another adjunct who asked if I was following Totally Overamped Coordinator's syllabus; when I said yes, this adjunct said that he found that it had way too much busy work -- so it's nice to know I'm not insane. He also said that by midterm I could expect huge numbers to drop. Both a blessing and a curse. (Overamped Coordinator has been coordinator of this class for a long time; maybe it's time for some rotation to occur.) I have to work on the schedule for this class over the weekend, because I didn't get it done during the week, so maybe I'll tone things down a bit.

In super-fabulous news, we found a bed. Literally. Found a queen-sized mattress and boxspring on the sidewalk a block up from our apartment. After a couple days of drying it out (it had been on grass) and fixing it up, we are now happily sleeping on it, grateful to get off the sofabed after three-and-a-half months of back pain and bed squeaking. Which has also meant that we can actually use the bedroom as more than a storage room. It is now voila! a bedroom -- and I can imagine now how all the baby things are going to fit in there with our stuff. We've been able to close up the sofabed, put in a desk (also found with the bed) for me, and now have voila! a living room. It's like having a whole new apartment, really. I celebrated the oddness of the new house by immediately sleeping on the bed, while Absurdist Lover was so weirded out he stayed up plunking on the computer and moving things around. It's wonderful and also occasionally disconcerting. Things are in totally different places -- and we have so much more space! Plus, we have the sofabed for my mom when she comes to help with the first couple weeks, which she has confirmed she will do. That, and the fact that my stepmom is going to throw me a shower, makes it seem like when this baby decides to be born, we might actually be ready!

There is only one wrinkle: all of the sudden I've really started swelling up. As in, there is no bump where my ankle should be. As in, I deformed this sweet silver ring I had on my finger until it almost broke. Parts of me really look like I have elephantitis. Now, this may be normal swelling in the heat and accompanying weight gain (5 pounds in 2 weeks). Or it may be the first sign of preeclampsia (pregnancy-induced high blood pressure). So far, I don't have the other signs (protein in the urine and high blood pressure), but because preeclampsia can have a really rapid onset and can be dangerous for the baby (not getting enough oxygen and nutrients to the baby because of the high blood pressure actually blowing out the fully-dilated blood vessels in the placenta, leading to placental "dead spots" that don't help anyone), my midwife wants to see me again next week -- and I've got an ultrasound for them to check out the baby and the placenta the following week. There's the possibility that if I have preeclampsia, I may be put on bedrest (how do I teach???) or even be induced or scheduled a c-section (heaven forbid) earlier than this baby's Oct 10 due date. Since my shower is on Sept 27, it's totally possible that in the event of preeclampsia, I'll have the baby before the shower! But, as Absurdist Lover says, I shouldn't worry about all this right now. Right now, I should put my elephant feet up, be sure to drink enough water, and rest. Of course, not worrying is not my long suit. On the other hand, we have plenty of good fun things we want to do this weekend. And I've been working on my article, thanks to Hilaire turning me onto the Academic Book Club. So that's the haps. Cross your fingers that I'm just swollen rather than preeclampsic, please!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Photo-Essay of the 34-1/2 Week Belly

I call this big belly with slouch. This is what I mostly look like on the street (though in more structured clothes), since holding my back up and straight is not easy or painless!

This is the close-up belly when I'm actually standing up straight.

This is the belly lying down. Here you can see that there is more bulk toward the bottom than the top. My midwife says Absurdist Baby is starting to move down.

Is That for Me?

Please, blogfriends, meet Ms. Tortoise. She is still hissing at Mr. Tabby, who has decided she's very interesting. As is her catbox. As is his catbox to her. And his food.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Telegram from the First Day of School

First day teaching at Community College. STOP. Teaching totally different classes than I first thought, including 8am class -- UGH. STOP. Barely have a syllabus together and no schedule; amazing even that since I got precious little info from Coordinator of new class. STOP. Have never been to this campus -- not smart. STOP. Don't have parking pass -- not smart. STOP. Don't know how long to drive there. STOP. Also need to work on revision of article this week. STOP. Must go to office job after working out tangles like no books, ordering of books, parking pass, finding out where my mailbox is. STOP. AM SO PREGNANT -- 34 weeks and still not ready as in no car seat. STOP. Wish me luck. STOP.

Over and out. Make it STOP.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Absurdity: Example Number 4,326

A number of moons ago, when we moved into this apartment, we were told that the painters would need to come in to fix some water damage in the baby's room and the dining area. I was assured the maintenance people were very prompt and thorough (a claim almost instantly disproven by a number of instances involving standing water and broken air conditioners). The maintenance people called me and told me that I should be expecting a call from the painters. Never received a call. When I faxed subsequent maintenance requests (basically the only way they'll take maintenance requests -- what if I did not have access to a free fax at work???), I always included the fact that the painting had never been completed. They never addressed it. And in the course of life, I let it go.

Fast forward to this morning. There I was slowly waking (also known as fretting about how to pay the rent, the storage unit, and the bills this month, not to mention the IRS, figuring that I have no choice but to cash in my fledgling 401K), when I smelled paint. There were also voices very close, as if the cops were about to barge into my apartment. I got up -- there was a guy painting the ground outside our patio door, the fumes coming in the open window. We were not notified by the maintenance people to expect people literally on our doorstep. We had not moved the copious little things we keep out there, including a stool so Absurdist Lover can smoke out there, a bunch of herbs, and a couple rugs we need to get drycleaned before we can bring them in the house (do I even have to say they've been out there for months because we cannot afford to get anything drycleaned? on the other hand, a sweet neighborhood cat likes to sleep on them) nor did we know to keep the window overlooking that patio closed. It still smells like paint in here.

This happened at 9:30, when all the maintenance and official offices I could call were still closed. I was incensed. I called and left messages everywhere. We can get spontaneous painting done, but not painting promised to us when we moved in. Now they're dealing with a very pregnant woman in the advanced stages of needing-to-nest (which is different from nesting, because of course a nesting person would actually have the things she needed for the baby by now, rather than a panicking person who still doesn't know how she's going to get the rent together for the month, plus the stuff for the baby). I would say these people are screwed, but let's face it -- they haven't called me back either. I'll probably get no traction on any of it, because, though the apartment is pretty and the managers pretend at being high-end and responsible, the management has proven itself to be slumlordish.

Still have not heard from DC. Must call. What's the point of going to some coordinator's house if I'm not teaching at CC anyway? Must find out. Am s.t.r.e.s.s.e.d. and I don't like it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


So on Monday I received an email from my new Department Chair saying DC would get back to me about whether or not one of my classes was going to get cancelled. When I heard nothing by the next day, I sent an email saying that if my class is cancelled, here are some other possibilities that may not have come up before -- because we had received an email the week before listing classes that were still not assigned. I still have not heard from DC! STILL! And when I checked online, it seems that the class that I did have has now been given to someone else. I realize that it's hard being a department chair and DC is probably going nuts trying to schedule -- but can I say it's also hard being a brand-new adjunct who doesn't know what classes she is teaching the Wednesday before the Monday she is to start? Since I now don't know if I'm even teaching the class that I thought I was, there seems no point in even doing anymore work on it -- though I spent a big chunk of yesterday working on it and considering my options and figuring out what questions to ask at the coordinator's get-together tomorrow.

I hate this. I really hate this. Am I even teaching this semester, or what?

Monday, August 18, 2008

It's Real: The Week Before School Starts

Well, it's dawned on me that I have a ton to do this week to prepare for my classes. Moreover, I have to get as much Job Market Prep done as possible. (Sorry, Sisyphus. I put it off as long as I could, I swear!) I want to use the mornings before I go to work to get things done. Today, I spent the last almost three hours on emails to recommendation letter-writers alone. And that's all I've done. Sigh.

Can I just say that I don't know if I get an office, where the copy center is, which books were ordered for my second class that may well get axed today anyway, where to get a parking sticker, where the department office and mailboxes are or anything at this Community College? The website doesn't list such details, and the email I've sent to the no doubt incredibly-busy Department Chair has gone unanswered. These are mysteries I must figure out this week. I'm not panicking, but only because I've taught enough to wing it -- and maybe because I'm in pregnancy-induced denial. There's no doubt in my mind that this semester -- with teaching, working at the office, pregnancy/having the baby, and the job market -- is going to be one.wild.ride. Hang on, folks!

PS Our new lady cat is indeed a tortoiseshell, or so says Wikipedia. So Ms. Tortoise it is. Photos forthcoming.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Great News, with Inevitable Mindmeanderings on Money and the Academicness of this Blog

I don't have gestational diabetes! Apparently, the official number of diabetes for a glucose tolerance test is 140 -- and I'm at a meager 99. Ha! The midwife is genuinely surprised, considered the diet of lattes and ice cream I showed her. (Of course, the diet didn't show that I was eating reasonably healthily when I was still going to the farmer's market -- until my CD player died and I lost my inspiration, which was Barbara Kingsolver, et al's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. My CD player died like 2 months ago, I think.) When I showed her my new diet sheets, she was also impressed and said it was a good diet, except that I need to eat more protein, which, I have to tell you, is not easy when you're poor and trying to eat organic or at least natural food. (One of the supplements she put me on cost me a whopping $150! I have bills for things like power and cable that total that much that I can't afford to pay. But trying to explain to people who'd drop $20 for themselves on lunch what $20 is to people like me is sort of the continuing saga of what's going on between my family and me. Case in point: my step-mother continues to prod me to go to Ikea to buy baby furniture. She tells me how the furniture is actually better built than it used to be and "so cheap!" -- just $150. Now, of course this is cheap for furniture. Of course, it would be great to have a chest of drawers for the baby. But we don't have $150 for anything, except, apparently, supplements, which I took out of the health fund from Grandma, which is now totally dry. But I don't want to make this post about money, because money so absolutely runs Absurdist Lover's and my life at this point -- and I have to remind myself that most of the really wonderful things in life do not depend on money. I say this on a day when he ran out of the house at the prospect of his dad being able to give him some money. Oy vey.)

So I am to drink some protein shakes with low-glycemic fruit! The midwife thinks I don't have to worry about having a big baby or anything (since what causes the huge baby syndrome is unrestrained sugar in the blood kickstarting the baby to become bigger -- to get unrestrained sugar in one's blood, one's insulin/pancreas has to not be working well, a typical problem during pregnancy, hence gestational diabetes) -- and I asked her about eating granola with yogurt to satisfy my sweet tooth cravings and she said yes! And I probably will go ahead and give myself one latte a week anyway. I'm okay! The baby will be okay! Life is good!

Another piece of great news is that when I was waiting at the birth center for my appointment with the midwife (I love that she's always running late -- she's like me that way), I started reading the article that I need to revise and get to my collaborator. I had some new ideas and got all fired up about revising it! So today I'm going to Nearby Research University to poke into their library and snag some quotes from some books that, sadly, I have locked away in a storage unit in Grad City. Now, I realize that it's already well into the afternoon. But Absurdist Lover has only recently left -- and I'm going to go to the library and work -- and it's all good! I'm excited! I wish I had a library card there so I could get the books and come home, but I don't and can't afford to buy the card for community members and it will be fun to be sitting in a nice cold library working again in any case, even with my belly so huge and this baby having the hiccups. I want to work! I feel clearheaded enough to work! I feel motivated to get over to the library whose parking costs too much in order to work! How often does this happen! I've got to harnass it and get this article revised! Wooohooooo!

(Who'd a thunk last year when I was revising my dissertation for my readers that I'd ever be so excited to work on anything. It does happen, folks! I would not have put money on it, but it does happen!)

P.S. Absurdist Lover brought home his cat from up north. Apparently, she was living in a garage with four kittens (not hers), all of whom she hated. So now she's in our apartment. Mr. Tabby is surprisingly not so worried about her. The first day we kept them separate. But now the door is open between them -- yet she still pretty much stays in the bedroom/baby room, where we don't sleep. (We sleep on a fold-out in the living room, ironically imitating our camper life where bedroom, living room, and kitchen were all connected.) I haven't yet come up with a good blog name for her. I keep thinking of calling her Ms. Thang, since every time she sees Mr. Tabby, who has much more reason to be affronted by her presence that she does, and hisses at him. She's sort of black and orange, not striped, but just mixed in a way that looks just sort of messy. I don't know -- maybe she's a tortoiseshell? Then I could call her Ms. Tortoise, which fits her personality as long as the tortoise is grumpy to her own kind and likes people. Help me out people!

P.P.S. I swear when I started this blog, I thought that "absurdist paradise" referred mainly to academic life. Now I realize it refers to my life. Two totally impoverished adults, one of whom is ridiculously overeducated and underpaid, barely scraping by in one of the most flashy cities in the world that lots of people would like to visit but which the two adults really dislike, living in an overpriced (but cute!) fly-ridden one-bedroom apartment with not one, but two old curmudgeonly cats and a baby on the way. No one could make this stuff up. My life is absurd! Sorry to those who came here looking for good academic kvetching, when this blog has definitely taken a turn toward a mom blog (when I first saw my blog listed on another blog's "mom blog links," I was surprised, even alarmed -- maybe just to think of myself as a mom, though maybe that this blog has become a mom blog). I think I always just felt I was focusing on important things in my life -- and whereas those things used to be the academy because I was very much in the academy, now they are not. But I still think that this is an academic blog to the point that I hold a more academic point of view than your average person, so when I encounter websites that infantilize pregnant women or everyday marginalization and bias against those who don't have enough money to buy the latest baby gadget or academic book, I think I look at it as an academic (a certain version of an academic) does -- an academic loose in a crazy consumerist culture trying to get back into the academy. (There's no doubt that this digression was inspired by Dr. Crazy's discussion of blogging and the comments to that post. Ooh, I see she's put up another post about the comments to that post. Gotta go read that! Then, I really must go to the library already! Bye!)

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Good News and the Bad News, or How My Morning Regimen Means I Get to Be a Lazy Head

I have been up for an hour and a half doing the various morning things I have to do -- and now when I could almost be ready to go and do something or get something wonderfully productive done, I don't want to. The morning regimen is already enough -- like since it's the weekend I should get to relax already. Absurdist Lover is away for the weekend, and I had planned to do many many things that are more difficult to do when he's here and we want to spend time together on the weekends. There are many things I should do, such as work on the article that could contribute positively to me on the job market this year, call my grandfather, and go out and buy a number of little things that would make life around the house easier (including flypaper, which I have been having a hard time finding and which we desperately need because for some reason our apartment is a daily fly convention), not to mention work on another thing that I realize now I should tell y'all about.

So let me explain my good news and my bad news first.

The bad news (let's get it over with) is I had my nutritional consult with my nutritionally-oriented midwife and she was basically appalled at my diet of lattes and ice cream. She said that the amount of sugar in my diet had probably already led me to gestational diabetes and could lead to hypertension, a big baby (which means a more problematic delivery), and all sorts of bad high-risk things. So now I'm on this no-sugar, no-caffeine, low-fat, low natural sugar, low-fun diet. Today is Day 3, and I don't feel as terrible as I did yesterday when I moaned to my co-workers and Maude that I was going to die. (Something to remember about radical diet changes: Day 1 is not so bad because you're still full of juice about how you're going to change your life and "it's going to be great"; Day 2 is frigging awful because your body is in total withdrawal and you think you're going to die and you wish you could spend the day sprawled on your bed with the clicker exactly like those hangover days, which, sadly, you now remember fondly; Day 3, so far, is not so bad.) In fact, the rest of yesterday wasn't so bad; I went to El Pollo Loco after work and ate a huge-but-didn't-break-any-rules meal to make up for the fact that I had not eaten lunch (a big no-no) and managed to feel pretty decent the rest of the night. Basically, the midwife has already put me on the gestational diabetes diet, so if the tests come back next week with gestational diabetes, well, I won't be surprised and there won't be anything to change. But please cross your fingers that I don't have gestational diabetes, because that means that for who knows how long there has been rampant un-insulin-controlled sugars kick-starting the baby's growth hormone, leading to a huge baby, making a vaginal delivery increase in potential ickiness. Since we're at 32 weeks (if you can believe that), this is the time of rapid growth, so maybe, just maybe, I can nip that one in the bud by reducing my sugar to practically zero. We'll see. The one thing about being pregnant that really sucks is how I feel already like I've already ruined this little person I love. It's ridiculous, I know, because my mother ate whatever she wanted (though she doesn't have a sugar-sensitive body either and I do), smoked, drank, etc. I figure the smoking probably kept the birth weight down, evening out the all-fast food diet. Ugh. If this baby has anything wrong with him/her, I know that I'm going to blame myself for all my bad pregnancy behaviors. I have to remember that while some of this is productive and will keep me on my diet, some of this is totally nonproductive too -- and hubristic, as if I have all the answers and am totally in charge of how this baby turns out.

So, along with the new diet, there are tons and tons of supplements. In the morning, there are not one, but two different things I have to mix up and drink, plus so many pills I inevitably have a bad time getting them down. At night, I now also have a bunch of pills and one thing to drink -- and she encouraged me to order this other supplement -- so as of next week, I'll have yet another thing to mix up and drink three times a day. So when I say I'm done with the morning regimen, what I mean is that I've taken all my morning supplements, given the cat his medicine, brushed my teeth, and cleaned out the cat box (with a mask and gloves, of course). I haven't, for example, eaten breakfast. But I don't feel hungry because my stomach is full of Vitamin C drink, Cal Mag, and pills, pills, pills. (Part of the point of eating the low-fat, no-sugar diet is to get all the bad stuff out of the way so that my body can actually process the good stuff, including protein and supplements, that will make the baby and me strong for birth.) On a positive note, I don't feel bad or caffeine-deprived, no matter how much I really want a latte. We all know the caffeine-withdrawal headache. I don't have that. I think the reason why I felt crappy yesterday at work really had to do with my blood sugar being way too low -- and not having any quick way of fixing it. Though it was probably also withdrawal.

So on to the good news! On Thursday, Chair of English Department at New Community College offered me two classes: one that he's pretty sure will run, one that is sketchy right now. So I emailed the coordinator of Pretty-Assured Class and got a bunch of materials. There is even a meeting for the instructors so I may get to lobby there for someone to take over when I give birth and definitely need to be out. As much as starting something new when I'm about to have a baby, a new lifechanging event, is a lot, there are a few reasons why this is totally fabulous news. One, definite pay for 3-4 months at a higher hourly rate than SAT company gives me (though of course they don't pay for prep and we know how it happens that we end up spending way way way more time than they ever pay us for). Two, a college that I can put on my CV for going on the market. No matter how I talk about SAT Company and how I've learned a great deal that will help me be a better college teacher in the future, I figure there is nothing better than having some actual college teaching on my sheet. (I have more than five years already, but still.) I also feel like the community college experience will help me be a better, more well-rounded teacher. I realize that universities often don't care about this, but I do think that teaching the SAT and the writing courses I've done recently, plus community college teaching will make me a better teacher -- and a better, more thoughtful scholar. This way I can see a bigger picture rather than just what we do in our classes or our programs. I can see how students are prepared to get into those classes. I have to remember to talk about this is some sort of smart way in my letter. GAH! I have to rewrite my letter! Oy gevalt! Breathe, breathe deeply. Three, I like college teaching better than SAT teaching. No matter how stifling the set curriculum (and so far, it doesn't seem awful), at least I will feel like I'm doing what I'm best at or at least what I've sunk my higher education into. I just plain feel better about myself when I'm doing something that feels like what I'm meant to do. (One of these days I have to explore why it is that teaching writing to others feels so much more important than writing myself. When I visited my grandmother a couple weeks ago, she told me how well-written she thought my writing was. Why don't I write more? Why, why, why?)

So, of course it would be a great idea for me to look more carefully through all the things that Course Coordinator sent me, figure things out, come up with questions, etc. And yet. I'm not excited enough about the class to actually go and do that. In some ways, I realize it will be very much like the teaching at Adventure U, which totally didn't fit me. But really it's not that I'm in some working mood, and I just don't feel good about this situation. It's that I'm totally NOT in a working mood. Since my last class with Summer Program for SAT Company ended on Thursday, I just want to enjoy not working two jobs -- and today I want to enjoy not working, period. I want to get lost in a book or something. Or watch TV and movies and do cross-stitch. I want to be a big old Lazy Head.

I thought blogging might help me get in the mood, but I see this post is one big rationalization for not working at all -- on the article or the new class. The new class I figure I can work on during the week, when I would've been working that second job. The article? Well, I have no excuse. Maybe later in the day when I've wasted too much time I'll feel more like a wastrel and get into it. (I should at least make myself work long enough for a ten-minute freewrite.) But for now I'm going to think about the things that have to be done today, such as renewing my library books. Tomorrow, I figure I'll wake up, go to the farmer's market (good healthy food for me, plus I also have to bring snacks to Tuesday's birth class), and then go over to my folks, where I can pick up the bathing suit my step-mom bought me, maybe go swimming if the suit fits (which seems highly unlikely since I'm a beached whale), and call my grandfather on their far-superior phones. Which means today, I can lounge about, post-renewal of books.

I hope y'all out in bloggerland are having a more productive time of it out there! I never did understand how people work all week, then get up early on Saturday to run errands. I just want to sleep and do nothing. August as the month of getting down to business, my foot!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

August: Getting Down to Business

Suddenly, it's August. It's back-to-school time. It's back-to-the-job market time. It's where-did-the-summer-go time. Time for all that self-recrimination. I think I'll just skip that for now. It's pretty useless anyway. With working two jobs, getting bigger and more unwieldily pregnant, and family and Absurdist Lover stuff, well, I've been doing my best -- and to anyone who has anything to say about my not doing enough, I can only say sorry and then, more defensively, tough.

So I promised myself that when August came, I would get down to business with job market stuff. What does this mean? I need to revise my letter, my STP, and other materials, but really this means getting some articles done and out into the "under consideration" world. I have the article that I was working on with Senior Scholar (for a couple years now actually) that I'm determined to get into some sort of shape and send back to him for his comments and revision plans. I also want to revise my first diss chapter into something fit for a journal that I greatly admire. I'm going to do my best to work daily, even if that means doing something wittle and teeny-tiny. As luck would have it, yesterday, the first of August, a.k.a. the month of getting down to business, a friend overseas IM'd me and asked me to help her out with some research. Then she sent me some of her writing, and I sent her some of my writing -- and we made a promise that by the end of the month we'd get drafts of our pieces done. Making plans counts to me as working. But what have I done today? I'm committing to working daily in a public way. And then I'm going to consider what really needs to be done -- and probably check some resources for any recent scholarship that I may have missed. That's enough for one day, I think.

Plus, I have limited time. Absurdist Lover is away for the weekend on a retreat of sorts, so I'm on my own and can devote some time to this work, which is very lucky since often I just want to hang out with him and do nothing that approaches productive anything. But I do have to attend a performance that my littlest sister (get this, ten years old) is very excited about a bit later today. It boggles the mind, but the tickets are $15. $15 for a kid's play!!! As in $15! I can't quite wrap my head around it. Also, there are BBC comedies I want to watch this evening -- and cross-stitch I want to do. So even with this late start, it's a full day.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

I had a bad dream

last night that I was a lawyering imposter who was working on a big case for the city. Everyone, including my step-mom and dad, had things to say that I totally didn't understand. I lived in a big ritzy apartment, and there were weird people half-coming on to me who just traipsed into the bathroom as if it were their own. I knew I was going to have to sub in some help in order to get through the whole thing. When I woke up, I was so relieved to be teaching writing, something I feel well-qualified to teach, even if I'm teaching it in a summer program to high school students who are worried about their SATs and personal statements. What a relief! Then I went over to Writing Maternity and read a post on Writing Studies and immediately wanted to weigh in, happy to be in my element. YAY! Now I have to get myself up and into the shower. But even if my life is totally absurdist and weird and sometimes seemingly impossible to navigate and pay for, at least I get to spend some of my time doing the things that I love and am good at as opposed to doing the secretarial work that I'm not really good at or pretending that I'm something I'm not all the time. Compared to the panic of having to teach myself the law profession well enough in a short period of time to do a big public case for the city with a bunch of other lawyers all as stakeholders watching me, being pregnant, underemployed, and seriously impoverished doesn't look so bad. (Not to mention, as much as I like nice clothes and nice things, I don't need a ritzy apartment or to spend my time wearing high heels and skirts. I don't want to yuppify myself and have the latest everythings. I want to be my slow weird intellectual self, spending myself on my boyfriend, baby, cat, garden, writing, and students!) After a lot of complaining last night to my mom about how the world treats pregnant women and me in particular (my niece and nephew, both under ten years old, told me this weekend that having the baby "was going to hurt." Who nobbled them, I wonder?), my wonderful brain reminds me to count my blessings. It could always be worse. Much worse.

Today is Maudie's defense day! YAY Maude! In a few short hours, DOCTAH MAUDE!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Belly Photo, Finally, and a Rundown of the Week

This photo is actually from a couple weeks ago now, when Similarly Neurotic Fabulous Friend (who really needs a better pseudonym) asked for pictures. Please ignore my giant fat arms.

Much is going on here -- both good and bad. Here's the good: my fabulous grandmother (the same one who has breast cancer and had a lumpectomy and lymph node removal in the last few months) fronted me the money for the birth center. So we're a little less freaked out over here at Chez Absurd about money. Of course, next week things may be very different -- but I'm totally pleased that we're going to be able to go to our midwife and birth center with no problems, especially since we've just started our birth class there (which seems to be more information and education than sitting around doing deep breathing exercises and singing kumbayah, which I'm sure would be good too -- my apologies to Bradley and Lamaze classes for characterizing them that way -- I could do with someone telling AL to massage my back even more). Other good: Absurdist Lover's job is officially set to launch on Monday. That is, the call center will be working and he's all scheduled on their list and hopefully they'll call him a lot and send him to fix computers a lot! Not only will this really help with money (assuming he gets a good amount of work), but equally important, he will feel more productive and happy with himself. He's not the type who sort of falls apart and gets depressed and hopeless when not employed, but working will really make him feel better and stronger. More good: Grandpa is getting better, though he is quite tired. Even more good, though strange: a state university has called me about coming in to interview for adjunct work. I don't know exactly where the u is and cannot make the interview times they mentioned on the message, so I'm not exactly thrilled yet, but it's nice to know my CV is still academically viable -- I'm so swiss-cheese brained that I feel like I'll never get hired again.

The big bad is that a professor I know was, I believe, found dead in Grad City early this week. The details are really unclear to me but it appears now that he killed himself. Or at least that's what the police have determined, which I think means that there was no note. He was a good man who cared a lot about grad student issues, and I had a good working relationship with him. I'll miss him, though of course it feels only vaguely real considering that Grad City is so far away. Every day I've looked for info and obits, but similar to last year when a friend of mine killed herself, the newspapers there are not very forthcoming in cases of suicide. (Can I just stop here to focus on me and say that I really don't like this particular pattern? Three people I've known in Grad City have killed themselves in as many summers. I don't like this, not one little bit.) The most pressing issue about all this is that Maude's defense is in a week or so -- and what do you do when your advisor checks out right before your defense? I want to call the department and make sure that it's going to happen, to beg my advisor to please sit in (though Peppy Advisor is in a totally different field and is not Maude's fave person) or something! Not that she can't do it herself, of course, but. . .I just want to do something.

In other news, I'm starting to research vaccinations, because Absurdist Lover is adamantly against them; my view in the past has been that I would really rather not have my child contract polio, but now that I see the sheer volume of vaccinations we're talking about -- it's just alarming how many times medical science advocates poking a child. A vaccination for chicken pox? Uh, I had the chicken pox as a kid, and I don't think there's any reason to take a shot for it. Having chicken pox is uncomfortable but that's not a good enough reason to potentially mess with the development of a baby-child when I swear we really don't know enough about child development to really say whether all these vaccinations are completely safe. Flu shots? Easy. They don't work anyway. I'm pretty skeptical of what the medical establishment thinks it "knows" about childbirth and child development -- I believe it's perfectly possible that the mercury in these shots may cause autism in mercury-sensitive children and the medical establishment just hasn't caught on yet. (Though avoiding fish -- I just can't do that, can't condone that. We ADDers NEED our fish oil omegas!) After all, the medical establishment hasn't caught on to the idea that important hormonal bonding happens between mother and child in the first hours after childbirth (which is why rooming-in is important) or that epidurals and pitocin are bad for the mother and baby (oxygen-deprivation risk to baby, not being in touch with your body during, arguably, the most important physical experience of your life, drugs passing to the baby) or that sugar metabolism, g-i tract problems, and one's reproductive cycle are related. So I'm trying to do somewhat balanced research, distrusting the extremist alarmist views (as is my wont) and evaluating the science, while of course taking into account the views of the granola set with whom I often agree. Sigh. Parenting has more contested issues in it than anything I think I've ever been a part of. (Circumcision, schooling, diapers, vaccinations, staying at home versus working -- as if I have the choice -- gah and double gah!) Oy vey.

Today I only go to the office, thank goodness, though I'm having a good time teaching as well. And this weekend Absurdist Lover will be at a meeting on Saturday and then going to see his children on Sunday, so I will get some time to myself and obsess and worry focus on other things -- me things, like maybe the academy and writing. I am not going to obsess and worry about AL. I simply refuse. Maybe I'll continue reading Middlemarch (the authorial commentary and intrusion annoys me so it's been slow going) or maybe I'll watch all the movies that I don't watch when AL is here and work on this cross-stitch project. Or maybe I'll just play WoW. Let's face it -- I'll probably blog. Woohooo!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Monday Monday

Let's face it -- I'm much better at getting myself to write a post in a couple minutes than I am when I have great big swathes of time. This is an ADD thing, I'm pretty sure. Also, can I just say that I should be in the shower if I really want to leave in 20 minutes? But this is so much more fun!

So today I start a new class in another one of these summer programs. This one is all about writing -- and should be so much nicer than teaching the SAT! Though, who knows how the students will be -- and that can make or break the experience. Then I have to go to the law office. Then I really should go visit my grandfather -- who is no longer jaundiced and can speak and is much better, or so I've heard.

Over the weekend, Absurdist Lover and I celebrated his birthday as I was on a sugar fast, which totally sucked. So no birthday cake. No ice cream. No doctored coffee. No scones. No nothing. On Sunday, when it was over, I went to Starbucks, but am proud to say that I did NOT consume any Ben and Jerry's. My baby will not be made of ice cream after all! I had to go on a sugar fast for reasons that I'll spare you, but it all came out of seeing the midwife, who is awesome. She asked me all about my medical history, and I put things together that I would never have put together before -- though much of it I've been wanting a doctor-type to take in and make something of for years to no avail. Western medicine is just too compartmentalized to see a relationship, apparently, between sugar intolerances, digestive trouble, and reproductive health. Whatever. At least now I have someone who sees the whole -- and will explain things to me.

Last week, I also had an interview with a community college -- and it must've gone well, because the chair called me and basically said that I'd be in the pool for the fall. We also got to talking and found we knew some of the same people in the neighborhood where I grew up and he now lives. Very strange. But cool. And so when I go out on the market, I figure I will have had this great experience of teaching high school students and getting a real feel for who at least some of the rich kids are and how they prepare (and how the SAT makes them think about what college must be) and teaching community college students and seeing who they are. I realize that universities often care only about university teaching, but I think I will be much more well-rounded as a result of these experiences. At least that's the story I'm telling myself. The focus on the transition to the university should be made easier by actually knowing something about who these students are before they get to the university.

I have not worked on revising the Never-Finished but-hopefully-to-be-finished Article for weeks. I've been too busy with cross-stitch, WoW, searching for stupid things on the internet, dumb things like work, and being very big and tired to actually focus on something so productive. Not good. But AL will be gone this weekend (and I will no doubt be very nervous all weekend because it didn't go all that well last time), so I should be able to get something done. Money is ridiculously tight, though I just got paid. Crap, it's 8am. Didn't I want to leave now? Oy vey. See y'all later.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Shortie Post on the International Day of Absurdist Lover

So of course I'm going to write a shortish post for now when I could've written a longer post a few days ago, but I was. . .you guessed it -- too tired. But here are the things I promise to write about soon: my visit to the midwife on Wednesday and my interview with Community College on Tuesday. Here's a preview: both went really well. The midwife took the most complete medical history of me ever taken -- and she had some new ideas for some old problems (g-i tract problems, blood sugar troubles) that were really interesting. When I was sitting and talking with her, I thought that I may want to go to her even when the baby is done and out. She's the teensiest bit alarmist, advocating no alcohol, but I think it's not that it is bad per se, but that we want to maximize our chances of a happy and easy birth center birth rather than having to be carted off to the hospital where the attitude in this town is that Caesareans are easier and more efficient.

The interview at Community College went so well that I'm pretty sure I'll have some teaching for the fall. I know it sounds insane, but I said I'd need two weeks out for the birth -- now I know this sounds ridiculous to many, but remember that it's not a full-time gig or anything -- I won't teach more than two classes -- and I may well be able to teach and everything pretty soon after the birth. All the chair said was that if I need more time to keep them informed. So if anything goes wrong (knock on wood that Absurdist Baby and I have an easy birth and that AB is healthy and happy) or I'm exhausted or whatever, then I'll take more time. (I mean, I'm sure I'll be exhausted. On the other hand, we really need the money and I'd rather teach at CC than the SAT Company, just because I'd rather teach in my field than the SAT! Not to mention that I'd rather know I'm getting paid for four months rather than six weeks.)

But today is Absurdist Lover's birthday! And since I just got paid for all the crazy work I've been doing at SAT Co (with no more to come because my class next week was cancelled and now I just have a short writing class in another summer program -- yippee!), we have some money! AL, who had boringly said all week that "it's just another day," wants me to get to work so I can get home and we can have some fun! YAY! So I'll post this weekend about the midwife, the complete sugar fast I'm on and how much it sucks (which tells me how incredibly toxic I am, because at my most gorgeous and healthy, I didn't eat sugar or dairy), and Community College coolness. And I hope I'll also get some work done on this huge cross-stitch project I have for Absurdist Baby, which at the rate I'm going I might just be able to get done before he goes off to college.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Quick-Fire Bullets

I'm in such a hurry this morning, but I really want to write something here because I think it will make me feel better -- more like a person to be in touch with my blogworld. You know what I mean?

  • After posting a comment on Ianqui's blog about how my family isn't into my pregnancy, something that has really been bugging me lately, my step-mother offered to throw me a baby shower. Now, I know about six people here in Urban Home City so it will be the tiniest shower ever, but still I feel bad that I characterized my family that way. I know that everyone has other things going on, especially related to bullet number 2. I just wish that I felt like there was going to be this warm happy set of people to surround this baby with. Maybe everyone feels this way.
  • My grandfather is still in the hospital, recovering very slowly from abdominal surgery. He has colon cancer that they figure is fully treatable, but we're very concerned that he has already given up no matter what the prognosis.
  • I have an interview tomorrow for an adjunct position at a community college that I applied to ages ago back when it was virtually the closest around. Now it's a bit of a hike and there are definitely closer ones, but then they called me for the interview. The HR person was talking about how there was a "topic," which I think means a teaching demo. I haven't received the "topic" yet, so they are going to get the shortest prep time on record, since today I have to go teach the college admissions class, go to the office, then go teach the essay class tonight. It's the last of these crazy days, thank goodness. Of course, this also means less pay for less crazy days. And Absurdist Lover is still not working yet for the new job -- in fact, he's nervous even about the background check, though he's got nothing to worry about. Money is the single greatest stressor here at Chez Absurd. We don't have a toaster, an air conditioner in the bedroom (which is the baby room and where we don't sleep anyway), a new bra for me, nothing. We're basically at the starting point like a couple in their twenties who has nothing. Our bookshelves are broken cast-offs. Meanwhile my family is about to go to Honduras while their upstairs gets remodeled. It's really hard being so broke and watching other people spend so much money just on lunch. Sigh. I hope to soon not be running around so much -- and able to focus on the impending job market. Anyway, I don't know if the community college will want to hire me when I'm due in October and would definitely have to be out for some length of time, but I figure it's worth a try, especially because teaching this essay class has reminded me how much I love teaching writing.
  • I'm also mad at my SAT prep company. On Friday, the teacher of the other class called me an hour before class and said that he was sick and could I please take his class? Well, of course I want to help out and how could I say no? I totally refigured what I was doing in my class so I could present things the other class hadn't already done when I put the two classes together -- and it was a zoo, I tell you, a zoo! Too much! When I called SAT prep company and asked if I would get additional compensation they said no because I hadn't worked any extra hours and "thanks for teaching a larger class today." These classes are not like the SAT classes, structured and set by the SAT prep company at every step. These are more like regular classes where you have a certain amount of material to cover, but how you do it is going to be different from the person down the hall. I realize I didn't exactly sub a class that wasn't mine -- or work extra hours. But getting nothing is like them telling me that it was nothing for me to have an hour to figure out what on earth to do! I'm really upset about it, but though I intended to deal with it on Friday by asking a trainer I know what to do, then I went and saw my grandfather in the hospital and tried to convince him that life was worthwhile and that frankly sapped all my energy.
  • I'm also really angry at my doctor's office. I need my records because I'm going to see the midwife on Wednesday. (YAY!) I've never had a doctor's office balk at faxing the records, but they are. They want me to go over there (which is a total shlep into a different area with a lot more traffic and a pain to boot), sign a form, and give them $25. Now, I'm angry at SAT company for not giving me another hour's worth of my salary, which is little more than $25. I'm poor and think $25 to be a lot of money. I wish I didn't. But this feels like extortion. I looked up the statute for the Stupid Overpriced State Health and Safety Code and it does say that doctors can charge up to $.25/page plus reasonable costs in attaining records (I take this to mean charging if people need to go into storage). I've been seeing these numbskulls since May or so -- there is no way that my file is 100 pages long. I'm ready to write a letter to the editor over this one. This really pisses me off because when I had to get a mammogram in a country typically thought of as third world they gave me my own films because, their thinking was, who is going to take better care of your records and be more interested in your health than you? Here in the U.S., we think that people aren't responsible enough to have their own records -- or often be told exactly what their test results are beyond whether there is a "problem" or not -- and then we charge them just for getting them! It's totally ridiculous. That $25 charge is the bra that fits instead of me squishing into an undersized old bra every day! Grrrr. I'm too poor, tired, and pregnant for all this.
  • I'm 27 weeks as of last Friday, which means I'm officially in my third trimester. Please, please, please dear G-d and heavenly minions let Absurdist Lover's job start up in a real way so that I can stop working so hard and relax a little before this baby is born -- and not have to put the baby in daycare as of Day 1.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


All I can manage right now is a bullet list. Here goes.
  • I'm starting a college admissions and essay writing course in a summer program tomorrow. GAH!
  • My grandfather is in the hospital, recovering from major abdominal surgery. The blockage he had in his small intestine looks like it's cancer.
  • My mother had a seemingly serious g-i tract problem of her own, where she was telling me how alone and isolated she felt. (She lives in a faraway city without family, or, as far as I can tell, many friends.) She was totally going nuts, ending up in the hospital, but then even though there were no tests performed, no answers about her condition, she just decided that she wasn't going to take it very seriously. That is, she's not going to deal with it or get the tests that a few days before she believed were crucial. She had completely whipped me into a frenzy, getting me to rally the other kids into supporting her with phone calls. And then she decides she's just going to wait for her low-income city insurance to kick in rather than ask her mom for the money for a really good specialist. She should be able to have her test in one-four months. After me really taking a lot of time and energy out to support her, I am just not amused. She whips me into her drama, then when she decides that the drama should end, she wonders why I think she's being ditzy and irresponsible about her potentially-serious condition. We are not amused. I want those days back where I tired myself out worrying about her.
  • I still don't have the whole birth center/insurance thing worked out. At least I can now ask my grandmother because I know she's not going to be tapped for an expensive specialist and tests by my ditzy mom.
  • My intensive SAT class ends tomorrow.
  • I have an editing job due Tuesday.
  • I'm 26 weeks pregnant and getting big and uncomfortable, especially since I have still not been able to afford a new bra. (I tried to go and get a maternity bra, but apparently dumb stores like A Pea in the Pod think that all women start off as A- and B-cups, so we all have double Ds when our boobs have inflated like balloons. Uh, someone ought to explain that some of us girls have. . .well, big girls to begin with. Even online, the prospect of decent support for these pregnant super-boobs is not good. JC Penney's seems to have bras. But by the time I did all this research, the money ran out.)
  • My laptop is screwy, just dying and overheating and turning off in the middle of working. It clearly needs to be fixed. But that requires. . .
  • Money that we don't have. The money crunch over here at Absurdist Household continues. Even working two jobs. Even with Absurdist Lover having gotten hired last week -- at a start-up company that hasn't yet really started up. Oy.
  • We got library cards. Woohoo!

Saturday, June 28, 2008


This morning I couldn't sleep so I went to the Coffee Corporation and finished up the article that should've been done earlier in the week but I just couldn't do it and so emailed for an extended deadline on my revisions. (Lost points for professionalism there, but I'm pregnant, tired, working two jobs that take up my whole day, and stressed about money, love, and all the above.) Now, the article is done. DONE!!!! Sent off. This is my first academic publication. (Can I just say how stupid I felt writing up a contributor's bio when I'm not actually in the academy at the moment? Oy.)

I am now free to think about all those other articles I should be writing in preparation for being on the market in the fall. Ah, to be so free. (Gulp.)

I have other immediate projects, like the campaign to borrow a family member's credit card so I can put the birth center expenses on it and thus begin decent and humane midwifery supervision of this pregnancy. At 5am, this seemed simple -- that I had made it into a bigger project than it is. But now, tired and sleep-deprived, it seems impossible. How can I make people understand that birth center and midwife care is just plain better for me than dealing with doctors and hospitals?

In other news, my mother is sick and doesn't know what she has and on a city health care plan where she is getting few answers and feeling cut off from the world. Not good. Must remember to 1) call her on Sunday; and 2) spread the word that she needs some TLC.

Am huge. Should post belly pictures documenting this.

Am sleepy. Can no longer think in sentences.

Over and out.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Whoa! An Academic Post? It Must Be Writing Time!

It's Sunday before the weekday of a writing deadline. So of course this is when I start. I have to revise this article for Edited Collection. Revise, as in "to see again," as in gut this puppy and make it into something new. As in, oy, it's way too hot and I'm too sick and pregnant to do this, as in I must blog before I can even get started.

This, assuming that it doesn't totally suck and get pulled from Edited Collection, will be my first academic publication. Not my first publication, because I've published other kinds of things -- encyclopedia entries and creative writing, whatnot for which people didn't seem to think I was a total loser when I was done. I feel now though like a total loser. I think part of it is that I feel so far from the academy, from the university scene, even from anything remotely close to that work, though I did renew my memberships to the big organizations and have even read an article or two in the last month. On the other hand, this fear and loathing of working on this article probably has nothing to do with distance from the academy. This is probably the usual self-hate cycle that allows me to progress from worrying about whether I can actually produce anything mind-blowing and original, destined to blow open the field, to then worrying about writing anything remotely decent -- both of which are a lot of pressure to put on any one piece of writing, especially one that needs to be worked on immediately -- to worrying with mounting anxiety whether I can get something, anything, done so I can get it in on time and not reveal myself to be a total flake. Dude, this is my process. It's not a good process, but it's a process. No matter how much text I generate and even when I work on things on a regular basis (though I can't really remember when the last time that was, except for the dissertation, which was more aberration than pattern), I can't seem to get myself to get down to it to order anything or really take it apart and put it back together until I work up a good self-and-writing loathing.

Okay, I don't know if self loathing process crap is really true. But it feels true.

I am grumpy at everyone today, starting from the moment I began doing things related to this article. Absurdist Lover remarked yesterday that one moment I wasn't working, then I left the room and came back in and I was suddenly "working." I got nothing done, except some class A grousing about the editors' comments. Of course, the comments themselves are probably fine -- I would grouse about them in any case, I'm sure.

But there is this problem I'm having. They want me to put more conversation with the field in my article. Now of course this is a good idea -- and actually I took out much of that conversation when I hacked at a dissertation chapter to get this article. But a problem I'm having is that I find the existing conversation in my field to be really fascinating, but too focused on one particular location or site for analysis and theorizing. (Oooh, this is kind of helping.) I'm totally excited by some of the things my field is doing (or I wouldn't be in my field), but I think we can be greatly informed by 1) looking at what others in the wide world outside of our field are doing to inform our theorizing and studying; and 2) looking at other sites as valid places for us to study and contribute to. (Ooh, helping!) I always have to make the argument that these other sites I'm looking at are even worthwhile -- and show how these ideas contribute to our main site -- rather than affirming that we can and should study these other sites.

At Grad City U, other dissertators also found this to be true -- that if we didn't tie our work back to the main site that people wouldn't recognize our work as within our fields. I know it's not just me. So I think I got really defensive about these claims and had, early on in my dissertation process, really argued the hell out of this, always foregrounding the limitations of the work in my field. But because I work with alternative argumentation (think: the Native American critique that scholars talk about scholarship as "staking a claim" in "uncharted territory" or the way that we can discount all previous scholarship as "primitive" compared to the complexity of our own ideas; also radical feminists talk about the thrust and parry of scholarship as very male) for reasons that absolutely connect to the main thrust (oh dear) of my argument, I don't want to discount all the previous scholarship or go deeply into arguing against it, though I do think it has profound limitations. Now my dissertation committee was made of up of pretty cool scholars, so when I argued for alternative argumentation in light of my main discussion, they seemed convinced. In fact, they advocated my taking out some of my discussions with the field, maybe because they were too defensive. These editors, on the other hand, want more discussion, which seems to mean more argument against what's already been done in the field.

Writing all this out is really helpful actually, because I realize that I can probably talk about what the scholarship in the field does and does not do without calling them deficient. I guess I'm just worried about trying to represent the integrity of what this other work is trying to do in the tiny space allotted. It's easier to say that something sucks. But it doesn't suck -- and even when it does (from my perspective, some of it does in fact have elements of suckage) -- I don't want to portray it that way. So I just won't. I guess. If possible.

The other big problem is that I have to reorganize the thing. They didn't exactly say that -- in fact, I think that their comments do not call for a drastic reorganization of the thing. But they say that the point isn't clear -- and I can see instantly how that's an organizational problem. I think this has something to do with the fact that there isn't a clear methodology to working with data in my field. Perhaps terribly, since I've been working on this material for a long time, I'm still learning from it. It's ethnographic field research. Qualitative. So I continue to re-see the data based on my own brain. Oy! And without a clear method in the field, we are also without a clear way of writing up results. Though I would probably hate a more rigid structure -- and pretty much flout scholarly organizational standards as often as possible, partly because I work in alternative argumentation. Though here I can see that my alternative argumentation/organization makes it very hard to see my point. Hence having to gut the thing and reorganize, one of my least favorite things. Ironic, of course, because when I teach I always tell students to write whatever, then go back and reorganize. And I say it as if it didn't feel pretty awful to tear your own writing up. Maybe I'll actually physically cut and paste it. Sometimes the act of cutting it up feels so kindergarten and fun, it takes some of the seriousness out of it all.

I wish I could just come up with these insights and then someone else could write it. (This from the writer.) Really, I'm just lazy. Or I resist launching in. Or something! It's more fun to blog about writing than to write it. This is probably an audience issue. Writing for these editors, whom I greatly respect and wish to not offend, and for the academic audience in general has a lot to do with whether I'll get a job in the near future, on which much of my life seems to rest. Oy, I wish I had more time. But I chose to work on it at the last minute. Will I ever learn? OY!

Once this is done, I need to write another article, and then likely another, taking out pieces of my dissertation and sending it out before the fall job market hoopla starts, so at least I can say that I've got work out there. I think three articles for someone who's been out of grad school for a year is pretty reasonable. I need to work on academic work regularly, instead of this writing binge I'm engaging in now. It's stupid to do this. I've also got to remember that much academic writing is not so well written. It doesn't have to be brilliant. It has to be clear. It has to make sense. It has to make a clear contribution to the field. Period.

Okay, work management, aka accountability blogging. I need to

1) add the stuff I think needs to be added immediately and make space for things I think probably need to be done that I'm not ready to do immediately

2) see if I can come up with a new outline for what I think would be pretty readable, seeing what's lost and gained

3) go back into the scholarship and draw connections and counter-arguments

4) fill in the gaps and do dumb formatting things

Today, I pretty much need to do 1 and 2. First I'll add the stuff I'm going to add. Then I'll reorganize, cutting and pasting and getting a sense of what is lost and gained. Then I think I have to let it rest. I have a plan! A plan!

***Update 6:30pm***

Wow, did I really start blogging around 12:30 and I'm only done with work now? I do remember how to work!

So I found myself really going over the piece sentence by sentence, mostly taking things out and reordering. I stopped at the point where I got to the pages where all this other scholarship needs to be put in. It's clear to me that I'm not going to be able to add scholarship in each place they've noted it, because the whole piece would become way too long. But I think that I've put a strong new organization in place -- and the scholarship problems are those I think I can research individually, making them bite-sized pieces I might be able to work on piecemeal -- if I can ever really get myself to get up early. Oh! I give a test tomorrow in my SAT class, so I'll have plenty of time to work on this. Wow, I'm good! Solved that problem. I just have to remember to put the books in my bag. Better do that now. I've also got to remember to do the stuff I need to do for the SAT class. Like send my students some emails. Then I'm going to enjoy the rest of my Sunday!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Reverse Psychology

So blogging the sick is not like blogging the lost: my sore throat has blossomed into full-blown ickiness. On the other hand, practically right after I wrote about how sweet Absurdist Lover was, we began to have problems. It's as if writing it down and pressing publish puts an expiration date on whatever's going on. So maybe by saying that we're having problems and I'm sick and feel like crap, everything will get better.

In other news, today I'm not teaching my class but instead am going to a training in another part of town. It's actually kind of funny and kind of sad (yes, a Tears for Fears reference) because I'm going to a training so I can get certified to teach for SAT Company what I've already taught at the college level. That is, I'm going to a three-hour training to specialize in what I have a PhD in. Oy. What a strange world. Of course, techniques for a test are different. And I'm glad to get certified in something else. This way I can teach some specialized courses. Maybe I can also tutor in this field. But oy, I wish I didn't feel like crap nine ways to Sunday today.

The air conditioner people are here, and it sounds like they are ripping things out of the wall. Absurdist Lover is out there taking care of it, and I'm hiding in the back room, surrounded by used tissues. This is not good. I'm living for the weekend -- when I have to work on my article revisions, which, surprise surprise, I have not worked on since Monday. I want to sleep for a week. Or at least get summers off.

The doctor's office called me, I think because I cancelled my genetic counseling appointment. I thought it was the amnio -- in fact I'm still not sure! They also did not even tell me that they'd made an appointment for me specifically for genetic counseling nor did they say anything about why I would want genetic counseling. I hate the medical profession, where they just send you in for stuff without telling you a damn thing about it. Also, this particular office is really disorganized, hence the lovely birth center that I have not been able to fix the money for because I am tired and sick and working basically all the time. Yes, I'm grumbly. I want to just curl up like Mr. Tabby (on my suitcase, if you can believe it -- as if he's saying: you're not going anywhere without me!) and sleep through everything.