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.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Blogging the Sick

which I hope is like blogging the lost.

Last night, my throat got sore on the left side. It actually started when I was in class, teaching the first real day of an intensive SAT class. And it got worse until this morning when it has exploded all over my throat. I think I'm getting sick.

It's not at all surprising. Right now, I wake up, rush over to the office, do whatever is needed there (lately I've been compiling the expenses on one account with a grumbly customer -- a bit stressful since everyone is stressed there), and then rushing off to teach my intensive SAT class -- an everyday sort of affair. It just started, but already I can't wait for the class to end. In addition to teaching, of course, I have to prep (daily) and do homework (daily). I also have my article revisions due next Wednesday. Oh no, only a week. I want to go to back to sleep. I'm exhausted. Last night, I had these pains that must've been Braxton-Hicks contractions because while I've certainly had gripping pain before, this didn't feel digestive in nature. The baby was kicking like he was going to come through my belly alien-style. When he (85% says the doctor, so I call it a "he" -- besides, if I end up having a girl, I won't be disappointed or anything) really gets going and kicks hard, it doesn't exactly hurt, but doesn't exactly feel great either. Maybe I'm just touchy right now. But it was scary to be gripped by pain and have to breathe through it because I thought maybe something was wrong -- no contractions at 23 weeks, thank you very much, no matter how much Absurdist Baby wants out. No Baby, we don't have a car seat yet. Forget it.

But he's going to be a handful, if his uterine antics are any indication. He'll be one of those toddlers who scoot across the room before you can say Jack Robinson. Oy. I hope I feel better then than I do now.

On the plus side, even though going from the office to teaching the SAT causes me mental whiplash, it's good that I have something going on besides that office. I was getting way too into its madness, coming home and telling Absurdist Lover all about the bs, from the boss who gives me his personal business to sort out to the idiot assistant. . .who is just an idiot. (By the way, I hereby make this proclamation: no more sports. I don't want to hear about whether "our team" will pull it out and "show up," and I don't want to be forced to listen to golf all day. Luckily, Absurdist Lover has no interest, even less interest than I do considering that at least once a decade, I get into watching NFL, but only West Coast offense, because to me a well-executed play looks like choreographed dance, which is also how I appreciate Jackie Chan films.)

Suffice it to say, I'm grumpy. That about covers it. And Absurdist Lover is asking me whether I want him to go out and get me food. Who is this man? He also made dinner last night as I was taking a break from homework to do battle with Word to format his resume nicely. When I complain about working so much and just being tired, he says he's trying to find a job. Of course, I want him to find a job and any job he gets (even some minimum-wage job) would make a big difference in our money situation, which would reduce our stress overall. But when I complain, I swear, I'm just complaining. Really I want to stay in bed all day. I'm exhausted. But it must weigh on him something awful.

We're also in the middle of a heat wave, and our air conditioner decided to give up. The maintenance people are supposed to come today and install a new one. For some reason, after a sweltering day, it decided to work again last night. I think it gets overheated and swoons, personally, which is what we all do once it decides not to work. Watching Tick stick his belly on the floor and pant is so sad!

All this said, the world has been very good to us lately. On Saturday, we were garage-saling and running some errands. We were hot and sweaty and weren't even in the mood to spend any more money. That morning, I had had a bout of terrible pregnancy insomnia, where I woke up at 4 and couldn't go back to sleep, an unfortunately all-too-common occurrence. (I swear it's having to get up to pee all the time!) I had looked online at baby furniture, including changing tables. So we were hitting this last garage sale only because it was a block or two from our place. When there was a traffic on a side street and I was struggling with some bad parallel parking (mine), Absurdist Lover said he hoped all this was worth it. As we approached, we saw a changing table. I jokingly said: is that for us? In fact it was. The woman there told us it was $100, out of our price range. (We had spent $6 on rugs earlier. Not that the changing table wasn't worth $100, but I wasn't really thinking we'd buy one right then. I figured that we'd pick one out and my folks would help us buy it.) Then she saw that I was pregnant and pulled me aside, saying she'd give me the changing table without the super-duper pad for $30 as a gift. I saw instantly that this was one of those times when the world was giving us a gift and we'd be stupid and ungrateful to not take it. She also threw in one of those baby rocker things that supposedly put babies to sleep (as featured with a vibrator in a Sex and the City episode, my friends) and a baby bath stand. When Absurdist Lover went back to pick up the changing table, she gave him the super-duper pad for $10 and threw in a shirt for me and a couple bibs. All I can say is that I realize how blessed we are. If you saw the room that we don't use right now, you'd think there was a baby explosion, complete with handmedown toys and a bassinet; in total, I think we've spent $43 on the whole thing -- $40 on the garage sale bounty and $3 on a little green sleeper that I had to have from Target. The generous woman's name was Valerie. THANK YOU VALERIE! THANK YOU GOD AND GENEROUS WORLD! THANK YOU ABSURDIST LOVER FOR GOING OUT AND GETTING ME FANCY COFFEE AND A BAGEL.

I have nothing to complain about. But of course that's never stopped me before. I totally recognize that I'm often one of those people who start to obsess about something because I need a focus. (Totally ADD.) What will become of Absurdist Lover and me is my latest obsession.

Oy gevalt. I just received a message saying that I had an amnio and genetic counseling appointment, the first one my doctor's inept office made for me before I insisted that they go somewhere else because it was going to be too late (this is before I thought better of the whole thing and felt more assured that an amnio wasn't really necessary). It took three people to cancel the damn appointment! You'd think I was trying to get out of paying a traffic ticket! If one more stranger says something like "you have to understand" about this pregnancy, I may scream. Well, that sense of peace and gratitude didn't last long, did it?

Cross your fingers I don't get full-blown sick. I need this weekend to work on the article and send Absurdist Lover to see his kids without having a nervous breakdown. (Let's just say that the last time he went and came back, things.did.not.go.well.)

Here's Absurdist Lover with my food. What a sweetie. No wonder I'm so afraid of losing him. Sigh.

Coming soon: an exploration of why my family's craziness makes me so ridiculously bonkers. Also, I'm sure, more blogging about the evils of article-writing.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

No Amnio for Me!

First of all, I want to thank y'all for the support. Absurdist Lover and I went in to the doctor's on Monday and expressed our concerns about the amnio. The doctor affirmed that the only reason he was advocating it, since we have no intention of aborting, was because "it's good to know what you're getting" -- that is, if the baby is going to need an operation or neonatal intensive care, then one can make better choices about where to have it. This is the only reasoning that made sense to me, which left me in a conundrum. But that morning I had made an appointment to have a tour through one of the only birth centers I could find in this town (so strange to me since this state has such a granola-y reputation, yet birth centers have gone by the wayside big time here). So I called them and asked about whether because I am thirty-five they'd have reservations about my giving birth in a birthing center. They said that if I were really worried about the baby that I could have a 3-D ultrasound, something my doctor hadn't even mentioned! The people at the birthing center told me that if the state had found my AFP test to be abnormal, even they wouldn't send me directly to have an amnio, which costs between $2,000-3,000 -- the state would get me a 3-D ultrasound next and only if that showed bad findings would I get an amnio. But my AFP was completely normal, and the state isn't advocating or paying for any further studies. "It sounds like your doctor is just advocating a very invasive procedure," the birthing center people said. Yes, yes, and yes. I know he's doing his best, but going through an amnio because I'm thirty-five and this passes some artificial line in the sand is ridiculous. I cancelled my amnio.

Absurdist Lover and I went to our tour appointment today -- and this birth center is pretty wonderful. The birthing rooms basically look like bed and breakfast rooms. It's pretty amazing how totally different the center is from the doctor's office. We spoke with the midwives and others -- it looks pretty wonderful. Of course, we have to figure out the money. Absurdist Lover is being pretty amazing about the whole thing. Though his other two children were born in hospitals, he is totally supportive of me having the experience that I want to have. He doesn't demean my intensity about finding an "alternative birth" at all, which I find amazing because a woman I know well has told me that the birth experience really doesn't matter at all -- at the end of the day you have your baby. A friend of mine said that she wanted to have her baby at home, but her insurance wouldn't pay for it -- and it wasn't worth it for them to pay the extra $4,000. I must be a class A bangladeshgranolahead, because I think it does matter. I think the baby will have an easier time of it if I'm as mellow and relaxed as possible. It's my body that this baby has to get through and if I'm tense and worried and scared because I've made this kind of huge compromise and feel I'm out of control and in the hands of over-zealous doctors who look at me as just another pile of flesh, well, I just think that the baby will have a harder time. Whatever. No one else really has to understand, except that we're going have to borrow the money to pay the birth center upfront and then get reimbursed (somewhat) by the insurance. But I'm not going to deal with that today. Too tired now.

But here's an interesting scary disgusting fact: the midwife said that as of June 2008 Urban Home City has a 70% Caesarean rate. (Can I just say that both of the women I mentioned earlier had Caesareans? One had an emergency C-section and then a second scheduled one, by her own choice because she could have tried for VBAC. The other had a C-section for her second baby with a vaginal delivery for the first.) Even if that figure is totally high, 30% would be too much. I've read some articles on the internet about the vast popularity of C-sections, as a choice! Oy! Not what I'm looking for. Not if it can be avoided.

(I guess I find a lot of this just shocking. I grew up in the 70s, and I guess I expected that once we'd started figuring out that there wasn't better living through chemistry that we'd continue on a natural, organic, green path. Organic is so trendy now, but natural childbirth is somehow out of fashion. It's more fashionable to schedule your C-section around your travel schedule. You can go to Whole Foods on a regular basis, concerned about your health and the environment, but birth centers are closing. Gas prices are through the roof, every other car is a Prius, but people are going crazy and declaring it an "epidemic" that tomatoes farmed in industrial pesticide-laden big business farms have been swimming around in vats of salmonella'd water. Don't we all know that we should be eating local organic produce anyway??? That the tomatoes making the news are not from your local farmer's market. I'm so confused.)

In other getting-our-shit-together news, Mr. Tabby has an appointment with a new doctor, recommended by my sister. Strangely, he does not seem to be excited about this news. Can't say as I blame him.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Why I Am Leaning toward Cancelling My Amnio

I have a number of posts cooking in my brain, including one on locovore eating and my newish farmer's market obsession, fueled by listening to Barbara Kingsolver et al's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle on CD over and over again (neuroticism anyone? see below). Which is feeding into my farming fascination, leading me to put a photo I took of a peahen and peachick on my wallpaper. Also, I think, a post admitting that I am a complete and total geek and have started playing World of Warcraft with geeky Absurdist Lover. It's fun. I admit it. I haven't played an MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role playing game) since Everquest. And yes, I used to play D&D as a young person (advanced, not second edition, which should tell my fellow geeks how old I am). A wireless router, more memory for my ailing my laptop, and a WoW subscription were all the result of our having sold the trailer!!! YAY!!! So we're not quite so poor at the moment -- and I'm starting a new SAT intensive class in a week, so money will become more plentiful as free time grows scarce. (No, I haven't worked on the article. I have been fantastically tired and ill-feeling lately. Not good.)

But what I want to think through and articulate is why I'm now leaning away from going through with my scheduled amnio. Let me back up and tell this wee story. I don't think of having a baby as an illness in need of medical intervention. I also have historic problems with the medical industry on a couple of fronts. One is that western medicine tends to cut people up into parts, not paying enough attention to the interactions between systems. I have been diagnosed with IBS since I was ten (I prefer the term spastic colon, because it really does seem that my G-I tract is a spaz), but I could never get a doctor to agree that my symptoms are worse during my period. It was not until a nurse practioner at Planned Parenthood seemed to take me seriously that it all came together: during one's period, one gets uterine contractions which, she said, could very well affect one's digestive functioning. Not thinking through the interactions between bodily systems when one is pregnant seems a serious oversight to me -- because pregnancy is a full-body experience. Nothing feels the same in my body right now. Also, I'm suspicious of the cut-now, ask questions later approach of many in the medical profession. I don't at all deny that medical science does absolutely amazing things, but my experience is that medical science is just much better at acute rather than chronic or preventative care. If at all possible, I don't want a c-section or episiotomy. In fact, I would really like a care provider who treated me like a person who has some knowledge about my own body while addressing my concerns in an individualized and warm way. So, I want a midwife at a birth center, which seems like the most sensible compromise between my hippie longing for a home birth and the dreaded hospital.

But then there is lack of money and insurance. I finally got insurance in May. I'm due in October. This is not optimal. I looked around for birth centers and the rare midwives who deliver in hospitals covered by my insurance. Though they were listed on the website, which I'm told is the most reliable list, some birth centers are no longer birth centers, and the midwife groups don't exist anymore. In fact, I spent some very aggravating (which is to say weepy) afternoons calling numbers where no one answered. Finally, I got so desperate that I made an appointment at a place that used to be a birth center with a doctor(!), who is male (!). I've never had a male OB-GYN. I just don't really want to talk to anyone about my femaleness with anyone who understands what I'm saying clinically and as the result of study and observation, but cannot personally relate. But I was that desperate to know whether the baby was okay -- and so I just sort of went in there and did it.

Really, I've never felt so vulnerable and clueless in my life. My body, whose habits I've long been investigating and playing with, has grown foreign to me. (I crave cheese. My normal body can't deal with cheese. My normal body can't deal with the amount of dairy I now consume. Pregnant body deals with everything but overload. Weird.) I've had to talk myself down from the walls in order to not totally tense up when I think of birthing this baby. Reading a lot of birth stories in a wonderful midwifery book that totally articulates the kind of birth experience I'd really like for the baby and me to have really helps. Though I'm only five plus months, I'm wobbly on my feet and feel like I can't navigate my own body terribly well. Not to mention, I look down and don't recognize this huge belly that strangers probably still think is the natural outcome of an addiction to Ben & Jerry's. (Actually the Ben & Jerry's is also the baby's fault. And Absurdist Lover's too. He loves his ice cream. He is one of the few men who has a really well-developed sweet tooth. It's very bad. Very tasty. Very bad. But there's no danger that I'm not getting enough dairy.) I never really realized how in my body I really live until now when I pretty much feel like I'm trapped or at least swaddled in a body that doesn't feel like mine. Add all this to some serious mental fog, a normal part of pregnancy some call "mommy brain," and I'm not at all feeling strong and alert. It's been very tempting to just ride along the medical train with this doctor who seems to have it all figured out and in whom I can just turn over crucial decisions. And up until now I've basically been doing that, figuring that once I was sure the baby was okay, I'd go ahead and find myself a birth center and midwife who will deal with my insurance. (Frankly, the work of finding a midwife and all that and then dealing with the insurance stuff has just seemed like one more item on an impossible to-do list.)

But here's the thing: this is not the kind of mother I want to be, just relying on a medical profession I've never trusted to make decisions for me and my baby because I'm too tired to deal with it. This industry also hands out prescriptions for medicines that have not been tested for long enough and then has to issue black-box warnings (Depo-Provera, which I was on for years before anyone knew or mentioned that, oh, by the way, it reduces bone density, and you really shouldn't be on it for more than 18 months for your whole life), recalls, and other crap. So this doctor said that because I'm thirty-five, I should have an amnio (it being way too late for CVS, another genetic test). Thirty-five is the magic number when you're pregnant. This is when they start scaring you with Down's Syndrome and other problems. For a few weeks I was eager to get an amnio to "find out if the baby is okay," but I see now that this may be stupid. The likelihood of Down's Syndrome for a woman of thirty-five is 1 in 400 or .25%. But according to the Dr. Sears' website, the chance of harming the baby from the amnio itself is 1 in 100. Separately from that, there is also a slight chance of miscarriage after the amnio -- slight, but still above .25%. Now, I realize that for many people their need to know about Down's and other chromosomal defects would seriously outweigh their concerns about these teeny-weeny chances of problems from an amnio. But I'm 22 weeks. I've felt this baby kick -- a lot. Even if I found out something awful from an amnio, I couldn't abort this baby now. It's a baby to me. Not a collection of cells that would do better not to be alive and born. If I have a special needs baby, so be it. So the real question is: do I want to know now? Or do I want to wait and count fingers and toes like every other mother since the dawn of time? Even if they found nothing from the amnio, there still could be problems. There's just no way to know, no way to be 100% reassured. So can I just trust that this is the baby I'm supposed to have and let go of knowing? Or will it freak me out more to not know? This is the question I've been playing with every moment that I'm not distracted by something else. Absurdist Lover will support either decision. I'm scared both ways. I'm scared of the amnio, but I also don't want to be irresponsible (aka "overly hippie-dippy") to the baby. I also feel like I can barely justify my own fears of the amnio and leaning toward the do-nothing-and-let-nature-take-its-course school of thinking to some of my most confrontational family members. (I have to save my strength for the nearly inevitable -- because the doctor thinks the baby is a boy as a result of the ultrasound -- "yes, I'm a Jew, but there is no way I'm allowing a knife to come within two feet of my baby's penis" discussion.) One thing that has made me feel like maybe I'm not being totally hippie-dippy, but just smart in weighing all the evidence is that the Drs. and RN Sears still say, after William and Martha Sears had a Down's Syndrome baby: "we believe that it is unwarranted to scare a thirty-five-year-old mother into prenatal diagnostic tests (either amniocentesis or chorionic villi sampling)." So maybe I won't have that amnio, scheduled for Tuesday, after all. On Monday, that is, tomorrow, I see my doctor. And I have to get over that deer-in-the-headlights thing that happens every time I'm there if I'm going to tell him that I'm refusing an amnio because I have no intention of aborting this baby no matter what the outcome. I worry that if I do have an amnio, it's because I'm just too scared to hold onto my own convictions or too tired to fight. This is not the kind of mother I want to be, bowled over by other people's scare tactics and ideas of what I should do. I believe that now is the time to take a stand -- and to work to get the kind of care that I want so that this baby can be born into the best situation that I can imagine. Isn't being a good mother having the strength and guts to do what I think is right after I've weighed all the options and evidence, no matter how many people (family, doctors, etc.) urge me in other directions, no matter how tired I am, no matter how much I would just like to sort of sleep through the whole thing?

I realize in rereading this how much of this decision is really about me just feeling beaten down and impoverished and having to do things the way that others want me to. I just don't feel strong and centered enough to be able to confront doctors and family. Well, that has got to change. This baby needs a strong and centered mother. I may get overwhelmed and teary very easily and not be able to remember words, but am I really so mentally foggy that I can't rely on my own brain and heart? Maybe I just need to make more time for mental processing -- as in, maybe I'm should be writing and blogging more! Hmmmm.

Of course, feel free to weigh in. But don't be mean. I cry really easily now!

No Surprises Here

In fact, I was pretty embarrassed when I read the intro to the quiz, complete with nail-biting (yes, even at the age of 35, I'm an inveterate nail-biter), thinking that the "suggestion to 'relax' is as laughable as the command 'sprout wings and fly," and sarcasm as a "conversational tool." So embarrassed at being so known that I had to read it to Absurdist Lover to explain why my blood pressure rises every time he says "relax." I'm neurotic, dude! I can't relax on command!

Seen at Khora's.

Your Score: The True Neurotic

You scored 59 anxiety, 73 awkwardness, and 59 neuroticism!

Congratulations, you are The True Neurotic, you nail-biting, conflict-avoiding worrier, you. You're plagued by self-doubt and anxiety, which makes social activity hard--even though you may be well-liked, you feel under a storm of silent criticism. It doesn't help that people give you funny looks for organizing all your pens by color or sharpening your gnawed pencils to a delicate point.

Your high anxiety score implies that you are unable to relax, worry about the future often, and probably are plagued by irrational fears and self-doubt.

Your high awkwardness score implies that you are socially inept, probably stick out from the crowd, and feel uncomfortable in large groups of people, such as at parties.

Your high neuroticism score implies that you exhibit neurotic behaviors--probably organization, fanatic obsessions (can you recite the entire first LOTR movie?), repetitive mantras, constant checking, or orderly rituals.

See the other results!
The Neat Freak
The Dork
The Geek
The Subtle Neurotic
The True Neurotic

Link: The Neurotic Test written by littlelostsnail on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test
View My Profile(littlelostsnail)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Mantra for Days Like These

when both of the office workers are gone and I'm printing crap out because the bosses are too busy and important to do it:

I'm a college professor. I'm a college professor. I'm a college professor.

(Did I mention that I'm supposed to do bookkeeping, not secretarial junk?)

I'm a college professor. I'm a college professor. I'm a college professor.

(Yes, I am at work, blogging on their computer. Yes, I do need to stop now because I have to resize an Excel spreadsheet so it doesn't print out on four pages.)

I'm a college professor. I'm a college. . .AGGGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Easing Back into My Academic Self, One Blogpost at a Time

I need to blog more. I'm getting to the point where I think I have to have something to say in order to blog. This has never stopped me before!

I'm stressed today. I went to work and had two stress-filled conversations and either because I'm hormone-addled or radically de-centered or both, I totally internalized them. I need to become more able to shrug things off, less susceptible to whatever crap people say. The fact is everyone's doing the best we can and that's the end of it.

The good news is I'm 21 weeks pregnant, blood tests have come back negative (I'm so brain-befogged that it took me a couple wide-eyed blinks to register that this was a good thing), and I can feel the baby kick. It's amazing how much being kicked at from the inside really does feel like there's a separate being in there. I had wondered if it would hurt or if I would seize up and make it an unpleasant experience or if it would be easy to confuse with the g-i tract pain I've wrestled with for most of my life. The answer is: no. It feels like my belly is the inside of a drum. Absurdist Fetus kicks at all sorts of times -- and when this happens at work I can't believe I'm supposed to pretend that it isn't happening and focus on all this crap going on outside of my body. All the cool stuff is going on inside my belly.

In the spirit of counting my blessings (before getting on with the inevitable kvetching, you understand), we also live in a lovely apartment, Mr. Tabby seems to be very content, and we're getting a bunch of interest in the trailer that we emphatically did NOT get last week, when we were praying that we'd sell it in time to not have to ask my folks for the rent. Well, I did ask them for the rent and they gave it, another blessing -- and this week, it looks like the trailer may well sell to any one of five or so different prospective buyers. Let's not count our chickens yet, but please cross your fingers. The trailer not selling has been a thorn in our sides, making it really hard for Absurdist Lover to focus on getting a job (which provokes family members to comment on their "expectations" of him, stressing me out, like today -- though of course I want him to get a job too, but really trying to explain that he really is no slouch but it's impossible to do everything at once -- GAH!!!! it just plain drives me crazy). You see how easily I've gone from the counting of blessings to the kvetching. Oy.

Fundamentally, I'm just not centered. When any little thing happens, I'm thrown. I get overwhelmed easily. Last week, I ended up crying in the bathroom at the office. Absurdist Lover and I had awoken that day thinking this was the day we were going to sell the trailer. There was this buyer who had offered $1,000 less than what we asked. Then the next day, he had offered $1,000 less than that. We didn't have a lot of buyers, and we needed the rent money like mad, so we agreed. Then the schmuck showed up at Lake Campground offering $1,500 less. Absurdist Lover sent him on his way. When AL called, I was already having a shitty stressful day. Hence, crying.

I've decided that I need wireless. I feel different when I can sit at my laptop and write or work, as I'm doing now (pirating off some wonderful generous neighbor's wireless). Since AL loves to play online games, we are sharing the one desktop. I think I'll just feel better if I can connect with academic conversations via unrestricted internet access (restricted by my asking to use his computer -- he doesn't say no or anything, but somehow it's easier not to ask, especially when I just want to putz around in cyberspace). So with Friday's paycheck, a wireless router.

I have two weeks before a SAT course I've been signed up for may begin. (It may not run at all, though usually people sign up at the last minute, so we're not sure they'll run until then.) I have to be prepared that my free time will radically diminish at that point -- especially, the time in which I have to revise this article I've been putting off. The official turn-in date for the revised article is a mere 10 days after that anyway. Have I started? Why no. Of course not. Is it likely that getting back into my own work will help me center myself? Why, of course. But do I want to look at their feedback? Why no. So because of the various reasons I need to get myself back in the academic mindset (this article, the fact that I really should have three articles on my CV by the dreaded Fall Job Market, the dreaded Fall Job Market that I need to prepare materials for), I have decided to make more of a commitment to blogging. Blogging makes me feel more connected. And I don't feel at all connected to the academy right now. No one in my daily life sees me as this professorial academic person. I'm a bookkeeper, a pregnant girlfriend, a family member. But not an academic and writer. (Okay, Absurdist Lover sees me as a writer and is always pleased when he sees that I'm writing. But it's hard to write when there's someone else at home. Moreover, it's hard to write when you don't have a self you can write from, a voice that feels like your own because everything, even your body, is in a state of dynamic transition. This is probably stupid and untrue, but it really feels this way, that my life is too changeable for me to. . .I don't know. . .know my own mind, to do much else but try to get through it.) I'm amazed at how much I depend on other people to remind me of important parts of myself, like being a writer and academic. I wish I were a stronger person, more grounded, less shaky. Instead, I'm very flexible. This makes it easier to cope with different situations, but makes it much less likely that I'll get academic or writerly work done when not in the kind of environment that values such work. (When I was working on the diss -- a mere year ago -- I didn't have so many other demands on my time, so I could focus on it even when I wasn't teaching. Not that I didn't have terrible days, but I also had amazing days, and I was surrounded by people who were also academics, also hating life for the same reasons I did.) In countless personality profiles (some astrological and numerological, some more grounded in real things, like Myers-Briggs), it says that I'm the kind of person who really needs to remember that she's more than the faces she wears. Why is this so hard to remember? In any case, it is. I have to make time for academic work and writing, for feeding myself in those ways through reading, participating in those conversations that have consumed me for the last five years and then somehow flown out the window. (Have I mentioned that I have only a fraction of my books, still very little of my stuff, that despite that I own gorgeous furniture and a bed and all sorts of things, we sleep on a fold-out loaned to us by my parents? I'm grateful, but. . .) All of my memberships have lapsed. People are doing wonderful things in my field. People a year behind me have gotten tenure-track jobs. I'm happy for them, but I feel like an academic loser. I think this makes me want to focus even more on being pregnant and gardening and being with Absurdist Lover. And then it's a bad cycle that feeds on itself as I focus less and less on the academy and feel worse and worse about it. I feel the same way about writing, which has not been the focus of my life for quite a while now. Somehow I feel like wireless is a step in the right direction for all this. Maybe I'm nuts, but we'll see.

I think right now I'm going to look quickly at the comments that the editors sent me. I know that they are not going to say, it's wonderful, dahling, don't change a thing. So I'm just going to buck up and hope that they also don't say: you're a hack and just forget about ever getting a job in this field. I know I'm going to be sad after I read them. Just knowing this makes me feel better about looking at them. I better do this now, or I'll lose my nerve.


I'm an idiot. Any worries about the fact that the article isn't fabulous are completely outweighed by how wonderful it is to get back into my work, work that still feels to me to be important and vital and alive. I want to wake up one morning and get to be an academic all day long, none of this going into the office and then hoping that I have a smidgeon of energy left over for it. I need to build that job into a three-day per week gig, which will also allow me more mental disconnection from the bullshit when I'm actually there. I'm a professor, damn it. I just happen to be currently at large, rather than connected to a specific university. So there. Yay! The answer, my friends, even when I was at Adventure U and felt pretty disconnected from the conversations that really jazz me, is the work itself. I love teaching, but I also really love the intellectual and exploratory work of scholarship. I need to remember this when I start applying for those 4/4 teaching loads out of desperation in the fall. (Of course, not all 4/4s or academics are alike: look at Dr. Crazy!) I guess it's good that I decided against going out for those 5/5 community college jobs.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Oh, Bird.

Found, as ever, at Maude's place. I don't think this is right. Surely, with my crazed nesting and cooking lately, I should be Cookie Monster. And with the camper not selling (!) so we don't have money, I'm a great contender for Oscar the Grouch! But here it is.

Your Score: Snuffleupagus

You scored 66% Organization, 60% abstract, and 64% extroverted!

This test measured 3 variables.

First, this test measured how organized you are. Some muppets like Cookie Monster make big messes, while others like Bert are quite anal about things being clean.

Second, this test measured if you prefer a concrete or an abstract viewpoint. For the purposes of this test, concrete people are considered to gravitate more to mathematical and logical approaches, whereas abstract people are more the dreamers and artistic type.<

Third, this test measured if you are more of an introvert or an extrovert. By definition, an introvert concentrates more on herself and an extrovert focuses more on others. In this test an introvert was somebody that either tends to spend more time alone or thinks more about herself.

You are somewhat organized, both concrete and abstract, and both introverted and extroverted.

I bet you didn't think you were Snuffleupagus. Let's find out why.

You are both somewhat organized. You have a good idea where you put things and you probably keep your place reasonably clean. You aren't totally obsessed with neatness though. Alloyius Snuffleupagus (and all Snuffleupagus') is not sloppy by nature, but he moves so incredibly slowly that it is impossible for him to be totally organized.

You both are about equally concrete and abstract thinkers. You have a good balance in your life. You know when to be logical at times, but you also aren't afraid to explore your dreams and desires... within limits of course. Snuffy generally has very basic interests, but he explores his abstract sensitive side when he plays his snuffleflute.

You both are somewhat introverted. Originally Snuffleupagus was very shy and was only Big Bird's invisible friend. However as he has aged he has started to build new friendships with new characters. Like Snuffy, you probably like to have some time to yourself. However, you do appreciate spending time with your friends, and you aren't scared of social situations.

The other possible characters are

Oscar the Grouch

Big Bird

Cookie Monster



Kermit the Frog


The Count

Guy Smiley