Sunday, August 24, 2014

Update from the Other Side

I opened this blank post and am confounded.  So much has changed.  And I feel like I can only speak in declarative sentences -- telegrams really -- because I finished my tenure materials today.

Yes.  Done. 

Thank goodness.  I don't ever want to see those binders again.  I know I will -- responding is, of course, part of the process -- but I don't want to.  You know what?  People will promise you letters and then not deliver on time, even a week late.  I didn't realize that.  I thought mostly people did what I did, which is do everything -- or at least way too much (notice that I finished my tenure materials on Sunday afternoon, not late the day they were due, partly because I just had to finally finish the damn thing) at the very last minute.  But when presented with a reminder, I'd haul a** because I don't want to screw anyone else up.  Anyway.  One person is someone who regularly wants something for me and wants me to jump like right now and could I please have this thing done in two days even though I'm swamped with other work?  Such is the BS that a tenure-track person puts up with.  Has to put up with.  Ugh.  Well, I may not be available for that anymore. 

We're in our house, and Absurdist Partner is just a wizard at getting us moved in.  We didn't have internet until yesterday, so that was troubling -- and I kept on thinking of blogposts that right now totally escape me, of course.

But here we are!  Finally!  At the beginning of a thousand home projects to get this place to what we wanted it to be -- somewhere between a farm and a very productive kitchen garden with chickens.  It's lovely here.  I just stare out the window at the pond and feel so at peace.   

Absurdist Child had his last day of camp -- and it was sad because it was the last day of the school he's been at for the last two and a half years.  We're going to miss them -- and they are going to miss him.  He's a very special kid.  They're constantly noting how smart he is.  (And no one could miss him because he talks all.the.time.  He comes by it honestly.  I was like that too -- so much so that my mother played me a song that went "you talk too much.  You worry me to death.")  Now, he and I are going to be together for the next five or so weeks before my quarter begins.  We'll see how that goes.  For the record, AC just addressed his letter to Santa because he wants to make sure that Santa knows what he wants.  (This is because we won't get AC absolutely every Pixar Cars and Planes toy ever made.)  We're also watching Finding Nemo, which I think is far and away the best Pixar film.  It's about parenting.  And Ellen Degeneres as Dory, who I take as my personal guru.  Just keep swimming, I've been telling myself through buying a house, moving in, and tenure madness.  (When I am totally depressed and really need to laugh, I watch Ellen Degeneres' stand-up.  Even knowing all the jokes, I find myself laughing so hard it hurts.  I recommend this to anyone who is sick or down.)  And did you know that there will finally be a sequel?

So expect that there will be posts about homeschooling and homesteading/gardening.  And tenure as my materials move through the process.  Ooh, and I want to write about Wild Kratts! 

Happy Sunday!  Happy first day for many of you, Semesterites. 

I shall call him Squishy and he shall be mine and he shall be my Squishy.          


Monday, August 11, 2014

Can We Panic Yet?

Tenure stuff due in two weeks.  Big move to our new house in six days.  Absurdist Partner is a wizard with packing, so we'll be ready for the movers, no thanks to me.  But each day this week is a jumble of tasks from both lists -- and then there's all we don't know, like when exactly the sellers will move out.  Tenure wakes me up in the morning.  It also makes me incredibly grouchy and short-tempered.  Just tenure me already.  Or don't.  I no longer care.  I just have to get this dossier into some kind of shape, and once that's done (which includes an emergency shipment from Amazon because it turns out I can't find a particular journal with a piece of mine in it -- even with AP's amazing packing and repacking abilities), I get the infinite joy of wrangling with tabs and printers and making things look nice.  The printer in my office decided that after I bought new ink cartridges (four!!) was the perfect time to develop a hiccup in printing, so now I have this big hulking thing on my work desk that is good for nothing.  When I see it, I want to hurl it out the window Julia-style.  (Lillian Hellman was so frustrated she threw her typewriter out the window.)  So I'm bringing in our home printer, which is small enough to be portable.  This brings up the good question of why I need to be on campus in the first place -- after all, being on campus during the summer makes me grumpy, but it's another half hour back home (at least this week -- next week it will be longer), and I need that hour. 

To show for this summer, I will have tenure binders and a new home.  But so far I haven't prepped my fall classes, and, sadly, I haven't been able to take any real time off.  (I've taken off a day or two when I've felt too awful to go on, but what I mean is the very image of summer:  spending the day reading or watching TV or doing something else that has nothing to do with being productive and everything to do with just being.  Oh dear angels of tenure, please let me get a day or two like that next week.  After next week, Absurdist Child is home and we'll have to figure out how we're going to homeschool while giving Mommy some time to prep her classes.  We will have a couple weeks off -- two or three -- before his art and music classes kick in, so that's good at least.)  I really would've liked to have felt refreshed before the term started.  Maybe the new house will magically make me feel refreshed rather than inundated with tasks.  Here's hoping.

Have a good week everyone.   

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Long Dispatch from the Summer of Change

This is the summer of change.

First, a house update:  we bought a house!  I'm on the title and loan and everything.  It's crazy.  Two years ago, I couldn't qualify for a home loan.  I felt like they were wagging their fingers at me and saying yes, you can do the bills, maintaining Absurdist Partner's good credit rating, and work your ass off as a professor and do all the mom stuff on top of it, putting all your own needs and writing on the back burner, but still:  no house for you.  So this year it was amazing when I found out I qualified for a loan.  We did finally see a house that wasn't totally hopeless, though it had no fireplace, which is huge for us, and. . .get this. . .bought it.  It wasn't that easy, of course, and we were walking on eggshells every moment the underwriters were staring at our accounts (though the most amazing thing happened and my credit card limit got doubled, so that saved us), but finally we closed on it and everything.  We're homeowners!  AP and I look at each other and say this occasionally just to remind ourselves.  And we need reminding because we have not been able to move in yet.  When we closed two weeks ago, the word was that they would probably have more news in a week but we haven't heard one word.  Our agent is on the case, so it's not hir.  The sellers just haven't even gotten back to us  -- even to say they are not sure.  I mean, I'm sympathetic -- moving is tough and they are moving out of state and it's super-hard to arrange all that, having done it myself several times.  But picking up the phone and saying sorry but we don't know isn't that difficult.  Luckily it's unnecessary to like the previous owners of one's house.  I'll be smudging the place with a super-powered smudge stick to get rid of their mojo anyway -- they had some sayings on the wall that I find completely wrong-headed.

No matter:  we will eventually move in and the house and its land (two acres with a pond) will allow us to indulge our homesteading fantasies!  It's also small enough to keep us from getting too crazy.  We probably can't keep sheep, for example, which I was totally thinking about because I love to crochet (poorly).  (And I LOVE lamb, though I think I'd have a really difficult time killing any animal I'd raised, which is why we're really focusing on laying hens, super-gardening, and self-sufficiency issues like solar powering some of our power use.)  So coming soon on Absurdist Paradise:  adventures in homesteading!

All this just in time for Absurdist Child's transition from Montessori to homeschooling!  So expect more on that as well.  (Believe it or not, I got really into reading about homeschooling gifted kids and gathering resources and stuff last year, so I feel pretty prepared for this.  I'm excited about this adventure.)

So last week, I finally finished moving into my new office at work, complete with windows!  And I'd been listening to David Allen's Getting Things Done for two or three months already so instead of moving the way I usually do -- throw it in a box and deal with it later, an unspecified date that doesn't necessarily exist in this reality -- I was inspired to organize all the loose paper in my office into one alphabetized reference file.  So basically, excepting the usual piles of student papers and the file folders of individual classes I've taught (what can I tell you:  I love file folders), my office stuff is completely organized for the first time in five years.  It looks pretty nice (though it could use a rug and some nice wallhangings and a couple very long cords for routing cords along the wall rather than through the middle of the floor where someday I will klutz out and trip and fall and break my neck).   

Then, in the evenings after AC was asleep when I usually do a whole lot of nothing or watch the same movies over and over, I decided I wanted to organize all the papers at home, which had been accumulating into a pile.  It took me three nights, but I finally organized three years of bill stubs and random papers into a file folder box.  My organization level has reached insane proportions.  I think I have earned a proficiency in file folders.  (For the uninitiated into such geekdom:  that's a D&D joke.)

Oh, and I've been vegan for a week (and plan to continue) to detox my system because of health issues.  I had gotten to the point where I needed a couple chai lattes just to manage normal life and still felt awful -- and I'm sick of feeling awful.  I'm super pudgy now and uncomfortable in my body.  When I was in grad school, I did Marilu Henner's Body Victory, which is actually very health-oriented, and I went from pudgy to svelte.  I went vegan because I'm concerned about these chest pains (Tietze syndrome, but scary just the same), and I saw Forks over Knives and thought if there is any heart/circulatory issue (suggested by this terrible leg pain I'm having that could be neuropathy, but may also just be tarsel tunnel, which I had two years ago) I'd be best off giving up meat and dairy and most processed foods.  But this is not permanent, and I know it.  I will definitely eat Ben and Jerry's again, especially now that they've gone GMO-free.  For the first couple days, I felt awful, but then I got through that and now I just find it difficult to find things to eat considering that I live in let's-put-cheese-sauce-on-everything-and-get-fat midwest.  There are just few Cheesecake Factory kinds of places (yes, the cheesecake is verboten, but just one of their salads would make me so happy) here.  It's all cheese and meat and heaviness here food-wise.  I saw a wonderful organic place close up shop in the time I've been here.  There'll be even fewer food options when we move because we've moved to the country where the liquor store closes at 7.  On the other hand, we'll have the ability to grow our own fabulous salad -- and we'll be close to two organic farms as well.         

Finally, there's going up for tenure.  With all this other stuff going on, it feels a bit like another hoop instead of a momentous fraught event I should freak out for.  My materials are due soon, right when Absurdist Child's camp ends, so I'm highly motivated to get everything done early so I can have a little vacation of my own.  I really need it because I've been working so hard and would like to feel refreshed before classes start again.  I've been thinking and working on tenure things for six months, so right now it mostly feels like just putting things together.  I do need to write up some important stuff too, but I have a draft and some ideas still in my head.  Some of the things I'd wanted to do that are not required I've given up on.  There are a number of factors for my present feeling about tenure stuff:  with all this other stuff, it's just one more thing I need to get done; I kind of rocked the last year and everyone I talk to seems to think I'm a shoo-in; even I, who am afflicted with low self-esteem and a lifelong abhorrence of counting my chickens before they're hatched, sort of feel like they'd be idiotic to not award me tenure because then who'd they get to do all this crap; but finally I've been thinking a lot about writing and how I picked this career so I'd be able to write more but after five years I still haven't gotten the project done that I want to, so I wonder if I wouldn't be better off -- more fulfilled if less financially secure -- if I don't get tenure.  All this is keeping me from panicking, which is good, because I'm prone to panic.  (I'm not so crazy that I'm shooting myself in the foot though, not to worry.  Something in me loves hoops, loves the feedback, so unlike writing where the only feedback you get is cold businessy rejection letter.)  So tomorrow I embark on cranking out everything I can crank out with the hopes that in a week or two I will soon be able to hang out and watch TV until I'm sick of hanging out and want to get back to something real and important.  For now, I'm just tired.  AP is rocking the packing, and I am just sitting here writing.  How lovely.

Hope you're all having a lazy Sunday!