Acade(me)

The dissertation was only the beginning.

People & Places
T: Amazing Husband
ST: Three-year-old Wonder
Prof. G: Advisor I
Prof. C: Advisor II
Julie: Stylish Sister
Rob: Awesome Brother
Belle: Our Cat
Bill: Grumbling BIL
Rita: Uncomplicated SIL
SMU: Smallish Midwestern University
Doctoral University: where I got my Ph.D.
Technical
Blogwise - blog directory
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academeblog AT gmail.com
Quote of the Day
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Moving On
I started this blog when I was in the throes of dissertation-writing back in July 2005. I wanted an outlet for airing my frustrations about the writing process, but the blog quickly evolved into a more personal statement. If you're a regular reader, you know bits about my life, my family, my struggles and my triumphs. For the most part, I've been pleased to share these things with you and also pleased to read about your lives on your blogs.

Lately, though, I've felt reluctant to write and reluctant to read. Reluctant because I felt like this blog was pulling away from its original purpose and was turning into precisely the type of blog I didn't want it to be. I've also felt reluctant to read a lot of blogs over the past few months because the writing didn't seem honest anymore. That's probably not even true and only makes sense to me, but suddenly a lot of blog-writing seemed artificial to me. In part, I think that's what anonymity or semi-anonymity does. I felt like I was reading (and even becoming) a blogging "character" instead of a real person behind a screen. That's uncomfortable to me, both as a writer and a reader.

At any rate, this is my final post on this blog. I will keep blogging, but as myself and on a site with controlled access. I would very much like to allow access to some of my long-term readers and blogging friends; if you, too, would like to read on the new site, please send an email to academeblog AT gmail DOT com. That way, even if you don't wish to reveal your identity to me, I can be very much myself with you. And I'd be happy to do it.
Posted with care by Prof. Me @ 11/29/2006 10:35:00 PM   12 comments
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Blissfully Long Weekend
Tomorrow another work week begins and I am definitely not in the right frame of mind for it. I've been reluctantly writing lectures all afternoon -- I cannot even bring myself to finish the last one for my Senior Seminar because it's just taking too much out of me. I've had to keep reminding myself all day that there are really only two more "real" weeks left in the semester; my final exams are scheduled for December 13 and 15. Then I'll have another blissful long break but still... after this short teaser break I'm completely unmotivated to work even two short weeks.

Our Thanksgiving break was lovely, positively lovely. Corinne, Ben, M (3 days older than ST) and Baby Eva (9 months) arrived late on Thanksgiving Day after getting lost in Midwestern State. (They never travel -- really, never -- and so any car trip longer than 1.5 hours throws them for a loop.) I had spent the morning of Thanksgiving preparing two turkeys (which had been in brine overnight), putting potatoes through my ricer, baking bread, and preparing my dressing and cranberry sauce. I was frantic, but then when they arrived everything seemed to calm down. They are such good friends of ours that just having them in the house made me feel instantaneously relaxed and happy. Corinne fed Baby Eva and then jumped into the kitchen to help me, T and Ben walked around our property, and ST and M giggled and laughed and ran around as only preschoolers can do. Baby Eva scooted around my hardwood floors, trying to catch Belle, our cat.

The meal turned out wonderfully, and for the first time in my life I made gravy that was actually edible and the correct consistency. (I only make gravy on Thanksgiving because it seems like the thing to do, and every year I buy a pre-made jar of gooey, gross gravy to have on hand just in case mine doesn't turn out. This is the first year I haven't had to use it!) After the meal we all sat around the table and talked each other's ears off before I served apple pie, pumpkin pie, and homemade raspberry sorbet (new recipe -- to die for).

One of the best parts of the weekend was watching ST and M. They have literally grown up together. Corinne and I shared our pregnancies when we lived right next door to each other, I was one of the first ones to hold M after she was born, and ST was born three days later (on M's due date). After the kids were born Corinne and I spent a lot of time together and we continued to do so as long as T and I lived in the neighborhood. ST and M are best friends. Watching them chatter away together, hug each other, run around like nuts, and even argue with each other was so wonderful. Although they hadn't seen each other since July 28, it was like no time had passed at all for them.

Corinne, Ben and the girls stayed until Saturday morning. By that time we had already crammed in a lot of memory-making events, including paddle boat rides on the pond, a bonfire by the pond and a visit to Santa for ST and M (where M was absolutely astounded that Santa could possibly know that she wanted a Barbie and a dollhouse... just like every other girl he talked to! ST asked for "a box of rescue vehicles from Dad's Special Store." Unfortunately, we have no idea what "Dad's Special Store" is. We've been told in no uncertain terms by ST that it is NOT Toys R Us. Hmmm). We also took in New Town's fantastic holiday light display near the lake, where we all attempted to sing "The Twelve Days of Christmas" without waking Baby Eva who was sleeping in her carseat. We were not ready for them to leave on Saturday morning, that's for sure. There was still so much left to do, so much more to talk about.

But we will see them again, and soon. This visit merely confirmed something we all already knew: we will be friends for life, no matter the distance that separates us. It's rare to find friends who are as comfortable in your home as they are in their own (Ben took out the garbage, snored in front of the football game on the floor of our living room; Corinne ran the dishwasher, poked her head in the bathroom while I was in the shower to ask me a question, etc.), and people who make you feel even more comfortable in your own home. So comfortable and happy that you don't want your time with them to end, and you definitely don't want to return to the real world the next day.
Posted with care by Prof. Me @ 11/26/2006 10:05:00 PM   4 comments
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
My Morning in Pictures


Posted with care by Prof. Me @ 11/22/2006 11:30:00 AM   11 comments
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Overreaction
Heard on my voicemail at noon, as I walked into my office at SMU. Voice of Miss Sharon, ST's preschool teacher.

Miss Sharon: ... and anyway, no need to be concerned, but ST has been pulling on his ear all day long and has complained more than once that it hurt. He's playing just great, but I thought you should know...

I delete the message and make a call to ST's pediatrician, who has a single appointment left for the afternoon. I take it, thinking that if ST does have an ear infection, I'd better get it resolved before Thanksgiving, when his best friend in the whole world is visiting.

At the pediatrician's office, 1:30pm.

Doctor: So, ST, you have a sore ear today?

ST: (bouncing a little and grinning, because this doctor is silly and he knows it) Um, yeah. It just hurts a little on the left.

Doctor: Hmmm. Why do you think that is?

ST: (pause, very serious look on his face) Well, doctor... I think it's cancer.

Doctor has to turn his head to keep from laughing right in ST's face -- I am not so discreet. Turns out ST's ear is perfectly fine (he's never had an ear infection in his life) but honestly, where does he get this stuff?
Posted with care by Prof. Me @ 11/21/2006 09:31:00 PM   2 comments
Sunday, November 19, 2006
I'll Be Home for Christmas
As I mentioned in my previous post, we're not travelling "home" for Christmas this year. This is the first time we'll spend Christmas without either of our families, since my Mom called a few days ago to say that she, Dad, Julie, and Rob are not coming here, either. Just as my Dad was getting ready to purchase tickets for the whole family to travel to Midwestern State (they would have come by train), my Mom decided that she "just needed to be home this year" and so they pulled the plug on the trip. My Mom is like that -- indeed, I was never wholly convinced that they would actually come for Christmas. She's very much a homebody and sometimes invents reasons to stay there. I can't really blame her: they have a lovely home, and it's especially lovely at Christmas. She said, "maybe we'll come next Christmas," but I'm wise enough to know that the same thing will happen next year. She'll find a reason that she "just needs to be home this year."

My sister Julie called this morning, wondering if I was upset that they weren't coming and that I wasn't going to be "home" for Christmas. To my surprise, I'm not upset about anything other than the fact that Mom got my hopes up ever-so-slightly for something I never really thought would happen. Sure, I love spending the holidays with my family. We have a lot of great family traditions that T and I are both sorry to miss, and we're sad that ST won't spend Christmas with his grandparents, aunt, and uncle. But at the same time, I know that I, too, "just needed to be home" for Christmas this year. Home State isn't really my "home" anymore. I haven't lived there since 1997. "Home" for me is wherever T and ST are.

This year, then, will be fun for us because we'll be inventing our own holiday traditions. We've never decorated much for Christmas or put up a huge Christmas tree because we were always going somewhere else for Christmas. This year, I'm going to work hard to make it special for ST, so that he knows what HIS family does for Christmas. Some of my parents' traditions will carry over: leaving presents from Santa outside in the snow, for example, or listening to The Nutcracker while decorating the tree. But I'm excited to think of new things to do, things that will be etched in ST's mind as special and unique to our little family. If my parents and siblings actually DO come for Christmas next year, they'll have to fit into OUR traditions.

What makes your holiday special? What are your family's traditions?
Posted with care by Prof. Me @ 11/19/2006 01:53:00 PM   9 comments
Thursday, November 16, 2006
No Complaining Thursday, Ver. 2.0
As per Betty's request:

Things I Am Not Complaining About Today

  • T and I have decided to stay here in Pond House for Christmas. Typically, we travel 8-10 hours north each year to see our families and then drive 8-10 hours back home, and this year we've decided to have our own celebration here, and to invite our families to spend the holiday with us. Much to our surprise, my family is actually considering breaking a 30+ year tradition to come to Midwestern State for Christmas, which would be amazing and fun. Even if they don't come, I'm pleased that we are staying put this year (for the first time ever).
  • Even better: MIL has decided to spend the holiday with her parents (who are very ill) in Arizona. But even better than that: we won't see BIL and SIL over the holiday, either, which will make Christmas that much merrier (for me, at least).

  • Speaking of holidays, I am very thrilled that Corinne, Ben, and their girls are coming to Pond House for Thanksgiving. I invited them way back in July before we moved, never imagining that they'd actually take me up on it (Corinne is very, very stuck in her ways). They will arrive Thursday morning and leave Saturday morning. Now to plan the menu!

  • I am a member of The Good Cook , a cookbook club. I just recieved the book Perfect Recipes for Having People Over on the same day I received my latest issue of Everyday Food. It does not get much better than that, friends.

  • I got my hair cut at a new salon on Tuesday (I usually just wait for my sister Julie to cut it for me, since she always knows just what to do) and the stylist did a fantastic job. I have pretty low-maintenance hair, and it was nice to have a stylist who didn't try to talk me into spending 20 minutes a day on my hair when I know I won't. I am finally free of the pony-tail and my hair, at last, looks tidy and healthy again.
  • I only have to prepare one lecture for tomorrow. I am holding mini-conferences with the students in my Senior Seminar, discussing their papers that are due December 4, which means no formal lecture preparation.

  • Yesterday, while in the car with T, some awful Justin Timberlake song came on the radio (T actually listens to popular music -- I refuse). "Dad!" ST screamed from his carseat behind us, "PLEASE turn off this CRAP!" While I do not condone his use of the word "crap," I do appreciate his taste in music.
Posted with care by Prof. Me @ 11/16/2006 08:50:00 AM   3 comments
Sunday, November 12, 2006
The Yoke Is Lifted
As of yesterday, I am all caught up on my grading. Even those stupid reading quizzes have been recorded and filed away. This means that I have no more grading responsibilities until December 5 (the day after my Senior Seminar students turn in their 10-12 page assignments).

I am quite nearly giddy.
Posted with care by Prof. Me @ 11/12/2006 12:48:00 PM   3 comments
Saturday, November 11, 2006
First Snow

We had our first measurable snow here last night. Our yard at Pond House was transformed into a shimmering winter wonderland. The snow will probably melt later today, but it certainly gave us a lovely reason to get out of bed early this morning.
Posted with care by Prof. Me @ 11/11/2006 08:24:00 AM   5 comments
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
The Whole Class Does Not Deserve an A
I finished grading my exams this afternoon and posted the results for my students online. ST was sick last night and then I got sick, too, and so I had to cancel classes for today. That meant that my students won't see their actual exams until Friday (I was going to return them today), but they have already seen the grades. The grades were almost a perfect bell curve, with the average being a B-/C+ out of 88 exams. I was happy with the distribution.

The students are not, of course.

I have already received five emails from students complaining about how hard they studied and how "surprised" they were by the exam, particularly the multiple choice section. The exam contained no surprises. It contained a mix of general and particular questions, questions that would reward those who understood the broader concepts of the class and those who had done a close reading of the course materials. I think the students expected a multiple choice test to be "easier" than an essay exam. No one received 25/25 on the multiple choice exam; the highest grade, after I looked at the results again, was 23/25. When I made the curve for the exam, I acted as though the multiple choice section was out of 23 instead of 25, which raised everyone's scores slightly. But there are still three people who failed the exam, a handful who received Ds and low Cs, and then a huge clump in the mid- to high-C and B range.

Students, however, are convinced that any effort they put into the exam deserves an A. They are sure that if they work hard enough, and even if their answers are blatantly wrong, they should still get an A for trying. A B and certainly a C is simply unacceptable to them. On the one hand, that's great: they should strive for excellence. But the hard fact is that no matter how hard you strive for excellence, it is sometimes out of your reach.

Not every student deserves an A. Not every student will get an A, no matter how hard they worked or how passionately they argue in my office hours. I'm trying to figure out how to tell them that without making them bitter, but I suppose there's no way around it. Sure, I'd like to give the whole class As, to see their smiling faces looking at me when I turn the exams back, and to read the glowing student evaluations about how "fair" and "nice" I am. But giving them all As is, of course, doing them a horrible disservice. Grade inflation doesn't happen in the real world: a poor job results in a poor evaluation, no matter how much you complain.

When will they learn that? And why, oh why do I have to be the one to teach them?
Posted with care by Prof. Me @ 11/08/2006 05:53:00 PM   5 comments
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Attitude
Earlier this semester, I had a meeting with one of my students, Dirk, from my Intro to Subfield course. He'd just received the grade I'd given him on a paper (an A-) and was "deeply concerned" about the fact that he did not get an A. "I'm not here asking you to change my grade," he said, curly hair flipping out from beneath his stocking cap, "it's just that I've never received such a low grade on a paper before. In high school I got all As, no questions asked."

I gave him my "this is not high school" speech, explaining to him that while his paper was good, it did not deserve an A. I gave him my reasons, and he seemed to understand them. Then he pulled out a sheet of paper and showed it to me. It was an academic progress report from his last year at high school. "See?" he said, shoving the paper in my lap, "I'm smart enough to be doing better than A- work in your class. I mean, this is an intro class, after all."

I could feel the blood rush to my face, and resisted the strong urge to roll my eyes. After explaining to him that this "intro class" did not mean that it was an "easy" class, he launched into a 15 minute speech about how he's discovered that, because he's so smart, he can quadruple major. Why get just one major, or even two, when you can get FOUR? He then proceeded to tell me about how he was the smartest child in his family, and how he always had to help his older brothers and sisters in their classes (two of them are in college as well). Our meeting ended with me chuckling softly to myself as he left my office.

A few weeks ago, we had an exam in my Intro to Subfield class. Dirk always sat in the back of the class. He never took notes, despite the fact that everyone around him was scribbling madly. He would just sit there, sweatshirt flopping open to reveal a grungy t-shirt beneath, same curly hair twanging out everywhere from beneath the red and white stocking cap. He looked the same on exam day, only this time he was busy filling his exam book with his essay answer. Indeed, he was the last one in the room when the exam period ended. "Dirk," I said, "time to turn in your exam. Class is over."

He didn't look up at me. "I got the exam three minutes late," he said, writing.

"No matter -- you're already two minutes past the exam time," I said, ready to grab his exam booklet. "Finish that sentence and that's it."

"No, I still have one full minute left," he said, still writing and not looking up.

"No -- it's over." I closed his exam book and took it.

He stood up and stretched. He's one of those lanky kids who, when he stretches, seems like one of those ancient flying dinosaurs: huge, a bit menacing, and ugly.

I smiled at him. "Well, what did you think of the exam?" I asked, trying move past the exam-snatching incident from a moment before.

"Easy," he said. He walked out of the room.

A few days ago, I received the results of the multiple choice section of the exam. The exam was 25 multiple choice questions and then a long essay. The class average on the MC portion was 15/25. Dirk scored a 22/25. In class yesterday I mentioned that, while I hadn't yet graded the essay portion of the exam, I had the results from the MC portion. I told the class what the highest score was, and that they'd see their exams on Wednesday (provided that I finish grading the essays today -- ugh).

After class, Dirk came up to the front of the room. "Where's my multiple choice score?" he said, looking at my papers on the table and moving some of them around. "You said you had them."

I was miffed. Miffed that he was touching my things, mostly, and that his tone was so demanding. "I don't have them here. You'll see them on Wednesday."

"But if you have them, I want to know my score," he said, face bearing not even a trace of good-naturedness.

I shook my head. "Well, you'll just have to wait. No one else has seen their scores yet, either."

He stomped away, mumbling something about being the smartest person in the class.

Students like Dirk, although I don't encounter them very often, drive me insane. I can see that he has some potential. He's a decent writer, and he seems to study the material and know it well. I've read his essay, and it's OK. I just hate his attitude, the way that he acts like I should treat him differently because he's "smart." I wish I could just shake him and say that a truly smart person would lose the attitude, treat people kindly, and accept that the rules apply to everyone equally. When I saw his exam score, I was actually relieved -- he'll be happy with it, I think, because he'll have a solid A on the exam. I'm relieved because he won't come to my office hours again, and I won't have to listen to him blather on about how much of a genius he is. I just don't want to deal with him, because he makes me feel defensive and like I want to strangle him. Just looking at him annoys me: I discovered long ago that I cannot stand to look at men with longish, unkempt, very curly hair. I don't know why. Just bugs the heck out of me.

Off to grade more essay exams.
Posted with care by Prof. Me @ 11/07/2006 08:56:00 AM   7 comments
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Blind
On Halloween night, I sat at our kitchen table grading the papers for my Senior Seminar. The papers, 6-8 pages in length, were their first "real" assignment. I finished grading late into the night, well after Superman and SuperDad were in bed.

When they wrote the papers, I asked them not to put their names on them. They included only their ID numbers in the header of the paper so it appeared on each page. I graded them (the grade is on the last page of the paper) and then handed the papers over to Amy, Administrative Wonderwoman, so she could look up the ID numbers and put the last names on the papers for me to turn them back. I recorded the grades quickly before heading off to teach, taking little notice of which grade matched which name. When I handed them back to my students yesterday, I honestly couldn't remember who received what grade.

I had a professor who used this same method, grading the papers without knowing who wrote them. I felt, as a student, that it was a more "fair" way of grading, since the professor could not let his personal feelings about the student influence the grade he gave. I know a lot of the students in my Senior Seminar fairly well (indeed, I am the faculty advisor to about five of them), and I was worried that my knowledge of their situations (e.g., Student A needs this class to graduate, Student B has never received a grade less than B+ in any course in our discipline) would color how I viewed their papers. I liked not knowing who the author was.

Until I handed the papers back.

I think I'm a pretty fair and consistent grader, and I like to believe that, by reading my detailed comments, students know why they received the grade that they did. But when I saw their sometimes horrified, sometimes elated faces as they saw their grades yesterday, I felt horrible. I didn't like the fact that I felt like they were staring up at me, feeling "betrayed" somehow by the grade they had been given. I especially didn't like that one of my best students, one who is headed to law school, looked so dejected about her grade as she sat, fully prepared for class, in the front row. (I later found out that she earned a C on the paper.)

Although it was easier on me at first to grade the papers blindly, it is harder on me later. I stick by my grades and I don't think I graded any of the papers too harshly. A C paper is a C paper, no matter who wrote it. But somehow I wish I could've softened the blow, couldn've written something encouraging and personal to the students who didn't do as well as they (or I) had hoped. Grading is definitely the worst part of this job, but facing a roomful of students who have just been graded plays a close second.
Posted with care by Prof. Me @ 11/02/2006 08:48:00 AM   2 comments
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Recuperating
My parents were here this weekend. They arrived on Friday night and left yesterday morning. From the moment they arrived until the moment they left, we were in full work-mode. As a result I am completely exhausted: I am still recuperating from my weekend.

What we accomplished (now with photos!):

Stripped cutesy 1980s wallpaper from half-bath off of the kitchen. This was a bigger project than I imagined it would be, simply because the wallpaper was so old it was coming off in tiny shreds. This weekend I'm hoping to paint in there, as soon as T and I can decide on a color. After the stripping experience, I'm very glad it was the only room that was wallpapered.

Mom stripping wallpaper

Installed new microwave. The house came with a microwave, a greasy white Whirlpool Gold that was held together with duct tape. (Classy!) We've replaced it with a stainless steel microwave to match our other appliances. Now the only white appliance left in the kitchen is the dishwasher. The replacement dishwasher I want is kind of expensive, and since this white one works fine we've decided to hold off on making another big purchase.

New Microwave (Stove/Oven purchased August 2006)

Demolished entryway closet. We had a closet between our main entrance and our garage entrance just off the kitchen. The closet made the corridor between the two entrances rather tight, and so we ripped it out. This was a huge project that involved a lot of re-wiring and lots of gypsum dust from the new drywall, but in the end the new entryway is a LOT larger and is precisely what we wanted. T is continually amazed by what my Dad knows how to do -- my Dad is not trained in construction at all, but seems to know how to tackle any project, large or small. "I definitely married up," T said last night. "I married into talent!"



Closet progress: Saturday and Sunday. The half-bath is the doorway in the back; the kitchen is the entrance to the left. I'm taking this photo near the main front door entrance. The white door on the right is our garage entrance. New tile flooring coming soon to replace poorly-laid and very ugly vinyl. Clearly, we still have to mud and tape the drywall and then repaint.

Removed ugly Love Boat light fixture in the stairwell, and patched holes where matching Love Boat sconces once hung. This job was tedious for T and my Dad and still isn't quite complete because T had to re-mud some of the drywall patch after he found a few bubbles. We haven't yet replaced the light fixture in the stairwell because we can't find anything we really like. We want something in the Mission/Arts & Crafts style (since that's what most of our furniture is), and everything we've found thus far is a bit too "curvy."

Wired for a garbage disposal. A major source of frustration for me in my kitchen is the lack of a garbage disposal. Dad told T how to wire an outlet for one, and to T's surprise he was able to do it himself! Now we just need to hire a plumber to install the disposal. "I do everything BUT plumbing," Dad said. "Too messy." Agreed.

So it was a busy weekend, but a lot of great projects were completed or mostly completed. I told my parents that I was never again going to clean BEFORE they arrived, since the place is always trashed minutes after they walk in the door! I am going to be mopping up gypsum dust for the next month and a half, I'm sure, and I've already had to wash everything that I had sitting on my kitchen counters (cake safe, utensils, toaster) twice.

I have a busy week ahead, too. Exams and papers to finish grading, a few complicated lectures to write, and lots of other paperwork to get off of my desk. Add that to the fact that my little Superman has to go trick-or-treating tonight... I'd better get cracking!

ST's serious "Man of Steel" face; just look at those abs!
Posted with care by Prof. Me @ 10/31/2006 08:03:00 AM   8 comments
Thursday, October 26, 2006
On Being Married to a "Do-er"
I am married to a "do-er." T is one of the most ambitious and goal-driven people I've ever met, and that was a huge attraction for me when we first met. He gets his mind fixed on something and then he methodically chips away at the obstacles until he reaches his goal, usually in less time than it takes "normal" people. He's like this with everything: when we were in college together he would study for his exams and write his papers with a clear method; he sets financial goals for us and then has all of the micro-goals we need to meet mapped out in Excel; when he was training for the marathon he ran last year at this time he trained according to a strict schedule spread out over six months, missing only one training run due to a slight injury. He's a very accomplished person as a result, but he never gloats about what he's achieved. His successes are due to planning and hard work.

The problem with being a "do-er" like T is that he sometimes gets focused on one single goal, and that goal overwhelms thoughts of everything else. When he was training for the marathon, for example, we talked about training ALL THE TIME and he was obsessive about keeping his training journal, food intake journal, and making sure he rotated his shoes for every 30 miles logged. While he still helped around the house (he's good about stuff like that), his heart was just not in it -- he was thinking about running, about meeting that goal. It was a little frustrating for me, but in the end I was extremely proud of him for running the marathon in under four hours (his goal for his first marathon) without injury.

His latest obsession: Pond House. I suspected that Pond House would consume him the moment we stepped onto this property for the first time in May. As he looked around and saw the lawn that needed maintenance, the empty and cavernous basement just waiting to be finished, the large garage in need of insulation, and the dock in the pond in need of repair, I could almost see and hear the wheels turning in his head. Those wheels have not stopped turning for a moment since we've been here.

When T comes home each night, we eat dinner, clean up, and then he's off to work on something for the house. On nights like tonight, when I have to prepare for classes the next day, he takes ST along with him: tonight they're at the home improvement store looking for bathtub drain covers, light fixtures, and moulding. For his birthday, he asked for gift certificates to the same store; he's asked for the same thing for Christmas. He regularly reads all sorts of home improvement magazines and books, and often spends his lunch break in his office, eating his lunch while looking up things like "pond weed management" or "radiant heat efficiency" or "installing crown moulding" on the internet.

Talking to him last night, I just had to laugh. He started by asking me about work and how it was going, asking me questions about my students and my colleagues. But, soon enough, the conversation turned to the bathrooms and when we would get rid of the brown tub, when we would replace the mauve carpet, when we would put in a window in the dining room, when we would put on a screened-in porch. "You know, the more we chip away at these little projects, the more I want to really tackle the big ones," he said to me. He wants the ugly brown tub gone ASAP (hurray!), the ugly gray tub next, and then the carpet. "We have the money to do it. Let's just do it, don't you think?"

I hesitated. "That's a lot of money," I said, "and we have a lot of other things to do with that money." I'm not even sure he heard me. His eyes were closed and I could hear his brain turning, turning, turning. In the next moment, the phone rang. He answered it. It was my Dad, who launched into a conversation about all of the projects he and T would do this weekend while my parents are here. As soon as I realized it was my Dad, I knew that it was no use talking about it any further: there is little that can stop T when there's a goal and there's a plan. When we bought this house, we started in on a whole new kind of marathon.
Posted with care by Prof. Me @ 10/26/2006 06:05:00 PM   3 comments
Monday, October 23, 2006
All Complaining Monday
Since I haven't posted since No Complaining Thursday, this post will be devoted to all of the things I AM complaining about today: All Complaining Monday. I am not by nature a complainer: it takes a LOT to make me angry or sad, and I tend to see the bright side of everything. But... well, it's Monday. It's raining. And I'm tired and a bit cranky. Hence, All Complaining Monday (PM Edition).

Things I AM Complaining About Today:

1.) For some odd reason my face seems to be breaking out. Not anything major, but I generally have very clear skin and so this is particularly annoying. Of course the mini-breakout could be due to the fact that I consumed huge quantities of quality dark chocolate with MIL this weekend, but I'm going to rule that out. Dark chocolate is good for you. Look it up.

2.) Our mostly well-behaved cat Belle is driving me insane. If I leave anything out on the kitchen counter she will hop onto the counter to investigate and chomp on it. Example: this weekend MIL and I planned to make my Nearly Famous Vanilla Cupcakes, and so we left a stick of butter on the counter to soften (as you do). When we returned from a short trip to the grocery store, we discovered that Belle had eaten the middle of the stick of butter and had left greasy paw prints all over the kitchen. Gross. She is now going up there even when there's NOTHING there to entice her. This is annoying, and she never did that at our old house.

3.) I was lecturing this afternoon and totally lost my place in the middle of explaining something very complicated. I hate it when that happens. I think I confused my students even more than they already were after doing the readings. This means I'll be doing damage control on Wednesday, and I hate doing that.

4.) I have a stack of 35 6-8 page take-home midterm exams to grade. I have had them since October 13. I have not touched a single one of them yet. That stinks. I am praying for a teaching assistant to fall from the sky and take care of them for me. I'll let you know what God's response to that is.

5.) I had tentatively scheduled a lunch date with a new friend in a different department. We had scheduled the lunch last week and I was really looking forward to it. However, T and I also have a completely clogged bathtub drain that has not responded at all to OTC plumbing products. As luck would have it, the plumber could ONLY come between 9:00am and 2:00pm tomorrow. Raincheck on that fun lunch date, please.

6.) ST has decided that it's "Dad Week" (his term). This means that Mom is persona non grata for the time being. I'm not sure what happens during "Dad Week," but it must be pretty doggone fun and it stinks that I'm not included. T, of course, thinks it's funny and I have to admit that I do, too, but I am already missing bathtime ("Only BOYS in the bathroom tonight, Mom!") and storytime and "Dad Week" has just begun.

7.) My students are taking a midterm exam on Friday. It is half multiple-choice and half essay. This means that I will have essay exams looming large over my weekend with my parents. I will have to accept that the exams will simply not be touched until at least Tuesday of next week. When the teaching assistant fairy comes to grade my other exams, I'm sure he/she will grade these, too. I'll keep you posted.

8.) I have an intense craving for cauliflower. I ate the last bit of it tonight with my dinner. Every now and again (every 2-3 months, maybe?) my body seems to NEED cauliflower -- I don't know why, but I do know that I'm unhappy that I can't satify my current cauliflower deficiency.

9.) Today the left leg hem of my favorite gray pants from Ann Taylor fell. It was a rainy/snowy, disgusting day. This means that I was essentially walking on my fallen hem, grinding muddy water into the fabric before I had a chance to make an emergency pants repair with masking tape. Now I have to dry clean the pants AND hem them again. Very annoying.

10.) It is COLD here. Average temperature for this time of year is around 56 degrees. We have not seen 50 for at least two weeks. It was snowing today. I love winter, but I'm not quite sure I'm ready for it. ST has already lost one pair of mittens, T can't find the scarf that goes with his dress coat, and I have no idea where the red scarf Mom made especially for me ended up after the move. Unfortunately, it's supposed to average around 40 degrees the rest of the week.
Posted with care by Prof. Me @ 10/23/2006 10:03:00 PM   3 comments
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