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.
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Monday, October 31, 2005
So Long, Farewell, Au Revoir, Auf Wiedersehen
Today is the long goodbye before a short trip. I am spending the day with ST, trying to accomplish the last minute preparations I was too tired to finish last night. Today, I must finish the ironing (T is hopeless with the iron and since he must wear a suit everyday it's essential that I finish it up for him so he can at least go two weeks without making a trip to the cleaners), finish the paper chain I'm making for ST*, finish wrapping the little construction trucks I bought for T to give to ST on certain days while I'm gone, and finish packing all of my electronic essentials (laptop, iPod, digital camera, etc.). I also have to go to the bank and get my traveler's checks. T is stopping by our largest bank this afternoon to pick up some Euros. I also have to take ST to the doctor's office to get his flu shot, and then after his nap we'll carve our pumpkins. Later, trick-or-treating and then one last story with Mom before November begins.
I've had a lot of people calling me in the past few days to say goodbye. I don't like that. In the grand scheme of things, I'm not going to be gone for that long -- people calling to say goodbye makes me feel like I'm stepping off the planet entirely. All of these calls are actually making me feel sadder than I already feel at the thought of leaving T and ST for four weeks. I understand that people are just being kind by calling, but it truly is not helping me.
At any rate, I will blog again as soon as I am able. I leave tomorrow, November 1, in the late afternoon and will arrive in Europe at around noon on November 2 (8 hour time difference). I've been told that the wireless service where I'm going is excellent, so connections shouldn't be a problem.
Wish me luck, fellow bloggers and readers. And if you see a frazzled handsome man in a suit holding a charming and energetic toddler by the hand this month, help them out, won't you?
* I'm making him a paper chain with one link for each day I'm gone. I wrote a note to him inside each link. I thought it would make it easier for him to understand when I'm coming home if he could see the chain getting shorter each day. I must confess that the chain is already uncomfortably long and I'm only finished through November 17th.
I got a call this morning from a university I interviewed with at our National Conference in September, Small Urban College. They received my application and want me to come out for an on-campus interview. Great! Except...
I'll be in Europe. All month. And they want to have all of the candidates in before Thanksgiving so they can make someone an offer before Christmas.
I explained my situation to the Chair of the Small Urban's Department, the same man who interviewed me at the National Conference. We clicked really well at the Conference, and so it was easy to explain my situation to him. When I originally planned this trip it was for my own research only -- just a quick trip to examine some documents that aren't available elsewhere. In the past few weeks, however, the trip has evolved into a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to intern in a foreign government. A lot of people have been involved on the European side of this to make it happen for me -- people have truly gone out of their way to make my stay in Europe an amazing and fruitful one, a visit I could not have arranged on my own. So this trip is no longer something I can really be very flexible with anymore.
Small Urban's Chair is going to get back to me early next week (the day before I leave for Europe), after he discusses my situation with the Dean and his other colleagues. They might be able to wait until December, he said, but the Dean has told him that they should "plan to move quickly" on this hire.
Small Urban is an interesting place, one that I would certainly like to see. But, if I put all the places I've applied to in rank order, it does not make the top five. It comes in at about seven or eight, mostly because of the location. The job itself looks great, but I'm not sure I'd want to live in that area of the country. T says he'd like for me to interview there just to see what it's like, but I'm not sure it's worth the hassle at this point. Our Placement Director has noted that I could possibly fly back from Europe for a few days in order to interview, but that's both very expensive (over $1,000) and very inconvenient for the internship, especially since I'm only going to be in Europe a total of four weeks anyway. So overall it's just a gross situation, one I wanted to avoid.
I am thrilled, however, that Small Urban is interested in me, interested enough to fly me out. And I hope they CAN wait until December. Deep down, however, I hope that the interview I just had went well enough so that none of this will be an issue by the time December rolls around.
UPDATE: Small Urban called -- situation resolved. I can interview in December, just a few days after I return from Europe. Whew! I'm very happy it worked out.
Last Saturday, before I left for my interview, T, ST and I took a hike in a state park just a few miles from our house. It was such a lovely day -- the kind of crisp autumn weather where the sun is shining but there's just enough of a nip in the air that you need to wear a sweatshirt. The state park is my favorite place to go in autumn because it's teeming with experiences for all of the senses: the bright fall foliage, the occasional deer straying across your path, the twitter of cardinals, the crunch of the leaves under your feet, the smell of the fading forest, the feel of still-supple red and yellow leaves that will, unless pressed between books, become brittle and useless in a matter of hours once you bring them home. We had such a great time at the park. ST especially enjoyed himself, collecting leaves and demanding that T and I stop talking and walking each time a gust of wind coaxed another torrent of leaves from their branches high above our heads. ST was fascinated by the falling leaves: "It's a leaf rain, Mom!" he would exclaim, holding his hands out as the leaves swirled around him.
That's one of the many things I love about having a toddler in the house. He really forces us to stop and observe the world around us with innocent eyes, to try to take in everything the world has to offer. He can watch a ladybug make its way across the driveway for half an hour, happily play with a daddy-longlegs spider until the spider (usually missing at least one long leg by this point) escapes, examine with awe the trail of ants marching up our ash tree. He gets excited to go to the Post Office, the grocery store, the gas station. He will regale you with stories about how he got to push the cart in the dairy section and how the gallons of milk have different-colored labels. He will make you leave your comfortable chair so that he can show you how he's lined up all of his Matchbox cars across the dining room, declaring, "I made a traffic jam!" with obvious pride. He will get his hands dirty just so that he can demonstrate to you how he can wash his hands by himself at the sink, although he gets so distracted by the amazingness of the soap dispenser that it takes him 15 minutes to finish. ST appreciates everything. For ST, unless a diaper change is involved, life is good
As I rethink my interview and send out a few more job applications, as the month-long trip abroad looms large in my mind, and as the stressfulness of completing the dissertation bears down on my system, it's so nice to know that there's a more powerful force for calm in my life. Even though ST has more energy than a hydrogen bomb most days, and even though my 30-year-old body is exhausted after spending the day chasing him around, he still reminds me of all that is simple, wonderful, and innocent about life. He reminds me that a good day is any day I can stop and let the leaves rain down on my outstretched arms and be thankful that God put me in this place at this time.
I am positively exhausted. My feet hurt from wearing the terribly cute Mary-Janes for two days straight. My cheeks hurt from smiling so much. My brain hurts from having dozens of conversations, from describing my research countless times, from trying to think of new and interesting questions to ask different people. Overall, though, I feel good about how my first on-campus interview went this week.
I arrived on Sunday afternoon and had dinner with a few faculty members, which was nice and low-key. The next morning I taught a class (at 8:00am no less, and although I did not get the students' names beforehand, I did ask them their names and remembered 9 of them, much to my own surprise), went to meeting with individual faculty members on the half hour until lunch, had lunch with students, met with the provost, went on a short campus tour with a student, came back to the department for more half-hour meetings, had a half hour break, presented my research, and then went to dinner with two faculty members. I was so drained. I think I fell asleep immediately as my head hit the pillow.
Today was great, too. I met with the rest of the faculty, met with faculty in other departments, had an amazing conversation with a faculty member in my foreign language who said he wished I was a candidate in his department (which made me laugh -- "If I had a say in it, you'd be hired already!" he said), had lunch with three more students who were incredibly sweet and asked good questions, met with yet MORE faculty members, and then was driven to the airport by a willing student. So, overall, I think the visit went well.
I know the department has invited two other candidates to interview for this job; one is coming at the end of this week, and another the beginning of next week. Whoever gets this job will be very fortunate: the department is the largest on campus, is well-supported by the college, the benefits are OUTRAGEOUSLY (jaw-droppingly?) good, the base salary is about $5,000 higher than I imagined it would be, and the opportunities for doing cool, interdisciplinary research are literally endless. The students are dedicated and seem to be pretty passionate about the place, and the faculty in the department genuinely like each other. I know that no job is perfect and that things aren't always as they seem, but I have to say that I am pretty darned impressed by the whole package I saw in these last few days. If I got this job, I can easily see myself staying there for the rest of my career. Honestly. It's the kind of place where you can settle in and do really great work. (And it doesn't hurt that the campus is heartbreakingly beautiful.)
The chair said that they'd like to have their decision made by December. At any rate, I'll probably hear something one way or another while I'm in Europe. And -- YIKES -- I'm leaving for Europe in exactly one week. One week from now I'll be on a plane bound for Munich.
It is nice to have this interview behind me now, and it's nice to have the experience of doing one of these, whether I get the job or not. I had no idea it was going to be so full-on, so tiring, so demanding. I felt really great at the beginning of the first day, really sharp -- but by the time my research presentation came around, my mind had turned to applesauce. If I had to change one thing about the experience, I would have requested that the teaching and research happen on different days because it really was a lot to do in a single shot. Of course, it did mean that today was pretty painless, which was nice.
Tonight, I arrived at my hometown airport and began looking for T and ST. They weren't there and it made me sad. I went to retrieve my bags and then came back up to the main terminal, looking for them. All of a sudden, I saw a shock of blond hair and heard a little voice yelling, "Mommmmm! Mom! It's me!" and saw ST hurtling toward me, arms outstretched. My heart swelled as I hugged my sweet little boy, and he covered my face with kisses. "Oh, Mom, I missed you!" he said. If only he knew how much I missed him, if only he could understand how much longer our next separation will be!
It is good to be home, even if it is only for another short week. Then November. And then, a return to normalcy.
A question for those with experience: I'm obviously going to write thank-you notes. Do I write one to EACH person? Separately? I met well over twenty people, and I'd also like to thank the students I met. What to do here?
I'm not sure if I've mentioned it before on this blog, but I really hate to shop. Honestly, I do. I am not good at it and malls make me very crabby very fast. I get frustrated when I know exactly what I want and I have to search high and low to find it, and most of the time what I end up finding isn't precisely what I want, anyway. I step into the mall only when it is an absolute necessity. I make T do the bulk of our Christmas shopping every year.
As a result of my dislike for shopping, my wardrobe is very small. I have only a few pieces of clothing that I really like, and I wear them to death. A pair of nice black trousers. A black suit. A navy suit. Gray and khaki dress pants. A French blue button-down. A few other button-downs from Ann Taylor. Two ribbed sweaters that are starting to look pretty tired. You get the picture. I am the same way with shoes: one pair of black dress shoes, one pair of brown. Black sandals and brown sandals. Mowing the lawn shoes and running shoes. That's it.
Most of time I don't mind the sparseness of my wardrobe, and I must admit that I take some pride in being a bit of a minimalist. But as I was thinking of what to wear for my on-campus interview, I panicked a little. I knew I would wear the black suit and the French blue shirt the first day since I have to teach a class, meet with the Provost, AND give my research presentation on the same day. But what about the second day, which consists of more meetings and lunch with students? I needed something dressy but not too fancy, and definitely not a suit. I decided I'd wear my gray dress pants. In a fashion emergency, I called my stylish sister Julie for advice on what to wear with them.
"So I'm wearing the gray pants. But with what?" I asked, panic in my voice.
"Just wear a fitted white shirt, some funky shoes, and a great piece of jewelry," she replied matter-of-factly. Julie is the type of person who always looks hip, always looks like she's going somewhere important. Even when her hair is dirty and she's not wearing makeup, she has this aura of style about her that I could never duplicate. Unlike mine, her closet is literally bursting with clothing. She shops nearly every day (no husband, no kids, no student loans = lots of disposable income) and has scads of cool purses and trendy shoes. Tons of inexpensive but terribly cool jewelry, scarves, hats, etc. Whenever she gives me a gift, it's always the same: a gift certificate to Ann Taylor Loft with specific instructions as to what I should use it for. The gray pants, for example, were purchased at Julie's command. I love getting these gifts from Julie because she knows me, knows what I will and won't wear, and gives me explicit instructions so that I don't have to hang out in the mall too long. She is a gem.
I realized after talking with Julie, however, that I was missing everything she mentioned except the piece of cool jewelry: I had no white fitted button-down shirt, and certainly no funky shoes with a heel high enough to accomodate my Ann Taylor pants. That meant only one thing: a trip to the mall. Ugh.
The trip did not turn out to be half bad, though. I was in and out in half an hour. Penney's was having a great sale and I found a cute white fitted shirt as soon as I walked in the door. A few minutes later I found these Mary-Janes (I have secretly always coveted a pair of Mary-Janes but, as you may have guessed, never wanted to take the time to shop for a pair) that look super-cool with my gray Ann Taylor pants. A quick jaunt over to the Toddler Boys department landed me a pair of Carter's pajamas for ST (with construction trucks on them, no less!). I think I got a pretty good deal: shirt was regularly $30.00, shoes regularly $45.00, and pajamas regularly $15.00. I got the whole lot for under $50.00 I hate to shop, but I do love a bargain. And how nice that I could find everything in one store! No wandering around aimlessly for this girl tonight. In, out. Done. Just as I like it.
Now I'm just about set for this interview. I just have to put the finishing touches on my lecture for Monday morning and rework the beginning of my research presentation. In other words, I'm pretty sure that I know what I'll talk about on Monday, and after tonight's little shopping excursion I'm pretty sure that I'll look hip doing it. Three cheers for me.
I must say that I really am pleased with how my practice job talk went, despite how negatively I was feeling toward it yesterday. There were some minor glitches, all remediable, but overall my advisors and other audience members were happy with it and seemed engaged in my topic. I got some great questions (and I was able to answer all of them -- bonus!) and excellent advice. Overall, it was a success and I'm so glad that I did it.
There are a few major things I need to work on, however, and they're things I always struggle with. First, I'm a fairly informal person, maybe even a bit theatrical when I'm in front of an audience. I like to suck them in, to captivate, to entertain. While I was up there in front of faculty and graduate students today, I was on a high -- I liked that I was doing all of the talking, I loved it when they laughed a little at my inside jokes, I liked it when they nodded their heads in agreement with me. After the initial nervousness subsided, I enjoyed myself. Prof. G. just laughed with me afterwards, saying that he knew that's how I was going to present, but that he'd still try to be a bit more formal than I was. I'm just not sure if I can do this effectively while still being me.
The other big thing is that I talk waaaaaaaay too fast. I have a lot of say, and I say it all with a lot of emotion. People usually say that they can understand me fine, but that I give them a whole lot of information to process in just a short amount of time. This is strange to me, since I never rush when I'm teaching -- in fact, students have often commented that they like my pace in the classroom, like that I pause for questions, like that I pause for them to digest the material during my lectures. I guess I just get too excited about presenting my research on a topic that's really exciting to me and I can't slow down. Also, I talk very quickly in my normal life -- it's part of who I am, maybe part of the informality I noted above. I know that it will be difficult to slow down when I present my research next week during my real job talk -- hopefully, by that time the faculty there will have a better sense of who I am and will see that this is just me (the job talk occurs on the second day of the interview).
At any rate, it was a good experience. Prof. C. gave me some really excellent tips for improving the talk, cutting some here and adding some there, and I really value his presentation advice (he is one of the most effective teachers and presenters I've ever seen). Funny thing: we realized as we were chatting that as I will be at my interview in Eastern State, he will also be in Eastern State, just about 100 miles north! Crazy coincidence, actually, but it will feel kind of good knowing that he's just an interstate drive away. A little security.
In other news, I decided to start reading The Purpose-Driven Lifeby Rick Warren. I usually steer clear of NY Times Bestsellers, ever since my days as a bookseller while in undergrad. (I had to read The Bridges of Madison County when I was a bookseller -- we each had to read at least one book from the bestseller list, and Bridges was on the list forever so I chose it. What a mistake. I hated that book with a passion, and I even got into trouble for telling a customer how bad it was. For the record, the customer DID end up buying another book I recommended instead of the trashy Bridges. I also read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, which confirmed my belief that highly effective people don't read these kinds of books.) Anyway, the reason I decided to pick up Warren's book is that my Mom is reading it and working through it, and she and I often have nice discussions about faith and this seemed like a good way for us to enhance our conversations. Oh, that and the fact that it was only $2.49 from one of Amazon's Marketplace sellers.
I'm not sure if I really like the book yet -- I'm only on Day Seven. The book is supposed to lead you to realize what your purpose here on earth is, what God wants you to accomplish here. The questions Warren asks the reader to reflect upon are good, I think. But overall, I'm so far left with the feeling that I'm insignificant, and that all of the work I'm doing is largely insignificant, too. I mean, it would be one thing if my life's work was as a neurosurgeon, or if I saved rainforests and fed hungry children for a living, but I don't. I'm an academic. I think about things. I try to figure out how things work, and why they work the way they do. How is all of that part of God's plan for me, part of the mission I'm supposed to accomplish here? It's all quite disturbing to me. If anyone else has read this book or has thoughts on it, I'd love to hear them.
I have been working all day (OK, not the two hours I spent in bed this morning battling a migraine) on this practice job talk I have to give tomorrow, and I absolutely hate it. The theory is decent. It's an interesting topic. I actually like the topic a lot. But the evidence consists of qualitative case studies, only two of which are complete so far (they're very complicated AND in a foreign language), and so the evidence just seems... wishy-washy. The dissertation examines a difficult-to-readily-observe process, and everything is just do doggone subtle that it's hard to communicate why it's significant. Grr.
Why, oh why didn't I choose the other dissertation topic, the one with lots of data and lots of regressions? The one with easily quantifiable and explainable results? Why, oh why do I always go for the topics that require so much interpretation, so much reading, so much WORK?
Next week at this time I will be on a different college campus. I will leave for my campus visit next Sunday afternoon, and the first thing I'll do on Monday morning is teach a class as part of the interview process. I am simply filling in for the regular professor in his Intro class of 35 students, lecturing on material I'm pretty familiar with, performing in front of students I've never met for 50-60 minutes. After I'm done, the students will have 20 minutes to evaluate me.
I love to teach, and I like to think that I'm a pretty decent lecturer. But I think a large part of what makes me effective is that I really get to know my students, right from the start. It's hard for me to give a lecture to a roomful of nameless faces, students without known preferences and histories. For that reason I'm kind of nervous about teaching during this interview -- it's one shot to impress the students and the faculty in the room but I will be operating at a disadvantage since I won't know any of them.
I've been toying with the idea of just asking for their names before I begin. I thought I'd introduce myself and then just go around the room and have them tell me their names -- no detailed information that would take too much time, but it would least give me a sense of who they are, what their voices sound like, etc. I have a pretty good memory, so I'll probably remember at least 10 faces and names, and that would really increase my comfort level as I talk. I wonder, though, how that would be perceived by students and faculty alike. A time waster? An extra effort for the students? An insight into my teaching?
I asked my brother, Rob, about this last night on the phone. He's a college senior, and I asked him to tell me some things he really liked or disliked about professors he's had. He gave me some excellent advice, advice I'll take to heart as I prepare my lecture. One of the things we chatted about was the use of Powerpoint in a lecture. I am a recent Powerpoint convert -- I used to hate it because professors would simply read the Powerpoint slides and not actually teach the material, but then I encountered a few professors who used Powerpoint very effectively, especially in large courses. I've now started using it in larger classes, and I really like how it helps me to stay on task with my lectures and helps students to know where I am in the lecture and where I'm going. For me, the key is to provide only a very skeletal outline, very few words per slide, lots of charts and pictures. I've had students tell me that they really appreciate it simply because it gives them a new way to remember information: they can write down what I'm saying and keep an image in their minds, a visual cue that helps them recall what was important. So I'm leaning toward making a Powerpoint presentation for "my" class on Monday. The topic is really interesting and lends itself to graphics and pictures, so I think it would be useful. And the class is fairly large for this small college, 35 students.
I'm also thinking about how I'll dress. Monday I have to teach the class first, and then go to a series of meetings with faculty and administrators, lunch with students, then more meetings, all culminating in a nice dinner out. I'm not sure I want to teach in a suit -- I don't like wearing a suit in the first place, and I certainly wouldn't wear one on a normal teaching day as I feel it sets me apart too much from my students. (I usually dress up to teach, but not in a suit.) But if I'm going to be at meetings the rest of the day, perhaps a suit is appropriate? Maybe I could just take off my suit jacket when I'm teaching so I'm just in a dress shirt and black pants?
The faculty-centered part of the interview will take place on Tuesday, when I'm scheduled to give my research presentation. That should be interesting, since it's also when I'll reveal that I'm going to be leaving for Europe on November 1. I haven't said anything about the research trip in my cover letters because my advisors told me that the fact that I'm going to be away during November's prime interview season might discourage some colleges from considering me, especially if they're on a tight timetable to make a hire. I'm excited to reveal this information at the interview, though, because it will slip into my research presentation so nicely. I'm presenting a case study that is in progress, and the remainder of the data will be gathered in Europe -- I think that will be kind of fun to say, since it'll show that I'm going to be "living" my dissertation, gathering information and experiences in my real life, not just in books.
The European trip complicates so much of my life right now. Getting ahead of myself, what if they offer me the job? They're moving so fast that it's a possibility, if they like me, that they'll offer the job before I leave for Europe. That would be a strange situation, because I'm not sure I could accept without T having seen the place first, and we wouldn't be able to get out there until December at the earliest. T trusts my impressions of places and people, but I think it would be difficult for anyone to uproot their lives and just blindy go somewhere they've never seen. I suppose T could fly out to visit the area on his own in November while I'm gone, but of course I'd rather be with him. I suppose we'll just have to cross that bridge IF we come to it.
I wanted to put this in the previous post, but Blogger wouldn't have it. Anyway, according to ST this is a fingerpainting of firetrucks fighting a fire (obviously!). The white blobs in the middle of the red blobs are where ST got too much of the ColorWonder fingerpaints on his fingers. (You're supposed to just swipe your finger across the paint pad, but ST scoops the paint out. As a result, we buy a lot of ColorWonder fingerpaint these days.)
In the past few weeks, ST has become an art maniac. He's turning out masterpiece after masterpiece, we have broken crayons all over the dining room floor, and we're quickly running out of ColorWonder paper (God bless the creators of ColorWonder, by the way). Prior to this ST had not shown much interest in doing anything remotely creative. We'd put out the crayons and draw with him and he'd ignore us, or he'd draw one line and declare "Done!" But now he's into drawing and gluing and fingerpainting and sticking stickers on anything we'll let him. Here is a recent example:
I purchased some construction paper for him ages ago (back in his "anti-art" phase) and cut out a boxful of little shapes in different colors. He discovered that little box of paper shapes the other day and started sticking them all over this paper, and augmented the design with flower stickers I'd saved from some junk mail. ST is particularly proud of this picture, since "I glued it all over, Mom." He wanted to use the glitter but, in the words of Dr. Seuss, "I am not that dumb a dunce."
I am particularly happy that he's discovering art, since that's what I did almost my entire childhood. I come from a very creative family (too creative, sometimes) and so my sister and I would spend the days drawing or making things with construction paper, painting outside, etc. Often, Mom and Dad would join in with us which made it even more fun. Dad always used to draw incredibly scary monsters and dramatic landscapes while Mom taught us how to draw practical things like people, flowers, cars, animals and houses. My parents are both incredibly talented artists -- Mom actually worked as as commercial artist for a few years until she realized that she hated creating art for money, and Dad has always been involved in some sort of artistic venture. Their creativity flows beyond the canvas, however, and into other things: my Mom is an amazing quilter, for example, and my Dad can create anything -- anything -- out of wood. They recently gutted the entire upper floor of their house and redid everything themselves, right down to sanding and staining EACH PLANK of their new hardwood floors. The only thing they couldn't do was make the new countertop, but that was the only time there were workers in their house for the duration of the project. I wish I had even half the artistic talent my parents have. I hope ST gets some of it, too.
Anyway, in other toddler-related news, we visited a farm today and went through a corn maze, a pumpkin patch, and a petting zoo. ST had a blast, but the fun on the farm was no match for what we happened upon later: the firehouse in town, where the firemen were washing the trucks outside. We stopped and the men were very willing to let ST climb all over the trucks, turn on the lights and sirens, and pull on the hoses. It was toddler nirvana. They gave him a plastic firehat and a sticker and ST was thrilled. One of the firefighters told me that, for ST's next birthday, they'd be happy to drive a truck over to our cul-de-sac for kids to see and play in. Sounds like fun to me! Guess we'll be having a firefighter-themed third birthday, and all of the neighborhood kids will be invited. (I'm usually not into themed parties, but this could be big fun.)
Guess who was just invited to an on-campus interview at the end of the month?
I am flabbergasted. And excited. And nervous. And sad. And feeling a little guilty.
Flabbergasted: because as much as I'd hoped this would happen, the "you're not really good enough" part of me said it never would.
Excited: because -- wow! -- what an opportunity at an amazing school with amazing resources.
Nervous: because I have to teach a class first thing when I get there, then meet everyone, then meet the Dean, and then present my research to the faculty.
Sad: because it's three more days I have to be away from ST, occurring just a week before I leave for Europe for 30 days. I've been sobbing about that all morning. But I must remember that all of these things that I'm doing are for his future. He is, quite simply, my reason for doing everything.
Guilty: because I'm leaving, abandoning my roles here at home, and shoving a lot onto T's shoulders for a long time. He's very willing and happy to do it, but it still makes me feel selfish. And I feel even more selfish when I think of the very real possibility that I will have to uproot T again.
Just as I finished typing the above entry, I heard the garage door open. T was in the neighborhood after a client meeting and stopped by the house to congratulate me. Every day I thank God for putting this man in my life. Not only is he completely supportive of my wacky future career, but he told me today that he's proud of me for managing the dissertation, job search, the house, and ST and for doing it all well. He told me that I should never feel guilty about this trip or the European trip because he will take care of things here -- this is what partnership is about, he said. He said that he's been so lucky in that, for the past five years, he's been able to concentrate on his career because he's always known that I'd take care of the other details. He's never had to juggle his schedule as I have to fit in ST or to fit in late-night library trips. "It's my turn to juggle a little," he said to me this afternoon, "and I'm excited to do it."
I love my life. It's crazy right now, but it's mine. And it's good.
I have spent the day drafting cover letters and preparing a Powerpoint presentation for a mock job talk I have to do next week. As I worked today I thought about how I should have worked on these things earlier in the week, and I wondered why I hadn't. Then I realized something that I've known about myself for a long time: I often dread the thought of doing something, but then actually enjoy doing it.
For example, I have known about this presentation for about a month. I've planned it out in my head -- I've known for awhile how I wanted it to look, the case I wanted to use, how I wanted to organize it. But I just couldn't sit down to create the Powerpoint because the thought of it was unbearably dull. I dreaded having to sit down and do it, because in my mind it was already done. That's how I am about so many things: I am dreading writing up these next two case studies, dreading going overseas, dreading filling out more job applications, etc. In my mind, I already have sketchy plans for all of these things, and so now I have no desire to do them. I suppose it's just another form of procrastination (and God knows I'm good at that).
Anyway, the Powerpoint is now looking pretty good, and I'm actually having fun assembling it. And I started writing a bit for my second case study and it was rather enjoyable, even though it is coming out much differently than I thought it would. I've been dreading the thought of reading the German documents I found, but as I started to read them I found them extraordinarily entertaining (really -- I'm not being facetious). Now I just have to realize that whenever I'm dreading doing something I just need to do it and get over the dread immediately. This could work in other areas of my life as well. For example, I always dread going to see my brother-in-law but, some of the time, I actually find myself enjoying his company (gasp!). I usually dread going running, but most of the time I have fun out on the trail (especially now that the nano is my running partner!). I dread changing ST's diaper, but... wait. No. That dread is not misplaced. I guess there are limits to my "feel the dread and embrace it" theory.
Now, back to another task I've been dreading for a few days. Then my slate will be clear for a productive day tomorrow.
UPDATE (11:52pm): two dreaded tasks completed instead of just one (and both in a foreign language, I might add!). I love checking things off of my ever-present to-do list. Tomorrow: finish the presentation. Heck, if I am really ambitious I can finish three more job applications due at the end of the month.
I've written before about my two advisors, two men I admire greatly and whom I have always felt put my graduate career high on their own lists of priorities. While I treasure them both, I can honestly say that I have a deep affection for Prof. G., a senior scholar who has literally taught me the bulk of what I know in my field and who led me to my dissertation topic. Quite honestly, I would place him on par with my parents in terms of how much I have learned from him -- beyond my field, I have learned to be a teacher, a mentor, a professional, a writer, and a well-balanced, active person with his guidance. Mine is the last dissertation he will direct.*
Prof. G has come through for me several, several times. I met him at my first campus visit, and I was told by others that I probably wouldn't have classes with him as he was nearing retirement. That made me sad, especially since after the campus visit Prof. G. and I had a lovely email correspondence until I arrived here for my first semester. He instantly became my advisor, arranged it so that my first TA assignment would be for one of his undergraduate courses, and ended up teaching a graduate seminar I took in my first year. That seminar sparked an interest in me that has grown ever since; the paper I wrote for that class became a co-authored piece that Prof. G. and I currently have under review. In my second year, I found a neat off-campus program that I wanted to attend but couldn't afford on my own. Prof. G. found out about it and secured funding for me as well as a permanent space in this program for future graduate students interested in the same thing (it is widely believed that he paid for the bulk of the costs himself). When I was pregnant with ST, Prof. G. was thrilled for me and always encouraging, never making me feel like I was "less" of a scholar even when I felt like that myself (hard not to when one is surrounded by a lingering odor of regurgitated breast milk). He prepared me well for my comprehensive exams. Despite the fact that he made me do a zillion drafts of my prospectus, I know that the project is better for it. And now, as I am in the final months of my Ph.D., he is helping me again to finalize my overseas plans. He has used his contacts to make many things a lot easier for me than they otherwise would have been.
I hope that someday I have the opportunity to take the same kind of interest in a student as Prof. G. has in me. I hope that someday I will find the appropriate words to thank him for everything -- everything. I think of the day that I receive my doctoral hood and get all teary-eyed when I think that he -- the man who has inspired me in so many ways -- will be the one to place it around my shoulders. Knowing the kind of man he is, perhaps that final demonstration, the placing of the hood, will be thanks enough.
*What's especially neat is that I met the man who wrote the first dissertation Prof. G. directed. I have a picture of the three of us together, and it always makes me smile (despite the fact that I'm in profile which, as you know, highlights one of my less-than-lovely features). UPDATED to add: When it rains, it pours. I just talked to my other advisor, Prof. C., who had some extremely interesting and very bizarre job news for me. I tell you, these guys look out for me. The further along I get in the job hunting process, the more convinced I am that it's ALL about who you know.
Where did today go? It's now after 3:30pm and I have to pick up ST in an hour. I hate days like this! I did not accomplish anything. Nothing. Here's how I've wasted this day:
1.) Found and read an article on a funky new perspective on my dissertation topic. Admittedly, I spent a large chunk of time on this, but not nearly what I'd planned.
2.) Tidied the house (I do that every morning).
3.) Researched international phone cards from Germany to the U.S. (Any recommendations? I found one called Pingo, but I don't know much about it. The rates seemed good.)
4.) Had a little cry (15 minutes) when I thought about leaving ST at daycare the day I leave for Germany.
5.) Talked to T when he called from work. He's not feeling well. And when he's sick, he's SICK.
6.) Wrote thank you emails to the search committee members from my phone interview yesterday. This was difficult for a few reasons: first, I struggled with the fact that I am a huge believer in handwritten notes but this school seems to be moving very fast and I didn't want my notes to arrive too late so I had to resort to emails; second, since it was a conference call, I couldn't hear the names of all of the faculty members present very well. I heard what they said, but there was no formal introduction made at the beginning -- each one just introduced himself as he spoke. So, I feel like I might be missing one member. Grr. I emailed the chair today to ensure that I'd gotten everyone, but she hasn't yet emailed me back.
7.) Emailed feedback on my friend's not-so-great presentation yesterday. That was hard to do. I wanted to be encouraging but also honest, and there were honestly a lot of things he could do better.
8.) Took a half hour nap because I couldn't keep my eyes open.
9.) Emailed my dearest friend about the phone interview and other stuff. He emailed me back so I was of course obliged to email again. (!)
10.) Talked to my mom for 15 minutes about the phone interview. She called wondering if they'd offered me the job on the spot. Right! Gotta love mothers, who always believe you're the best person for any job.
I think that's it. How dull. What a waste. But, since T is sick and has already warned me that he "will not be the most useful husband around" tonight, I should have plenty of time to get more work done in the evening after ST goes to sleep. I work better at night, anyway.
So it's done. I had my phone interview this afternoon, and it seemed to go OK. It's just impossible to gauge these things. I don't feel bad about it, but I don't feel great about it. I just feel... done with it.
It was a conference call, which I am never good at because I feel like I'm talking to an answering machine. They ask a question, there's a little pause while I try to make sure they're finished speaking, and then I talk. No real "conversation," but a series of questions and answers that are hard to get excited about. The questions were pretty much as expected: tell us about your dissertation research and what you hope to contribute, tell us what courses you'd like to teach, ask us questions, tell us about how you think you'd fit in here. I answered these questions OK, I think, although I rambled a bit on the last one. I had so many things I wanted to say that I shoved them into one super-statement, and that wasn't very effective. I never did have a chance to ask them about their timeline, which is something I really wanted to know. We talked for half an hour. That means they must have only had four candidates on their short list, assuming they talked to everyone for that long (they only allotted two hours for phone interviews).
Everyone was really nice, and the school sounded even better than I had imagined. A really wonderful place to build a career in both teaching and research. I hope that I at least have the opportunity to visit the campus, because I'm much more effective in-person than on the phone. (I have always hated to talk on the phone. My mom used to have to force me to call my friends in school.) We'll see. Whatever the outcome, it was a useful experience.
Now, though, I'm feeling a bit sick. I blame ABDmom, because I've been reading about her illness and I think it's transferred via the internet to me. (Thanks a LOT, ABD!) On a more positive note, however, ST pooped on the potty tonight for the first time in MONTHS, and I can only think that he was somehow channelling Pistola over the wireless waves. Anyway, I had a fever of almost 102 degrees this morning, felt achey and stiff all over, and had a massive headache. I'm feeling a lot better now, but still not quite up to par.
I'm feeling a bit anxious tonight, waiting for my phone interview tomorrow. I asked our Placement Director for some tips, and he said, "No worries. Be yourself. You'll do fantastic." I feel like I should be preparing something, but I suppose I've done all I can do. I've thought about the courses I'd like to teach, about how I'd talk about my dissertation if they ask about it, about some books that I'd like to use in class, about what sorts of things are important to me as far as higher education goes, about my hobbies (I'm sure they'll be fascinated by my superior baking skills, and that a well-placed plate of my Pecan Pie Brownies would secure me that job quick-smart), about why I'd like to work there. I've printed off faculty bios and toured the college website in detail to find out what the place is like. I've perused the library online. I think I'm ready for the expected questions.
I find that sometimes I overprepare and then I perform even worse than I would have with a normal amount of preparation. For example, I used to write out my lectures word-for-word, needing them down on paper as a sort of security blanket. I always feared that awful moment when your mind just goes blank, where you forget what you were going to say, and I thought that a transcript of my lecture would ease that fear. Not so -- indeed, I got so worried about sticking to the script that my lecturing sounded too formal, and when I did lose my place, I looked like an idiot fumbling around for my next words in the text. Now, I lecture with a detailed outline that gives the main points, reminders about facts I might forget, important things to remind students about, etc. My lectures are so much better because of it, because I get to be "me" instead of just a talking head without personality. (That's one thing I hated about attending university lectures in Europe. Each professor published a thick book of all his/her lectures, and the students could buy the book at the bookstore. The professor then gave the same lecture in class as he/she had published in the book. So boring. No wonder a lot of European students don't go to class.)
Anyway, I think I'm just going to try to relax about it. They'll call. We'll chat. It will be over. If they decide to invite me to campus, that will be awesome. If not, I'll be disappointed -- but there are other jobs. And this interview will prepare me for those interviews, should there be any.
In other preparation news, I am finally feeling a bit more organized about my impending trip to Europe, although I'm also getting a bit nervous and sad about it. Today I bought a new, lightweight sweater to wear when I'm doing my elite interviews or archival work, new lipstick (this lipstick is seriously the best stuff EVER, and I've tried a lot of lipsticks, expensive and not), and new covered baking dishes. I spent the late afternoon preparing a few meals to freeze for T and ST to eat while I'm away. T hates to cook, and so I thought I'd help him out on busy weeknights by having meals ready for him to bake -- all he has to do is thaw them overnight and pop them in the oven after work. By 6:00pm, he and ST will have a Mom-cooked meal.
It's amazing all of the planning that has to go into leaving for four weeks. I know T will handle it all brilliantly, because he's just that kind of guy: when there are a lot of demands on him, he steps up to the plate and gets the job done. While I'm gone, he'll be responsible for everything: getting ST ready for daycare, working a full day at the firm, picking ST up, making dinner, doing laundry, paying bills, buying groceries, etc. When I asked him if he was worried about taking on so much, he said, "No, not really. It will be tough, but it's what I have to do. It's what I want to do, because I want you to make the most of your time in Europe and not worry about us." What a guy. He said that he's more worried about me, since I'll be alone in an unfamiliar place.
I'm a little worried about me, too. Mostly, I'm worried about November 1, the day I leave. I will be a basketcase. My flight doesn't leave until around 3:00pm that day, and I'll be traveling for 14 hours. What will I do that morning? Should I take ST to daycare, or have him here with me? Should T take the day off, or will that make it more difficult? Honestly, I cannot even comprehend what it will feel like to say goodbye to my adorable little family, the center of my universe. I can't imagine not hearing ST's voice every day, or feeling his soft cheek against mine when he hugs me. I can't imagine sleeping alone. I can't imagine T and ST sitting at the dining room table without me, traveling without me, spending weekends without me. It makes me really sad. I console myself by remembering that four weeks is NOT a long time in the grand scheme of things, that ST is too young for this to have a real lasting impression on him, and that I will be able to get a ton of work done while I'm away (thus freeing up more time for me to spend with T and ST in December). But still... ugh.
This week I'm going to start writing little notes for ST. I'm going to make 30 notes, one for T to read to ST each day that I'm gone, as a way for me to connect with ST and as a way for ST to count down the days until I return. T thought that was a good idea.
So much to do in these next few months. I long for December.
Almost all of the time, I happily claim T and ST as my family. They’re funny, attractive, smart, and well-spoken guys, generally respectful and well-mannered. But sometimes, like tonight at Mass, I just want to leap over a few pews to be by myself and to get away from my obnoxious boys.
We usually go to the 10:30am Mass on Sundays, but we decided to go to the late afternoon Mass tonight instead because T is helping with a half-marathon tomorrow. Before every Mass, we ask ST to recite our “Rules of Church:*” no screaming, no hitting, listen to Mom and Dad, use your quiet voice. He has them down pat, but despite that he usually has a few problems in church because it lasts far too long for a toddler to pay attention. He makes it through the “Gloria”** all right, but once we reach the Homily we have to have something for the child to do or he goes nuts. I have a “church bag” full of Matchbox cars, books, and a few non-messy snacks (Teddy Grahams, oyster crackers) for him, and these things usually placate him until at least after Communion. Not today.
We sat in the back. ST was generally noisy throughout, and of course the more we tried to “shush” him the louder he got. Before the first reading he pointed toward the front of the church. “Mom, is that a boy? Or is it a girl? What is it, Mom?” he said, voice at optimum embarrass-your-parents level. Fortunately it wasn’t clear to whom he was pointing. While the priest was blessing the bread and wine, the altar servers ring bells very quickly. “Hey!” ST said, loudly, “Someone get the phone! Mom, the phone’s ringing!” The family sitting behind us laughed uncontrollably. This only encouraged him more, and he started going, “Hello? Hellllloooo? Who’s calling me?”
Those things weren’t so bad, I suppose. But add them to the fact that ST shoved oyster crackers in the crack between the padding on the pew and the pew back, AND the fact that he pushed a Matchbox car into the middle of the aisle where an elderly woman almost tripped on it, AND the fact that he had seemingly uncontrollable gas during Mass, and it was a horrible experience.
To make things even worse, I caught T snacking on Teddy Grahams with ST during the homily, which is totally inappropriate and he knows it. I think that embarrassed me more than anything. He felt pretty bad about it and apologized later when I explained to him that if he really needed to snack during Mass, he should feel free to bring a La-Z-Boy recliner, a magazine, and a beer to Mass, too. Grr.
And wait. There’s more. We usually dress up for Mass, but today time got away from us and we dashed off wearing jeans and sweaters – nice jeans and sweaters, but certainly not dressy. This afternoon – of course – the priest chose to talk to the congregation about dressing up for Mass. I felt like a total loser.
We made it through without being excommunicated, which is good. We came home, ate a late supper, and then ST wanted T and I to look at the crescent moon with him. “Look, Mom,” ST said, excitedly, “There’s Hy-eenus!” He pointed to Venus, glowing brightly above the houses in our neighborhood. We have a book that features hyenas, and ST always mixes up “Venus” and “hyenas.” An honest mistake, I suppose. We read ST two books about the moon and sent him to bed.
Now I’m going to go downstairs and visit with T before doing a bit of work this evening. Or not. I may just sit and watch Hy-eenus make its way in the night sky for awhile, relishing in the fact that my boys are just as bright and just as constant.
* These “Rules” are suspiciously similar to our “Rules of the Grocery Store,” “Rules of the Library,” and “Rules of the Hospital.” Go figure. ** There is nothing funnier – nothing – than hearing a toddler singing “Gloria in excelsis deo” while he’s in the tub. Especially when it comes out “Gloria in shellfish mayo.”
As seen at Brightstar's (where I see everything, because she is such a diligent updater):
Relationship status: Married for over six years Height: 5'8" Shoe: 8 1/2 Parents still together: yes Siblings: one younger sister (28), one younger brother (21) Pets: one cat, Belle
Favourites Colour: pale blue, deep red, black Number: 4 Animal: cats and ducks Drinks: hot chocolate or chocolate milk Soda: Root beer (I rarely drink soda because it gives me heartburn) Book: all-time favorite is Tolstoy's War and Peace; close second is Eliot's Adam Bede
Do you? Colour your hair: no, despite having a sister who's a stylist Have tattoos: no Piercings: none (no, not even the ears) Like cleaning: routine cleaning is OK; I enjoy doing laundry Know how to drive: yes, but I'd rather be the passenger
Have you ever... Been in a physical fight: No. Kicked someone in the nuts: No. Stolen anything: Binder clips from my former office. Held a gun: No. Drank: Yes; a little Riesling now and again. Cried over a girl: ? Been in love: Yes, still am. Lied to someone: Yes. Cried over a boy: Yes.
Currents Current clothing: my favorite jeans, a red fitted t-shirt and black cardigan Current mood: Ready to tackle the day. Current taste: Still tasting the chocolate bread pudding I made last night. Current smell: Jessica McClintock's No. 3 and Aveda Shampure Current thing I ought to be doing: Tidying the house so I can get to work Current CDs in stereo: Bing Crosby's crooning "San Fernando Valley" via the iPod. Last book you read: Dissertation-related; before that, A Town Like Alice Last movie you saw: Broken Flowers with Bill Murray (fantastic) Last thing you ate: Yogurt-Burst Cheerios (not very good; too sweet) Last person you talked to on the phone: T's secretary
Do you...? Do drugs: No. Have a dream that keeps coming back: Not any more. Play an instrument: Flute for 18 years. Read the newspaper: Yes, three; local, NYT, and a foreign language paper online.
There are two physical things I don't really like about myself: my nose and my voice. My nose is the family nose, passed on from generation to generation, and it always looks better on the men. It seems big (to me -- no one else really notices) and because of that I don't like to see myself in profile or have pictures taken from the side. I'm learning to overlook the nose, however, because 1.) it IS the family nose, and I'm secretly a bit proud that I got it; and 2.) I don't really believe in cosmetic surgery, and the nose is not THAT bad anyway.
My voice is another issue. It's not that it's annoying in a Victoria Jackson or Fran Drescher kind of way, it's just that it's kind of high-pitched. Whenever I hear myself on a recording, I think that I sound like a child. On more than one occasion in my adult life, telemarketers have asked to speak to my mother when I answer the phone. My first boyfriend's mother, before she got to know me, referred to me as "the munchkin" because of my voice on the phone. When I was working at Barnes and Noble, I once had a guy tell me that I had "the cutest voice in the world." It's not a bad voice, but I just don't think it sounds very grown-up, despite the words that come out of my mouth. Over the years, I've tried to master my "lecture voice," and I certainly have my "mom voice" down pat -- for these voices, I consciously try to lower the pitch of my voice so that I sound more authoritative. When I get excited, however, I can feel the pitch rise.
I am thinking about this now because I just found out that I have a phone interview next Monday afternoon. The interview is with one of my "top picks" of academic jobs, one of the jobs I'm the most interested in so far. I have a list of questions I might be asked, and I'm formulating a list of questions to ask the committee via the conference call. I'll be well-prepared. But I'm really worried about my voice, and hoping that the committee members won't think that I've asked a seven-year old to take the call in my stead. T said that he would do mock telephone interviews with me over the weekend, which will help. And I know that HWC will practice with me, too. But I'm not sure if practice will help me to keep my excitement in check, and thus keep my voice below a range where only dogs and bats can hear me.
I'm thrilled to have the interview, of course, but I'm worried about making an impression over the phone. I'm not a very serious or formal person, and I'm afraid that I'll come off as too flippant over the phone, too silly. I'm afraid that I'll stammer. I'm afraid of the Awkward Pause. I'm afraid that I'll say something that will be taken the wrong way. I'm afraid of the bizarre question I won't be able to satisfactorily answer. I'm worried about the fact that I won't be able to see these people (they don't even have pictures on their website!) and won't be able to guage their reactions to my statements. And I'm really concerned about hearing them: I've participated in conference calls in the past, and each time I've had difficulty hearing everything that's said on the other end. I'm worried that the person who applied for their position is not the person they're going to hear from on Monday.
This morning, just after I dropped ST off at daycare, the FedEx man arrived at my door. The nano is here!
I resisted the temptation to open the box for about 20 minutes. Then I opened it up and beheld its… well, its sheer tiny-ness. It is so small I fear I might lose it. In between reading some German parliamentary debates (yes, it IS as thrilling as it sounds) I have been cramming the nano full of songs. However, as I picked the CDs to import, I realized that my life's soundtrack is pretty limited. I read that profgrrrl has over 4,000 songs in her iTunes -- that boggles my mind. I have maybe 10-15 CDs that I listen to with any regularly, and only about 5 that I listen to often. I bought the 2GB nano because I knew that I'd never even come close to filling it up. It holds 500 songs -- I don't think I even own 500 songs! Right now I have 85 songs on the nano (that means I still have 1.4GB to fill), and I’ve already gone through all of my favorite CDs (with the exception of my Frank Sinatra CDs, because T has them in his car).
Despite my small collection, I do love the music that I listen to and the nano will help me listen to it more often. I mostly listen to classical or jazz, but there are some "popular" songs that I like and have on my iPod for when I am running or when I feel like singing. Here are some tunes that have made it onto the nano, and the memories those tunes conjure up for me:
Dave Matthews Band ("Ants Marching", "Under the Table and Dreaming", "Best of What's Around"): I remember getting ready for dates with T, listening to these songs. These songs remind me of my freshly washed hair, my comfortable jeans, chunky brown shoes, and Jessica McClintock perfume. I think of my housemates, checking in on me and teasing me because, for the first time, they could see I was totally crazy about someone.
Sting (songs from Ten Summoner's Tales): studying for my AP courses in high school, writing letters to Jim and trying to figure him out, trying to decide if I should end things with my boyfriend in order to be with Jim, long walks by myself in the woods behind our house, feeling happy about being me.
Sting (songs from Brand New Day): packing up our old apartment in Colorado, ready for a new adventure. Smells of bathroom cleaner and glimpses of Mt. Evans. Deciding what to do with the snapdragons I'd so lovingly grown on our balcony, knowing they would not survive the long move. Coaxing our cat into her pet taxi. Driving in our old Jeep Grand Cherokee with no air conditioning, following a U-Haul towing my 1988 Toyota Camry. Later, a lot of the songs on this CD would come to be the soundtrack of my pregnancy, and the song "Brand New Day" would always make me cry when I thought of the big changes just months away.
Ella Fitzgerald (songs from The Best of the Songbooks): hanging out with T in college, laying on my bed and chatting until wee hours of the morning about our possible future together. Trying to sing along to "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered" without messing up the words. Skiing trip to Michigan where T found out just how unathletic I really am. Really thinking that I was going to marry T someday as we drove in his old Buick.
Sheryl Crow ("All I Wanna Do"): while I now enjoy this song as I run, it always brings back fond memories of my time in Europe, sitting at a bar on a Friday night drinking good Austrian beer with friends, realizing that I didn't really even like beer but drinking it anyway. Walking home in the crisp, dark night, not worrying for my safety. Eager to experience everything in Europe.
Johann Strauss ("On the Beautiful Blue Danube"): learning to waltz with an Austrian professor to the most typically Austrian song out there. Stepping on his toes. Laughing. Drinking too much Glühwein and loving it.
Red Hot Chili Peppers ("Under the Bridge," others): college, hanging out in my housemate's room, chatting about anything and everything, hearing her whine about her boyfriend, thinking about how glad I was that he wasn't my boyfriend, driving her to work at the slimy Mexican restaurant, knowing she would return home smelling like refried beans.
Bing Crosby (from the massive boxed set I have): fall and winter nights spent alone while waiting to pick T up from his bar exam review course, which met until 10:00pm. First year of graduate school, studying methodology until the wee hours in our cute apartment, finalizing the plans to build our house. Watching the Discovery Channel for the first time (my first time with cable TV!), getting our new computer (which is now our "old" computer).
Stacey Kent (music from In Love Again) and Jane Monheit (Come Dream With Me): home improvements with T while ST was learning to crawl, dancing around the kitchen with T, making hot chocolate the old-fashioned way, studying for my final comprehensive exam, writing my prospectus. Having friends over for dinners, Riesling, and dessert.
John Mayer (“No Such Thing”): I have loved this song ever since I heard it on September 11, 2001. I was watching MSNBC’s coverage of the attacks, and as I flipped past MTV I heard this song and stopped to listen (can you imagine that – MTV actually playing music!). It is the only song I’ve purchased (so far) from the iTunes store. It is a song that gets me excited to finish this Ph.D., mostly because of the last line: “… and as I stand on these tables before you, you will know what all this time was for.” This Ph.D. business has been a long haul, and I hope it’s all worth it.
T wants to put some of his songs on the nano, too, in case he wants to use it for running (which I doubt he will). That means that, eventually, the nano will be home to Metallica, Garth Brooks, Matchbox 20, and Green Day. I’m pretty sure I’ll have plenty of space for them. (Understatement!)
I just took this politics quiz for fun. The results are somewhat accurate (as accurate as any of these "quizzes" are), but I had to laugh as I looked back on my political past. As an undergrad, I was a College Republican! Ah, how things change...
We have returned from our whirlwind journey to Marathon City. Here are the vital statistics from our trip:
297: miles from our front door to Marathon City
We left at around 3:00pm on Friday and made good time to our hotel. Bill, Lapdog (that's not a very nice nickname, I realize... let's call her "Rita"), the MIL, and my cute nephews arrived shortly after we did. I will pinch myself as I type this, but we actually had a pleasant, enjoyable conversation with Bill and Rita, ST played with my nephews like old pals -- it was quite nice.
$158.78: cost of pre-marathon dinner at an Italian restaurant on Saturday
Not too bad, considering we fed three kids and six adults, and we even had dessert. The bad thing was that I started to feel very crummy mid-way through the dinner and couldn't properly enjoy my cannoli.
$1.50: cost of my fantastic new haircut
As I've mentioned before, my sister Julie is a very talented stylist. When I'm here in my university town, I only get my hair trimmed. When I'm near Marathon City, I go to Julie. I always BEG to pay her for the haircuts, since she normally charges over $40 for one, but she refuses payment altogether. I told her I had to give her something. "What about $2.00?" I said, joking. "Too much," she said. "Maybe a dollar." We compromised at $1.50. Quite a bargain for the best haircut I've ever had.
2: number of new books I bought for ST at the highly organized Barnes and Noble
Our Barnes & Noble here always seems a bit messy. The one in Marathon City was spectacular, and I found a cool book about airplanes for ST as well as a new dinosaur book. He was thrilled.
6:05: time we woke up this morning
T was very excited to get downtown for the marathon start, and so we were all ready by 6:50am. we checked out of the hotel and Julie drove us all to the start line, where we dropped T off. We told him we'd meet him at the finish line. The race started at 8:00am, and so we planned to be at the finish line by 11:30am.
5: number of times ST said, "My tummy hurts" before 11:00am
Julie, ST and I drove to her apartment, where we were supposed to have breakfast together. Didn't happen. ST was crying uncontrollably, clutching his stomach and writhing on the ground. He clung to me, wanting to lie down, but every time I laid him down on the bed he screeched in pain. He was sweaty and sticky, and his tummy was hard as a rock. I can quite honestly say that ST has never been constipated in his 2.5 years, and so I figured that he was just stopped up. I rubbed his tummy and he seemed to calm down, but he didn't poop. (Yes, that nugget of information will be useful later in this post.)
115: number of minutes it took to find parking near the Finish Line
We were supposed to arrive at the finish line by 11:30am, as T figured he'd cross it just before noon. We left Julie's apartment after ST settled down, and arrived at the race location at around 11:10am. We then hunted for a parking spot for almost two hours, but to no avail. We missed T's finish. That sucked. We did finally secure a spot, and then we met T, Bill, Julie, MIL and my nephews on the grass. T looked pretty terrible. But he made it.
3:55: hours and minutes it took T to run 26.2 miles
Very, very proud of my husband. He wanted to run the marathon in under four hours, and he did it. After refueling and resting a bit after the race, we hobbled back to our car and drove to Julie's apartment so T could shower.
101.6: ST's temperature after the marathon
As we rushed to see T after the marathon, ST worsened. He was moaning a lot, sweaty, and still complaining of his hurting stomach. I didn't know what to do -- I had to pick up T, and I had to get ST some help. Immediately after the marathon I rushed ST to the ER that is close to Julie's apartment, and he was seen soon after. He was truly miserable. They couldn't find anything wrong with him, although the blood tests they ran did show some indication of a slight bacterial infection. We were sent home with antibiotics and strict orders to stop at an ER on our way home if ST seemed to be in any discomfort. Fortunately we didn't have to, and although ST is still not feeling well, he is currently fast asleep in our bed. He will see his pediatrician in the morning. His fever has subsided; he still hasn't pooped. Very unusual for that boy.
$30.00: cost of new thermometer
We were told to monitor ST's temperature the whole way home. We stopped at Target to pick up a thermometer, and of course they were out of the cheap ones. Grr. But this one is pretty spiffy, and it only takes one second ((literally) to read the temperature. A godsend when you have a squirmy, miserable toddler on your hands.
0: hours spent reading the documents I brought with me
Of course, there was no time to do anything "productive" on this trip. Oh well.
0: number of times I wanted to slap Bill
Amazing statistic, this. He was actually very decent the entire trip. I like happy surprises like this.
0: cost of our hotel room for two nights
MIL, who is exceedingly generous, paid for everyone's hotel room for the two nights we stayed. What a sweetheart! Another surprise.
0: number of minutes it will take me to fall asleep tonight
I'm going now to crawl into bed with my two boys -- one sick, and one sore. I can't think of any place I'd rather be.
(* Cue cheesy "Doogie Howser" music. You know, the synthesized music played as he finishes typing his insightful journal entry? Oh, come on. You watched Doogie Howser, MD. Of course you did.)