Tuesday, May 31, 2005
It's been really fun keeping up with this. It's a great place to write without worrying too much about how it comes out. It seems like I even have to craft e-mail these days. It really helps me to write down some of my frustrations and thoughts. Sometimes I can see them more clearly for what they are. I read back over what I've written and reflect on what I'm really getting at--what do I really want out of x? why is y bothering me? And it's fun to see some of the interesting things I've shared and mused about.
And what's even better about it is that people actually read it! I admit that I went into this hoping for a small audience. I enjoyed reading other blogs before I started this one and I saw the small community of folks that had developed around some of them. Everyone seemed interesting and friendly. It really did feel like a grand dinner parter/cocktail hour. I miss that in my real life. It's just difficult to put a group of folks together and arrange for time to spend together. This way, we do it whenever we want. When I read someone's blog post, I feel like they're present even if it was posted hours ago. I can have a conversation with someone at 7 a.m. at 12 a.m and I can pick up said conversation again at 7 a.m or 5 p.m. or noon the next day.
Here are just some moments that have really affected me:
-sharing the election with everyone
-the commenting pixie party/spontaneous poem that resulted in 200+ comments
-celebrating when people get tenure
-Bitch, Ph.D's PK stories
-Scriveners' pics of his kids and his green and then blue hair
-commenting pixies in general, wherever they are
-Julie's always patient and wonderful advice
-Hedgical Trevor and his namesake
-Profgrrrrl's pink hair
-Phantom Scribbler's icon--it makes me smile every time I see her holding up that baby like in the Lion King
-even getting into arguments with people over the Lawrence Summers' fiasco
-reading so many touching, funny, poignant, inspiring, and well-written posts everywhere (I really should keep track of these more because often when something is particularly moving, I don't comment; I don't know why; I just don't).
The above list doesn't even begin to express all the daily little things that make me feel human again. I'm looking forward to another year. I have no idea what it will bring. I'm not sure where my life is going in a year. I'm not entirely sure what I want to be when I grow up. We'll see where the road takes me.
Monday, May 30, 2005
I stole the whole idea of tracking from What Now? I know 1000 pages is somewhat ambitious, especially at the rate I'm going. But I want to write every day--at least something. Hopefully some days, I'll be up to 5 or even 6 pages. Okay, wait, the math isn't working out for me (I need to take Becki's classes maybe). I've got about 76 days to work with. At 5 pages a day, I'll end up at only 380 pages. So I think I'd better cut that down a bit. Let's do 500. That's respectable. That gives me some days of low output hopefully balanced with some really stellar output. Because keep in mind, I'm doing this in my spare time!
"Good for you, but it's because you weigh less than everyone else." (Actually Robby Gordon, a nascar driver said this, but many agree with him.)
"I'm just sick that all the commentators talked about was this stupid woman driver."
"She's too cute to be in that jumpsuit; she should be in a tight sweater and a skirt."
Just awful. It's like "Good for you, but get back in the kitchen please."
Sunday, May 29, 2005
I'm planning another round of this later this afternoon, so we'll see if I get anywhere. I feel like I have to get through this chapter before moving on to the next. Okay, I'm going to shower now and hit the drug store, grocery store, etc.
Saturday, May 28, 2005
I didn't get home until 1 a.m., an unusually late night for me. Now I'm feeling tired. But it's a beautiful day outside and I'm taking the kids to see Madagascar today. I think I will pause the blog for the weekend and get some much-needed rest and accomplish some other things.
Thursday, May 26, 2005
Mother-in-Chief writes all the time about the desire to find fulfilling part-time work. I want to work, for all kinds of reasons: financial rewards, intellectual stimulation, a feeling of contributing. Fulfilling part-time work would be a good solution to the problem. Another solution for me might be to rearrange my work schedule. I might, a couple of times a week, come in at 7:30 and leave at 4:00. Or I might squeeze 35 hours into 4 days, giving me one day a week to be a mom, perhaps giving me time to pursue my other interests: writing, blogging, just keeping the chaos in the house at bay, exercising.
It's those other interests really that are causing me angst right now, because they're the first to go when the kids need to be tended to. If it's 9:30 at night by the time the kids have been fed, bathed, homeworked, reassured, then there's very little time and much less energy to do much else. I do usually blog from about 9:30-11:00 and certainly I could give some of that time to other writing and I might. It often takes me some time just to get geared up and then it might be 10 and then I'm even tireder. You know the routine.
Then there's morning. I think morning could work better. If I gave up my morning blogging, I could use that time to write. I can also do some weekend hours--preferably away from the chaos of my house.
Something's going to give, though. It's either going to be the house, the kids, the exercise. I just feel like this is all hard to balance. It seems utterly impossible to have a full time job, children and anything resembling a life for yourself without feeling like you're doing a half-assed job as all of them. Maybe half-assed is just going to have to be good enough.
Then there's my actual work. To my colleagues who read this: I'm not on the verge of quitting or even truly dissatisfied. I often focus on the negative aspects of my job to figure out a way to turn them into positives. Yes, there are problems, some of them big, but despite my tension between working or not working, I see myself in this job for a really long time. As I often tell people, if I quit, it's going to be to stop working altogether, not to move on to another job. At least that's where I am now. Now if I get lured away by something, that might be another story.
Reading: I finally got a shipment of books I've been waiting for for three weeks--sheesh. I just finished reading and discussing Flawless Consulting, a book I didn't really like at the start because it felt really corporate (flashbacks to my corporate life). But after discussing it with the likes of Eric B. and Megan (who was awfully quiet :) ), I saw some good things in it. It really made me think about my ever-shifting roles--from expert consultant, to tech support, to client. I think it would be a worthwhile book for the organization as a whole to read. I was discussing the book and the discussion with one of my colleagues and he said something I thought quite astute: "You just have to be confident in your skills, convey that confidence and things usually go much more smoothly." I think that's where I falter. Not in every situation, but when I think about the ones that trouble me, it's often because I wasn't confident. The discussion we had really gave me a lot to think about in how I manage those troubled situations.
I just started reading The Secret Blog of Raisin Rodriguez to the kids. Geeky Boy really likes it so far even though he's a little on the young side for its content. Geeky Girl played with her stuffed animals while we read. And I started reading Laws of the Web--looks interesting so far. I think part of why I like blogging so much is that I like reading. I probably read the equivalent of a book every night.
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Writing: When do I write, morning or night or in a weekend chunk? Why am I writing this now and not working on my book? Why can't I bring myself to launch the word processor?
The writing dilemma always leads to the bigger dilemma: work or not work? A successful writing project might lead to a more flexible work life. Thus, putting off the writing begs the question, What am I afraid of? What am I avoiding? Would I miss the stability? The excitement? The companionship?
I think I must sound crazy right now. I promise to return to semi-normal on June 14th.
Another favorite is Andrew Marvell's "The Garden." In the poem, the speaker retreats into the beauties of the garden to find solitude from society and all its ills. The garden is figured as female with men trying in vain to tame it. It is too fertile, too beautiful. The following stanza exemplifies the tug between reveling in the beauty of the garden's fruits and the danger of it.
What wondrous life is this I lead!The speaker is literally tripped by the garden. Later, the speaker laments that Eden has to be sullied with the presence of women.
Ripe apples drop about my head ;
The luscious clusters of the vine
Upon my mouth do crush their wine ;
The nectarine and curious peach
Into my hands themselves do reach ;
Stumbling on melons as I pass,
Insnared with flowers, I fall on grass.
So what's the connection? I've been thinking about my own disorder, which is not constructed the way the object in Herrick's poem is, but runs more to the garden in Marvell's poem. I think in some ways, I am both speaker and garden. I'm tripping myself in my own abundance.
I've also been thinking about disorder more generally and how we (Americans at least) really value order--organization, efficiency, etc. Why? I have never been particularly organized. Oh, sure, I make my to-do lists. I have my schedule in my Palm, but my desk is always in a state of disarray. Though my house is no candidate for one of those "Clean House" or "Organization" shows, it's also no candidate for Martha Stewart's Living or Better Homes and Gardens. Is being organized and neat really better? I realized that this was the root of some of my stress. It's not I have that much to do that I can't handle it, but that I'm not entirely organized in my approach and that stresses me out. I feel like someone's going to say, "Wow, she's really disorganized." But if it gets done, does it matter if had everything in neat folders or in semi-organized piles on my desk? No. Then why, why do I feel bad about it?! And I do think there's a gender issue here. The cost for women who aren't organized is higher than for men. If my house is a mess, does Mr. Geeky get blamed? Not usually. If something falls through the cracks in a project because I missed something, do I get scrutinized more than if it happened on a man's watch? Possibly. And is there an element of fear of the "disordered" woman in the workplace? Quite possibly.
I guess my own philosophy is that yes, you need to have some modicum of order. You can't just let everything go, but you don't have to keep your pencils in a straight line. I certainly admire people who are more organized than me, but I don't begrudge those who are less so. And I wish people would recognize the delight that can be found in disorder.
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Because I'm outlining training sessions that are really technical (html, css, photoshop, video editing), I've been in techie mode lately. I like techie mode. I feel smart in techie mode. But after lunch today, I had to shift into half techie/half writing teacher mode and I felt less smart. I just felt out of my element. Would I feel more in my element if I had those three letters after my name? I don't think so. I felt out of my element the whole time I was working on the diss. Like I didn't know what I was doing. Today, I began expounding about all the cool technical things we could do and then was asked where the substance was. Is there substance to technology? Or is it just a medium? A tool?
The more I'm involved in technology, the more I realize that I think differently than a lot of people. And I think that some of those people see my way of thinking as not just different, but not as good. I really want to read that Steven Johnson book. I think it will make me feel better. There was an interview with him on NPR this morning and the interviewer asked him about multitasking and Johnson said basically, "You're missing the point. I'm talking about complexity of networks, complexity of the connections between things, not the ability to IM and email and watch tv at the same time." And that's the way I think--connectedly. I drove people crazy in school because I would interject something seemingly random into discussion; I always showed how it connected though. During my master's exams, I tried to find a way to connect everything we read to Gawain and the Green Knight. I like that exercise of figuring out how things, people, places connect.
I'm hating the book I'm reading because it's not about these connections; it's about business. It's very business-like. I do not want to function like a business (at least not the one depicted in the book).
I just feel bleh.
Then I got up at 6:30, not to exercise or anything, but, you guessed it, to blog. Is there a problem here? Maybe, but I'd be watching tv and frankly the blogs I read are about 4 million times more interesting (and better written) than anything on tv.
I realized last week that a half hour of relaxing, drinking coffee and reading was not enough to prepare me for the mad rush of getting myself and two children (and a husband) ready for school. I absolutely must have some time to myself before facing the day or I am cranky. Mr. Geeky is like that at the end of the day. Having time to myself has always been extremely important to me and thankfully Mr. Geeky has always recognized that, so not only do I get the morning (which is really just me waking up), but I often get time after dinner and on the weekends. When I was writing my master's thesis, Mr. Geeky took Geeky Boy (no Geeky Girl yet) away for a whole day every weekend. For some reason, when I began working on my dissertation, this arrangement did not resurface. Partly, it was the pressures of his own new job, but it was also my own ambivalence about the degree itself. I am thinking that this would be a good thing to reinstitute for working on the book(s). I wouldn't need the whole day--maybe just the afternoon. Hmm, I like the direction this just took. Oh Mr. Geeky . . .
Monday, May 23, 2005
I also have 2 books to read and I'm geared up to do some writing. And I want to squeeze some exercise in. The only way to fit all this in is to get up early and stay up late (ish). Did I mention my inlaws are coming the week of the workshop? Did I mention my house is a disaster--laundry everywhere, dishes not done, the kids living on poptarts and granola bars? Ack, ack, double-ack.
Oh, and did I mention I'm squeezing in coordinating a video conference and doing another writing/technology workshop? Yikes!
I have butterflies in my stomach from all of this--because it's fun but sort of scary. In theory, I am supposed to have people helping me with the multimedia program, but no one has as much emotional investment in it as I do. It's the *big thing* on my resume and I love doing it, but it is physically and emotionally draining. One of the hardest things about it is getting my colleagues to do something. I have one colleague who's done a lot. He's outlined the scheduled and the topics we'll cover during the training week. He's found some online resources. I'm just filling in the gaps there. The other two are running sections on their own and so far I have no idea what's going on with them even though I've asked them about it. The hard part is that they don't report to me, so I have no control over their work and realistically, this program is very peripheral to their main job responsibilities. I still obsess. I can't help it.
I'm so afraid that some great big ball will drop and the whole juggling act will come crashing down. Sigh.
Perhaps these pictures will calm us all. They're actually a little blurry I think which is perhaps representative of my state of mind right now.
As always, there's more at Flickr (just click on one of the pics).
Sunday, May 22, 2005
There were some interesting moments, though. We were driving by a graveyard that I was pointing out had been established in 1699 and my mom said, "That reminds me, I need to get my will together."
During a discussion about gay marriage, she said, "I would have been really upset if you'd turned out gay." To which Mr. Geeky responded, "I wouldn't be at all surprised if one of our kids is gay."
I also noticed while we were having drinks with my neighbors that my mom is almost always in teacher mode. She talks as if she's in front of a class. I think she does this when she's feeling uncomfortable. I don't know. I found it very amusing when she launched into a lecture about the history of grocery store chains.
My mother is almost always right. If you correct her, she'll say, "No, I don't think so" and reiterate her point. And these are usually over matters of fact not of opinion. Thankfully, this doesn't bother me anymore, but when I was 16 . . . and 20 . . . and . . .
So I survived the visit. Did I mention that I'm writing a whole book about her?
Saturday, May 21, 2005
But my favorite is "dog hair dye." Are these people dying a poodle pink or something?
While looking at my search results, because I hadn't in a while, I ran into a post that I really liked. It's this one, about the shifting of identities I go through.
There are two things I like about my site meter statistics. One is that they often lead me to people I didn't know were linking to me and so I find new and interesting people to read. The other is, these search results often lead me to older posts like the one above that I go back and read and think, "That's kind of interesting." The web is a great place.
Friday, May 20, 2005
We went to Ikea and Lowe's this morning where we got materials for the great garden makeover. Hopefully, it will stop raining tomorrow so we can implement the plan. I'll have before and after shots tomorrow. We also got birdfeeders--very cute. It was actually fun shopping with her. And if it weren't for the rain, I think it would have been even more fun. We just didn't feel like running around and getting wet between stores.
We're going out to dinner tonight and, if the weather is nice, we'll have some friends over to cook out. Mr. Geeky is dying to cook out for some reason.
I hear the laughter of children. Mom duties call.
There Come Our Mothers--Ladysmith Black Mambazo
That Was Your Mother--Paul Simon
Mother And Child Reunion--Paul Simon
Mothers Of The Disappeared--U2
Mama, You Got A Daughter--John Lee Hooker
Hey Mama--Los Mocosos
All I could get was nine.
Thursday, May 19, 2005
And she also gets bored when we are doing something. We can go shopping or to a museum and after a while, she's getting antsy and wants to go. She can never do one thing for too long. I try to be patient and understanding about this, but it's so counter to my own personality that it's hard. And of course, it's disruptive. We are used to moving kind of slowly, especially on the weekends, while my mom is a whirlwind of activity, flitting from this project to that project.
Was it Phantom Scribbler who was talking about the fingernails down a chalkboard effect of being around your parents? That is exactly it.
These kind of living arrangements were unheard of to me. Among my friends anyone who aspired to remain near their family was a loser and probably didn't have any options. Admitedly, this was only a class issue in our small rural town where there were no opportunities for those of us going to college. In an urban area, like the one I live in now, it's common to return to the fold so to speak.
Mr. Geeky also did not go immediately to college. His parents had not offered him this opportunity, so he went part time and worked full time. When his brother, two years younger than he, was ready to go, Mr. Geeky asked for help in going to college full time. His brother had always expressed interest in being a doctor, so they had planned for him to go to college, but since Mr. Geeky had not expressed a definitive career goal that involved college, they just hadn't mentioned it to him. In my family, it didn't matter what you thought you wanted to be, you were going to college. Mr. Geeky and his brother also went to the big state school down the road. I was expected to go a nice, and expensive, liberal arts college.
These minor differences were not terribly important. They colored some of our decisions and some of our interactions. The biggest difference that still shows after 15 years of being together is the do it yourself vs. hiring someone attitude. When I was growing up, we hired people to do everything--yard work, housecleaning, painting, car repair, even minor remodeling. Mr. Geeky grew up with his father doing everything himself--even minor car repairs. Mr. Geeky is always afraid paying someone will cost to much and he, like his father and grandfther, feel that if you can do it yourself, you should. I am constantly pointing out that jobs are more complicated than he thinks and he just doesn't have the time and therefore, it's worth the money.
In many ways, we've taken what's best from each other's class culture and adopted it. Mr. Geeky now aspires for his children to go to ivy league colleges (or at least of that ilk) and expects to pay for it. He appreciates good food and good drink. I appreciate having family close by and the importance of keeping our own nuclear family close. I also appreciate a good bargain and think more before spending extravagantly. Mr. Geeky realizes that sometimes "you get what you pay for" and is willing to sometimes pay more for something if it will last longer. I don't care how something looks all the time and Mr. Geeky pays attention to outward appearances more (when it's appropriate).
I'd love to hear from people with even bigger differences in their marriage. I thought it was interesting that they focused only on one couple. Does that mean there aren't that many people out there like that?
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
3 names you go by:
- Blankenship (people really call me by my last name)
3 screennames you've had (besides blog psuedonym):
3 physical things you like about yourself:
3 physical things you dislike about yourself:
- the pooch
3 parts of your heritage:
3 things you are wearing right now:
- lime green (chartruse?) t-shirt
- my least favorite pair of Eddie Bauer jeans
3 favorite bands / musical artists:
- They Might Be Giants
- Bare Naked Ladies
3 things you want in a relationship:
3 physical things about the preferred sex that appeals to you:
- smooth hands
3 of your favorite hobbies:
- playing video games
3 things you want to do really badly right now:
- take a really long vacation (3 or 4 weeks)
- be pampered
3 things that scare you:
- something happening to one of my kids
- something happening to Mr. Geeky
- random crazy people
3 of your everyday essentials:
3 careers you have considered or are considering:
- college professor
- something in the non-profit sector
3 places you want to go on vacation:
- New England (hey, I've never been)
3 kids' names you like:
(besides the two we have)
- Harrison (runner up for Geeky Boy's name)
3 things you want to do before you die:
- publish a book (heck, I'd settle for finishing one)
- take a trip around the world
- buy the perfect house
3 ways you are stereotypically a boy:
- I like to play video games
- I drink lots of beer (and prefer beer over any other alcohol)
- I don't care much about how I look
3 ways you are stereotypically a chick:
- I giggle
- I like buying stuff for the house
- I like date movies
3 celeb crushes:
- Orlando Bloom
- Harrison Ford
- Vigo Mortensen
3 people I would like to see take this quiz now:
-Has anyone not done this? Bitch, Ph.D? jimbo? timna?
The other thing that I think is depressing is letting the people who are 80 and 90 years old determine your future. Not that I'm knocking their right to participate, but my impression with many of them is that they are afraid of change and that they are voting mainly to keep the status quo (a huge generalization I realize, but somewhat accurate for my area I think).
Republicans outnumber Democrats in our district, but not by the huge margins that showed up to vote yesterday. Of the 211 voters, 155 were Republicans. That's about 75% Republican. I think it's really about 60% Republican, but so many Democrats didn't even bother to vote. Part of the reason for that is that nothing was contested on the Democratic ticket, but there was a bond issue to vote on that was a statewide issue. In my area, at least, it seems that Democrats are less likely to vote.
The whole thing was kind of depressing. It's like we (the Democrats) feel defeated. I fully admit that I rarely voted in local elections, both because I was too lazy, but also because I was never in one place for long enough to care. Now that I'm in a place where I think I'll stay, I plan to participate more and get my fellow Democrats out to vote.
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Monday, May 16, 2005
The NYT article is really revealing. The woman in the lower class was at a disadvantage to begin with, having unhealthy habits and not really knowing or having access to resources that would help her change those habits. Her visit to the doctor revealed other health problems that might have been caught at regular preventative visits, but without good health insurance and shaky language skills, those visits never occurred. In some ways, it's an argument for nationalized health care. I'm not saying it's the be-all end-all, but national health care would solve a number of problems. The bankruptcy issue, for one. Social Security, for another. When health care costs are a huge chunk of everyone's budget, relieving that chunk or lessening it means they are less likely to have financial difficulties as a result of health problems and less to worry about as they get older and have lots of medicine and doctor visits. They might not even have the health problems to begin with because they would have gotten proper care earlier.
We have been very, very lucky, but there have been times when we haven't had health insurance (like in grad school) and if something had happened (car wreck, major illness), we would have been in deep trouble. But, of course, we have families who are financially stable enough to help us and that's what many in the lower classes do not have. There's no one to bail them out.
For some reason, this whole issue makes me think of a Dickens novel where the poor families live in squalor and suffer horrible illnesses while the wealthy families go out for daily constitutionals and take trips to southern Italy to regain their health. I had always identified with the families in squalor because I certainly can't take trips to Italy on a whim. But I see now that I'm closer to that than I am to whithering away from a disease. A scary thought.
Sunday, May 15, 2005
These working-class folk like the G.O.P.'s social and foreign policies, but the big difference between poor Republicans and poor Democrats is that the former believe that individuals can make it on their own with hard work and good character.
According to the Pew study, 76 percent of poor Republicans believe most people can get ahead with hard work. Only 14 percent of poor Democrats believe that. Poor Republicans haven't made it yet, but they embrace what they take to be the Republican economic vision - that it is in their power to do so. Poor Democrats are more likely to believe they are in the grip of forces beyond their control.
The G.O.P. succeeds because it is seen as the party of optimistic individualism.
What I wonder is which view is really true. In looking the graphics from the NY Times series (yes, that's all I've had time for), it seems that there isn't much mobility at the very top or the very bottom. If you're in one of those classes you're likely to stay there. So it seems to me that the chances of someone achieving the American Dream when they start at the bottom are pretty slim. But I'm completely aware of the surrounding culture that tells us otherwise.
My own class story is that I was born into the upper middle class. I married into the middle to lower-middle class and we are now solidly simply middle class. Except according to the NY Times, we're in the upper middle class. Which just seems wrong. We're just missing some of the markers: big house, nice car, lots of vacations. What we have instead is: lots of degrees, multiple computers, lots of books, "enrichment" activities. When we first moved to the area after living in a place where the class structure is pretty flat, I had a hard time adjusting. Here, the upper middle class is seriously upper. There are mansions all around worth millions of dollars. A bmw is considered an economy car when people drive jaguars, hummers, and alfa romeos on a regular basis. When I went to the grocery store, I was regularly confronted by personal-trainer sculpted bodies weighed down with jewelry and fur coats. I had never seen such an ostentatious display of wealth in my life. And I chafed because I had thought that that was my class, but now I was looked down upon in my American car with my jeans, no makeup, no jewelry self. I did not like the feeling of being poor (even though I really wasn't!!).
But then again, I chafe against being upper middle class. Growing up, I went to public school. The district was drawn in a way that I went to school with kids from the projects. That experience made me realize the luck of the draw, the way I had just been lucky to be born to the parents I was born to. Beginning in junior high, I volunteered through my church to work with the kids in the projects. Much of what I experienced led me to believe that there was no way out for them. We weren't doing things that helped them; we were merely distracting them from their plight.
More recently, when I taught at a large urban state university, we did a unit that feature some of the work of Jonathon Kozol. Many of my students identified with the children he described. They walked by liquor stores, bums passed out on the street, and abandoned houses on their way to school. Everything around them told them they were going to fail. And their schools were no different. In talking about their school environment, one student said, "Maybe if we'd had grass on our playgrounds, we would have felt more optimisitc." Another talked about students in high school selling drugs because it was the fast track to the American Dream. It allowed them to buy the cars, clothes and accoutrements they saw their richer counterparts buy. These students had made it to college, but they were well aware of the people they'd left behind. I really loved those students and was very sad to leave them. If I ever taught anywhere again, it would be there.
I think class is very damaging, both psychologically and economically. Though I'd like to believe that anyone can move up, I think we're better off with a more pessimistic view. If the optimistic view means that just a few people make it, it seems the pessimistic view might mean that even more people make it. And I'm not pollyanna enough to believe that class structures will ever flatten out completely, but I do believe that the playing field can only be leveled if we force people to level it. Big business isn't going to do it. It's not in their best interest. The question is, how do we articulate our ideas about class and helping those less fortunate in a way that isn't condescending (which is what I think Kerry did sometimes, even if he didn't mean to). I think we have a long road ahead.
Update: The New York Times is similarly ambivalent: "Blind optimism has its pitfalls. If opportunity is taken for granted, as something that will be there no matter what, then the country is less likely to do the hard work to make it happen. But defiant optimism has its strengths. Without confidence in the possibility of moving up, there would almost certainly be fewer success stories."
Saturday, May 14, 2005
The day was absolutely gorgeous. I wore shorts for the first time--hooray! I had to resist buying lots more plants at the store since my mother's coming next week. But they all looked so good. Of course, after reading an article on peak oil in Salon, I thought I should rush back and buy some veggie plants. I think I should grow chick peas. Are they legumes or what? How do they grow? I think I could live off of them--seriously. I'm totally plant illiterate. I do have books about them. Maybe that will help.
So the list continues, with indoor activities for tomorrow since it is likely going to rain:
Find places to take books/toys
Take books/toys to those places
The porch really must be done. And the bills and grocery store. The rest can wait until later. There's no way my house will be completely ready for my mother's visit. She's just going to have to see it in it's real state.
Clean up front porch area
Find places to take books/toys
Take books/toys to those places
Finish tweaking blog template
Trip to grocery store
For tomorrow (but maybe today):
I'm actually feeling halfway human today after feeling pretty much dead yesterday. I had hoped to work on some of the above chores after the races, but felt so run down, I actually took a short nap and then laid around on the couch.
Just looked at the forecast--I may have to shift tomorrow's chores to today since it's supposed to rain tomorrow--dang. It might rain today. Guess I'd better get on that gardening thing.
Friday, May 13, 2005
The bad thing about being sick with a cold is that you wake up really early because you can't breathe. So I went to bed around 11:30 last night and got up at 6:15. I prefer 8 hours, especially when I'm sick. At least I don't have to work today.
I'll let you know who wins at the races.
| You scored as Modernist. Modernism represents the thought that science and reason are all we need to carry on. Religion is unnecessary and any sort of spirituality halts progress. You believe everything has a rational explanation. 50% of Americans share your world-view.|
What is Your World View?
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Thursday, May 12, 2005
It seems to me that we've come to this point in terms of the media. I get so frustrated with tv news because they absolutely shy away from conflict. I have a little of my lawyer dad in me and I'm always yelling, "Ask the question, just ask the question." My dad says there's always some key questions in every case. If you figure out what they are and ask them in ways that get the answers you want, you win the case. 90% of the time, the media never asks the question. It's like the people they interview have told them not to (and I realize that's entirely possible). I also think about those town hall meetings Bush has been having where the only people who are allowed attend are people who agree with him. No contradictions. Don't confuse the people. Burn the books. I seriously often feel that they're hiding a lot of information from us. And the media focusing on runaway brides and cessnas that accidentally get into restricted airspace doesn't help the problem.
There's that aspect of information--misinformation and/or hiding of information. Then there's also information overload. Shortly after I finished F451, I ran into this article about information. He argues that, contrary to popular belief, we aren't actually taking in more information than we did 100 years ago, but it's just a different kind of information. Instead of knowing about farming conditions and trees and fauna and flora, we know about current events or literature or popular culture. The quote that struck me and reminded me of F451 was this:
Many of us have even let television or movie stars replace, for purposes of gossip and caring, the kinds of relatives and neighbors who would have filled those roles for us even only 100 years ago. Since what all those stars do is pretty intensely scripted, it’s like living in a gossip monoculture equivalent to 1,000 square miles of the same specific subspecies of wheat.Of course, that's exactly what the people in F451 do; they watch "the family" on their walls of tvs. And [spoiler alert] while they're doing that, their government takes them into yet another nuclear war which destroys them all.
And that is my fear. And that is what is behind a lot of blogs. The attempt--not always successful--to find out what information is being hidden, when we're being distracted by certain information (is Social Security reform a distraction?) and whether the information that we read is true. We have many more ways of checking.
The article quoted above is actually about the freedom of information. To some extent a lot of information is free (that is available and at no cost), but there's an awful lot that isn't. When strict copyright laws prevent someone from preserving The Eyes on the Prize, does that chapter in our history fade? Does someone rewrite it? There are a lot of issues there. And I'm not sure I agree with his conclusion that we'll just figure it out. Corporate greed and a secretive government are not a good combination for creating an environment for information to run free.
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Since I'm sick and have plenty of time on my hands, I decided to open up the much-neglected "Politically-Leaning Blogs" folder. I had nearly 1000 unread posts in there. The thing is, many of them repeat themselves; whenever one of them writes about a topic, many of them write the same thing. This seems to be a simultaneous occurance; most of the poltical bloggers are reading the same sources and react similarly to the issues. So, I tend to find bloggers whose writing I like and if they post on political issues (like Bitch, Ph.D.), I'll likely read that and follow any relevant links. It's not that there isn't some good writing and information to be found out there, but that it's just not doing anything for me. I'm liking The Oil Drum right now because they give me information about a topic I care about that I couldn't find anywhere else.
A couple of weeks ago, I was thinking about this little blog community I have here and how insular it is--which is a good thing, I think--but I also thought that perhaps the best political action would be to go comment on a blog whose content I disagree with. I have looked for one, but haven't found one yet. Delagar, whose blog I really like, pulls in content from sources she disagrees with. The thing is, I don't want some Rush Limaugh type who's just spouting stuff, but someone who seems earnest, but might be misinformed or might just think differently than me and have reasons for their positions. It'd be an interesting exercise.
6:31 a.m.: Decide not to go to work
6:35 a.m.: Tell Mr. Geeky you're not going to work.
6:45 a.m.: Hobble downstairs, make coffee, take various medications
6:50 a.m.: Back into bed, with new bed rest with heat and massage action plus cupholder and reading light (Mother's Day gift)
6:51 a.m.: Begin blogging, reading mostly
7:30 a.m.: Wake up Geeky Boy, help him get breakfast
7:40 a.m.: Back to blogging, with occasional breaks to check on progress toward door.
8:11 a.m. : Write fascinating blog post about being sick
8:12 a.m.: More blog reading and actual commenting.
8:30 a.m.: Send email to people who will care that I'm gone.
9:00 a.m.: Shower
9:20 a.m.: Watch tivoed This Week with G.S. while folding clothes (lots of pauses to put new loads in, take clothes out; about 3 loads were folded)
10:00 a.m: Watch tivoed Reliable Sources while continuing to fold.
10:15 a.m.: Finish load of clothes, get bored with show.
10:16 a.m.: Read two chapters of CSS book.
11:00 a.m.: Check email, answer a few, more blogging.
12:00 p.m.: Lunch and more laundry folding.
1:10 p.m.: Take a bath and read Dilbert.
2:00 p.m.: Call neighbor to see if she can retrieve the boy after track practice.
2:05 p.m.: Throw in another load of clothes.
2:10 p.m.: Read two more chapters of CSS book.
3:15 p.m.: More blogging.
Which brings me to now. I am amazingly down to only one or two loads of laundry left for the day. I'm not even halfway through the book though. My plan for the rest of the day is to watch bad tv while folding clothes, hope that the kid shows up, order pizza for dinner, watch tivoed Amazing Race with family. Not a bad sick day altogether. Throat still feels yucky and I think I'm going to have to go in tomorrow, which sucks. We'll see how it goes.
Of course, I will probably try to get something done. I want to do some work around the house and I brought home a book on CSS that I've been trying to read forever. I can probably polish that off today.
It's funny how we feel guilty if we take a day and don't do anything. I used to skip class at the first sign of illness and I felt horribly guilty. Of course, I probably could have sat through an hour of class; working for 8 hours is a little different. I mean, no one will really miss me if I'm not there. The world will not come to an end. And yet, the tug of guilt. Will they think I'm not a hard worker? That I'm lazy? Will they think I'm doing this just to get out of a meeting? I don't think those things about other people. Why do I think they're thinking it about me? Why do we do this to ourselves. It's crazy.
The other thing about sick days or vacation days spent at home is that I start thinking about the wonderful freedom of controlling your own schedule. In some ways I like the forced schedule of working 9-5. It means that I can stop at 5 and not think about work until 9 the next day. Though I sometimes violate this, it's an easy excuse to tell myself that no one expects me to work past 5 (and I don't get paid for it) and so if task Y is a day late, big deal. But then sometimes, I wish I could simply do what I want when I want during the day. Having a day interrupted by meetings and email and phone calls means if I want to do something like read a book or write an article, it has to be done piecemeal or I have to escape to another location (and then people are wondering what the hell I'm up to and am I *really* working). And there's the kid factor of being able to hang with them more than I do now. So sometimes I wish I had a job that allowed me to work on my own schedule, but I probably couldn't do the kind of work I do like that and I like the work I do. But you know, I've changed careers like every 5 years or so, so it could happen again.
All this because I have a sore throat and stuffy nose. :)
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
I never agreed to be a public person. I don’t want to be, and I have a human and a legal right to privacy. Just because you decide to blog, it doesn’t rob you of your rights as a private person.I heard this whole sorted story in the car this morning, because Mr. Geeky is obsessed with the SCO trial and has been following Groklaw since its inception. Just some more for us to think about.
We're sitting around talking about various domestic issues. I'm actually multitasking and reading e-mail and articles at the same time (don't ask). We're talking about who cooks in the household and I mention that I do all the cooking and Mr. Geeky and Geeky Boy clean up. Which I don't mind because I like to cook and hate cleaning up. The biggest issue right now, I say, is that I often have to fix multiple meals because I tend to make things that kids don't like. My kids eat PB&J half the time, I say.
Office guy: Well, that sounds real healthy. Aren't you worried about nutrition and development and all that?
Me: My kids are lucky to be alive.
Huge laughter from the guys. I don't think it's that funny. It's the kind of snark I use among like-minded moms all the time. Somehow, for them, the incongruity of their image of what a mom should be--you know forcing the veggies and fruits--vs. my attitude of "at least they're not dead" struck them as funny.
Of course, one of them already ribbed me in the winter for a day I forgot to make the kids wear coats (hey, it was warm in the morning). It's true. I'm a slacker. Or a true evolutionist (survival of the fittest and all).
Note that CBS had a segment on this last night.
If you're here from IHE, put the post in context. There are other, better posts on the same topic. And you know, I'm a a human being, so there's other stuff here too.
Monday, May 09, 2005
You make us dinner.
You read to me.
You play Games with me.
You wake me up in the morning.
You help me with my homework.
You give me an allowance.
You don't do drugs.
You don't smoke.
You don't chew tobacco.
You obey the law.
Love Geeky Boy.
Happy mother's day
May 8, 2005
Sunday, May 08, 2005
I have issues with mother's day, unfortunately, because I have issues with my mother. She is the reason this blog is anonymous/pseudononymous. I probably shouldn't worry about that since the other day, she said to me, "When I start up the internet, I see this Google thing. Am I paying for that?"
My mother and I have never gotten along. I am honestly jealous of people, like Profgrrrrl, who have good relationships with their mothers. Of course, I'd have to have a completely different mother first. I tolerate her now--and of course I love her the way you love any relative--but I really just don't understand her. Since I was very young, my mother has pushed me to be things I'm not, to try to fit me into whatever her vision of what I should be is. She's still doing this, though thankfully, she can't force this the way she used to. The results now are a complete talking past one another and not understanding where the other person is. A simple example. My yard. My mother is coming to visit and wants to work in my yard. She has no understanding of my not caring about my yard and my tiny postage stamp size of a yard. I have a feeling she will gasp when she sees it. Her working in the yard is not what I have issues with; it's her not listening to me. She'll say, maybe you need a small tree then. And I'll say, As I said before, there wouldn't be room for that. You can see how this would be a big problem on bigger issues. She's still going to try to turn me and my yard into the epitome of suburban living. Which I really, really don't want. I'm still holding out the possibility that she won't gasp or make some backhanded compliment and will just plant some plants. Who knows. It's probably more my issue anyway.
I just feel uncomfortable around my mom. I'm sort of constantly afraid that we'll end up fighting. I try my very best to let her comments slide, but sometimes the 100th comment the needles me is impossible to ignore.
Mr. Geeky said, after our last visit, that he thinks she's the same person she was at 25. That kind of makes sense to me since as I've gotten older, I've gotten a little less tolerant or distant. I'm 37 and want a mom who knows what 37 is like and I'm not sure she does. She's 60 going on 25.
Part of me wonders why I care. Why don't I just write off our relationship and move on? But then there's Mother's Day and birthdays and holidays and we have to go through the motions of pretending we like each other. Sigh.
And I know I should be thankful to have a mom who cares about me, because it could be worse. But when what you've got kind of sucks . . .
And, of course, I worry about my own role as a mother. Am I going to repeat the same mistakes? Are my children going to feel the same way about me when they get older? And how the hell do you prevent that anyway?
Saturday, May 07, 2005
And it didn't cost too much and she showed me how to style it in 4 different ways without too much work. Now, we'll just have to see what I can manage tomorrow. The pin you see there--gift from Geeky Girl for mother's day. She made it herself.
She also gave me the Kindergarten Cookbook. What they did was ask the kids to make recipes for their favorite meals. They were so funny. One kid's chicken recipe involved first removing the "hair" from the chicken and most of them had their oven temperatures set to 5 or 8 degrees. I'll have to post a couple of them here.
My mother was supposed to visit next weekend, but something came up and she's postponing for a week. I am grateful because my house, like my blog habit, is somewhat neglected. I'm hoping to whip a few things into shape this weekend--tomorrow, really. Today, there is lacrosse, followed by a trip to the pet store--toys and treats for the hamsters--then a much-needed haircut.
Laundry is taking over the house and I'm truly afraid it might come to life and smother us. How does this happen? Oh, yeah, that lazing around on Saturday. Sigh. Did I mention that the lawn looks like a meadow and the garden area looks like a desert? Not a good combination. The weather doesn't look like it's going to cooperate or I'd deal with that too. What I really need is hired help, but Mr. Geeky and I are both too cheap and too poor (can you be both at once?) to hire anyone--especially for the garden stuff. And we don't really care that much. We'd rather save for a family vacation or a new computer. Those are the things that really matter. :) Wait--Mr. Geeky just announced he's cutting the grass. But then he has to write an NSF grant. It never ends.
On the vegetarian front, things are going quite well. Mr. Geeky, though, is not doing well. Two days ago, he announced he needed to hit a drive through and last night, while eating out, he ordered steak. I had a salad. He's probably not going to like the chick-pea burgers I have planned for dinner. Oh well. I'm actually quite happy with my new eating habits and that, combined with the medication, has me feeling good. I have slacked on the exercise this week, though, so I need to get all that going in combo and then we'll see.
Friday, May 06, 2005
I'll Never Be The Same--Django Reinhardt
Good Kids make Bad Grown Ups--Ariel Pink
Don't Think Twice, It's All Right--Bob Dylan
Beneath The Rose--Micah P. Hinson
Discretion--Pedro The Lion
Your Love Now--th' Losin Streaks
I Am The Lazer Viking--An Albatross
Now Rectify--Near Miss
No Time This Time--The Police
Thursday, May 05, 2005
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
And work continues to be busy. I'm preparing for several summer events--booking rooms, arranging for food. I've had lots of people coming in to work on projects needing my help. I'm looking forward to graduation when it will all be over and I can get back to my regular life. Probably won't happen, but one can dream.
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
Monday, May 02, 2005
First, the hamsters. We have two. One black and one white. They're very cute. One has already figured out the wheel. Tomorrow I'm going to help Geeky Boy get some pictures onto his blog and I'll let him reveal the names to you. Suffice it to say, they're quite cute and somewhat original.
Okay, now for Chinese food. One of Mr. Geeky's colleagues is Chinese and she picked the place. She ordered all the food for us from the Chinese menu, not the English one. So we had the following:
West Lake Beef Chowder
Peking duck with scallions and pancakes
Mushrooms and mini bok choy
I only ate vegetarian and seafood dishes--a sort of gradual shift to vegetarianism. Mr. Geeky was quite supportive and made sure there was enough for me to eat. It was all very good. I especially liked the Eggplant which was in a pretty sweet sauce and the mushrooms were good too. The dinner was quite pleasant and we spent a good deal of time swapping qualifying exam and thesis defense stories. Though we ended on cannibalism stories--not sure how we ended up there.
A more substantial post is coming. There are two in my head still on science and public interest and credit card debt.
Department dinner tonight (Mr. Geeky's dept.). These are the moments when you wish you had an anonymous blog. I could give a good blow by blow. Unfortunately, everyone in the department likes each other, so nothing exciting would probably happen anyway. If something does and it's bloggable, you'll see it later this evening.
I really wish I didn't have to get up so early. Couldn't I just wander in at 10? This 7 a.m. stuff is for the birds.
Sunday, May 01, 2005
I still don't feel up for much today and I'm not going to force it. You know that post-illness energy drain? That's how I feel today. Better, but without energy. So what if I don't add two or three more pages to my piece for the writing group tonight? It really won't matter. Mr. Geeky is doing grocery duty and has started the laundry. So while I have the house to myself, I'm either going to watch bad tv or play video games or maybe change the blog template.
The sun is shining and I could, in theory, work in the yard, but it's still wet from the rain and it's just a tad cool out. I am a temperature wimp. That's what the south will do to you. :)
The family went to see the Hitchhiker's Guide and liked it. Geeky Boy especially liked it. Speaking of Geeky Boy, the hamsters are arriving at our house tomorrow evening. You'll have to keep an eye out on his blog to find out more about their arrival. I think they'll be a nice addition to the family.