Monday, October 31, 2005

Plan for the evening

Office Halloween Party--done!
Trick or Treating--done!
Laundry--done!
1984--done!
At the stroke of midnight, begin writing novel for NaNoWriMo--T minus 70 minutes.

Yes, I'm actually looking forward to staying up late enough to begin at the first possible moment. I'm truly geeky.

Happy Halloween!

I haven't really gotten into the holiday this year. I didn't really decorate. We only got our pumpkin carved last night. Geeky Boy--already?--is less into it this year than last year. He's wearing the same costume as last year and his biggest concern is hanging out with his friends on Halloween. Maybe next year, we can have a party.

Geeky Girl is quite excited of course. In fact, last night we dyed her hair red with some temporary dye. I wish I'd taken pictures of her in the bathtub because she looked like she was bleeding. When we rinsed, the tub was completely red. I think we could have shot our own horror flick. The results were not as red as I thought they'd be, given how red everything else looked in the process. But GG is happy with it and even Geeky Boy gave it a thumbs up.

The kids have a half day today, spending most of their time in a parade and a party. My department has a party this afternoon to which the kids are coming. And, of course, tonight they'll be trick or treating around the neighborhood. So basically, the whole day is shot.

In years past, Mr. Geeky and I used to host a big Halloween party that lasted until the wee hours of the morning. Alas, for now those days are over. I went as Frankenbarbie one year. Mr. Geeky went as wolf man and one year, devil with a blue dress. The year he met my dad, he was dressed as a vampire in a peach leisure suit. I don't know what that was about. In middle school one year, I dressed as a mafia guy--pin-striped suit, fedora, machine gun--and I won a contest. I've also dressed as a Rockefeller (fake fur, fake jewelry, lots of makeup), a housewife (curlers, bathrobe, pillows in interesting places), a gypsy, and a ghost. My favorite costume had to be the mafia guy. It was just fun dressing as a guy at a time when most girls would never do that. What was your favorite costume?

Sunday, October 30, 2005

GTD-Closet Project Update




So here's the results of my closet project. Nothing lifts the spirits like a more organized closet.

And below that are all the clothes I'm getting rid of. Mr. Geeky was quite the sport and got rid of a bunch of shirts!

Limbo

I have been in a weird state of mind for a couple of months now. It's not depressed exactly. It's kind of anxious, frustrated. It's almost anticipatory. I don't know. And I know even less why I feel the need to share this with the internets, except that it might make me feel better to do so.

I have always been overly analytical. My first boyfriend in college chastised me for this once, saying, "Can't you do or say anything without analyzing it?" Um, no, not really. I know it drives people crazy, most of all, me. I do sometimes wish I could just experience life without thinking about it. And there are fleeting moments when that happens, but they're pretty short.

Anyway, I think there are a lot of global and local factors feeding into my current state. I am honestly deeply disturbed by what is going on with our administration. If you think back to this time last year, we were all anticipating the election, hoping beyond all hope that we'd see a change of leadership. I keep wondering what else they're hiding. I feel beaten down by their policies. I feel hopeless about the future. I worry about my children's future. Seriously. Though I try desperately to put thoughts about peak oil, global warming, and avian bird flu away where I can't see them, I still find that they're there, nagging at me. And I feel that the administration is only making those things worse.

Slightly more locally, my department is going through some difficult times. Most of it doesn't affect me directly, but I still feel unnerved by it. I'm just feeling very uncertain about the direction we're headed. That's all I can say about that.

Even more locally, as I indicated yesterday, I'm kind of feeling the need to runaway. It's not that there's anything wrong. I just feel kind of overwhelmed by my responsibilities as wife and mom. Sometimes it just sucks to be the one who keeps track of the house and kids. Even if I don't do the laundry or the dishes, I still feel like I'm the one thinking, "The laundry needs to be done" and no one else is. I'm not sure how to deal with this. I thought the GTD thing would be good, but it's going to take months for that process to be complete on a household level. In the meantime, it's one step forward, two steps back. Geeky Girl, at least, has taken to putting her paperwork from school in my inbox--which is just too darned cute. But still, I don't know how you organize things on the one hand and do basic upkeep on the other. It's not like I want the perfectly clean house, but I'm holding all this stuff in my head--the clothes, the clutter on the table, everything--and that's not a good thing.

I'm holding out for the holidays, I guess. Can I hire a therapist and just give them the url for my blog? That seems more expedient right now.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Should-a, could-a

Pretty funny. Are they trying to tell me something? This one via profgrrrrl

You Should Get a PhD in Liberal Arts (like political science, literature, or philosophy)

You're a great thinker and a true philosopher.
You'd make a talented professor or writer.


And don't tell Mr. Geeky. :) Quite frankly, they didn't really have good answers for someone already in a relationship, so I kind of chose answers at random.

Your Ideal Relationship is Polyamory

You want to have your cake... and everyone else's.
Which isn't a bad thing, if everyone else gets to eat too!
You're too much of a free spirit to be tied down by a traditional relationship.
You think relationships should be open and free, with few restrictions.

Random crap

Because I don't have anything coherent to say, I will resort, as many others have, to Bullets of Random Craptm:
  • Soccer today. Two games. We haven't had soccer in a while because it's rained every Saturday for a month. I'm really not in the mood.
  • GTD: Want to tackle the bedroom closet. Also kind of not in the mood. My family is so not falling into line with the whole GTD thing. It's kind of hard to delegate when it won't get done if you do. Sigh. Thinking about a strike.
  • Watched National Treasure last night. I really didn't like it. Most annoying scene: When they're headed into the tunnel and Nicholas Cage grabs the cute professor and kisses her. I groaned. Why, why. Does the woman always have to be an object? Stupid just stupid. And then I had to analyze why that bothered me so much. Stupid graduate degrees.
  • Still loving last.fm. Enough to give them a little cash. I like to give money to free projects I like.
  • Will be reading 1984 over the weekend, which will probably depress me.
  • Yes, I've joined NaNoWriMo. I thought I needed some incentive just to finish something.
  • Why is it that I have this desire to move into a cabin in the woods (with internet access, of course)? Really, I just want to run away from it all. No more dishes, laundry, bills. Just me and my computer. Nothing wrong with that. Right? Right?

Friday, October 28, 2005

Doing my job

Increasingly, I am actually doing what I was hired to do. That might seem odd, but in my field, it's easy to get sucked into doing related, but unproductive work. Let me explain. I'm a techie. As a techie, I know how to do lots of techie things--from html coding to video editing to using an email client. I am not, however, technical support. But that's what many people see me as. And by technical support, I mean the person you call when something breaks. We have a fairly large staff to handle that and yet, I still frequently get the "my email won't work and I know you're not the person to call, but . . ." Let's face facts, I'm a pretty nice person and I like helping people. But helping people with these trivial things wasn't doing me or them any favors. It took me away from working on projects, developing something, reading or writing something. And it allowed them to not learn how to use some very basic software. So I started saying, "I don't know. Look it up." That's what I do with my kids, my students, why not with faculty and staff.

For the most part, this has worked. After all, it was often true that I really didn't know the answer. I don't know all the ins and outs of email clients, browsers, word processors and the like. Some of the help desk people do, because they've seen it all. Yesterday, I did two things that really fall into the realm of what I think is an effective use of my time. First, I went over to help a faculty member with her professional and departmental web site. She had put together a couple of different layouts and we talked about layout, color schemes, appropriate content, etc. In other words, higher level kinds of issues related to web design, exactly the kind of issues I'm equipped to deal with. It was a really productive session that didn't involve a lot of "go to 'File', 'Save', click here" stuff. Second, I got email from a department chair wanting some information sessions for their department. Again, she focused on higher level issues. She wanted to cover possibilities of using technology and appropriateness in different situations rather than covering how a specific application worked. Again, exactly within my realm of what I should be doing.

Even though I often hold workshops that do cover specific applications, I don't enjoy them and they don't seem effective. Everyone is at a different level and there's never enough time to cover everything everyone needs. People leave a little dissatisfied and tend to forget everything you taught them. I would much rather introduce them to a concept or idea and then if they decide to use it, I come to them to help. This is what I did with tablet pcs and screencasting and it worked. We're doing a session on podcasting today. I'm much better at being a consultant than a trainer. And really, that's what I should be doing and I'm thrilled that people are taking advantage of those skills. I hope to do more and put myself out there more. For example, once I have more time (after teaching this semester!), I plan to stop by people's offices and ask if there's anything I can do for them. I'm working on a regional conference that I hope people will participate in. And I'm working on a few other things that I think will be beneficial to the community. It's hard work, but it's much more fun and rewarding than helping someone with email.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Women and Video Games

Suzanne Freyjadis-Chuberka, director of the women's gaming conference, chastised the gaming industry publications for marketing primarily to men. She especially criticized their use of overt sexuality in marketing. I don't consider myself an avid gamer, but I have always enjoyed video games and there has been, historically, a male aura around them. From the days when I used to play Pac-Man, Dig-Dug, Galaga, and Defender (and beat the boys!) to playing Lara Croft, Sims, Civilization, and Quake, there has been this sense that games are not for girls. The boys got so mad at me for beating them. Once, I was on an all-female Quake team and beat the pants off of a group of 16-year-old boys. They couldn't believe it. Oh, and we'd modded our bodies to "look" female.

The gaming industry magazine editors responded. Most of their responses are along the lines of, "We're trying; give us a break." But one, from the editor of Play, really struck a negative chord with me. The thing is is he makes these assumptions about how to market to women. He assumes that marketing to women would involve the projection of sexy men onto their pages (as opposed to sexy women). Here's what he says about the variety of characters and what he thinks might appeal to women:
There are plenty of gaming genres and characters to meet every taste… Wallace and Gromit, Blinx, Chicken Little, Batman Begins—I could go on and on—have nothing to do with sexuality (save maybe female gamers ogling Christian Bale). Gaming has always been about variety… it has always been about fun—a past time for any and all to partake. Our female editor for instance came up playing Ghost’s ‘n’ Goblins, Castlevania, The Legend of Zelda etc…all great games with attractive and or heroic male leads. Does that make them “objects”? I think not.


Can we get this man some feminist theory, please? I can't speak for all women, but how about some female leads who aren't scantily clad sex kittens with swords? I mean, if I want to dress my character up that way, fine, but let me have the option.

He even suggests that "sexing-up" advertising is good.

There’s nothing wrong with the proliferation of the healthy physique in advertising. In fact, I believe most Americans are for it. This marketing doesn’t claim that being less then perfect is undesirable, it’s just simple logic: certain people are more pleasing to the eye and so they make for great marketing tools. We should market a game with a sexy female (or male) lead with chubby folks? I would infer that Mrs. Freyjadis-Chuberka is anti-sexuality, which puts her in a very small minority in this country.


Um, anti-sexuality? She's not saying use chubby folks. More realistic, less male-fantasy oriented. And female fantasy is not necessarily scantily-clad men. If you would ask the market about what they want, you might be surprised by what you find out. But you go on living in your fantasy world, where you're dominated by a sexy sword-wielding broad. Let's just hope she doesn't chop your balls off.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Last.fm: better than sliced bread

For the last few days, I've been listening to music through last.fm. I've been using them for a while, mostly to post the little list over in the sidebar of what I'm listening to. And I have listened to the radio thingy through them before. But the last few days, I've discovered the joy of entering in several artists I like and then they generate a radio station with songs by other people I might like. I've discovered Elliot Smith and Rilo Kiley. I'm sure some of you cooler people out there will think I'm a loser, but hey, I don't have teenagers yet to point me to good music. Scrivener got me onto to Iron and Wine. After that, I've been on my own. Now I wish I had tons of money to plop down on new music.

Homework, schmomework

Over the weekend, Ancarett pointed to a Salon article about the increase in homework for kids in the younger grades. Given that I mention homework a few times here, I wanted to weigh in . . . again.

We're getting better on the homework front. I do think that it is important for Geeky Boy (and now, Geeky Girl) to learn time management and personal responsibility. But I'm tired of the argument that homework somehow helps students learn. The Salon article points out that this is definitely not the case for most students in the elementary grades. And the homework amount is definitely geared toward the concept of having a parent at home during those couple of hours after school lets out. If this is not the case (as it is for us), it makes getting that 1-2 hours of homework done very difficult. We get home at 6:00. We then eat dinner, usually around 6:30 or 7:00. It's often 7:30 or 8:00 before Geeky Boy can start his homework. That means, it's often at least 9:00 before he's done. Yes, he could do it during after care, but he doesn't. He prefers to take a break and I don't blame him. Plus, he often has questions about his homework and it's more comfortable for him to ask us rather than the aftercare teachers. That also means that our evenings are not relaxing--for any of us.

You know, I was at a meeting last week and we were talking about the way we're all trying to do "more with less." I'm done with that. There's no reason we should work ourselves to death. And I think all this homework does is reinforce the idea that we're only on this planet to "be productive." Balance, people, balance. If we really want to have closer families, better citizens, even more productive citizens, we would strive for more balance. Work would not take up 10-12 hours of our day. There would be more down time. We shouldn't have to do more with less. We should just do less.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Turned on the heat

We broke down. Days of cold and wet and rain and we had to do it. We also put flannel sheets on the bed. I'm nice and cozy. :)

Apple Pie, Students, Workouts, and Heat

A whole day without blogging! Oh my! I'd blame it on the apple pie, but I can't. I did make apple pie on Sunday. It's now almost gone. I use the recipe on the Pilsbury dough box. Once I made pie from the Silver Palate cookbook. Mr. Geeky hated it. And since he's the reason I make pie, well . . .

Can I just say how much I love my students? I have a classful of them, it's true, but I also have many others that worked for me or are working for me. I love that they come by and talk to me. We talk about everything from politics to our families to shopping. I also love that they read this blog and leave comments. I like that they add me as facebook contacts. They really make this whole job worthwhile. That was true at some other teaching jobs I've had as well, but I develop a different relationship with students when they work for me. We spend a pretty intense summer together. It's kind of hard not to develop a close relationship. I have one student right now who's been working for me for three years. She was in the very first group of summer students. She'll be graduating this year and I'll be very sad. I've had other students graduate, but I haven't known them as long. This will be a first. When I talk to my students who work for me, I don't really think of them as students. I think of them a coworkers or colleages. In many cases, they know more than I do about technology. Their work is exceptional and always amazes me. It's just exhilarating to be around such bright and talented people.

I completed my first upper body workout yesterday. Boy, I'm a wimp. I did get compliments on my biceps though, so there's that.

We still haven't turned the heat on. It's 64 in the house. Not bad, but they also just turned the heat on at work. Only problem. My office still has no heat. It might be warm by today, but I kind of doubt it. Guess I'll layer up.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Home front GTD, episode 302, attack of the photos

So, when we last left our heroine, she was attempting to corral the chaos that is her home. Can she do it? Or will the stacks of papers and books and socks(?!) self-organize into a monster of horrifying power?

So far, so good. Videos are put away (though some should just be sold). Chairs have been listed on Ebay. Board games have been put away. The biggest challenge now is pictures. My mother in law is big into pictures, formal and otherwise. Every couple of months, we receive pictures from them, and at Christmas, we usually get several framed pictures. The result is we have no less than 50 framed photos of ourselves and our kids around the house, most in the living room. This is too much! I feel like we have a little shrine going. My plan is to gather all the framed photos, decide which ones should stay in their frames and which should be put into an album and replaced. Things that will stay: good wedding picutres, newborn pics, classics and recent pics of the kids. Things that will go: random snapshots that no longer hold meaning, most of the formal pics, group wedding photos, formal pics of relatives. I plan to replace these with some of the digital photos I have lying around. One of the results of all these pictures being given to us by the inlaws is that there are more of them in the pics than of my side of the family. We need some balance. And I'm going to spread the pictures out. I don't really want to stare at them in the living room all the time. Maybe I'll hang some on the walls.

It's a big project, but I think I can do it. And now, I'm off to pay the bills--yippee!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Girly Shopping Spree

I took the kids shopping for Halloween costumes this evening. Geeky Boy is wearing the same thing as last year--grim reaper outfit. Geeky Girl, however, is going as Sydney Bristow. First, we went to the Halloween store in the mall. Geeky Girl refused to go in and stood behind a pillar while Geeky Boy and I went in, with one of us checking on Geeky Girl every couple of minutes. GG had given me instructions to find spy stuff. No luck. Witches, princesses, devils. No spys. So we went to the toy store. They had an entire collection of princess outfits, to which GG said, "Eeww, yuck, too pink and frilly." So we went to Target. Again, no luck in the costume section. Apparently girls *only* want to dress as pink frilly princess things for Halloween. Or Divas. So we went to the toy section. There we did score a spy watch. But no spy dress-up clothes. I mean, come on, who doesn't want to be a spy? So we went to regular clothing and decided that spies need to dress in all black. We got a black skirt, a black top and sweater. We also got a pair of black boots and black tights. And, we got sunglasses (all spies wear sunglasses).

Here's the resulting outfit:
Mini Sydney

Meanwhile, I had hoped to buy some things for myself, but we didn't have time, so I had to purchase a few things online--knee-high boots, a velveteen skirt, and a couple of shirts. When I unpacked my winter clothes yesterday, I realized I had whittled it down quite a bit and I whittled it down by three more sweaters that are just old and worn out. And yes, I'm continuing the girly theme.

The kids both said this was the best day they ever had, which was really funny, because they were with babysitters half the day, then I dragged them out shopping. But GB said he liked it because it wasn't really planned. We just kind of decided to do stuff. Tomorrow we're making apple pie though. It's the pixies' fault.

Being Girly

I'm on a girly kick. This started a few months ago, sometime over the summer. I started wearing skirts, heels and makeup. It's really been an evolution, a sort of gradual shift.

When I was in college, I rejected all of this stuff. Because, back then, girly stuff was a marker that you accepted the status of women as inferior beings, beautiful toys for men. So I dressed all in black, no makeup, no bra. I stuck to this basic dress code in graduate school, dressing slightly better when I was teaching. When I got a corporate job, I went back to heels, skirts and makeup.

Over the years I've vascillated back and forth between these two extremes, finally settling for something in between. But I felt kind of blah. Just by pumping it up a notch, I feel very different. It's odd. In college, if I wore "girly" clothes, I felt disenfranchised somehow, like I was following somebody else's rules. Now, I feel just the opposite. It doesn't make any logical sense, really. I do feel, though, that trends have changed. In the 80s, women entering the work force tried to dress more "manly." Now, they don't need to in order to be taken seriously. Certainly, there is certain clothing that is unprofessional looking (for either gender), but in general, women can wear more feminine clothes and not be harming their professional image.

I don't really like to reinforce the idea that it's what's on the outside that counts, but I think you can't discount a first impression. People do judge you based on how you look, even if they modify that judgement over time. And you know, I just like being a little bit girly. It's fun.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Friday Random Ten: Never Played Edition

Earlier this week, I made a smart playlist of songs I'd never listened to. There were 199 of them! Many of them are Christmas songs and since it's not Christmas yet, well . . . Some of them I just don't like and I'm ridding myself of the truly horrible ones. But here's a list of some:

"Wishing Well" Terence Trent D'Arby
"Fuzz hill" Noodles
"Funk Exploration" Fredalba
"January 1979" mewithoutyou
"Not The Strong" Novembers Doom
"Alone" Josh Martinez and Sleep
"Panik" Metal Urbain
"Honeymoon Blues" Robert Johnson
"Major Instruments" Seaflea
"Bookends" Simon & Garfunkel

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Are you in the elite?

There were two good posts from yesterday concerning the defining characteristics of the elite. The first, from Laura at 11D, tries to explain the cultural differences between the elite and the not elite (for lack of a better term). I can completely relate to her situation. We also live in a blue-collar suburb of a large metropolis. The people around me are plumbers, carpenters, insurance adjusters, real estate agents, administrative assistants, nurses, and the like. There are no "professionals"--lawyers, doctors, architects, etc. Usually, I stand out at the bus stop with the kids and their parents, but for the last two days, I haven't. The bus stop is right in front of our house. I can watch through the window. And frankly, I've run out of things to say to my neighbors. The regulars are a grandmother, a firefighter, a nurse, an administrative assistant, and a part-time real estate agent. Sure, we exchange pleasantries. "Nice day." "How was your weekend?" But, yuck. Sometimes I can't stand that.

One of the main differences I've noticed between myself and my neighbors, even the ones who *are* professionals (but have working class roots) is what they have planned for kids college education vs. what I have planned. I fully expect my children to go somewhere--well, elite--you know, Harvard, Dartmouth, Duke, Swarthmore. Even when their children are quite smart and obviously could look forward to attending a great college, my neighbors talk about them going to a local university that has a bad reputation, academically speaking. We're surrounded by schools like UPenn, Haverford, Bryn Mawr, Swarthmore, but they don't even think of those. And forget thinking of similar schools elsewhere. I'm always a little shocked by this. Just like Laura's aggressive stance toward her school district, I have an aggressive stance toward college admission. I know how it works, how to help my children navigate the system. This is knowledge my neighbors lack. When they did go to college (and many of them didn't), they went to a nearby school. Most of them have lived in this general area their whole lives.

The other post, by Elizabeth at Half-Changed World, concerns the rates of SAHM's among the poor vs. the elite. My experience in this neighborhood, probably with people mostly falling below the $75,000 mark is that there are few SAHMs. I do know one doctor's wife a few blocks over who stays at home full time. She has five kids. In the neighborhood I moved from, where incomes were much higher, there were more SAHMs. Interestingly, among the faculty, there are a lot of male faculty with SAHMs. From an income perspective, it doesn't make sense, but from a work load perspective, it makes absolute sense. I wonder what kinds of factors play into rates of SAHMs. Income can't be everything.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Iron & Wine in Philly

Yay! I just found out that tickets for Iron & Wine go on sale this weekend. Death Cab for Cutie is playing next week. Why, oh why do they have to have these shows in the middle of the week? Maybe they'll come back?

Driving in Silence

My battery in my car died a few weeks ago and we had it replaced. Unfortunately, we have one of those stereo systems with theft protection. When the power was disconnected, it went into lock mode and of course, since we bought the car used, we don't have the code to unlock it. So I've been driving around for a while without any sound in the car. I have to say, it's a little unnerving. The voice in my head is way more distracting than the radio ever was. I've been thinking about so many things to and from work. I'm not sure that's good. I can't really concentrate enough to do something about the thoughts floating around my head, but I can't really get rid of them either.

It makes me wonder how much we try to distract ourselves from the noise in our heads. Does listening to music, watching tv, or (gasp) blogging keep us from dealing with complex thoughts and ideas? Would it be possible to go silent for an extended period and what would you do with all those thoughts?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Getting up when it's dark

I hate it. Going back to standard time will help temporarily, but eventually, it will always be dark at 6:30 am. And it's cold. Of course, in anticipation of seriously high fuel bills, we are waiting until the last possible moment to turn on the heat. So far, we haven't. The coldest it's gotten is in the 40s, which is completely manageable with warm pjs and blankies. The kids' rooms, being in the attic, are pretty warm anyway.

I have a kind of love-hate relationship with winter. I'm not a fan of the cold, but I do like snuggling in front of a fire with a warm cup of cider or cocoa, and I like snow. If only it could snow at 50 degrees. Some people really love the crisp, biting air. I do admit that I kind of feel more alive when my face is freezing, but I can't take that for long. Me? I prefer the stifling heat of summer. I actually like humidity. Hey, I grew up in the south. I'm a little nostalgic for such things.

So, I'll have to muddle through the winter, deal with getting up in the dark, and have plenty of hot cocoa on hand.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Land of chaos

That's my house. Or at least how it feels despite all the organization I've done. The amount of stuff coming in and needing to go out is astounding. Seriously. Mail, papers from school all needs to be processed. Garbage, donatations, recycling all need to be taken somewhere. Everywhere I look, there seems to be more stuff to deal with. Ugh. I'm trying very hard not to panic about it. I knew it was going to take a while. I'm just trying not to let it slide into complete chaos. Listening to "Jesusland" by Ben Folds. That's helping. Funny how music does that.

I was trying to plan a trip up to NYC to meet up with my dad who's going to be there for a few days, but it's not going to work. I had planned to go Sunday afternoon, spend the night and come back Monday, but then I remembered a search committee meeting on Monday morning. Damn. Plus Mr. Geeky wasn't going to get to go and he really wanted to.

I'm also a little behind on the work for the class. I'm caught up with grading, even managing to do some midterm evaluations, but I'm about 100 pages away from finishing Six Degrees. I just don't think it's going to happen tonight. It's 9:30 already and I really wanted to get in some writing. And I'm so not good at staying up really late. Besides, we'll only get to the first half tomorrow anyway. That's what I'm telling myself anyway. Sheesh.

My schedule is so packed this week too. There's barely any breathing room. I guess I'm in sprint mode now. When is winter break again?

So much to say, I'm stuck

I actually have about four millions things on my mind, none of which will cohere into a post, so let's do some bullets, like others I know.
  • Working on an article, wonder if I'll get it finished this week. How much more outside stuff do I need?
  • Need to formulate something to talk to my boss about. Must be in coherent sentences.
  • Reading Six Degrees; lost a little in the science, but actually find the whole concept fascinating, and a little scary. It seems that a lot of the things that we try to "fix"--poverty, getting more women in CEO positions--are affected by this theory. It makes sense and it seems hard to reverse. Hopefully, I'll have more on this later.
  • GTD is progressing, though the living room has stagnated a bit.
  • Supposed to meet with the personal trainer again tonight, but thinking of moving him to tomorrow because I need to go to a talk. Yep, think I'll do that; don't want to be rushed.
  • Let me note for the record that I do about 80% of the housework around here. Or at least it feels that way right now. My cleaning woman does 10%. My son does 5%. Yeah, you get the picture.
  • The above being said, Mr. Geeky does 60-70% of the childcare.
  • Writing is going swimmingly, just swimmingly. Took last night off, but have been writing every night this week. Page accumulation is slow because I'm doing a lot of revising, but it's coming. I'm working on two projects at once which is nice. When I run out of things to write about one, I switch to the other. I'm generally only writing an hour a night, though at least one night, I was on a roll and wrote for two. When I get stuck, I push a little bit, but generally, I just leave it for the next day. Seems to be working. Feeling pretty good about it.
  • Time for a shower and getting kids ready for school and me for work.
  • Maybe I'll be more coherent later.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Secularist of the year on multiculturalism cultural relativism

You really should read this story about Maryam Namazie. It does a lot to illuminate the many issues we face in dealing with religious fundamentalists in the Middle East and here. It's a slippery slope from multiculturalism to allowing women to be beaten.

1968 all over again

We have our Vietnam, we have something akin to Watergate, and we saw tension among the races during the hurricane. Now we need a full-blown race riot. Toledo got one. The riot was set off by a planned march of the Nazi party, who had supposedly come to Toledo to support a white man who was having a dispute with a black neighbor. Interestingly, though the articles about the riots mention that the Nazi party's primary platform is that whites are genetically superior, there's not much mention of additional racial tensions that might exist in the area. Is "gangs" now a code word for African Americans?

Saturday, October 15, 2005

GTD on the home front

I'm about 40-50% done with the living room. One thing about working on your house vs. at the office is the increased amount of stuff. At the office, I was dealing just with my stuff. Here, there are four of us. And man, do we have a lot of stuff. Right now, I'm looking at a huge pile of board games and I got a huge inspiration for where to put them. That involves cleaning out a big cupboard. And I have plans to clean out a closet and a bureau. So, I have my afternoon cut out for me.

I'll have to take a pause to meet with my personal trainer. Truly, I'm becoming a soccer mom. The gym I joined offers three free sessions and since it's been forever since I've belonged to a gym or worked out in general, I thought it would be a good idea. I'm also having groceries delivered today! Thanks, Michelle.

Life is falling into place.

Dolls lead to abortion and lesbianism

I'm not generally a big fan of dolls as toys for girls. To me, they promote too many gender steretypes. Needless to say, we have thousands of Barbies and even more baby dolls. Our most recent acquisition was soccer Barbie (sent by my mother in law). At least Barbie is the coach, even if she's dressed all in pink. Sigh.

Still, it seems silly that the AFA is planning to boycott the American Girl line of dolls because a portion of its proceeds from the sale of one particular doll are going to Girls, Inc. Girls, Inc. generally serves an underprivileged community and promotes such things as access to birth control and help with issues of sexual orientation. The president of the company, Joyce Roche stated that "Girls, Inc. takes positions on public policy issues if it believes women's rights and opportunities are at stake. 'Our philosophy is that women should have the right to make decisions about themselves.' Yeah, that's pretty much my philosophy, too. Might have to go make a donation, or . . . buy another freaking doll.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Random ten - kicking off for the day

So I've decided I'm done working for today. It was great to work at home. I got a lot done. I even managed to work on a draft of an article I had put aside a while back. I've been listening to the iPod all day (is this bad for the ears?). Went through highest ranked, then a college collection. Now it's on general shuffle.

So here's what we've got:

"See it in your eyes" Abie Hoffman & the B-Goes
"Thick-Necked Man" Crash Test Dummies
"The Consort" Rufus Wainwright
"14 Shades of Green" Chris Stamey
"The Perfect Girl" The Cure
"Now" Edie Brikell & The New Bohemians
"The Wind Blew all Around" Mary Lou Lord
"Piece of my Heart" Janis Joplin
"Don't Let Me Down" The Beatles
"I Still Do" The Cranberries

An interesting mix.

Purple!

Know what's so perfect about this? I've always said that when I turn 40, I'm dying my hair purple.

Your Hair Should Be Purple

Intense, thoughtful, and unconventional.
You're always philosophizing and inspiring others with your insights.


As seen at Divided Attention

Working from home

I have been up so late all week--and working so much--that I have made an executive decision to work from home. I am actually going to work, and I might do a few things around the house, but right now I'm still in my pj's and will leisurely drink my coffee before taking a shower. My colleagues are all out, either on vacation or headed to Educause. I'm not a big fan of the main Educause conference. It's big and corporate and its focus is not on teaching and learning. I'm actually presenting at the regional conference in January, which is small, and has more of a teaching/learning focus and you get to meet people nearby whom you might actually be able to work with.

Oddly, most of the people I work with, I met through this here blog (or the other one). Maybe I should give up going into the office and just blog.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Two steps forward, three steps back

Remember when I mentioned all that writing I had done? Well, I pieced everything together, and I have 26 pages. My little counter on here way, way down at the bottom says 26 pages. That's from August. I did so much cutting that I pretty much ended up where I started. I had little sections that I had written that I decided not to include. Of course I did really start a whole new project. And that's five pages. Revision is hard. But I'm on to some new sections now. Hopefully I'll get some done this weekend.

Getting *lots* of things done

This whole getting things done method is great! I mean, seriously. What have I done in the last week?
  • Written a draft of a proposal
  • ordered equipment (which I'd been putting off for some reason)
  • made many doctor's and dentist's appointments that I'd been putting off
  • joined the gym around the corner
  • wrote 15 pages on two different projects
  • updated a section of the website that I'd let languish
  • kept up with all the little things I needed to do
That's really about 2 days since I was away Monday. It feels really good. It's like a shot of adrenaline to accomplish things. The hardest thing is trusting your system. At first, I would forget to write things down and they'd linger in my head. I'm getting better at that. I have a stack of index cards in my desk drawer and little stacks around the house. I've written down everything from items to get at the grocery store to movies to rent to book ideas. Then I put them into the in basket and process them. This Friday will be my first chance to implement the reviewing process.

I managed to get my home office mostly in shape. I need to purchase a file cabinet and a bookcase. I'm planning to tackle the living room this weekend. I hope the kids will help. It's much less overwhelming to do a room at a time. I even plan to empty the closet.

Yesterday, I was on a panel with my colleagues, Michelle and Jean-Claude. Michelle said that she, too, is implementing the GTD system. As working mothers, we naturally lapsed into talking about strategies to accomplish all of our tasks. She mentioned she's now ordering all of her groceries online. I have tried to find someone who delivers for months, but I had forgotten about the grocery chain she mentioned, so yippee! I will never set foot into a grocery store again.

Our presentations and discussion will likely be online later today. I'll update when that happens.

Here's the link to the mp3 and the screencast. I'm at the end, at about 22 minutes. Michelle right before me. The whole thing is pretty interesting.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Alternate endings

One other thing that I thought about at my reunion was the way that things could have ended up so differently. Listening to people's paths through life, most of which weren't straight and direct, I thought of how even just a slightly different choice here or there would have landed them in a completely different spot. And of course, I had to think about my own choices. What if, I thought, I had gone to the African American Studies program instead? Who would I have met? What would I have done with that degree that I am not doing now? What if I had dated that guy instead of this one? What if I had gotten poetry published early? What if I'd gone into a Ph.D. program earlier? What if I'd pursued computer science? What if I'd gone to Africa? So many what if's. In looking around the bar that we all frequented back in college, which now looked much the same, except for the gray hair, I suspect that many of us were thinking about what it would be like to start over. Sure, we valued our experiences that we'd had up until this point. Sure, most everyone seemed happy with where they were. But still, to be young again, to be filled with that same enthusiasm we had then, to be able, perhaps, to make wiser choices (I'm assuming we'd get to go back with our current knowledge and wisdom). Time keeps going, and every year, there's more and more to look back on. Every year creates more and more alternate endings.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Readjusting

After a trip away from the family, there's always a readjustment period. I always am aware of this on the trip back and try to prepare, to think about what will need to be done at home, how to reinsert myself back into the rhythms of the household. I am never resentful of having to come home, but I am more thankful at times than others. After a weekend of fun and relaxation, it's harder to go back to laundry and dishes. Usually, Mr. Geeky is glad to have me back as a functioning member of the household and kind of drops everything and I have to pick it up. He's a little on edge. This past weekend was particularly hard because it was pouring down rain and he was trapped inside with kids. To escape, he took our kids and a bunch of neighbor kids to the movies. When I got home, all he wanted to do was to have an adult conversation, or at least watch adult conversations on tv.

The funny thing was, the kids didn't need too much when I got home. We talked for a while about our weekends, and then we had dinner, but then they escaped to their respective rooms before having to work on homework. Mr. Geeky watched tv on the couch while I did some work in the office (implementing GTD at home! more later). I got Geeky Boy set up at the dining room table to do homework. Meanwhile, Geeky Girl was playing dress up and would make an appearance in the office every once in a while to show off her outfits. All in all, a pretty typical weeknight. Mr. Geeky kept prodding me to get the kids into bed, etc. He was desperate not to be responsible for them. I've done the same thing when he's been gone, so I couldn't really blame him. He wasn't doing it in a mean way. Actually, when I think about it, it was kind of like the prodding we do with the kids. "Geeky Boy, it's about time for bed." That kind of thing.

By the end of today, we'll all be back to our normal routines. I will be reassimilated and everything will run like the slightly rusted machine as it usually does. For me, unlike Mark below, getting away reminds me of who I am outside of my family. I have for so long and so often only been identified as a mom that I find it refreshing to not be a mom for a while. When I come back, I can once again reintegrate that identity with the mom one. I feel more whole somehow.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Where are all the women?

How many blog posts can I title this way? I've been thinking over the last day, since my last post, about the fact that most of the women I met from my class were staying at home with children. I wasn't so much disappointed with them as with the world we live in which gives them few options. And the more I think about it, the angrier I get. Here was a collection of smart women, all of whom could contribute something valuable to the work force, but here they were, at home "by choice." I'm sure that many of them will return to the work force later, when their kids are older (most are under 5 now). But think of all that they and we have missed out on.

Given my own tension between work and home, I know that I easily could have been one of them. I am happy with my choice though I do often wish for shorter hours with the same rewards, the same opportunities for professional development. It seems to me unfair that the choices we are given are so limited and limiting. Perhaps more of us could request better work arrangements or seek out part-time opportunities, but that's a risky proposition for most people.

I fell asleep last night watching Desperate Housewives (which I haven't seen since its premiere) and the blond woman, what's her name, is now working in an environment hostile to parents. The situation is exaggerated for comedic effect, with the boss voicing what many bosses only insinuate. And that's the situation many of us are in. The environment isn't unfriendly per se, or at least not blatantly so, but when you have to leave early to pick up a child or have to use a vacation day to stay home on one of the many in-service school days, you feel the pressure and the guilt.

And unfortunately, as my career develops, I find myself interested in opportunities that require even more of my time and energy. How far to take this? How do you develop a career and children too? It's a dilemma many women choose not to face, by opting out of the career part. In some ways I envy them, but in many more, I feel sorry for them, and sorry what we've missed.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Needs

The needs meme:

Laura needs our support
Laura needs to stop
Laura needs to talk to someone
Laura needs plastic surgery
Laura needs you now
Laura needs your help
Laura needs help with her combi boiler
Laura needs to be downstairs

In which I realize I'm not 20

Two days of activities, flitting from bar to bar, staying out way too late, drinking too much, and eating unhealthy food have left me exhausted. Of course, it was all extraordinarily fun. One of the things that I've enjoyed most is talking to people who weren't "popular" or "successful" in college. In most cases, they are quite successful now. There's a guy who's a press secretary for a senator, another who started his own investment company, another who's a patent attorney working on a fellowship and interviewing for positions as a law professor. And yes, do note I mentioned only guys. There were plenty of women around the first night and during the day yesterday, but none of them made it to last night's festivities. Literally, it was me and one of my classmates' wives and that was it.

After the official event on the campus with a jazz band, we headed over to another bar where another band was playing. Turned out half the band was alums. Very good bluegrassy, folksy music. There were fiddles. We all told lots of funny stories about our adventures in college. I also ran into a few people from other classes, which was fun. I'm very glad I came. It's been a lot of fun.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Reunion day 1

I met up with my blogger friend and we had a blast. Ate and talked. Funny how you don't really talk about blogging that much. We talked about everything. It was so fun.

A friend of mine retrieved me later and we sat at his house and had a drink before the official activities began. Another friend of ours was there also and then we all piled in the car, I changed clothes, and we walked down to the restaurant. I talked to lots of people I didn't even know in college. Such impressive people, some of them.

After the official activities, we all went to the bar where we used to hang out in college. The owner was there and I talked to him for a while and asked about a few people who had worked there. It was kind of scary to be remembered by a bartender. :) Again, I talked to lots of people I didn't know that well, which was fun. Some of the people from the class of 1985 were there too, so we got to talk to them too.

Everyone looks really good. Lots of people recognized me, even when I didn't recognize them. And everyone is generally pleasant and enjoyable to talk to. I do have a slight hangover this morning, which I'm working my way through. There's more fun to come in just a few hours.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Blogging offline

Blogging offline from the airport

I had plans to shop at the airport because there are some cool shops in the airport, but then, when I got here, I remembered that I was in the crappy wing of the airport. I guess that's what I get for flying cheap. I tried to grab some breakfast and stood in line at a bagel place. They ran out of bagels! Two people in front of me! So, I thought, okay, I'll sit down, catch up on some blogs.

I'm sitting no more than 50 feet away from a huge banner that says, hey, log on to the internet. Here's how! Can I log on? No. So I'm typing in text pad. I'm cut off from the world. This place totally sucks. The plane I'm supposed to be on isn't even here yet, so I'm stuck for 1/2 hour or so, cut off from the world. Yikes!

I'm going to have to get some breakfast though. So I'll hit burger king--the only option. Or maybe the bagel place has bagels. I have to work on a presentation on the plane, so I'll save batteries. Hopefully, my hotel will have wireless.

On the plus side, I'm meeting a fellow blogger when I arrive. I won't say who until I get an okay from him/her. Yay!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Harriet Miers has a blog

It seems like I saw this somewhere else in my little blog world. In case you haven't seen it, Harriet Meirs' blog is well worth reading.


hat tip: Jeanne (get yourself a blog already)

Reunion songs

Blogging may be light over the next few days as I head off to my reunion. A small hitch has developed in my plan to avoid my mother. I just found out my aunt ('60) is going to be attending her reunion. Yikes! Oh good lord, I just checked and she's the organizer for the whole thing. The main event is being held at her house, so it's very unlikely I'll see her since all of our events are either on campus or downtown. The excitement builds! I leave you with some songs I dug up from my college days. I poked around the internet to see what was popular and then combed my library for songs I remember listening to. Should be fun listening on the plane.

"Travelin' Light" Widespread Panic
"Devil Inside" INXS
"Love Shack" The B-52's
"Graceland" Paul Simon
"Roam" The B-52's
"Birdhouse In Your Soul" They Might Be Giants
"Mlk" U2
"Beatle Boots"
"Waiting For The End Of The World" Elvis Costello
"Begin the Begin " R.E.M.
"Never Tear Us Apart" INXS
"In Little Ways" Let's Active
"Walk Like An Egyptian" The Bangles
"Games Without Frontiers" Peter Gabriel
"Fucking in Rhythm & Sorrow" Sugarcubes
"Alison" Elvis Costello
"And She Was" Talking Heads

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

From the office front

So, I've pretty much finalized the GTD process. So far, I really, really like it. I haven't had more than an hour here and there so the things I've worked on have primarily been calls/email and little things. I think where this might really pay off is for bigger projects. I'm using the GTD tiddlywiki which I'd like to implement server side, but that will have to wait. On any given day, I'm at at least 2 computers, sometimes 3, so having access to my list would be helpful. For now, I'm saving the file, uploading it, then downloading it again. Annoying, but not too big of a deal. I think I will also end up with something like a hipster PDA. So the plan would be to jot things down on index cards when I'm away from a computer and then enter them into the electronic system I have going. My real PDA just doesn't seem good for this. It's good for quickly checking my calendar, making phone calls, and that's pretty much it.

One big issue I still have to tackle is the organization of all my computer files. I will need at least a day for this. Until I get another clear day, I'm leaving that one alone.

And of course, I haven't even started on the home front. I think I will be doing one room at a time. I did buy a labeller though, so that's a start.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Geeky Girl on Harriet Miers

A girl judge. Cool!

You know you love it

Whenever I come in, exhausted, from teaching or conferencing or say anything related to teaching, someone around me says, "But you know you love it." And I always immediately think, "Do I?"

I mean, I gave up teaching 2 1/2 years ago. I gave it up and didn't really look back. But here I am, back in the classroom again, back to planning and grading. Why am I here?

Partly, it's my husband's fault. I started talking about teaching a class on blogging. Next thing you know, we were proposing it. The CIO has been encouraging me to teach a class since I began my position. Everyone around me thinks I should teach--except me.

Oh, I do love it. It's true. Today, I went into the classroom tired, but afterwards, I felt like I'd just gotten a good night's sleep. The students have so much energy, so many good ideas.

But make no mistake about it. The fun does not make it any easier. And it's even less easy to squeeze in while working a full-time job. I plan into the wee hours of the night. What direction should this discussion go? What activities should I do to encourage the learning I want to take place? And then there's the feedback. How do you explain ways to improve writing? How do you do it in ways that encourage people while making sure they know what really needs to be done? How do you know if the whole thing is worth it? In some ways, I like the challenge of that, of figuring out what to say about a paper to help a student take it in the right direction. But then when that student is sitting next to you and asking you to clarify this and clarify that, sometimes words fail you. It's just hard.

So here's what I like about teaching: being in the classroom, helping students one on one.

Here's what I don't like: grading, dealing with "problems," grading

Do I love it? I don't know. Jury's still out. It's definitely an energizing activity and a good supplement to my full-time job. Talk to me in December. I'll have an opinion then.

Where are all the women?

This post is inspired by Echidne's on the problem of having so few women in positions of power (related to the Harriet Miers nomination).

Over the next week, my department will lose two women: one is retiring; one is quitting. That means in one division, we're down to one woman and in another, zero. I'm the only woman in my office. There are 24 people on staff, and right now, 9 of them are women (that includes a secretary and an intern). We'll be down to 7. Both of the open positions are highly technical, decreasing the likelihood of hiring a woman (we just don't get that many applications from women-see Echidne's post). If we don't hire women, the percentage of women in our department will be 25% (26 actually, but who's splitting hairs).

I find it especially disheartening that at least 50% of the department aren't women because we're at a women's college. I know some of the students never notice, but I bet the ones that work for us do. We do have a female director. My boss, the head of computing, is a woman. But at the middle levels of management (and don't even get me started about how screwed up our structure is), there are no women.

My coworkers, when I bring this up, will point out that nearly all the secretaries are women. Maybe they're discriminating against men, they say. This usually sends me into a tailspin which means they're saying this to get my goat. Curse you, coworkers!

Still, I think it's a problem. And it's not a problem with my department, per se. As I said, we don't get many applications from women. Either, there are fewer women with the skills we are asking for, or fewer women think to apply, or they're so sought after they have awesome jobs elsewhere. The thing is, in terms of a technical job, these positions are great for women, especially those with families or other personal obligations. The stress level is pretty low; there's lots of time off and the atmosphere is such that you get a lot of support. And yet . . .

I probably won't be on the search committees for either of these searches, but I'll be watching them closely. I like the guys I work with, one of whom actually indulges all of my talk about shoes, but it really is nice to have some more women around. And I think our department would benefit from a broader perspective.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Is something cooking or is the house on fire

One downside to having the windows open: smells. Who cooks at 11 p.m.?

Dress Geeky Mom, pt. 2

Okay, I need a vote from the blogosphere. Below are my outfit options for the jazz cocktail party. There are two basic options. I'm assuming the jacket will be worn to the event and from the event unless there serious climate issues in the venue. Otherwise, I'll be jacketless. Click through to Flickr to see larger versions.

Slinky teal top - pose 1

Teal top with jacket

Purple top solo

Purple top with jacket

GTD Progress report

Quick report from the field. My physical inbox is empty. My email inbox is empty! I have a small pile on my desk with post-its that need to be sorted into projects. I have to make a project list.

One thing that I realized while going through this process is how much I actually *do* do. And such a variety of things requiring different amounts of time, focus and energy. I had email from as far back as June. Man, I did a lot over the summer. I always think of myself as a slacker. Now I realize I must be setting the bar pretty high.

Getting things done

I finally bought, and am halfway through reading, David Allen's Getting Things Done. It's true I have ambitions, things I want to get done. I have felt like I'm spinning my wheels about half the time and I know that I'm keeping way too much in my head. It's why I can't sleep. As I'm drifting off, I'm making lists in my head of things that need to get done the next day. They might be written down; they might not. So I feel I really need to make some changes. I like Allen's approach very much. It's very practical, even specifying the kinds of supplies you'll need and how much time it will take to get started (two days). I'll need four to do the office and home. Actually, I think home will take longer than that. There's much more "undone" here.

I'm tackling the office today and tomorrow and perhaps part of Wednesday. It feels good to have a plan. I have made some progress in getting organized, but it too easily falls into chaos when things get busy. And I have things that I want to do that I think I could fit in if I were more efficient about handling my work.

Watch this space for progress.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Bleh on the shopping

God, I hate shopping. I totally understand why the people on "What Not to Wear" never make much progress on the first day. It's just too overwhelming. So here's where I am so far. I have a chocolate brown camisole with a sheer chocolate brown short-sleeved turtleneck top. I am going to wear that with either jeans or a pair of oatmeal pants I have. Or I might buy a new pair of pants or a skirt. Depends. That's for the casual evening.

I bought a pair of black velvet pants for the jazz cocktail party, but I have no shirt for that. I have a couple of things here that might work, so I'm going to try those on before I venture out again.

It was really, really hard to find something appropriate. There were work clothes or club clothes or black tie clothes, but nothing in between. They just do not make nice clothes for women in their mid thirties for evening. I'm sure there's not a huge market for it, so that's why they don't exist.

As soon as I have the whole outfit together, I promise pictures.

Story's story gets bashed again

Remember that NY Times story from a week or so ago about women at Yale choosing to stay at home? Well, Echidne points to Katha Pollit's fabulous debunking of the whole thing.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Help dress Geeky Mom

I'm going shopping with my friend Jeanne tomorrow to buy stuff for reunion weekend. Not only am I going to my reunion, but I'm also recently obsessed with clothing. I blame Bitch, Ph.D. and Profgrrrrl. They set pretty high standards. Of course, I must have new things.

I'm opening my dilemma up to the blogosphere in hopes that I can get some advice about what to wear. The events are as follows:

Dinner and cocktails at a casual restuarant: I'm thinking jeans and a cool top (need the cool top) plus my brown boots. However, I'm open to suggestion here.

Cocktail party with jazz band: I'm thinking something jazzy.

The weather will be mild, 70ish in the day, 55-65 at night.

Other rules that might help you. I'm not opposed to skirts, but I'm more of a pants person. I'm short 5'2" and pretty skinny, though I've got hips. I'm open to shoe suggestions too. I want to look sophisticated and cool, relaxed and hip. Oh, and feel free to dig through the Flickr pictures for hair and eye color. So here's your chance. Our own little "What Not to Wear: Blog Version." Let me have it!

Reunioning

I'm headed to my 15th college reunion next weekend. If you'd asked me on the day I graduated if I would be attending my reunions, I would have said no way. If you'd asked me after my 5th reunion if I'd be coming back for the 10th, I would have said no. And yet, I've been to every single one of them. I don't know what draws me back. Partly, there are friends I've lost touch with who attend and it's always fun to see them. But that's not all of it.

My 5th reunion, I took the family, Mr. Geeky and baby Geeky Boy. Geeky Boy was 3 months old. I'm not sure why I went, because I was feeling fat after having a kid, feeling like a failure after dropping out of grad school and generally not too happy with the direction my life was heading. I remember distinctly being upset about the clothes I had to wear, a baggy sweater over jeans two sizes bigger than anything I'd ever put on. I just did not feel myself. As it turned out, I was the only person with a kid besides one woman who got pregnant before she graduated. I felt pretty yucky the whole time. Oh, and I got into a huge, huge fight with my mom.

So you'd think after such a disasterous experience that I'd never return. But no, I went back for the tenth. This time, I came alone. I wore vinyl pants (cheaper than leather). By now, I had a 5 year old and a 1 year old. I had regained most of my figure, was in grad school and enjoying what I was doing. I was still unnerved by the fact that here I was, a *mom*, while most of my friends had either just had babies or were still single. Most of my "crowd" was there, unlike the last time, and we all skipped out of the official event early to go play bridge until 3 a.m. I won, but only because I remained sober. :)

Still, I consider reunions to be these sanctioned, official, rah-rah events and that was so not me in college. I did almost everything I could to be "alternative." When I was a freshman, I was still trying to figure out what groups to belong to. I joined a sorority, but didn't participate much. I didn't really take to the "sisterhood" the way I thought I would. I was shocked when I was elected to be an officer. My fellow officers informed me that it was because they wanted an "alternative point of view" on the council. I spent a few years wearing nothing but black. Eventually, I blended into the creative writing and drama majors. We were an odd mix of people, and that's what I liked. You couldn't really categorize us.

There's a draw, though, to go to these events, to stand up and say, here I am, accept me. I think I'm beyond that now. I'm not going in order to be accepted. I'm going to see people, to talk to them, to have fun. I think (I hope) I've gotten past the old insecurities.