Thursday, March 30, 2006

Diss-satisfaction and other cantankerous issues

I had hoped to have some words on a page by the end of this week, but that has not happened. My original plan had been a chapter a month. January was dedicated to the proposal. February to Chapter 2 (which I really finished quite early). March was supposed to be Chapter 4, but IRB stuff shifted me to working on Chapter 1. I'm hoping I can get a draft of Chapter one by the end of next week, but we'll see. I can't work on it tonight because I have to get up at 5:30 a.m. tomorrow to drive North to give a workshop (on blogging, of course). I will have Sunday to work on it and every night next week, but I hate feeling behind like this. I have to check with my institution, but I think I officially have until December. If I don't, I'm going to file an extension because I just don't want that pressure.

I've been constructing a letter in my head to the superintendent of schools. I want to request that all teachers put their assignments on the web. I'm even going to volunteer to teach them, set up a blog or something. I'm tired of the paper shuffle. Not only would it help students because they could just look the assignment up at home (obvioulsy, there could be a paper version too), but it could potentially get parents more involved. Instead of just asking, "Have you done your homework?" you can ask "Did you read Chapter 3 in your history book?" If they could even put a little bit about what happened in class that day, instead of asking "How was your day?" we could ask "How was the spelling test?" I know, kids should be telling us this stuff, but the reality is they don't. I know there may be access problems, but that shouldn't entirely prevent them from doing this.

My other cantankerous issues are unbloggable for now. I'll update later in the day.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The lacrosse thing

I've been reading the roundup of commentary on the alleged Duke lacrosse team gang rape. I have to say that though I know where many of the commenters are coming from in terms of their characterization of lacrosse players. I mean, I live in lacrosse territory, so I know. But my son plays lacrosse. His friends play lacrosse. I had friends who played lacrosse in college. And they're not anything like what some of the commenters are characterizing lacrosse players as. I in no way condone what those particular players did, but I think we always have to be careful about making sweeping generalizations. Otherwise we're just doing what they did.

Obviously there was a problem with this particular team as there often is among many sports teams where aggressive behavior is encouraged and masculinity must be proved, often at the expense of others. I think it also speaks to a broader cultural problem that continues to devalue women.

New Kid's post, which prompted me to post this, is actually quite indicative of my own feelings on the matter. Her back and forth speaks to the complicated nature of deciphering what's behind such an act. Because we have a desire to prevent those acts in the future. To prevent them, we have to know what the root cause is. But that's hard. We have a swaggering administration that's all about brute force. We have states actively seeking control over women's bodies. The message to men is, what you want is yours for the taking.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

A Geeky Girl quote

For a while, I was collecting kid quotes. Yeah, there's only one there, but it's cute. I always love reading Phantom and Bitch, Ph.D.'s kid conversations. I was reading Phantom's this evening and I thought how cool it was she was recording those so that when her kids get older, she can embarrass the heck out of them. Or she can cherish them in her golden years. Either way.

That's a long introduction to a very short quote. On the way home tonight, we were listening to a track off of Prince's new album, "Get on the boat." Geeky Girl was snapping her fingers and generally grooving when she stopped and said, "Why do we have to get on the boat? It's spring."

Half a slut

A hit slut, that is. via the ragey one

50.0% 50.0 points out of 100

33.5% 33.5 points out of 100

308 people have taken this silly test so far.

35 people have scored higher than you.

260 people have scored lower than you.

13 people made the same grade as you.
What does this mean? *
50 points is in the 40 through 59 precent
TYPE U (HIT-UNDECIDED). You have a healthy number of readers that you'd like to maintain but you don't think you can keep them happy all the time. It bothers you when your weblog gets less hits than usual. You know there are things you can do to increase hits to your weblog but you just don't think you're desperate enough to actually try it.
* These results are just for fun. Do not sue me. Have a sense of humour.

It's about the connections

I was pleased as punch when I discovered that an old friend from high school was reading my blog. When I first started blogging, I wasn't looking to connect with people I knew or once knew. I just had something to say and I thought somebody out there might be interested in hearing it. Interestingly, though, I started reading blogs through someone I knew in real life (or at least Mr. Geeky knew better than I did). I started reading the links on his blogroll and voila, I stumbled into this little community of random people. Having participated in many online communities before, I once again enjoyed connecting with people from afar, but it's also been interesting to me how many people I know in real life I keep up with via their blogs or via their comments on my blogs.

Early on, I bumped into a friend from grad school. Then there's Megan, whom I met during a semester-long seminar, and who has now moved and purchased a fabulous house. There's Eric, who works at the college down the road whom I also got to know during that same seminar and with whom I share my political interests. There's a couple of students, one who is abroad now, that I keep up with via their blogs. Michelle, a faculty member at my school, blogged last semester (hope she picks it back up again!). Her husband picked up blogging a little by having his class blog. I've met a couple of people via blogs. Bryan and I worked on a grant together, but I had started reading his blog before that. That kind of freaked out our fellow grant participants a little. And I've met one of our illustrious bloggers of academe on a trip I made a while back.

I've also enjoyed the virtual connections that I might not have been able to make but for the blog. During the election, I bumped into Bill, who lives in rural PA and who is about as different from me as you could get on the surface, but I think if we ever had coffee together, we'd have a lot to talk about. I read science blogs (who'd a thought! an English major!). I read technical blogs. I read parenting blogs. And, sometimes, I read political blogs. And I love this little virtual world made up of all different kinds of people. I don't think there's any way I could get this variety in real life. And I certainly couldn't get the level of discourse I find in this community in real life. Even at the college, we tend to, when we bump into each other, stick to small talk. Here, we can do that too, but we can also do more when we feel like it. And on any given day, you'll find both and something in between. But mostly, you'll find a bunch of interesting people to connect with.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Put a fork in me

Toast! I know, I know, that's not the way it goes. I read until my eyes dried out. I wrote a little. I read some blogs. I should have done a little more, but what the hey. I got engrossed in Bitch, Ph.D's abortion discussion. I couldn't help myself. The scary thing is, while reading that, I actully researched how much we spend on the military. 400 and something billion. And we spend $521 billion on security (homeland variety). Is there a line-item budget somewhere that's in plain English? Well, kind of.

More random thoughts

  • Two brownies (small ones) wouldn't be so bad, right?
  • Must take bath.
  • I hope I'm still coherent at 8:30-ish when I'm finally free to write
  • I hope my work isn't stupid
  • Why is Geeky Girl running all over the place all of a sudden?
  • Brownies, just two (small ones, 170 calories each); they're calling me.

Random Monday thoughts

  • Someone I'm related to is pregnant again. She's due in November. She currently has a 2 year old and 7 month old twins. When the new kid arrives, she'll have a nearly 3 year old, twin 1 year olds and a newborn. Am I the only one who thinks she's insane?
  • I have no desire to go to work, not because I don't want to work, but just because.
  • I'm back on the nutrition train, thanks to Cooking Light. I'd completely lost my desire to cook, but I'm back again.
  • Mr. Geeky leaves today for another trip. I leave Friday for another trip. Jane, stop this crazy thing.
  • Tonight I'll be single-parenting and must squeeze in laundry, dinner, and writing of chapter 1.
  • I really just want to go to Aruba and lie on the beach.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Go Nova!

The headache dissipated. I managed to get some work in and now I'm settling in to watch Villanova take on Florida. We come from a long line of basketball fans. Unfortunately, we never have time to watch until the tournament.

I'm also making the Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches from Cooking Light--cool! I'll update you on how those turn out.

Update: Sandwiches were excellent, though I think the sauce was little sweet. The game sucked. Now I don't know who to cheer for.

Talk amongst yourselves

I'm fighting a huge headache.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Parenting in the workplace

Lately, I've noticed that I bring up my juggling act in meetings quite often. It's as if I'm forcing the issue on people, reminding them that it's sometimes a struggle to parent and work at the same time. And reminding them that even in our flexible workplace, parents are often asked "just to deal with it."

Recently, while at a search committee meeting, we were trying to schedule the next meeting. I suddenly realized that the meeting we were trying to arrange landed smack in the middle of my kids' spring break.

"Uh oh," I said. "That's spring break. I'm not sure what's going on that week."

"Well," said one person, "Can you give us an idea?"

"Not really," I said. "I don't have my husband's schedule in front of me. That's what this will depend on."

She looked at me and frowned. Now we'd spent the last 10 minutes planning interviews to coincide with her schedule around conferences, festivals, meetings and whatnot, but now that we were dealing with *gasp* the care of children, she didn't want to be accomodating in return. I ended up saying that I'd work something out, not to worry. What was interesting to me about the interchange was that I brought it up at all. Usually parents are asked to be silent about such matters. After the schedule is made, we rush to our phones, call spouses and babysitters and "work something out." For whatever reason, I wanted to remind the people at the table that the raising of and caring for children was important, worthy of noting on my calendar and worthy of accomodating, just like any other obligation.

Another time, we were discussing the possibility of leaves for staff, for a year of research or a few months or something.

I asked, "What about those of us with children? It's pretty complicated, with two working parents, to make these arrangements."

"Faculty do it all the time."

I squirmed in my seat. Yes, faculty with stay at home spouses. I know all about those arrangements. Faculty with children not yet in school.

"Yes, but, let's use me as an example. I'd have to coordinate it with [Mr. Geeky]. If he just took a leave, then he can't just take another one. And I'd have to arrange school for the kids. Or I'd just have to go alone. I don't know if I could do that--for a year anyway."

"Well, not everyone has those issues."

"Well, I just want to make you aware of the practical considerations that some people might have to make. You don't want to exclude people because of that."

And that's the issue. Many parents opt out of more work or different kinds of arrangements, i.e. going on a leave for a year, because the accomodations that would have to be made are so complicated. What if Mr. Geeky were not a faculty member, but instead the CEO of a large corporation? I can't imagine he'd be able to leave his job for a year. And what about school for that year? It's hard to transfer schools. You have to get shot records and school records and all kinds of stuff. And the kids have to leave their friends behind for a year. And, that's not a huge deal, but still something to consider. The risks are not just about you anymore. And that's something some nonparents don't quite get.

Friday, March 24, 2006

NOW backs Sandals

I reported this a while back, but have now seen it in a MSM outlet. NOW is officially backing Alan Sandals. And I say good for them. I wish I had a boatload of money to give them. Here's the thing I was thinking about when I read that article. Here we are with Rick Santorum, who is not necessarily the most popular Senator on the planet. Moderates are a little sickened by some of his extreme views. Rather than take advantage of that, and run someone who is truly the opposite of Santorum, the democrats go and run Bob Casey. As Sandals himself said, the Democratic Party's embrace of Mr. Casey was based on the "foolish belief that Democrats could win only if they began to impersonate Republicans."

I imagined myself arguing with my neighbor, who supports Casey. And I would tell her, look, abortion rights are too important to me to support Casey. What happens if a bill like the one in South Dakota comes up before the Senate? Does Casey support it? I think he does. And then I think, my daughter's life is in danger. Hell, my life might be in danger. And what happens if another Teri Schiavo thing happens? Unfortunately, I think he's in there with Bill Frist and the lot. I'm sorry, but that's Republican stuff, not Democrats. You can't give up your principles for politics. At least I can't.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Invest in the apocolypse

Last night, I was listening to Beijing by Melissa Ferrick

The refrain goes:

if you can get it
grab as much as you can
and hide it in your basement
for the next disaster

It made me think of Phantom and her snack foods for the apocolypse. It's a great song, Phantom. I think you'd like it.

Anyway, if you want to be short-sighted and make money off of the apocolypse, Susie suggests investing in biotech, especially those that might be making vaccines.


I happened to spend all evening reading about audience. I'll be posting research-related thoughts on the other blog, but all that reading got me to thinking about how I conceive of audience. Plus, I ran into New Kid's post and this really struck me:

when I started blogging, I thought that this blog would be a place where I could vent all my anxieties and concerns and so on. But now I feel a certain (self-imposed) pressure to Say Only Smart Things here, not lame whiny things (though I realize that hasn't stopped me before), or else I worry that I'm boring you readers out there, or blogging for sympathy - sucking for nice comments from you people who have no responsibility to be nice to me. No matter that I'm pseudonymous here - I still feel a certain pressure to maintain a certain kind of image, even if none of you may ever be able to connect New Kid with the "real" me. (I know some of you do know the real me, but I don't think that's what creates this pressure; I feel like New Kid has a kind of persona now that I need to stay consistent to. With. Whatever.)

Eh. Lest I be accused of self-importance, I realize there are far worse things to worry about than what people I've (largely) never met think of my imaginary identity. But sometimes it's hard to know what to post here. I want to look smart, and insightful, and admirable. I don't want anyone out here in the interweb to see my weaknesses any more than I want the people in my face-to-face life to. But it feels pretty dishonest not to talk about the times when I feel miserable, and anything but smart, or insightful, or admirable.

I actually don't always feel this kind of pressure. And what's even weirder is I'm not really pseudonymous here. Lots of people I know in real life, mostly people I work with in some way, read this blog. And I think they often get a different picture of me here than they have of me in real life. To be expected, I suppose since I don't blog everything. I told someone on the phone the other day that Geeky Mom was like another person and sometimes I forget what she's up to.

The standard ways of conceiving an audience are to address one, to think about who you're writing to, or to invoke one, to conjure up in your mind an imaginary audience. Walter Ong famously said that every audience is a fiction while Aristotle insisted the best way to succeed in speaking is to know the details of your audience. In reality, I think we do a little bit of both. I'm imagining right now that I'm mainly writing to New Kid and to others, perhaps Bitch, Ph.D. and Dr. Crazy, who have written about the tensions they have with their blogging which is often related to their relationship with their audience. So I'm addressing an audience, but I also imagine an audience of smart people interested in this particular topic. And that leads, I think, to the kind of thing New Kid mentioned, wanting to look intelligent and coherent and not disapppoint that imaginary audience. And that can be a good thing, but it can also be detrimental. It can keep you from writing.

Honestly, my desire to "look good" to my audience here has helped a little in that I try to actually do the things I say I'm going to do on the blog. Think about how many people post their to-do lists to "keep me honest." There's something about public accountibility that is motivating. Another way having an audience has helped is kind of the opposite of wanting to look good. In writing my dissertation, I have always considered my audience my advisor and perhaps, the committee. In many ways, that can be problematic because I don't want to disappoint them and I'm aware of the power they have over me (same for our students). I'm always thinking about how they might criticize my work. Now, I think about what my blog audience would say and since, through comments, I kind of know what they might say, I feel much more comfortable writing. My blog audience, which I've borrowed for my dissertation, is much more sympathetic and understanding even while they might give constructive criticism. I find that extremely helpful.

I know where New Kid is coming from. I feel inadequate when I write about political stuff, mainly because there's so many good political bloggers out there already. I'm trying to live up to their standards. What I'm doing here most of the time is just being me, in front of a live studio audience. Scary, for sure. But mostly fun.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Long but rewarding day (month)

I got a lot accomplished today both at work and at home. March has been kind of a hellish month at the Geeky household. At the beginning of the month, I had just returned from my trip to Grad School Town, then the kids got strep, then Mr. Geeky left for a conference, then I left for a conference (sxsw). Then a little recovery last week. This week, Mr. Geeky has had visitors from out of town for whom he's doing a big presentation. So last night he was preparing, tonight he took them out to dinner and tomorrow will be more presentation stuff. And I feel bad because I've been so busy catching up with my work and dealing with the IRB and trying to make sure the house doesn't fall apart that I haven't been able to support Mr. Geeky properly (and vice versa, really). He leaves again on Monday and offered to return immediately on Tuesday, but I told him to take his time. I leave next Friday for a workshop I'm participating in, taking 4 students with me.

In so many ways, I'm energized by all of this and every day, every week, there's always a light at the end of the tunnel. Eventually, I get to go to sleep or watch bad tv or take a bath and I really appreciate those moments even more now since they come after hard work.

Next month doesn't look nearly as hellish. And hopefully the trees and the flowers will really start to bloom and the balm of spring will relax and refresh.

Some days it doesn't pay to work

Down the hall is an air filtration machine, so loud, even with headphones on, I could hear it. So the door is closed. They've ripped up all our sidewalks and replaced them with gravel surrounded by those orange mesh fences. FSM forbid you want to wear heels. The stairwell smells like varnish (thus the air filtration system). Just now, I went to get tea and found a plumber with the entire sink torn apart. He says it will be a day or two. So I trekked across campus with a colleague to purchase tea from the campus cafe. Now I have stacks of applications to read through. I'm on two search committees, one of which I chair. Ugh.

Links to go with your poptarts

I'm not sure what to think of this story about a Philadelphia-based religion and science think tank that have given ASU 1/2 mil. for a project to "connect" religion and science. Maybe PZ can cut through the doublespeak.

And then there's this story about the corporatization of Universities and the presidents who love it.

Actual content coming soon.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Bedtime links

Blogger is killing me, so I'm using performancing, which I'm always forgetting I have and which is the coolest app ever.

Tonights links, related to abortion:

Bitch, Ph.D. on the media's reporting on abortion, mostly by men, mostly pro-life.

Susie at Suburban Guerrilla on NOW's endorsement of Alan Sandals, whom I wrote about a while back (and which I'd link to if Blogger weren't freaking down.) You should also click through her link to Will. Interesting stuff.

Chronicling the evening

Elizabeth is keeping a record of how much time they spend on housework for a week. I'm just going to give you my day, from 4:45 on.

4:45 Arrive home to meet bus post band practice.
4:45-5:00 Check in with blogs and email.
5:00-5:30 Round trip to pick up Geeky Girl at after school care
5:30-6:00 Make dinner--ravioli for me; peanut butter and banana sandwiches for the kids.
6:00-6:30 Eat dinner while watching news and helping Geeky Girl do homework.
6:30-7:15 Can't find homework sheet, so go searching on the homework table; also decide to go through mail; unclog glue; go through magazines looking for symmetrical shapes that occur in nature. This last task proves difficult because we have such "natural" titles as Wired, PC World, MacWorld, and Linux World. There's a world for everything.
7:15 Put Geeky Girl in bathtub, run a load of laundry downstairs; ask Geeky Boy to load dishwasher
7:30 Begin blogging

Later, like after the kids are in bed, I have IRB forms to fill out, articles to read, etc. before I completely crash. If I wanted to have a neat house, I'd do at least another 2-3 hours of housework. But I can't have a neat house, a full-time job, decently behaved children, and work towards a Ph.D. So there it is. In the mail, I found a two-week old birthday invitation. We are treading water here.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Tricking myself into working

It's the first day of spring, but completely freezing. I think they're calling for snow later this week. I had an exhilerating day at work today. A day in which I watched my boss be the best boss I've ever seen her be. Seriously, it was kind of cool. I also got to work on lots of different things--video, podcasting, screencasting, and some web conferencing. Kind of cool.

I also went to a professor's house to help them with a computer thing. Don't let that get out. (Ha!) It's a long story but believe me, it made sense. On the way to her house, my phone rang. It was my dad, but I ignored it and then when I called him back, it turned out he had a technical question. I was unsuccessful at helping either the professor or my dad. Both were hardware issues. Things were broken.

So anyway, I got home, and I was a little wound up and had my head in these technical things and was thinking, man it's cold outside; I don't want to go to the coffee shop and work and besides it's just going to make me think about the irb issues I'm having. So I decided I'd take a bath and read at least one article and then try to get through two more in addition to doing a search for some more to read tomorrow. I decided I would work until 10:00 or through the 3rd article, whichever came first. I swear I was like a kid, telling myself I just had a few more minutes or a few more pages or whatever. And it wasn't like I wasn't interested in what I was reading. I was. It's just that there were so many other things that seemed so appealing--tv or hanging with the kids or eating more chocolate.

How do you all trick yourself into working when you just don't feel like it? Does it work?

Some links to go with your coffee

A political link: Mea culpa--on the Iraq war via Crooked Timber

A parenting link: On how stupid Leslie Steiner Morgan is via Rebel Dad

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Progress made

Well, I got in about 3.5 hours of good work today. I'm going to read a couple of articles tonight before bed--probably another hour or so of work.

Not too bad. Unfortunately, whenever I'm working like this, I need snacks. So I went to the grocery store and loaded up on chocolate. So not good.

Back on the dissertation train

I have to get back to work on the diss, after about a week off, thanks to traveling and then recovering from the traveling.

So, today, unfortunately, will be quiet around here. But here's some random thoughts and links as a send off. First, I very much liked New Kid's post about writer's block, especially given my own lack of writing lately. She offers some very good advice there. I posted my own writing schedule there, but I'll elaborate here too, in case anyone else wants to try to write a dissertation while having a fulltime job and kids to raise. On the weekends, I try to work 2-4 hours, usually in the morning, from 10-12, with another stint in the afternoon. On Mondays and Wednesdays, I go away, usually to Starbucks, right after dinner and work for about 2-3 hours. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I work at home, usually after the kids are in bed. I shoot for 2 hours, but often it's only an hour or so. Friday, I don't work. I sometimes am able to squeeze in an hour of source searching at work.

I also very much enjoyed Musey's post on education. Those of us in education and/or those of us with kids in the system should really start thinking about the state of education and listening to some experts.

Finally, here's my political link for the day. Read it and weep. It's related to my previous post. How prescient I am. :)

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Why I won't be voting for Bob Casey

Bob Casey is a pro-life democrat and the Democratic party's choice of him to run against Rick Santorum represents all that I think is wrong with the Democratic party. They keep thinking that if they just move a little more to the right, they'll get more votes and win. No! No! No! You get more votes by standing up for what you believe in, not polishing your image based on poll numbers and market research. The Dems are supposed to be the pro-choice party. They are supposed to help those who cannot help themselves. They are supposed to protect people from the expansive powers of the government. Increasingly, though, I can't tell the difference between the Dems and the Republicans.

Unfortunately, primaries are not well attended. My vote for either Alan Sandals or Chuck Pennacchio probably won't mean a thing. My little local committee has already made up their minds. However, I'm not going along with them. I was having a conversation with a friend of mine at work who happens to live near me too. He said he's never felt welcome at any of the local democratic meetings. He described a meeting in which all discussion was shut down by a local politician. Hello? Anyone heard of a democracy? Last I checked, it was all about open discourse. I'm tired of these committees thinking that they know best and that they can determine who we should vote for and what we should think. I'm not wearing any "I'm pro-choice and pro-Casey" buttons. I'm not gonna stand by and let them try to enforce some kind of weird group think. And I'm tired of people telling me not to vote for someone because they won't win. WTF?! Of course they won't if you keep telling people not to vote for them.

This post was inspired in part by PZ's defeatist post. I know how he feels and I'm trying to find a way to do something about it. I encourage you all to see who's running in your primaries for Senate and House positions. Vote for who you believe in, not who you think will win. Otherwise, we really are defeated.

What weekends are for

Memes! And I can finally do this--since Mr. Geeky got me a new iPod for my birthday. Yay Mr. Geeky! Actually, the real reason is that we finally have the internets working properly in my office. So here goes the iMeme:

1. How does the world see me?
"She loves you" The Beatles (cool!)

2. Will I have a happy life?
"Kids in America" Kim Wilde (what does that mean?)

3. What do my friends really think of me?
"Afternoons and Coffeespoons" Crash Test Dummies (a song about getting old; either they think I'm old or really relaxed)

4. Do people secretly lust after me?
"Three Little Birds" Bob Marley (huh?)

5. How can I make myself happy?
"The Perfect Girl" The Cure (yikes; maybe I've been in the closet?)

6. What should I do with my life?
"Express Yourself" Madonna (seriously! That's pretty cool!)

7. Will I ever have (grand) children?
"The only living boy in New York" Simon and Garfunkel (that sounds like maybe one? a boy?)

8. What is some good advice for me?
"Window" Fiona Apple (odd)

9. How will I be remembered?
"You're my thrill" Billie Holiday (I don't know whether to be scared or happy about this.)

10. What is my signature dancing song?
"I don't know what it is" Rufus Wainwright (not exactly a dancing song, but one of my favs)

11. What do I think my current theme song is?
"Torn & Frayed" The Rolling Stones (so true)

12. What does everyone else think my theme song is?
"Road to Nowhere" Talking Heads (okay, that's bad)

13. What song will play at my funeral?
"Heartbreak Number 9" Doyle Lawson (a good bluegrass song as a sendoff!)

14. What type of men/women do I like?
"But I might die tonight" Cat Stevens (does that mean I like people who live life to the fullest? I'll take that)

15. What is my day going to be like?
"Asleep on a sunbeam" Belle and Sebastian (that sounds about right)

New design

I think I like my new design, if I do say so myself. My flowers are coming in and once they do, I may include some pics of them somewhere. Thanks to Joe Calhoun for the flickr photo.

Friday, March 17, 2006

On Husbands

I've been reading Perfect Madness (almost done, real review coming!) and I just finished the chapter on husbands and then I saw Rebel Dad's link to Leslie Morgan Steiner's post. Steiner's blog is really driving me crazy. But that's another story. In Perfect Madness, Warner goes on and on about how the husbands pretty much check out of their family's lives and don't take on any of the housework or childcare and are basically incompetent. As I was reading that, I remembered that she was dealing with a pretty small subgroup of people and as rebel dad says, they're not all like that.

I'm going to speak from personal experience since that's all I've got and anecdotal evidence seems to be all the rage anyway. Basically, I married the only guy I know who doesn't cook. Seriously, all my friends' husbands, gourmet cooks. To make up for that, Mr. Geeky cleans the kitchen. He also does laundry and grocery shopping. He often asks if I need him to pick up anything at the store. Now he hates grocery shopping because the placement of products is a mystery he's never figured out, but he manages. Most of the husbands I know, including Mr. Geeky, are very involved in their kids' lives. They go to parent-teacher conferences. They go to soccer games. They take their kids to lunch at the pizza joint. You see them at parks and playgrounds together or just hanging out in the back yard.

That doesn't mean I don't know a few husbands who seem to be completely uninvolved, but really, it's rare. I feel Rebel Dad's frustration. Stereotypes are bad for everyone.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

How old do you feel?

Today's my birthday. I'm 38. Most of the time I feel about 30. At SXSW, I felt ancient, for lots of reasons which I'll go into in another post.

I've seen lots of people out there with birthdays lately. Do you feel your age?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Laura has an excellent post with equally excellent comments on the issue of quality daycare. We have been through the daycare ringer. When Geeky Boy was born, we lived in a state with good state regulations for affordable day care. He ended up in a multiage, home-based (and state regulated) daycare with a woman who'd raised six of her own kids. She babysat for us on the weekends sometimes and we really considered her part of the family.

When we moved, I stayed at home for a while. For a year. I lasted only a couple of months without any care whatsoever. I put Geeky Boy into a Mother's Morning Out program that was quite similar to the home day care he had been in before. It was quite often that I'd drop him off and there'd be a couple of mothers breastfeeding their babies just once more before they left. I liked it there.

Then I went back to school. The plan was to go part time, but they offered me a full ride assistantship, so I jumped at the chance and then had about a week to find day care. Geeky boy was two. We went through a couple of really bad daycares. The biggest barrier for us was money. Mr. Geeky was on an instructor's salary and I would be making about $800/mo. on my assistantship. Our housing costs were pretty high and we had student loans, credit card debt, the usual just-out-of-grad-school financial crises. Finding day care that we could afford was difficult. I don't remember which bad option came first, but one was one of those chains of daycares and it was awful. It was like taking your kid to the mall and dropping him off and hoping for the best. I would go pick him up and I literally felt like I was navigating the food court or the school cafeteria. I would navigate through room after room filled with tables and tiny plastic chairs with metal legs that scraped the floor. One day, there was actually a fire there. That place only lasted a month.

The next horrible place was less institutional and closer to the school. Also, the teacher for Geeky Boy's class had been around for 20 years. You don't see that much in day care settings. Things seemed fine and dandy for a few months. Then, the teacher quit and they went through a string of teachers. It seemed like every day, we'd walk in seeing the director instead of the teacher and she'd have to tell us that she'd lost another one. Then there was the lice infestation that caused us to have to shave Geeky Boy's head. The last straw was the director of the center hitting Geeky Boy. You see, Geeky Boy had a bit of a temper at that age. He got frustrated and then, he kind of got in your face. It didn't happen often, but it was quite infuriating when it did. So, apparently this happened at school while the director was tending to his class and she hauled off and slapped him in the face. To her credit, she reported herself and she filed a report with the state and everything she was supposed to do, but still. That happened two weeks before the end of the semester. We left him there until semester's end and then I stayed home with Geeky Boy during the summer and looked for day care again.

We finally found great care at a small center that was non-profit. The parents were required to pitch in and once a month, we all gathered at the center to do chores. Geeky Boy was there for two years. It was a wonderful place and best of all, affordable, at around $350/mo.

Moving again, we had to find day care again. This time, I knew not to go with cheap. You really do get what you pay for. However, the costs had skyrocketed. Now, for a similar day care to the one we'd had previously (this time for Geeky Girl), we had to pay $900/mo. And we did like it. Geeky Girl stayed there for 4 years. I credit them with her early reading ability and her good social skills. They treated summer like camp, taking them to plays, for swimming lessons and trips to places like the zoo and the fire station.

Depending on where you live, good day care can be out of reach. I always tell people what I pay in day care because I do think, as Katherine said in the comments to Laura's post, people think you're only paying $300 or $400/mo. at the high end. While there might be some places where that *will* get you good care, at many others, it won't.

I know quite a few moms who stay at home because they can't find good, affordable care. And it's not that they don't want to stay at home, but they would certainly weigh their options differently if it only took $350/mo. to get them excellent care.

The thing is, good day care is hard to find. Just knowing where to look can be difficult. Most of the time, it's word of mouth.

I'm at a point now where I don't feel guilty at all for putting my kids in day care. There may have been a few rough spots along the way, but we all learned something from them, and I never felt like my kids' safety was at stake. That said, I have had people directly criticize me for it at a time when I felt uncertain about the choices I'd made (which really weren't choices since at the beginning, I was the one with the salary while Mr. Geeky was writing a dissertation). I've come to a place where I really think it's an individual family's decision about what kind of care they feel is best. The media's constant spinning of this issue as having a right or wrong answer leads parents to buy into that in the early years. How can you possibly know when your kid's six weeks old all the various permutations that have worked out just fine? You're just beginning to add your own.

It very much feels like to me that all us parents out here in the blogosphere are very respectful of each other's decisions. Of course, that's not a good headline, is it?

Home again

The bad thing about returning from a trip mid-week is that you have to jump right into work. Luckily, it's pretty quiet around here. There are a few loose ends to tie up, things to work out, emails to send, but nothing major right now.

I'm looking forward to a home-cooked meal (though I did have some good food in Austin). I'm looking forward to a bath and a good night's sleep.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Complete Exhaustion

Since it was our last night at SXSW, we decided to hit a party after dinner. We'd passed the night before. Boy, am I hating myself for that. Plus there were the 4 or 5 margaritas I had at dinner. Thankfully, I feel more tired than hungover and my flight doesn't leave until 5 p.m. Our web developer might be in worse shape than I. I haven't seen him yet this morning. It's been fun, but I'm definitely ready to go home and sleep in my own bed.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Living in the Internet World

I don't think my observations from yesterday have entirely changed, but I'm sitting here watching this guy talk to some of his friends about the panel that I watched him in this morning. And yesterday, I watched this guy and this woman and then saw the guy walk right past me. It's kind of cool that I know who these people are.

But there's the Internet and then there's the Interweb. The thing is, most of the blogs and other sites are tech oriented. What do you do if you're just a geeky mom writing about the intersection of politics, childrearing, technology and your life? [Okay, side note: this guy is now standing in front of me. And note, they're all guys.] Do I put a value on that? I think I live in the Interweb (not the internets). I'm here to connect to people, not to push product or content or brand my site or whatever. I just like doing this. It saves me from the frustrations of my day job. I do believe that the Internet and the Interweb and stuff is pretty cool. And yeah, it might be cool to make a living doing this, but I think I want to be more thoughtful about it than that.

I also believe, as my last post indicated, that education needs to catch up a little bit to this world. I just don't know how long I can fight that fight.

Living in the Internet World

I don't think my observations from yesterday have entirely changed, but I'm sitting here watching this guy talk to some of his friends about the panel that I watched him in this morning. And yesterday, I watched this guy and this woman and then saw the guy walk right past me. It's kind of cool that I know who these people are.

But there's the Internet and then there's the Interweb. The thing is, most of the blogs and other sites are tech oriented. What do you do if you're just a geeky mom writing about the intersection of politics, childrearing, technology and your life? [Okay, side note: this guy is now standing in front of me. And note, they're all guys.] Do I put a value on that? I think I live in the Interweb (not the internets). I'm here to connect to people, not to push product or content or brand my site or whatever. I just like doing this. It saves me from the frustrations of my day job. I do believe that the Internet and the Interweb and stuff is pretty cool. And yeah, it might be cool to make a living doing this, but I think I want to be more thoughtful about it than that.

I also believe, as my last post indicated, that education needs to catch up a little bit to this world. I just don't know how long I can fight that fight.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

SXSW: some observations

I'm having a good time, for sure, but it's interesting to be someone who's really on the outside in a number of ways. First, I'm not "in the industry." And second, despite the fact that there are quite a few women around, we're still in the minority.

Last night, we went to the opening party which was at a warehouse. Basically, we stood in the parking lot drinking beer. I felt like I was in high school again. At least the beer was free. The funniest thing is the people who walk around looking like they're looking for someone. What they're really looking for is someone who looks cool enough to talk to. I never qualified--just like high school.

An awful lot of people here are young (25-30), white, and male, looking for that big break. I don't have a problem with that at all, but it makes it hard just to have a conversation when it becomes obvious that I'm not going to bring them any business.

Why am I here, then? Well, I originally wanted to come to meet up with people who shared my interests, but what I'm finding is I don't want to talk in acronyms all the time. I actually want to bridge the gap between the people who talk in acronyms and the people who call the web the internets or the interweb and would prefer not to go near it. In the Book Digitization and a tagging session I went to, there was some discussion of that. Thanks, Liz! But generally, the acronym people just want to reach other acronym people. Unless we all become acronym people, I don't think that's a good long-term strategy.

This morning, I went to a session on the future of education. It was really interesting. I think the biggest issue facing education is that no one quite agrees on the goals of education. We're still working on a 200-year-old model of what education "should be" and there isn't the political will to move beyond that. The NCLB program ingrains that model even further. Next year, I want to see people like Will and George and Barbara up there. I mean, the people up on the panel were great and I talked to Jessica later and think what she's doing is very interesting and important, but I still think the conversation needs to widen. This topic, you can tell, is hugely important. The room was packed. People were talking passionately. They really want to figure this out.

I think educators increasely need to have this conversation. Four out of the five people on the panel were with corporations. If the education industry doesn't figure this out soon, the corporations will do it for us. And we may or may not like the "solutions" they come up with.

You know the Dr. Seuss book, Horton Hears a Who? Well I feel like the whos sometimes, running around yelling as loud as I can, The Web is here, the web is here. What's it gonna take before someone hears me?

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Book digitization

Just blogged the book digitization session. Some of you might be interested in it.

Worlds colliding

Having a great time in Austin so far. After a few snags with airport parking, missed connection and a broken coffee pot, I'm now sitting in the lobby waiting for Mike. We stayed out way, way late last night. First, we attempted to go to the BlogHer meetup at Stubbs. We hung out at the bar. I assume that the bloghers were out on the patio, but we never made it out there. We left in search of food and got distracted by margaritas at the Iron Cactus. Man, those were good.

My worlds are colliding because the AWP is here too. There's a battle of eccentricity going on in the lobby and coffee shop. Are the techies funkier than the writers? Hard to say.

Shortly, we're headed over to the convention center to begin official conferencing. I think I'm going to have to accept the fact that my eyes will be bloodshot this entire trip.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Trying to get to SXSW

We missed a connecting flight, so we're hanging out for a few hours in the airport. We had lunch with beer. Now we're watching CNN, blogging. Wish we were napping.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Talking to my son about abortion

Last night, Geeky Boy watched the video I linked to in the post below. If you haven't seen it, the creators go to an abortion clinic protest and ask each participant one by one if they think abortion should be legal or illegal. They all say illegal, of course. Then, they ask what the punishment should be for women who have illegal abortions. Almost all of them are stumped by this question. Almost all of them have to think for a minute and then most admit that they haven't thought about that. And most say that they don't think the woman should be punished, but should be prayed for or has suffered her punishment already or some such thing like that. One person does suggest life in prison, which I actually commend her for because if you're going to make something illegal and call it murder, then there should be punishment. (You really should watch the video; it's stunning.)

Anyway, Geeky Boy says, "I think abortion should be legal. Because if you're not ready to have a kid, then you shouldn't." Then he goes back to reading his book. When Mr. Geeky goes to put Geeky Girl to bed, I ask Geeky Boy what he thinks about abortion. He says it should be legal, but you should tell someone if you're going to have one, like your parents or a judge. I thought this was cute and probably came from his sense that for something that serious, an authority figure needs to put their stamp of approval on it. I asked him if he wouldn't be afraid to go talk to a judge. He said maybe. And I explained that I thought if someone wanted to get an abortion, they should be able to without having to ask anyone. They should be able to go somewhere like Planned Parenthood and be taken care of. Then I said, ideally, a teenager wouldn't get pregnant in the first place and I asked him if he knew how to prevent pregnancy.

He said, Yeah, you use those sticks or something, Pamprin? I did not laugh. I wasn't even close to laughing. I explained that girls could take birth control pills and that they have to go to the doctor to get them. And I asked about how boys prevent pregnancy, because you know, I said, it takes a boy and a girl to get pregnant. He said he didn't know. So I explained what condoms were and told him we'd always keep some in the bathroom or he could buy them at the drug store.

And then that was it. That was all he could handle for the moment. And you know, it wasn't hard at all.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

I am my uterus: blogging against sexism

Personally, in the last couple of months, my life has been largely sexism free. I have not directly experienced anything sexist. That's not to say I haven't experienced it in the past.

I have been trying to write this post for 24 hours now. I've written stuff. I've erased it. Honestly, I'm not sure where I am with sexism. It's not overt anymore--at least not in the place I am now. I've struggled with sexism all my life. It began early, when I was shifted to certain disciplines because I was a girl. FSM bless Mr. Chandler for telling me I could be a genetic engineer. Then there was college in the south where girls were put on a pedestal and yet, kept from positions of power. And there were the boyfriends who said I was beautiful, but my mind was empty. There was the sexual harassment and near date rape by a friend. I joined with other women who were harassed or raped by him to prosecute him and we were told not to hope for much. And we would have to pay our legal fees for what would be long and drawn out and fruitless because who would believe a bunch of girls against one guy.

My senior year in college, when I had broken away from the boyfriends and lived off-campus, I had on my answering machine a line from the Laurie Anderson song, "Beautiful Red Dress,":
OK! OK! Hold it! I just want to say something. You know, for every dollar a man makes a woman makes 63 cents. Now, fifty years ago that was 62 cents. So, with that kind of luck, it'll be the year 3,888 before we make a buck.
In my graduate school applications, I aimed to move north or west, somewhere away from the patrician culture of the south. A faculty member from a southern university came to recruit me and I told him I had to get out of the south. And he said, why? And I said, Because I want to go somewhere where people think I'm strong enough to open my own door.

And things were good for a while. I moved to the Midwest. I made friends with many strong women. I took a corporate job where I had a female boss who believed in me, who taught me how to be confident and to continually strive to be better. And to not take any shit. And then I became a mother. My strong women friends stayed strong and still considered me strong. But others. Well, some others blamed me for returning to work. And my mother told me I was letting my child control me. And suddenly, I was defined as I had been in the south, as only a uterus. What was most important was my reproductive status. Or potential reproductive status. And this continued as we moved back south and even to the northeast. I was defined by my husband and my children, not for what I was capable of on my own.

And this, I think is the biggest sexist issue we face--the invisibility of women. Mr. Geeky pointed out this video to me today. Mr. Geeky sees it as way to win the abortion battle by forcing these people to think about the consequences on the women who have illegal abortions. And I can see his point, but when I watched it, all I could think, was, "Wow, they don't even care about the women. They haven't even really thought about them. It's all about the babies." And it's not like I didn't know that before, but the video really brings it home.

And, I'm reading Perfect Madness, and I feel the same thing. There's a movement to push women back into the home, back where they become invisible. The angel in the house. I should make it clear that it's perfectly okay with me if parents want to stay home. (Heck, if you're a long time reader, you know I ponder it myself.) The problem is, the way it's set up right now, there's no recognition for that work. It is unpaid. Invisible. But I think part of why some of the women depicted in Warner's book move out of the workforce and into the home is that they were feeling invisible there. Their voices weren't being heard. And at least at home, someone's paying attention. They can feel powerful again. Which is great. If only people outside the house recognized the work they do.

There are few women in public life. So often we see only men on the Sunday morning talk shows. There are few female columnists. There are so few women in congress. We have yet to have a female president. Women are *still* not being heard the way they should be.

And while I, personally, am not feeling the burden of sexism in my tiny realm, I worry for my children. Will my daughter have access to the care she needs if she wants to prevent or terminate a pregnancy? Will my son see fewer and fewer women in his workforce and be susceptible to thinking that women don't belong there? Will we end up in some kind of draconian society, like A Handmaid's Tale? I shudder to think. We need to keep raising our voices, to keep asking for what we want: equal pay, salaries for stay at home parents, access to quality childcare, access to good health care, legal abortions, access to birth control. Whatever will make lives for women better, equal to men's. Whatever it takes.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Here's what a geek I am

PSoTD wonders about the realism in Eight Below and I head to Wikipedia to see what I can find out. Those are kelp gulls, btw. I have not been able to determine if they hang out there in the winter.

I use my laptop as a cookbook.

I'm excited to see my cocomment greasemonkey script working better.

I am excited about trying out the Profcast thing Collin wrote about.

I'm starting to go through iPod withdrawal.

Blog against sexism day tomorrow!

Hey everyone! Tomorrow is the first ever Blog Against Sexism Day. Vegankid is hosting. Write a post, send a link, or tag it.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Random bullets of crap: oscars and dissertation edition

  • I do not know what I'm doing. I kind of know what I'm doing. Have sought clarification and enlightenment from those who do know. Something will crystalize and it will all be okay.
  • On NPR, they said the reason the Oscar show ratings were down was that no one cared about the movies. I cared about them; I just couldn't go see them. When movie tickets are nearly $10 a piece and popcorn is $5 and coke is $5 and you have to hire a babysitter at $10/hour, you can make maybe one movie a year. When they lower movie and concession prices or we get to a better DVD release schedule, maybe I'll be able to see the movies and then maybe I'll care about them. Seriously, the only nominated movie I saw was March of the Penguins.
  • My job is satisfying right now. Yay!
  • I'm going to SXSW. Yay!
  • I have too much to do between now and Friday. Boo!
  • My kids. They're good. We went to see Eight Below on Saturday. I highly recommend it.
  • For the last few days, I've been sneaking sideways glances at Geeky Boy, who will occasionally just break into a grin. For instance, he was looking around the theater as the lights were dimming and just grinned. He's been heading toward that preteen/teen stage where there's a lot he keeps to himself. Plus, he's just naturally kind of quiet. I just like watching his expressions, looking for clues as to what's going on in his head.
  • Geeky Girl did do the talent show. As soon as I catch a breath, I'll have some video.
  • I still don't know what I'm doing. Sigh.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Oscar blogging

Watching tivo'd oscars. Jon Stewart is kind of sucking. Course this has got to be a hard gig. Liked the cowboy sequence though.

Hmm, don't know about George Clooney. He's an odd duck. What's funny is I haven't seen any of these movies--have no idea if he deserves it.

Stewart still sucks.

Wallace and Gromit--yay!! I haven't seen it either and it's a kid movie. I have no social life. Nick Park is cute. I'm a sucker for geeks.

I miss animated shorts. I used to go to an animated film festival where I saw Pixar's first film. Really. Shouldn't there be a collection of these things? Yay for the mom plug.

It's 9:30 and I'm bored already. Sigh.

Koufax Awards voting open

The polls are open. This here blog is nominated in the Most Deserving of Wider Recognition category. There are lots of good blogs in all the categories. I've added quite a few of them to my regular reading list. And that's the main point of the awards anyway. So go vote for your favorites, whether it's this one or another one. Oh, and donate some money to the folks who are running this whole shebang.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Some geekiness

Ragey asked for the script to do the technorati tags. Here it is. I had installed the script too, but I don't like it as much. The technorati tag thing works very nicely. My next geeky search is to be able to list "categories" on this blog. I can get a tag cloud, but it's not quite the same thing.

As for cocomment, the jury's still out. It doesn't work at all with haloscan and only works about 10% of the time on Blogger popup comment windows. As I said before, in theory, I like the idea of collecting comments made elsewhere, but the collection process isn't quite seamless enough.

It's about time for a redesign, so look out! There could be even more geekiness.

Firefly, of course

You scored as Serenity (Firefly). You like to live your own way and don't enjoy when anyone but a friend tries to tell you should do different. Now if only the Reavers would quit trying to skin you.

Serenity (Firefly)


Moya (Farscape)


Babylon 5 (Babylon 5)


Nebuchadnezzar (The Matrix)


Galactica (Battlestar: Galactica)


Deep Space Nine (Star Trek)


Millennium Falcon (Star Wars)


Enterprise D (Star Trek)


Bebop (Cowboy Bebop)


FBI's X-Files Division (The X-Files)


Andromeda Ascendant (Andromeda)


SG-1 (Stargate)


Your Ultimate Sci-Fi Profile II: which sci-fi crew would you best fit in? (pics)
created with

Friday, March 03, 2006

What not to say

When the mother of your daughter's partner in the talent show calls to inform you that she has strep and won't be making the show and that, in fact, she threw up in the car on the way home from the doctor and that she's been out in the freezing cold cleaning that up, you don't say, "Well, what is [daughter's name] going to do?"

Reality strikes, a real-life imbalance

I'm driving to work this morning with Geeky Boy in tow. He's feeling better though still running a fever, so the plan was to go into work, clean up the email box, participate in a conference call and then go to the doctor. As I'm about to turn on the street in front of my building, my cell phone rings. It's the school nurse. Geeky Girl just threw up, so could I come get her. So I turn right instead of left and head toward the school. On the way, I call my boss on her cell phone and explain the situation. She sounds completely sympathetic. I've now missed an entire week of work. Two vacation days for my trip to grad school city and now three sick days. If Mr. Geeky were here, I'd be at work right now. I might have even been at work yesterday. All of this time off and Mr. Geeky's flexibility is only possible because our workplace is flexible. My boss knows nothing is going to blow up if I'm not there and that I will keep in touch via email. Mr. Geeky can come in just for his one class and on Friday's he has no classes.

Imagine for a moment that you work for a place where your sick days can only be used if you yourself are sick and that you only get 6 of them as opposed to the 3 weeks' worth I get. What would you do? If you're lucky you have relatives or friends who can care for your kids. But that's a luxury many people don't have. What if missing those days causes you to lose a big account or a chance at a promotion because you miss some good face time with the head honcho? You see where this is headed, right? Many of us are lucky to have semi-flexible situations, fall-back plans, etc. But many of us are not. Who takes on the burden of dealing with sick children or ailing parents? Most of the time, it's a woman and most of the time doing so costs her something. This will cost me nothing, but it could and that's why I keep harping on it.


Sleepycat asks: Do you think it's really do-able for those of us with work and school and family and an attempt at a life?

That's the $20,000 question, isn't it? I'm not sure I have a life actually. I work. I take care of the kids and the household. It's rare that I go out to the movies or for a drink with friends. Most of my friends are parents, so even if I could go out with them, they probably couldn't go out with them. I don't feel that stressed out by it all, actually. I do miss going out with Mr. Geeky more. We used to spend time at friends' houses mostly and they at ours. But most of the time I enjoy my life. I know working on the Ph.D. is temporary, lasting until December at the latest. That time will go by quickly. I think the thing that nags at me most is the way the kids' lives encroach on mine. Mostly their school lives. The school, you see, is still built around the idea that someone is at home. I am deluged with papers, having to keep up with bake sales and talent shows and homework and field trips. If I didn't have my own life to manage with its conference trips, project deadlines, reading, and writing, I could keep up with it. Mr. Geeky's in the same boat. Because I don't want to punish my kids for having working parents, I have let them participate in afterschool activities (chess club, floor hockey, band) or big events (talent show). But these things mean not only that I (or Mr. Geeky; we split the duty 50/50) have to come home early sometimes, but have to remember when all these things are going on.

And then there's keeping up with homework, making sure there are clean clothes and that the kids brush their teeth and hair before walking out the door. And looming on the horizon: worries about sex and drugs and keeping up with academics and college tuition. That all leaves me with a nagging sense that something needs to be done, even if it's just increasing the amount we're putting into college savings.

What makes this unbearable (which is rare) is when I get "the look" from some PTA mom because I explain that I don't get home from work until 6 or I'm going to be out of town for 4 days. "The look" is filled with judgement, with "How can you leave your children like that?" I can usually ignore it, but when I've had a tough day at work, I can feel the guilt bubbling up, the thoughts of "Is it really worth it to damage the children over a crappy job?" Then I remember that I can't afford not to work. That's just the way it is.

Generally, I've come to the position that I can't be perfect at everything. I'll never be the perfect parent, the perfect employee, the perfect student. But I can always do my best. And I always try to let go of things that aren't important (laundry and dishes can wait) and ask for support when I need it. I think we (meaning women of a certain age, maybe still?) have been led to believe we should be able to do it all without any help. Well, of course that's not true. And it's taken me a while to say to Mr. Geeky, "What I need right now is x." Because he's always been willing to help and support me, but it's not always clear what's nagging me and keeping me from getting something done.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Okay, another test

That last was Wasn't really paying attention there.

Testing new gadgets

Web gadgets, that is. I'm not liking co-comment so much. More on that later, but I've really been wanting to add technorati tags to my posts more easily, so I added a script. This is a test of that.

Nagging feeling of being overwhelmed

I've been home for two days with Geeky Boy, who's running a fever and who was puking (yay). I got some work done, including transcribing two of my interviews. I'm falling behind on the nit picky stuff. I've misplaced a permission slip. I've been slow to get paperwork in for Lacrosse this season. I've discovered undone homework in piles of papers. We have the talent show tomorrow for which I have to scrounge up a blue jean skirt that I know exists, but if it doesn't, I'll be off to the store. For the second time this week, we forgot to take the trash out. The cupboards are bare. Laundry is lying around in piles, some folded, some not. I'm sure there are late bills somewhere. I've just lost the ability to manage that stuff. It's been worse, I know. But with the big stuff that's going on right now (aka, the Ph.D.), I just don't have the brain power to give over to thinking about when the next permission slip is due, when chess club and lacrosse practice is, or whether I have clean underwear. And yes, Mr. Geeky is helping. But I don't like this feeling that I have no control over my environment, like any minute a social worker is going to show up and say, "We've heard you've had pizza for the last three nights and that your cereal is a little stale. I'm sorry, but we're gonna have to take the kids away so they can get some vegetables." Or, "Well, if you weren't trying be all uppity and get your Ph.D., maybe your kids would have some clean clothes." Isn't my inner voice pleasant?

In a way, it's like the AWOL stuff that Mary wrote about in Inside Higher Ed and which Bitch, Ph.D. commented on. I really like the GTD system, but I've lost faith in my system. I don't have a reliable way of collecting everything. I don't have a regular time to review and dump stuff into that system. I'm not really a detail-oriented person; I'm really not that organized. I hate dealing with the little stuff. But I will, eventually. One way I try to deal with the details is to tackle them first, but sometimes that results in getting bogged down in them.

I tihnk another thing that's bothering me right now is being away from the office for so long. That's actually where the system is working best. The lines that blur between the office and home, however, are causing me problems. There are upcoming things that need to be dealt with during work hours. I find myself sometimes distracted at work about issues at home and vice versa. Actually, I just feel sort of constantly nagged by things I need to get done, even though those things are not that important, nor late or anything like that. This is not a good thing. And, funny, I was thinking I'd take some time to do a little organization here at home, but then I'm stopped by the thought that if I do that, then I'm not getting something else done. Kind of a vicious cycle.

I think what I should really do is watch a mindless movie of some kind with Geeky Boy. The world will not come to an end if that email doesn't get sent. Really. It won't.

Happy Birthday Mr. Geeky!

It's Mr. Geeky's birthday! Unfortunately, he's away at a conference so we can't celebrate. Maybe someone at the conference will take him out for a drink.

Our birthdays are two weeks apart. Quite often, we end up celebrating together. I'm going to SXSW between now and my birthday, which only gives us a handful of days and no weekend days to celebrate, so it will have to wait until I get back, I'm afraid. Though I might be able to scrounge up some goodies for Mr. Geeky before he gets back. Any ideas for the Geeky hubby?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Europe is better than us

Both Elizabeth and Laura have posts about the Newsweek article (which I haven't read) on the European system of offering parents lots of time off and part-time job opportunities. I actually went to a talk (links, discussion) a while back by one of our faculty who just wrote a book on the pitfalls of the social policies in Norway and Sweden. His thesis is that these policies actually create the opposite effect of what they're intended to achieve. So these policies are intended to create more gender equity by making it easier for women to return to work. The real effect, however, is that gender roles have become even further proscribed. Women are, by and large, staying home and not returning to work or only working part time while men are not taking time off at all, even though they have the same benefits as the women do.

The thing that I'm sort of struck by in all these discussions is the continued value placed on work vs. staying at home (as if that wasn't work). And, further, for women who do choose to return to the workforce, the horrid conditions they face at times. I'm not sure we can do much about the first, since it's cultural. Ironic, really, given the right's constant call for women to stay at home. Of course, for them, it's not about choice, it's about silencing women and keeping them away from "important" stuff. Funny how their own value that they place on at-home moms is really a way of devaluing women altoghether. The other problem of workplace discrimination against women is something we can likely do something about.

I really care about this issue (obviously) and I'm trying to think it through objectively. I think what happens to a lot of us is that we get emotionally caught up in the choices we've made. We fear that someone will chastise us for it. Because that's the way the media has played this whole issue. And also, unfortunately, it's mostly women who are talking about this, and frankly, we still have less politcal capital than men. Can you believe that? In 2006?