Friday, December 29, 2006
During that session my phone rang. (Actually, my phone wasn't the only phone to ring.) I turned it off and then at the end of the session, I checked my messages. It was from Lilian. After an unsuccessful attempt to call back, we finally connected and grabbed a bite to eat at Reading Terminal Market. Lilian ran off to a session. I was wandering the halls, trying to figure out what I was going to do next. On the bridge between the hotel and the convention center, I spotted a friend from grad school. We stopped and chatted for a while. We caught up on where everyone had ended up. Turns out he's been living not that far away from me. But he's looking to move on (as many people I ran into were. More on that later.)
After leaving my friend, I decided to wander the exhibits. I stopped by the Inside Higher Ed booth and said hi to Scott and Doug. I picked up a few free books. Yay! I had to meet someone at 2:30, so decided not to attend a 1:15 session (this is a trend I continued). I found a place to sit down. Somewhere during that time or maybe before that, I got email from Collin, inviting me to meet him and his gang at the cocktail thing at 5:15 and then perhaps join them for dinner afterwards. I had tentatively had plans with a friend who lives in the city, but she had not gotten in touch with me, so I decided to take Collin up on his invite.
After my 2:30 meeting, it was about 3:15. I scoured the program and decided there was nothing I wanted to attend. (Told you it was a trend.) So I wandered to the email room, checked my email, looked up some phone numbers and then found a place to sit. I swear I walked 10 miles, so sitting was utterly important. I called another grad school friend at her hotel, thinking she wouldn't be there and I'd just leave a message. She was there. Unfortunately, she was in the middle of an interview. Boy, did I feel dumb.
After sitting for a while, I decided it wasn't too early for a drink, so I wandered down to the lobby bar. There were no seats to be had and really I was more interested in sitting than drinking, so I found a spot at the other bar, which wasn't open yet. Thirty minutes later, it opened and since I was sitting there anyway I decided to have a drink. By the time I finished, it was time for the cocktail party. Very conveniently, I had left my coat on a coat rack right outside the room where the cocktail party was being held. Drinking ensued again as did chatting with some very nice people and meeting up with Collin and crew.
Eventually, we headed off to dinner at BookBinders, which was totally awesome. Really, there's no other word for it. Our waiter will tell you so. But it was really good. And, then we split into 3 cabs with Collin and I headed off to the blogger meetup, written about here and here. Collin and I were late and apparently we missed Dr. B. Oh well. I'm thinking I have plans to attend the 8:30 session tomorrow. We'll see. It's sooo early. I'm also thinking I'm going to need a nap later. When I left the blogger meetup to catch a train, I was thinking there'd be one around 11:30, but I hadn't checked the schedule and there wasn't a train until 12:10. I probably should have gone back and chatted a little more, but I didn't. I listened to a guy talk on his cell phone to his girlfriend about how he needs to get his own life together before their relationship goes any further. It was actually kind of interesting.
So, it turned out not to be so bad. I feel slightly guilty for not attending anything, especially since I've seen some blogger writeups of sessions that looked interesting. It's such a huge program. I think I'm over my fear of the MLA. Not sure if I'll ever go again, but if I do, I will no longer fear it.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Yes, the insecurity is part of it. But it's also that this is a life I left behind almost six years ago, a life I semi returned to when I decided to complete the Ph.D., but one I'm not sure I want to return to. There's a lot about academia I enjoy. I like discussing intellectual topics, thinking about things that no one else really thinks about. But I don't like the way that talk sometimes gets so far beyond the practical that it's laughable. I don't like the hierarchy crap, the way one's school determines where one sits on the great chain of being. Maybe I'm being too hard on the institution. Maybe it's just me.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
I definitely enjoy the lack of schedule but I'm so not used to it. My life has be a relentless schedule for the past 3 months. Last night was the first night I slept well. I'd toss and turn, thinking about stuff I needed to do, worrying about the kids. I just haven't been able to wind down, plus I've had the virus which seems to be going away now. It was the kind of virus that sapped the energy out of me, but not quite enough to be incapacitating. I'd get up in the morning and by noon, I'd feel like I needed a nap.
I think one of my resolutions for the new year is going to be to relax a little. Do less. Enjoy more.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Saturday, December 23, 2006
- baked asparagus with cheese
- glazed carrots
- sweet potato biscuits
- hot fudge brownie pie
- buy a roast (I bought a cheap one and have decided it won't do for Xmas Eve so I'm going to get a better one. I'll use the other one later.)
- buy champagne
- make Christmas cookies with Geeky Kids (we've made two batches of cookies already, one is already gone)
- make the hot fudge brownie pie
- maybe make some other chocolate thing. I have leftover chocolate.
- watch marathon of Christmas specials
Thursday, December 21, 2006
The winter solstice ritual was called Lenaea, the Festival of the Wild Women. In very ancient times, a man representing the harvest god Dionysos was torn to pieces and eaten by a gang of women on this day. Later in the ritual, Dionysos would be reborn as a baby. By classical times, the human sacrifice had been replaced by the killing of a goat. The women's role had changed to that of funeral mourners and observers of the birth.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
I could join the ugly sweater bar crawl, which I think would be the perfect use for my old sweaters. I prefer holiday jammies myself. Only I know how festive I am.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
January: This is the first new year's eve in a while where I've overindulged.
February: I didn't listen to the SOTU, but I read summaries and listened to the coverage of it on NPR this morning.
March: 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.
April: Just returned from a kick-off event at Mt. Holyoke for a Women's Public Voices grant.
May: I spend part of every Sunday watching This Week and Reliable Sources.
June: 1. Do you use an alarm clock to wake up? Yes
July: One thing blogging does for me is help to sort out all the crazy thoughts in my head.
August: I'm still sorting all this out, but I thought I'd give it a stab.
September: It's been a long week. I've attempted to start working on those resolutions I've made.
October: I originally started this as a comment, but thought it deserved a place in the sun.
November: Why does it always seem that everything has to be done at once?
December: I'm about a third of the way done with this chapter.
In summary: I started the year hungover and spent the rest of it commenting on things I haven't read and trying to sort out various things in my life. Sounds about right.
- The presents have been bought and wrapped and shipped. Can we just have Christmas tomorrow and be done with it? Personally, being the atheist I am, I'd rather celebrate the solstice on Thursday. Let's have a Saturnalia celebration or something.
- I'm kind of bummed that the kids aren't out of school yet. We could be making cookies, going to movies and playing games, but no, they're trotting off to school every day, doing homework. Bah. Humbug.
- I can't quite seem to unwind yet. There just seem to be loose ends I know I have to tie up or come back to in the new year. (Like grades.)
- I have a cool plan in the new year for fun stuff on the blog. Maybe more fun for me that you, but hey it's all about me, right. :)
- Our minivan is on its last legs. It's gonna need serious work. Merry Christmas.
- There's nothing dumber than 24 hour news. What a monster we created.
- Maybe I'll produce something more thoughtful at some point. Maybe.
Monday, December 18, 2006
My favorite quote from the intro is a question I get asked in one form or another all the time:
Why we do it is another question entirely. Maybe because it's fun.
Who are these people? Seriously, who actually sits down after a long day at work and says, I'm not going to watch Lost tonight. I'm going to turn on my computer and make a movie starring my pet iguana? I'm going to mash up 50 Cent's vocals with Queen's instrumentals? I'm going to blog about my state of mind or the state of the nation or the steak-frites at the new bistro down the street? Who has that time and that energy and that passion?
The answer is, you do. And for seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, TIME's Person of the Year for 2006 is you.
Hat tip: Blinq
Sunday, December 17, 2006
The winter holidays are often a time when the stark contrast between rich and poor become most obvious. Those of us with decent incomes and families who also have decent incomes lament the abundance we're showered with and worry about our children being too materialistic. Lurking in the back of our minds, we may know people who have nothing, who scrape together just enough money to get their kids something for Christmas or who rely on charity to provide gifts and food for the holidays. I find myself sometimes feeling guilty about not doing more. Or living less abundantly. Partly I don't do more because I don't feel financially secure even though I know I make more than 90% of the country. I worry about losing a job, about putting my kids through college, about being able to buy a new car when the old one breaks down. But these are frivilous worries compared to some. Even if one of us lost our job, we'd find a way to survive. We might have to buy a cheaper home, buy fewer clothes and toys, but we'd be able to eat.
I do feel lucky. It's honestly taken me a while to feel this way since I'm living less affluently than my parents did. I think one of my resolutions for the new year will be to find a way to contribute more to causes I care about, to help alleviate the horrible disparity not just between myself and another American, but myself and billions of people around the world. In the NY Times article, Singer does the math and figures that if the top 10% of Americans gave on a sliding scale, we could eliminate world poverty. That's pretty amazing. Imagine what the world would be like then.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Friday, December 15, 2006
Only it won't be complete freedom for at least two more days. There's this dissertation thing to finish. The plan is to work on it today and tomorrow and be done. I *must* be done by tomorrow. I can't take it anymore. I think it will get done. It won't be the most wonderful thing in the world, but it will get done.
I am so looking forward to really being on vacation. I've let go so much and I'm looking forward to getting back to some form of normal. Here's just a sampling of things I am looking forward to in the days to come:
- getting clothes out of drawers and closets instead of laundry baskets
- meals with lower than 50% fat and sodium content
- no more writing paragraphs in my head
- baking Christmas cookies and fudge
- playing games with the kids
- reading for pleasure
- time with Mr. Geeky
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Monday, December 11, 2006
Geeky Books for Everyone!
- Six Degrees of Separation--a good introduction to network theory. We actually used this book in a freshman writing class.
- Linked--another network theory book, but specific to the Internet. I liked this so much I've read it twice and am using it in my dissertation.
- Emergence--I'm in the middle of this one and I like it so far.
- Everything Bad is Good for You--Another Steven Johnson book. I like the message of this book. It makes me feel better about my Internet habits.
- The Search--a book all about search. There were parts of this that I didn't like, but it's still fascinating.
- The Cluetrain Manifesto--one of my favorite geeky books. There are a couple of other books that are similar to this that I'd love to read--maybe over the break.
- The Tipping Point--I have read this one twice two.
In case you're wondering, I did this after I'd worked on my dissertation for two hours.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Tomorrow I need a pretty complete draft of about the first 2/3 done. Next week I have to do a little more reading and then write the rest of it when that's done. It definitely feels like one step forward, two steps back at this point. But I'll get it done. I have to.
On the plus side, we got the hole in our house fixed--no more squirrels! And we got some Christmas shopping done. I also switched to the new Googlized Blogger. Once the chapter's done, I'm going to redecorate a bit around here. Yay!
Okay--I couldn't resist a little playing around.
Gah! Reverted back--no Haloscan--pooey!
Friday, December 08, 2006
We have friends in other categories. Go vote for them too. Chuck in best of 5001-6750.
If Phantom doesn't win Best Parenting Blog, there's something wrong with the universe.
Don't forget Pharyngula in Best Science Blog.
I'm sure there are others, but these are the ones I noticed.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
That coffee shop served as a grading outpost, a study lounge, and an entertainment venue. During MA exams, a group of us met there once a week to quiz each other on pieces of literature from Beowulf to Gravity's Rainbow. At one point, I tried to connect everything we read to Gawain and the Green Knight. We all had pieces we hated and pieces we loved. We also shared our fears, our hopes, but generally were able, by sharing the burden, to enjoy the process. Almost always, one could walk into the shop during the day and find someone sequestered at a table, reading, writing, or grading. If they looked up, we'd nod at them knowingly and find our own corner to sit in. And we'd often stop by the shop to celebrate completing a project or a stack of grading. At night, it became more bar than coffee shop, with live music sometimes and a wide variety of drinks and snacks. When I've returned to visit, I've often met people there for drinks and lively conversation.
I do miss the camaraderie of the coffee shop. Here, I'm missing that kind of place. My little cup of cinnamon hazelnut brings that back, just a little.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
because, though I hate to say this, academia is not the easiest field for women with kids, especially in the plural; and graduate school, especially when you're still doing coursework, is probably about as bad as it gets. You might get the degree, but in all honesty it'll probably end up being seen a vanity degree: you'll have worked your ass off to finish, but while you were focusing on your work, you'll have been sidelined in the minds of your department as someone who isn't going to go beyond grad school and will somehow be reabsorbed into the non-academic world with a nice diploma to hang on the wall of your home office.I personally think this sucks. Yeah, I see some truth in it, but I think Dr. B, of all people should try to suggest ways that this can be fought. Madeleine offers this response, which I think is spot on:
if we moms continue to ACT AS THOUGH we are marginalized, if we expect such treatment, I daresay we will get it. If you expect to be not taken seriously, you run the risk of falling into that predetermined role by acting like someone who doesn't deserve to be.I never even considered my position as a mother as an issue. I thought of myself as a graduate student. I might have done things slightly differently than my single colleagues. For example, I always began working on big assignments early. I knew that daycare, illnesses, and other unforseen child issues might sidetrack me. But I didn't discuss this way of working with anyone. I typically came into my little grad office, worked from 9-5 and went home. And yes, there was often more work to do when I got home, which does get old. I never felt marginalized. I was offered work as a mentor and in the writing center. I won awards. Perhaps this was because I wasn't the only parent in the program or because the program isn't highly ranked. But I always felt that the program was supportive of my work as a grad student.
I started grad school with a 2 year old. I had my second child after I completed my masters. I restarted work on the dissertation after both kids were in school. And yes it's easier to handle, but I also have a full-time job, which I think makes it much harder. I have to work around the edges of the regular work day. With young children and reliable childcare, at least you can work during semi-normal hours and carve out some time for yourself and your family.
I've seen friends who waited until they finished grad school and got tenure before starting to think about kids. Some of them were unable to have kids. Some adopted. All are in their early 40s. I knew I couldn't do that. So I had my kids when I wanted to and worked everything else around it.
I also think it's okay to try and if you don't make it, that's okay too. Part of why I didn't finish earlier was because I found it difficult to juggle everything and I had no support. And plenty of people without kids never finish. Now, in the push to the finish, I've let a lot of things go--real cooking, laundry, free time, reading books for fun. Depending on the kind of program you're in, you and your family will have to be prepared for living in less than ideal conditions (possibly financially too).
The other, semi-related issue I was thinking of is the way we push people to work in the *best* program with the *best* people. Such a program might be good for someone who wants to go on to a prestigious position at a good school. And although I do think there are programs whose existence might be questioned, I also think there are perfectly decent jobs for people from *lesser* programs--community colleges, satellite schools, high schools. And some people want those jobs; they're not just settling for them. Just as you can get a good B.A. education from a school without a reputation if you put your mind to it, I think you can get a good Ph.D. education from such a school too. And I know all the caveats about the academic hierarchy and how people look at the school and all that. And I think that sucks and we should resist it and let a person's work speak for them instead of the degree. We all know that a Yale degree doesn't necessarily mean that person has learned anythng. All it means is he gets to run our country.
Monday, December 04, 2006
Update 2: We have a large hole in the side of our house. Damn squirrels!
We have a real squirrel venturing periodically into the attic. I'm reminded, in fact, of the scene in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation when the squirrel jumps out of the tree. Someone yells "squirrel!" Panic ensues and destruction follows. Geeky Girl freaks out when she hears the squirrel. It is primarily underneath her room and so she believes the squirrel can get to her. She, like the people in Christmas Vacation, has a tendency to panic.
My metaphoric squirrel is all the stuff I have going on. Periodically, like the real squirrel, I hear it scratching around, trying to get out (or in?). And, I'm tempted to panic. But I haven't yet. I just keep working as if there is no squirrel. But that's not without its consequences. It's true. I am a bit stressed and holding most of it in, coping with it the best I can. But I've now got this TMD thing that's keeping me up at night and causing me headaches and dizziness. It comes and goes--like the squirrel. I'm planning to have this looked at today, but I'm a little fearful. There's not much one can do for TMD and most people advise against extreme measures. So, we'll see. It's quite difficult to concentrate when one's head is swimming and your jaw aches. It also sucks to not be able to eat quite right. I'm just hoping this will resolve sooner rather than later. Sigh.