gendering seasonalities: transcendent meta-narratives of pumpkin chai latte

October 26, 2014

It’s been a hard push these days. Well, within the parameters of maintaining family time. I still spend three hours with the kids each morning, easing into the day and then getting them ready for school. And evenings are theirs as well, from the time we get home from work until bedtime (another 2-3 hours). But Gimli has been taking them out for at least a half-day each weekend so I can get some writing time in, and within the parameters of the work day I’ve been ignoring pretty much everything else except the dissertation.

The other afternoon I closed my computer feeling like I had taken the document as far as I could on my own, without external feedback – but that evening in the shower I realized that I had left a certain aspect of the argument completely unaddressed. It was going to mean either a good 10-page addition to an already-completed chapter, or a whole new [albeit short] chapter on its own… and sure enough, it has turned into the latter.

The goalposts keep moving.

I’ve taken to entertaining myself as I walk to and from places by inventing fake dissertation titles that are mostly nonsense (e.g. “Transgressive Simultaneity in the Aphorisms of Yoda,” e.g.) but sound erudite. Parody will keep me grounded. (Hence the completely bogus title of this post) :-)

Microblog Monday: Telling

October 20, 2014

Saturday I was at a workshop with a lot of church people, some of whom were meeting each other for the first time. During a small group exercise, one pastor’s wife mentioned to another pastor’s wife that she had endured infertility for seven years before becoming pregnant with her now-2.5-year-old son. The second pastor’s wife rang my infertility alarms, as she’s been married seven years and they have no children. This is extremely unusual in this social context, especially within the church. What struck me was how openly and easily the first woman talked about her struggle, how much she cried every time one of her sisters or cousins got pregnant, how painful it was to see a pregnant belly.

It has begun to get easier for me to talk about our experiences with IF, but I still marvel at and admire women who can be so open about it.

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is?Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

Butterflied

October 15, 2014

A friend of mine in college had four cats named Neurosis, Psychosis, Obsession, and Compulsion. It was always an adventure visiting that house.

Anyway, I seem to have hit a magical tipping point in the long march to dissertation defense where physical anxiety symptoms are kicking in. 54 more days. My committee has generously agreed to allow me to turn in my final defense-ready draft just four weeks prior to defense instead of six, but I’d still like to have a draft I’m happy with six weeks prior. So, October 30.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

Today I’m cleaning up the last major section that needed heavy re-writing. I’ve realized that the hardest part of this enterprise hasn’t actually been the writing at all, but the THINKING. Except that in order to do the thinking, I have to do the writing first. It’s an iterative write-think-write cycle. Why didn’t anyone tell me this before?!??

Oh, and the other hardest part is getting feedback from my committee. It was SO worth it to go to campus and meet up face to face. Cause I’m not actually sure I’m going to get any in far enough advance to incorporate suggestions anyway. Oh well.

If I ever get a tattoo I think it will be the letters PhD on my shoulder blade.

Groundedness, Stability, Confidence

October 14, 2014

“As a Four, surprisingly you are least developed in the real qualities of the Instinctive Center (groundedness, stability, and confidence). You use your Thinking Center to artificially stimulate your Feeling Center. See if you can notice this subtle pattern in yourself today.” (Enneathought for the day from the Enneagram Institute)

~::~

I have lots more thoughts about my evolving relationship with my boy, and how little confidence I have in my own parenting style/skills. A lot the things I do as a parent are not what I believe I should be doing, or how I should be doing things. Part of it is just because I find the whole thing so exhausting, and part of it is that a lot of the changes I’d like to make would mean swimming upstream against how my partner prefers to do things.

So we all compromise a lot.

~::~

I’ve also been mildly neurotic about an exchange at work on Friday, implied criticisms, and so stewing about it all weekend. There are fixes Gimli and I can implement right away but I still feel really, really BAD. And I wish it didn’t affect me so much emotionally.

A Big Day

October 6, 2014

I can’t call this a micro-blog because I think it’s going to be pretty long. Yesterday was a big day for my little boy and me. I feel like suddenly I understand our dynamic so much better – and can see more clearly what I need to let go of right now.

The day started with the Sound of Music – we just introduced the kids to this movie on Saturday, and they wanted to see parts of it again first thing in the morning. So Oz was sitting on the couch with a glass of juice, which I had handed to him with some trepidation – one thing I’ve discovered about myself through parenting is how freaked out I am about spills and messes that might take a long time to clean up. It’s not like it’s a great couch – it’s an old fold-out we inherited, but it’s currently our only couch. So there they were and sure enough within minutes there was a big spill.

I took the glass out of Oz’s hand and put it on the table. “If you want to drink out of a glass with no lid, you have to sit at the table,” I declared. And he was so mad. For the next hour I could do nothing right. He kept attacking me, with his toy sword (really a flute made out of a piece of PVC pipe), with his hands, his feet. I was trying to make breakfast and finally I just sat down on the floor in the kitchen and started crying. He looked at me for a long second, then his own eyes filled with tears and he sank into my arms. “I feel like I want to cry too!” he sobbed.

Somehow as we got eye to eye I realized what was wrong – I had completely disrespected him by taking away his cup and putting it on the table. I was mad about the spill, but really? I had to let it go.

~::~

A few hours later we were on a bus with Illyria’s schoolmates and their parents, for an outing to a farm outside the city, where the air was pure and clean and the mountainsides green. It was a really fun day, a very cross-cultural experience and lovely time outdoors. A tree had fallen on the property and the kids were having a blast climbing around on the downed branches. And I let Oz climb too. From time to time he wanted a helping hand, but at one point I could only stand back and marvel: “You are getting so big! Look at you, climbing a tree like a big boy!” He found a branch to sit on where he could look out over the valley and he pretended the tree was his pirate ship.

That evening when we got back to our neighborhood I offered to carry him the few blocks to our house, and he said “No, I want to walk. I’m getting so big I can even climb fallen-down trees!” We had a quick dinner and bath, and as I helped him dry off and get into his pajamas, I noticed him staring for into space. “What are you thinking about, Bug?” I asked. He looked at me and said “I’m thinking about love!”

Case In Point

September 30, 2014

The day after I got back from the US, Gimli and I went out for a date night hamburger. We ended up in an artsy little place with a dumbwaiter and vintage movie posters on the walls. As we were sitting down I thought “this place reminds me of Ithaca.” Midway through the meal, I abstractedly watched two of the waitstaff talking near the cash register and found myself thinking “Hey, they’re talking Spanish! I wonder where they’re from? Dominican, maybe?” It took me about 20 minutes before I remembered where I actually was…

The Mind-Body Problem

September 29, 2014

I’ve been listening to Albanian turbo-folk music on Youtube and then stumbled upon Cornell Bhangra, and as my foot tapped under my desk realized that my mind and body seem seldom to be in the same place at the same time. We spent a very long morning with both kids in tow sitting in hard plastic chairs and standing in lines, Illyria said “this looks like an airport,” except the point was not to go anywhere, it was to stay here. Visa renewal time.

Whoops, I forgot to include this in the original posting:

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is?Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

Focus, Balance

September 25, 2014

Yesterday I was trying to figure out whether to skip a local board meeting to stay at the office and write, or not. I’ve skipped the last 2 meetings (when I was sick, and when the kids were sick), so I felt bad… so I did an online Tarot reading (Joanna Powell Colbert, she’s awesome) and my middle card, the “Challenge” card, was this one: http://www.gaiantarot.com/canoe/. (Do click to see the picture)

And the text next to it says this:   stay focused on your path

“The paddler sets out on his quest, unencumbered by baggage or even excess clothing. He is focused on his goal, intent, looking neither to the left nor right. The phrase “paddle your own canoe” indicates self-determination and self-reliance. He brings his strength, will and courage to the task at hand….” 

 So that was awesome! And I went to the meeting, which seems contrary to this reading, but it felt like the right thing to do. Then came back and worked.

There’s so much balance going on here. Balancing my tippy canoe.

I’m reading a book my advisor loaned me, re-reading articles that I have been citing but haven’t looked at in at least six years, and finding that I completely mis-remembered their central points. This is all going to make the final product so much better. It feels worth it.

Microblog Monday: Mama PhD [Candidate] Edition

September 22, 2014

She finished her PhD when her children were very small; I don’t remember exactly how young, but when I was expecting Oz I e-mailed her to ask her how she did it. One thing she said was (and I paraphrase): “I decided to do it while they were young, because they wouldn’t remember not having me around.” And I just couldn’t get on board with that. I don’t believe that what you don’t remember doesn’t affect you.

I applied to grad schools while we were TTC, and decided to postpone neither. It has been way, way harder than I ever imagined it would be. Whenever I see a mother announcing on FB that she’s going back to grad school, I cringe, I want to say “don’t do it!” And then when I see a mother of two getting her doctorate in three years I want to disappear.

I have to stay on track. I am on track, right now. It’s do or die time.

I never want to have to explain to my daughter why I never finished my doctorate. Not when I’m this close.

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is?Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

There and Back Again

September 18, 2014

I was in Ithaca for a brief spell, attending a friend’s dissertation defense (more or less on a whim) and meeting with my dissertation committee. I even had a few extra days built in for writing – so I finished my first full dissertation draft, with enough time for serious revisions. Perhaps most helpful was just meeting with committee members face to face – I got more insight and information in the first twenty minutes with each person than I could have in a month of e-mails.

I wrote this the first full day there (but didn’t post it because I kept my laptop internet-free the whole six days there – right now I’m sitting in an airport waiting for my return flight to Bogotá). So this is a week old:

~::~ It’s so good to be here. Last night my bus got in about an hour after dark, and instead of calling a cab I walked the quiet dark streets from the bus station to the hotel on the Commons, about as far as I walk between home and office in Bogotá, and it felt wonderful after sitting for almost 24 hours. I walked past all these quiet houses, worn and softened by age, and I could smell them in the cool night air – smell the quietly sagging wooden porches, and they smelled exactly like my Grandma’s house on a farm south of Buffalo. I think most of what I love about this place is the connection to those memories, a place that anchored me, a place we always went back to, where the fragile kindness of my lovely grandmother who shares my name, first and last (a big reason why I didn’t take my husband’s last name when we got married) always so delighted to have us come.

This morning at the library I sipped a soy latte, the taste that filled my mouth for the 2.5 years I was on campus experimenting with lactose intolerance, met with one committee member (who was so kind and encouraging! Why am I so amazed at this?) then wandered around the stacks for a while resisting the urge to bury my nose in rows of yellowing books. Why am I not pursuing the academic career that would make this my life?…

I miss this place. It’s good to be here. I feel so thankful for this time. ~::~

I’m on my way home now. And that’s a good feeling too.


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