December 12, 2014

Gimli is buying a ticket to Albania, leaving this Sunday – I’m hacking away at dissertation revisions with the goal of defending the last week in January. This is harder than I thought it would be. Unearthing contact information for our babysitter from 4 years ago, in case the grandparents get burned out next week while I’m on the final stretch.


So I did find my SS card, in the lock-box at the credit union. But spent a long afternoon at the DMV only to find I had the wrong kind of proof of address with me. Will need to try again sometime but can’t afford an afternoon away from the computer. (They’ve made it really complicated and difficult to get a new license in VA, since some of the 9/11 hijackers had obtained licenses here. But having my expired license really helps and I should be able to re-take the road and written tests the same day I go back in again).


The kids are enjoying the preschoolers paradise that is the grandparents’ house, and got to see snow for the first time in 4 years the day after they arrived! I had an ok time at the anthropology conference – saw a lot of people, didn’t get much sleep, spent most of the time holed up at the hotel doing revisions. Last year I heard around 50 papers (around 15 minutes each), I was so hungry for academic discourse. This year I think I heard maybe 10? Mostly stalking my dissertation committee members. I am so bored with this project. It just needs to be done.

Microblog Mondays: Rabbit Hole

December 1, 2014

This afternoon I submerged myself in the detritus of the last fifteen or so years, opening boxes laced with spider webs and insulation dust that held file folders and mementos from so many different phases of my life, it was dizzying. I was looking for my social security card, which I need to get a new driver’s license, which I need to drive in the US. But today, I walked everywhere – from my in-laws’ home where I’m staying a few nights, to campus to see BFF #1, to my old house where I let myself in the back door tripping over the renters’ boots and bicycles by the door. Down the narrow stairs into the dusty dark. Drawers filled with plastic tubs of old coins in various currencies; candle ends, a ceramic dish bought in South Africa in 2003. File folders from my first foray through graduate school, course work dated 1999. Reused Pampers boxes labeled “Oz baby clothes,” which I left taped shut. The palpable physicality of these things is what gets to me. Air travel makes distance and space so unreal to me. But touching the old leather and fabric of a hand-stitched wallet from Bolivia hurtles me through time in a way that is more physical and feels more real somehow than the flight from Bogota to DC. I don’t feel like I’m explaining it very well. I opened a manila envelope marked “Ob/Gyn” and found the wrist bands from the hospital stay for Illyria’s birth. I stuck my nose into the envelope and inhaled a scent so fresh and sweet, I couldn’t believe it, in the middle of all that dusk and dank.

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


November 26, 2014

I am hugging a soft and cuddly bag of yarn and knitted things… found on the chair of my writing desk…

Microblog Monday: Lost Things

November 24, 2014

I can’t find two bags of yarn and knitting. One bag has been sitting under my desk at work for months, containing a finished pair of socks and a hat for my sister. I procrastinated on mailing them to her, and now the bag is gone. I’ve asked everyone and no one knows where it went. It also contained some gorgeous ombre mohair that I had started knitting into a shawl, but I’m more sad about the socks and hat… look at how pretty they were turning out:


I started looking in serious when I realized I was also missing a plastic bag containing a nearly-finished cable-knit wrap, that I had taken to work on during our team retreat – I suspect I may have left it on the bus… but the other bag is a mystery to me.

I nearly lost 3 items on a weekend trip we just took to Boyacá, the beautiful green mountains and valleys to the north of the city. I managed to recover two of them (Illyria’s backpack, our water bottle – but not the headlamp) but the point I’m trying to make is that I can be extremely absent-minded and have a hard time keeping track of objects. A friend once told me I have my head in the clouds; the work we do here helps keep me grounded, but man. I hate losing things.

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

microblog monday: moving goalposts

November 10, 2014

Everything seems up in the air these days. My defense date (committee is re-negotiating for a January defense); our kids’ visas (denied a second time, but this morning we were able to get an extension on their safe-conduct); a few scattered personnel issues; the health of a distant friend. I didn’t sleep much last night.

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

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.


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.


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!”


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.