Archive for May, 2012

Playing in the Residue

May 31, 2012

Holy cow. Ok. Wow. So instead of deleting this blog (which was really just my tiredness talking, I won’t actually that) I went back and started reviewing my archives, copy and pasting each entry into a word document. I’m doing it one post at a time (and I now have over 520 posts) so I can preserve the comments, and also so I can edit a little bit. I’ve deleted a small handful of posts, the ones that went into too much detail about other people, and edited a couple slightly for identifying details.

But it has been so. much. fun. to do this. It’s all I want to do right now. It’s fascinating to see my life through the eyes of my 34-year-old self, six years ago – how different my life is now, how different I am. I feel like a different person. But I struggle with so many of the same things – insecurity, anxiety, self-doubt. Actually those things have been magnified incredibly by motherhood.

I’m about 6-7 months into the archives (I’m working from oldest to newest), and a few months ahead of the conception of our daughter. It’s kind of amazing to read back, knowing what I know now, about how the journey has gone since then.

It’s also amazing to see comments from people I haven’t thought about in YEARS – the women who just stopped blogging one day and never came back. And also amazing to see comments from people (Tara, Mel, Rachel, Sarah S-P) who are still part of my life today.

I found this fun iPod shuffle game we did a long time ago, where you do a random shuffle and then use the songs that come up, in the order they appear, to answer a list of 10 questions. I thought it would be fun to revisit it and see how it came out, and here is my list for today:

1. The song for the you that existed before you ever thought about your fertility:

“Anxiety” – Black Eyed Peas. OMG – the exact same song came out on top both times!!! Hit refresh. Try again.

“Down to the River to Pray” – from O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack.

My “issues” with conservative/evangelical Christianity, the tradition I was raised in, were certainly in full force before infertility (or sub-fertility, if you will). But struggling to conceive certainly didn’t help resolve my issues. Having kids didn’t really, either. Well, maybe a little.

2. Would you really want to go back and be that person again?

“Shiny, Happy People” – REM

Not sure that that means… but I also don’t really know how to answer that question. I was so, so sad back then. But I was nowhere near so tired, so stressed, so anxious about everything. At the same time, there is no way I would want to lose this gift of motherhood. I’d like to regain the ability to focus I had back then, some of the balance I had, the intimacy with my husband, the fun I had doing things like play Scrabble and go out in the evenings. I know this will come again someday but right now it’s mostly really hard. Wonderful, but hard.

3. The song for when you first started fertility treatments:

“I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” – U2

Um, no further comment…

But so thankful that we eventually found them, or they found us – our babies.

4. What did infertility do to your sex life?

“Where Is The Love?” – Blackeyed Peas

Ok, who shuffled this now? Are they reading my mind???

5. What about superstitions and fertility rituals?

“Etcetera, Whatever” – Over The Rhine

“We don’t need a lot of money, we’ll be sleeping on the beach, keeping oceans within reach and I guess all I really mean is we’re gonna be all right. We’re gonna be all right.” (This one didn’t really fit the question. Which, phew, it was getting creepy!)

I did some rituals – I would pray for fellow stirrup queens when I couldn’t sleep at night, using the Hail Mary as a basis for rhythm and structure. And I would meditate after yoga using a heart-shaped candle. I don’t know whether or not I believed in either of these as effective beyond calming my mind.

6. How about “alternative” treatments, from cough syrup and pineapple to acupuncture and ‘body workers’? “

“Ribbons Undone” – Tori Amos

“She’s a girl / Rising from a shell / Running to spring / It is her time it is her time / Watch her run with ribbons undone”

This song makes me think of my daughter, although it has nothing to do with the question.

I didn’t do any “alternative” treatments.

7. How do you feel about coming out of the IF closet?

“Calling the Moon” – Dar Williams

“Oh, make sense of me, night / I can see so much from this cold height / The moon said, “Oh darkness, my work is done / I’ve poured this bottle of light from the sun / But their anger keeps on rising / And they don’t understand / I’ve shown them all that I can / That the world is at hand”

8. Your song for other people’s baby showers:

“Give Me Novocaine” – Green Day

Okay, getting creepily apropos again!

9. What about our scary friend hope?

“This Will Be Our Year” – Ok Go

“This will be our year, took a long time to come” I held on to this song for a long time. Held on to it hard.

10. And lastly, the theme song of your fertility journey:

“By Way of Sorrow” – Cry Cry Cry

Ok. So. TAG – you’re it!!!

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The one with (Updated!) links in

May 30, 2012

This post made me really think hard about why I blog, and what I blog about, and the strangely public nature of blogs. I have two blogs – this one (Project Progeny) and a “family” blog where I use our real names and post photos of my children and tell stories about them on a regular basis. A huge part of my motivation in maintaining the family blog is that we live very far from our extended family – my parents, my husband’s parents, and our little nuclear family unit are each on a different continent. So the grandparents loooooooove seeing pictures and reading stories regularly. I also enjoy occasionally directing a wider circle of friends to this blog through facebook as a way of – to be honest – bragging about our international adventures or celebrating milestone birthdays. I’ve even directed readers of Project Progeny there at times, which undermines the anonymity of this blog, but I don’t really care if you all know who I am in real life – as long as the majority of my social network in real life don’t know that I’m here, too. (But more on that anon.)

Project Progeny, in contrast, started out as an anonymous infertility blog, although I’ve been admittedly careless about the information shared here, and anyone who knows us in real life who stumbled across it would probably figure out pretty quickly that it’s me writing. Which makes me squirm a bit.

So that’s some context.

There are two dimensions to the recent conversation on Stirrup Queens regarding blogging about your children that I’ve been pondering, so I’m going to split my response to that into two separate posts. One is from the angle of social science research involving minors, which I think is relevant in terms of ideas about informed consent, and the other is from a more personal perspective on why I blog at all.

In any case, this is what has been turning over and over in my mind when I wake up in the middle of the night so I figure I need to get it out of my head somehow. If you’ve blogged about this recently yourself, please link in the comments because I’d LOVE to read it. (Sharah, and KeAnne, I’ve already got you linked here) 🙂 And of course the inimitable Esperanza who in many ways got this whole ball rolling in the beginning!

Informed consent, minors, and blogging about your children

May 30, 2012

Informed consent and minors

If you have a background in social science at all, this will just be review. But I find it interesting to think about blogging in light of these principles.

What are the basic principles of informed consent in research?

1) The research participant should understand what he or she is agreeing to participate in, and

2) He or she willingly agree to participate.

The fundamental principal is that research participants should not be harmed in the process, and this usually includes being lied to or deceived in some way. The aims of research – scientific knowledge – should not trump the right of a human being not to be harmed.

It sounds simple enough, but research with human participants is always murky and fraught with ambiguity. How do you ensure that participants fully understand what they are getting into, or what the aims of research are? For anthropologists working in other cultural contexts, their co-participants in research (we use words like this now instead of “subject”) may have only the foggiest concept of what Western science is about; it’s just not relevant to them at all. How do you explain, then, what you are up to and why you are hanging about and observing them?

And how can you ensure that your research participants are not in any way feeling coerced into participating? You can tell them, of course, that they have the right to walk away and stop participating at any moment, but do the social norms of basic politeness imply some measure of coercion?

And who decides what “harm” means? If I ask a migrant worker in an apple orchard to tell me the story of her undocumented entrance into the United States, walking across the desert with a baby in her arms, does the trauma that surfaces during the telling constitute harm? Does she fully understand the implications of entrusting me with her story?

Ok, and what about research done with children? Are they capable of understanding what the implications are of my watching them interact with their mom, their teacher, their friends, and recording the things they say? What if their mom tells them they HAVE to let me talk to them, or they’ll be punished in some way? What if I don’t even know that their mom had that conversation with them?

Universities have developed elaborate and involved measure to ensure that the principles of informed consent are respected by anyone conducting research while affiliated with the university, not only to protect research participants but also as a CYA measure. Anything involving minors is given extremely close scrutiny since they are considered a vulnerable population, and the Internal Review Board will watch you like a hawk if you’re working with minors (or prisoners, or the mentally ill).

So what about blogging your life and your children’s lives? Do children understand what the implications are? Do we?

I think for me the point that’s still a little murky is the “harm” bit. What potential harm is being done in posting photos and stories about my children? There are some situations where the researcher and research institution decide that a little bit of harm (e.g. telling someone that the test they’re taking is measuring one thing, when it really measures something else, but if they knew what the true purpose was it would ruin the experiment) is outweighed by the good that would result from creating this scientific knowledge. In the case of my public family blog, I feel like the good that comes of posting pictures and stories – and that is, specifically, fostering relationships with extended family and friends – outweighs the potential harm of them feeling embarrassed by it later. I think. I do worry, though, about potential stalkers or pedophiles finding us via my blog. I have no idea how possible or likely that is, though. I try to be careful about the photos and stories I post, from that angle, though.

So I don’t know. This notion of informed consent has helped me think about blogging about my children since it’s something I’ve had to work with a lot as a social science researcher.

Why blog? Friendship and anonymity on- and off-line

May 30, 2012

I have to admit that my first reaction after reading Mel’s post was just to shut down both my blogs – or at least password protect the family one, but to delete this one. There are things I’ve written here about my husband and in-laws that I wouldn’t really want them to see. And rather than comb through the archives and edit things out, it would just be easier to delete the whole thing.

So I asked myself why blog, instead of just sending out e-mail newsletters to my friends and family?

Before I started this blog, I belonged to a knitting group that met at my next-door neighbor’s house. We were all women, all married, at different stages of family building. What I loved about the group – other than the camaraderie and emotional support there – was the fact that all I had to do was show up. I didn’t have to call ahead to make special plans (I hate making phone calls because I always feel like I’m being rude and interrupting/bothering/annoying whomever I’m calling, no matter how nice they are), and I didn’t have to worry about impinging on another person’s time and space (I always wonder whether someone really wants to hang out with me, or is just being polite), because I knew the woman hosting wanted us there, I knew that whoever came wanted to be there, and I knew I was welcome. It was never exactly the same group every week – people came and went – but there was a core group that was really solid and built close relationships together.

This blog feels like that knitting group. If people are reading, it’s because they want to. I’m not cluttering up anyone’s inbox or annoying them with my unsolicited updates and the contents of my tangled mind; it’s here if anyone wants to stop by and visit, but if you don’t, that’s cool too. Just having one person comment is enough to keep me going.

Then I asked myself why blog, instead of looking for that emotional support and camaraderie offline?

I do think that being part of this online community has lessened my motivation to build in-the-flesh friendships here in Albania. I came here knowing we’d be here a relatively short time, but long enough that it would be worth my time making friends. But it’s been slow, and I think in part it’s been that way because I didn’t feel the need to make friends. I haven’t felt lonely very often, really. Isolated, sometimes, but not really lonely. Part of that, of course, is our awesome nanny, but part of it is being able to access this online community when I need it. Which brings me to my next point.

Blogging can be like a crisis hotline.

I think that’s what a lot of us use it for, and parts of the LFCA reinforce that function as well. Which is all kinds of awesome. Not only do you get extra support during crises, but you can also access the specialized collective knowledge of this vast and heterogeneous online network that is specifically pertinent to our particular issues around infertility, loss, and adoption. I certainly use it that way.

The crisis hotline I used to volunteer at was anonymous; there was no caller ID, and although there was a way to trace calls, it was done through the police department and we only initiated the process if someone’s life was in immediate danger. Anonymity and confidentiality were safeguarded above all, because that was the only way to make sure people would actually call in and get help.

I see a parallel in this world of anonymous ALI blogging. We feel safe sharing intensely personal and raw stories about ourselves when we have that cloak of anonymity. We learn to trust one another with these stories. And yes there are trolls, and yes there are weirdos who steal other people’s stories and images, and there are even (as in any human relationship that is not digitally mediated) misunderstandings, conflicting points of view, judgments, etc. But by and large we trust each other, sometimes to the point of shedding the anonymity and putting our real face and name out there.

Widening the Friendship Net

Another aspect of building a community of support through blogging is that you can cast the friendship net much, much more widely. One thing about making friends here is that options are limited. Either they’re limited by language – you can only go so deep in a friendship when you don’t share a mutual language; or by opportunity – how do I find like-minded women in a big city?; or by circumstance – being connected to a particular church and neighborhood also limits my options. My ability to make friends at church here has been hampered by the fact that I’m not willing to disclose my actual political and spiritual beliefs/opinions/orientations because I’m not willing to risk rejection (basically I’m waaaaay more liberal than they are), and so I end up feeling like I’m living a lie. So it’s partly the fact that I already have friends online, and my options here are limited, so it’s just easier to get the social-emotional support I need online than it is to try to overcome these barriers off-line.

So what should I do? Do I want Project Progeny to become a more intellectual forum, rather than a place to process emotional and family issues? Not really… but I feel like that’s the right thing to do. If I need feedback for processing those kinds of things – I have friends offline who can help me do that, and then it’s not online for my kids to see 20 years from now and feel betrayed and angry about. In fact, I think it will make my offline life better because I’ll be investing more in those friendships, which I think is healthy. I think it’s actually a good thing to be forced to confront the barriers that make it hard for me to make and deepen friendships locally. When I lived off the grid in Bolivia (truly – no electricity or phone at all) I was forced to rely for emotional support on the village women whose lives were so extremely different from mine – but it was really good to do that, in the end. Really good.

I’m in the process of backing up my archives in Word, anyway, so I might just do some heavy editing… or I might just delete everything. I’m not sure yet. I might move to a new space, or I might try to re-name this blog something else. I will definitely remove as many identifying details as I can.

As for my family blog…. I’m not sure, yet. I talked with my husband briefly about going password-protected, and he said that made him feel “sad” but I’m not entirely sure why. I do write it keeping in mind that anybody in the world could be looking at it. There’s a lot I DON’T post about there. But I might open up the discussion there to see what my readers there think.  We’ll see what happens.

And all for the want of a little gray cat

May 23, 2012

Okay, so this post is just way, way, way too long and anyone who reads it to the end gets an automatic jewel in your crown in heaven. Any armchair therapists who want to take a stab at helping me deal with my neuroses get a whole palace.

Here’s the Story:

Sunday afternoon, late, after naps, we took the kids to the park. Illyria has been sick with a nasty cough, but she lit up once we were there, laughing and running and climbing and sliding. I asked her at one point if she needed to go to the bathroom and she said yes, so I took her to an adjoining café, but then she didn’t actually need to go after all.

The walk to the café is lined with twin hedges, and long ago (we go there a lot) she learned that tossing a toy into them is endlessly amusing – it might land on top, magically suspended on the leaves, or sink into the bushes and huddle around the roots. We used to use a brightly colored Very Hungry Caterpillar, but this time she had her cat.

It’s a gray beanie baby cat, called “Silver” on the tag, but she calls it Tom Cat and for the last three months or so it has been her constant companion.  She sleeps with it, goes to the bathroom with it, wipes her tears on it (it was getting so manky I recently washed it, and it was so sweet to see her carefully hanging him up on the drying rack by the ears. It took long enough to dry that she had to substitute in a Corduroy Bear for about 18 hours and then it was back to the still-slightly-damp cat).

I was a little annoyed, and bored, not really wanting to play toss-the-kitty-into-the-bushes with her, so I pulled out my cell phone and called Gimli to tell him where we were, and then started playing a stupid little game (kind of like Bejeweled, but more boring), pausing intermittently to retrieve the cat from the bushes for her. I suggested several times we go play something else but this was what she wanted to do. And then, on the fourth or fifth toss, I didn’t see where the cat landed. So, annoyed, I started at one end of the shrubs and worked my way down to the other end, parting the leaves at the top and looking to the very roots of each individual plant. I didn’t find it, so I started up the other side.

I was on my third or so round of the shrubs when I started to get that feeling in the pit of my stomach, that sick, slightly panicked feeling you get when it begins to dawn on you that something is missing, really and truly missing. Your keys, your wallet, your Tom Cat. Gimli came over and I sort of snapped at him, “I have to keep looking until I find it.” He began to question Illyria and me – where was she when I looked up and saw her? – and to hunt in a wider circle around the overgrown garden there – and he was clearly angry with me, I could see it in the set of his mouth and shoulders.

I found a number of silver-dollar-sized snails, but no gray beanie baby cat. I looked again. I joined Gimli in the hunt through the grass, around rosebushes, into small palm trees, around the fountain. He tried to see onto the roof of the café. A waiter came out to ask us what we were looking for.

Oz ran off to the slides nearby, and I went after him to supervise, and then Illyria came too, saying “let’s go play, that will make it all better.”

It was getting dark. We hadn’t really had supper. Gimli had bought some souflaqe (can’t remember offhand what they’re called in English – gyro meat, French fries, tzatziki sauce, ketchup, wrapped in a pita) but they weren’t very good and he ate most of them. Oz ate the French fries and some meat. I was worried about bedtime. Illyria wanted popcorn, which we bought from an ambulant vendor.

Gimli was really mad at me.

Finally I explained to Illyria that we were going to have to go home without the cat, but that I would come back in the morning to keep looking for it. Gimli and I agreed it was probably in the fountain – which wasn’t turned on, but was filled with murky green water, soggy fluff from the cottonwoods floating all over it. We also agreed that the loss of the cat was, ultimately, my fault, and I felt absolutely sick over it.

Illyria didn’t cry, but I did, the whole walk home. Gimli and I didn’t speak to each other. Illyria actually seemed ok. In fact, I asked her that night, “do you feel sad that we came home without Tom Cat, or do you feel ok?” And she said, “ok.” That night before she had to go pee, she picked up a beanie baby bunny, and has been holding it ever since.

So Monday morning I went off to “work,” without my laptop. I asked at the café if it was all right for me to poke around in the fountain, and they actually came out then and unplugged it to let the water drain out. (It was so, so gross.) I pulled up a small, young sapling – I think a volunteer cottonwood, actually – and stripped off the leaves to poke around as the water drained. It took a long time. Periodically, I went off and looked again throughout both long hedges, every nook and cranny, and around the whole garden area. It was a lot easier to see in the bright morning light. All I turned up were snails and some empty plastic water bottles. Eventually, I could see orange-brown lumps appearing under the water in the fountain – fruit that had fallen in and was rotting at the bottom – but nothing that even resembled a small gray cat. When the water was gone, I did another look around, then sat on a bench deep in the shade and cried.

When I saw a waiter come out and start poking in the bushes, I went and thanked him for their help and said “it’s not here, I think a child must have taken it.” I’m sure he could see I’d been crying. Then there was nothing to do but leave.

I didn’t know where to go. I didn’t want to go anywhere. I walked around and around city blocks, only stopping when I was too tired to keep walking. I didn’t want to go anywhere I usually go, do the things I usually do. I didn’t eat lunch. I went home when I was sure the kids were asleep and took a fitful nap, waking up with a pounding headache that lasted into the next morning when I think I finally managed to get rehydrated.

I’m not sure why I took this so hard – honestly, harder than Illyria did – although today she did say she’s sad that she doesn’t have the cat. But she hasn’t cried for him (at least not directly – she has cried over other things, although she’s also sick, and that makes her more sensitive). Sunday night when I was trying to fall asleep, I realized the feeling in my body was exactly the same as after breaking up with someone. That kind of sick feeling of loss and deep, deep regret. I thought about Mel’s post on The Undoing of Things and all I wanted was to PUT DOWN THE DAMN CELL PHONE AND KEEP MY EYES ON MY CHILD. Or even not push her to go use the bathroom when she really didn’t need to. Or have gone to a different park. Or, maybe, never have been born.

~::~

Yup, that’s how I felt, pretty much until Tuesday afternoon. It seems so melodramatic and ridiculous and poor-me and narcissistic. Because it’s not deriving entirely from Illyria’s sadness over losing her cat, and my guilt over not being able to prevent its loss or find it then later; a LOT of it is deriving from Gimli being mad at me.

I don’t know why I can’t handle his being mad at me, why I take it so deeply to heart, why I just fall apart. I suspect it has to do with how my family of origin doesn’t know how to handle or process anger. When my mom was angry, she’d shout at us and spank us. When my dad was angry – which was very, very rarely – he’d get really quiet, say something cutting, and then leave the room.

But there’s another side of it, too, and that’s this feeling I have that there’s something in our relationship that isn’t quite as it should be, for me to have this extreme reaction. It doesn’t seem healthy. Obviously, he’s my life partner and best friend, my confidante and companion – and here, where I don’t really have close friends outside the family, my dependence on him is exacerbated. And it’s not like he’s violent or anything – all it takes, really, is just KNOWING he’s mad at me and I get upset. A word, a look. If I think it’s unjust, that I shouldn’t be blamed for whatever he’s mad about, then I get really mad myself (also out of proportion, usually, to whatever the issue is) but if I also blame myself… then I sink into this hopeless depression and fits of crying like with the kitty incident.

~::~

Tuesday afternoon when I put the kids down for naps they both fell asleep really quickly, and for some reason my ability to get them down for naps has become in my heart a measure of my parenting. Days when they go to sleep easily on schedule I feel like a good mom. Days when they don’t…. well. So my heart was lifted, and Gimli commented when he got home from work that I seemed to be in a good mood.

But there’s something there, still, this dark cloud hanging over me. I haven’t talked about this with him yet. I haven’t told him how deeply awful I felt about the whole thing. There was just a quick “so you’re not mad at me anymore?” exchange, a hug, a gift of chocolate and I think for him it’s all in the past. But I feel wrung out and exhausted. I will probably write him an e-mail later today – or direct him to this post – since we never really have time to talk away from the kids unless we schedule a date night, and somehow the restaurants we go to aren’t really conducive for heavy conversation.

He’s not mad at me anymore; I found “Silver” on Amazon for $5 and am going to order two so we have a backup. (I’ll have to cover his pink nose with purple thread like I did the other one at her request – don’t know why, she has some funny little quirks.) Strangely enough, a few days before this incident she unearthed a book we have about a little girl who goes on a trip in an airplane and en route loses her teddy bear. A man in a light plane finds it and brings it to her, meeting her on the runway with her beloved bear. We told Illyria that Tom Cat had to go to the States and we’ll find him there when we go in a few weeks (a 2-week trip related to the job in Colombia – dreading the jet lag, but maybe it will make the new job seem real). I think that for her it’s actually a valuable lesson in resilience and responsibility and not entirely a bad thing. I wish Gimli saw it the same way.

~::~

But here’s the armchair therapist thing – How do I fix this? Why am I so destroyed by Gimli’s anger, and how can I change?

A little clarity would be nice

May 7, 2012

I’m clearing out my e-mail inbox because it was getting ridiculous. Friday morning I had 1,300 message, 200+ unread. I now have 752, and only 139 unread. My goal is to have under 50 messages, zero unread.

~::~

So, we have a decision regarding our life plans, but it doesn’t feel like we do. I wrote an exuberant blog post announcing our decision but I haven’t posted it, because we keep niggling at it, wondering if this is really what’s going to happen or not.

Initially our options were:

  1. Return to the US for Gimli to continue his university job, and life as we knew it (more or less) prior to coming to Albania. I would finish writing my dissertation and defend it in summer 2013. We’d start Illyria in a pre-school and the grandparents would help provide child care. I’d also start looking for a job, preferably teaching at one of the universities close to us. Assuming I found something, Gimli would transition from university teaching into more consulting work.
  2. Stay on in Albania for another 8-12 months. I would finish writing my dissertation and defend it in summer 2013. We’d start Illyria in a pre-school here in Tirana, and we’d continue with Dhurata for child care. I’d start looking for a job, possibly somewhere in Europe or Latin America rather than in the US. We’d return to the US For a few months leading up to my dissertation defense, and then see what we could wrangle for the fall.
  3. Kind of on a whim, last month we interviewed for and were offered a community development (non-academic) joint position in Colombia, starting this November. The idea would be for me to continue working on my dissertation part-time with the aim of finishing in the summer 2013 but  really ramping it up in the coming months prior to leaving Albania at the end of August (planning on a few months in the US with the grandparents in between gigs). This is a 5-year term.

I was initially very excited about option #3 for a lot of reasons that still seem really appealing to me – closer to my parents, kids growing up in a Spanish-speaking country, doing work that more closely aligns with our ideals and principles, working together as a team. The downsides are 1) a really tricky and awkward transition time (we have to attend an orientation in the US in June, prior to leaving Albania, so cross-time-zone travel with the little ones; and I have an academic conference in the US in November just a week after landing in Colombia, so leaving the kids right after a huge shake-up in their little worlds). Balancing all this travel with little kids seems… difficult, but possibly worth it for the value of 5 solid years in Latin America. Oh, and 2) a LOT less time to work on the dissertation, although we negotiated leave for me to attend the conference and to defend the dissertation next summer.

So we accepted the offer and are moving forward with all the red tape entailed in an international contract. We are slowly telling our family and friends – and this is where the weirdness started, because Gimli was very reluctant to tell anybody. Like a pregnancy announcement when you fear a loss, maybe. That’s what it reminded me of. His initial rationale for accepting the position was “well, if we say no, then we can’t go back and change our minds later, but if we say yes, we still have the option to bail.”

I feel like I should have listened more closely to his hesitation in that moment rather than pushing forward with my own excitement, because now he’s going all weird on me again – Friday we got an e-mail from HR at the new position, saying they had mis-calculated our stipend (not salary – it’s a volunteer position so they cover all our living expenses in-country plus insurance, and then there’s a small stipend) – it’s less than half what they originally told us. Which isn’t that big a deal, but yet it is. At least to Gimli it is.

How can I explain this – when he’s unhappy about something, he gives off this grumpy vibe – and it’s bad news. It’s a red flag for me. I’ve seen it in the past, and whenever I’ve ignored it hoping he’ll snap out of it, or tried to reason it away, it just comes back and bites us in the butt big-time. And to have his grumpy vibe triggered by something as small (in my eyes anyway) as a clerical error says something to me.

In evangelical circles, people talk a lot about having a sense of peace that is supposed to be indicative that you are choosing according to God’s will. I don’t consider myself evangelical anymore, but this is what I thought of. That sense of peace isn’t quite all there right now. Something is off, and I’m not quite sure what it is.

Option #1 above has been struck from consideration just because Gimli has been so miserable in his university job over the last few years. We told his department chair we’re not going back and then Gimli went all wiggy on my feeling guilty about “abandoning” her. They’re trying to work out a weird agreement in which he can continue to teach a course long-distance from Colombia (which I think is insane).

Option #2 is kind of scary just because we don’t have a plan or anything secure in place beyond Albania, but neither of us feels that we want to stay here longer than another year.

Option #3 was looking really good – and we were their first choice for the position which is kind of flattering and cool – but every single day we keep niggling at it – is this really what we want to do? Will I be giving up all my academic dreams? Gimli said he couldn’t even bear to open the e-mail I cc-ed him on, telling our pastor about our plans.

Part of me is losing patience with my waffly man. He is HORRIBLE at making big decisions. I know this. Yet while I  like  – need – to have a plan and to be able to move forward in some direction (Please! Any direction! PICK ONE!!!) I know from experience that pushing him against his grumpy vibe is bad, bad news (that’s what got us into that horrible situation in South Africa, for example). Part of it is that he likes having lots of options – the opportunity cost of saying “no” to one thing is just too high for him. He’s like that kid in Wee Free Men (you haven’t read it? What are you waiting for!) who is surrounded by candy and crying his eyes out, because as soon as he takes one piece to eat it, he isn’t eating all the others.

It’s a wonder sometimes we ever got married.(But I’m glad we did.)

Ok, well, my daily goal is to write 1,000 words on my dissertation (didn’t I mention that? I started writing! It feels sooo good!). I just wrote a 1,200 word blog post but I don’t think that really counts towards my daily goal, does it? Just had to get that stuff out of my head.

Bat signal

May 3, 2012

I don’t want to wait til the weekend for this to go out on the LFCA – putting out the bat signal for Krystyn who is experiencing pre-term labor at 23 weeks (Oh, and her husband just had heart surgery).