Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Later that same day . . .

1pm No nap today?! What are you? Crazy?

3pm Yay! Baby boy pee-peed in the potty! Mommy is so proud of you!

4pm The sound of your screeching voice is going to make me vomit. Seriously.
5pm Oh! We need to share a potty treat! Celebration!
6pm Hitting your sister is not okay. And where did you get that pot?
6:15pm Screaming girl. Screaming boy. I really don't like you people. Seriously. Could you just go ahead and fight each other? Maybe you'll knock each other out and I can have some peace up in here.

I'm Feeling Good

So, here are the details of the my new job.

I'll be at a nearby college to which I have close ties. I am so fortunate because I've been allowed to choose courses and class times. Essentially, I'll be able to do almost exactly what I was doing before, with a similar schedule and classes that I think I have a good grip on. And I know and hear only good things (well, almost only good things) about these students. I'm so excited. I think this will be good for me and that I'll enjoy it. The summer has a whole new vibe now. I'm going to crochet and read and plan for these classes and run around with my children.

I feel really blessed. What a turnaround, huh? I wanted to be like Paul--content in whatever state I'm in, whether in plenty or in want. Clearly, I didn't do so well with that, but God is patient with me. And merciful (Somehow my husband and I miscommunicated last weekend at a busy state park food court and left my son sleeping in the stroller while I took my daughter to the bathroom and he went to the bathroom himself. We both thought the other was staying with the stroller and turned our backs. We left him. Alone. It's so scary and dangerous I can't even think about it. Too awful. I'm about to cry. Back to feeling good).

Another dismissed colleague secured a wonderfully perfect-for-him position doing exactly what he wanted and being paid much more than before. And friends of ours just bought a house in a great part of the city.

And spring has finally sprung around here. This time of year, the South is exactly where I want to be. It's so beautiful outside and the air is warm without the oppressive heat that I know is coming.

Happy, happy, joy, joy.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

She Made Me Laugh

I am saddened to learn that Bea Arthur has died. She was 86 years old and had cancer.
One of my favorite shows in syndication is the Golden Girls. Arthur's character, Dorothy, is hilarious. Apparently, she was good at her job.
She will be missed.

Friday, April 24, 2009

I Guess School's for Fools

When I was in high school, before I settled on being a scriptwriter, I was going to be an undercover cop a la 21 Jumpstreet. With my quiet, short girl charm, I would blend into the atmosphere of the school and I would never be suspected as a crime-fighting vixen. If only my mother would have allowed me to join the police academy then, while I could take advantage of my youthful good looks. Can you just imagine where I would be now?


I was 16, 17 years old in high school! What did I know about being a detective? And even if I went through training in the academy, I did not have the maturity or enough knowledge about the world to keep myself from being killed. It would have been ludicrous for me to plan my life's career and act on it during my junior year of high school. So why does it make sense for Jeremy Tyler to leave high school in his junior year to go play basketball in Europe?

Like you, SM, I am disturbed by the notion that school is not necessary in the pursuit of a better life. While previously college seemed to be an irrelevant journey, now it seems that high school is just as irrelevant. I remember a conversation I once had with an ex-boyfriend about Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway when he left college to go to the NBA. I thought it was wrong of Penny to leave school, but the ex pointed out that Penny's purpose in going to college was to get a good job and now he was being offered the job he wanted; why not leave school. That makes sense on some level, but it still never sat right with me.

College is about more than getting a job. It's about learning who you are and being exposed to new people, new ideas, new ways of being and thinking. It's about learning where you fit within the world and what you can contribute to make it a better place. And less face it, it's about being able to have fun without the stakes (of life) being too high. Skipping out on all of that to go to work cheats the individual.

Skipping out on high school cheats the individual even more. The idea that all Tyler is is a ball player is disturbing to me, but can he be anything more if he doesn't even finish high school? I hear that people say he is good and might make it in the NBA when he's eligible in two years, but how many people who have made it at pro sports are now flat broke and broke down? How many men are now too banged up to continue in their game? And this boy wants to chance that without even a high school diploma?!? It is not good for anyone in this country to be without a high school diploma, but it is especially problematic when black men are without it. Our prisons are filled with them.

Doesn't he want to go to his prom? To participate in "Class Skip Day"? To don cap and gown and walk across the stage at graduation? Senior year is the fun year. Why miss out on that for responsibilities for which he's not even supposed to be ready?

I am appalled that more people are not appalled by this. In any other field, people would think it silly to drop out of high school to start working. Why is this okay?

Actually it's not.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Know Your Audience

In my composition classes, I teach my students about the rhetorical triangle and the significance of knowing one's audience. By the end of the lesson, I hope they understand that as with a triangle, there is an interconnectedness between the writer, the audience, the purpose and ultimately, the text. You cannot ignore the relationship between either of these entities if you desire to be effective. For instance, the writer must understand why he/she is writing and what his/her goal is in doing so. Also, the writer must consider what the audience expects to receive when they read/hear the text. This latter part is part of knowing your audience. Knowing whom you are communicating with, what their relationship is to you, what they want and what they value.

I think Miss California USA could have benefited from being in my class.

On Sunday night, Carrie Prejean was asked by gossip blogger and pageant judge Perez Hilton, "Vermont recently became the 4th state to legalize same-sex marriage. Do you think every state should follow suit. Why or why not?”

Now, her answer could have manifested itself in myriad ways. She could have given a non-answer ("I believe states should consider what they should do in this matter and ultimately work toward world peace") or a carefully worded pageant answer ("Isn't it all, in the end, about world peace?") or she could give the polarizing, I-decided-I-don't-want-to-win answer that she gave.

Hey, I am all for people standing up for their beliefs and their principles, but unless her purpose (to win the competition) changed mid-stream, she should have given an answer that showed she knew her audience.

I have heard that the pageant audience was filled with openly gay individuals; whether this was true or not, we know that the judge asking the question is openly gay. Why would she just flat out say she believes marriage should be between a man and a woman only? Aren't pageant contestants the queens of evasive answers? She could have said, "As a Christian--" some have said this is polarizing, too, but that's not this post--"As a Christian, I believe God gives humanity the choice to make their own decisions about whom to marry. Who am I to say what that choice should be?" (This is true. Doesn't God give us free will? Whatever we do with that free will is between the individual and God, for right or wrong.) Or she could have said, "I understand people have their varying opinions about it. This is a highly controversial topic and one that I can assure you will not be resolved tonight. " (Okay, I concede that is a non-answer answer and she might not have gotten away with it.) I just don't think the answer she gave was a good one considering her audience and their expectations of her as the speaker (she's the queen from California, no less).

And even if she changed her purpose by the question-and-answer period and decided that speaking up for what she believed in was more important, wouldn't winning the competition have given her a better platform for her ideas and achieving that purpose to a greater degree?

Prejean is a real life manifestation of what I try to communicate to my students: English is not just about split infinitives, thesis statements, and analyzing Huck Finn as a metaphor for America's lost youth; English is about thinking and interacting and living one's best life. And if you apply the principles, you will be a winner (not just a runner-up).

Monday, April 20, 2009

And in other news . . . .

Just as I was spiraling downward in my mind today, I got a job offer! It's a one-year contract, but I'm just going to go ahead and be happy. More later! Yay!


This weekend I took a class that has lead me to think about a new career path. People keep asking me what work I would do for free; professorship was it. So, I've been feeling quite pessamistic and just plain sad about the very real possibility that I have so little control over my work life. Training myself and practicing another skill will, perhaps, give me some sense of that.

I heard Laura Schlessinger again this morning talking about her new book about stay-at-home moms, which I find to be so off the mark. First, most of the sahm I know have at least one degree, so railing against the stereotype that they are stupid seems weird to me. Second, I like(d) my work. It was meaningful and was a significant part of my individual identity. I'm sure many women don't need that, but I do. Now that I'm at home with my son, the sudden change is not easy or entirely welcome. We're having a good time, but it's not what I planned.

One of the reasons that I so enjoyed my job (even though it wasn't tenure-track or ideal in other ways) was that the schedule was so flexible. I could go on a field trip or a doctor's appointment whenever I needed to. Most semesters, I had two days a week that I could keep my children at home or pick them up early for an afternoon of hanging out. I had time to read. And in the summers, I was practically a sahm anyway, if I chose to be. I had the best of both worlds. I'm mourning the possible/probably loss of that. That brings me to this article from Inside Higher Ed that is calling my name. It succinctly expresses just what I feel about being pushed out of academia. Even if one of the opportunities I'm waiting to hear from works out, I still feel shocked into the reality that this whole thing isn't exactly what I had in mind. I think that now I'll always feel that academia is a bad marriage, with the divorce papers drawn up and hidden in the drawer, especially since even tenured professors were kicked to the curb in this case; "Never forget" I'll hear the administration saying, "You are expendable!" And yet, can I do anything else? Do I want to?

What Schlessinger doesn't seem to care about is the fact that working wasn't just about money--although for lots of women it's about exactly that--or about societal expectations--although somewhere in this conversation someone should point out the need for workspaces that support working parents instead of making their lives so much more difficult. For me, working was about making my own individual contributions and identity. Where do I put those needs if stay-at-home motherhood is 100% of my life?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Nobody Likes Me, Everybody Hates Me, Guess I'll Go Eat Worms

I was going to write a post today about the push-pull of motherhood and work and staying at home with children and the external intrusions that try to define women. Instead, here's what I'm writing:

So, I'm watching "The Real Housewives of New York" and here's another person who is going on and on about a career that is fabulous and enriching (both for soul and for purse) for which she was not particularly trained that was a hobby and just blossomed like a big ol' freaking flower and now has her all on TV with a book and I'm sitting here with squat.

Where's my stuff? Man, I suck.

*P.S. And here's what else I'm wondering: If you could (or had to) enter a totally different field, what would it be?

Monday, April 13, 2009

You've Got to Read the Job Description

Okay, this is stupid. You are a pirate. You take a hostage. You don't think you may get shot?

I don't understand why the pirates are upset that their pirate friends got shot (aside from the fact that their friends are dead). But they said since America shot their cohorts, they will now deal more violently with future American hostages. As if they have been wronged! It's not like they are farmers whose fields have been trampled by trespassers. They are pirates! They illegally board ships that do not belong to them in any way to forcibly take things or people that they have no right to. What are they thinking?

When you go into the pirating field, you have to know that there are some job hazards. The same way I know that as a professor, I will be forced to read the dribble that masquerades as student papers, you must know that as a pirate, you will be forced to put your life in jeopardy. And quite frankly, you gotta just take that as par for the course. Don't get mad when the crappy part of the job creeps up. Oh wait, I do get mad when I have to read the dribble. But still, you're a pirate. . . .

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

I couldn't really get my daughter a new Easter dress or make her an Easter basket (I can't wait to do both), but I could tell her the Easter story (which is probably the most relevant thing to do anyway). So, as I held her tonight, I began telling the story of how Jesus was sent to Earth to save humanity from sin. And there I had to stop. What? Sin? Was this appropriate for a 35-weeker/2-month-old? I mean, really, the Easter story is filled with betrayal, abuse, pain, and murder. What is that to tell a child? She has to deal with heel sticks and horribly invasive breathing machines already so I try to fill her mind with only good words and images.

Unfortunately, bible stories do not fit the bill. Once, when I attempted to switch up the reading of Oh, Baby, the Places You'll Go with the story of David and Goliath, I had to edit mid-read. There was war and killing and decapitation. Horribly inappropriate. The baby must have thought so, too, because she had her first apnea spell with us that day. I'll give that book away to someone who has older kids.

Growing up in the church caused bible stories to become interwoven into the fabric of my consciousness so that I knew them, but I didn't really see the details of them. I didn't realize how violent and racy they are. Now, I see that in addition to the abuse and murder, there are swindlers, and hookers and rapists and people turning into salt. I am going to have to sanitize all of this for the baby before she can hear any of these stories. (By the way, that David and Goliath book was a children's book so I think they had already tried to sanitize it.)

In the meantime, DH doesn't want to tell her stories about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. Although I'm definitely going to rail against that request at Christmas time, I am considering railing now. I've always thought the idea of a gigantic rabbit bringing candy and eggs (what do rabbits have to do with eggs, anyway?) to kids to be a ridiculous notion. Now, however, the Easter Bunny seems quite benign. He's already sanitized and kid-friendly. Perhaps that is the story I will tell. At least until she's two.

Friday, April 10, 2009

I'm confused

So, I was watching this sports show (see how much I love TV--I'll watch practically anything!) with a profile about a recent high school graduate who has choosen to play basketball in Rome rather than sit out the required year before he can play in the NBA. He seems fairly miserable, not enjoying his new surroundings, even while living in what some might call an enviable vacation spot. I mean, how many people get to live in Europe the year after they graduate . . . and get paid fistfuls of money? When the interviewer asks if he's happy, the baller says, "Not really. But it's better than being in college. I could be sitting in class right now."


So, sitting in class is a horrible condition? Isn't that what college is actually for? I know the whole back-and-forth about how sports brings money and recognition to universities, that they pay for themselves, and how the academics should basically shut up and be glad that the money's rolling in. I don't really have a dog in that fight since I went to college for, uh, college and had to take out loans for my trouble; I was too slow to be a quarterback, my jump shot sucks, and besides, I'm a girl. But maybe there's something to that argument, as annoying as it is.

My issue is that this dude seems to suggest that "sitting in a class" something nobody would want to do. That's really disturbing. But we still, perhaps, have to wonder what college is for. If it's the whole experience of learning, he can do that inside or outside a classroom. But this attitude seems to be that it's the actual learning that's objectionable. I feel sad for this fellow. There is pleasure to be found in the exchange of ideas and the fervor of intellectual pursuit. Is he experiencing that in any way? Even if he were only excited about basketball and learning about it, well, okay. Learning is about exploring the world. College should be a journey towards that. If the NBA is the only destination, what good is an new, alternate avenue when the journey doesn't matter? There's something sad about this.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Pain . . . and Relief

Fabulous, Diva! Holding your baby is one of the most special parts of being a mother, I think. Touching that soft, perfect skin and looking down into those sweet, bright eyes is an indescribable joy. I'm so glad that you and DH have reached this milestone. Congratulations!

While you all were experiencing gentle, baby touches, I was being touched by a drill. Let me tell you, I'd sooooo rather be holding your baby. I was expecting to only have two of the wisdom teeth removed, but the oral surgeon suggested that they all should come out, so I acquiesced. The receptionist had told me that I would be able to drive home if I only used the nitrous oxide instead of being put all the way under. I had some fears about anaesthesia, so I opted for the gas. Still, I had to wonder what in the world this receptionist was thinking. Yes, I could have driven myself home--if there were no other cars on the road. Or buildings. Or people. And the car drove itself. My blood pressure was high, I was jittery, and I couldn't think about anything except the pain. Thank goodness my husband came with me.

Now, let's talk about the drugs. Oh, wonderful, beautiful drugs. I sent DH straight to the pharmacy for the numerous prescriptions; they told him they would be ready in two hours. Two hours?! In two hours I would have beaten myself with a baseball bat, just so I could pass out. I sat staring at the clock, telling myself, "Okay, let's just try to get through the next fifteen minutes. I can get through the next fifteen minutes. It's just like labor. Breathe, girl." I was in the fetal position, trying not to seem like an "Intervention" reject. It was awful. I asked DH to go ask if they could get the prescription ready earlier. Then I called him while he was there. Then I heard the garage door and ran downstairs to meet my drugs--I mean DH--with a cup of juice. Then I felt the sweet rush of pain relief and zonked out for the next few hours.

So now, I'm not in nearly as much pain, but still a little zonked out. I started to think, "What kind of person wants to do this stuff to people?" Who is this oral surgeon dude and what's wrong with him? I mean, he's digging around in my mouth and poking me. He actually had to brace himself against the chair in order to pull out one of the teeth. As much as I despise this career limbo, I can't imagine that excruciating-pain-inflicter would ever be high on my list of choices. Just how does one decide that this is a good idea? But then, one look at the bill probably explains a lot, huh?

I'm looking like Marlon Brando, but I'm hanging in. Let's not do this again.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Human Touch

We got to hold our baby this past week. We've done so three times now. The first time I held her I was nervous and could only think about not dropping her. Although I was sitting in the cushioned rocker/glider that they provide for mommies to comfortably sit in while holding their child, I was not really comfortable and had to remind myself to un-tense my arms because babies can sense nervousness. But I couldn't help it because she's so tiny and fragile--a fact reaffirmed for me as I was holding her. Actually looking down into her face, and not through the contorting glass of the isolette, I was made acutely aware of how small and precious she actually is.

The second time I held her I was not nearly as nervous and could focus on bonding. Which I totally did. She had been sleeping while DH held her and when I got her, she turned in toward me and started making suckling motions with her mouth. Ohhh. I really wanted to oblige her. She looked so sweet and I felt so close to her.

Each time I hold her I want that much more to take her home.

Friday, April 3, 2009


I've been in pain all week. I thought my wisdom teeth might be coming in on account of the way it feels like the Incredible Hulk is breaking through my gums. Turns out, the suckers have already arrived and commenced to decaying. I'm having them out next week. I'll be sure to give you too much information. For now, the dentist's response to my excrutiating pain was to prescribe a bunch of really big ibuprofen pills. (Really? That's all you got for me? I need something that's barely legal!) Consequently, I may be going to bed until the surgery.

Talk among yourselves . . . .