Friday, April 30, 2010

3rd of 63 papers

...and all i want to do is sleep and/or eat frozen chocolate chip cookie dough.

i may weight 500 pounds before this weekend is over, but if it means this weekend is over and the papers are graded, i might be okay with that. especially if my major form of procrastination is going to the gym.

and blogging, apparently.

i'm so tired.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

did you know that there's a book called abraham lincoln, vampire hunter? i so need to read that book.

it's a bit difficult for me to understand how grading for long periods of times makes me so tired. it seems like a really first world problem: "oh woe is me, i'm so tired what with all of the intellectual work i have to do, sitting in a (relatively) comfortable chair and working on my (expensive, but well-loved and now in its midlife) laptop. i am so oppressed!"

basically, whenever i whine about it (which i do, frequently, but mainly when things get in my way of accomplishing what i know is a monumental pile of work...and those things are mainly STUDENTS), i feel a little bit ungrateful.

but it's my work, and i'd complain if i was hoeing potatoes in a field somewhere or stitching some rich woman's gown, so there you go.

but really, i do recognize that it's a self-indulgent sort of complaint system.

that brain hurts.  last night, i was so proud of myself. i kept my email open all day, waiting for papers to come in and just kept grading until they were done.  that freed up today, i thought, to get other things done.

but when today came, it was substantially more difficult to get started.  i still got things done, but i'm slowing down.

i can't slow down, because when i think about slowing down, i think about how my defense is in SIX DAYS and at some point, i am going to have to stop being teachergirl and start being scholargirl, but i don't have the luxury of a lot of time to do that, because grades are due by the day after my defense, when i will be on a plane home to my mom.

so, yeah, stuff needs to get done. but considering how i get a kind of fluttery heart palpitation/nauseous combination thing happening when i think about the reality of my defense, which is happening and hasn't been delayed because of idiocy on my part or the terrible content of my draft, this whole crazy-with-grading thing might actually be a huge blessing.

and that's probably the first and last time that i consider a pile of something like 63 papers to grade in a two day period a blessing.

this is nonsense, but i blame the fact that my brain is oozing out of my ears.  is that a viable excuse?

anyway. i'm here. i have posts i want to share about cooking and things that we've been doing, in the time that i'm not chained to my computer, and about how musicboy is done with his aa and is moving on to Collegetown U and how much that's going to awesome and hard and scary.

but not today. because, today? my brain is coming out of my ears.

i hope it's pretty. and i hope it's not the part that contains the rationale for my dissertation. 

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

lessons learned.

when i opened the paper, i knew.

the first clue? strange font.  second clue? single spaced. in my experience, no one turns in a single spaced paper unless they haven't written it.  the reason? they've been praying that it would be long enough, so they long ago double spaced it to see just how much more they'd have to write before they were done.

i didn't have to read much of the introductory paragraph to know that this entire paper on water pollution had been plagiarized. first of all, i've yet to have a real paper on water pollution. yes, it's a problem. but, for wrong or for right, it is rarely a problem that anyone that i encounter in my freshman comp classes wants to try to propose a solution to.

that is, unless they want to plagiarize. then it's quite popular.

feeling stressed as i was, and this being an unexpected late paper that i need to grade before the true deluge of papers fell in my metaphorical lap (and literally into my emailbox), i got to it.

google is the true champion of the writing teacher.

i'm not sure why students think we don't know how to do the same things they do. i'm not sure why they think that by cutting and pasting here and there and combining sources into the same paragraph that we won't know that they have stolen it all from other sources.

so i googled. and i highlighted. and i inserted comments that said "Plagiarized from..." with the web address.  the longer it went, and the more yellow that appeared in this file, the more lighthearted i became.

it's not because i want to give 0s to people. it's because it was one less paper i actually had to read.  i don't read plagiarized papers. i find the plagiarism, judge how much of it is actually the student's writing, and assess that.

i asked musicboy, who was sitting next to me playing video games and was privy to my occasional snort at the true lack of thinking on the part of this student, if it would be unprofessional to write, as my final comment, "are you kidding me?"

i settled for "this paper is plagiarized, almost 100%, from online sources. don't do it again."

the google lesson, and how to deal with plagiarism, is just one of the many lessons i've learned from my years teaching college classes.  the other lesson is how to anticipate the very anxious Collegetown U students who are nearly maniacal about their grades.  they will argue with you hard and fast about anything that will allow them to get even one or two more points--just enough to push them up to that next grade rung.

this process has gotten even more tense and fraught with anxiety since Collegetown U instituted the minus grades.  there has been much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.

today, i got smart. my Collegetown U class ended today, with an exam that i quickly graded (oh the miracles of multiple choice!).  i figured up grades and posted them in Blackboard, then sent an email that essentially said this:  some of you made grades by the skin of your teeth. several others of you are a breath away from another grade, but points are points and grades are grades and i'm not changing them because i have been deliberate about everything i've done thus far.

it already shut down someone.  i anticipate some more stragglers will try, but having sent the email makes me feel confident in saying "no, sorry. i feel your pain, but that's the way it is."

i enjoy that confidence.

as i finished grades for the Collegetown U class (i have four classes at rural cc and one at online institution of higher learning left), i said, wistfully, to musicboy: "i remember when i only had one class and so when i was done, i was really done, instead of just being on this revolving cycle of grading horror."

it's true. i do remember those days wistfully. 

but i also know that someday soon i'll be looking back and saying "i remember when i only had six classes to grade and no kids to worry about and no dog to walk and [insert incredibly time-taxing life circumstance here]" and i will sigh and then i will go back to it.

which is what i will do now.


and get back to it.

Monday, April 26, 2010

fan club.

when i met my darling musicboy, it was quite clear that he had throngs of female admirers. or, perhaps, i should say that he cultivated a dedicated, loyal following because he's a) adorable, b) kind, c) generous, and d) one of those guys who just likes to be friends with girls.

as i was one of the dedicated, loyal following, i tried hard not to be annoyed.  it was hard. i don't like to compete, and i always felt like i was.

(when i told musicboy that, he sort of laughed. and then he told me that, pretty much from the time we met, there was no competition because i won.  not that he was in love with me from the get go, but that our friendship always trumped any other friendship with any other girl. did that stop him from flirting with anything blonde that moves? no. but that's another story for another time.)

dating, marriage, and first year bliss soon followed.  punctuated by music widowhood and grading widowerhood, these days have been wonderful.

this past semester, it has been alternatingly amusing and annoying to watch this one girl, let's call her groupie, fawn all over my musicboy.  groupie is a music person, but not the hard core musician type that musicboy usually hangs out with. he plays in several ensembles and sings as well, so if there is a music performance at his school, he is usually in it.

and if there is a music performance at his school, groupie and her friends are usually at it. 

and every.single.time she sees him, she asks for a hug.  at first, i thought it was sort of cute. "she has a crush on you," i told musicboy.  he sort of scoffed, but he probably thought so too. he at first thought she was cute in the tiny little sister person that you pat on the head kind of way.

he's likely accustomed to such attention, what with the former glory days of dedicated female followers. 

but, apparently, groupie has begun to wear out her hug-initiating welcome.  while i've always been a little bit [insert marge simpson groan here] about her, it was never motivated by jealousy. more like a lingering sense of "do you not understand that he's married and that this is probably not as appropriate as it would be with, say, a 19 year old unattached college guy?" so i was annoyed.

but apparently groupie initiates hugs not just from my musicboy but from everyone every single time she sees them.  cute? perhaps at first. but now i see the look in his eyes. it's rare, but it's unmistakable.


she just posted on his facebook wall, telling him how she liked all of the songs that he performed on thursday night at the choral concert. he did do stunningly well and i, like an idiot, did not bring the videocamera. 

however, when i read it, i just kept thinking "what is her motivation? what the heck is her deal?"

i have this feeling that she is completely without guile.  she is just her, bouncing around in her completely innocent way, hugging and loving and being rather tiny and perky with no conception as to how it could be or is perceived.

i am both astonished and disturbed by this. 

i feel like people should have a better sense of the world, should be able to read it more effectively.  being cute and tiny and perky only lasts so long. i would venture to guess that after you reach your mid 20s, people expect you to be more than perky. they expect you to be able to move in and cope with the world in an intelligent, incisive way. they expect you to be able to recognize social cues and to respond to them.  they expect you to be less bubble, more substance.

i worry about people who aren't that way.

i worry about groupie, philosophically.

as a wife, i'll admit. i'm pleased that she won't be attending Collegetown U.  i'm sure there will be a whole other flock of women who secretly fawn over my husband.  i get it.  i fawn over him too.

he's adorable and they're not dead. i can't fault them for that.

happily, he's mine.  and his key is in the door right now. 

you know, i really am his biggest fan. no competition.

monday morning vignettes.

i got up early this morning to go to the bathroom. when i got back to the bed, musicboy had rolled over and taken my spot--and all of the covers.  i thought momentarily about shoving him over, but instead i got back into bed on his side and smiled a little.

he's accustomed to taking the entire bed in the morning because i get up and leave before him.  'tis a sign that it's nearly summer that such is no longer the case.  classes are over, musicboy. 

share the bed.


i went to the library this morning, having received an email that the books that i had requested were in.  i had also finished the last of my books yesterday, so i was very ready for a reload, so to speak.  i don't know what it is about libraries, but perfect strangers feel absolutely comfortable speaking to each other. Standing in front of the new book shelf, looking for something intelligent to read (rather than the mystery series that i systematically am plowing through, which are intelligent but don't give you any smart points), a woman commented on how big the newly renovated branch is and how she just came in to see what she could find.

i was sort of taken aback by her willingness to randomly talk to me.  i'll admit that i rather hastily moved to the next section. 

as i was wandering through the fiction section, i overheard two older guys (late 50s/early 60s?) talking.  one guy just randomly said that we should watch out for the temperatures in the next few years because of the volcanic eruption in iceland. the other mentioned how the oil rig that had been damaged earlier last week was still leaking 50,000 barrels a day.

i'll admit, when i heard them, i immediately thought there was a conspiracy theory bent to their conversation.  there was no real reason for it, except for the tone of their voices, which made me think of rush limbaugh and my granddaddy and how he always thinks the media is hiding something.

it made me smile.  but i was also glad that they weren't talking to me.


as i was walking out of the gym this morning after some successful running intervals on the treadmille, i saw a pair of old (i was going to say older, but that implies that they were like a little bit older than me, on the cusp of middle age or the cusp of being senior citizens. that is incorrect. they were lovely grandmother/great grandmother types) women walking very slowly holding hands today. they were hanging on to each other for balance, a few of their fingers intertwined, as they slowly made their way to their car, which i believe was parked in a handicapped spot.

it was, perhaps, the most lovely thing that i've seen in a while.

it made me miss my mimi so much.  it hits me randomly, the times when i miss her, but i do.  i so wish she was here. she would be so pleased with all that's going on. she would love musicboy, and gosh would he love her. 

i'm glad i'll see her again.  i'm glad i know that's true.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

i just ate a third of a bag of baby goldfish.  the crackers, not real fish, in case you were wondering.

i am tired.  i don't think i slept well. i know i wanted to continue sleeping when i woke up. but musicboy was up and had been up for hours, patiently waiting for me to stir enough for him to start talking to me.  actually, he rubbed my back first, which was lovely.  when i found out how long he'd been awake, i said, half-asleep, "why? you going to disneyland or something?"  i thought that was funny.

i have this nagging feeling that i have been a bad teacher this semester. i think i always have that nagging feeling.  it's annoying.

i don't want to go to the gym today because i'll have to run.  (don't tell me there are other things to do. if i'm going to go, i'm going to go to burn as many calories as humanly possible and to seriously challenge myself. if i'm going to do that, it's going to involve running. or a class. but there aren't any classes that i want to take at the time that i want to take them.) and if i try to run, i don't want to fail. but the last few times i've tried to run, i have not done well. thus, my hesitancy to go.

i want to have a baby and i am terrified of having one and of not being able to have one.  what if i suck at it?

i'm going to read my book now. i have 10000 papers to grade. but i'm going to read my book and possibly sleep for a little while. 

the end.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


i'm going to enter territory that i don't actually think i have any right to enter. please, before i do, understand that these are musings, not judgments, and i recognize that i far from understand the complexities of such situations.

but i really don't understand some people's marriages.

a few of them that i have exposure to perplex the heck out of me, because i don't understand how that could really work well, but a few of them make me sad because i think it must be very difficult for one partner or the other to feel safe and secure in such a relationship.

let me just take one that i was introduced to this week as an example. 

this marriage is a mixed-religion marriage, meaning that one person is a member of my faith and the other is not.  already, this is enormously challenging, especially if one person is committed and active in their faith.  i don't understand how people can negotiate that. again, this is really me being "how do you DO that?" not judge-y.  some people make it work, and to them i give enormous amounts of credit. i can only imagine that it would be incredibly difficult.  some partners are understanding, though, and supportive. that, of course, makes it infinitely easier.  the children situation would add additional layers of complexity, but sometimes the partner is equally fine with children being raised in the active person's faith. in situations like this, i would imagine that family life is not tense re: religion.

what about, though, when the active person's partner gets upset/angry/annoyed/insert negative emotion word here about the activities that revolve around church? if you know anything about my faith, you know that we are nothing if not engaged in church work.  what about a partner who doesn't want anything to do with church coming through the front door?

i don't understand how partnerships can work when there is such a huge philosophical and behavioral gulf standing between the two.  i just don't get it.

for me, it just boils down to having your back.  musicboy has my back.  frustrated as he may be at times (and boy is he) that he can't do more to alleviate my burdens as primary breadwinner right now, he has my back. he listens, willingly and perhaps too often, to my rantings and ravings about this student or that student or this lesson that worked or this assignment that is taking too long to grade. he may not have an immediate frame of reference (yet...but the education classes start soon!), but he does what he can to understand, to share. i do the same about music. i can't possibly understand the way he does, but i show up to everything and am a willing, happy cheerleader who sends cookies on band roadtrips and who bakes them for band bake sales. 

we have each other's back.

i can't help but feel like a relationship that doesn't allow you to fundamentally be who you are, with the freedom to express yourself about everything, could be stifling rather than stimulating.

but i also wonder about people who badmouth their partners in public or who exude this bubbling cauldron of frustration under a (very) thin veil of politeness. or, on the flip side, partners who are completely oblivious to their partner's needs or who don't follow through.

this second set of issues is certainly easier to do, even in a relationship built on friendship, trust, and deep love. we all tune out. we all get frustrated.  so, i guess i understand that.

encountering the specific situation that i mentioned earlier has really made me appreciate my relationship with musicboy so much more.  i don't need much to make me appreciate it--i love him every day--but i think i have begun to realize how precious it is and how committed i am to nurturing it. 

it shows me that i chose wisely, for all of the reasons that have always been important to me but maybe i didn't realize why they were so important at the time. i am glad that i chose him and that he chose me and that we choose each other again, every day.  i waited a long time for him, and sometimes i was tempted to choose not so wisely just so that i could make the choice.  it was worth the wait.  i can't even say that in strong enough terms.

i think i would rather be happily unmatched than unequally yoked.  i would rather be single than married but not to a person who supported me wholly.  perhaps that's easy for me to say now, but it wasn't easy for me when i was single.  it feels presumptuous to say now, except that i was 31 when i got married, and in my world, that is 6 months away from catladyhood.  so maybe i can say it with some degree of credibility.

i waited a long time because it was worth waiting for, being married for forever to someone i wouldn't mind hanging out with forever.  it's not a pair of shoes, that kind of work with that outfit or that you can only wear for a few hours before they are kicked off and cast aside.  life is hard enough. the last thing we need is for the most important relationship of our lives to be something that gives us metaphorical blisters.

and now i will back carefully out of this particularly loaded topic, since i probably shouldn't have been there anyway, and get back to grading.  

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

my boy might have a doll, and that girl can throw a football.

so, over at perpetua's place, they have this controversunday deal going on, where they take on different topics (it started out re: kids and parenting, and i guess it still sort of is) and thrash out their opinions on it. it's ridiculously interesting for me to read her thoughts on parenting.  she's insightful, articulate, and not afraid to admit she and her husband are figuring it out as they go along.

i dig that.

since i'm not a mom (despite the 4000 sticks i've peed on in a deluded, birth-control induced PMS that mimicked pregnancy except for, you know, the baby part), i've shied away from talking about stuff i don't know anything about (or, honestly, have an opinion about yet).

but this week's topic is gender.

and boy do i have an Opinion.

so just about everyone in my world is pregnant.  by my world, i mean the people in my ward, people i know on facebook, people who got married a little bit before me (or after me), etc.  people everywhere are full of the fetus.

i am excited. i love babies. i fully support birth and procreating and all that jazz.

but all of these events, plus all of the aforementioned stick peeing, has gotten me thinking about what i want to do with our kids.  musicboy and i have had many a conversation about this, and happily for me, he's pretty much on board with my philosophy, which basically boils down to this.

i hate gender-specific colors and i hate gender-specific toys.

you will not find a nursery of mine that is painted pink or blue. first of all, pragmatically, i think that i might vomit if i had to walk into a pink room at 3 in the morning, bleary-eyed and praying for sleep, or 900 times a day.  i just don't like pink that much.  blue is soothing, but i don't like the connotation.  why is blue a boy color and pink a girl color? it makes me nuts.  now, i will be the first to say that not every man can or should try to pull off a pink shirt. some look good in it. some don't.  i'm not even saying that i would dress my son in pink. it's not about that.

it's about the assignments, the assumptions.  i wear skirts, i wear shorts, i wear jeans, i wear pajama pants, i live in flip flops, and high heels hurt my feet but i wear them when the time is appropriate. musicboy is a shorts and t-shirts guy, but he looks amazing in suits and ties and dress pants and jeans and he can rock a fedora like nobody's business.  we both are adaptable, given the situation.  but i think, given our choice, we would always choose comfort and practicality over frilly or fancy.  that's just us.*

why can't we do that with little kids? how will they learn what they like if they're not exposed to a variety of appropriate options?

for example, i want my daughters in t-ball.  when i told musicboy that, he looked at me strangely. of course, i had said it very adamantly, as if it were a religious mandate, so that might have been why.  he asked me why, and i told him: i want every child of mine to have a chance to try everything.  baseball isn't just for boys, especially when they're not really even playing baseball. those kids are knocking a wiffle ball off of a plastic tee. you can't tell me a girl isn't as good at that as anything else.

his point was that there are lots of other sports that would allow our girls to explore their athletic side (soccer, i think, was his example).  but if my daughter, having grown up in a house with a rabid college football fan of a mother, wants to play football rather than play tea party, more power to her.  i will hate the day when i have to tell her that she won't actually be able to play on a college team, but i will do so and then suggest she become a kicker and get on the team anyway.

i want my boys to learn to be nurturing and kind.  if they want to love a baby doll, go for it.  especially if they are trying to learn how to love and take care of a new sibling, i can't think of a better way to teach boys than to use baby dolls.  who cares? is it suddenly a bad idea for men to be good with babies? last time i checked, it was a totally impressive skill.  while i'm sure the stunning good looks they'll inherit from musicboy will be enough to make them all chick magnets, i'll do my best to help them access their sensitive sides.

and we'll have nerf basketball in our house for rainy days and dress-up clothes and train sets and tinkertoys and legos and hey, maybe the kids will figure out what they like on their own.  

and it won't be because i painted a room purple with princess tiaras or blue with jungle animals.  it will be because we let them figure out what they liked by giving them access to lots of choices.  isn't that what parenting is about? keeping them safe, showing them the correct way, and then teaching them how to choose?  and choose wisely?**

i'm not a mom, but it seems like that's what parents do. 

*let me be very clear here, though.  the choices offered to my children will be choices that we deem appropriate.  in dress, musicboy and i have very clear standards and we will uphold those standards for all of our children, male or female. while some parents may feel comfortable allowing their sons to wear skirts and dresses, i don't. will i freak out if he decides to play princess one day? no way.  but as a rule, the choices offered to them will be gender appropriate (and i know that's such a loaded term, but i don't know how else to say it).

**there's no safer place to fail than in the warmth and love of your family home.  i feel like that's our responsibility too--to teach our children how to choose and to teach them what to do when they choose poorly.

Monday, April 19, 2010

eat some potato peel pie.

i don't usually go all evangelical about books--i am a book nerd, i know that i am a book nerd, and i also know that most of the things that i like are looked down upon by the general reading public or by the high falutin' reading elite as either "too hard" or "too boring" or "pure fluff" with "no meaningful political or revolutionary tendencies."

that ends today.

because of one book, the guernsey literary and potato peel pie society. 

the reason i don't usually get all googly-eyed and fervent about YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK is because, honestly, i don't like it when people do it to me. i like the more sedate "hey. you will like this." my roommate did that to me a couple of times and every time she was right but she wasn't all rabid about it.

so i'll try not to be rabid here.  let me tell you a couple of things about me, books, and this novel, and it will probably tell you everything you need to know.

despite being able to cry easily at movies, tv shows, and the pathos-laden publix commercials (you know, the one where the kids bakes his mom the heart-shaped cake? every.single.time), i do not cry when reading. i don't know if the visuals normally get me, or if being intellectually engaged in the act of reading requires me to maintain some distance, or if authors don't normally have the power to do it, but i don't cry.  i might have cried when i read grapes of wrath. that was 11th grade. i can't remember the last one that did.

i cried three times during this book.  i was surprised each time.

i normally dislike reading letters.  they bore me.  i like the narrative voice better, and i have a long dislike of epistolary novels because i had to study them.

i don't think i've ever read a clearer narrative voice than the one that comes through these letters. they are brilliant.

being the literary critic that i am, i can almost always find some sort of fault with a book i read--the narrative wasn't tight enough, the author spent too long getting to the end, the characters weren't fully dimensional, etc.

i can't find a thing wrong with this book except that it was entirely too short and i desperately want to read more.

i love these characters--genuinely, 100% love them.  since it's a book about a writer getting to love the people she begins to correspond with, i feel like that's just a mark of the brilliance of these writers--they made me feel what the characters felt.  i'm a tough audience.

they did it. it's a brilliant book. you will be better off for having read it, which i can't always say for my frivolous reading.  this book is far from frivolous.

and now that i feel like i'm on a really advanced episode of reading rainbow, i will stop. except to say this: i began going to the library and stealing hours of time in my week (often putting off what needed to be done but still getting it done) to read at the beginning of april.

i don't think it's a coincidence that the claustrophobic, panicky stress that i had been feeling for eight months, since i really stopped taking any time for myself at all other than the gym (which evokes a whole other kind of stress), has almost entirely disappeared. at the time in the semester that i should be the most petrified, freaked out, and catatonic with stress, i am managing. i read, i do my work, i cook, i clean, i just do what needs to be done.

sometimes, you need to find your bliss and make time for it. mine is books.  why did i forget that for so long? why did i think it was so bad to do something for myself?

no more.  you'll now find in the sidebar a list of books that i've read since beginning my furtive little library trips.  i think i will keep track of just how many books i can read between now and my summer class beginning.  we'll see if i can beat my childhood record of 10-12 a week. 

i think i can. 

in the meantime, read this book. seriously. 

Friday, April 16, 2010

a page from the domestic handbook: how to be an amazing music wife edition.

rocky road cookies.

chocolate chip cookie/muffin things with a peanut butter surprise in the middle.
(an experiment. they're too big, because i made them in standard sized muffin cups (i was inspired after being disgusted by what won the pillsbury bakeoff this year. the muffin idea was a cool one though.). next time, i'll make them in the mini-muffin pans and add enough peanut butter to really make the middle gooey.  i think they could be a hit.)


they're all getting packaged for musicboy's mini-tour to a festival tomorrow. apparently, i'm already known for how good my cookies are.  i have a reputation to uphold.

but mainly, road trips should always have cookies.

(and all of them have 1/4-1/3 less sugar than the recipe calls for!)

sometimes, grading and dissertations can wait until the cuisenart has done its magic. 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

facebook suddenly skeeves me out.

immature ex who basically cheated on me but who i don't care about anymore, but must still be awkward-feeling toward because i'm skeeved out by the idea of him, is back.

from like across four oceans and an international dateline.

the likelihood of me having to see him is VERY small indeed. in fact, i very much hope that he makes tracks across the country to some other place and does his whole thing over there so that i don't have to.  then i can go back to my existence, which happily and very rarely ever thought of him at all, except when musicboy brought it up or when some media piece evokes memories (stupid alicia keys. suck it.).

but since i realized he was back, i got really jittery. that's the best way to describe it--like i'm waiting for him to pop around a corner and i'm petrified of what will happen when he does.

(the reality, the peaceful, rational, normal part of my FREAK of a brain, tells me that i would be fine. i might be initially AWKWARD internally, but i would make pleasant small talk, cling to my husband or else make tracks out of there, and probably not be rocked much at all.  i have come a long way since when i cared what homeboy thought.)

it's the way i was straightaway after we split.  we moved in similar circles, and sometimes those circles would inadvertently cross and i would have to deal with him and new girlfriend, and it was really difficult for me. i hated then how difficult it was for me, but it really was.  it took a long time for me to be okay with it, but i don't think i ever really forgot how hard it was for me.  he apologized before he left, i accepted his apology, and we moved on.  we even corresponded while he was gone for a while, until i realized that doing so a) didn't get me anywhere good and b) was disloyal to the one person that i love the most in the world.  i think i stopped talking to him right before musicboy got back. i can't remember, really, but i remember thinking that it was not good.

so there's history (isn't there always?) but it's ANCIENT history.  seriously. 

fastforward to the last few days, when i've been beating myself up the past few days, thinking that i shouldn't be skeezed out by the fact that he's back. i forgave him a long time ago. i feel no malice toward him--in fact, i feel perfectly comfortable praying that he will find the direction and peace in his life that he needs.

but i definitely don't want to deal with him. at all. in any way. except maybe to rub his nose in the fact that i'm adorable and happily married and successful and HA!

well, hello lesser part of myself.  welcome to the party.

i am immature. i am ridiculous.  and i am TOTALLY skeeved out by the idea that he could stalk my wall on facebook. we're not friends anymore, because a) i don't want to be friends with him and b) i didn't like his randomness popping up on my newsfeed and c) broken roads should not be retread. but i still changed my profile picture.  why? i have no idea. actually, i believe that would be the lesser part of myself winning a little bit.


(i'm beginning to think that this is really just a symptom of extra stress in my life right now. i'm not freaking out about those things, so here...please let me displace it on this ridiculous heap of STUPID PAST.)

so i've been trying to figure out what it is about this situation that still rankles me.  i am sure it has something to do with the fact that i was fairly unceremoniously dumped (though i knew it was the right thing and i knew it was not working and blah blah blah).  the reality is, and is very clear to me now, that i overlooked A LOT of crap because i was hoping to turn immature guy into musicboy. they had a ridiculous number of similarities, and i guess somewhere in the back of my mind i thought if i couldn't have musicboy, i'd try to make one of my very own.

worked out splendidly, didn't it.  in the end, actually it did.  i got the real deal, and that's what important. and i am so happy with my real deal.  no doubt about that. no regrets whatsoever. how things went down were exactly how they should have been.

but what is it about this thing called life, these experiences that we have, that so permanently affect us?  what i've re-realized (because this was one of the lessons that i learned through this experience) is that the things that happen to us change us.  they make us into who we are.  i realized that again this morning, as i was praying about this very thing.  i realized that the experience i had with this guy truly helped me become the person that i am today.  it gave me courage, in a lot of ways, to do things i wouldn't have done. it gave me wisdom. it gave me experience. it gave me memories that, all-in-all, are good.

all of that led me to where i am now and who i am now.

but that doesn't all come in shiny pink paper with pretty curled ribbons. sometimes the stuff that makes us, the stuff that tempers and shapes us, is the ugly stuff. the stuff that hurts. that stuff that makes us feel awkward and uncomfortable. 

sometimes we don't forget that.  but we can move past it with grace and peace and try to be better for having had that experience.

that's what i'm trying to do now.  it seems petty now, to wish that i don't see him, when all i can really do is be thankful that i had the experience. actually, now that i think about it, what i prayed for has actually happened.

i think in the last fifteen or so minutes of writing this post, i've let it go.

life leaves a mark.  there's nothing wrong with that. i think i need to remember that more often.  our past serves a purpose, but only in the ways that it shapes our present and future.  

i totally dig my present and i'm completely amped about my future.

if that guy helped me get there, i should probably thank him.  not that i will, but i feel like that's a better attitude than the one that i had at the beginning of this little narrative spewing. 

but i am still cute, adorable, ridiculously happily married, and successful.  that doesn't suck either. 


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

perfect timing, too.

the five pounds i lost a couple of weeks ago are back, with a vengeance.

i mean, i'm not really sure they're back with a vengeance, but i feel out for blood whenever i get on the scale.  i had my appointment with the personal trainer on friday. she killed me through circuit training and after telling her about how i had been exercising pretty aggressively and regularly since january and yet hadn't lost ANYTHING, she said something about overtraining and how our bodies adjust and blahblahblah.

i'm certain she was right, so please don't take the blahblahblah to mean anything other than IT'S NOT FAIR.  and also perhaps a trifle bit of bitterness at the fact that i could not move my arms normally for four days post session because she made me do things to my pectoral muscles that were inhumane.  i literally sobbed when brent touched my chest to try to rub out that part that gets sore, right next to your armpit and over your heart, when you do pushups.  it hurt TO THE SMALLEST TOUCH.  so i might be a little bit bitter.

i found myself saying this yesterday: "i hate my body."

the moment that those words escaped my lips, i knew two things. the first is that i don't mean that. my body is a gift. it is healthy. i feed it (mostly) healthy things and it performs admirably in the tasks that i set before it. i have a brain and a body that work well and i am blessed.

the second thing i knew is that i really have to figure out, once and for all, how to love my body the way it is.  i had gotten there for a brief shining moment, just before i got married.  it's not really much different than it was then, although the scales tell me it's 20 pounds heavier.  it's about the same size, and definitely can do more than it used to be able to. 

i recognize the signs of holding on too tight to this idea that i have of what i should be, what i should weigh, what i should look like.  i don't fit, and never have, into models of BMI and body weight. even at my dream goal weight, i would still be considered overweight for my height.  i can barely imagine getting to that point, and i would imagine that i would look almost too skinny. my mom, at the same height and weight, looked almost gaunt to me. 

so our bodies don't fit into the models that are supposed to fit everyone.

but it's more than that. when i hold on so tight to things, i can't see what really is happening. that's true of everything--not just about my body image--but it's definitely true in this case. when i look at myself, i can't see how i am improving, how i really look. i see things through a distorted lens of loathing that only makes me unhappy.

i don't want that. i really don't. and i really have no reason to feel anything but pride in what i routinely do. i have changed the way i approach food. i routinely make ridiculously healthy choices.  when i actually think about things, i choose good. that ought to be enough for me.

but at the same time, i want my body to cooperate with my efforts. i want to be rewarded for my diligence. i want the strawberries and chicken to count for something, when i could have caved to pizza. i want my body combat and hours on the treadmill to get me somewhere, instead of leaving me exactly where i'm at.

i want the formulas to work. i want to stop being the exception.

but in the meantime, and for a greater purpose, i want to know how to be okay with where i'm at and how to look at my body with pride rather than disdain.  i want to see the good instead of immediately seeing what needs to change. i want my first thought to be something positive.

someday, i will have daughters. i'll be darned if they are going to grow up not loving who they are because they see me obsessing about it.  i will be a positive role model.  but first i have to learn how.

in a world where we are constantly told that we are not [insert appearance-related adjective here] enough, how does one do that? 

Monday, April 12, 2010

"the writing is excellent."

i'm not sure when this turned into a dissertation blog, but it has and there you go.  lucky for those of you who SO.DON'T.CARE, it will be over soon enough.

i met with my director today. she plowed through that beast in 5 days.  200ish pages in 5 days. she said she made it a priority. i felt a twinge of guilt about that, but she didn't seem to mind and so i stopped very quickly. darn right it should be a priority. it has been mine for several weeks now, and she knew that, and she knew we were working on a deadline.

so she hates my conclusion. she, lovely woman that she is, would never say such a thing.  but she sort of said "it's interesting..." and so i interpreted, as i am wont to do, that to mean "yeah....and what the heck does this have to do with ANYTHING that you've said in the last 160 pages?"

which is so true. it's total crap.

that would normally terrify me. but we came up with a plan to take the last half of my last chapter, which was equally problematic, and turn it into my conclusion by reframing it.  this perhaps may be more daunting than i think it will be, but it i think might work beautifully.

she asked me if i could get it all done in the week that i have to get it all done.  i sort of smiled and said "yeah.  i'll make it happen. i'll get it done." and i will, but the backstory is that i am so behind in grading.  i have three classes' worth of 5 page papers and 1 page response papers to grade, in addition to another class's 5 page papers to grade, in addition to the online class's weekly papers to grade.  it's ridiculous.

as i walked across campus today, after the meeting, i felt myself shift into the serious efficiency, laser focused, knock-it-out mode. it's the big push to the finish line, when you're tired and you don't want to, but you just find somewhere down deep all of the energy you have to focus on the stuff that needs to get done. everybody has it. everybody does it.  i can do it too.

when i'm in this mode, though, i hate the little details of things i have to worry about also, like grocery shopping and laundry.  i find myself strategizing in my mind how to do this and that and the other thing. how can i do both laundry and something productive? in this mode, i fail to see extraneous things related to life, like cooking, eating, dishes, laundry, and a whole host of other things as productive. they just take me away from my list.

in a week, the draft will be done.

like done done.  unless a committee member has major problems with it (which, since my director thinks it's great writing with excellent close readings, i'm not sure that will happen), the draft will be done.

and then i will have two weeks, full of end-of-semester shenanigans like grading and grading and calculating and grading, and then i will defend.

how does one prepare for an intellectual firing squad?

my plan is prayer.

and then, it will be over.  save revisions and formatting, it will be over. i will, for all intents and purposes, be a doctor.

but in the meantime, as facebook friends are apt to remind me, i have not yet finished.

funny how it feels like i have. 

Saturday, April 10, 2010

do it. trust me.

buy a jiffy apple cinnamon muffin mix. they're usually something like 59 cents.

ignore the directions on the back. instead of following them, mix in 1/2 c of unsweetened apple sauce and grate in 1/2 of an apple (i used granny smith, but you can use whatever you want).  add additional cinnamon and some nutmeg, to your taste (i added about 3 times the amount of cinnamon that i did nutmeg, but if you're not a nutmeg fan, just use the cinnamon). then add just enough milk to make it muffin dough consistency (i don't measure, but i imagine it was about 1/4 cup).  follow the baking instructions, although know that you make these into mini-muffins.

they are DELICIOUS.  incredible apple flavor and yumminess.  they are healthier than the traditional package directions, because you are using no egg (less cholesterol and fat) and less milk (fewer calories). i would imagine, though, that the calorie count isn't that much different because of the apple and applesauce that you are adding.

but SO VERY GOOD. people will die for them.  well, at least i do. 

you're welcome.

Friday, April 9, 2010

round 'em up herd 'em out

you, lucky reader, get to be privy to the varied and not at all connected thoughts bouncing around in my brain.  woot.

(it's friday. what do you want?)

that geico commercial with the ring tone?  the "ringedy ding dong a ding" one? i actually really want that ringtone. in other news, someone's phone went off in the middle of a speech today and it was a rooster crowing.  hi-lari-ous.

i have read two non-school related books in two days.  i'm back, baby.  the library better watch out.

my director has already read through 2/3 of the diss.  in one day. is that a good sign? i think that's a good sign.  or it's a bad sign. i don't know. she said she was reading it (with pleasure!) so i think that's a good sign. i know that papers that take me less time to read are usually the good ones. 

the flip side to this is that i'll have less time between the draft and having to address the revisions, which means that i may not have as much time to catch up on grading, which means i should probably not read as much.

the flip flip side to that is that the stupid draft will be ready sooner, i can get it to my committee sooner, and i can commence to begin the freakout about the defense sooner.  or i can read more books. whatever.

i have my free personal training session today, and i'm scared.  i think i'll end up dying a little, but that may pave the way for me to go eat all you can eat ribs tonight.  good plan, right? i'm an idiot.

yeah, this isn't really interesting at all.

i really want new clothes, but i also really want to save money. why are summer clothes so expensive? why is it impossible to find things with proper sleeves? i have fat arms. don't make me fling them about for all the world to see.

saw clash of the titans.  it was okay.  wait for the dvd.

did you hear there was a record harvest of strawberries? they are rock bottomed priced around these parts, and i will buy as many as we can eat as often as we eat them until the wave is over. i'm so pleased. i love strawberries. of course, one time my mom told me about this chicken and strawberries diet she was one. all she ate was chicken breasts and strawberries, and she ended up with hives.  so i'm a little worried that we'll end up turning into a great big strawberry, willy wonka style. 

it's beautiful outside today.  what do i get to do? grade. clean. go punish myself at the gym.  woot.

i don't know why i'm still nervous whenever my in-laws come to our town, to our house.  i do okay when it's us going there or when we meet on common ground, but there's so much pressure when they come here.  i feel judged. it's stupid.  i don't think they are judging anymore than anyone else ever judges when they come to someone's house, but i feel like this great amount of responsibility for everything to be perfect.  it's annoying. 

yeah, i'm done.  so many annoying things to do.  i'm ready for this semester to be over already.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

existential question of the week.

why is it necessary for me to stroke wounded egos and diagnose self-esteem issues in the course of doing my job as an instructor? i understand a certain degree of that, because i teach high-stress classes (writing and public speaking bring out the crazy in most people).

but when someone thinks that i am not "friendly" enough to approach, why do i have to then go chase after them, suggest to them that it is my job to answer questions (and, implied therefore, their responsibility to ask ME those questions) rather than their already over-stressed classmate, and try to build a bridge?

really? i just want to let her fail. if she doesn't want to ask questions and thinks i am not approachable (which is laughable, but she's reading the tone of my posts to her, which are sometimes snippy because she's like OHMYGOSHIT'SSOHARD on the first day of class. i just want to tell her to calm down, but she's obviously the overstressed yippie dog version of a student), WHY IS THAT MY RESPONSIBILITY?

i did not go to school to be a doctor of anything other than literature and writing.  i can't diagnose your self-esteem issues. i can't figure out why you are freaking out about every little thing. i can sympathize, commiserate, and try to be of assistance, but only if you MAN UP and ask a question.

good grief. i am not that scary. on the scale of scary and mild, i am like the snuggle bear. 

i don't get paid enough for this. i really don't. 

but i still do it.  and i'll keep doing it. i just don't know why no one ever talks about that as an essential part of the job description. 

the end.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

in which i gain perspective.

just a caveat to my last post. thank you to those of you who posted and felt the same way that i did.  it did make me feel a bit more justified in my reaction, which i admit may have been exacerbated by who-knows-what kind of hormonal reaction. 

i will say that, in the forgiving light of morning, having been told by you all and my husband to not let anyone steal the wind from my celebratory sails, that i feel a bit guilty for being all SHE WAS MEAN! on the internets.

she wasn't mean. she was just...pragmatically realistic.  i shouldn't whine and complain and get all judge-y because she was saying something i didn't want to know. everyone's process is different, and i'm sure for many the defense and the revisions are the hardest part.  for me?  the draft was the behemoth.  so i guess this is my plea to not think ill of her for saying what is likely a very logical point just because i was all WAH.  i'm fine. i understand it. i am choosing now not to be offended, and i apologize for spewing my offendedness all over the internets.

and what perpetua said is true. i will pass. i will negotiate the comments and revise where needed and when i feel like i can't, i will ask my director for help because that's what you do. 


i don't know what has happened in the last week or so, but i feel like i approach life with much more hope and much less panic. i literally feel lighter and happier than i have in quite a few months, a tough feat considering the last year or so has been the happiest and most joyful of my life.  (that happens when your dreams come true.)  some of you will say that duh, carrie, you are finishing your dissertation.  but i think what's ASTONISHING to me is how much that really weighed on me.  like, literally. how does that happen? how do we let that happen? when all of the anxious expectations and guilt-laden shoulds coalesce into one big ball of yuck that sits just below your heart and never yields to any sort of enticing to be gone.  how do we live with that for so long? 

i slept abominably last week, but what i did achieve was this sort of zen-like chill state.  i with things with less anxiety.  i'm just not freaked out by them as much. 

i can't think of really anything that changed except that i think that i started asking for divine assistance more often instead of trying to wage war on my to-do list on my own. i think i started believing that i was getting that assistance (though i know i was getting it all along) and seeing the help in my life every day, and i started letting go of the things that didn't matter.  the incredible pressure that we put on ourselves is paralyzing. 

that's how i felt on most days. paralyzed with worry about how to do everything.  how to be everything. how to make things happen.

i don't feel that anymore.  i definitely stopped trying to MAKE.THINGS.HAPPEN. things happen when they happen. i have control over a very few things in my life, most of which stems from the actions i take and the way i choose to feel about the actions others take.  what the future holds? what other people do? no control over it.  worrying about it doesn't change that at all. 

so now, i just feel...happy.  maybe it's a combination of the power of Heaven, the power of sunshine, and the power of knowing that there are just a few weeks left before work is DONE and i have a legitimate break.  maybe it's the knowledge that, in reality, i am doing it. i am doing more than i have ever done before and doing it pretty well.

maybe it's a tender mercy of the Lord.

whatever it is, i will take it. it will carry me through the next few weeks and into summer with a simple joy that can only be expressed by simple gratitude for things like birds singing in the trees when i get home and seeing the good things people do as just that--good things that people do.  my heart feels fuller of love and gratitude for everything--even the students that make me nuts.

i am so blessed. i know i say that a lot, but i like when i actually feel it as an emotion.  sometimes, i count my blessings as a way of counting my way out of worry and sadness.  this time, i just feel incredibly blessed. 

i like seeing the world through these glasses.  it's a pretty view.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

the draft is in.

so i dropped off my draft to my director today, which is a HUGE milestone for me. it's done.  the draft. as in i really have nothing left to construct. perhaps this is difficult for people to understand who haven't been there, but it's a huge deal.

the pressure to try to come up with ideas and to develop can be really crippling.


who should understand? people in the same program.

so i posted this as my facebook status:

has achieved the equivalent of phd senioritis. i keep forgetting that i have 9000 stacks of papers to grade and just keep dreaming of books to read that have nothing to do with anything. this could be problematic...

what do i get in return, from someone in the same program?  


uh, yeah. congrats but ... remember about carts and horses and defenses and whatnot. you can do it!  

it frosted my cookies and that's putting it mildly.

why is it so difficult to just let people be happy for ONE FREAKING DAY? of course i realize i'm not DONE.  of course i realize that i have revisions to do and negotiations to do between competing ideas of what needs to be done to my draft. of course i understand that i have to defend my dissertation and that this could be an incredibly stressful time. i am not an idiot. 

but today? today i was just happy to have made this milestone.  

and now i feel like someone rained on my parade. this isn't a plea for hoorays or for yays or for anything else. it's just a musing question about why it is that people have to bring other people down. i would never do that...i would do what other people did, which is to say YAY! because i would understand what a huge milestone it is.

but then again, maybe that's because i am okay with people being happy and celebratory.  

life and academia can make people hard and cynical.  i am glad to live a life that makes me not. 


Monday, April 5, 2010

consider this that wave across campus as you're running to class...

just passing through here to tell you a few things:

deep irony is not lost on me. i stopped working out, ate real ice cream for the first time in least a month, and ate whenever i was hungry (though i did keep eating good things and logging my food and i never went above my calories) and i LOST FIVE POUNDS IN FIVE DAYS.  freak. i think i've decided to do this every month.  pms week? stop exercising and eat whatever i want to eat within reason, because apparently my body likes fruit and craves the things that it needs.  how about that.

my house is a cesspool of death and my in-laws are coming this weekend. hot diggity swiffer time.

the reason i am passing through is because i am about two to five hours away from finishing my dissertation draft.  i spent much of the morning formatting it, checking on last minute things, and creating all of the extra stuff. let me tell you. while i think it's sort of a thrill to be able to create a dedication page, it's one big hoop-jumping horror show to format these things according to some arbitrary system that the university has created. it's not MLA, let me tell you, and it's also annoying to have to take all of your endnotes and turn them into footnotes. 

tomorrow i try to print my dissertation at the school computer lab, where i am allowed 250 pages per semester for free.  you can only print 10 at a time, which should be fun, but i'm doing it because heck if i pay $500 a semester in fees to get nothing but access to the library and free wireless.  I WILL MILK YOU FOR ALL YOU ARE WORTH, COLLEGETOWN U.

prepare yourself. 

excuse me but i'm TWO TO FIVE HOURS AWAY from being done.

oh my dang.  WOOT!

Friday, April 2, 2010

the waiting place...*

...for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or the waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

sometimes, when you've thought something so many times and been proven so very, very, very wrong, you stop believing even yourself.

i find this an incredibly frustrating position to be in.  how can you not believe yourself? how can you not have faith in yourself? how can you not trust your instincts?

when they've been WRONG WRONG WRONG before. 

but when is the time when you stop doubting and start trusting? when do you believe it? 

faith is belief without seeing.  i believe in a lot of things without the benefit of sight.  i consider myself, at my core, to be a faith-filled person.  it carries me through things i don't understand, things i can't reconcile, things that are hard.  it has made me into who i am, and i am in awe of that process.

but when in one particular situation, i am waiting for sight.  i will not believe until i see.   even then, i may not believe it. 

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for the wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

it's the way it should be, i think.  but's hard to wait.   i'm stuck between beginning to really trust my instincts and waiting to have the rug pulled out on me again.  i think this is why faith is so important.  because this waiting stuff is for the birds.

That's not for you!

even dr. seuss says so.

so, even in this waiting place, i am not waiting around. i am, in fact, progressing quite nicely, if slowly, toward Big Goals.  it's an exciting thing to do, really, to see the end of something large in sight, to see the end of a chapter (literally and figuratively--ha!) before you. 

i like new beginnings.  they are nice.  they are the white walls of life waiting to be painted. they are the comfy chair for life-tired feet. they are the big present that you've been eyeing for two weeks and finally get to open on Christmas morning.  they are the cilantro of my life.

Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life's
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)

shoot. i'll take those odds. any day.

*thanks, dr. seuss, for being awesome.  nobody can get me like you can. the italicized quotes are, of course, from oh the places you'll go. if you haven't read it lately, you need to.  kid, you'll move mountains!