Wednesday, March 30, 2016


1. I turned in my "activity" survey for the quarter in the same format and in the same way I've been doing it for the last 2-3 quarters. This quarter, it's wrong. Time taken out to fix something (albeit small, but the stress of the "I need to see you about something..." then waiting four hours after I reply takes its toll as well as I'm frantically checking my email every 5 minutes) that could be spent on something else.

2. Boss: I need a quick write up of the honor society trip. Nothing big, just a few sentences. And if you have a picture of the seven of you together, that would be great.

I submit a write up and submit a picture.

Boss: Well, that's a cute picture, but not exactly the kind of picture I was looking for. I need this type of photo (that I don't have). Also, do you have a picture of X, and could you describe X, and could you also go around and get some quotes from the other professors about the students' work for me.

Um, am I writing a fucking article for the paper now? I don't remember the press release, still on the bulletin board from last year being that detailed. Oh, right, I was the one in charge of the trip this year, not Prince Wonderful Colleague Who is Perfect, so my standards are higher. And the demands are greater. And the stakes now are apparently higher.

SMH. Like I have time for that.

I'm going to quote myself about the students' work.

Oh, in meeting her personally, she said she wanted a quote from me. That's not what the email stated.


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

What am I going to do about this place? I need summer.

A bunch of little stupid things at my job are building up again that make me feel like there's a lack of respect for me and like the department is concerned about helping the two male junior colleagues get tenure with no help for me other than "smile more. Look nicer. blah, blah, blah..." I know the only way to combat this is to get my article written and published. And even though this makes me discouraged and not want to work, I have to remind myself that the things that will get me tenure are the things that make me portable.

I'm super excited about the upper division class I'm teaching this quarter. The students are less than excited about the literature. My class keeps dwindling by the day (which is going to reflect poorly back on me, btw). I know I have a lot of students who "like" me, but after the honor society conference it's clear that they don't actually have any respect for me. Or at least, this is how I read it: traditionally, the students get a small gift for the faculty advisor who takes them on the trip as a thank you. I'm not looking for a present. What bothers me is that my co-advisor got one last year (a nice one at that), and the previous advisor got gifts. Um, my students were killing themselves trying to figure out what to get my co-advisor and the previous advisor for gifts, and not once did they think of me. Not a single one of them.

I feel like that fucking grad class from the fall is the poisoned apple of my existence here.

I made sure the chair, the dean, and the president (who donated a nice amount of money to our trip fundraiser) got gifts, even the office assistant (which the students helped pick out). And in all the gift buying and giving, I was not even the tiniest blip on their radar. Again, it's not about the gift. I feel slighted, and if my boss or the previous advisor found out that I didn't get a gift, they would totally read it as a sign that the students have no respect for me, and this would totally reflect poorly on me. And that's what's totally fucked up. That I was slighted reflects poorly on me.

It's just disappointing, and my feelings are hurt.

My boss had made sure that the other untenured junior faculty member gets to present his work at the faculty research symposium, undoubtedly this year because it's the quarter before tenure, and this will look really good. It will also highlight his one publication on my three smaller and obviously less important ones, overshadowing the major press book chapter on the horizon and anything else. Furthermore, I was told point blank that I needed to take the honor society trip solo because I needed to "prove that I could do it," and co-advisor was not told that last year.

This makes it harder and harder for me to maintain my friendly, happy disposition. Not to mention that I cannot even let on what's going on with my mom or that Jeremy will be out of town for a month. Not even to my "friends" in the department because it will get back around at some point to someone who will undoubtedly view all of this as my own incompetence. And the last thing I want is for my disgruntledness to show through and cause me more problems.

I hate that my boss, who through her actions, has set up an adversarial relationship between me and my colleagues and me and my job. I honestly feel like I'm being gently phased out. We'll see what happens at that annual review.

Monday, March 21, 2016

I am seriously lacking in motivation today. I straight up do not want to be at work today. I'm tired. I have an awful stomach ache, in part from what I ate this weekend, and in part because I'm just so stressed about my mom. The not knowing is killing me. The not knowing what's going on and not knowing when she's leaving and how long she'll be gone. I'm not sleeping well. I'm not hungry. when I do eat it, I feel sick. It's a mess. I'm a mess.

On a positive note, since abandoning the other article, I feel better about that at least. If I can just get a couple of days where I can sit and work, I think I'll feel even better because I'll feel like I'm making some progress on something. Although, attending the conference now is sort of up in the air, both in terms of the financial issue and whether if the parents are gone if the J will be able to take off a couple of days of work. However, a quick turn around for the conference right now looks like a $1000 plane ticket, which is ridiculous and out of the question.

Thank god I'm on the anti-depressants though. As bad as I feel right now, I cannot imagine how much worse it would be without them.

Also, I don't want to be at work today. This is not a schedule I can sustain (8-4 two days a week and 8-2, one day a week); however, right now, I think it's the best in terms of having blocks of time to get my shit done, if I just take advantage of it. Next year, honestly, it won't matter if I have one or two days off to work really.

Anyway, I feel like I need to compose myself and try to knock out some quick grading before class. I'm just a bit down, but oh well. At least by sometime tomorrow we'll know when the doctor's appointment is.

Friday, March 18, 2016

The article that won't die.

At what point do you decide to scrap a project/article?

I can't figure out if I've been working on it so long and have put it aside and come back to it so many times that I've just lost the essence of the argument, or, if perhaps a symptom of depression I'm just having trouble focusing on it and just lacking in confidence?

Not that articles aren't work. I understand that. I've written a couple of smaller one which have been published, and obviously countless seminar papers and conference papers and the like, so it's not like I expect this to be a piece of cake by any means.

But I've been working on this for over a year (first in conference paper form, and then in trying to get it to article length), and each new version just gets harder and harder. It never gets past conference paper stage. And what I'm finding is that each expansion requires a different direction of research to make the paper make sense (at least to me), which it just seems to me like if the argument was a good argument, it wouldn't require me to go off in five different directions to establish the argument so I can make the argument work. In my experience, if it's taking that much work, then maybe it's time to reconsider the paper. And maybe that's why I haven't made any progress on it whatsoever (aside from that short burst a few weeks ago). I'm conflicted because I'm worried this is me getting to a tough spot and using it as an excuse not to finish.

But seriously, this argument. I don't even thinking I'm buying it anymore.

I'm wondering if I don't shift my energy to the next project which is a better argument, honestly, and more interesting to me, get that done and maybe return to this one? I feel like I'm just putting a bunch of energy into something that I don't think is viable and that I'm being stubborn.

The other part of this is okay, it's not a tough spot and I'm giving up, but that I'm using this tough spot and avoidance as a form of self-sabotage under the guise of "I must get this done." The more effort I spend on this, the less time I have for the more viable arguments.

I feel like it needs to go away. I have a much more solid research plan for the other project, and it feels like something I can knock out more easily, maybe because it's new, there's a deadline for the conference (I'm writing the article to cut down as the conference paper), it's fresh, and I think the other one has a) past its prime, and b) is just dead in the water.

So, when you do you know it's time to move on, that a project just isn't worth it? Or do you ever not scrap projects?

The Other Shoe

You know how I'm all "Negative Nancy" most of the time and how I said that I was just waiting for the other shoe to drop? It has. And you know how I said that this schedule that my boss gave me *only* works because and if my parents are in town? So what happens when the other shoe that drops involves my parents perhaps having to leave indefinitely? It means that my boss has set me up for potential failure.

My mom has to go back to home to go to the doctor, again. Here's what pisses me off about her doctor. Seven weeks ago they found something that they thought might be scar tissue from an ovarian cyst she had removed like 20 years ago. But they were suspicious. So, my thought is if you are suspicious that this is perhaps an ovarian cancerous tumor, you do a biopsy then rather than wait. They decide to wait to do another ultrasound to see if it grows (which in terms of suspected ovarian cancer, that seems highly irresponsible to me). It does not. But now her doctor's all like "hmmm, I'm not comfortable with this; you need to go to an oncologist stat to get this checked out. I'll call you back with an appointment." Two days have passed and we're all on fucking pins and needles about this appointment. If it's just a cyst, it will need to be removed anyway. No one is terribly worried that it might be cancer because she has NO symptoms of either a cyst or cancer. And these things just generally aren't asymptomatic. It's possible, but highly unlikely. There is the possibility though that they might be gone indefinitely.

Here's the other wrinkle: the J will be gone the entire month of April. He got the go ahead from all of us to attend the April class of a school he needs because Mom and Dad are supposed to be here. He can neither cancel nor reschedule at this point.

It's true, I'm hoping for the best. I'm trying to prepare for the worst. I mean, I know like this sounds like it's about me, but I'm so worried about my mom that I can neither eat nor sleep right now. And I know that the schedule I have allows me NO ROOM for contingencies (which is why I asked for the schedule I asked for in the first damn place). It doesn't help that I'm also, on top of worry, lack of sleep, and lack of eating, seething with anger over the potential issues I'm facing with my office hours and fall out with my boss because of this schedule. First of all, it is exhausting. I need the TTh to recover from the hell that is my MW, so honestly, I refuse to give up one of those days off to come into the office to make up any office hours I may have to miss because of the schedule. Nor will I drop the kid off at 7:30 in the morning at daycare and leave her there until 4:15. No.

I feel like now I've got about two weeks to get all the rest of the stuff that I've been working on that has an immediate deadline done. I've got to get it done before the J leaves town. I'm starting to worry about my ability to get all the things done I need to by July and September. It's my own fault for allowing myself to be in the situation and not get this stuff done earlier so that I wouldn't be in this position. But honestly, I feel defeated at this moment. And of course, everything will/should/may turn out just fine and there be just a little hiccup here.

We were supposed to go out of town next week for Easter to my aunt's. We have decided not to, because we don't know when Mom's doctor's appointment will be and how long she'll be gone, so I need to stay home and try to get something done (and working at my aunts will be impossible). Of course, Mom hasn't told my aunt yet, so we can't tell her we're canceling Easter until Mom tells her, so there's all that stress, too. I think the kid suspects something's up too because she's been really out of sorts. And there's no way I'm telling my boss about all of this because it just becomes another example of how I can't keep my $hit together. (Although, I will argue that any potential mess that happens is a result of her actions, not mine). Sigh. Hopefully all this worry is for nothing. But how can I not worry? It would be different if the J were not also leaving for an entire month.

Honestly, I seriously don't know how I'm going to handle this. I really don't. And maybe I'm PMSing and that's making it worse, but seriously, I feel like the world is falling apart.

Friday, March 11, 2016

March showers bring a whole lot of pollen to April flowers?? Notes from the wetlands.

Well, Springtime in these parts has been ushered in with a bang in the form of a giant deluge that has most of the northern part of this state underwater. Our town, for the most part, has been spared, relatively speaking. The lower lying areas are under water; there has been flooding here, but nothing on the scale of the neighboring towns and cities, some of which were under mandatory evacuation, and there are still people being rescued from their roofs by boat.

Our quarter was supposed to have started on Wednesday. Schools, businesses, government offices, etc., have all been shut down since then. One of the rare times my hoarding has worked for me has been this week as we have not been able (nor really willing) to leave the house. We have plenty of eggs, bacon, rice, sweet potatoes, leftovers, toilet paper, paper towels, coffee, snacks, oatmeal, and chips and crackers. The essentials.There is no way I'm taking a toddler out in this. However, we have quite literally been trapped inside for two days straight. And of course, as there are floods, the J is on flood duty and my parents are out of town (due back in today though as all doctor's appointments back home seem to have gone very well), and the J has drill this weekend. I think if I were to be trapped in the house for 5 days by myself with a toddler, I might go nuts. Not the least of which is because the house is a holy mess. I mean, it's bad. And all the things that I was going to do this week on my two days off (TTh) before the parents got back and while the kid was in school have gotten massively derailed. And I cannot clean most of the time when the Magpie is home. Especially since I was gone all last week, she will not let me out of her sight which has meant breakdowns for both toddler and mommy. I've had over a week now with very little sleep (and not very good sleep) due to travel and illness (because why wouldn't I get sick while taking the kids to their convention), and asthma and breathing problems are the worst! (It does seem to be getting better now though, after a week and four days of medicine). Plus, the storms and sirens have the dog all freaked out, so he keeps us up as well. The J slept on the couch for two nights with the dog because being on the floor in the den with J on the couch seemed to calm him and we three got some sleep. Naps have been hit or miss with the Magpie, which has me on the edge of sanity right now. I think, and I say this in all seriousness, that I have some kind of PTSD with Magpie and sleeptime since when she was a baby I was often alone with her (once for two weeks by myself while the J had AT) not able to leave the house because she would cry and cry and cry with her reflux and gas pains for seriously sometimes 20 out of the 24 hours a day. So when she doesn't go to sleep right away or go down for a nap, I go back to those early days and freak out and everything becomes dire, and I don't think that my family gets that. Anyway...

We have lots of students who commute from the flooded areas who are also trapped. Some of the faculty are furious that their quarter has been derailed by the rain and floods and are pissed that we have missed the first three days of school and are trying to see about canceling Easter break and pushing graduation back a week so they can make up their classes. In the same breath, these same people are complaining that they don't have the on-line lectures set up that they need, but when asked how to do that reply, "Oh it's so easy to do. All you need to do is x, y, and z, and that's it." Ahem, then if it's so easy, make lectures for what you missed and post it if you are already talking about doing that later in the quarter. There's your solution that you gave yourself! Yes, I know what a pain that is having done two on-line classes in the last two quarters, but do it if that's going to help you rather than complaining on FB about it. I'd like to point out too that the people who have been the most vocal about how it's b.s. that classes are canceled are unattached people without children who actually DO have time to put lectures up. Yeah, this sucks, and as proud as I was for having finished my syllabi three weeks ago, the schedule means nothing and I've got to go back and rearrange some things, but what is the benefit of having class if half your students can't get to class? What's the benefit of penalizing students (or faculty who also live in these areas) for being trapped in their homes by your desire to stay on schedule? What's the benefit to having a whole group of students be behind and maybe end up having to drop the class because they missed the two days you needed and couldn't get to the book store to get the books and maybe didn't have power or internet because of the flooding? Is that worth *your* needing to have class to stay on *your* schedule?

Look, maybe I'm getting soft in my old age, and maybe I'm just glad that I haven't had to negotiate having to bring the kid with me to class and try to teach with an active toddler who most likely won't want to sit still and want to perform for a whole class of people (and she's not going to sit in a colleague's office while I teach), but seriously, if half of my class isn't going to be able to make it, then what's the point? Spending my weekend answering 40 emails about class, how to find the texts because they can't get the books, not having internet (so sending emails from phones), it just seems like a much bigger hassle than spending 45 minutes or so rearranging some things. And honestly, I don't give a shit really about one's religious beliefs or lack thereof, but Easter break is our *only* break this quarter (basically a mini-spring break), so I will fight losing those two days and messing up my travel plans.

I feel like the pot calling the kettle black here in telling my colleagues to suck it up and quit complaining (since I am the Queen of Complaints), but I'm also a big fan of the path of least resistance. Rearranging the schedule and canceling class is a whole lot less work than having class and then having to deal with the several special cases who can't get to class because of the weather.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Meditation on the necessity of springtime.

I need springtime.

Historically, spring has been my least favorite season. It seems like some of the worst things in my life have happened during springtime. I never see it as a positive time of "rebirth" or "renewal," but rather a reminder that while the world is waking up from a winter slumber, I am still asleep. Now, there was something glorious about that first run when I wasn't under three layers of clothing--that made me feel free and light. But that's not enough to get one through an entire season. Summer made more sense. The heat, the enduring sun, perhaps in a way it is like winter in its punishment only you get to wear fewer clothes and you have less gear to lug around. I always used to prefer winter.

This year it is different, which is surprising to me because our winter wasn't harsh at all (by our standards). Last year was a long and cold winter (by our standards--and I've lived in places with harsh, uncompromising winters), and I was excited for the endurance of winter last year. This year, despite the early allergies and the early asthma attacks (and the steroid shot I've already received as a breathing treatment), I need spring to arrive. I need the spring forward of days that last until 8 pm. (Though I wish the sun came up earlier, like 5). I need lighter clothing and flip flops and tans. I need to know that the world is going to awake and be okay. I need to know that I am going to awake and be okay.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

I'd like to say first that it does feel somewhat good to be blogging on the regular again. I think it's a sign that I'm feeling better.

You know, I have my under grad prof who's been wonderfully supportive throughout the years and who has thrown publishing opportunities my way in order to help me, and for a long time now I  feel like I've been a disappointment to him because he gives me advice, I try to follow it, I don't finish what I'm doing, and I'm sure it's frustrating for him in the same way it's frustrating for a parent to watch her child flounder and try and fail. So I told him that I it turns out that I haven't been flaking out on him, but that I've been clinically depressed for a while (I can't believe, still, that none of us figured this out sooner--I mean, the clinical part), and his response? "That explains everything! No wonder you are having so much trouble!"

This is why I'm thankful for him--I feel others might just shake their heads and think, "oh, it's just another of Maude's excuses, blah, blah, blah," but I love his positive response. I am so thankful for that man.

I have my moments still, and I think I've started to even out a little bit from the initial shock to the system, but I feel like I got this taken care of in the nick of time. (Now if all of this energy could help me get my house in order!)

I am still struggling a bit with some things albeit ever so slightly. I will say this, at least each setback?disappointment? obstacle? (I'm not sure what word I'm looking for here) doesn't seem insurmountable. Things seem doable, which is a huge change from before, obviously.

I do need to learn some patience though. I am still terribly frustrated with my weight and my body. I just cannot seem to get the weight to budge, at all. I mean, I'm fit, I'm healthy, I'm fairly strong, but neither the scale nor the tape is budging nor are my clothes fitting any better. Perhaps the take away for now is that at least the antidepressants have made it possible for me to work out consistently the last two weeks, and getting up and getting to the 5 am class and working out first thing in the morning (like my old self) has gotten easier, but it's discouraging. My diet is fairly clean, but maybe it needs to be cleaner. And I want to stop spending so much brain time focused on this. And maybe when I stop focusing on this, that will be when everything starts to fall into place.

That being said, I need to hit the gym now. I'm out of town with the English honor society kids for the big international convention, so I need to get my work out time in so I'm not a cranky woman all day for not having done so. Thankfully they all wanted to sleep in after a super long day yesterday, so breakfast isn't until 9:30, but still, I need to get myself down to the work out area before everyone else does. I feel like this is probably prime time, but surely there will be some sort of machine open.