Sunday, March 29, 2015

Week 2.10: Spring into Summer

Much to the chagrin of family and friends who are living where it is still snowing, we went to the beach yesterday. It was still a bit brisk (I took a hoodie), but it was otherwise quite pleasant.  After church today, we sat out by the bay, which was even nicer.  While there was no sand, it was warmer because the breeze doesn't come off the bay as strongly as it does the gulf.

I'm writing this as I wait for the dryer to buzz.  The house has hit its mid-semester mess, and frankly, we have a lot of work to do in our living room to make it liveable again. Dear Husband is doing all the heavy lifting (both literally and figuratively), and frankly, I feel a bit useless.  I get a little dizzy if I stand for too long--my classes are beginning to get used to me teaching sitting down most of the time--so he's certainly doing things like washing dishes, and he mopped all the downstairs this week too.  He's a good husband.

Last night, UK played Notre Dame in a real nail biter.  He watched about two minutes and went upstairs, and I watched until the end of the first half, at which point, I couldn't deal with it any longer, and figuring that no pregnant woman needed to be that stressed about a basketball game, turned it off.  DH actually went to Walmart not long before the end of the game so he wouldn't be obsessively checking the score.

I had conferences with all my 1302 students this week, and while I've said this on my Facebook this week, if you have even thirty seconds, pray for one of my students who is having a very, very rough time right now.  Conferences with 1301 students takes place this week, and I have some midterms to return to my British Lit class (they turned in papers last week too, and they were also very nice.  I was pleased).

But we're getting closer and closer to the end of the semester.  My 1302 students turn in their annotated bibliographies on Monday, and I, personally, am crossing my fingers that none of them forget a major component to it, as they don't get to revise and turn things back in after they've been graded anymore, so failing the assignment would be a big blow to a grade if they forget something.  I've been trying to stress reading the instructions, but I don't know how much of that is actually going in.  I told them that if they needed me to look at an entry, I would, but I've not had a single email, which isn't particularly encouraging.  On the other hand, maybe they've all figured this out perfectly and aren't having the least bit of trouble with it!  (I just checked, and only one has been turned in thus far.  Nope, not encouraging at all.)

In other news, I had two committee meetings on Friday--the program review committee, which meets every week now until the end of the semester, and the department development committee.  The program review is going very well, I think--what we're learning is that, yeah, we're just as awesome as we thought.  :)  In all seriousness, while the department is doing a good job, I think we're going to have some recommendations that will mean that we do an even better job moving forward, and the department development committee came up with a lot of great ideas for colloquia and things that we can discuss together as a faculty to also better serve our students.  I find this awesome, too, because it's nice for us to know that we have a plan to continue improving, and that's really helpful.

I had a check up for Mogo this week, and all is looking good.  Her little heart is just beating away, and I am starting to feel her move a little bit.  This morning, we made it to church for the first time in a while (and isn't it a lot easier to have Palm Sunday in a place where there are actually palm trees, rather than snow!), and one of the first things the priest said was that "Now we'll have a Baby Jesus for the Christmas pageant!" I also felt Mogo kick the hardest I've felt--there was no denying that it was, in fact, a kick--when the organ started up this morning.  I laughed.  I couldn't help it, because right after that first note, wham!  Apparently, she likes church.

The last bit of news is that it's time for Camp NaNoWriMo.  To keep people writing throughout the year, National Novel Writing Month (November), gets a boost during April and July (I think it's July), where people can set their own word counts and go from there.  I've signed up with a daily word count of 500 words, and we'll see if I can make it.

I've just heard the dryer buzz, so it must be time to end this post.  We're hitting the busy point of the semester, and this may be the last day I have without grading piled up on my desk, so I'm going to enjoy it.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Week 2.9 - Post-Spring Break

No, I didn't have a blog last week--I was having too much fun at home over spring break.  Today's is late because we got back about 7:30 last night, and then I got up and went to work this morning and went non-stop from the time my feet hit the floor until I got home. 

It's certainly not because nothing happened last week.  On Friday, while we were stuck in traffic in Houston, we discovered that Mogo is actually a Mogette!  We are, in fact, having a little girl, which has filled everyone with delight and has convinced Dear Husband that he is doomed to be wrapped around her little finger.  I, for one, am rather looking forward to watching this. 

What's also neat is that April 1st, we should find out if we are having a niece or nephew!  Middle Brother and his wife, Mouse, are also having a baby, and she is due two days after I am.  Youngest Brother shook his head and wondered why MB and I always have to do things at the same time--go to college, get married, and now have babies.  Naturally, my parents are thrilled.

We kept getting asked if we saw bluebonnets on our drive, and we didn't, though there were tons of Indian paintbrushes, particularly on the way back.  But when we got home, there was one small patch of bluebonnets by the big concrete ditch that drains out to the laguna.  I was thrilled, and hoped to get a good look at them this afternoon--only to find when I got home that some un-poetic soul had mowed them over!

We spent half the week with my mom and dad and half the week with DH's mom and dad, and had fun all the way around.  I got to see all of my brothers, and we got to see all of DH's family, and a good time was had by all, I think.  BIL's birthday is this week, so it was nice that we were able to see them in person for that, too.  My MIL made me some maternity clothes while we were there, too, and I have a feeling I'm going to need them sooner rather than later, because Thursday, I think, Mogo decided that she was done hiding, and my belly POPPED.  I am suddenly very clearly pregnant.

What's even more exciting is that I'm pretty sure I'm feeling her move around some.  It's a little early (though not outside the realm of possibility, according to my books), but I keep feeling something inside that feels a bit like a cat very gently touching your arm to try to get your attention.  I usually feel it when I'm hunched over something, too, so I don't think she has as much space in there, and that's why I feel it.

On the agenda this week is an appointment with the OB/GYN tomorrow afternoon, finishing student conferences, and Friday meetings, including one over our program review, which I worked on some this afternoon.  I've been flipping back and forth through our Big Book O'Data from Institutional Research and have been reminded why I barely passed statistics and why I am so definitely not a math person.  (There's a reason my class grades are based on 1000 points, and it is purely because it makes the math easier for me.)

The kitties were glad to see us when we got home, and when I got home this afternoon, Cat curled up with me.  I'm not sure if she's purring or snoring, but whichever it is, she's doing it very loudly so everyone knows just how pleased she is that I'm home.  Bergie had drowned his catnip toys in the water dish again, but that wasn't out of the ordinary at all.  Nothing was broken this time around (at least nothing that we've found yet), and the house hadn't flooded, which we were very grateful for, particularly since the Coastal Bend had so much rain while we were gone, so all is well in our little world.  The high was 80 today, so things were quite pleasant. 

In South Texas, at least, spring has sprung and the grass has riz.  I wonders where the birdies is?

Thursday, March 12, 2015


I said that "I don't do this" last week when Leonard Nimoy died, and I don't--really.  I don't memorialize celebrities, but Leonard Nimoy was an exception.

And then Terry Pratchett died.

I was in class when I found out this morning--my students were working in groups, and I was trying to get a bit of grading done while they were working, and the Facebook notice flashed across my screen, and suddenly, I was having to hold back tears because my favorite author won't be writing anymore.

It's not just that Terry Pratchett is my favorite author.  There's been precious little literary criticism written about him, and of it, some of it was written by me.  I don't have anything published in a journal, but my entire master's thesis was about intertextuality in the Night Watch books from the Discworld series.  When I first discovered Terry Pratchett, I spent a lot of money I didn't have to collect the books, and then I spent over a year immersed in Discworld as I studied it.  Not long before I defended, Pratchett was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's--something he called "an embuggerance."

I live and love Star Trek, but there's something vastly different about living and loving a book series.  You inhabit books differently than you do television or movies, because so much of it is you and what you bring to the table and how you imagine surroundings and characters.  Even when I've seen adaptations of Pratchett's work, I still don't always see characters the way they are in the mini-series.  Angua, in my mind, is a lot more like me than she is the character you see in Going Postal.  (Of course, Death's granddaughter, Susan, was dead-on perfect in Hogfather.)

Reading Terry Pratchett's books was the first time I ever saw my father laugh out loud when reading.  Even watching TV shows, my dad doesn't really laugh at jokes or anything--he might smile, but he's not very demonstrative when it comes to these things, and I don't think I'd ever seen him even crack a smile while reading.  No, reading Terry Pratchett, my father laughed out loud, deep belly laughs that always crack you up to hear because someone is really tickled and you can't help but be tickled in return.  He would even read bits and pieces out loud to my mom, which he never does!

After I read them, I got my friends to read them, and I don't know if I introduced Pratchett to my husband or not--I want to think that he'd heard of him before, but had never read it until he started dating me--but he's been rereading Pratchett's books of late himself.

How do you mourn the finest satirist of the last half century?  Quotes from Death, one of Pratchett's anthropomorphic personifications (yes, that's a joke on Pratchett's part) have been coming up here and there.  Mine said: DON'T THINK OF IT AS DYING, Death said.  THINK OF IT AS LEAVING EARLY TO AVOID THE RUSH.  Pratchett's twitter announced his death with Death coming to visit - and a final tweet of "The End."

Neil Gaiman posted to his blog about Pratchett's death--but didn't have the words to express his grief and said they would have to come later.  All I can say is that I am heartbroken over this, will probably shed some tears, and will go home to pick up Guards! Guards! with its tattered cover and broken spine and fall in love with Discworld all over again.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Week 2.7: The Hurrier I Go, the Behinder I Get.

I realize my blog entry is late this week, but that's partly because I usually write my blog entry on Sundays, and we were without power for a good bit of yesterday, for no discernible reason.  It was the second time this week we'd been without power--the first during a gale that blew in Tuesday (?) night.  Then the power blinked again last night, just long enough to wake me up so I couldn't go back to sleep.  

By the way, Daylight Savings Time is a joke. 

In any case, I was already sick and grumpy this morning when I left the house, and then I was late to work because of an accident that occurred likely because of the rain (we're getting some 3" through tonight), and then a fog with 1/4 mile visibility.  I was not the only one late to work, though--I got here seconds before my department chair did.  Everyone was late today.

Then I got a load of this week's to-do list, and all I want to do is curl up and go back to bed--not just because of the lack of sleep last night, but because I have so much to do.  (Naturally, instead, I'm writing up a blog post.)

On the agenda this week:

Finish grading summary and response essays
Regrade some of the food narrative essaysWrite a draft of my section of the department program reviewComplete my faculty self-evaluation formOrder my books for summer and fallGrade food problem essaysGrade revised reviews
Give and grade a Brit Lit midterm exam
There is one other benefit to going straight back to work--I don't lose a semester towards tenure.  After this year, I have three years before I go up for tenure, but if I take leave for a semester, that time extends, because I haven't taught or done any college service during that time.  This phenomenon is part of the reason that women with children lag behind every other group in academia.  For example, this article from The Atlantic explains: "In academia, for example, married women have a 12 percent lower probability of obtaining a tenure-track position that married men and a 22 percent lower probability than childless women."  The myth that The Atlantic debunks is that married women with children don't work as hard as others.  This article from The Chronicle of Higher Education describes some of what I'm in for. 

Grade assorted homework this week

That's all that's come up so far. Naturally, things will get added to this list as the week goes on.  In the meantime, in spite of the meds the doc gave me, morning sickness returned with a vengeance this morning before I even got downstairs.  

I think it's pretty much decided that I'm going to go back to work about a month after Baby comes along.  I had a discussion with my assistant chair this morning, and it's not too much of an effort to get me a substitute for while I'm gone.  It will let us keep most of my income through the fall--which we'll need with a new addition.  I'll just put together all of my lesson plans in advance and hand them over to the adjunct to teach while I'm out.  

My MIL has graciously offered to come and stay with us to help take care of Baby during those first few months, and I'm very grateful.  It means we don't have to put a newborn in daycare, and it helps alleviate another concern of mine as well.  When you've got a mental illness already, the possibility of post-partum depression looms very, very large over you.  Going back to work sooner rather than later might help keep me from that, and I feel like having my MIL around is an extra layer of security.

Not that I'm still not conflicted by this.  I'd love to be able to stay home with Baby all semester, but I just don't see it being possible--we haven't built our savings back up after having bought the car (which, frankly, with Baby coming along, was a very wise investment, especially as I don't want to put a baby in my tiny little Saturn or DH's Focus).  I find it incredibly batty that we are the richest country in the world, yet the United States is one of only three--count them, three--countries that don't offer paid maternity leave.  It's unconscionable.  And what's interesting is that I read an article last week about the company Vodafone, who is now voluntarily offering paid maternity leave to its employees, and says that they'll actually save money doing it, because it means they don't have to spend money on recruiting and training workers to replace those who leave their jobs after having a baby.  

Fortunately, unlike the author of that article, I have a very supportive spouse and plenty of family to help.  That doesn't mean it's going to be any easier.  At this moment, I think I'm the only female faculty member here who will have a child this young.  And while the college allows up to 24 weeks of maternity leave--twice that required by federal law--it's still unpaid.  

There's so much that I'm confused about right now, and I know that this isn't anything that any other woman hasn't ever had to face before, and it is helpful to know that I'm not alone.  And in anticipation of possibly having to go back to work sooner rather than later, I did manage to make my schedule next semester be either mornings only or afternoons only, so I'll be home as much as possible.  Still, I feel like I'm going to be a bad mom for going back to work this early--and yes, I know that is societal expectation talking--either you're a bad mom for going back to work, or you're a horrible drain on society if you stay home. (Screw patriarchy.)  Doesn't mean I don't still feel bad.  

In any case, it's time for me to get back to work in the here and now.  Only this week stands between me and spring break, and with any luck, my next blog entry will be written in Kentucky.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Week 2.6 (or 12): The Mommy Track

As nearly everyone knows by now, we're having a baby!   I am twelve weeks along-finally past the first trimester. That  said, I am still having some morning sickness though the doctor has given me some medicine that has helped immensely.

 We're not been to church in awhile, because of the morning sickness. l finally felt well enough to go this morning. but realized that I didn't have anything to wear! I've been wearing jeans to work, because none of my good pants fit I and it's too cold, even here, to wear a shirt, so Dear Husband took me out this morning to buy my first piece of maternity clothing; we got some black leggings that I can wear under my dresses that do still fit.

 We don't know whether it's a boy or a girl yet, but we should find out in a couple of weeks. Someone wouldn't keep still during the twelve week ultrasound, so they are doing a blood test to check for a few things, and the test has the happy side effect of telling us the gender. In the meantime, we're referring to Baby as Mogo. For those curious, it's a Green Lantern joke.

So things have certainly been in a whirl at our house!  My dad has called me Rabbit my whole life, so he has decided that his name for Baby is going to be Dustbunny, which tickles me no end.

The plan is for me to take maternity leave in the fall.  I'd thought about trying to take a month off and getting people to sub for me, but really, that presents quite a few problems.   It's not good for my students to have something like that happen, and honestly, I can't even imagine putting a newborn into a daycare, particularly when there are so many people who aren't vaccinating their children!  (Ours will be fully vaccinated, let me assure you.)  So I want to hold off until I go back to work in the spring, and hopefully, I'll be able to coordinate my schedule so I'm home as much as possible.  I have a lot more flexibility in my schedule than DH does.  One of my colleagues suggested trying to teach night classes, if possible--then I could trade the baby off with DH when he gets off work in the evenings. 

We should be home for spring break in two weeks, which is very exciting.  We're driving up, which has turned out to be a fantastic idea, as that will mean that I can bring more Ale-8 back.  Naturally, I brought back four cartons of regular and eight of diet, and of course, I shouldn't have the diet!  The thing is, Ale-8 has really helped my morning sickness, and I simply cannot abide another regular ginger ale.  (I feel the same way about peanut butter sandwiches right now, too!)  Food aversions haven't been too bad--though DH had to stop cooking sausage in the morning and switch to bacon.  Also, this child really likes pineapple!  I also find myself seeing pictures of food--a friend had a picture of her homemade Chex mix on Facebook yesterday--and my mouth started watering.  Naturally, did I get the stuff to make it?  Of course not.  (To be fair, DH is on his diet, and I would rather not have it in the house and make him feel bad, either.  He would not begrudge me it in the slightest, but his carb cravings have started, and I feel like it would just be mean.)  (Although cereal sounds good.  Dammit, there I go again!)

As far as school goes, things are going well.  I'm on the program review committee, which is a slightly more involved task than I thought it would be, and it's something I've never done before.  I'm responsible for writing part of the report--we have to have this finished by the end of the semester--and it helps us decide how to move forward with the program, discover our strengths and weaknesses, etc.  My job is to look at curriculum mobility--how are our classes helping students in other fields, and are our students able to transfer to other schools, etc. 

My British Lit class has been a delight this week.  We read Christopher Marlowe's version of Faustus this week, and honestly, I could have just sat back and never said a word and watched the class teach itself!  They were so in to the reading, and they argued over interpretations--it was truly fantastic.  We start Hamlet this week.  (Next week is time to work on their papers and their midterm exam.)

So that's what's going on at our house!