If you see a whole thing - it seems that it's always beautiful. Planets, lives... But up close a world's all dirt and rocks. And day to day, life's a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern. - Ursula K. LeGuin

Friday, April 30, 2010

What I'm Doing When I'm Not Writing My Grant

  • Reviewing other people's work
  • Having lunch out with b
  • Filling out my annual report (and realizing I did a lot more this year than I thought)
  • Deflating my balance ball/office chair so we can return it to the store
  • Going to the library for an early start on next year's syllabus
  • Following interesting blog conversations on mothering, feminism and power. Check them out.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

RBOC: Last Week of Classes Edition

  • I taught my last class of the semester on Tuesday night. They were a great group and I'm sorry to see them go.
  • I'm actually kind of sorry to see the semester go. I only had to teach one class and it was one I've taught several times before. I know I'm not going to get such a light teaching load again in a very long time.
  • This semester was also chock-filled with drama and I'm not sorry to see that go.
  • Unfortunately I don't think its going anywhere anytime soon.
  • I was in my office with my door open for a little over 2 hours this afternoon. In that time I got 7 "visitors." Only three of them were invited. Not that I wasn't happy to see the others but really this is why I work at home or with the door closed.
  • I've been using an exercise ball as a chair at work and at home the entire semester. This week my work ball sprung a slow leak.
  • Students like to buy me food (and sometimes coffee). I'm not really sure why that is. Trust me I look well-fed.
  • This is also the last week of my Unravelling class. It was an interesting experience and I'm glad I did it. I'm toying with the idea of another photography ecourse but once that is more focused on technique. Now that I've gotten more comfortable with the idea of taking photographs, I'd like to know more about what I'm doing.
  • I'm also toying with the idea of auditing an advanced statistics course next spring. This is not as much fun but I think it may be necessary. There is a statistical technique that was not taught when I was in graduate school but is now routinely taught. The questions I want to ask can't be answered without this technique.
  • Last year I thought I would take it super-easy this summer, since it would be my post-tenure summer, but now it looks like I'll be crazy busy at least until July.
  • BTW, the tenure letter finally arrived.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Seeking Help

I never cease to be amazed at the difficulty I have asking for help. I know it is a huge stumbling block for me, both in my career and personal life. I don't know why I hate it so much but I will do anything to avoid it, even when I know ultimately I can't.

I just spend two days procrastinating because the only next logical step for my grant application was to ask for internal and external reviews. I get asked to review work all the time. I know it is a given in academia and that people generally do it if they can. No one likes being pressed into service when we all have our own work to do, but we all do it. But it took everything I had to compose the emails and then hit send.


At least its done. Now the worst case scenario is they say no and I'll have to find other people to ask.*

*Actually the worst case scenario is they say yes but don't do it and then I have to nag them.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Camping Interlude

Last month b and I realized that between both of our schedules we had not spent more than a day together (and usually it was an errand day) in over a month and we were unlikely to do so again before the end of the semester. So he put in for 2 days off in the middle of this week and I carefully guarded those two days on my calendar.

b rigs the tarp as I watch from inside the tent.

With only 48 hours to call our own we decided not to do the "longer drive-more gear" paddling version of camping and instead we went to our favorite nearby campsite. This spot is our home-away-from-home and where we sometimes do Thanksgiving. It is only a 20 minute drive and in the middle of the week the tent sites are pretty much empty.

We did almost all the prep the morning we left, including buying some yummy food at our local gourmet supermarket. We also finally bought new camping chairs. Then b loaded up the car, I grabbed Pupzilla and off we went.

I get some fiction writing done with Pupzilla by my side.

It was an overcast day and we got a little bit of rain passing through. We stayed warm and dry and soon the sun was shining. Our camping trips usually revolve around food and this one was no different. b cooked us scallops, cheesy potatoes and string beans for dinner the first night; an eggbake for breakfast in the morning; and lamb stew on the last night.

b prepared a lovely feast for two.

It was a relaxing trip. We spent most of our time reading trashy sci-fi novels and staring at the fire. We didn't even talk as much as we usually do but that was fine by us. Sometimes you just need to shut it all off.

Pupzilla keeps an eye out for intruders.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Teaching Feminism

Angel is taking his first "Gender and..." course this semester. The class meets on Tuesday nights. I'm teaching my "Gender and...." course this semester. My course meets on Tuesday nights. We're in completely different fields and I'm teaching a graduate level course but we've swapped stories a few times. Its been interesting to hear his perspective--as a student, as a man, as my son. I read a draft of his final paper and enjoyed it immensely. Not only is he developing as a writer but it involved his first stint at research and he had some good insights.

Today he called to tell me something he learned in class last night that he thought I would find interesting. It seems his teacher was covering feminism and Angel was shocked to find out that feminists are portrayed negatively by much of society. She showed them clips of people describing feminists and told them a personal anecdote about being left at the table and stuck with the bill on a dinner date after disclosing she was a feminist. Angel has since then polled some of his female friends to see if they identify as feminist and has again been shocked and a bit dismayed upon hearing their reactions. Now Angel is the sole male member of the only feminist organization on his campus and is close friends with the president but I don't think he was polling those friends. I believe he was talking about his sorority sisters. He goes to a pretty conservative school so he heard some harsh reactions.

I'm not quite sure what to make of it all. Of course I am thrilled that he is enjoying the class so much; that he is interested enough to talk about it with others; and that he finds it so hard to understand why feminists have a bad rap. What I don't really get is how he managed to reach the age of 20 without learning of it before. I'm not sure if it is a good thing or a bad thing (and probably it is neither) that he's been sheltered from this knowledge his whole life. He grew up in a very liberal environment. He grew up the son of a feminist mother who hangs with a feminist crowd and honestly I've received very little flak over my lifetime on my feminist positions. So I guess he has had very few opportunities to learn about it.

It does make me think about what my students (including the undergraduate 'Women and...' course I teach in the fall) and what bells I may be ringing in their heads. The longer I teach the more I realize how much I incorrectly assume something is general knowledge. I think this happens the most when I "teach feminism."

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Hike Built For Two

b went to some paddling extravaganza this weekend, leaving Pupzilla and I to fend for ourselves. Today was an amazingly beautiful day and I thought a hike on one of our favorite trails was in order. One of the things I really love about SouthLite is the number of greenways, trails, and paths that run through the city. In about 15 minutes you can be on a very lovely path through the woods and around the lakes.

Our hike was postponed slightly as Pumpkin and BB decided to drop by for lunch. One of Pumpkin's family members passed away this week and the viewing was today with the funeral tomorrow. This is a distant family member for Pumpkin so she is not grieving but other family members are and she is anxious to support them. I fed them leftovers and we talked a bit about funerals (this is the first one for both of them). They then changed into more appropriate attire. BB had the suit he wore to his high school prom and he has not worn it since. I think you see where this is going. He looked particularly uncomfortable as he left, especially since I had given him a rather generous helping of mac & cheese.

So our hike occurred in the afternoon. Luckily the day was cool enough that this was not a problem for Pupzilla. The trail I chose is not very hilly so that helped too.

Pupzilla waits patiently while I take her picture before we start our hike.

The beginning of the trail goes through an open field.

Pupzilla decided she needed to roll in the dried grass.

Luckily the path quickly turns wooded.

The trail goes along a lake.

Pupzilla does her version of a swim.

We walk 0n dirt.

We walk over bridges.

We walked on walkways.

Puppy got tired from so much walking but she soldiered on.

We passed big houses.

[BTW, I don't get the big house appeal. This house looks as big as some apartment buildings I've lived in. What do you do with all that space and how do you keep it clean?]

We saw wildlife

And more wildlife.

But the only flowers we saw were these little buttercups

We realized the world can be beautiful when you look at it from the top...

...or the bottom.

All hail the mighty Pupzilla.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Blog Explosion

I think most of you know that the infamous Drax is my BIL. He's been doing this blog thing for a while now and I always have a good time when I head over there. Lately there's been a lot of great visuals and I usually find some really cool sites through him.

Now it seems more of my family members are getting into the mix. My very own b has started a blog. b's passion is the outdoors generally and more specifically it is sea-kayaking. He's an instructor and leads people on sea-kayaking trips in the wilds of Alaska whenever he can. He's been writing a book (well really several books but only one is relevant to his blog) on paddling and has decided to start a blog that focuses on kayak instruction that incorporates one of his other passions...videos. If you've never paddled you may want to try it as its loads of fun. And if you do paddle but would like to improve your stroke my b is your man (well he's my man but I loan him out for paddle instruction purposes).

If that's not enough, today I found out that one of my sisters has started a blog devoted to her love of pugs generally and her love of her pug, Pablo, in particular. Pablo is one adorable pug and my sister is a little overboard with her infatuation with him...but hey don't we all love our puppies a little too much? She is also a children's book writer/editor and I don't know if she'll be including any of that on the blog but she is really quite good so no matter what she writes about I enjoy reading it.

b's big sister has been blogging for many years now. She's a pro and is one of the first people I started reading back in my pre-blogging days. She cracks me up and I think if you head on over there you'll soon be hooked.

Who knows what member of my wild and wacky family will start blogging next.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Different Kind of Day

You know those days where every little thing goes wrong? Maybe not major wrong but wrong enough that you end up saying to someone (or many people) "It's just that kind of day." Sometimes you may even say "it's just that kind of week/month/semester."

Well today was not like that. Today was the opposite. Today was the kind of day where every little thing went right. Everything clicked. It was not a major day in any way at all but it was a damn good day.

Today I not only worked at home but I knew there was absolutely no reason to be back in the office until Tuesday. Today I got to take a tai chi class and my favorite yoga class. Today I worked on a new grant and while I only wrote a page, it was a very important page. Today it was a little sunny and warm in the morning, breezy with a small shower in the afternoon (while I was working and not traveling), and now I'm sitting in bed with a glass of wine and listening to a rain storm outside of my window. Today I played "fetch, chase, tug-of-war" with Pupzilla. Today I ate the last of the delicious oxtail stew for lunch (ok maybe NOT the best idea before yoga, but still delicious). Today my husband asked me to go on a date and we went to my favorite upscale bar. Today I got a call from Angel and Pumpkin. Today I had a pleasant conversation with my ex-husband. Today I drove around in my car with the windows rolled down listening to my new favorite playlist. Today rocked.

So sometimes you can't help but say "it's just one of those days" but today I'm saying "it's one of those days."

Monday, April 5, 2010

From The Mixed-Up Files....

I was perusing my old self-assessment files again (a strange and dirty habit, I suppose) and found a mission statement from 2004. I think I was fantasizing about starting a business. I must have read about mission statements and decided I needed to write one for my life. Here it is:

Mission Statement

The mission of Brigindo is to nurture and develop loving relationships with friends, family members, and colleagues by actively listening to, participating in, and experiencing their daily lives; to pursue a personal lifestyle that is balanced with the needs of the environment and the needs of society; to continually seek out and engage in activities that enhance her own growth and wellness; and to enjoy the moments.

While I certainly could do better on all fronts (especially the environmental), overall I think I'm fulfilling my mission.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Sunday

We don't really celebrate Easter in the House of Dirt and Rocks but b and I had a lovely day nonetheless. We spent it quietly doing the things we enjoy doing...being together and working on assorted projects.

In the middle of the day I took Pupzilla for our Sunday afternoon walk. This time it was much warmer and the daffodils were mostly gone but there were plenty of other spring colors to see.

We also saw lots of tulips.

And then Pupzilla got very hot...

and had to take a dip.

We saw this guy leaning up against a tree.

And this guy swimming in the creek.

Then we headed back home. Pupzilla was walking very slowly and I was taking pictures and listening to my iPod when b drove up behind us. It seems we were taking so long that he was worried Pupzilla couldn't make it (she is not a hot weather dog and fades as soon as the temperature goes above 65). He drove us over to get some ice coffee (Pupzilla got a cold glass of water) and then we all went home.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Whirlwind of Children

The past 24 hours have seen my children come and gone. Currently the house is empty. I have oxtail stew simmering on the stove, my puppy at my feet, and I've spent the afternoon playing with images and Photoshop.

Pumpkin arrived first. She is up for the weekend and trying to see everyone she loves and misses. She came by our house on Friday afternoon and we chatted and then shopped for dinner. We picked b up at his job and then he made us an amazing dinner. It was Pumpkin's choice: chicken marsala but he also threw in some home-made bruschetta for an appetizer. Pumpkin stayed and entertained us until it was time for her to go out with her friends.

Angel showed up at around midnight. He drove up after he got out of work. I made up a bed and then sat up talking with him for another hour. This morning b cooked us all a yummy egg breakfast and the two of them packed the last of his belongings into his car. b is an amazing packer and can get just about anything on a car roof. Angel drove off at around 1 pm with a queen mattress and frame strapped to the roof of his little Nissan.

They are both gone now but with promises of future visits. Pumpkin is coming back up next weekend for a haircut and we are trying to schedule a special mother-daughter weekend at her house. Angel wants b and I to come down and see his new place. He will also be coming up for my birthday/mothers' day weekend.

They are out of the house but I've heard from both of them several times this afternoon. Pumpkin was shopping and taking her little sister ice-skating and just wanted to chat in between. Angel arrived safely home and promptly headed out to Ikea with his roommates to buy furniture. We had to negotiate prices and banking transfers over the phone. First purchases for first apartments are very exciting.

They are gone. The house is quiet. I have my projects and my work to amuse me while b works late and tomorrow we have a lovely day planned.

At the moment that feels like enough.

Friday, April 2, 2010

It's All Over Except For The Certified Letter

Wednesday I got the notification that my tenure decision has sailed through the Provost and the Chancellor. All that has to happen now is for the Board of Trustees to rubber-stamp it and send me the official notification--through certified mail. That should happen sometime this month.

The tenure process is so long and drawn out that each milestone seems uneventful. I barely mustered a smile when I read the email (it didn't help that I was courting a migraine). However it seems this particular milestone is the one that "counts." The head of my department send an email to all faculty stating that both myself and my colleague are now tenured. I've been congratulated several times over--through email and in person--ever since.

Don't get me wrong, it is great to have job security (especially in today's climate) and to have the support of my colleagues. I treasure both and I love my job but the news is anti-climatic and it is hard to celebrate. My life is no different from one day to the next. It feels less like an event has happened and more like an event has been avoided. Nonevents (not losing your job) are hard to celebrate.

It will be interesting to see how much and in what ways tenure makes a difference in my life. I do believe it will, as I have seen it with others, but I don't think it affects you the way you think it will when you are working towards getting it.

In other news, Angel is supposed to be coming tomorrow to move out the last of his possessions. So April begins with me officially becoming an empty-nester with tenure. It seems like I should now have enough time to do something really remarkable. Is it wrong that all I feel like doing is lying in the sun with a Guinness and my hubby?