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

Monday, March 28, 2011

Off To See The Wizard

The Wizard of Oz was an annual event in our home.  Watching it reminds me of the days when certain shows were only available once per year.  The Wizard of Oz and Mighty Joe Young were Thanksgiving events.  The Ten Commandments happened only around Easter.  It's A Wonderful Life was aired the week before Christmas and Christmas Eve. Now, of course, you can watch shows and movies pretty much whenever you want.

There is still something to be said for waiting for a classic.

Tomorrow I leave for Emerald City.  After the semester I've had, I need a little trip to the wizard.  I need to believe again.

I'm going with my favorite colleagues and one of my favorite students.  There is a conference in Emerald City where  am sure I will learn new and wonderous things but more importantly I need to travel a far to realize there's no place like home.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

What I Did On My Spring Break Or The Spring Break That Wasn't

Today is the last day of my spring break.  I am not happy about this.  It is made worse by today being Daylight Savings and I've lost an hour.  Normally I either spend spring break on vacation (which means I come back rested but behind in my work) or I spend it working (which means I'm caught up--if not ahead--but tired).  This year I opted for the latter.  Unfortunately, in spite of working every single day (including both weekends) I am not caught up.  I may, in fact, be more behind than before.

It seems no one took spring break off and instead they all decided to generate work (and aggravation) that they sent to me throughout the break.  There were meetings, there were phone calls, there were emergency requests, there were large documents and they were all directed my way.  I am not happy.  I am in fact done.  Done with this semester, done with this academic year, done with drama, done with other people's agendas and petty squabbles.  It has not been pretty and it is quite likely to get uglier yet.  Luckily I did spend considerable time at the gym and took multiple tai chi and yoga classes. Therefore I am steadfast in my resolve to stay out of the fray, live in the moment, and do only what can be done.

b is traveling most weekends this spring, leaving me to my own devices.  Friday I drove down to see Angel.  His spring break was just starting and he had plans to go backpacking with friends.  I brought down a backpack, sleeping bag, and water bottles.  I also had a ton of kitchen items from friends that I thought he might want.  We had lunch and then took a walk along a greenway that was just completed behind his house.  He uses it frequently as a running path but that day we just walked it.  I love that Angel loves to walk.  It is his preferred method of transportation, as it is mine, and some of our best talks happen when we walk together.  Friday was no exception.

Today was the most beautiful day of the week.  Unfortunately I forgot about Daylight Savings Time and slept too late to make it to my yoga class.  Instead I quickly settled into a large pot of coffee and grading.  As the day wore on I didn't want to lose it completely and decided to take a bike ride.

This was my first bike ride of the season and from my new house.  I found an easy path to the nearest park.  There are plenty of biking paths in the park and I had a wonderful time.  There was a reenactment of the Revolutionary War going on throughout the park.  Between that and the beautiful day, it was quite crowded.  I'm not a big war buff or reenactment fan, so I didn't stop to take pictures.  However on the way back I passed an open cemetery.  I am a big fan of cemeteries, so I wandered around and took a few photos.  

Now it is back to grading and preparing for the week I have ahead of me.  

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Family Arrangements

For some reason (perhaps it was all the wedding and marriage talk going on around here) I recently realized that I am the only person in my family to have (technically) gotten divorced.  My mother did leave my father when I was seven but never bothered to make it legal.  She had no intention of marrying again (and although she has had several long term relationships, she hasn't remarried to this date) and then he died nine years later.  This left her a widow, something she didn't realize until she started collecting social security many years later.  As luck would have it, by not filing for divorce she now has bigger monthly checks.

Neither of my grandparents divorced or separated (although one pair probably should have) and none of my sisters have gotten a divorce.  So currently, I stand alone (and hope I remain that way, of course).

Today I ran across these statistics on step-families.  It made me realize, all over again, that I don't have any step-family members.  I did have a step-son during my first marriage but since that marriage is dissolved the relationship no longer exists (legally or emotionally; he is also my age so it never felt like a stepmother-son relationship, more like an incredibly awkward and inappropriate sibling relationship).  Angel has two step-parents, a biological half-brother, an adopted half-brother, and a step-sister.  b, of course, has a step-son but no other step-relatives as his parents never divorced either.  However his brother has twice, so that must make up for something.  Pumpkin takes the cake.  She has an adopted father, step-mother, one biological half-sister, and six other siblings that have no biological ties to her but are some form of half-step-adopted sibling.  (No one outside of the family can actually keep track of them all).  Now she also has me and b as emotionally-adopted parents.*

Of course, as the data show, these arrangements are all fairly frequent these days and will probably continue to grow.  What I find strange is that my family-of-origin appears so conservative when it comes to family configurations.  It is not like I have some la-de-da happy childhood to thank for it. In fact one could say that we took the 'fun' right out of dysfunctional when it came to family togetherness. So what is missing from this equation?  Unmarried partnerships.  We've had several of those in my family.  I wonder where they get figured into the data.

A major problem with doing research with families (as I do) is figuring out how to define a family. This becomes even harder when you consider the impact of time, as families change frequently. We decide within our families who we consider to be a family member and even then we may not all agree.  I found it interesting that Pew made the connection with obligations.  I tend to see it the other way around.  Those I consider myself obligated to, those I have chosen to be responsible for and to allow to be responsible for me, are my family members.  Blood and legal documents seem so much less significant.

*Pumpkin called as I was finishing up this post to invite us to an engagement party with both her and BB's parents.  We started talking about the post and she asked where in-laws fit in (no surprise since in-laws are very much on her mind these days).  It was a good question but probably deserving of its own post.