Archive for May, 2006


It's official: the work has begun.  I'll be writing about Irish poetry from the prairie, and defend the dissertation next Spring.


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Between the two of us, Attic Man and I have gone through 250 sheets of printer paper this weekend.  I say "so far" because the day is not over yet!  And we are still working!  Happy, happy Memorial Day.

Still, it feels good to be prepared for the Prospectus meeting on Wednesday (I keep calling it a "meeting" and the committee keeps calling it a "defense") and I shan't think about anything Prospectus-related until approximately five and a half minutes before the meeting begins.  And then after the meeting! I will get to start on the dissertation.  I love that new and fresh reading phase before the real nasty work begins.  You know, the lovely exploratory phase.  I feel like I'm due after the past year.  It's tantalizing amassing a bibliography–intimidating, too–and I just can't wait to get started.

Alas, I cannot simply rest until the meeting.  Summer teaching packs a real punch: two three-hour classes a week with five-page paper assignments to grade every week between Tuesday's and Thursday's classes (don't blame me; the University's designation of a "W," or writing-intensive class, requires that students write at least 25 pages over the course of the semester.  Only have six weeks?  Too bad.).  I'm finding that the length of the class demands considerably more planning on my part.  I've taught a three-hour class before, but it was only once a week and I had a super-talkative class.  This class has less experience with literature and is less skilled (no less capable) at reading poetry and therefore needs more structure.  So yesterday I wrote ten in-depth questions for a poem they will read in pairs (I'm big on groupwork for this summer course to break up the monotony, and also because poetry-reading lends itself to paired work) and today I'm finishing up my lecture-reading of a poem.  The class is already weary of whole-class readings of poems, and we haven't been reading our texts long enough for them to have a toolbox full of poetry terms and reading strategies, so I'm going to give them an example of a good reading.  I'm trying to make it the same length as their papers.  I tell myself it's so that they will have a better idea of what a five-page reading looks like, but I think I'm also trying to get some cred with them.  I'm trying to say, I think, "look!  I am working right along with you," which is something I've always tried to do with classes but haven't up till this one.  Somehow I'm more committed and more organized, for which I'm very proud, even though I'm unsure of what has brought it one.  Oh, heck.  Might as well blame it on the wonders of the second tri.

Tonight I'm also going to try to plan Thursday's class so I don't have to worry about it on Wednesday (and I will be grading 16 papers then, anyway, before and after my meeting).  I have my first Prenatal Yoga class on Wednesday night and I don't want anything hanging over my head (except for my feet, of course!).

I am missing the nice day and that makes me sad, as we have little sun in Pittsburgh as a rule.  Attic Man is out on the deck with the dogs and his laptop so he isn't missing anything.  I go out there anytime I have reading to do, despite the fact that our deck chair is charged so magnificently that I shock the dogs everytime I bend over to tenderly stroke one of their ears.  This weekend, though I have been mostly trapped inside.  Stinks.

Hope your holiday is wonderful— 

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When we sat down this morning to do the calculations, Attic Man and I discovered that this is the first weekend we’ve had together in five weeks. And honestly, it feels like a vacation. Yesterday morning I got up and made pancakes while he was in the shower and finished off the meal with fruit salad and scrambled eggs. Then we commenced to his college library to work all day. He got through several years of microfiche for his thesis, and I got both Prospectus and class prep work done. I no longer feel panicked about the Prospectus meeting on Wednesday. Having work hanging over your head is no good. We lunched downtown on cheap Chinese food. It was good. When we returned Attic Man kicked off the barbeque season while I read my breastfeeding book and we settled down to watch Field of Dreams. I made Overwhelmed’s fabulous cheddar muffins* with whole wheat flour and they were pretty good. This morning after sleeping late and watching some good HGTV I bathed the dogs. I’ll get back to work this afternoon.

I find myself really looking forward to weekends with kids. It will be fun to make pancakes for them on Saturday mornings and to just enjoy being together as a family. We’re ready for that. I think I’m finally ready for Iowa, too.

*sorry there’s no link–no tool bar today on WP. you can click on her name in the comments of old posts.

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The other day, as I was dressing to leave for Virginia Beach and feeling self-conscious about whether or not to wear full-fledged maternity clothes when I am merely chubby, I complained to Attic Man, "Sheesh. They really should not make maternity clothes out of 100% cotton."

Attic Man looked at me, gave me a long blink and said, "Darling, is it possible that instead of it shrinking you are growing?"

I wore the shirt.


Last night as we were all settling in to sleep Lenny turned around four times, and, realizing that he had forgotten the rules, stopped and turned in the opposite direction once before plopping down for the night.  Some days I would like to eat him, he's so cute.

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Wednesday afternoon I started crying. Hard. I cried because Lenny was in the sink drinking the soapy water out of a pot and because Heidi pooped in the living room (rainy days are hard on their housetraining). I cried because I was stuck on a chapter description in my Prospectus. I cried because I was lonely. I cried because the house was so quiet and so dirty.

In reality I was famished. The first trimester has been all about sleep. The problem with sleeping ten to twelve hours is that you end up going fifteen to sixteen hours without eating. Cramming six meals into about nine hours is quite the feat. Anyway, my nibblings hadn't amounted to much, apparently, and suddenly I was ravenously hungry.

For reasons I didn't understand until the day was over, all I wanted to do was go to the mall. The mall! I hate the mall, that repository of sinful materialism and adolescent vapidity. But the pretty colors! and the people! I hadn't seen a person all day. And I wanted a pedicure.

I figured I'd be inspired on my way to the mall, and indeed as I reached the bottom of the hill approaching the hideous commercial stretch of McKnight Road I saw it: Red Lobster. Cheddar Bay Biscuits. It didn't matter that their entrees are priced at wunderbar and plated at so-so. I needed the biscuits in the same manner that I used to need McNuggets as a six-year-old already addicted to fast food, despite careful parenting. The Snapper, I explained to myself as I pulled in, needed them biscuits.

The waitress was so, so nice.  She brought me food.  She refilled my water.  She smiled at me.  Just as I finished the last bite of salad she brought me me entree, oozing with creamy goodness.  And as I was clogging those last arteries that remained free and clear after the biscuits with the last few bites of white pasta drenched in cream sauce, she asked if I'd like dessert.  Would I ever!  I asked for key lime pie, which arrived promptly with the check.  The entire experience took one half-hour.  If you are well acquainted with my eating habits, as is Zerolio, you will marvel at the fact that I was able to feast in less than forty-five.  I tipped generously, for good service but mainly because this nice woman, Trish, was nice to me.  I was also finally sated by a good hot meal and emotionally stable for the first time that day.

On to the mall and my pedicure.  There may have been stores and fitting rooms in between; I don't remember.  I just remember sitting high upon a message-chair throne with my feet in rolling warm water, being touched.  Being paid attention.  Nary a word passed between me and the efficient Lena, and although she was being paid, I was grateful for her care.  I don't know if she felt that she had provided me a spiritual service, and in fact an eleven-hour day of massaging, scrubbing, buffing, and painting toes probably doesn't lend itself to quiet reflection on the dignity of pedicuring.  Being tired, pregnant, lonely, overwhelmed, I was grateful.

When I related this story to my friend A, she laughed long and hard and said I had to blog about it.  She was also concerned that every day for the past week she has thought I was still annoyed.  I am in fact still annoyed in general at several items on the list, but annoyance is no longer my dominant mental state.  That particular post was written shortly before I realized, on another day, that I was in need of a nap and a hot meal.

These days the blessed second trimester is allowing me to feel good on eight or nine hours and I eat the minute I feel that the universe is sobbing or some other awful melodramatic thing that is threatening to send me over the edge of despair.  It's working.

There is also dark chocolate in my purse.
Now–thirteen papers to go, and revisions, and class planning.

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I am Annoyed

that Lenny spent 20 minutes outside, then ran into the living room to pee.

that a student complained about getting a B on her last paper.

that my regular clothes are too tight and my maternity clothes are too loose.

that I can't seem to shake this mood.

that I am not writing anything worth reading.

that all that I have to do today is in the house and I am tired of the house.

that my friend hasn't been able to bring her daughter home from Ethiopia and it is making her sad.

at money.

with my Prospectus.

at Ed Hirsch for writing great things about poetry couched in sugary language that makes me want to hurl.

that the bathroom sink is clogged and that I can't figure out how to remove the vaneer to unclog it.

that I have been blind all day to the privilege that allows me to have problems no larger than these.

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It’s Crazy

Right now we're both in school full-time and Attic Man is working full-time as well.  I'm finishing up the Prospectus, to be defended on May 31 and Attic Man is combing through reams of microfiche for his thesis.  He'll graduate in August.  We're getting ready to move.  Last weekend we traveled to attend Attic Man's sister's graduation.  This weekend we're traveling to visit a relative in Virginia Beach (yup, doing it all in one weekend…).  I just started teaching my summer course.  I'll be grading 19 five-page papers every week in addition to preparing for two three-hour classes a week.  I should also be reading for my dissertation now and also preparing an article.  Oh, and I'm preparing and eating six meals a day, which takes up more time than I initially thought it would.  And also still sleeping ten hours a night to keep the Snapper growin'.

All the stuff that's making us busy, or most of it anyway, is good.  We're moving to a place with grass where Attic Man will be able to flourish.  I'm making good progress on my degree, and my committee is enthusiastic about my dissertation ideas.  We're seeing lots of family before we leave for the midwest.  The Snapper is doing very, very well (hearing the heartbeat was way cool).  It's just so packed.  It's hard to keep a balance.  The house is always a mess and always dirty and it is driving us both crazy.

It will pass. 

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