Archive for September, 2007

Got a call yesterday asking me to reschedule my ultrasound, since their equipment is down for the count.  So, I’m going in on Monday instead.  Three more days to fret about what they might find.

And work on my dissertation has been indefinitely postponed.  I couldn’t even tell you why; I guess it all comes down to a bad case of the spirit being willing, but the flesh being weak.  I wake up every morning with good intentions, and I even know what it is I want to be doing with it.  I’ve decided – at least provisionally – that even if I never get a teaching job again, it’s still worth my while to finish the PhD, so it’s not so much vacillation on that point.

(!!Sesame Street is doing a Law and Order parody with a muppet that’s actually a dead ringer for Richard Belzer!!!)

I think a lot of it – well, there are two things.  One is that I’m just dog-tired – not just from the pregnancy, although that’s a big source, but from the last 2+ years.  We can’t afford daycare of any kind, and this home-all-the-time business is so much more exhausting than I ever thought it would be.  I can theoretically work at my parents’ house, but it’s not entirely conducive to working.  I feel more like a mom/daughter there than a serious student.  A bourgeois concern, to be sure, and something I should probably just get over, but there it is.

The other thing is that I’m just so freaking isolated from any kind of academic community.  People warn you not to leave the fold before you’re done, and it’s good advice; we just couldn’t make it on what we were making there AND afford any kind of good childcare.  And since we did leave, I’m really floundering around out here on my own.  It makes me feel all the more divorced from what people are working on out there, and it makes me feel the better part of academically worthless to boot.  What could I possibly have to say that anyone might ever be interested in reading?  What must my advisor and committee think of me (that one bugs me more than I like to admit)?  I don’t even think about other profs in the department; the ones who knew me back when have written me off, I’m sure.


For the record, since this seems to get lost when I whine like this, I’m not talking about being worthless in a general sense – particularly not in terms of being a parent.  I know that parenting is entirely valuable work, and for the most part I think I do okay.  MM’s healthy, very happy, bright, and really, really funny (right now she’s enacting some conversation between her “Daddy” dinosaur and her “baby” dinosaur – she’s using it to figure out what happens to Daddy every morning; where he goes, what he does, etc.).  I’m just saying “worthless” in the academic/intellectual sense, since it is still a part of me, at least nominally.  I hate having this unfinished business…but I’m obviously not making big moves to get it over with, and that’s driving me nuts.

/whiny rant


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Is it just hormones?

Everything – and I mean EVERYTHING – is pissing me off lately.  I can’t read weblogs I like without getting irritated, I can’t watch TV without wanting to hurl something at the screen, and my poor, poor husband.  Right now I Do Not want to be touched – not even a little bit, not even elbow touching elbow, and he’s suffering for it.

Maybe it’s just hormones – God knows I’ve got hormones coming out my ears right now.  I do know that the no-touchee thing comes mainly from having one kid climbing on my outside, and one kid kicking the crap out of my insides, all day long.  By the end of the day (when 2.0 is revving up for a late-night romp), I just want my own body back, dammit.

But everything else – it’s all because I’m feeling kind of useless and, as a result, pretty defensive.  Everything positive that people do or say or write about their lives feels like some kind of indirect indictment of my complete inability to do anything worthwhile.  Which may have it’s basis in hormones, or even just in my substantially diminished ability to do anything, physically, of any note.  I did manage to scrub up the little bits of crap on the floor that were freaking MM out, and I even mopped after that.  The floor looks much better, although MM is still finding imaginary spiders everywhere…*sigh*.

And today is my ostensible day off.  Big plans there – drop MM off at my parents’ house, come back home, maybe sort mail and try to get my office in some semblance of order, perchance to work, and then probably crash on the couch until it’s time to pick her up.  I’d like to go get some yarn to start a couple of projects, but if I had to guess I’d say that it probably won’t happen today.

This isn’t depression.  I think it’s frustration; I’m beginning to get an inkling of some of the frustration M. experiences as a result of physical limitations.  I want to do stuff, but right now my body just doesn’t care.  I wonder if I’m ever going to have energy again…

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My big half-day

Right now, I’ve got enough energy to get something productive done for about half a day – usually the half that comes before noon (which, strictly speaking, is less than half a day, but I’m ignoring that).  After MM goes down for a nap, I become useless and remain so until I go to bed.

But since I do have a good half-day at my disposal, I’m trying to think of productive ways to use it.  Of course, the obvious thing is to work on my dissertation, but I’m having serious nesting issues right now – I just want to clean the whole damned house until it freaking sparkles.  Or at least get the crap off the floor that MM has decided is “spiders” (never mind it doesn’t move and isn’t appreciably large – if it’s dark and on the floor it’s “vewy scawy, Mommy” and capable of immobilizing her indefinitely.  If I were a quick-thinking, evil sort of mom, I’d use that to my advantage…).

I also want to shampoo the carpet.  Get some pictures hung.  Dust.  Anything but write.

In pregnancy news, well, there’s not much to report right now.  I do have a follow-up ultrasound to look at the placenta/cervix situation (and check on the heart as well, I think); I wasn’t worried about it before this week, but for some reason I’ve decided that it’s a little scary after all.  M. won’t be there this time – maybe that’s why.  I’ll be 27 weeks tomorrow – one more week to 3rd trimester.  I already look like the side of a house, and I spend most of my time really uncomfortable.  Couldn’t quite say why – I think it actually has more to do with gas than anything, but 2.0 is riding kind of low as well.  I get easily winded right now, and my overall physical fitness is currently on par with someone in a persistent vegetative state, I think (this is not an exaggeration).  I’m not proud of this, but I’m also not prepared to do much to change it at this point; my blood pressure should start heading back up any time now, and I don’t think I’m a good candidate for optimum physical fitness at present.

At any rate, next appointment (with mandatory glucose test) is next week.  I’m having to do preadmission forms for the hospital now, went through MM’s old clothes to try and cull some boy-friendly outfits (there were more than I was expecting, happily).  I should be all gender-free, boys-can-wear-pink, too, but I’m just not.

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  1. If the neighbor’s family is congregating at night, it must be Ramadan.  I think it’s kind of cool, actually; every year (well, this is year 2 of us being here, so I’m extrapolating a little) at Ramadan, all the kids and grandkids (and, I think, aunts and uncles, etc.) congregate at the house across the street at night.  There’s a mosque not a half-mile down the road from here; I don’t know if they (the men?  the family?  No idea) go there first and then meet back at the house, but the family is always there in force.  They’re nice people, as far as we know them – one of the sons invited us over for the wake they held when his father died, and we’d just moved in, and I’ve exchanged waves with an auntie or two.  Last week, another Muslim (I think) family moved in next door to them – I’m guessing Pakistani, based on clothing, but I’m not sure.  They were also decked out in their best last night when we came back from picking M. up at the station.  I can’t tell you when Easter is anymore, but I’ve got Ramadan down.
  2. We will simply never see eye-to-eye with our landlord on the plumbing issues.  We kind of think the problems have got to predate our move here, and he thinks we stand over the garbage disposal and flush a constant stream of tea leaves, potato peels, and raw rice down it.  Oh well.  We had a plumber out, he snaked the back sink, and right now the plumbing is happy.  We paid, because, apparently, this is our responsibility.  Of course, now the under-the-sink smell is back (probably nothing that gutting the kitchen and putting in non-rotting cabinets wouldn’t solve), so our little inconveniences continue.  We’re never going to get our deposit back.
  3. Still, still stalled on my dissertation.  F*** it all.
  4. The split lip is looking much better – it’s amazing how kids heal.  If it were me, I’d be laid up for a week and probably sport a permanent scar or something.  And have residual PTSD or something.  MM just brushed it off and moved on.  Of course, she’s developed a new issue – fear of spiders.  I killed one this morning and she’s been seeing them all over the house ever since (phantom spiders, of course, since there was only the one).  This is apparently karmic retribution for screaming about spiders at all hours of the night when I was a kid.
  5. Tiger’s doing well so far.  That’s my boy.
  6. No idea what to make for dinner.  I hate cooking.  I hate thinking of menus.
  7. I’m starting to get anxious about pregnancy things – some founded, some not.  The unfounded anxieties (or, rather, the ones that there’s little to be done about, so why worry) include umbilical cord accidents (always a possibility, however rare – you read about them all the time online), placental abruption (again, a possibility but nothing I can do anything about), and HELLP Syndrome (a real concern, but no more so than with MM).  The more justified ones – well, there’s just the two, really.  Maybe three.  One is this weird thing with my heart – it keeps fluttering and then pounding (or missing beats), which is very disconcerting.  When I mentioned it to the nurse practitioner at my last visit, she asked me to keep track of when it happened and call if I was concerned.  I notice that it seems to happen when I’m laying on my left side sometimes, and sometimes after I’ve eaten (especially sugary things, it seems).  I’m not concerned enough to call yet, but it’s a nagging worry.  Another is just my blood pressure, which is actually fine so far.  I expect it to start going up in the next two or three weeks, but for now it’s good.  The last is more abstract, and really falls in the unfounded category, given there’s nothing I can do about it.  But about a month and a half ago, the ballast in the fluorescent light in the laundry room burst, and we were living with the smell for several days.  My helpful father offered up the observation that he’d be more concerned about that than I was about pesticides, since there might be PCBs in the stuff.  He and M. both backed off their helpful observations about possible problems that could result from my having breathed the stuff (when I said “Do you really think I should be concerned?” they both said “No”), but not before they firmly planted that worry in my head.  So, you know, thanks guys.
  8. So that’s where my life stands.  I still don’t have much of an outside life of my own right now.  I still haven’t figured out who I am in my post-MM world, and it’s been over two years.  This is the kind of thing that happens when you have kids late in life, I guess.

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The evidence:

1. TV.  As much as I always go on about how I’m letting the TV raise MM, the truth is so much more awful.  Since I have a hard time turning the damned thing off myself, it’s on an awful lot of the time.  Programs that MM watches are (in no particular order, especially since Noggin has been changing their schedule once every two weeks lately): Oobi, Maisy, Dora, Sesame Street, Jack, Upside Down, Backyardigans, and, recently, Little Bill.  That’s four hours of children’s programming a day.  She’s two.  The American Academy of Pediatrics would have me strung up by my thumbs if they knew.

Now, for the record, these are shows that I approve of.  Yes, even Oobi (for those of you not in the know, Oobi has the lowest production values of any children’s show out there, since the main characters are hands.  But MM loves this show – she seriously identifies with Uma, the baby sister preschooler hand – and, frankly, it has its moments.  And Uma, in particular, has come in quite handy when we’ve tried to get her to, say, try new food (which features in one segment) – if Uma can try new things, the reasoning goes, so can MM.

I also keep us on a pretty strict diet of Noggin; which is to say, largely commercial-free television.  In my book, commercials are the real devil – hell, the snippet of McDonalds promotion at the beginning of Sesame Street pisses me off more than anything they slip onto Noggin (mostly Nickelodeon promos, which are also odious).  But, at the end of the day, it’s still four hours of children’s programming, and I feel very guilty about it.  Not guilty enough to turn off the TV, yet, but guilty.  And this, even though I feel, deep down, like it’s more how you allow your child to interact with screens than amount of time spent in front of them.  We sing the songs, we talk about what’s happening (she’s seen most of the episodes so many times that she knows exactly what’s coming next, but that doesn’t take away from her interest in discussing what’s going on), and she uses the shows to role-play with her own toys (seriously – she’s a pirate, she digs for buried treasure, she uses chopsticks, she’s a cowboy, she tries different food – you name it).

Still feel guilty, though.

2. I have little idea what to do with her on a day-to-day basis.  If we had the money, I’d have her in preschool now, even though she’s still a little thing.  She loves playing with other kids, she loves playing on the playground (wherever it may be) – so much so that she likes to turn her little Ikea chair over and use it as a slide (first for herself, then for all her Little People minions).  She’d love it, but we simply can’t afford preschool right now; the only one we could afford is cooperative, and she was signed up, but pregnancy and the anticipation of complications in a month or two put that on hold.

So, I’m six months pregnant, 40-going-on-41, dissertating, and I seriously don’t know what to do with her during the day.

3. She got wounded for the first time today, on my watch.  Or, rather, NOT on my watch, since I had my back turned to her when she slipped and fell right onto the corner of a wooden chest.  She now sports a pretty impressive fat lip, and I feel just terrible.  There was blood everywhere, and I had to figure out whether she had knocked out a tooth or not; looks like it was basically just a lip bang, and nothing more serious, but I didn’t like seeing all that blood coming out of my baby’s mouth.

To her credit, after understandably wailing for about four minutes, she shook herself off, sucked her thumb, and got on with life.  With repeated assurances that “I’m okay, Mommy” (which usually is code for “that really scared/bugged me, and it’s going to be with me for a little while, and I’ll probably start talking about it in a day or so, but I’ll live”).  And repeated questions: “Are you okay, Mommy?”

In the meantime, 2.0 seems to move around all the freaking time.  Which, compared to the sleeping fetus that was MM, is kind of reassuring, but it does conjure up all kinds of images of knotting umbilical cords…

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Where we were

M. was in Japan and heard about what was happening in New York while IM’ing with a friend who worked just down the road from the WTC – her building went into lockdown, she didn’t know why and told M. to turn on CNN to find out. He watched the whole thing live.

I was in VA, a little less than a month away from my departure for Japan. I slept in until 9 or so, and the first thing I did when I woke up was check in on a fan board I frequented. I found out from a friend on the ground that something was happening in NY, went downstairs, and turned on the TV. My mom and I watched the second plane hit and the towers come down while my 2 year-old niece and 1 year-old nephew played on the floor.

My dad was in Taiwan.

My sister was at work and heard the fighter jets flying out overhead.

My brother was sitting on a plane at Dulles, having just talked to a guy on the shuttle bus to the terminal who was upset about probably missing his flight – the plane that ultimately hit the Pentagon.

I remember what a beautiful day it was. I remember going with my sister-in-law’s mother to try and donate blood, and being turned away because they had more donors than they could handle. I remember watching everything happen on TV with my mother, both of us wondering what kind of news my dad had gotten and when he was going to be able to come home. I remember Aaron Brown on CNN. I remember how strange it was to go to the grocery store, maybe a day or two later, and not hear any air traffic overhead (my parents’ house and surrounding areas are on the Dulles flight path). I remember listening to military planes flying overhead at night for a week. I remember the eerie quietness of the airport terminal when I left VA for Indianapolis a month later. I remember having to get to the airport for my flight to Chicago and on to Japan at 3:00 am, and I remember having my suitcase ripped apart by security. I remember the somber, no-nonsense demeanor of the airport personnel. I remember being afraid about flying – and, for once, not because of my fear of flying itself.

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