Sunday, January 11, 2009


Today I am feeling happy and optimistic. Deeper down, I am also feeling a little anxious and guilty. The guilt is because I have a billion things to do and I should be spending my spare time catching up in work rather than blogging. But I can suppress that, because this isn't really spare time. This is laundry folding time. So there.

I am feeling happy and optimistic because my world is settling down and organizing itself and I can almost expect a day or two ahead to work out as planned. That hasn't been the case for so long. So long. Over four months.

Just for fun, let's review those past four months.

First, I had to leave my husband in a foreign country for a few weeks to start a new job. I waited until the last possible minute to move, so I wouldn't be slammed by taxes in two countries. I moved by myself with a four year old -- 20 straight hours of travel time with just him and me and six huge bags.

The house I moved into was barely livable, only having plumbing and electricity because my wonderful mother in law tracked down a plumber and electrician to fix the kitchen the day before my arrival. The first few days in my new job were filled with useless meetings, while my son had no reasonable childcare and my house was in pieces and my living room was full of boxes.

I hired a nanny with experience with elementary ed, who had lots of great ideas for kids Jonathan's age. She called in sick for her entire first week of work. My husband arrived in the US to start working remotely, but the internet and phone weren't fixed yet. A week later I had to leave them all and fly to Germany for a conference and tax purposes. Two days after my return the dentist told me I needed serious work. At the end of that week a select group of my students -- just the ones in a "special" program -- failed their first exam. I sent them an email saying they needed to shape up, and I suspected their "special" program was failing them and maybe they should try some time away from it. By that afternoon my email had been forwarded to all the "special" people, and the assistant chair was in my office telling me that the "special" people wanted my head.

Which puts us nearly into November. During the rest of October, the nanny used up half again of all her sick days. I suffered from a couple of severe migraines. Our replacement contractor stopped showing up to finish the house, although little by little we had gotten working bathrooms and basement and even a porch. Weekends were spent trying to juggle catching up with extended family obligations and house projects and eternal unpacking. I went in for my serious dental work, and the hygienist wondered why my gums were bleeding. Perhaps I was feeling some stress in my life? I almost started crying in the chair with the drool sucker and seven metal implements stuck in my mouth. Stress was making my gums bleed too?

In November, the "special" program called me in to join a useless meeting, and told me at the end that it wasn't their fault all their students were failing. They just happened to attract failures of students. Yeah right. For the students' sake, I am not going to buy that.

The nanny was not working out. We were hoping things would get better, and trying to give her the benefit of the doubt, but in early November something happened that made us realize we needed new childcare as soon as possible. Another weekend was spent scrambling looking for a good place for Jonathan. Then the next week was spent juggling two full time jobs and no care for a sweet, intelligent little boy.

Where are we now? That same week, a problem was leaked on the common exam I gave to my students. Was it my students? We had discussed a similar problem in class. It came out that an unnamed professor had been too lenient with a review. Was it me? Because we discussed a similar problem in class? Maybe the assistant chair would show up again in my office. (No, it wasn't me, but I feel sorry for my students who will never ever get to see similar problems to exam problems again.)

Thanksgiving, followed by me hosting a visitor for work. The Friday of his visit, Jonathan's school was canceled, and again we had to scramble to find help. Then the snow started, and didn't stop. Lots and lots of snow. Finals week came and went in snow. The roads got snow packed. I lived in fear of driving to and from school. I had to stop driving to and from school. My catch up days after the final for work became childcare days. Snow days.

Family in town. Christmas worries. More snow. Missed extended family obligations. Missed work obligations. Hosting visitors. More snow. The end of December, with only a couple days left to prepare classes, I found myself locked out of my building. My parking permit had expired and I couldn't get a new one. Another visitor for work was coming for a week. And my frustration runneth over.

January now. Last week was the first week of classes. I had a work visitor using up all the time I wasn't in the classroom. I forgot to show up for my own office hours. I didn't cover enough material. And I got lost in my own graduate course while teaching. All in the first week.

It has been a long four months. But the visitor is gone, and we probably will get another paper written, which is my ticket to tenure, thanks to his visit. The sun is shining. I have a whole weekend before I have to suffer the consequences of being behind in the rest of my work. I love my husband. I love my son. My house is now quite nice. My world is at peace.

Today, I am happy and optimistic.

The next four months can't be any worse.


Mark and Emily said...

Thank goodness it's a new year. With that comes new hope, optimism, and...who knows, the rest will fall into place!
Love you

Letterpress said...

Loved this post, too. I think it's good to have in writing all the ick things in a time span. Because the next time you have an Ick Experience, you can compare them and decide which was truly the worst. Yours sounds exhausting--you have more stamina than I. And brains, but that goes without saying.

I can relate to the crying in the professional's office. That happened to me last Jan, when the Dr. asked, anything extra causing you stress? And the dam broke.

I'm better now, and it sounds like you are too.
Happy New Year,

Tiffany said...

Oh my, what a whirlwind of stress. And I can certainly sympathize with the childcare woes. I had so many over the years and I can still bring instantaneous tears to my eyes at the thought of them.

Here's to brighter days in '09!

Equinox said...

"They just happen to attract failures of students" ? And was that said, and expected to be taken, with a straight face? Hmmm . . .

So glad to hear you are happy and content! Love those times!