Friday, June 30, 2006
But now, in news that really affects me and the family.
I just got a call from the community college I interviewed with. The ones that actually never called me on Thursday, thus solidifying my conviction that I was not going to be hired there- and if I was, only part-time. And, therefore, allowing me to move on and start making plans. Plans that included developing my clients in the freelance editing world. And while the inconsistent feast-or-famon lifestyle that freelancing brings has been *so* thrilling, I am both shocked and excited about the fact that I've been chosen as a finalist for the full-time job. Not *merely* a semi-finalist like Germany, but a real finalist - I'll be interviewing with the provost and president in mid-July.
So, back to the butterflies and holding breaths. Ed says to focus on the process. I will begin that focus by going to get my haircut this afternoon.
Thursday, June 29, 2006
I have an obscene amount of editing waiting for me on the kitchen table. I'm home working until Ed gets back this afternoon from T.A.ing for a graduate Ed course. He's been leaving the house at 6:30 every morning, coming home around lunch so that I can race the car into Mazer and work on this kindergarten math curriculum that is allowing us to live financially worry-free for a few months, maybe more. He then walks to pick up Jack, hoping like I do in the morning, that the nearest thunder and rainstorm holds off just long enough for us to get the kid home dry. Jack proceeds to ask "mama home?" and I swear I can hear it in Roxbury, hating that I won't be home until well after his dinner. Last night I got home a bit early- around 6:00-- Jack called out to me from the kitchen window as I parked the car, "MOM! HOME! Pawk the Cah!" We still can't tell if he's developing a Boston accent or just hasn't figured out how to say his r's. We're working on those r's.
I have roughly 175 pages of editing due Friday by 10am. Because Jack doesn't go to daycare on Fridays and Ed has his class, this means that I pretty much have today only to get the work done. So, yes, it makes perfect sense that I'm blogging. I am ready to dive in, really. One thing holding me back is that I'm waiting to hear back from Mass Bay about whether or not they want to hire me full time. I called the secretary the other day and she says I should hear by today. Even though I have completely made peace with the fact that I won't be offered the job--in part because I haven't published enough, and in part because it's incredibly more likely that they'll hire an adjunct that has worked for them for years and who they know well--I need to hear it from the Dean's voice. Because, as any of us who have been on interviews knows, until we hear the, "thanks, but we've gone with someone else," there's that tiny sliver of hope that fate stepped in, tapped the hiring committee on the shoulder and said, 'take a chance with her- she's great." That's my Disney upbringing talking. And, Working Girl. I just want to get the call, deal with the reality that I know is coming, and move on to my somewhat lucrative, if somewhat boring, freelance work (and thank God for that).
Speaking of freelance work, it's 10am now and time to get cracking. Maybe the call will come just as the humidy breaks for a moment- with thunder and lightening and a wicked downpour. Then, I can step outside for my second shower of the day, and let the rain wash away all my hopes and expectations for this job. You know, just like a movie. The symbolic washing away. I could use it as a launching place for figuring out the next step. Which, is something I should be doing regardless. It would just be nice to have a clear-cut scene ender, you know?
Sunday, June 25, 2006
Don't even think about it.
What can you say about the U.S. performance this time 'round that hasn't already been said? We played like crap some of the time, played with some heart a little bit, but mostly we looked and played like we had just pooped in our shorts and didn't want the rest of the world to know. For the first time, the U.S. entered this World Cup with some expectation of success from the folks back home. Don't laugh, this is new for us. So we wilted under the pressure of having to get good results from our group games. Oh, and while I'm thinking about it - we don't have big-high-pressure type games between World Cups. So when we get into big games, out come the "ooops-I-really-should-have-gone-before-the-game" faces from our players.
Still - there's England. Showed up at the Sport Depot (great sports bar with 80 TV's!) to watch the game with a buddy. He's a coach with the men's team at BU. You'd think he'd watch the game with a cold analytical coaching mind, but no - and this is what I love about being a fan - 15 minutes in and he's telling me we got no shot, no shot, at winning this game.
If you read the British press, you might think this is the worst England performance in decades. And they got a point. But somehow, England has found ways to get results despite playing well below their ability - it's not sexy, but very efficient, almost German-like in their efficiency, in doing just enough to get the result.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
When I wake up in the morning, I have to consciously decide that today will be backed by positive thoughts - the kind that respond to ambigous situations like a job interview with an assumption of good outcomes. This is an act of will. Because, you see, when I fall asleep at night, my mind works its ass off to return to its automatic, unconscious perspective of the world as a place where the worst is not only assumed but believed in like a religion, regardless of any evidence to the contrary. A proverbial emptying of my half-full glass. It's why I still listen to Depeche Mode's Black Celebration more frequently than a well-adjusted adult should admit.
I've recently stumbled upon another blogger, leahpeah, who though someone I probably wouldn't have a lot of patience for in "real" life, is wonderfully open and honest. She recently linked to a website, project by photographer Keith Clark, 05mm.org. He's taking pictures of people's favorite body parts. Some of the pictures include gals who are showcasing the cutting scars on their arms- a kind of "this is who I am and where I came from and I am not embarrased or ashamed of where I've come to because of it" declaration. I admire that. But, I'm drawn more to those who are proud of their "plain" ol' body parts- the ones that don't stand out in any particular way, good or bad. I like these because they are subjective, and give us a choice about how to think about them, and in turn, inspire me to remember that I have a say in how I look at everything. The project solidifies, for me anyway, just how much control we really do have in response to what life hands us.
A few weeks ago I jotted down a blog idea for my feet. I hate my feet. They are a hideous mess; each one has a bunyon the size of a small tumor. They bottoms resemble the dessert despite my nightly soak and pumice scrub fest. I was going to have Ed take pictures and display them. Part of the whole "let's focus on the worst because we know it and it's safe" philosophy that must be hardwired into my genetic code. After looking at the pictures on 05mm.org, I am reminded that perhaps I should not only think about what I like about my body, but embrace it and talk about its beauty as a fact to be proud of. So, in the spirit of near complete self-absorption, I've included a photograph of my hands. Depending on how you look at them (guess which lens I see them through), they are either nice or ugly. My palms are large, but the fingers are short and stubby, thus strangely out-of-proportion; the nails are strong, but the skin around the nails are bitten up.... wait. The nails are strong. They don't break. They hold their shape despite pretty much any surface or material they come in contact with. They are strong. Strong enough to hold a glass full of water.
On a side note, I should warn anyone from attempting to show Ed any positive perspective of USA's elimination from the World Cup. Sometimes the glass is clearly empty.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
I was writing thank-you cards to the hiring committee at Mass Bay Community College. I had my first job interview for a full-time writing instructor position today. For the last four nights I’ve been up (too late) preparing for it by researching the college, its writing courses, each of the individuals on the hiring committee. I was fairly nervous this morning, a kind of anxiety brought on by four years of applying for full time positions mixed with the sheer odds against actually getting an interview, let alone a full-time gig. I don’t know how many people applied for this job, but I do know that over 250 people applied for the full-time position at Bunker Hill (haven’t heard about that one… yet). So, I’m sure that everyone who applied is significantly qualified. I did as good as I could have, which is all I could have done. I told Ed that I got a good, comfortable vibe from everyone, but that I also sensed by the end of the interview that they had already made up their minds. Not necessarily about me, but it was almost as if all the questions and the teaching presentation was a mere formality; that they pretty much knew who they wanted. My gut tells me it’s someone else, of course, but in the far reaches of my mind I like to imagine it’s me. The odds are against that and I am very aware of that.
After a dirty (gin) martini with lunch coupled with about a solid hour of obsessing about how much better my answers to their questions could have been, I clapped my hands together, mimicking James Earl Jones’ character Thomas Mann in “Field of Dreams” after he gets out of Ray’s VW bug after the baseball game they attended and decided, the interview is over. Enough thinking. Chalk it up to good experience and a sign that I’ve inched that much further to what used to be one of my “wildly improbable dreams” (teaching full time at a community college).
We picked up Jack and went to feed the ducks at Jamaica Pond. The weather was perfect; the kind that I always imagine you get if there’s a heaven and you’re lucky enough to make it there: near 80 but a cool breeze. The air was clear, the sky was blue, the clouds were white cotton, and the ducks and geese were walking around Jack who was laughing while eating the crackers the birds were waiting patiently for: all as if to suggest that this was one of those memories that would flash in my mind moments before death.
All in all, one of the better days.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
For the last two weeks, in between editing marathons, I’ve been reading the old entries of one of my favorite blogs, Dooce. Heather Armstrong (author of Dooce) gave birth to her daughter, Leta, in February of 2004, four months before I gave birth to Jack. Incredibly, she kept up fairly regular entries, despite suffering from intense postpartum depression in the form of extreme anxiety and insomnia. In between adjusting (ha!) to parenting, she wrote some wonderfully genuine accounts of what it means to be a new parent, and in particular, a new mommy. Some of my favorites include this one (because it I had forgotten just how much mental and physical energy I used up trying to figure out how to get Jack to sleep at night, of all times) this one; (because it's classic Dooce: the plain crude reality of parenthood as seen in a proper light: hilarity and love); and this one (because Heather is so honest about her postpardum depression).
Heather also has written a monthly newsletter chronically her daughter’s growth (the links above are examples of these); a kind of on-line baby book. I do enjoy reading them, but the guilt in my complete lack of recording Jack’s growth, overwhelms my pleasure. Jack is my first kid; I should have written volumes about him for each month of his life. When I was born, my mom filled in three (3!) baby books. Her *only* jobs consisted of raising me, learning to be a mom, watch my two half-brothers and run the house. By the time she had her third child, my sister, April, she had been divorced and married to a new husband (my other daddy). April has one baby book. It has a few pages filled in here and there. That’s more than I’ve done for Jack. To be fair, he has a calendar where I wrote in a few milestones (or placed the appropriate sticker), but that’s really it. It’s miraculous that we’ve found a place to get his 2-year picture taken. I can’t help, like most moms must do at some point, compare myself to other moms. We have friends in Seattle. They have two boys. With their first, they did all the right “stuff” – got all the really nice, sophisticated black and white photos throughout the first year, actually did the hand/feet plaster thing and got it framed. I haven’t seen them since shortly after the birth of their second. I like to think the mom has only made it to the professional photographer three times in the last year (as opposed to what seemed like six times she took her first sont). We have another friend, one of Ed’s fellow teachers. She’s working on her fifteenth scrapbook for her nearly three-year-old son. Me, well, I did keep that one picture that Jack colored a few months back.
In the next few months, we have three dear friends who are giving birth. Two are having their first child; the other, her second in less than two years. Nothing leaves me quite as inarticulate as trying to express the endless compassion and humor that I wish for these women. Motherhood is a paradox. It’s hideously complicated, yet can bring a remarkable clarity to your life (maybe not right away). It is as common as the milk it produces, yet it is a distinctly elite group. Motherhood is fucking hard. And, because the grind of motherhood is so common, it is really only the moms that can fully understand this reality. I think this is the kind of emotion that caused my mom to lovingly laugh at me when I called her when Jack was six months old, when I was DONE with him using my body every other hour, as a fast food restaurant. The best word for this emotion is maternal. It is what causes me to think of my about-to-be-mommy friends on a daily basis with a tenderness reserved only for someone else who has been initiated into the insane push-and-pull love fest that is mommy-hood. I want to swoop them up in my imaginary mother-earth arms and keep them warm and secure through whhat might be some cold, insecure times.
Being a new mom is wonderful and exhilirating, but it can also be incredibly lonely and isolating. My hope is that Mary, Kateri, and Tracy will, on one of those sleepless, maddening nights, be able to somehow think about all the moms they know, especially their own, and recognize how HUGE of a sorority they belong to. And, somehow, discover the endless energy they have inside them that is the graceful mix of God and them – the mix that brought them to be the amazing women that they are. Oh, and that I love them.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Ahhh, a clean rug - a great feeling. Right up there with full-tank of gas, the shine off your tires once your car's been washed, and the moment right before you start to eat a great dinner you've made yourself. What would you call those moments if you had to give them a name?
Thankfully, Ukraine lost to Spain this morning by 4 goals, temporarily preventing the U.S. from being the worst team at the tournament this year. Dr. Z (my grad advisor) is the sport psychologist for the Spanish National Team (how an American who's considered a hockey-guy got a sports psych gig with Spain at the World Cup... is a long story) - he was at today's game. Should be fun to hear his stories - "Jesus, I mean they really get into the game over there...did you know they sing the whole game?"
In what may turn out to this World Cup's best-game-I-really-don't-care-about-but-got-sucked-in-anyway was Tunisia vs. Saudi Arabia. I know! But two late goals made it a dramatic game nonetheless.
Got to the gym again today. I'm kinda on a roll - feels good. I do that - go stretches with little to no exercise then fall into a good habit of working out. Happened in the summer of '93, winter of '95, spring of '04, and now this summer. Better enjoy while it lasts.
Watched Germany and Poland play while I was on the elliptical machine. I think ESPN has done an ok job covering the tournament this year. They still do little annoying things like show how many fouls each team has (like it matters) or the number of corners kicks - but they're trying. Showing the national anthem of both countries at the start of the game is a nice touch. ESPN explained there's always tension when these two teams play each other. They say a lot of the tension stems from the 1974 World Cup match between 'em when Poland didn't want to play the match because of the condition of the pitch and ended up losing....hmmm, not to disagree with the announcers, but I got a feeling Germany's invasion and occupation of Poland at the start of WWII might have something to do with it too.
If you hate history and soccer, you're hating this post - too bad - it's once every four years. Deal.
England plays Trindad & Tobago tomorrow morning. I'm hoping England scores so many goals Trinidad has to give back Tobago - and I'm an American, so God only knows how bad the British want to win this game and wrap up their group.
Laura's promised to post a World Cup-free blog tomorrow.
Monday, June 12, 2006
That was the response I read from an England fan after another disasterous England loss sometime ago. I always thought that was a good way to describe the feeling after a loss. What loss? Well any kind of sporting loss really - playing, coaching, watching, it doesn't matter - I feel like someone took an ice cream scooper and scooped out my insides. I got nothing left.
Man did we stink. The worst of it is we're really not that bad - American fans have a permanent inferiority complex when it comes to this sport. We really did suck, for decades - but the U.S. has really improved in the recent past, beat Portugal in the last World Cup and came damn close to beating the Germans - today proved we still have a ways to go. It didn't help that we didn't have anyone to match their 8 foot tall forwards (I'm exaggerating, but they were tall).
So today's start for the U.S. is pretty much Worst-Case-Scenario. We now have to beat Italy on Saturday to have any chance of going through to the next round. I'm not holding my breath.
I used to get really emotionally invested in these games. No really - nowadays it's harder to be like that when you're watching the game while building towers out of blocks for your son to knock down with his Thomas the Train. It helped to talk to older brother on the phone at different times throughout the match - it always helps to have someone else feel your pain.
Which brings me to my Top 5 Most Gutted After a Loss (as a fan). My day was completely ruined by watching the following games:
5. 1993 Notre Dame vs. Boston College, college football. The Irish were one game away from playing for a National Championship. I admit, I went into this game cocky. Irish fall behind by 24 points - I briefly consider laying down in front of traffic. Then the Irish come back, take the lead, then lose the game on a last second field goal.
4. 1986 World Cup Quarter-Finals - England vs. Argentina. Back then I thought Argentina's first goal had been a crime (Maradona had punched it in!) to allow - Life isn't fair! Now is realize Argentina really was the better team that day, even if Maradona was a cheating bastard. Oh, and life still isn't fair.
3. 1998 World Cup 1st Round - U.S. vs. Germany. I didn't really think we'd win, but I wanted a decent showing. I had the game on in the classroom. What really sucked was having to listen to this German exchange student tell me, "see Mister K, vee just know dee game bet-tor..." The beginning of a crappy World Cup.
2. 1994 World Cup Qualifying, England vs. Holland. Watched this game in the dorms, where shouting and cussing wasn't uncommon. England loses and fails to qualify for the World Cup. I don't go out that night.
1. 2005 Notre Dame vs. USC, college football. USC was supposed to be unbeatable. Watched this game with new neighbors, so I started the game on my best behavior. Notre Dame plays unbelieveably well, but still loses in the last seconds. I end the game sprawled on the neighbor's carpet, pounding the floor.
Friday, June 09, 2006
...to the Germans.
There's really no explaining the World Cup to someone who hasn't seen a game or a game-winning goal in extratime or simply doesn't get why soccer could be so important. If you're still scratching your head from the top paragraph it's possible you wouldn't get it. And that's, ok.
I've always seen the World Cup as a time to reflect on how life has gone the last 4 years. How different is your life, your attitudes, than they were 4 years ago? Different? If you had appeared before me in June of 2002 and explained that you were from the future and this is how the next 4 years would play out, I would have thought, "ok, hmmm, that's interesting, good to see Laura and I are going strong. A son, heh? Oh, that sounds fun, good to see we finally started crackin' on that. Boston? Why did we - oh. So don't take that teaching job then..."
This is what I'm talking about - life's twists and turns. I admit, using a sporting event to ponder your life's course would seem strange to most people - ok, a lot of people, but every four years seems as good a time as any.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
I really wish that I could just walk up to a vending maching and put in my $5 and have it produce my ticket to happiness. That would be so much easier. But, as I'm s-l-o-w-l-y learning, genuine happiness requires genuine work and commitment. Which is so frustrating, because as a kid, happiness came so easy - like that damn feather that floats around Forrest Gump at the end of the wretched movie. I just had to wake up, play, and the happiness would land on me like money landed on Mr. Gump. Turns out adult enlightenment comes when we diligently hunt for the light.
Is There A Happiness Formula?
Monday, June 05, 2006
The MFA was truly enjoyable. We nabbed an amazing parking space across the street only to encounter about four dozen grade school kids spilling down the steps waiting to get in. Apparently, it was MFA field trip day in the Boston Public School system. We squeezed past the children, paid only $15 for both of us (being a student does have a few perks), and headed into the Japanese exhibit.
I haven't been to a museum in a l-o-n-g time and I forgot just how much art can be displayed in one building. I realized, about 45 minutes into the Asian arts, that the best bet is to plan one or two exhibits to inhale fully and then skip through a handful of others; otherwise, it gets to be overwhelming. By the time we made it to the Renaissance artists, I could barely conjure up my mass-produced appreciation of Van Gogh or Monet (wow: all my notecards neglected to show those intense brush strokes). I must have read abotu 200 placards, poured over 100 paintings, studied over 50 pieces of pottery, marveled over a few Egyptian tombs, and browsed the odd assortment of dinnerware. By the way, those Greeks didn't mess around. We observed a plate depicting a man having sex with a prostitute doggy style (I am being as straightforward here as the pornographic antique). The description below read, "Man urges prostitute to hold on" (she was grabbing onto a chair, I think. The silver haired ladies in front of us seemed amused (you go, girls).
Fortunately, the Greek formal dining set wasn't the biggest impression made. The MFA holds one of the largest collections of Buddhas outside of Japan. There's a room tucked away with seven or eight different Buddhas - all at least four feet tall (about half were at least 6 feet tall). They were impressive. The room was designed to re-create the worship ambience from which the Buddhas had been removed: it was relatively small, without windows, and the only light came from small lamps highlighting the faces of the buddhas. I immediately felt as if I had stepped into a place of workship and nearly fell into reflective, prayer state. At the same time, I remembered that I was in a museum (with the notorious dishes only a few yards away). I wasn't sure it was all that appropriate - to look upon religious artifacts with curiousity. I wondered, is there a museum in Japan somewhere with a small room and in it seven various crufixes from different times and places? And, why didn't we have that in the museum? I didn't have time to thinkg about it too much; Picasso was waiting.
After hitting the aforementioned Renaissance rooms, despite my bloodsugar's severe drop, we drove the car to Comm Ave in front of BU and took the green line to downtown near the Commons where we ate lunch, walked around and enjoyed the sidewalk shows (jugglers, stand-up comedians who broke themselves out of straightjackets),We then bought some chocolate truffles like good visitors. It made us realize how little we toured Seattle when we lived there.
The weekend was as relaxed as the previous week- up until Jack threw up Sunday afternoon. And then, proceeded to throw up on our neighbor's carpets (yes, he walked a few steps after spewing milk on the red carpet in their dining room to throwing chunks on the living room capet). Before you ask why I brought a sick kid outside our home, you should know tha he didn't have a fever and was acting just fine, even eating, so we assumed he gagged on blankie at the end of his nap or something. ANYWAY, the poor guy couldn't hold anything down and ended up puking four times in three hours- the last time he upchucked a sip of water. He's doing okay now, barely eating, but nothing's coming back up. We are hoping, of course, that the flu doesn't find its way in our system, particularly because I have deadlines this week and I don't think the laptop would fare well if I kept throwing up around it to get my work in on time.
Ed starts teaching in a few weeks; I just missed the opportunity to teach an 8am class at Bunker Hill (turns out it takes me - woman with a toddler, student-husband, and one-car -- a lot longer to figure out if I can get across town that early to teach a class while Ed gets to BU at 8am and Jack to daycare than it takes other teachers. Go figure). But, I've got enough work and things will pick up again just enough so that we don't kick ourselves for being lazy bums these last two weeks.
Cheers to what seems to be the neverending fact of "things working out" and, well, working out rather well. Today.
Thursday, June 01, 2006
I'm sorry but the National Spelling Bee belongs on ESPN. Remember two years ago when the kid fainted on stage, then came to and started spelling the word? I'm not kidding. The National Spelling Bee's a contact sport, ok, between the contestant and the floor, but a contact sport nonetheless!
We turned on the TV tonight to discover the finals of the spelling bee are now on ABC - this isn't Extreme Family Home Makeover people! What's next? A Simon Cowell look-alike at the Spelling Bee, making sardonic comments after a kid misspells a word -
[in phoney English accent] I'm sorry to be laughing, but that looked like a 14-year old sack of potatoes trying to spell 'logorrhea'...