Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sick and Tired

My daughter has now been sick for over two weeks. Week one was pretty typical kid-stuff: head cold, coughs, runny nose. Then, just as I thought she was over it, week two brought high fevers and more phlegm than any one person--especially one who has only achieved the tender age of four--could possibly produce. For the first time, I was forced to keep her home from her school for an entire week. This meant, of course, that she spent a lot of time on campus with me, in my office, or bumming around spreading germs on my colleague's desks. Even after her fevers receded, the congestion lingered on, and the last two days have been devoted almost entirely to puking up (her) and cleaning up (me) great greasy strings of a slimy substance that must have originated in her sinus cavities, but has since migrated to her stomach, where it appears to have been plotting its foray into films with names like "Slimed! It Ate Manhattan!" or "Slimed II! It Ate Russia!" or "Slimed VI! Beyond the Galaxy!"

Last night's expectorations required two complete changes of bedding, all the more irritating for my having gotten the bright idea, earlier in the day, to wash all the germy bedding and towels that were lying around. Thank the good lord and the sweet baby jesus that I happen to have inherited my mother's obsession with multiple sheets sets.

Today's coughing fits disgorged something new--pale orange slime, equally dense and malodorous, but attractively tinted by the Chee-Tos I purchased in a moment of catastrophic misjudgment and a last-ditch effort to get my child to EAT something. Anything. Please.

I am going to take her back to her school tomorrow if I have to sacrifice one of my own pets to persuade the gods not to strike me dead as the evil, selfish mother that I am.

The "tired" heading has less to do with the exhaustion brought on by 11 loads of laundry in two days than with a general discontentment and malaise that I am sure mark stage 119c of the "grief process." In my case, I am tired of my life. The job that I worked so hard to get (and which is, to be sure, an outstanding position at a very fine university with amazingly terrific colleagues) feels like an onerous burden. I am disillusioned with my students, but even more discouraged by my inability to muster much enthusiasm for my classes or my work. It feels as though this job--and my whole professorial career--was an ideal fit with the (married) life I had planned to live. I still like what I do, but the job simply cannot make up for everything else that has been lost.

These are aimless musings; I have no intention of giving up my job, or of following up on that query I sent to the Peace Corps about positions in Ghana.
At least, not yet.

But I do need to find something to get interested in, for the rest of my life.

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Saturday, September 22, 2007


Peeve Numero Uno: The new mother at my daughter's classroom who hangs around at both drop off and pick up times having long, extraordinarily intense conversations with my daughter's teacher.

Peeve Numero Dos: My daughter's teacher allowing herself to be caught up in these conversations while the usual chaos erupts around her.

Peeve Numero Tres: The other Montessori parents who not only drive ostentatiously gas-guzzling behemoths, but are so busy, busy, busy that they are on their phones before they even leave the lot, creating potentially lethal situations for those of us arriving with our children. Please, folks--give it a rest!

Bonus round, for those of you kind enough to read my ranting: My daughter has been obsessed lately with the time when we "ate cheetah." At first I thought this was a game in reference to a beloved stuffed friend. Then I thought it was omnivore confusion: she calls all cooked meat "chicken" unless it's sliced, in which case it's "turkey." Only today did she provide enough back story for me to figure out that she means...(wait for it)...Chee-tos. She's referring to a picnic lunch we had while visiting friends at the hospital some 6 months ago. Why did it take me so long to see the obvious? Because Chee-tos are the kind of crap I feed myself, not what I feed her. Wow--who knew the taste of junk food had such a half-life?


Monday, September 17, 2007

Signs o' the Times

My daughter, upon being told it is dinner time [imperiously]: "I do not wish it so!"

My daughter, making deviled eggs this weekend; "Mama, I love you." [pause] [with identical inflection] "Mama, I love these eggs."

My daughter, sitting on the floor putting on her socks and shoes before school: "Mama, I feel left out at school. Sad and left out."


Sunday, September 9, 2007

Blue Sunday

Sundays are the worst. On Saturdays, I have a manic desire to set my house to rights after the neglect of the week: water plants, do the laundry, pay and sort bills, move the moldering vegetables from the refrigerator to the combination wetlands/compost I am creating in my city-owned yardwaste bin, refresh the heavily-trafficked (emphasis on ICK) litter boxes in the basement. I can usually think of a couple of errands to get us out of the house: the farmer's market, pet store, etc.

On Sunday, however, there's precious little left, and solo parenting doesn't really allow for the long, leisurely perusal of the paper, or even for the pre-planning of the week's lessons. The parks are filled with those damn intact families, or, worse yet, with fathers out to make up for the work week by teaching their little girls to cycle, or skate, or by swinging them higher and higher until they squeal with the kind of joy and terror that only a father can evoke. There are families out for walks, families out for breakfast, and families working in their yards.

By 5 p.m., I'm tired of finding things my daughter can do to amuse herself. I'm irked by the day's accumulation of toys and art projects in the house I had just tidied up. I don't want to find us something nutritious to eat, or figure out what to put in our lunches this week. I grow weak and just want to watch one of the endless variety of home improvement/real estate shows, and have a cocktail. I just want someone to talk to who is not, god bless her, 4 3/4 years old.

I feel spoiled and sulky and lonely and bereft. I know that it's not true that everyone else in the world is happy and fulfilled and doing something fun with the people they love, but it sure looks--and feels--that way.


Saturday, September 8, 2007

Ethical Dilemma/Over the yardarm

Is it wrong to drink bourbon just because I'm too lazy to open a bottle of wine? It's Knob Creek, if that makes a difference.


Pardon my gloating

I have the best job of anyone I know--meaning, compared to all the folks I went to graduate school with, many of whom ended up places with more prestige, etc. I am teaching a full-time load this semester: one first-year writing course, with an adorable group of eager freshlings (as Mme. X calls them), a sophomore majors course, and a senior seminar course. I have a total of 42 students. Okay, maybe a 43rd, if semi-flakey girl decides to add the sophomore course against my advice (advice based on her taking too many intensive-reading courses, NOT on my desire to minimize enrollment). 42. That's a mighty reasonable number, especially when so many of us in this field have more than that in a single course.

There are many other reasons to love my job: fantastic colleagues, supportive administration, beautiful campus, kind and unpretentious students, entertaining (seriously!) committee work, upcoming sabbatical....

But today I'm delighted that I will have plenty of time to work with each of those 42 (pinches self) or even 43 students.

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Monday, September 3, 2007

AWOL Updates

1. Classes start tomorrow. I can't say that my summer was a complete waste, but it was bleak, and relatively unproductive. The novel and the marathon will be put on hold 'til my sabbatical kicks in.

2. In some fit of back-to-schoolness, i got a haircut and replaced all of my make-up, which had in many cases reached the classification of "biohazard." I think maybe I look a bit less old and strained than I did before, but it may just be that my failing eyesight renders my reflection sympathetically blurred.

3. My daughter got a train set, which she adores. When asked what the tank cars might carry, she replied, "Diet Coke and Bloody Marys." I am thrilled and horrified in pretty much equal measure.

4. (Part II on a theme) She asked me yesterday how old one "would have to be to have a beer, Mama?" I think CPS should be expecting a phonecall about the liquid aspects of my parenting.

5. It's overcast and humid here, and so I am pretending it is autumn. Back-to-school shoes are on order from Zappos, and a batch of Mme. X's Bolognese sauce is simmering on the stove. It's too warm, yet, and it won't compare to the wonderful nights we shared it at her home, but there is something comforting in a rich, dark sauce.

6. My mother came to visit, and systematically searched all the places I had dug through in my frenzied search for my wedding photos and passports. All have been found! Now I can play document-wars with the various branches of teh Federal Government.

7. I had to return a pair of shoes ordered from mega-online-merchant. Sadly, they were too small, but the online returns form had no garment-specific options under "reasons for return." I was forced to indicate instead that "the merchandise was incompatible with my existing systems," which amused me.

8. Did I mention that I have to face my students tomorrow? Whatever will I wear? Replacement/new shoes won't arrive until Weds., at least.