Category Archives: Personal

Too Much To Do. Not Enough Time To Do It.

I swear I am always finding myself with too much to do and not enough time to do it in. If I ever catch up during the school year, it will be a mighty miracle. I get behind shortly after the school year starts, spend Winter Break catching up with stuff I should already have finished, and then careen toward summer, hoping to find some time for rest during those couple of months. Rest, of course, equals mental rest, because summer is time for physical labor. It feels good to work in the hot sun. Right now it would feel good to run, even one mile! Once I get this little bit of work I am working on finished for tomorrow and Friday, I get a bit of reprieve over Thanksgiving Break. Then I only have to work on my school stuff, and I don’t have to work on grading anything! Wait, I will Burris reflections to grade. Damn. I always get prematurely excited.

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Exercise: walked the dogs 3 miles, rode my bike to Burris from RB then home

Food: banana, juice, small hot chocolate, Clif bar, apple, bun, tea, pizza, a few chocolates

Subbing. Conferences of All Sorts. Writing.

I am substituting for a friend right now and a few of her students are sitting up in the corner, supposedly reading, but really they are watching videos or listening to something on someone’s iPod. They don’t think I can see what they are doing, but I can see them laughing, and the last time I checked, Of Mice and Men wasn’t a funny book. Maybe I just failed to see the humor in it. Maybe somehow these two students have unlocked the secret to the mystery within, which I was unable to find. Another student is sitting in his desk with his head down pretending to read but trying harder to sleep, but the one who is sound asleep in the middle of the floor takes the cake. The rest of them, diligent as can be, are using this time to their advantage to read the book. Two of them took it home last night, read it all, and are already working on their essays. One of the over-achievers just came back to the room from the library, where he is working on his essay, to ask the other over-achiever a question. This kid is young, too young for high school, as is evidenced by the fact that he just skipped, like the child he is, back to the library. But he’s smart so he’s here.

When I was in high school, I would have been sitting in the corner watching the iPod. Why, then, am I so hard on students who act like I did when I was younger? I do it to my college students, too. If someone had told me that I had a free pass to miss class because of the flu, I would have missed as much as possible, saying, “Peace out until they lift this new policy.” I would have quit class, done my homework from home, and come on the last day to turn it in, all the while claiming I had the swine flu. For. A. Really. Long. Time. I wonder why, now as an adult, this behavior irritates me so much. I have come to the conclusion that it irritates me because I am grown, so I can no longer get away with it. I have to work and do things like write conference papers.

I leave in about fifteen minutes for a conference. My paper is still not finished. I am not saying this to brag, as undoubtedly some people who read this will misconstrue, but I say this because it scares the shit out of me that I will not get it finished before I am supposed to present it. I try to act nonchalant about my last-minute trysts with Microsoft Word, research, and my ideas, but each time this happens—this time not because I procrastinated, but because I literally did not have time to write it—it strengthens the fear in me that I will one day be discovered as the woman who can’t do it, who doesn’t quite measure up, and who simply doesn’t belong in academia.

This is not self-debasement or a thinly veiled plea for self-pity. Instead, this is simply how I feel about my inability to get things finished in a timely fashion. Oh, I do try to play it off as this quirky skill I have for procrastinating until the last possible minute and then pulling something out of my ass that is passable, half-way intelligent, and not plain crap. I might even laugh about it or pretend I function best this way. It isn’t funny, and I am not proud that I am a woman who writes her conference papers at the last minute. I would vow to change this behavior but I know it won’t be easy to change. As I said, it isn’t like I just put it off. I simply didn’t have time to finish it. Now I am putting it off.

I think writing gets easier the more I write. I don’t write academically everyday, but I do try to do some type of writing each day, so I think it gets less difficult to try to synthesize ideas into a cohesive presentation or paper. It doesn’t matter how easy it gets to put ideas together, it still takes time to put them down in print. Now I will go finish putting them in print. Yes, I am almost finished with it.

A New Year: Starting Now

Most people I have talked to chose to start their New Year’s resolutions today.

Better diet? Begin on Monday. Although, I have heard statistically that Tuesday and Wednesday are the best days to start  new lifestyle trends. We seem to stick to them more if we don’t start them when we start our week. Maybe our minds trick our bodies into submission. Maybe our bodies think that we are serious if we start in the middle of the week.

More exercise? Start today. The training plans for the Indy-Mini even begin today. With a day of rest. What type of training plan begins with a day of rest? I suppose since that is my resolution, I should do what it says. I don’t mind a day of rest. I am taking today as a day of rest to get the plan and my classes entered into my calendar for the semester. I am moving the plan around so that Sunday is my long-run day. I just come home from church and take a nap anyway. Why shouldn’t I use that time to run instead?

Read the bible? Apparently, reading the bible is a pretty popular New Year’s resolution, too. I have at least three bibles that have “Read Through the Bible in a Year” plans in them, and they all begin on January first with Genesis 1:1: “When God began to create heaven and earth…” And, they all end on December 31 with Revalation 22:21: “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.” I suppose people think what a better way to spend a year than reading the bible from cover to cover.

Some resolutions are so common that you can find lists of the top ten that Americans make each year. Amazon even has their own list, complete with items to purchase to help people achieve those goals. Amazingly, their list includes items for sale under the category: Get your finances in order. The humor in this, I think, is self-explanatory.  The lists seem to jive with the resolutions I hear my friends making. I still wonder why we find it necessary to make the same resolutions year after year. I do it, too. I am not finger pointing.

Today, I am looking at spending the day reading essays and rating them based on their creativity, whatever that means. I am going to have coffee with a friend. I am going to enter my life for the semester into an electronic application called iCal. And, I am going to rest because that is what the plan says to do. I am resting.

Maude and M&Ms

I have spent the better part of this day eating M&Ms and watching the first season of Maude. I am amazed at simplicity of M&Ms and the poignancy of Maude. I always loved the show, but I suppose I am just noticing the way it deals with race, women’s rights, and politics. It isn’t that I didn’t notice that sort of thing before; I think it may be that I wasn’t as invested in many of the issues the program raises as I am now.mv5bmje2mzm4mdmzn15bml5banbnxkftztywnjy3mzm2_v1_sx405_sy400_I wonder how many scholarly articles have been written about this show. I can’t imagine that there haven’t been any because the show is pretty complex while being surprisingly simplistic. Maude does more than just flip the female/male, black/white, and rich/poor dichotomies. The program actually explores the relationships between the groups of people and tries to sort out the wackiness of the early 1970s.

What frightens me about the program and the social situations it deals with is that they have changed so little since the show was created and filmed. There are three episodes that really strike me as representing problems that we still deal with today.

In one episode, Maude discovers that she is pregnant and has to decide whether or not to get an abortion. Despite the use of humor, the writers and the performers get at the heart of the decision that Maude has to make. Ultimately she decides that she and Walter are too old to have a child, so she gets an abortion. I am sure that when the episode aired, and if it aired again today, that viewers were a little unnerved that it didn’t end happily with Maude giving the child up for adoption or deciding that she and Walter were not, in fact, too old to raise a child. Well, it didn’t end happy and sometimes life doesn’t either.

In another episode, one of Maude’s friends from high school comes to visit her. When they graduated from high school, the girl, Phyllis, was known as Mousey and Maude was voted the most likely to be the first woman president. When they meet again in this episode, Phyllis has become a top executive at Avon and Maude feels sorry for her because she isn’t married. What the episode boils down to is the same problem we have in feminism today: is it better to be married with children and a happy home or to be a career woman with freedom and advancement opportunities? Maude and Phyllis decide that they both want everything. They both want to be free, bound, mothers, and executives. They each want the lives of the other.

For me, the point of feminism  is to recognize that both lifestyles or any combination thereof should be celebrated. I would like to say in my twilight years that I have celebrated the woman executive or the woman who chooses to stay home with or without children. Isn’t a good portion of feminism to support the right of women to choose?

The third episode that still rings true is one in which Maude has an identity crisis. She worries that her only identity lies in being Mrs. Walter Findlay, she contemplates her lack of monetary compensation for her work, and she feels inadequate because she doesn’t feel as if she is contributing to the financial well-being of their household. I think many women, whether they work outside the home or not, still feel those pressures. More than men, I think women wonder where their identities lay. How do we name ourselves if we are married? How do we identify if we aren’t married? Where do we find our worth? Of course, Walter does an excellent job of pointing out the specific fears of men, too. And I have to believe that my male friends struggle with the issues he raises.

I think watching a whole season of Maude has made me reconsider the progress I thought we had made with women’s issues, race issues, and questions of class. I am not sure weve made much progress, and in some cases I think we may have even digressed.

My favorite quotes:

“Maude! Sit!”

“God will get you for that, Walter!”

Christmas comes but once a year.

Yesterday was Christmas.

My grandma came to my parents’ house with my Aunt Zoe and Uncle Fred. They also brought my cousin Bart.

My grandma sat demented on the couch for most of the day. She picked her lip until bled when she thought they weren’t coming back to get her. At four o’clock she began to panic. Would she make it back to the nursing home in time for dinner? She picked her lip some more.

She said that Becky talks nasty and wouldn’t sit on the couch with her.

She didn’t like the pictures of my mom that her college roommate had given to her. They were of my mom and her friends being silly in their dorm rooms in Painter. Studebaker was the same in the sixties as it was in the nineties when I lived there. It looks different now.They finally remodeled.

My cousin Bart still annoyed my brother. He still gravitated toward me. He didn’t change a bit in the 10 years—give or take a couple—that he was in prison. Now he sells Kirby vacuum cleaners door to door. I did learn how to make moonshine in a trash bag with commisary oranges and a loaf of bread. He said it tastes like hell but it’ll get you there. I wanted to ask where it took him behind those bars. I didn’t. I might one day.

The rest of Christmas was good. My family has given up buying gifts from the stores for each other. I like it. I got several bags of different types of Christmas treats, “Momma Sandy’s” dry oatmeal mix, a tie-dye shirt made by the special ed. students at the middle school where my mom teaches, a photograph taken by my brother of a viaduct with writing on it, and a candle-box with four candles and a cedar front made by my father.

The saying in the photograph is something like “Generosity isn’t measured by how much we give, but by how much we keep.” That pretty much sums up how I feel about it. The things we keep sort of point out what we aren’t willing to give up. My brother runs past that saying every day. I would like to run past it, too.

Finally, I was saddened to hear that Eartha Kitt died yesterday, but how fitting that the woman who began the Santa Baby tradition would die on Christmas. Eighty-one years is a long time to spin on this ball of dirt, and as long as she got a sable under her tree, I am sure she didn’t mind checking out on the holiday that catapulted her stardom that one last grand notch.

kitt