taking it all in

Lots of information today.  Lots.

Staying attentive in an eight-hour meeting is not easy, people, especially when you feel like you’re listening to the teacher in the Peanuts cartoons.  I’m not trying to trivialize what I learned today or denigrate the people involved.  It was just so. much. info, and most of it was just outside my level of understanding. I understood the words but, all together, it was a little confusing.

I didn’t make a fool of myself (at least to my knowledge) and, honestly, that’s my goal while I’m here.  Take it all in; be pleasant and collegial; sound somewhat intelligent when called upon to speak.  Small goals here.

In other news, I’ve had to put out two little student fires since I got here.  It’s keeping me grounded: you can put me in a suite but I still have to deal with young adult angst.

I also got the sweetest note from the grad student covering my classes.  The students were discussing empathy yesterday; evidently, the instructor used me to get the point across that empathy is manifested in many different ways  - and he would know.  We had a contentious relationship when he was an undergrad; a few years out and he realized I was pushing him because he wasn’t pushing himself.  As he pointed out years later, “I didn’t know jack when I was in your class; I may not have known it but you sure did, and I figured it out pretty quick once I got in the classroom”  Anyway…

He wrote, “They think you’re tough; but even when pressed, not one could deny that they feel loved by you.”  Okay, seriously: that is one of the most meaningful things I’ve ever heard about my teaching.

the twilight zone

One of the benefits (or quid pro quo, perhaps) of my office in my national organization is having my registration and hotel room taken care of at the conference. Those things add up and, since so much of my time here is taken up by business versus the usual personal, I’m okay with it.

Imagine my surprise when I opened the door to my room tonight. My room has rooms! For the first time in my life, I am staying in a suite and it is pretty awesome: living room with a nice sofa and chairs, dining room with a table for four, bedroom with a king bed, bathroom with separate walk-in shower. I’ll be here a week, so it’s beyond nice to have some space to settle in while I’m here.

It’s a little disconcerting, though. I’m not really this important or wealthy. Talk about imposter syndrome…

headed out

I’m on the shuttle to the airport, headed to my big conference cd the next week. It’s definitely a big one this year, with more meetings than I can count, a panel presentation, and several necessary dinners. I’ll have a little time for fun, and it will be nice just to see people in the hallways but it’s going to be even more exhausting than usual.

Random: This shuttle sucks. The suspension is shot so it’s shaking to the point where I can barely hold my phone. And I’ve got over an hour of this.

Packing for winter conferences is so tricky. I’m inside most of the time but not all. It’s freaking freezing all over the country – 16 degrees here now. The conference location is definitely better than that but still damn cold for most old the week. You never know if rooms are going to be stuffy or freezing; you need decent walking shoes; you want comfortable clothes if you’re out and about for 16 hours.

This year I also have to pack for a little more notoriety. I’m the incoming chair of my professional organization so I’m going to be in front of people more than I usually am – literally, since I have to be on stage sometimes. I’m never a sloppy dresser at conferences but I’m usually casually pulled together. Throwing in more snappy outfits this time – and the shoes to go with them – meant a much larger suitcase than I usually pack.

Random update: My teeth may literally fall out of my head before we get to the airport, between the incessant shaking and the driver’s inability to miss a pothole.

i might have a problem

I’ve always been a fairly money-conscious person.  When I was younger, I didn’t have much of a choice: I didn’t have any.  Trying to live on a teacher’s salary teaches you frugality pretty quickly, which was quite useful in my poverty-line grad student days.  Now that I have a better salary, I don’t overdo it; every month, the bills are paid, something goes into savings, the credit card is paid off.  I have no debt, aside from a mortgage (and now a car, but I haven’t had a car payment for 10 years), since I paid off my college loans last year.

Lately, though, I can’t seem to spend money fast enough.  I’ve replaced my garage door, added several good knives to my kitchen, replaced most of my professional wardrobe (including shoes), gone nuts with new makeup.  Then there are the things I needed to buy; I had to replace floors in two rooms this summer, a garbage disposal isn’t cheap and, while I didn’t need a car, I don’t think it was out of order to finally buy a new one.

I did need some new clothes, too; losing as much weight as I have (yippee!) means nothing in my closet actually fits me anymore.  I could manage with my “regular” clothes; working at home in yoga pants doesn’t require precise measurements.  “Work” clothes were a different matter, though; I was down to one pair of trousers I could keep up and a few dresses when school started.  So, yes, I did need some decent threads.

I seem to have acquired expensive tastes for all my accoutrements, however.  There’s something to be said for only buying things you really, really like and for buying better quality items; I’ve tried to follow that mantra for the last few years now.  Lately, though, it’s like I’m not even phased by prices.  A sweater for $70? Sure.  New foundation for $50? Why not.  Pair of knee-high boots for $150? Makes sense.

I’m not an idiot: I realize this all started over the summer when SG left.  I suppose this is all wrapped up in me trying to reclaim my life, in doing things for me as opposed to someone else, in affirming that I am still an attractive woman in contradiction to SG’s loss of affection.  And I have to say: I look damn good. Not feeling like a frumpy cow means I don’t look like one, either, from attitude as much as clothing and makeup.  I’m assuming a new role in my professional organization this month, too, so I’m a little more self-conscious of what I look like.

I need to call a halt, though.  I’m not made of money; I’ll likely have no employment this summer; I start car payments next month.  Enough with the purchasing of lovely things.


My sister and one niece are here for a short visit. They arrived Wednesday evening, so I had time to straighten the house, put out clean towels and try to get some work done.

However much I shouldn’t, it’s hard not to think about how much work I’m not getting done while they’re here. What is wrong with me? Why can’t I just enjoy their company? And I do, but there’s a constant buzz in the back of my brain, enumerating everything else I should be doing.

Regardless, we’ve had a nice time so far: lots of chatting, a movie, some games. We’ll do some shopping this weekend, maybe a pedicure, definitely some reading – although they have fun books and I have student papers. And they leave Monday, so it really is a short visit.

Sometimes I think I just need to be alone. I’m not sure I’m good with people anymore.

are. you. kidding. me

The last 36 hours have been ridiculous.  Just ridiculous.

As I was getting ready yesterday, I realized my leggings were on the drying rack in the guest room so I squished my way down the hall to get them.  Yes, you read that correctly: squished.  Imagine the mental confusion of walking down your carpeted hallway and seeing wet footprints behind you.  It took about 3.5 seconds for me to freak out as I realized something, somewhere, was leaking into a space far removed from water.

So, being a competent adult, I called both my father and my girlfriend/neighbor with a panicked “I don’t know what to do!” as I attempted to shut off the water and figure out how far the puddle had spread.  Dad reminded me where the water valve was; Friend gave me a hug and found the leak: a hose under my sink – right above Friday’s newly installed garbage disposal.  Ahem.  We’re pulling up carpet, getting towels to soak up water while I’m emailing students to cancel pre-class meetings and turning into a hot and sweaty mess.

So, being the angel that she is, Friend stayed at my house to wait for the plumber while I pulled on jeans and a sweater and ran to campus to teach my class.  And I do mean run: I haven’t sprinted across a college campus since I was an undergrad – and I clearly remember the last time that happened: February, across the main quad through wintry slush to catch a bus, before thinking, “F* this, I don’t care that much” and vowing never to run for a bus again (and I haven’t).  So, while I won’t run for public transport, I will run for students… I arrived about 5 minutes late, out of breath, even hotter and sweatier – and I’m not sure the students were even phased since no one even commented (which begs the question of the image I’m conveying this semester).

I ran home between classes to meet the plumber and free Friend.  He replaced the hose and, while the leak wasn’t technically his fault, agreed not to charge me for doing so (very wise move).  Evidently, the hose had rotted, he didn’t notice when he replaced the garbage disposal, and when I ran the dishwasher Monday night, all those gallons of water burst the pipe and flooded my hall closet, hallway and part of the kitchen.  Lovely.

Back I ran to campus to teach my second class, just as discombobulated as before, having obviously adopted my undergrad attitude of “to hell with this” since I started class by holding up a dollar and offering brownie points to any student willing to find me a Diet Coke.  From class to a meeting, from the meeting back to my office to meet with a student, from that meeting to a talk on campus (which was excellent), from the talk to my damp house to set up fans to dry out the pulled up carpet.

To complement the crazy, the students have lost their ever-loving minds.  To wit:

  • received an email from a student wondering if I would schedule the two classes she needs in the fall on the same day so she doesn’t have to drive to campus that much
  • offered a student the option to revise a poorly done paper and the student stood in front of me and thought about it
  • received an email from another student requesting my syllabus to determine if my class next spring would be the “fun, relaxing” class the student is looking for

So, in conclusion: ridiculous start to my week.  The carpet is almost dry, relatively clean and tacked back down.  The wrapping paper and such in the floor of the closet are thrown away.  The students received restrained responses that encouraged them to develop their communication skills.

And just in time, since my sister and Niece #3 arrive in an hour or two for a visit.  I’ve done the laundry, made the bed, put out the towels, vacuumed the house, dusted the surfaces and corralled the detritus.  Actual work today? Not so much.  And it’s Wednesday!