a very good day

Today was good.  An actual good day.  In unexpected ways.

My task this morning was making a pecan pie and ubiquitous green bean casserole for post-Thanksgiving lunch at Rockford’s.  While those were baking, I was able to do a little work for my co-edited book and return some emails.  Then, off I went, with some serious (and totally justified, I would say) nerves.

On the way, Rockford texted to see if I’d left home yet: his daughter wanted to make cookies and he was out of flour.  Not to worry, say I; I’ll stop at the store and get some.  Because: brownie points.  Then, just as I got to the house, his oldest arrived from picking up his grandmother, so I was able to jump out with my umbrella and walk in rather casually with them. A brief smile of welcome from Rockford and then I settled into helping his youngest in the kitchen.

So, was it what I expected?  In many ways, yes.  The high school son was reserved but quite pleasant when I spoke to him; the high school daughter was quiet and somewhat wary for the first few hours but warmed up well enough after that; the elementary school son was like a little puppy with a new toy.  I genuinely like children but I also know how to interact with them: leave the older ones alone and pay attention to the younger ones. So, I sat down beside the youngest, asked him about the video game he was playing and the next thing I know, he’s talking a mile a minute and we’re playing chess. I don’t know what Rockford was thinking but I saw how he looked at me over the little guy’s head; it was a nice look.

Lunch was good, a little quiet at times, but we managed to keep some conversation going.  Admittedly, I was happily drinking the wine Rockford opened and perfectly fine with him opening a second one.  By the end of the evening, I probably drank an entire bottle on my own but, in my defense, it was over many hours – and I was really nervous.

I was there all day – twelve hours, as I look at the clock.  After lunch, I washed dishes while Rockford put things away (I got a quiet hand on my waist as I stood at the sink).  I played a game of chess with Rockford and lost; then we all played a board game, which I promptly lost (the wine probably didn’t help there).  I had to laugh when Rockford asked if I wanted to go with him to feed the neighbor’s horses and the youngest popped up with a, “Oh, I want to go and see the cats!” – there went a few moments of privacy!  I rode with him when he took his mother back to the nursing home – and that was an adventure, since we were quite close to a bad accident (is there a good one?).  One benefit of dating a cop: he got the police and ambulance there in a heartbeat.

I thought briefly about leaving once we got back from all that but we ended up playing another game with the two younger kids.  Then, since the oldest was playing video games in the living room, Rockford and I went to watch TV in his room, with the youngest right behind us.  Now, I can assure you, nothing was going to happen, but it was still hilarious to have the little guy plop right down and make himself comfortable.  So, we three arranged ourselves on the bed and watched a movie, Rockford in the middle with his son up against one shoulder and me (slightly) on the other, his hand on my knee.

I didn’t want to leave.  Rockford didn’t want me to leave.  When I finally said I should go, he gave me that slow smile and remarked that we don’t usually end our nights together apart (no little ears were nearby).  I did leave, though, and now I’m home.

What is it about this man?  There are so many reasons we don’t work.  He even said recently that he didn’t know if we had a future, given our diametrically opposed political leanings.  He’s everything I left behind when I happily left Home State.  When we’re apart, I can’t see how this would ever work or if I even want it to, considering I simply wanted a social life, not a life life, when I started my dating experiment.  But when we’re together, things just seem easy and comfortable and nice.

I was nervous, meeting his family, and the nerves didn’t exactly go away. At the same time, it wasn’t scary; it felt right.  I walked into the kitchen, teased the youngest and started chopping potatoes, and it was normal, not weird.  I won’t say I’m friends with the two older kids but we managed friendly; the daughter definitely relaxed throughout the day, and she was the one I was most worried about, being an adolescent girl and a daughter. Explaining words to the youngest, asking the oldest a tech question, getting the daughter to laugh while we played games: it was nice.

The things that I could say about all this, the things that slowly creep into my mind: I’m pushing them out.  I don’t want to deal with those things just yet, if I ever do.  I’m not good at relationships; there’s a good chance this will die a natural death in a few months, whatever I might think now. So, for now, I don’t want to think about what I think about when I’m trying not to think.  I just want to appreciate that I had a very good day.

guess who’s coming to dinner

I’m going to have a quiet Thanksgiving tomorrow.  A friend was kind enough to invite me to lunch; she’s pulling out all the food stops for a group of single-tons in the afternoon.  I appreciate the invitation but I politely declined.  I want nothing more tomorrow than to wake up, take a shower and then walk to my sofa with a book in hand.

Having my major conference the week before Thanksgiving means I’m exhausted by the holiday.  Dealing with the drama of this year’s conference, in addition to being “on” in my leadership capacity for six straight days, wore me out.  I fell asleep at my computer while I was working on a chapter today – literally.  So, yes, tomorrow is going to be quiet and I am going to love it.

Because Friday isn’t going to be quiet, really.  It’s going to be interesting, of that I have no doubt, but not necessarily quiet.  Why, you ask?  Because I’m celebrating Thanksgiving with Rockford that day; as he works on the actual holiday, he’s planning his big meal for the day after.  And he asked me to join him, and I said I’d love to do so.  He won’t be alone, however.

Yep.  I’m meeting the kids.

I don’t know what, if anything, he’s thinking in extending the invitation. I say that in the sense that I’m not reading anything into this, although I do recognize the honor of any parent inviting me to interact with their children.  They aren’t young, which helps immensely in terms of having some metaphorical distance. His oldest is 17; I’m fairly sure he won’t care if I’m there or not, being a teenage boy with many more important things to occupy his attention.  His youngest is 10. I’m tentatively confident that we’ll get along just fine; he might be quiet at first but he’s young enough to win over, I’m pretty good with kids and he’s the same age as Adorable Nephew – we’ll be fine.  His middle, however, could be tricky, since 15-year-old girls can make or break you. I know enough to keep it low-key and wait for her to decide if I’m acceptable.

Rockford told them yesterday.  There were a few questions, evidently, but he didn’t report anything terrible.  Evidently, they think I’m lonely (since he told them I didn’t have anyone to spend the holiday with) and boring (since he told them I’m a professor).  So, hey, the bar is pretty low; I can only go up from here!

He also told me that I’m the first woman he’s dated to meet the children.  And I’m meeting them on a holiday.  So, you know, there’s that.

And in case your jaw isn’t already on the floor, I’ll go ahead and admit that he’s meeting my family next month.  He has the kids for Christmas, and whatever my family’s craziness, I don’t miss Christmas Day with them.  So, I’m driving back to Home State a few days before, he’s flying out the Monday after and we’ll drive back together on New Year’s Day or thereabouts.

Yes, I’m willingly introducing a man to my family.  I thought about it, obviously, before asking him but, honestly, I didn’t ponder that long.  It just seemed normal to ask him if he was willing to do it.  He was, so he is.  We’re staying with my sister, although we may spend a night or two with Cool Friend, too.  I must say, though, that my sister is delighted that I’m bringing him home – not because of him, really, but because I’m actually involving my family in my life.  My dad took it in stride, but I think he’s laughing a little, too; the image of me with a conservative cop has to be entertaining to everyone there.

When I look back at the men with whom I’ve had relationships, it’s fair to say that I did a pretty good job of not involving them with my family.  They simply didn’t fit; it made things difficult and slightly uncomfortable.  If I’ve never fit with my family, the men I brought home certainly didn’t.  There was never outright unpleasantness, I don’t mean that; it just wasn’t easy.  To his credit, SG did well.  He was an introvert, so the number and noise were slightly disconcerting, but he managed to settle in, even if he wasn’t always sure what was going on (nothing like a New Yorker in the middle of a Southern family!).  I am completely unconcerned about Rockford.  My family will love him and he’ll get along with them just fine.

The funny part is that I actually want them to meet him, and for them to meet him.  So, you know, there’s that.

righting the ship

I slept the sleep of the just last night: nine solid hours.  I haven’t unpacked my suitcase yet but I feel much more human.  I have this recurrent hope that one day I’ll have a regular sleep schedule; normal people don’t keep my crazy hours and they manage to get things done.  Yet, here I am, almost 3am, finishing up emails.

I managed to go to the grocery store today but I didn’t make it to the gym.  It’s been over a week but that will have to wait until tomorrow.  I had stuff to do, which included some attempted damage control, to my reputation and my organization’s, a load of emails and lunch with a colleague.

I did manage to see Rockford this evening; one benefit of having older kids is that he can meet me for a drink and not bother with a babysitter.  We don’t make it a habit but I did want to see him after being away for a week.  Unfortunately, we ended up discussing a rather contentious issue for our hour and a half together – not exactly a romantic tryst.  I did end up keeping him company at the grocery store afterward, so I suppose he didn’t hold it against me.

Tomorrow it’s business as usual: meetings, class, yoga.  That business includes getting up and getting a set of papers graded before I head to campus.  Here’s to righting the ship and sailing right into the usual tempests.

conference recap

Good lord, the ups and downs of the last week.

I was at my annual conference this past week, which meant lots (and lots and lots) of meetings.  Since I’m in the leadership – which sounds extremely pretentious – I was focused on presenting and representing, which meant lots of introducing and welcoming and smiling.

All in all, things went well.  People I respect had nice things to say about my ability to run meetings, my representation of the organization, my speaking abilities.  I enjoyed myself, for the most part; it’s exhausting, to be on all the time, but it’s also rewarding to be a part of something bigger that myself.

I met up with my editor, and she was very pleased with the book project.  Whew!  She was also interested in an idea I ran past her so I may have another project in the works.

Not surprisingly, I made an effort to dress well.  This isn’t a particularly dressy conference but, if I’m going to stand up in front of people, I’m dressing up.  Call me vain but it was nice to have some compliments on my fashion choices. Then again, I almost crippled myself after walking in heels for five days.

I still struggle with feeling like I don’t really fit in.  It’s a lot like high school: there are cliques and groups and popular people.  I have friends in every group and I move between/among them fairly easily but I don’t necessarily fit into any of them.  I have friends, I’m not saying that, but I don’t necessarily have a home. It’s lonely sometimes.

There was some drama at the conference.  Some of it small: people acting like children.  Some of it not: people making decisions that have repercussions.  Maybe I take it more seriously than I should, but it feels serious when I’m representing the organization.

And, you know, that’s all I’m going to say about that.  The drama has followed me home – one particular person is acting like a spoiled brat – and I have some damage control to do tomorrow on the larger issue.  Right now, though, I’m exhausted, I’m going to bed and I’m going to try very hard to focus on the good things that came out of this week.


Sometimes I wonder what kind of life I’d have if I hadn’t gone to my undergraduate institution. 

I’ve always been a little out of sync with my upbringing/family/background but college is where I really diverged. Because I saw a different world there and it fit me: not just the academic focus – the PhD came much later – but the liberal ideas, the mix of people, the accessibility of the world. I went in a very different direction because of those four years. And I feel very lucky for all that direction has led me to in the last 25 years. 

What kind of person would I be without that, though? If I’d gone to the state school with my friends and my then-boyfriend? If I’d stayed close to home? If I’d married young and had children?

Or maybe none of those things would have happened. Maybe I would have made decisions that led me to the same outcome but from a different path. I wonder sometimes. 


I played hooky today. Because it was a beautiful day and I’d had a long week and I felt like it and my coming week will be brutal. I went to the gym this morning, met a friend for a leisurely lunch, and then drove to a nearby city for some shopping. I go to my major conference on Tuesday so I wanted to add an outfit or two, replace some makeup and figure out my bra size. 

I put on a top today that I bought a month ago. It’s too big. I’m wearing size small in tops now, from sweaters to blouses. I wear a size 4 jean, size 6 trouser, small or size 6 dress. My feet are slightly smaller; my rings are too big; I’ve gone down 3 bra sizes. Last time I got on the scale: 138. I’m 5’9″. 

I realize I go on about this ad nauseum but I have such a hard time believing this is me. I was showing a friend pictures this week of me about two years ago. She was politely shocked because I looked so different. And not in a good way. If anything will keep me going to the gym, it’s keeping the weight off and feeling good about myself. 

Because sometimes that’s important. 


My trip to nearby city was also a slightly surreptitious way to support Rockford tonight. He was involved in a charity boxing event – which is so beyond something I’d go to on my own. I wasn’t going to tell him though, until after. His family was going, and his friends, and I didn’t want to intrude. But he’s been training for months, and I may not like the sport but I like him, so I wanted to be there. 

He asked me this afternoon what I was doing tonight, though, so I didn’t lie: said I was shopping and might stop in to see a little boxing but I wouldn’t bother him. He didn’t say anything but I think he was pleased. We texted most of the day; he kept me apprised of the prep and confessed that he was a little nervous. He also told me that his family couldn’t make it after all (and probably for the best: his youngest was very upset that he would get hurt) and he’d find me when he was finished with his bout. 

So I was there. And I was very nervous watching from the bleachers above the ring. It didn’t help watching the bouts before his; one guy went down in about 45 seconds. My stomach flipped when I saw his opponent: 8+ years younger, about 25 pounds heavier and 3 inches taller. It was hard to watch him get hit, especially when I saw his bloody nose. I didn’t cheer: I just kept muttering “hit him, hit him” under my breath with my head in my hands. He made it, though: lost by a decision, kept all his teeth (another guy didn’t), stayed on his feet. May I never watch that again. 

And after he’d recovered and taken a shower, he told me to come down ringside to where he was sitting with his friends. So I did. I hugged him, tried not to wince too much at the bruises and sat with my hand on his knee while we watched the rest of the event. He didn’t think I noticed him looking at me: I did. He does that sometimes, long steady looks until I look up and he just smiles. I think he was really happy I came. 

I went out for dinner afterward with everyone. I was quiet, for the most part, just taking it in and being pleasant when I could offer something. He held my hand through most of dinner, kissed me on the cheek when I asked if he’d let me get the check. And then we got in our cars and made the drive back to our separate homes. 

Sometimes you do things for someone you care about, however strange it may be. Sometimes it’s worth it to see them smile. 

it’s not that I don’t know how, it’s that I don’t want to

It’s not that I don’t know how to be politic.  I know how to be pleasant: nod, smile, mmm-hmm.  I know how to repeat people’s words back to them to clarify what’s being said.  I know how to lower the tone of my voice so that whatever I’m saying is less threatening.  I know how to situate what I’m saying in context that clarifies and explains.  I know all those things.

But I get impatient.  And frustrated.  And irritated.  As my mother said once, I do not suffer fools gladly, and it’s easy to feel like the fools outnumber the wise.

I am an adult, however.  And I am capable of controlling myself.  And I know that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.  And I do understand the need to work with people rather than against them.  And I am well aware that I can learn something from the people around me.

So, every now and then, I can be quite politic.

To wit: My program is working on a number of revisions, some of which are likely to meet resistance.  As chair of my program, it’s my job to work these revisions through the system, which means appeasing several different factions in different departments.  Oh, the joy.

But as I spoke with my department head on the phone today, explaining the approach I’m planning to take at an upcoming meeting, I had to laugh to hear myself spinning my arguments into an appropriately pleasant package. And when I told him that he might just turn me into an administrator yet, he laughed, too. Because he knows that I know what to do, I just choose not to.  And I think he’s rather tickled when I actually make the effort to do it.

The key there is that I actually value his opinion of me; I appreciate the time he’s taken to work with me on different projects and the effort he’s made to reign in my more difficult moments.  We work well together and I’m aware of his help over the last few years.  So, yeah, I can do it.

within the week

Despite many thoughts last week, I didn’t manage to write any of them down here.  I’ll blame it on wanting to stay as far away from the computer as I could, given the amount of quality time I endured the week before.

So, the book is submitted, and now the extracurricular work begins: covers, blurbs, indexing.  The templates for academic books aren’t the most eye-catching, perhaps, but I’m working on something that would be pretty cool if it goes through.

I met a colleague for dinner Friday who was in a nearby city for a conference: very nice to see him and catch up.  On the way there, however, I witnessed a car accident that had the potential to be horrific; “luckily” no one was seriously injured.  I was close enough that I pulled over to the side, called 911, ran to check on people; another motorist did the same, thank goodness, and we stayed until the ambulance and police arrived to take everyone away and get our statements.  This was one of those things where you really can’t believe what you actually saw, even as you write it down for the state trooper.

The weekend was pretty low-key.  Rockford came over Sat afternoon; we didn’t really have plans so we sort of just hung out.  We watched football; I fixed lunch; he took a nap while I worked on a paper; he helped me hang a shelf and fix my doorbell; I fixed dinner.  We ended up back at his place, since he has a dog, so I woke up there Sunday to another low-key day.  He fixed breakfast for us; I washed dishes and folded laundry; we worked out in the garage.  Then I came home to work for the rest of the day on a grant application.

In a way, it’s a shame to lose the fun of dates so soon; the weekend wasn’t exactly thrilling.  It was nice, though, and there’s something to be said for enjoying normalcy when it’s in front of you.  I suppose the normal things are more pleasant when you get to share them with someone.  I really shouldn’t get used to this though, which is always the rub.  I strongly suspect there’s an expiration date for us, which is the way things go, but it does make it harder when it happens when you’ve been involved in each other’s normal lives.