Thursday, July 31, 2008
It's too bad I forget things sometimes.
Though I'm sure the same will happen with Eliza as she grows up, raising my oldest daughter, Hannah, during these precarious pre-intermediate school years has offered me a refresher course in some of life's most basic principles. That is, as I help my daughter learn how to be a good friend, a responsible citizen, a respectful student, and an overall kind human being, I'm reminded of how I too should go about accomplishing these goals. Her peer network is becoming more fraught as she enters fourth grade, and the groundwork is being laid for the coping skills she'll need to survive high school and beyond. This past weekend, she had what I can only hope was a learning moment, while I had a priceless (re)learning moment.
After having a sleepover with a friend on Friday night, then playing with this friend most of Saturday, she came home Saturday evening in tears. Another neighborhood girl had joined them that afternoon, and Sleepover Friend and Neighborhood Girl began planning their own sleepover for Saturday night. In front of Hannah, the two girls chatted excitedly about the awesome Wii games they'd play and what they'd get to do together on Sunday morning. Hannah was crushed. She felt left out and hurt, at which point she came home (across the street) seeking comfort and advice.
My initial response was to explain to her that, throughout life, she just wouldn't be able to participate in every "thing" her friends do (every sleepover, playdate, night at the movies, etc.). She seemed to understand this, though, and she explained that she was hurt not merely because she'd been left out of the plans, but because the girls were talking about their plans in front of her. Hannah has been taught that this (like whispering in front of others) is rude behavior. And it is. Talking about plans one has made with one person (or a group of people) in front of another person (or persons) who've been excluded from the plans is rude, inconsiderate, and hurtful.
So, the question became: What to do? This is when I realized that Hannah's dilemma was bigger than the moment. Bigger than a 9-year old's problem. This kind of stuff happens forever. Elementary school, junior high, high school...many of the nightmares we go through during our youth resurface in our adult lives. The roles/personas remain strikingly similar. The prom queen is still the prom queen; the mean girls often turn into mean women, and my stepdad is just as nerdy now as he ever was in high school. Surprisingly, the circumstances are largely unchanged. The thing that has the most potential to change is how we handle ourselves.
My first response to Hannah was "Try to toughen up, grow a thicker skin." Knowing how sensitive she is (part of ADHD) and how easily she gets her feelings hurt, I immediately put the burden on a 9-year child to change a defining characteristic of her being. Yeah, not my greatest parenting moment.
After thinking about it more, though, I realized that this is decent advice if used alongside two other suggestions. The first was to leave - just walk away - because who would want to play with people who are being rude to you anyway? The second was to have the strength to be honest and direct by calmly pointing out to the girls, "I'm sure you didn't mean to be hurtful or rude, but talking about your plans right in front of me really upset me." The purpose is not necessarily that Hannah can change their behavior; she probably won't. Rather, the purpose is gaining the confidence to speak up when something isn't right. Historically speaking, aren't those the people we esteem?
I don't know if any of those solutions made Hannah feel better in the moment, but I hope she remembers the advice I gave her in the future, because, unfortunately, she'll face countless more situations like this one. I'm thankful for the lessons she inadvertently teaches me along our parent/child journey, as it is easier to be strong when you're the one a child is looking to for strength.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
I'd heard of the book a while back, but never thought much more of it since, until she recently appeared on the Oprah show. I just happened to catch the show while Hubby and I were at home early one afternoon, and I mentioned that I'd like to have it. Hannah is generally happy to eat all vegetables. Eliza, on the other hand, likes broccoli and...broccoli. That's about it for the veggies. She's more of a carbs girls (noodles, bread, rice, etc.). My policy on cooking for the family is that everyone eats a little bit of everything, and 90% of the time, I cook complete, balanced meals: meat, starch, at least two veggies, one of which is green. This works for everyone except Eliza, so she's who I had in mind when I mentioned wanting to have the cookbook. My theory was that I need to get her used to the tastes of as many veggies as possible while her taste buds are still developing.*
As you may know, the premise for the book is that you puree the hell out of fruits and veggies and sneak them into food so that your kids get healthy food without a fight at the dinner table. They never taste the difference, and they get their veggies, while also developing an increasingly mature palate.
The first step, then, is the food processor, which I was able to purchase after receiving some belated birthday money. A nice little ($40) 3-cup Cuisinart Mini-Processor - perfect for my new experiments. So, this past weekend, I went out and bought beets, fresh baby spinach, squash, and carrots. First up on the recipe list: Lemon Rasberry Muffins. Starbucks used to have GREAT ones, and I never found a copycat recipe, so I had to try these. The recipe incorporated pureed beets and squash, and I have to admit that I was skeptical about both tast and texture.
To my utter delight and glee, they are AWESOME! So good in fact, I went beet happy, and Sunday morning I made Pink Pancakes by adding about 1/3 c. beet puree to my regular store-bought pancake mix. The girls loved the pink color (so girly!), and Eliza ate one and half pancakes by herself!! She literally couldn't shove them in her mouth fast enough. I just sat there, stunned yet pleased as punch with myself for taking the time to incorporate this new routine into my weekend schedule. Then, I cooked more!
Sloppy Joes with squash --- totally yummy! Brownies -- low-cal and good (but there is a tiny hint of the spinach taste). Spaghetti with pureed carrots -- you can't taste anything different! I've already used the food processor almost a dozen times, and it couldn't be easier. It takes no hands on time to cook the veggies, and it only takes two minutes to puree. After this, you bag the purees, and you're set for the week (or longer if you store some in the freezer).
I'm most surprised at how easy it was to slip this new "thing" into my Saturday afternoon. I'll probably move it to Sunday afternoons in the future, but it's so easy, so fast, and more importantly, the benefits are so worth it. Today, for example, Eliza had veggies in her breakfast, dinner, and dessert (she LOVES the brownies!)...how damn cool is that?? And all of this is on top of the veggie side dish that I still provide at dinnertime, so that she's encouraged to knowingly eat her veggies, and Hubby, Hannah, and I provide models for healthy eating.
Few things work so effectively at making me distinctly feel like I'm doing something really good for my children. This cookbook accomplished that, and it's been one of the highlights of the past few days!
Friday, July 25, 2008
On the other hand, this is the least polished chunk of writing in my diss right now. I revised it sufficiently for conference presentation, but a conference paper is 10 pages max, which means I need to significantly expand this section. Not just expand, but frame and contextualize it within the space of what comes before and after it in the longer project. Basically, A LOT of work is still needed. Also discussed was the quite full plate I've prepared for myself this fall: teaching, revising diss chapters, organizing symposium for working group, and steering committee work for a national conference we're bringing to campus, and...oh yeah, going on the job market. Knowing how much I love and need my timelines, plans, and schedules, my advisor simply wanted to give me the standard "We'll-do-our-best-to-stick-to-the-plan-but-be-prepared-for-the-plan-get-adjusted schtick." So maybe next May won't be the graduation date; maybe August is more reasonable, and I'm okay with that. I'm entering my fifth year, so I'm still on track...
Anywho, I have a writing sample to revise and job materials to develop, but I'd feel much better if I could get a draft of my final body chapter finished before the end of August and the beginning of my life being sucked away for the fall. I'm having a hard time determining what the reasonable expectations are that I should have for myself. I'm notorious for putting twice as much stuff on my to-do list as is humanly possible to accomplish, and I don't want to make myself any crazier than usual...bleh. No real point here, just trying to figure things out before passing Go.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Attorney offered: $7500 to settle
ICITTOC countered: $2750
Note: the medical bills total $2000, and the attorney gets $600-$800.
Yeah....let's try this again.
Apparently, ICITTOC expects to negotiate and come up on their offer. Our attorney will work to get their settlement offer raised, while also working to get our medical insurance to accept less in reimbursement, because they wouldn't be getting anything if it weren't for us going through the effort of hiring an attorney and pursuing a settlement. In the end, the attorney said he's hoping to be able to get us $2000-$2500 free and clear (maybe more).
It doesn't undo what happened or take away the unbelievable nightmare that was the 20-minute drive it took me to get to my family after the accident. It doesn't payoff the vehicle we were forced to buy, tag, title, and insure as a result of the accident. And it doesn't take away the fear Hannah still has when we're driving in the rain (she remembers and mentions the wreck every time). But, it's better than nothing, and it's definitely been worth us not having to lift a finger to get this settled. I just hope I never have to go through anything like this again.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
The only thing worse than the mere concept of high heels for infants is the fact that the vice-president of the company is a woman: Lindsay Lefler. The story for how the company got started is a failed attempt to make the product seem harmless, as well as excuse the cluelessness of its founders as to the implications this product holds for baby girls and the parents who purchase the stripper shoes.
Though I don't necessarily agree with every word, a more in-depth critique of the many problems with this product can be found here.
Friday, July 18, 2008
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
The quote offered by lesboprof (keep in mind it's not direct) was that she believed someone told her in grad school that "[Gloria] Steinem said it took women 3-5 years to recover from every year they spent in grad school."
My problems with this idea begin with the premises on which it appears to be based. The idea implies:
1) that women are "brainwashed" by feminist ideology throughout graduate school. As if we get to graduate school only to have our professors reveal that we've been oppressed all our lives and we must immediately join The Fight Against the Patriarchy;
2) that female graduate students then believe everything they are taught about feminism in graduate school. Yep, we eat it all up...hook, line, and sinker, cause you know, we can't think for ourselves yet, right?
3) that we then graduate, only to spend the next 15-25 years "recovering" from this brainwashing, implicitly discovering some other sort of reality or truth...I'm still not sure how this works.
Did I miss something here? First, yes, I knew very little about the history of feminism before starting graduate school, but I also knew very little about the history of ANY school of ideology or literary criticism. Learning more about the history of important schools of literary and linguistic thought is, as I understand it, one of the benefits/expectations of graduate school, as it prepares one for a career as a academic in literary studies.
Second, if I'm smart enough to understand Derrida, Lacan, Butler, and all the other theorists that I had to read throughout coursework, then it's pretty likely I've got the intellectual hardware to be critical of those writers and thinkers, as well as critical of the choices of specific texts in any given course. Never did I have a professor claim that one theory, ideology, literary school of thought, etc. was The One True Way that I must follow. No professor told me I'd been oppressed, limited, screwed over, sheltered (although that was actually the case), or unenlightened. What my professors did was expose me to texts that made me think critically about the values, beliefs, and systems of thought I'd previously understood as natural, right, common, true, etc. I asked questions I'd never asked. Good questions! Really fucking hard questions. Painful questions. Questions that definitely changed the way I see the world around me on a daily basis. I also had the freedom and encouragement to challenge the texts I read, the professors who assigned them, and those scholars and students who've responded to both. To imply that I suffered in a way that requires "recovery" is, to me, ridiculous, especially framed in terms of what academics "do" with feminism.
Finally, using the term "recover" implies some sort of healing, as if I've suffered a wound or an illness. Yes, many times graduate school makes me sick, but not in that way. When I finish next year, am I going to "see the light" or unlearn everything that my feminist professors have taught me (or more accurately, what they've let me learn)? What does this "recovery" mean?
I'm hoping people will visit and read this posts and join this query, because I'm really a bit befuddled. Feminism in the academy doesn't inherently equal evil, tragedy, brainwashing, or political manhandling, as many would like to argue. Learning is often about what each student makes of it, so the range of experiences is infinite. What, then, are we (by we I mean those who identify themselves as feminists or make use of feminist literary theory and practice) to make of these various posts?
Monday, July 14, 2008
The thing is, I'd NEVER planned on returning to Home State. Sure, it would be great to be closer to family, and a couple of the bigger towns in Home State are really nice places to raise a family. However, the institutions there aren't the kind of places that I see as stepping stones for my career and more importantly, they don't offer much in terms of my field (no major early modern work going on in any of these schools). According to the list, though, there are some really great schools to work for in Home State. In fact, a colleague of mine took a job at one of them last year, and he loves it there.
I guess there's no real point to this post except to say that I've never experienced such a vast Period of the Unknown in my life. It might help us on the market that we're not looking at the typical places academics want to work, but what are we sacrificing in that process? Ultimately, our priority is making the decision that's best for The Family, but there are so many factors in that decision that it's utterly exhausting to think about.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Most importantly, of course, is a) this chapter can go forward to other committee members and b) my timeline for finishing next May seems completely achievable! This is one of those rare days when I actually believe I know what I'm doing and will walk out of this department next year with something called a PhD. Maybe even for the first time since beginning the dissertation, I really *know* I can do this. Holy shit this is cool!
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Okay, technically the next thing isn’t really one of my favorites, it was just really damn cute. I mean, look at this dress! It is beyond gorgeous, and I’d totally love to see it on Eliza.* I was walking down one of the many busy streets in one of London's many shopping districts, and I saw this dress and stopped in my tracks to take a picture. The only thing better than this dress is the name of the store where it was being sold. It’s a high-end, childrens wear store…like Dolce and Gabbana for kids! The name of the boutique: please, mum? Isn’t it the cutest thing you’ve ever heard of?
The following goes without saying for many people who study British Literature, especially between1500-1800. Westminster Abbey was amazing, stuffed to the brim, and surprisingly beautiful - inside and out. I realize I'm a total dork, but I actually shed a few tears over Aphra Behn's stone. I just kept thinking, "I'm writing about you! You're important, you were a great writer and a super cool chick...for God's sake you were a freaking spy! How can they NOT have put you in Poet's Corner!"
*Yes, that's my youngest daughter's name. I've decided to get rid of the alphabet-letter pseudonyms. My kids have names that truly match their personalities, and I don't feel that I'm putting either of them at any risk by using their real names. So, yes, my oldest daughter is Hannah, and Eliza is the toddler.
Thursday, July 03, 2008
Here is the lovely tray I received while having champagne tea at Pret-a-Portea in The Berkeley Hotel. The little savory treats on the bottom plate were mere okay; I discovered that I do not like smoked salmon. At all. The polka-dot sweet treat on the second plate, however, was a piece of chocolate heaven! So yummy!! The top plate, on the right, with the pink flower, was a grapefruit mousse that was refreshingly light, and the champagne served beforehand was the coldest, tastiest champagne I've ever had. The whole time there, I thought about H and how much she would've loved to do this. She would've felt so special getting dressed up and eating off of fancy designer bone china.
More to come...
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
- Paris was lovely yesterday! I had an apricot crepe next to Notre Dame, and I got "made up" at the Sephora store on the Champs d'Elysees!
- Sunday and today in London went extremely well. I've totally mastered the tube system (which doesn't take much effort, but is very useful), and London did not kick my arse.
- The Phantom of the Opera was nothing short of magnificent! I was just in love with the actor who played the Phantom by the time it was finished.
- I had dim sum for the first time today, and it was delish!!
- I finished my research at the British Library --yay!
The not-so-great part of the day?
- Dinner....Here's a tip: stay away from Porter's English restaurant!! The crab tasted like what I would imagine cat food tastes like, and it took more than 2 hours to complete the simple service (without a dessert, mind you)!
I have lots more to blog about, so you'll probably get tired of hearing about the details, but more will come when I return. For now, it's after 11:00 p.m., and I still need to pack for my flight out tomorrow :-(
Hopping back to my side of the pond,