Saturday, January 29, 2011

RBoC: Sunday Edition

  • I've finished what will be my first publication (an essay in a collected edition) one day ahead of schedule--woohoo! I'm using this last day to take care of any stylistic revisions that need to be made, since I'm not familiar with the style the editors are using. I'm happy with what I've written and the research it's based on, and I'm really looking forward to seeing the other essays in the collection (as well as any suggestions for further revision the editors might have).
  • Now, I look forward to ASECS in March. I'm participating in a roundtable, so my paper will be short and sweet. I'm excited to get together with all the 18th-c. peeps, but I do not look forward to the OMG number of travel hours that are required to get to Vancouver. The only saving grace is that I was able to use my Qmiles through Qatar Airways to upgrade to business class on the flight to Houston (16 hours!).
  • The spring job market is non-existent. Really and truly, there is nothing to speak of at this point, and it makes me want to crawl into bed and never come out.
  • Hannah's birthday is coming up, and that will make me the mother of a 12-year old daughter. I sure hope 12 will be easier than 11, but something tells me it won't. I've tried some new parenting strategies since we returned from holiday break, and they've worked well so far. Really, it just amounts to me setting firmer boundaries and not engaging her when those boundaries are crossed. We'll see how this goes.
  • The best discovery we made upon returning to our compound was that our evil heathen neighbors had been moved!! YIPPEEE!! It's almost unbelievable the difference that it's made in the dynamics of this compound. You see, there are only 16 villas (houses) here. To compare, many of the other compounds (think gated living, Middle East style) have between 100-250 villas. The latter results in a greater mixture of types, personalities, etc. of the residents. Our compound, however, is comprised solely of people who work for the same university, and almost all of them have children (mainly girls). So, if you have a problem at home, it has a much higher chance of carrying over to a problem at work, even if it's just an HR issue of requesting a house change. But now, we don't worry about our kids going to play outside, there's no more drama, and it's soooooo much more quiet!
  • At some point, I will have to turn my attention to revising the dissertation. I'm trying to get myself psyched up for this, but I haven't had much success yet. I know I'll need to get Bill Germano's work, From Dissertation to Book, but I realize that I'm still very much isolated from any kind of intellectual community remotely related to my field, and that's something that can't be duplicated.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Not the One

Apparently, God has other plans for me, and they don't include the school with which I interviewed at MLA. I'm bummed. I feel ashamed and like I let down my kids and my family, and more importantly, I feel like that was my only chance. The spring job market has yet to materialize at all, so I don't have much hope there. I just pray that whatever God's plans are, they include our family living in the US really soon.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Answered Prayers and Grief

The only prayer I've ever prayed, in which I've asked God to take someone has been answered. At 11:45 p.m. on Sunday, January 9th, my grandmother passed away after a long battle with Alzheimers. I knew it was coming. I'd even had the chance to take Hannah to her house the night before, so that she could say goodbye. When I went back to work after Hannah was born, my grandma watched her one day a week, and they developed a special bond, one that none of her other great-grandchildren were fortunate enough to have with her. I still have a photo showing the 5 generations: my great-grandmother, my grandmother, my father, myself, and Hannah. I know how rare that is, so I'm thankful.

After arriving in Doha at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday evening and getting less than 4 hours of sleep, I woke up at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday morning (today) to catch a flight to NYC, then on to Dallas-Ft. Worth and on to Home State so that I can attend the funeral. I'll be giving a reading at the funeral, a poem she cut out from the local newspaper over 11 years ago. She gave it to me, somewhat randomly, and said "I want you to read this at my funeral." I saved it all these years. I don't know how it ended up making/surviving the move to Doha. But when we got home, I knew exactly where to look. And there it was.

Though I'll only be reading the poem, there's so much more that I want to say. I want to say that she was the grandmother everyone deserves to have. She could laugh with the biggest smile, she loved God, she was devoted for life to my grandfather no matter how long ago he died, and she was the first to ask if you were hungry as soon as you walked into her house. She somehow managed to balance the act of spoiling grandkids with chocolate ice cream, chips, and our favorite sugary cereals (Cookie Crisp!) with the discipline and punishment of finding just the right switch (you know, for spanking your ass) from the willow tree in her front yard if you pushed her far enough. She came to basketball games, spelling bees, graduations, and weddings. She never learned to drive, but she got around more than anyone else I know. She wasn't perfect, but she was a perfect grandmother, and I will miss her light and love so much.

Knowing that she was dying and getting the chance to say goodbye to her was supposed to make it less painful, but it only took the initial sting away. It still hurts. I still grieve. And I'm sad that I'm having to make this journey back home for the funeral alone, especially without Hannah, who really wanted to come. I know she's in a better place, that she's no longer in pain, and that she's back with my grandfather, the only thing she's wanted for many years. May they both rest together in peace and know how much they were loved.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Interview Success

Whether I get a campus visit or not, the interview was beautifully! No weird questions, no tricky questions to decipher, and no fumbling answers. They asked typical questions about my dissertation, my future research, and my courses, and I was prepared for all of those (without sounding scripted). It was like a conversation with two lovely colleagues that I'd love to work down the hall from....really, it couldn't have gone better.

There's no second-guessing how I could have answered this question or that question better. I feel like I gave them solid, specific answers for everything, and even better, they expressed seemingly genuine interest in my dissertation topic and my syllabi and course plans (i.e. they commented on my syllabi more than once).

I don't know how many people they interviewed, but it doesn't really matter. I did my best, and I walked away feeling like I knocked it out of the park! Even if I don't get this job, I'll be okay...But still, I'd really, really, really, LOOOVVVEEE to get this job. So, you know, send good job vibes this way if you have a moment.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Are You There God? It's Me, AcadeMama.

Dear God,

Let me start with thanks. I give thanks for our safe (though long) travels back to the U.S., the time we've had with family since getting home, relatively few travel problems along the way, a very blessed Christmas with Hubby and my daughters, and lots of great memories made in the past three weeks. Thank you for the opportunity I've been given in the form of an interview at MLA, with a school that is perfect, a position that's in my area, and in a location that would be ideal for both our family and careers.

I also have to give thanks for what has been an incredibly enjoyable stay at Hubby's parent's home. Yes, you read that right. We arrived on Dec. 18th and stayed for five days before returning to Home State to visit my family. The first leg of our stay couldn't have gone better. The kids have loved playing with cousins, I've enjoyed cooking for Hubby's family and watching them bond with the girls, and there's enough space that we don't feel like we're on top of each other (a huge bonus). After time with my family, we came back to Hubby's parent's house on Dec. 28th, and have been here since then. I've had the benefit of some very helpful, meaningful conversations with my mother-in-law, and I definitely feel like we've gotten to know each other better as a result. She's been a voice of wisdom and advice on several topics, and I appreciate the perspective she's offered. It's been a great visit, and I know our family brings chaos, noise, and toys everywhere to a home that is usually less full of those things. Thus, I appreciate his family's patience, willingness to share their space, and hospitality overall. I'm thinking of sending a thank you gift later (maybe flowers?)....Do you think that would be appropriate?

The trip back hasn't been without its down moments. In particular, I faced an extremely difficult confrontation with my mom, which still hasn't been resolved. In addition, my Grandma is dying, and it's going to happen sooner rather than later. She has Alzheimers, and her condition has rapidly deteriorated since I saw her in August. She only remembered me if I reminded her who I was. During one instance of lucidity, she heard my name, started stroking my hair and face, and melted into tears, telling me that she loved me. That moment meant the world to me, and I thank God I had the chance to say everything I needed to say. That I loved her, that she was the best grandmother anyone could ever ask for, that I had a lifetime of good memories to cherish, and that if I could be half the grandmother she was, I would be happy. I think she'll still be alive when I return to Home State (after MLA) on Saturday night, so I'll have one last chance to see her and take Hannah to see her, which means a lot to me.

Lastly, thank God I have an interview! I also have a wonderful friend who gave me the time to read my application materials and writing sample, then conduct a mock interview via Skype yesterday. She is truly teh awesomeness! I got good feedback from her, I'm prepped for the interview, and I feel confident about both my answers and my chances, in general, for the position. It would be a great job, for lots of reasons, and that's why I have to end with another address...

Please, please, please let this interview go well! And by go well, I mean please let it result in a campus visit. If that's not too much to ask, I'd really appreciate it.

K, thanks, in God's name,