Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Name change

OK. Barrow Street will begin advertising for This Noisy Egg on November 5th. This leads me to believe I need to professionalize up my blog title. How sad for Otterbutt. I'm not sure about nikwalk. I also like Otterbutter but still, not particularly professional. Since all my email addresses are nikwalk AT something or the other, I thought this would make the blog findable but not overly so.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Blog abuse

I like how when I go write a new post, up around the Blogger login, there's a button to push to "report abuse." Blog abuse. What is it? It's certainly not posting enough. It's also potentially posting too often. In my case, the blog is the repository for all manner of complaining--whining abuse. But, as previously noted, when I rejoice and have nice things to say about the world on the blog, the world slaps me down for acting with such hubris. It's better that I abuse the blog thusly. Report me if you must.

This week is no different in the complainy department. The complaints are different but the gist remains the same. One good bit of news--I resolved some of the tension in the class of sensitive and insensitives by handing out midterm grades. Nothing seems as dorky as handing out grades to graduate students in a workshop but I think the students appreciated knowing that I was keeping tabs on everyone. As long as I could confirm I was overseeing, they seemed less stressed out about their workshop ego and could worry about their grade ego. Oh how the world loves a grade.

In bad news, I haven't slept in 3 days. 1 day, I awakened (p.s. I like to say woke up but perhaps that's incorrect or too informal? An editor I knew once went through all my woke ups in a novel and changed them to awaken.) I was worried that Zoe's runny nose would turn into the swine flu. I also was cold and worried that I couldn't write a positive, uplifting poem but mostly I was worried about the flu. In the morning, who woke up with the flu? Zoe. As if ny not sleeping could have prevented it. Not only did I have to think about (brief complaining interruption: oooh Deer! 4 adults and 3 babies. I want to give them an apple. I won't.) all the various consequences I'd read about the flu--pneumonia, pulmonary embolisms, constricted airways--and revisit Z's previous scary respiratory run-ins, I had to think about my mother-in-law and sister-in-law who were coming to town. Hey everybody, come visit! Catch the swine flu! We're hosting a two for one deal--respiratory distress and insomnia!

And I had to think about the story in the NY Times about a pregnant woman's desperate bout with the flu.

I was desperate about getting the vaccine. I had woken up (awakened) at 7 on Monday morning when the county opened appointment lines for the vaccine for Saturday. I called and called. Busy signal. Dial tone. Voice mail. Finally I got through. Two appointments for Saturday at 8:10 and 8:15 a.m.

Whenever I have an appointment before 9 a.m. I really can't sleep.

Apparently, not for two nights because I slept little both Thursday and Friday nights.
I fretted all Thursday night that Z couldn't get her vaccine because she would have a fever or would be wheezing. I was afraid I'd have the flu before I could get the shot. And it doesn't matter anyway. It takes 2 weeks for the vaccine to really take effect.
I woke up (awakened. Man that sounds pretentious) at 4. I really almost fell back asleep. And then I didn't.

Now, I'm going to see if I can wake Z up and, if she's not wheezing and has no fever, will put her in the car and take her to the County Health Department for a vaccine for a thing she probably already has.

I knew better than to complain that the vaccines were going to be given on a Saturday. The Saturday of the Emmy's. I will have to sleep through the show but at least the regional Emmy event is in the valley. I'm not looking forward to 90 degree weather in October but I am looking forward to the oxygen. It's hard enough to sleep up here, let alone breathe.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Not that nice

I had a sense that posting a non-complaining post would result in a turn of events. Usually, when I see a hawk, I take that as a good sign, that today will be a great day, maybe even something great will happen. Yesterday though, the hawk I saw was being tailed by 5 ravens. Ravens trump hawks in the high altitude desert. They gang up, harass the hawk away from his meat.
Somewhat like students.
The day started off bad with a student complaining of meanness in workshop. The day is already unsalvagable. I bounce between being mad at the student for complaining and not developing a thick, workshop resistant skin to being frustrated at the student(s) in the class who are making me have to deal with this. I didn't see anything disrespectful go down but if I don't nip it in the bud, I'll get low evals on "created a respectful learning environment." And yet, if I do say something to the students (one of whom, I guess, rolled his eyes at something someone else said), this student will dig in harder, thinking the class is full of over-sensitives. If I don't say something, I run the risk of being cited for not looking out for all students. When you raise students behavior as an issue in class, the class seems to begin to break apart. Sides are taken. In this case, it will be the sensitives against the insensitives. The insensitives, upon my instruction, will try to be more sensitive. The sensitives will start being insensitive. The insensitives, better at insensitivity, will return to their insensitive ways and shut the sensitives down. Now, instead of class being a fruitful exchange of ideas, it will be a class where I say, "that's enough, student" and "if you can't say anything constructive, don't say anything at all." This isn't how a grad class should go.
So, as I spent two hours trying to decide if I should intervene, knowing that this might make the rest of the semester a long and painful one, I held my advising hours in the advising center. I advised: one grad student who had her own student problems, one student who I asked if she was feeling in anyway disrespected (since the sensitive student had claimed it was this student who had someone's eyes rolled in her general direction), one student who wanted to further explain his anti-abortion poem, and one I-would-graduate-if-I-take-six-classes-next-semester undergraduate. In between, a campus tour arrived and said they were told I'd give them a tour of the English Department. Never having given one and not sure what they were expecting, I listed the program requirements and made a long list of career options for the English Major off the top of my head. Advertising, publishing, nonprofit administration and computer management--all jobs I'd had. One of the parents asked, so you teach graphic design? I argued, it wasn't so much the graphic design that I learned as an English major but how to think critically and learn on my own. I knew that's what I was supposed to say. I've been trained will in the promotion of the liberal arts. I did not mention that it wasnt' so much the 14 persuasive papers I wrote on Jany Eyre that taught me how to think critically but the way I could convince people that my ability to read Jane Eyre allowed me to think critically. The advertising and self-promotion aspect of the English BA is what I learned to sell. And was selling it here.
Afterward, I decided to talk to the students in their office about the eye rolling. They of course apologized but then didn't talk much during class. The senstive did not show up to class. Having become, over time, an insensitve in workshop, I'm trying very hard to manage the senstivies but classroom management is an exhausting and not particularly rewarding task. Everyone's on edge and now have to sell the class on how this is a "respectful learning environment" even if it feels more like Kindergarten. I'd rather sell them on the many-job opportunities that await them with their English BA.
Egg made delicious soup for dinner. That was the highpoint. The day ended, or rather wouldn't end, on a low point because I couldn't sleep. I think I carry all my stress in my back and with a baby in my front, I couldn't get comfortable. I felt stretchy and broken and chagrined for ever writing anything nice about October.

Monday, October 12, 2009

October is nice

Although there have been a few moments of lameness--exhaustion and a flotilla of failed festivals, primarily--October is good. I like the fall best. I still am finding about 12 hours a week to write which, considering we're mid-semester, is pretty decent. Nothing like the impending noise machine that an infant brings to keep you typing, I suppose. I need some readers though and haven't had much luck finding a writing group here. I think a long distance group must be coordinated but, as I'm a little spacey as of now, I'm not making much progress.

I went for my 27th week OB appointment today. So far, so good, knock on wood. I'm still freaking out about the swine flu but I can't get anyone in the health care field to freak out with me so I guess I'll freak out on my own, with the help of Yahoo. Except for a slightly low hematocrit, all my blood tests look good--no signs of preeclampsia and my blood pressure is hanging in there. I also passed my gestational diabetes test which is good news because I'm already having a hard time finding enough food that's interesting to eat--I'd have a hard time cutting down carbs, although they're not my primary staple. So far, this baby will be made from mostly almonds, yogurt, bananas and peaches. And bacon.

Erik's mom and sister are coming down for a few days so we can leave Zoe up here and go down to the Regional Emmy's Festival. This better be better than the other festivals we've attended this year. The Apple Fest, the October Fest (actually canceled) and the Autumn Fest were all a big fail. Z got to jump in a bouncy machine for one of them but otherwise, $5 pumpkins, no apples, $6 brats and bands covering James Taylor do not a festival make. The Emmy event will be more expensive--$150 for me and Erik plus a room at the Sheraton but at least I won't have to stand in line for the port-a-potty.

The book is still making it's way out. We've got blurbs, cover. Now the manuscript is in copyediting for a potential release date of December 1st. If it weren't for my low hematocrit/exhaustion, the 12 hours a week of writing I don't want to give up, the bad festivals and impending Emmy's, I would start up some sort of publicity machine. Self-promotion sucks worse than an Arizonian festival.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Yahoo--the late-night panic-inducer

Every night, one last time before I go to bed, I check the headlines on Yahoo. I don’t know why I do this. Obviously to guarantee fitful sleep. It works. Last night, I checked again the “White house administration to campaign for H1N1 vaccinations.” As usual, when I click on any link related to health, the story indicates my imminent death. This time, the story read that pregnant women are especially encouraged to get vaccinated. They are the highest priority since they die at exponentially higher rates than others. 6 times as often. Only 28 pregnant women have died of H1N1 from April to August but still, the 6 times as often as others who contracted the swine flu freaked me out.

I went to bed. I couldn’t breathe well because we’d had the wood-burning stove going all day and there were woody particulates in the air. I kept having to change sides to use a clear nostril. It’s hard enough to breathe when you’re pregnant, let alone, when you have a stuffy nose. I suppose it's nearly impossibly if you have the swine flu. I imagine Z with her lungs' asthma-type response to colds breathing even less well than my doubly-demanded ones. I think of ways I can prevent me or Z from succumbing. I can teach online. I’ll take Zoe out of school on extreme flu days (that would be Tuesdays and Fridays right?). We can start mainlining Tamiflu now.

I can already tell the whole vaccination attempt will be a disaster. Z has been 3 times to get her regular flu shot and has been turned away by her doctor (for wheezing), by a nurse (for a high temperature), and by the pharmacy (for not being 18). Then, she was scheduled for a shot this coming Tuesday and they canceled that appointment because they’re out of that vaccine. This doesn’t bode well. I called the county health people who are supposedly in charge of distributing the H1N1 vaccine. I asked them what their distribution plan was. They weren’t sure yet. I should call back next week. Um. You have no plan yet? I’ve been waiting for the vaccine since July and you have no plan? I would like to be on a list. Some list. Any list for my pregnant self and asthma-prone kid. I asked my ob/gyn. She said, hmm. Yeah. I don’t know if we’re getting any vaccine.

Perhaps I can make my own batch of vaccine. Find a kid whose had the flu. Borrow a little blood for some home-grown inoculation serum.

I have started stalking the county health building. I call every day to see if the shipment has come in yet. I write a letter to the editor but that would have to be succinct and to the point but sometimes I think the most healthful thing to do is to stop reading Yahoo headlines before bed.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Guest Post

Guest posting today over at Pansy Poetics.