Wednesday, January 30, 2013

January Lasts for 12 months

Three Januarys ago, Max was born. We thought he would be early. Zoe was so early, we thought Max would at least be born a few weeks before his due date. Or at least a few days. My mother and father in law came to wait with us. We waited. We had a solstice party. We had Christmas. We went downtown for the Pinecone drop in 9 degree weather. Still no Max. We waited. My in-laws had to go home soon. We waited some more. Finally, he was born on the 6th. That first week a January had a whole month in it.

The next three weeks--before I had to return to work--I read Wolf Hall. I read the whole book. The book should last a year. In this case, it lasted only a January. Babies are tiny and sleepy. By the end of January, Max had grown a lifetime. He was big and awake. By the time I went back to teach, it was still January. By then end of January, I had raised a whole son, read the whole of the Henry VIII's checkered past, begun and nearly ended entire classes, done all the press release work I could for my book of poems coming out in a month (in January? Another January month often called March), and watched all the episodes of Chopped on Food TV. By then end of January, January still had another month to go. 

This is Max's 4th January making him 114. He's way old, as he would say. His mom is way old. His dad is way old. His sister, the snow, the sun are way old. If you're feeling old, you should like January, for you can stay old as long as it gets. You can go to the doctor and get all the follow-up tests and scans and blooddraws completed to guarantee you will live until the end of time, or, at least, until the end of January. You can take time to proofread whatever books may or may not be forthcoming because they are due to be released in another January and you may not make it that long but for the time being the words will be double-checked and the white space and the squiggly lines too because January gives you enough time to look for even the typos (hear, here) you meant to make. January is long enough to be halfway through a semester and ninety percent done with the 7 year review that began just 7 days ago. It is long enough for you to read Hillary Mantel's next book. It is long enough to read all of Bill Carter's nonfiction. It's long enough to read 6 theses, 428 poems, 124 essays, and one hundred million emails. It is long enough for the good news to come and for the good news to go and the fact that you sent that book out a year ago and still haven't heard means really it's only been a month and you shouldn't be so impatient. It is long enough for your daughter to lose all her teeth and grow new ones like some magic, toothy Chia Pet. It is long enough for winter to have come and gone, spring to have come and gone and winter to have returned. It's long enough for Chopped re-runs to have re-run their whole Chopped Champions run. It's long enough for Hillary Mantel to write another 780 page book about Henry the VIII who is probably still alive because he was born in January and January never ends. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

I have a lot of problems

1. I can't seem to make an easy dinner. I do make tacos once a week but I can't quite just make spaghetti with a jar of tomato sauce and call it a day. Tonight I'm making Farro and Rice salad with roasted squash and fried arugula, thai chicken and fondue. Except for the lack of cohesion there, you might think that this is a good thing, cooking a lot. But it's not. It takes time I should be doing other things. It stresses me out what to make best next and new. All I want is someone to send me an email every day and say, make this. No questions asked. Nothing tastes as good as 3 hours of cooking tastes. I should just make bacon and eat that. Bacon tastes exactly as good as it takes long to cook.
2. Meetings. I can't go to them. I went to one this week and it begat another meeting and I had a panic attack in the middle of the meeting room. I wanted to just get the thing done, not talk about it. My boss said, you should write a Ben Franklinesque manifesto about how to get stuff done. Call it, stop meeting and write something. I guess. To the rest of the department, I look like the woman who won't ever meet.
3. Is there a job where I don't have to talk to people. I love people. Especially quiet people on Facebook.
4. I am never not running around late to something, probably because I'm too busy shopping for the 49 ingredient dinner and trying to write the thing we were supposed to meet about so I can follow my own Franklin-like aphorisms. But I also seem to have to pick up the kids every 9 minutes which makes for very short sessions and very too much driving even though I swear at least one of them is in school 4.5 days a week and the other is in school 3 days a week. I think the kids might be having meetings.
5. I am looking forward to buying Max socks this weekend. This is not something worthy looking forward to.
6. In not drinking wine so much, I've now become a tea addict. Yesterday, I had five cups of tea. This amount of tea reveals a) that I have an addictive personality, b) that I also have a compulsive personality, c) trying to decide whether I'm more addictive or more compulsive reveals my tendency for neurosis and d) I have to pee a lot.
7. I should not read the internet or blogs before I go to bed. Last night, the internet told me that the Republicans are planning to permanently rig the electoral college by dividing up electoral votes by congressional district, making the electoral college in presidential elections look identical to our current house of representatives. And the blog that said tenure will go away soon. I don't so much care about tenure but to me, tenure means research and if they get rid of research then that means they will fill that time that was once dedicated to research with more meetings.
8. Thank you cards.
9. Writing. I'm addicted to that too. If I don't write, I get all 1 through 8. If I do write, I want someone to read it. When I send it out, I wait around, thinking of course it is good only to realize 17 minutes later that I should perhaps not push "publish" on that button but I can't help it because I'm compulsive (and impatient. My fine friend told me the other day to be patient. I tried but then it drove me to drink more tea). And then I wonder if maybe it was fine just not quite that person's fine and then I find another person to read who does indeed love it but then I just wonder if they're being nice and the first mean person was right all along and that they weren't being mean, they were just being right and perhaps they too have diagnosed me with a lot of problems.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Schedule confusion

I'm a basket of nerves in case full of baskets in the mornings this week since school started. I don't know exactly what's going on except for two changes in my schedule--I'm teaching earlier than usual and my advising center hours are right before I teach. Perhaps the changes make me more stressed than less, which is what I hoped when I changed the schedule and then promptly forget that I changed the schedule.
So, I shall make a very boring list of what I did today in an attempt to figure out why I'm rushing around like a chicken in a basket of full of cases in the mornings. Sorry for the tedium. Take caution, ye progenitors of future generations and would-be professors of future students. Generous anxiety seems to be the primary side-effect of good luck and happiness.
1. Woke up at 7 in a deep sleep, dreaming about how there are too many cassette tapes in a box by my bed.
2. There is no box of cassette tapes by my bed but Erik did tell me upon my waking that he forgot to tell me yesterday about a cool story. The chief of police had new-found evidence in a cold case. He came to Erik's work to see if Erik could fix a tape that had been damaged by water. The sound quality is very bad but if Erik can fix it, they may have a lead. The fact that the tape was a cassette tape a coincidence with my dream? I don't think so.
3. Find Zoe in the bathroom already dressed. She tells me how big her hair is. It's very dry and staticky in this arid mountain town. Zoe's hair takes up a room. She put on a headband.
4. I woke Max up who, upon rising, asked if we were going camping today. Any day that begins with a "no" and "you have to go to school" makes for a hard morning.
5. He wanted oats. Usually, I only make oatmeal on the weekends but as a bribe to get dressed, I said yes.
6. I started making oats. He said he'd get dressed, "in a minute." He helped stir the oats in still his pajamas. This is why I do not work for the state department. I have a hard time holding up my end of the bribe.
7. Finally I asked him if he got dressed in the kitchen, would he?
8. Another minute.
9. And then a yes. In the kitchen. On the counter. While he stirred the oats.
10. Lunches finished packing. Hats, coats, gloves on Zoe's dance shoes, library book in her backpack, Erik's lunch in hand--go, my people, go.
11. It's 7:30. I'm tired.
12. Email. So much email. Email the editor of a magazine about interview and photos. Email editor of Quench about editor of magazine hoping to get him an advance copy. Email list of reviewers wanting galleys. Email friend about manuscript. Email a different editor about paragraphs cut from Quench. Email students about new webpage I made on website. Email student about copy right laws. Email student about internship credit. Email about camping in the desert. So many emails. I receive no emails, which in some ways is good. Emails lead to more emailing but in some ways makes me think I'm possibly living in the void.
13. Read 28 pages of one student's 68 page thesis. Make notes. Do not send notes yet.
13.5 Find out spring break is not when I listed spring break. Perhaps my anxiety has to do with the course schedule that I roundly screwed up this year. What's the problem? I'll make a new one. No one does anything unless I email them to remind them anyway. Still. No typos in this syllabus. Just the wrong days and times all over the place.
14. Stop reading theses. 9:30. Where did the last two hours go. Time to run.
15. Run for 40 minutes. Even though it's not so cold as it says it's as cold as it was which was 7 degrees. The difference between 7 and 17 is not so much on the back side of 17 anyway.
16. Shower.
16.5 Load dishwasher. I almost forgot. Twice!
17. Make lunch: lettuce. Quinoa. Queso ranchero. Sunflower seeds. Poached egg. Eh. OK.
18. Write! I have 20 minutes. Start an essay about a restaurant in Portland called Der Rhienlander (is it still there Portland people?). Forget to write about polar bears (note to self. Write about polar bears.)
19. Send micro essays off to editor. Just thought to do it thanks to Facebook. Thanks Facebook.

I did have Facebook open 12 through 19 . Perhaps it is a problem. BUT! Facebook also gave me these great ideas: News about borrowing microbes in the someone else's healthy intestine cures many.  Polar bears and Alaskan huskies playing in the cold. And the idea to email the editor at #19 some micro essays.

It's noon now. I'm at school. I'm mostly relaxed. Perhaps I just needed to be a place where people could see me work instead of working in the void of the internet. Is this work?

I have my lesson plan planned for my undergraduate nonfiction class. I can't imagine what could go wrong? Perhaps that's it. There's the anxiety. The idea that I forget at the beginning of the semester what else could go wrong with the semester. But since I already disastered the course schedule, perhaps it is, as it is in the house Garp buys in World According to Garp (as I told my Poetry Workshop) pre-disastered. Shouldn't everything, now that everything's already screwed up, go perfectly?

If worse comes to worse during class and I feel like things are spinning out of control, I can always pull FB up on the overhead and explain how FB is really time-saving research.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Mouth. Smaller than it looks.

I'm developing a bad habit when it comes to break. It's called, "I'll do that over break." And then break is much less a break than a nonstop mad-dash to get it all done before the next semester starts and I can start making promises about what I am going to get done over the next break. This break coincided too with the final proofing stage for the Bending Genre book, which is coming out March 14th. We copyedited this book. Then we proofed this book. Then we sent proofs out to our contributors. Then we proofed the proofs. Then, in the height of my annoying times, I decided now would be a good idea to revise my essays therein (really, just the white space, but my god, didn't I have like 19 other chances? Push. Shove. Met.)

I was getting letter of recommendation requests on Christmas Eve. I'm not sure what's up with that. Never before have I had so many requests over break. Is it because the electronic systems now don't allow students to send requests until they finish their application? Of course students want to do their apps over the break. Why would a university have a deadline of January 1? Like they're all sitting around on New Year's Day, waiting for the apps to come in. Anyway, there were 19 letters to send all over the break.

I also had blogs to do. The blog post here took two full years to write. Then, the essay daily blog, which was so awesome and fun but I made it a pain by writing 4 pages. Then I wrote a blog of the Poetry Center Wordplay blog (my post not up yet but it's a great website for recommendations for kids' books) which is also 4 pages. I also wrote 4 pages in an answer to some interview questions for Mountain Living magazine. Apparently, 4 pages is my standard response to the universe.  I had grant applications due (also 4 pages), one nonfiction book manuscript, part of a novel, part of an paper for an scholarly journal to read for my friends (I'm almost done fine friends). Ander and I judged the annual essay contest, meaning we read over 100 manuscripts. Plus, I'm behind on normal Diagram duties. Oh the internet, you seem like fun but you are often work-like.

For the Bending Genre book, we have a 'marketing questionairre' to fill out. I tried to find good places to send the book to be reviewed and to get a few reviewers. I also have to think about Quench, which is coming out around the same time in March. My publisher was very sick last semester so things got a little delayed but I think are back on track. I have to think of marketing plans for that book too and make web sites for both. I think for the Bending Genre book, I'm just going to use a Word Press blog site that I can just update with new news and make some links. For Quench, I think I need a whole new "author" site, which sucks because somehow I lost my old one and now I'm flummoxed. Speaking of websites, I added a FAQ for the English Department and am still working on this whole fundraising mailing that no one wants me to do but damn it. I already ordered the business reply envelopes so that is that. Also, Michael Martone is coming for the High Altitude Writing Institute and Pam Houston is coming for the Northern Arizona Book Festival. It's going to be a busy spring and I may as well send a mailing out about it.

I had normal holiday tasks to attend to. I made peppermint bark. We decorated the tree. I bought presents. I stressed that I didn't buy enough presents. I cooked prime rib and every winter vegetable known to man--except the turnips, which we ate raw. We took down the tree. We also went to the desert desert to see my family where it was not even that warm. We had dinner at my sister's boyfriend's parent's house and now my sister and that boyfriend are getting married. Coincidence? Doubtful.

The best part though was when I stopped worrying about getting all this stuff done. Erik had 10 full days off thanks to holidays and flex time. Zoe and Max had two weeks off. On December 31st, Zoe and Max and I went hiking in the snow with Cleo. On January 1st, we went sledding. On January 2nd, we went cross country skiing for the second time this break. On January 3rd, we went ice-skating for the first time ever for Zoe and Max and the first time for me since I was 12. Max thought it was cold but Zoe liked it. On January 4th, we went nowhere and Zoe wondered what happened to our week of winter wonderland sporting events? On the 6th, Zoe took a private skiing lesson and Erik and I took Max out on skis for his very first time on his first birthday.

This week, I finished my grant apps, the Fall 2013 teaching schedule, and, my syllabi, in so far that syllabi are ever finished.

And now, today, on Sunday, we have finished the thank you notes for Max's birthday and for Christmas and I have written a blog so everything can return to normal which is sadly as busy as the break, but with less winter sports (I took Zoe ice-skating on Friday in an effort to maybe start a habit.)

Next weekend, camping in the desert!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Max is 3.

Lately, every night before bed, we read "Going on a Bear Hunt" three times a night. Max says that if encountered a bear, "I will find him and wrap him and tape him up." He is full-fledged rescue mode. Spiderman last week. Super Why this week. His grandparents got him Superman pajamas and, since he's never seen Superman, he calls them Super Why like that kids show on PBS.

He has memorized the book, "No David" because he likes to be the one telling people "no." "Put your toys away," he tells David. I try to convince him that he should lead by example, but he just looks at me and reads aloud, "Don't play with your food." Poor David. Always being told 'no.'

Max too should stop playing with his food and maybe eat some. He eats about four things, most of them involving oats of one sort or another, mostly granola bars. He likes pears. And edamame. And candy by the bucketload. I ask him if he wants to get tall like dad or tall like mom. I think it's a good threat, suggesting he may only be 5'2" if he doesn't eat his tortilla. But he says, "tall like Zoe" and runs away.  He does like quinoa. Quinoa makes you tall right? If you ask him to please eat a bite of cheese or perhaps some turkey, he says, "I'm fine. I'm fine" He's very polite, the non-eating super why guy.

He likes to sled and ski and ice-skate for about 7 minutes per. "It's too cold," he says. He's right. It's -5 degrees right now.

Right now he's playing wild cats with Zoe and watching Nancy Drew. I think having a big sister makes him grow up a little too fast but I think he also keeps her a little younger for awhile. He can talk her into playing "garbage truck," "fire truck," "ambulance" "recycling truck," "tools" and "paint."

I love that he thinks all danger can be stopped with tape. He still says, when he wants to be picked up, "Carry you." He's getting bigger but not too big for that.