(Self)Promotion

My application has passed another level of inspection, the one after which all the rest is rubber-stamping. So, although I’ll be getting another couple of letters of approval as the process takes its course, I am now certain that as of next spring, I will be a full professor.

It has taken me a long time, and I’m happy to achieve this goal. It might have happened sooner if the MMP had been less recalcitrant, but research takes the time it takes. Anyway: Yay!

All the tea in China

Fortunately, road work is slacking off and I got home in tolerably good time last night.

Unfortunately, I messed around for awhile before feeding the cats and heading to the bathtub.

Fortunately, my lovely husband likes to talk to me when he gets home.

Unfortunately, chatting meant it was very late before I picked up the book I wanted to finish (Foundryside).

Fortunately, I enjoyed it, despite what I thought was a bit of hand-waving at several key points (aka Thing That Has to Happen just Happens, OK?).

Unfortunately, staying up to read meant it was midnight before I went to bed.

Fortunately, I fell asleep quickly.

Unfortunately, when Sir John came to bed, he snored in every position he tried. Also I was hot and a bit congested. Further, Basement Cat thought he should get up around 5:30.

Fortunately, we have a large house and a comfortable couch, so I could try to go back to sleep in a quiet space.

Unfortunately, our new next-door neighbors’ bathroom window faces the window of our quiet-room-with-couch, and they turned on their FIVE THOUSAND WATT bathroom light at 6:20 a.m., at which point I gave up on sleeping any more.

Fortunately, I have my choice of lots of flavors of tea around here, and have now sucked down three cups of Russian Caravan.

Unfortunately, that may interfere with sleep tonight.

Fortunately, I have managed to get at least a few tasks done this morning, and will keep trying to work on the list. If my brain gives out, I can go dig out more oregano roots.

Reframing

I’m at the point in the semester when I can figure out my real schedule, the one I can actually manage, not the hopeful one I plotted before the shit hit the fan.

It appears that six years ago, I was able to use a long afternoon between morning and night classes to get some writing done, which explains why I thought I could do that again this term. The difference is that this year, the night class addresses a whole batch of texts I haven’t read before, so that particular afternoon often goes to class prep, or administrivia (I get to be on an extra committee this year). Usually by this point, I’ve readjusted my sleep schedule from wherever it wound up over the summer, and am managing to get to bed at a sensible hour before the 5:30 a.m. alarm; so far, I’m not doing well at all with that, so I’m not getting enough sleep, and that’s not good.

In trying to work out what I can actually do, it’s clear that I need to make good use of mornings, the time when I am most likely to be awake and alert, the time when I feel as good as I’m going to. (I don’t know why I always hope I will feel better later. It rarely happens. Once in awhile, which is I suppose why I keep hoping, but I should not count on it.) Thus there are some things I need to do to clear space in my at-home mornings: stop waking up slowly over blogs or the crossword, and put that waking-up time to languages, instead, then move on to writing once the tea kicks in. I’ll discontinue the morning yoga classes, both with the chatty teacher and with the nice teacher the morning after my night class (when I tend to sleep late and not want to rush out of the house to go do something).

I’m quitting the third one as well, though it’s in the afternoon. The difficulty there w/r/t timing is fitting in the gym plus a full work-from-home day, and along with front-loading days, I also need to front-load my week. The other difficulty is the teacher’s love of incense. When I talked to her about it, she said brightly, “It’s not incense, it’s wood! Let’s try opening the windows, how about that?” It’s scented smoke that makes me cough for hours. Do whatever you like with the windows; I’m going home rather than expose myself to any more of that. So, yeah, now I’ve spoken about it; but who knows what else is going to crop up? I’ve remained cross about yoga-woo stuff, when I just want to get stretched out.

So back to my own routine at home, preferably in the morning, because it is important, because I feel better after it, because I want to make sure it gets done. Twenty minutes is adequate. Thirty is great if I feel like it. Ten is better than nothing, and what I will aim for on teaching/leave the house early days, with another 10-20 minutes before bed. And I’m going to think of it as my own personalized exercise plan. It has yoga elements, and also stretches I’ve picked up from physical therapists and massage therapists over the years, and some strengthening exercises. Some exercises I hold; for some, I bounce. I know; most people will say you shouldn’t do that, but it’s what works for me. I think calling it a personalized or individualized program will appeal to me.

On into the middle section of the semester. Maybe it will slow down a bit, now; so far, the time has gone super-fast.

The final frontier

I’ve started ripping out the oregano that infests my front garden. While the Battle of the Bellflower was in full swing, I really didn’t have the energy to work on oregano, which smells nice and appeals to bees and butterflies. But now its flowering season is over, and it really has spread alarmingly in the past five years, so I’m going for it. Since it’s in the mint family, that’s its nature, and if this house doesn’t sell soon I’m sure I’ll still be ripping it out next year.

Why can’t I ever just sit back and enjoy the garden instead of always doing things to it?

No, I know the answer to that: because the last owners made bad choices.

Cross again

Does yoga rot people’s brains? Or is it just my park district? At the yoga class I like(d) this afternoon, during shivasana the teacher lit a stick of incense without asking first whether anyone had allergies, asthma, other lung issues or just a dislike of scents.

I resurrected out of corpse pose so fast my head spun, rolled my mat and slithered out of the room while trying not to inhale. I was still coughing an hour later. In fact, even now I’m getting intermittent coughing fits, though they’ve calmed down considerably.

Who does this sort of thing? There are people way more sensitive than I am out there. (Hi, Fie! I really hope you’re out of that moldy building this year.) This teacher is fifty-something, plenty old enough to have run into people with respiratory problems. I’d go back to the overly-athletic yoga classes at my gym and just spend a lot of time in child’s pose, but they’re all at times that are either impossible for me (while I’m teaching) or completely unlikely (no, I’m not going to get up in time for a 6:00 a.m. class after teaching a night class the night before). Overly Chatty Lady is starting to look a bit better to me, though who knows, maybe she also has a thing for incense and it just didn’t manifest last weekend.

Jesus H. on a raft. Just . . . at least warn people if you’re going to do things that could aggravate medical conditions.

Cross Purposes

I’m consciously trying to live my life, rather than putting it on hold because I think/expect/hope that we might be moving house. So I signed up for yoga classes that meet near my house, three times a week (non-teaching days). It’s a pleasant short walk over there, and the yoga studio looks out into the trees. All three classes are taught by different women. Tuesday, great. Thursday, fine. Saturday . . . wow.

I spent the whole time thinking “Shut up, shut up, shut up, could we get some quiet over here? I’m going to have to go home and do yoga to get over this experience. Should I just leave now? It would be so much easier to get calm and centered if you would shut up. I don’t care that you fixed your husband and kid their breakfast before you left because it was someone’s birthday.”

Let me be clear: this was all the teacher. I’ve been in some generally chatty classes, where people want to catch up with their friends, but that is not what was going on. The (few) other class members today were quiet and apparently focused on their practice. But from the teacher we got a constant flow of “feel the energy” type comments mixed with snippets about her family life and recent experiences, and, occasionally, some actual useful information about what we should be doing with a pose.

I left feeling certain I would not be back, and rather cross about this because the combination of time and place are really good for me. Since I got home, however, I’ve been quite productive. I did more yoga. I did some baking, prepped preserved lemons, paid bills, ordered some things I need online, sent a message to a family member about shipping more Stuff from FamilyLand. I’ve done a little bit of tidying up, though I still need to do much more. When I write it out, it doesn’t seem like that much, but my weekend mornings often start with several hours of drinking tea, reading blogs, and staring into space feeling that I really ought to do something. Anything. Any time now . . .

So maybe I should keep gritting my teeth through this class. Maybe it really does energize me. Or motivate me to be quiet and focused, in order to counter the unwelcome chatter.

It also made me think about the unintended consequences of both good intentions that don’t produce the desired results, and of negative experiences that get one’s attention or inspire a desire to be different/better. Maybe (to pick up TLQ’s gardening metaphor) I need to be hardened, left outside in the cold a bit; or to have some growth pinched back to make me grow bushier; or forced to grow up a trellis.

Remember, remember

Seventeen years ago, the weather was just like this.

I taught on Tuesdays, that term.

I usually listened to the news in the car, not before leaving my third-floor walkup.

My neighbor caught me in the hallway to tell me, as I was leaving. I didn’t understand. I thought, small plane.

When I tuned in to the news, the second tower had already come down.

Noah Adams’s voice broke. (Was it Noah? One of the NPR reporters.)

I called to find out if LRU was carrying on as normal. They were.

I carried on. I taught. Everyone was so shocked that all we could do was continue to do the things we always did, like shattered glass hanging together for a few seconds before it starts to fall out of a window.

I remember the morning. I don’t remember the end of the day.

For this fall’s freshmen, the world has always been this way. This is not their before and after.

Random things

  • The red basket has arrived. I am pleased to have it in my possession, though I think I should buy some paint and re-spray it.
  • Some dishes have also arrived. More of the set were found after I left for the airport; one of my sisters-in-law will ship them to me.
  • I am very pleased to have The Bowl in my house. The Bowl lived on a table in the living room, visible from the entrance to my house, all the time I was growing up. It usually had some sort of seasonal decoration in or near it. I love the Bowl for its own sake, because it is beautiful. There is a myth about its provenance which seems to be belied, or at least complicated, by the manufacturer’s mark on its bottom. Whatever. The Bowl is now mine, in my living room, and seeing it makes me happy.
  • I also have The Rolling Pin, with red handles, to replace the one I got at a yard sale. I feel sillier about shipping this than I do about the Basket and the Bowl, but I’m still pleased to have it. I’ll give my other rolling pin away.
  • I have vigorously refused various silver-plated objects (coffee pot, trays, candlesticks, and similar oddments) offered to me. I used to have to clean that stuff as a teenager. No thank you. It saddens me that my mother found these things a meaningful statement of status, and that her kids just want to be rid of them, but times change. Whatever her fantasies, I am not going to have “co-eds,” the dean, or my church group (a non-existent group, since I don’t attend church) over for coffee and serve them from the silver pot.
  • Does anybody serve drinks from silver pots any more?
  • One of my classes has met. My students are adorably enthusiastic. I hope they stay that way.
  • I still have to finish the syllabus for the other class. It’ll get done.
  • I think I should make some vigorous efforts to settle back into the house where I still live. The more complicated and annoying it will be to move, the more likely someone is to make us an offer, according to Sod’s Law. Right?

The red basket

Stuff. Things. Memories. Do you keep them, why do you keep them, do you really want them or do you have a sense of obligation (= guilt) about them? Would you rather just move on and be who you are now, and forget about the path that brought you here? Do you hang onto things, or to people, for the sake of children or other people down the generational line? Or is that another reason to get rid of things and cut ties?

My mother died ten years ago. My father is in assisted living. My brothers have been clearing out my parents’ last house (not somewhere any of us ever lived). Since my parents themselves cleared out the house we grew up in (and what a job that was), and then there were two more houses, one of which burned down after they moved out but while there was still stuff in storage there, much of the Stuff in my dad’s house is things he dragged home in the last 15 years or so. It doesn’t have feelings attached. And we have all taken a lot of things we wanted already.

Nonetheless, Stuff kept turning up when we all went to the house together. Things we thought had already gone to someone: here is that set of dishes (or at least part of the set). Anyone want them? These wine glasses are worth actual money; should we try to sell them on e-Bay or just let garage-salers feel they’ve made a massive score? Here’s That Thing! Reminisce about the Thing. Do a few minutes of reminiscence suffice, or does someone want the Thing?

Since I live far away and am here only briefly, I’m shipping some Things to myself. I may yet de-accession them once I return to my Actual Real Life. But while I’m here, I can’t really tell whether I really want the Things, or just want to have seen them again.

It’s strange how many different stories there are about things. One brother assured me that a crocheted object was something our mother made for me as a baby. I told him I made it for her, a Christmas present that I worked on when I lived in Paris. I wonder how many other legends like that run through families, where people forget the origins of the pickle dish.

One of the things I think I want is a basket. A large oblong basket painted red. So many times I have looked for it when I needed something in which to take a cake or a casserole to a party, and then realized that it was never in my house, it was my mother’s basket. I don’t know why I never bought myself my own basket. Now I’m going to have the original one that I keep looking for. I hope that will be satisfying. I do wonder if I should just pitch the red basket, here, and get myself a new one at home. But this is what I mean: it’s hard to know, here, what matters, and why it matters.