Mixed Feelings on 2019

In some ways, 2019 was a real shitkicker of a year. I think my mom dying in January basically set the bar real low. Anything after that wasn’t really all THAT bad. Like how you date someone who cheats on you and steals your shit and everyone you date after that is deemed ok by your very bruised standards.

Reader: 2019 was not all hearts and flowers after January.

To start, there are, I think, a lot of people who are fairly patriotic and who are absolutely horrified by everything this president has done. From putting kids in cages to rolling back environmental regulations, many of us have been rocked to the core over things we *thought* we knew about America and Americans are actually wrong. Of course, I’m sure many POC and individuals from First People nations are like, “Oh, that’s cute.”

Still.

There is a sense that 2019 has been a dumpster fire, which is unreal because a lot of people thought 2018 was a dumpster fire. So at this point they are really just competing with each other to see which could be more of a mess.

I “worked” too much in 2019. Basically I have two modes in my life: work and not work. Everything that pertains to responsibilities, duties, obligations, commitments, and actual work is work. In June I agreed to be president of the parent group of my son’s school. I consider this work because it is comprises activities that I do not find fun or relaxing: asking people for stuff, getting approval for stuff, organizing stuff, etc. It’s not stuff I would do for fun: I am not energized nor invigorated by it. I’m not all that great at it; I consider myself a caretaker president, just trying to keep the lights on and help the school the best I can given all the ways in which I am the absolute worst person for this “job”.

Professionally, it’s been a weird year: a couple of different opportunities for advancement with my current employer didn’t go the way I thought they would. Even though I’ve been “alt-ac” for almost 7 years, I honestly believed this year I had a chance to go back on the tenure track, which is really the only career I’ve wanted since 2003. It feels some kind of way to still want that, like I’m the worst kind of delusional. Like a 15 year old still desperately believing in Santa Claus, because not believing means something.

It’s hard to explain all there is to explain about it. But Reader, know that I am aware of the choices I made…I did the best I could with what I knew at the time. I’m also very bad at making decisions and should *really* never be allowed to make them. To be completely honest to myself, I have a hard time making anyone do things thing I want to do. So it wasn’t as easy as “going off” the tenure track. It was going off the tenure track with a husband and son in tow.

It should be noted that a lot of the stuff that faculty do are things that I do with my jobs currently: research, teaching, and service. I just don’t have the benefit of being able to earn tenure. The thing I really liked about being tenured/tenure track was the ability to control my destiny somewhat. And to me, however hard I had to work, whatever it took to earn tenure was worth it because it meant security after 5-7 years. Now I feel like I have work just as hard, but without the promise of tenure in 5-7 years.

And I know my privilege is showing here, that I am pissing and moaning about the exact shade of the collar of my white collar job. And it’s not really hard work like farming, roofing, plumbing, or the service sector. It’s just not what I wanted is all. But that’s not even all that rare these days. The Academy has changed in earth shattering ways since I started grad school. Under and mis-employed PHDs are a dime a dozen. I’m not special.

I went up for a big promotion at work and didn’t get it. I did get a smaller promotion- one that is mostly in title. The big promotion would have meant I wouldn’t need (financially) to teach, that I could lean into research enhancement and promotion and I’d have the nearly perfect non-tenure track job. But that’s not how this story goes.

I have a new boss. I think it will be okay, but new is new. And sometimes it’s hard to tell how that will shake out. I’m hopeful though.

I did some things professionally that were really good. I got a paper accepted that has been hanging around for three years, that I started data collection on shortly after arriving to Chicago. Its publication is kind of the end of a chapter: the unsure steps of my first largely unsupervised research project.

I applied for and won a grant. I wanted to purchase some data from the state of Illinois and couldn’t figure out a way to get it funded. I learned about this opportunity and put the application together in about 2 weeks. It’s great because it will allow me to purchase A LOT of data. I can publish on this data for years- which would be really important if I was on the tenure track.

I leaned into learning R. I posted about it on Twitter, but my markers for what this would look like were 1) doing a workshop on it, 2) debugging R code on the fly, and 3) having a functional markdown document.

In the waning minutes of my last day in the office of 2019, I accomplished this. Even better, I did it with data for one of my new projects. So when I get back in the office in January, I’m ready to continue developing my R chops.

I put together a series of writing workshops/retreats that were well received. The sense is that we should keep them going in 2020 and I think I will.

But ultimately, I worked too hard in 2019. I didn’t move enough, I didn’t sleep enough. I did stupid shit that interfered with both. I need to develop better habits; so that is what I am going to prioritize in 2020. Not because I have some type of superficial sense that This is What We Do in January: make promises to develop new habits. I literally need to, for my health. For my sanity. I just concluded part 1, but I feel like I’m starting part 2 in a hole.

I also desperately need to have some perspective on work tasks. and recognize that just because it has to be done, doesn’t mean it has to be done right now. I can go to the gym, I can go for a walk.

There is also nothing that happens on social media before work that is worth not cooking a good breakfast, doing yoga, or having a slow cup of tea before a 10-12 hour work day. I need to drink more water and eat more salads, which means having stuff for salads in the fridge.

I’m much more than the work I do. I need to remember that. Please remind me.

The End of Part One

In our house growing up, turning 40 was A Moment.

It was a different time. Back when life expectancy was 60-65, 40 was the beginning of the downhill slide to death. Also, my maternal grandfather died very young and one of my mom’s brothers was convinced he wouldn’t make it to 40 (he did).

I remember my mom being apprehensive about turning 40. She was also incredibly anti-vanity. So if she did obsess about it, she didn’t verbalize a lot of her thoughts on Turning 40. And honestly, I can’t imagine my dad engaged in a long conversation about my mom’s anxiety turning 40.

So intellectually, I felt that turning 40 was supposed to be a big deal. Like, what does it mean to be 40? Previous generations treated 40 like it was “over the hill”, which is weird, because it implied everything after 40 should be easy. You’re going downhill. What is hard about pedaling downhill? Nothing.

But it definitely feels too early to start coasting. Like, I don’t think I’ve done enough to start coasting. But it also feels strange to lean into “forty is the new 30” sentiment. Because honestly, no one knows shit at 30. You think you do, but you don’t. Which makes it even funnier… oh, you thought you knew shui? You’re 30… you literally know nothing. You might as well be Jon Snow with all the shit you don’t know.

So instead of leaning into any of these sentiments: I’m going hard in the paint for 40 being the end of part 1 (and beginning of part 2). It’s nice because it’s open ended; I could have parts 2-5? Or whatever. Also doesn’t have that fatality of being “over the hill”. And I don’t have to kick my own ass after saying “forty is the new thirty” sounding like I’m trying to convince myself (and others) that I am not really depressed by being 40.

Should or shouldn’t?

Some visual displays of how well I am handling the quarter at this point:

lucy

honeyboo

bad hula

So there is that.

I haven’t talked about it much, but I am the president of the Nico’s school’s parent group.  To be fair, I thought it was a bad idea when I said I would do it.  I think most people who know me would have been like, “Yeah, you shouldn’t do that.”  But here we are.

It is a bad idea mostly because I am just too busy to do it right.  These are the things I need to remember: just because I CAN do something doesn’t mean I HAVE the time to do it right.  These are very important distinctions.  Like today, right now, I just realized that I had planned to go to wordpress to update the website for the parent group.  And I was distracted by my blog.  And decided to write a blog post about how busy and distracted I am.  So, there is that.

Before the next school board meeting, I have to write 5 proposals for fundraisers for the fall semester, so that they can be approved by the school board.  Some of these are for fundraisers that are already underway. A couple are pretty cool though, so that is alright, I guess.  I just don’t want to be the reason why we aren’t successful at raising teh monies this year.

 

Ten!!

Nico turned 10 this year.

It’s so weird. I worry so much about him. I worry about him at 30- I worry that he’ll be depressed and aimless. I worry that nothing will bring him joy or happiness. I worry that he won’t like to do any job or basically have any thing that gets him out of bed every day.

I wonder if I’ll look back on moments during his childhood for proof. Like, “I knew this was going to happen! I worried so much about it! If only we had done __________ differently!”

Something I’m starting to realize as he gets older is that he is his own person. And that soon he’ll be making choices that will have a lot more impact than doing some things differently now.

He is his own person.

That’s weird, right? To think of him as a person separate and distinct from me. Just ten years ago, we were literally bound by flesh. We shared oxygen and blood.

Now he is his own person.

There are so many choices I won’t be able to make for him in the future. Maybe that is good. I mean, how awful would it be to make decisions under the burden of another person’s 40 years of fears, anxiety, and cynicism?

Because he is his own person.

So I’m trying to appreciate and enjoy him for the person he is becoming. It’s cool to see him changing- he is starting to care about how he looks, which is funny. He’s not too old to have idols (or be open about his admiration). He is fairly certain Javy Baez (Cubs’ SS) is the greatest athlete to ever play any sport- but recognizes that there are phenomenal athletes on other teams.

He’s starting to recognize how his actions impact the world around him. A couple of weeks ago, he put a can of soda on the counter so it’s bottom was partially hanging off (a nod to me always re-positioning things further back so he doesn’t knock them off). He looked me dead in the eye and said, “I’m giving mom anxiety right now.”

He is mastering the fine line between sass/humor and disrespect.  Earlier this week, he asked me to homeschool him.  It was a conversation during homework and Dave continued to be incredulous that Nico didn’t just memorize his times tables, because that is literally the easiest thing in the world to do.  I told him, “Absolutely not!  You don’t even know your times tables.  And you’re in fifth grade! I learned mine in 3rd!”  And he laughed, saying, “Easy nerd! I don’t care!” Which is such a funny thing to say.

We spent the week leading up to his birthday on vacation; seeing Cubs v. Brewers with his oldest cousin, aunts and uncles, we camped in Michigan, and went to the Wisconsin Dells for the first time. It was a good time.

Photos We Don’t Have

We are in the thick of planning for my mom’s Memorial Service/Celebration of Life, which is going to happen next month.  My mom didn’t want this.  In all the times (at least five) she brought up her wishes for what she wanted,  she specifically and explicitly said that she didn’t want a memorial service.  She wanted to be cremated and she wanted us kids to take her ashes and spread them in the UP.  In the times we talked about it, she mentioned specific details: there was birch forest, there were cliffs overlooking Lake Superior, there was a log slide, a place close by that served breakfasts on turkey platters.  In the past 5 months, I have done extensive research and I think I have the place narrowed down.  I think I know where she wants her ashes spread.

The other part of her wishes, were that she wanted it to be easy on us kids.  She didn’t want a memorial service that was going to require planning, or messing up any grandkid sports schedules.  She didn’t want us all boo-hooing about what a great woman she was, what a pillar of the community, etc.  Essentially, she wanted an Irish Goodbye, slipping away unseen and unnoticed.

And I respect the shit out of that.

Slipping out of a party lets the leaver avoid hard conversations, having to answer questions about where you’re going, why so early, why don’t you want to stay at this party?  It also decreases the likelihood of the conversations after, like, “Can you believe her?  Who does she think she is?  Like she had some place better to go?” or even the less biting, like, “That was an interesting choice for her hair?”  Or the one that scares the hell out of me whenever I am putting on primer mascara before going out, “Did she really do white mascara?  What IS that?” (technically, this happened one time, I went to a 40th birthday party and forgot too put mascara on top of the primer- which is never a good look when your eyes are what make you look old.  Shout out to my “friends” who didn’t say anything about it… Y’all the real MVP).

So, we’re doing this memorial service/celebration of life as a picnic and my dad is working on a scrapbook of my mom’s life.  Which requires photos.

And I don’t think we have many.

There are reasons for this.

First, it was a different time.  During her life, photography included digital photos taken on phones on cameras, digital photos taken on cameras, 35mm that you sent away to be developed, instant cameras, polaroids and everything that came before that.  For much of our childhood, my mom had nice 35mm cameras, but an 8 year old cannot be trusted with those.  So, the majority of her life, which was spent with us kids, included 3 humans who could not be trusted to hold a camera, focus it, etc.

Second, since my dad didn’t have the time or the inclination for being around us, there wasn’t another adult who thought it was important to document our lives. The lives still needed to be documented- pictures taken for Christmas cards, and the grandparents and and aunts and uncles.  The conesequence is that, we have a ton of photos of us kids.  Like, one could piece together our growing up and developing, almost before the camera.  Which is great.  But she was behind the camera.  So there are so very few of her.

Third, she seemed uncomfortable in front of the camera.  I am not sure if she always struggled with her weight, or if it was just the thing that happens to women when they have children.  Before she married my dad, she was an absolute smoke show.

momsadle

Later, I just always got the sense that she didn’t want her picture being taken.

So we don’t have many photos of her.

Photos I WISHED I had: I wish I had pics of her and me on first days of school.  I wish I had pics of her, Nicole, JJ, and me during the few years when all three of us played soccer and spent our weekends driving all over the state.  I wish that I had a pic of her with me before each of the formal  dances I went to in high school, she made two of the three dresses I wore.  I wish I had a pic of her when I signed my letter of intent to play soccer at Lee University.  I wish I had a photo of us during any one of the drives we made between Tallahassee and Florida when she’d come up to babysit Nico during weeks when his preschool was closed.  I wish that we had made Dave or my brother-in-law or someone take pics of the three of us kids with her in Texas.  There are so many.

It makes me think about the photos I take with Nico- a lot of selfies.  It’s weird to ask other people to take pictures of you, even your husband, I think.  But I should be better about asking Dave to take pictures of Nico and me (and maybe Dave just needs to be better about taking pictures of Nico and me without having to be asked).  But even that is weird… like for all of our relationship that hasn’t been us.  We don’t post on FB or Insta pics with captions like, “He is my world, I wouldn’t know what I would do without him, love ya babe, yada yada yada.”  I think we’re just old enough to be self-conscious of that kind of social media behavior.  Or maybe 16 years together ingrains patterns that are hard to break. 

I guess the lesson here is if you’re a parent, make sure that your kid/s will have pics of them with the people they care about: moms, dads, grands, aunts, uncles. Some day those photos will be the only thing they will have left.   I wish I had more photos with my mom. 

 

Peak Summer

We spent the 4th down on the far south side.  A grad school friend, who lives in Chicago with his wife is from here. Their families are from here- south side white families that are fascinating to me.  In the middle of the 20th century, there were large neighborhoods of whites who lived on the south side, near factories and industry.  They lived in places like East Side and Mount Greenwood, with Irish, German, and Polish and other Eastern European immigrants.  Knowing a little about these neighborhoods reminds me of how fast Chicago has changed.

I like going because I get to make some delicious dessert and take it… without the guilt of eating an entire tray of it.  This year, I went back to Smores Bars, which I took a couple of years ago.  I had one when I first got there and then had to claim a second (it was that good). I mean…

smorebar

It was nice to see my friend, his wife and this large group of friends who I am starting to get to know through Fantasy Football.  I tried, weakly, to talk shit to the guy who is periennally a front runner for our trophy, but honestly, it felt wrong.  The first year I was in the league, I had some major good look, but every season since then, my team has been a dumpster fire.

In any case, my friend’s crew are all really into fireworks, so there was a pretty big fireworks display, which involved timers and

such.  The weather started out pretty garbage.  But then came around.

brucelyrics

I got to snap some pics with my phone- which I used as a background for my ubiquitious IG post… fireworks pic+Springsteen Lyrics=Basic Bitch JBR in the house.  I did switch it up scotch this year by going with the Independence Day lyrics (instead of the Sandy lyrics).

Honestly, I am glad I am a grown up now, because if I was a kid, everyone I know would get me a basic bitch barbie every year for Christmas.  And I would desserve it.

In other news, we are getting travel plans in place for our trip to the UP in August. In a stroke of crazy luck, the Federal Government has moved some camping sites at National Parks into an online reservation management system.  Which is incredible.  Because there is a very specific place I wanted to stay in the UP.  Basically, it is a place that my mom described to me.  And based on 7 months of googling and deciphering clues, I think I have it figured out.  And the only way to get a campsite was to actually, with my feet, like some type of peasant in 1750 walk to the campsite and reserve it.

Until this summer, when all the camping stuff in the NPS got moved into an online system.  The system when live and 5 minutes later, I had a site reserved, which I am thrilled about.

I am feeling a certain kind of way… which is hard to describe.  It is probably a little bit of overwhelm that I am feeling… there are so many things I want to research and do while we are there… shipwreck glass bottom boat tours, fishing, blueberry picking, camping (obviously), making good noms over a campfire (even more obviously).  I am trying to figure out which lake we can hike to in the morning for fishing and whether that will be too far?  What kind of bait do I need? Like, I want to actually catch A fish this time.  Should I try some of those fancy fly lure things?  I can get some from Amazon.  Interesting.  Are these for fly fishing or can I just tie this to a line and throw in the water.  But maybe I will need worms.  Where can i get worms there?  Probably any store.  Don’t be stupid, JBR. Assuming I catch a fish, will any of the knives I have be long enough to filet it?  Sharp enough?   I want to make smore cones, do I need foil for that?  I understand that there are wild blueberries among the birch forrest… how different are they from commercial U-Pick berries?  I mean, I think I’d recognize them, but maybe I wouldn’t. Can I get a book on edible/poisonous plants in the UP.    Also, do I need some type of grill thing? Like, what is that called?  Like, to set over a fire ring?  It seems like I could take the rack thing from the oven, that would work, right?  Do I even need this, since I have a two burner Coleman stove?  Plus a MSR pocket rocket? Do I have straps for my hammock?  So, when you’re camping, can you just set up your tent and leave it there, or do I need to pack and unpack every time we leave the campsite?  Will anybody bother our shit?  What if I come back from fishing with Nico and there is a bear in the tent, tearing shit up?  What if the bear wants to fight? I mean, he wouldn’t be wearing a gi… but maybe his fur would be long enough to throw him with Osoto Gari?  Right?  No.  That is ridiculous.  You can’t do judo with a bear, JBR.

So… basically my brain has about 30 browser tabs open at this point in time.

I have been thinking, “This is too much information to track and filter and engage with. Could I just have a book that tells me what to do?”  So, I think we’ve reached peak information age.

Dave is going to have to do at least some work while we are there… so we’re renting a hotel room for him to work in during the day.  The UP is definitely not covered with cell service, so I didn’t want to risk him not being able to work.  Also, Lake Superior is like in the 50s even in the summer… so I wasn’t really gung-ho on that being my method of shower.  We are taking a water purifier though, so it will be fun to sort of camp, rustically, but with backups not far away.  Because I am going to need him to recharge my battery packs, since I have over 3,000 stories saved in my pocket app and I plan to read them all.

Tired

I am about the age my mom was when I started noticing her as a person, not a mother or a wife or a soccer mom. But as a person.

She was 38-39. It was around the time of her 20th high school reunion. We’d returned to Michigan for a summer vacation combined with the reunion.  The band was back together and I had the very distinct feeling that they were grownups. Old. They sat around talking about the gold old days, things that had happened 20+ years ago. For a week she flitted back and forth between the worlds of our Mom and Marti Drake. We saw a different side of her that summer. But also completely, totally, absolutely off our “schedule” and “routine”.

It was disorienting.  I think I was going into sixth grade, so it felt like things were changing.

I know intellectually, that things in our house weren’t easy. While we didn’t as a family talk about family finances, there was a sense that my parents had to work hard to put a roof over our heads and food on the table. The ten acres where we lived housed a dozen Arabian horses, the remnants of my mom’s failed dream of having a horse ranch. Turns out the only thing more expensive than having a working horse ranch is having one that doesn’t work.

It couldn’t have been easy trying to raise the three of us kids with my dad. Long hours on the roof all over Florida was likely the easiest part of dealing parenting with him. But that wasn’t the whole of it…frankly my dad, introverted to the core, has never really been into typical family and house stuff. He couldn’t be counted on to pick any of us kids from school or soccer or yearbook.  And this was back before cell phones, I can imagine Mom not wanting to rely on him to do pertaining to us kids.

But it’s not like Mom was the Old Lady in the Shoe, with so many kids she didn’t know what to do. Nicole and I started feeding the horses when we’re in 2nd and 3rd grade. We did a LOT of chores; cleaning and cooking. I mean, it was probably nice to come home from work to your two eldest daughters who had fed the horses and made dinner.

And while she absolutely did weary work (in a daycare and later running small restaurants/cafes), I just don’t remember her being tired all the time.

Like I am.

Maybe she was.  Maybe she just didn’t talk about it.  Or maybe our evening routine, having dinner and watching TV was the result of her being worn out from having to deal with people all day.  Or having to deal with kids all day.

Things were different… we had 6 channels of TV, so its not like my mom ever accidentally stayed up till 1am binge watching anything.  She didn’t lay in bed scrolling through feeds watching people fight on the internet.  She likely didn’t feel rage about injustice in the world, of immigrant kids being kept in cages, or presidents making an absolute mockery of the country.  It was just different.

Tired just seems to be my default place now.

So its weird, thinking of myself in the context of my view of my mom’s parenting.  Its strange because I don’t remember her being tired all the time.  But I am tired all the time.  So am I an adult?  Is this what being an adult is?

Taking Stock: June 2019

Making : Nothing much.  Really just wishing I could knit better.  It seems like something that I should be able to do better.  I’m just so low on patience lately.  Maybe when things slow down a bit.  The knits from Outlander are inspirational.

shawl
Cooking : Not much lately.  It seems like the last two months we have just been in survival mode.  Nico’s soccer season is finishing up, and I am hoping to try my hand at making beef wellingtons.  They look amazing.
Drinking : Maybe about 7-8 years ago, I tried bourbon (Maker’s Mark) for the first time. It was mixed with ginger ale and it tasted like burn.  I didn’t like it.  But… back at Christmas time, we were visiting friends and I tried this bourbon, mixed with ginger ale.  And it was not bad… not bad at all.  Apparently, it is very “smooth”, I don’t exactly know what that means.  But I do know that I like drinking this.

img_3563
Reading: So, I am ahead of schedule on my 2019 reading challenge (52 for the year).  So far, I have read 25 books!  Great, right?  Yes, I am rather impressed with myself.  I just started Elizabeth Warren’s book from Audible and am reading the ebook version of Theft of a Decade.
Wanting: Still wanting a true travel backpack. Still can’t justify pulling the trigger and getting one.
Waiting: For summer.  So much waiting,f or so many reasons: for summer to be over, to start riding my bike again, to be done teaching the class that I am currently teaching (qualitative methods), to start teaching my favorite class (two sections of statistics for nursing students). Just waiting.
Liking: I like spring so much.  It is, I think one of the best ways to be rewarded for winter here.

img_3473
Loving: Ali Wong’s “Always be my Maybe.” It’s brilliant and funny. And it has Mariah Carey on the soundtrack. And while we are on this topic, I love the fact that Netflix releases movies to stream and for theaters at the same time.  Honestly, I would see a lot more new releases if I could stream them at home.
Pondering: I follow Chase Reeves on social.  A couple of years ago, I came across his YouTube channel, where he creates videos reviewing bags.  He is doing a new thing where he is expanding into reviewing every day items (like shirts, etc).   He said something to the effect of “When something that you use or need everyday is disappointing, then, it is disappointing every day.” Which is remarkable.  As someone who thinks about and cares a lot about the experience of using things, this resonates with me, a lot.
Considering: Taking up cross-stitch. Like, a lot. I discovered Subversive Cross Stitch and honestly, it’s my jam. Smaller scale projects. Some with cursing. 🙂
Buying:
Watching: I finally pulled the trigger and started watching Outlander. Basically the level of curiosity has been there for a minute. When I saw it pop up on Netflix, I was like, “Ok. I’ll be the judge of this.” It’s not bad. My mom would have liked it.
Questioning: The life choices that have lead to our live situation in the last 2 months. It’s unreal.  And its been a wet spring, so we’ve had a lot of baseball games early in the season get post-poned, which spins them to later in the season.  So, it seems like we have something going on every night of the week.  Or day of the week.  Really looking forward to the end July, which we basically have *mostly* off.
Sorting: Nico’s room.  I basically spent last Friday night cleaning his room.  Honestly, I don’t know why it is always a disaster.  It’s not like he spends copious amounts of time in there. Trying to keep up with all of the equipment and stuff he needs for sports reminded me of a solution that my mom had when we were kids, which was to threaten to throw away a lot of our stuff, so we could find things (like library books and calculators for school) better.  I kinda see her point.
Getting: I ordered a book about tartans, mostly because I realized I knew absolutely nothing about them.  The tartans that are used in Outlander are kind of cool looking.  So is the one for Dave’s family (the Gordons).  Also, I kind of want to know what tartans from my family might have looked like.  I am not really sure if I even have any Scottish ancestry… I just sort of assumed I did, given how English my ancestry has been.  Also, I really like the idea of different types of tartans, like modern, ancient, dress, etc.  I think it’s very cool.
Bookmarking: I came across paper.li last week.  I am not really sure what it is.  It looks like an easy newsletter/aggregator tool.  According to the “learn more” page, it is “the easiest way to collect, publish, and share content on the web.” When I came across it, it was as a sort of career newsletter.  I am not sure what I would use it for.  Like a curated twitter feed of interesting links?  I don’t know.  But I am, indeed, intrigued.
Coveting: A yard. This time of year is just full of growing things. And I wish I had a big ass yard to grow produce in.
Giggling: at my son’s giggling. His best friend from school has been in town this weekend and they just make each other laugh. And it devolves into giggling about non-sense. It’s awesome.
Feeling: Elizabeth Warren. She has a response to a question about abortion that I thought was really articulate and thoughtful.
Snacking: I went into a grocery yesterday that had cases on cases of beautiful ripe mangos. I cut it up and ate it yesterday and it was honestly, the best mango I’ve ever had.

Me, an intellectual…

In a book store, I cannot ever NOT by a book.

Honestly, it is worth considering why I am the way that I am.  Seriously.  Why?

I don’t need anymore books.

It’s just that I want more books.  I know I don’t need to purchase more books, when I should just visit the shelf on my desk and make my selection.

I think it is weird.  I would rather stroll the aisles of a bookstore looking at covers and deciding on the fly (and rather dumbly) the books that I am interested in, than walk to my desk at home and choose the next book to read.  I think maybe  because I don’t read the synopsis of a lot of the books that I add to my “want to read” list,  the reptillian aspects of my brain that are attracted to shiny pretty things, takes over and I buy books that I am not really all *that* interested in reading.

This might be the case.  I have figured out that I have grand ideas about what I *think* I’d like to read.  I know this because sometimes I will, willy-nilly like go through GoodReads, clicking “Want to Read” somewhat cavalierly.  About once a month, I sit  down and decide to request some of them from CPL.  Lately, I have gotten a few books and once I read a bit of the book or the book description, I’m like:

noforme

But at least I am not spending 100 pages reading these books before deciding I hate the book and quitting it.

This is progress, people.

I wonder if this is partially about wish fulfillment.  Maybe I want to be a person who has the time to read so voraciously that I can afford to waste time reading books that I have carelessly decided to read, because, big deal.  I have plenty of time! I worry about this a lot with some of the things I want to do.  Like, do I *really* want to hike the Appalachian Trail, or do I want to be at a place in my life where I *could* hike the AT?

Because they aren’t exactly the same thing.

Honestly, I could just see me having decided to hike the AT and bailing before I even got out of Georgia, like, “NOPE.” But it would be nice to be *able* to hike the AT.

Or maybe this is just about identity and impression management.  Like, I just want to seem like the kind of person who reads some books.  I could be this shallow.  The more Man-Booker books I read, the more I wonder if this is the case.  When I decided to read the Man-Booker books, I mostly knew what I was doing.  I knew that the MB Prize is awarded to the “best” English literature published during the year.  Not the most popular.  But “best” awarded by literature types who read for a living.  They read and eschew the popular and plebian.  That is how you end up with The Finkler Question (a “comedy” about old Jewish dudes obsessing about their dicks, being Jewish, and philandering).   Maybe if I read these books people will think I am smart?  An intellectual? Is that what is happening?

Oh, you can definitely tell it is the end of the quarter and I have a shit ton of grading to do.  When I am getting meta about my life, it’s time to sit my ass down in a chair and grade some more.

 

 

Short-Timers

We’re limping to the end of the school year and the soccer season.  Honestly, how is it that the school year is still going? It feels like Nico has been in fourth grade for 65469898 months.

Since he has been old enough to entertain himself (more or less), I stopped stressing about summers and days off.  When Nico was little, it could be stressful trying to figure out what to do with him when he was out of school and I still had to work.  Particularly during those times when I switched jobs and didn’t have any PTO or that one spring break when the guy I was working for was a real son of a bitch and didn’t “get” childcare issues.  I said what I said.

For about the last 2 years though, I crave summer.  During the school year, we have to get Nico up for school between 615-630.  It was 6am when we lived in North Park.  Then it went to 615 when we moved to Rogers Park.  Back in March, we chopped the routine down further, so that we can get him up at 630 and still *mostly* make it to school on time (which starts at 730).

But because I don’t want Nico to be a surly bastard at school, it means we have to get him in bed by 930.  I mean, I would prefer that he is in bed at 900.  But sometimes a lot of times, we will settle in on the couch to watch a Cubs game and he’ll fall asleep there. Even so… right now we have three sports going on: judo on Mondays, soccer on Tuesdays and Thursdays, baseball on Wednesdays and Fridays, Me playing soccer on Wednesday night, Dave playing soccer on Friday night.  Not to mention the myriad of baseball and soccer games that happen on the weekend.  Most nights that we have some type of practice, we’re getting home at 8pm.  Which means that we are whipping through the night, getting dinner, showers, homework done, etc.

But that is only because we have to have a dropdead time of 9-930 for bed.  When Nico doesn’t have school the next day, nights are luxurious.  We take our time with dinner… I don’t have to crack the whip at Nico and Dave.  We can listen to music and read and go to bed when we are ready.  Sometimes, if Dave is still working and Nico isn’t ready to sleep… I’ll go to bed when I am tired. Or early if I want to catch the gym in the morning.

In my opinion, we don’t talk enough about how much of a beat down the school year is for parents.

In any case, this is the first year that we haven’t signed Nico up for park district summer camp.  The first two years, he was really into it.  But he’s nine now.  And has a play station, ipad, ipod touch.  And wifi.  And a dad that works from home.  So, we have had progressively more resistance to going to summer camp… which I don’t really blame him for.  I would be the same, particularly since some of most relaxing times involve laying on the couch reading stuff on my phone.

We have some plans though… Nico would like to do a lot more crafting this summer.  Which is absolutely fine with me.  We need to overhaul his room and I want to get a crafting nook/work space in his room that I can just stock with stuff from my craft closet.  And stuff he wants to learn to do.  Also, despite the fact that I seem like I am on him all the time to stop being a dickhead about stuff, he is actually fairly mature.  I would be proud to pop into any pottery studio or any place that is doing craft stuff with him and I think he’d be all in.

Some of the things we’d like to do this summer:

  1. Do some of the crafts on 5 minute crafts (Nico and Jessi).
  2. Learn to paint with water colors (Nico and Jessi).
  3. Practice french (Nico).
  4. Piano or guitar lessons (Nico).
  5. Get a planner set up for next year with quotes, pics, etc (Nico).
  6. Learn to use a camping stove (Jessi).
  7. Lake Michigan Circle Tour (Jessi, Dave, and Nico).
  8. Craft nook for Nico’s room (Nico and Jessi).
  9. Purge craft closet (Jessi).
  10. Lego robotics lessons (Jessi and Nico).

I think this has the makings of a fun summer!