Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Catching up: 10 random bits o' something

1. I'm trying to watch my language now that Lucas seems to be morphing into a little sponge. Next up: sad attempts at childproofing an overstuffed apartment.

2. I think I've worked as a writer for too many different organizations for too long. I actually just caught myself wondering if I should have some kind of style guide for my blog. I was considering going back and changing all the post titles so that they all follow the same capitalization rules, for example.

3. I drove out to Berkeley on Monday to do some research on one of my dissertation's subjects, Annie Montague Alexander, an amateur scientist with a major philanthropic streak who founded not one but TWO museums at UC Berkeley. There's no public parking at all on campus, but fortunately the Bancroft Library is temporarily located off campus and right across the street from a public parking lot that only cost $15/day. Score!

Unfortunately, the receptionist told me that since it was spring break, the library didn't open for another two hours. Argh. I had left a stressed Mr. Trillwing home alone with Lucas. And I had driven more than an hour to get to the library, navigating streets that were foreign to me to find the prized parking lot. New research territories always stress me out.

So I had two hours to burn, but since I had already found the place and had a prime parking spot, I didn't want to get back in the car and go anywhere. I wandered around a not-so-lovely portion of downtown Berkeley, browsed a bookstore, and grabbed a kind of crappy lunch around the corner from the Bancroft. Then I wandered around the Berkeley campus until I found an unlocked public restroom. In so doing, I stumbled into one of the "museums" (they don't have public exhibits, usually) founded by Alexander, and got to see skeletons of a T. rex and a pterodactyl-type thing, plus some bits-n-pieces of dinosaurs mounted on a wall behind glass. Very cool. Dinosaurs were what got me into this whole dissertation topic.

Meanwhile, it was getting cold, and in my rush out of the apartment, I had forgotten my coat. Brrrrrr.

Anyhoo, I wandered back into the Bancroft spot on at 1 p.m. when it opened for the day, but found that one minute earlier, not one, not two, but FIFTEEN anthropologists had shown up unannounced, swooping on most of the Bancroft's 18 reading room seats. And there were three other people also in line ahead of me, including two from Oregon, so I couldn't pull my "Oh, but I just drove all the way from Daaaavis" crap.

Fortunately, the librarian sitting at the reception desk recognized me as someone who had paged archival materials via e-mail--he had gently chastised me for a last-minute request but thanked me for being more thorough in my requests than most researchers, which made me feel like a pro and endeared him to me forever--and he kindly hustled me into the room. I heart archivists and reference librarians. :) The guy who handed me the first box outlined the basic rules of the reading room (the standard one-folder-at-a-time, use-a-placeholder spiel), adding "Take good care of her for me."

I love this stuff. Maybe I was meant to be an archivist. But Mr. Trillwing might kill me if I went back for ANOTHER degree.

For once I was comfortable in a reading room without a sweater on, but I think I was an anomaly because the women next to me both wore scarves and three visible layers of clothes. I wore a cap-sleeve top with a neckline that's probably a bit too swoopy for the swollen lactating orbs. Lots of skin exposed, but no chill for trillwing. I need to lose some of this baby fat.

I got in three hours of reading before I began to get nervous about the traffic awaiting me, so I hopped in the car and it only took me two hours to get home. In the driving rain.

4. For a nagging health problem, I managed to get a referral from student health to the women's health clinic where I had my prenatal care. As I was leaving, the middle-aged and a bit too perky nurse practitioner who nonetheless has come to be one of my favorites, said, "I think you're done with us, finally, Honey." And that made me sad. So many good times there, listening to Lucas's little galloping heartbeat in utero, reading the pregnancy and parenting magazines, enjoying chats with the midwives. Back to student health. . . *sigh* Mind you, the student health center on campus offers very good care, but it's clearly targeted to the early-twentysomething population, and it's desperately in need of renovation. So it's a tad bit depressing to walk in there after my fabulous care at the nonprofit hospital's women's clinic.

But good news: I lost a little weight in the two weeks between my visits to the nice clinic, despite my family stuffing me silly on my trip to Long Beach. Yay!

5. As I type this, Lucas is slumped in my lap. We have the hardest time keeping him awake after 6:30 p.m., even if, as he did today, he naps for two hours in the afternoon. Such an early bedtime means 4 a.m. reveille.

6. Lots of dissertation anxieties. It will get done. It is getting done. But still. I'm nervous.

7. My 1890s course got off on the right foot today, I think, but I'm not pleased with my anthology selections. I kind of made them in haste, which was a bad idea. The one good thing is that we'll finish the course with The Devil in the White City, which is a terrific book about the 1893 Columbian Exposition and a serial killer who set up shop next door to it. I just hope the students aren't too burned out by that point.

8. I'm nervous about taxes. The past few years we've gotten big refunds, but I'm not so optimistic this year. I don't have any evidence to support this malaise, but I'm worried. The bad news: my medical expenses for the pregnancy weren't quite high enough to qualify us for a deduction. I was hoping they would meet that magical percentage of our income, but I guess I was conflating them with the vet bills. :P I should hear back from our enrolled agent soon.

9. Had my first flat tire ever last week. Bleah. Hope we get a tax refund so we can pay for new tires!

10. There's a job open on my campus, a non-teaching position that's really exciting. I'm finishing up my application for it tonight. I have mixed feelings about applying for an 8-to-5 job at this point, considering I already have some teaching gigs lined up for the next year and how much I'm enjoying hanging out with Lucas during the day. But this job would pay sooooo much better and would allow me to interact with faculty, assist students with research into gender, and design fun outreach programs. And the salary is decent. The job description sounds as if it was written with me in mind, and that, I assure you, is a rare bird these days. Good stuff. Wish me luck...


ArticulateDad said...

Luck wished. I'm feeling good that we'll all wind up with something good for next year.

Queen of West Procrastination said...

Good luck! It's clearly an exciting thing to find a job description that fits you exactly. With good pay.

And good archivists and reference librarians really are the best thing ever.

YelloCello said...

Best of luck!
I have to second the cheers for archivists and research librarians. Cheers to you, too. It's encouraging to see how you balance baby and writing and research!