Saturday, December 30, 2006

Why I'm feeling relaxed right now

Moving is stressful, but I find myself curiously relaxed. Why?

Because for the first time in years, I'm not preparing a syllabus or lesson plans. I'm not trying to read huge chunks of books in order to stay ahead of my students. I'm not putting together a course website or answering questions from students before the quarter even begins.

I'm thrilled that I'm relieved of these responsibilities. I feel genuinely happy, and it's all because I decided to quit adjuncting.

Yes, on Tuesday and every day thereafter I have to clock in at 8 a.m. and out at 5 p.m. (I'm going to miss my naps.) But when I come home at 5:15 or so, I will have zero responsibilities beyond those to my family and friends. Woohoo!

I don't have to think about academic publishing. I don't have to think about the miserable academic job market. I am so friggin' happy about this. I had no idea I'd feel such a release.

Consider this a public service message if you're one of the many people on the academic job market, or stuck in any other professional track that is way too stressful and competitive. Don't be afraid to jump ship, because the water's fine.

Resolved: Create and Reconnect

I'm not really one for New Year's resolutions. However, it's become clear to me that I need to get my shit together in oh so many ways.

Since turning in the dissertation and aborting my academic job search, I've been letting things slide a lot. Pretty much everything, in fact. I'm not exactly sure what I've been doing in place of the stuff I should be doing (aside from spending time with Lucas), but my procrastination has become pretty damn bad. So bad that I think Mr. Trillwing is about to stage an intervention. (If you want to learn about my brand of procrastination, listen to Merlin Mann's short podcast The Perfect Apostophe. He nails it.)

So here come the resolutions. Specific resolutions aren't going to cut it because it's clear I'm not going to magically start doing the things I'm supposed to be doing, and they're too many to list anyway.

Instead I'm going to take a page from communicatrix, who has established a theme for her year in lieu of what she calls "gonnas"--you know, as in "I'm gonna vacuum more" or "I'm gonna send two articles to academic journals." Her theme, which I love but won't plagiarize, is "expand and focus."

My theme, I think, will be "Create and reconnect."

On creating: Prior to throwing myself into the dissertation, I was an intensely creative person. I like to paint on canvas as well as customize my little model horsies. I have a sewing machine on which I'd like to become more proficient because I've always been interested in textiles but never really had the time or method for experimenting with them. I want to rekindle my creative energies.

On reconnecting: In addition to being a creative person, I used to be on top of things. I don't mean I had a sparkly clean abode or that all my shit was in order, but I was considerably more organized, particularly as regards our future plans and finances. For example, Mr. Trillwing and I finally drafted our wills this fall, and I need to type them up and get them notarized. In the past, I also set up automatic deductions from our bank account for investments in mutual funds and a few stocks. I did pretty well, but I had to cash out the accounts to pay for medical expenses--Luke's birth, for one--and vet bills. I didn't mind that, because that method of saving, where I can cash out quickly if need be but to which I don't have daily access to funds as I would in a personal savings account at a bank, is a good way for us to save for emergencies as well as for larger purchases, such as the house we'd like someday to own. I also need to be more on top of our debt situation since my student loans come due soon.

By reconnecting, then, I mean reconnecting with the trillwing who was a planner and an organizer. Mr. Trillwing married that trillwing, and she's been on hiatus at least since Luke was born if not earlier than that. He also married a version of trillwing who was considerably more fit and introspective, who took long walks and used them to think through the big things and to inspire herself to further action.

I don't think those two impulses--rekindling creativity and become more organized--are in tension with one another. Rather, I see my theme for 2007 as a way to engage both my right and left brain and, just as importantly, to balance them out. Too much right brain and I forget about the bills. Too much left brain and I burn out, get distracted, and start procrastinating.

What's your theme for 2007?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Posted (almost) without comment

A Christmas Eve Trillwing family photo:

You can blame Jeff and Lisa for Luke's outfit. Mr. Trillwing has no one to blame but himself for the hat, which I swear I had never seen before he produced it for the photo.

Soy products: another weapon in the ho-mo-sex-u-al agenda

Um, yeah. You really must read this article titled "Soy is making kids 'gay.'"

A brief excerpt:
Soy is feminizing, and commonly leads to a decrease in the size of the penis, sexual confusion and homosexuality. That's why most of the medical (not socio-spiritual) blame for today's rise in homosexuality must fall upon the rise in soy formula and other soy products.

By this logic, I might as well paint a mural of Judy Garland in Luke's room, strap a pair of chaps on over his diapers, and start constructing our float for the gay pride parade. Oh my god! I fed him soy! Oh noooooo! I've fallen prey to the homosexual agenda! We're all going to HELL!

(See you there, my gay hippie vegan lactose-intolerant friends.)

Is it any wonder that I find the public (mis)understanding of science so fascinating?

(The World Net Daily article on the devil's food was brought to my attention via Pharyngula, who explains why this guy's "science" is so very, very wrong.)

Babysitters rock.

For Christmas, one of our babysitters, an art major, gave us a lovely linoleum block print she made. She also gave us a $20 gift certificate to Cost Plus World Market. So tonight, taking a break from packing (we're moving--more on that later), I ran over to Cost Plus to pick out a frame for the print.

While there, I saw a gorgeous dining room table for sale at 50% off. A steal at $234.50! So I asked about delivery options, and I realized I'd probably have to get a U-Haul and a bunch of people to carry the heavy table because delivery was pretty damn expensive.

But then I saw our *other* sitter at the checkout, and she offered to use her employee discount on my behalf. And voila! With the swipe of her discount card, the table was a mere $160. Which suddenly made the delivery option affordable.

Tomorrow we finish our move. We've moved most of our stuff, but we're using movers to carry our furniture. One of my goals after the move was to make my house look a little less like a composite of Mr. Trillwing's bachelor pad furniture and my hand-me-down grad school furniture. I try not to be materialistic, but I'm wanting a few decent pieces of furniture. And this table is step 1. Step 2: a new couch, but that must wait until March or April, when our financial future should become clearer post-move and with my new job.

Yay for our new table! Yay for moving out of an apartment and into a rental house! Yay for Lucas having his own room!

Wish us luck tomorrow. . .

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The year in review

A meme last seen at The Queen of West Procrastination.

Instructions: Record the first sentence of the first blog post of every month this year.

January: So. . . It's been a while since I've posted. Apologies all around. [an auspicious start to the year]

February: A word cloud generated for this blog:

March: I am giving up sweets. [Bwaaaahaaahahahahahahahahaha!]

April: In our little family, Mr. Trillwing sees himself as a "drain on the ticket."

May: Chapter 4 is fully drafted and I'm thinking it's pretty strong.

June: New meme, anyone?

July: While I tried letting Lucas cry it out a few times, it only ever worked that once, when he crashed in just under half an hour.

August: Mr. Trillwing, our resident agoraphobe, has decided he's outgrowing his need to hole up in his office.

September: "Huh-huh-huh"--spoken in triplet rhythm--was my late grandfather's way of saying "dog crap."

October: How many clothes do you have to take off before you can reveal your breasts?

November: Every month, readers of the H-SCI-MED-TECH list on H-Net receive a request for assistance in improving a particular Wikipedia entry related to the history of science, science studies, or the sociology of science.

December: The intersection of Payroll/Benefits and Trillwing is not a pretty place, as I'm learning in my transition to my new job.

Yeah. . . Sorry about the boring early-month posts. I'll try to fix that.

Monday, December 11, 2006

People in my family age ridiculously well

Exhibit A, my great-uncle (my grandfather's brother), who is 93. And yes, he lives in Hawaii and his birthday is indeed Pearl Harbor Day. His son tells me that Uncle John still takes an occasional overnight fishing trip.

Exhibit B, my aunt. It's because she works out religiously, but still, I'm glad I share her genes.

I also must include my other aunt (academics must check out the photo), who is Mr. Trillwing's age. She's the "fun aunt," the one who takes us out on her electric boat and proceeds to get everyone really, really drunk and then let them take turns "steering" the boat. (I think she would get along well with Dr. Brazen Hussy.)

Have I ever mentioned that at 5'9" and 165 pounds, I'm the short, fat one in the family? Really, I should take better advantage of my DNA so that I, too, can still be the fun mama in my 40s.

Blogger Beta upgrade

I'm in the process of upgrading to Blogger Beta. Please excuse any intermittent ugliness.

I'm learning I'm damn indecisive.

UPDATE: Done for now. Or is light blue + brown too last April?

Apparently, I am a hamster

As seen at B*'s.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Dammit, x2

1. Last night Blogger finally gave me a chance to try out Blogger Beta. I decided to try it out today, but now the conversion link is gone. Wah!

2. The big one: Lucas just threw one of his little trucks at my laptop's screen and now there are dings, cracks, and dark and light spots in the display. WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! I tried to take a screenshot of the damage so I could share it with you, but it didn't show up well.

Perspective, trillwing, perspective! It's good to have First World problems.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


Last seen at Cheeky Prof's, where the blog header and template is looking mighty cool, er, hot.

Instructions: Type one word. No explanations.

1. Yourself: preoccupied
2. Your spouse: driven
3. Your Hair: misbehaving
4. Your Mother: tense
5. Your Father: laid-back

6. Your Favorite Item: laptop?
7. Your dream last night: forgotten
8. Your Favorite Drink: margarita
9. Your Dream Car: none!
10. The room you are in: doghairy

11. Your Ex: who?
12. Your Fear: money
13. What you want to be in 10 years: stable
14. Who you hung out with last night: Lucas
15. What You're Not: vain

16. Muffins: lemon-poppyseed
17: One of Your Wish List Items: house
18: Time: wasted
19. The Last Thing You Did: e-mail
20. What You're Wearing: silky

21. Your Favorite Weather: windy
22. Your Favorite Book: Handmaid's?
23. The Last Thing You Ate: OJ
24. Your Life: transitions
25. Your Mood: ennui

26. Your best friend(s): thoughtful
27. What you're thinking about right now: Lucas
28. Your car: dirty
29. What you're doing at the moment: blogging
30. Your summer: class-free!

31. Your relationship status: strong
32. What's on TV: nothing
33. The weather: crisp
34. The last time you laughed: today

Sunday, December 03, 2006

In which I flip the Provost's office the bird

I'm so friggin' fed up with the Payroll/Dean's/Provost's offices BS that I've decided, with the full support of Fantastic Adviser, to walk away from the American Studies teaching job in winter quarter.

To my mind, that makes me a bitch because I'll be leaving the department in the lurch, with about a month to find someone to teach a class for which I've already ordered books. But Fantastic Adviser assures me that there will be no diminishment of the warm feelings people in the department have for me. She was so sure of this that as soon as I finished my phone conversation with her, she said she'd call the department chair and speak to him on my behalf. I'm on good terms with him, but she's closer to him. Yay for Fantastic Adviser, and yay for trillwing for deciding not to put up with the university's BS any longer.

If the course gets cancelled, I leave two TAs, both my friends, in a bad position because they may or may not have their jobs next quarter. But I'm already working with one of them to get her another job, and the other friend has a second teaching job elsewhere and had expressed interest in picking up more courses there, so I'm not too worried about him. (Another problem of my job is that I know socially pretty much everyone who was qualified and willing to serve as a TA in my courses. And as much as I like my friends, it's tough to be placed in a position where technically I'm supervising them--and then merely because I finished my dissertation before they finished theirs.)

Anyway, I'm feeling pretty good. I'll miss teaching in American Studies, but I won't miss the indentured servant wages the university offers adjuncts, nor the giant bureaucracy to which people in smaller academic departments apparently can fall prey. My new department not only has its own shuttle, but its own HR person, too. :)

Did I mention I'm also getting a Mac laptop loaded with the full Microsoft Office, Adobe, and Macromedia suites? And that I'll have a PC laptop to work with as well so that I can learn to troubleshoot problems endemic to PCs? I'm so used to using my own personal, aging laptop for teaching that the thought of being provided with TWO fully-loaded notebook computers just boggles my mind.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The intersection of Payroll/Benefits and Trillwing

. . .is not a pretty place, as I'm learning in my transition to my new job.

Exhibit A:

I was told by one of the people who manages payroll stuff for my department's interdisciplinary cluster that since my employment period is less than a year long (Oct. to June), I didn't qualify for benefits.

Ends up my pay period is officially July 1-June 30, so I did qualify for benefits, but my enrollment period was back in October. Meanwhile, I've been paying $600 a month for Lucas and me to be on Mr. Trillwing's health insurance. Boooooo!

Exhibit B:

The whole pay period thing. I didn't get any paychecks for fall until November, when I expected them to begin. Meanwhile, Payroll is saying I was to be paid on August 1, September 1, and October 1 as well. Where's that cash, people? Not in my bank, and not on my earnings statements. . .

Exhibit C:

The whole pay period thing, part deux: Apparently I was to be "prepaid" for fall teaching, and the November paycheck was the beginning of my winter quarter pay (winter quarter begins in January). By my calculations, then, I would be paid for spring quarter during winter quarter. And in spring? Who knows.

But: Since I wasn't paid during the summer (except for my summer teaching, which was a different contract), the university is technically behind on my pay when it's supposed to be ahead.

So: Does the university owe me a whole bunch of money? Appears so. Will they actually pay me that money? Who knows? And if so, will they pay it to me before Christmas, so that Mr. Trillwing and I can, you know, buy gifts and stuff? Or maybe pay some bills? Probably not.

But: The benefits guy was really nice and is going to let me enroll in benefits right away. Yay!

And: for those of you playing along with my payroll-math-is-hard post of last week, the answer is: 50% faculty, 50% staff.