Saturday, August 29, 2009

Missing Things

First a confession: Years ago one of my favorite volunteer guides at the Morris Arboretum started describing his philosophy on life. He commented that he had only worked at jobs he loved and that every Monday morning he was excited to get back to work because he had missed it over the weekend.
I did not react by thinking, "Oh, I should pursue jobs like he had," or "I need to find my bliss", instead I thought, "poor man, how boring have your weekends been?"
I have been fortunate in having had jobs that suit me well. I love science, I love plants, I love teaching and I take great pride in jobs well done, whether they are paperwork or sales. Still, I enjoy my weekends and there have been very few times I wouldn't rather just stay in bed and read Harry Potter* instead of going to work.
This is all background for a prevalent question recently: "Do you miss your job? Are you ready to go back?"
When asked this, the school the Mister and I teach at had been back in session for exactly a week. In my very small department, we'd already had a student intentionally OD on Tylenol, a student withdraw from his classes because of cancer in the family, and alarmingly increased quantities of bureaucracy with a new department chair trying to adjust to new levels of middle management.
I did not give the full truth answer to the question, which is something like this:
"I miss regular showers and sleep.
I miss my parents, my friends, and everyone else.
I miss eating meals at the correct temperature at one time while sitting down.
I miss starting a simple task, like sending thank you notes, and knowing that I will be able to finish a part uninterrupted.
I miss desperately miss the time when my boobs and bras were not a dominant portion of my waking (and unfortunately also my sleeping) thoughts and
I very much miss the time when a day a did not cry (Thursday this week I didn't!) was not a noteworthy event**.
I do not, however, miss my job."

*A dear friend in graduate school was concerned that she wasn't cut out to be a scientist because, she admitted with trepidation, many mornings she would rather just stay in bed reading Harry Potter than go into the lab or sit in front of the computer. I think she was somewhat taken aback by my response to this confession, "Uh, who wouldn't?"

**Fortunately for the species, nobody who doesn't have a newborn can fully relate. Yes, I know, billions of people go through this all the time, but they forget. Heck, I've already forgotten the desperation of two weeks ago when Dianthus wasn't eating and my breast was infected and I had to pump after every feeding. In another month I'll have forgotten how hard it is to deal with a one month old still too small for carriers, chairs and swings but a little too big to sleep all the time.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Forgotten Books

I just finished the Pyrdain Chronicles (The Book of Three, The Black Cauldron, The Castle of Llyr, Taran Wanderer and The High King) by Lloyd Alexander. As previously mentioned these books are physically small enough to hold in one hand or balance on "My Brest Friend" making them possible to read while nursing (although often I still need two hands while nursing and am considering audio books, a format I have never previously liked). Beyond their size, the Pyrdain Chronicles are wonderful because, well, because they are wonderful stories wonderfully told.

The weird thing (to me) is that I had completely forgotten the plots. I probably first read these in sixth grade and then again when I was sick in college, so it likely has been 16 years since I read them. Still, considering I found them great then and great now, I'm surprised that I while I was reading I couldn't even tell you which characters were important enough to reappear in other books (all of them, by the way).

In any case, parallels between the Pyrdain Chronicles, The Lord of the Rings and The Blue Sword have started me questioning how much of fantasy is universal story, how much is based on traditional Welsh folklore and how much is homage. Angharad, heroine of The Blue Sword, named for Eilonowy's headstrong mother, a queen of Welsh folklore, or just given a name that looks like it sounds awful? Luthe = Melynlas = Tom Bombadil: mere coincidence? How is it that elvish is so like Welsh?

Other nerds have anything to contribute?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Because my mother keeps calling our son the common name for Dianthus barbatus (or Phlox divaricarta, depending on who you ask) and Alloicious mervivian is too long to type, our son't blog name is now Dianthus (the image is not D. barbatus, by the way, but another dianthus from my garden).

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Right Size Books

Due to "latching on" issues, I have not been able to read much while nursing Alloicious. Thankfully, I also have parents who not only will cook, walk the screamy baby, fix things around the house and volunteer to take in recycling, but will also chat with me while Alloicious is eating (the vast percentage of his waking time). Hooray for such parents!

None the less, I have found myself either reading or falling asleep during middle of the night feedings, and what I have read has been The Foundling by Lloyd Alexander.

The Foundling was absolutely perfect for my purposes: divided into short sections, large print, small paperback easily held in one hand and a collection of fabulous stories.

It has inspired me to read all of the Pyrdain Chronicles over the next while, as they all have similar virtues as to their physical size. It's also been long enough since I have read them that I opened The Book of Three at three this morning with only a vague recollection that it is about an assistant pig keeper. I am very much looking forward to it.

Here are the images of the book shelves that were supposed to accompany an earlier post. The rest of the room was prepared before the baby arrived and we found another shelf or two of children's books to include.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Prairie Dog Travels to a Labor Strike

Early last Wednesday, prairie dog accompanied the Mister and me to the hospital as Alloicious Mervivian was induced to emerge. This was not Prairie Dog's first trip to the hospital, but was his first time in a "special delivery" unit.

Thursday morning, after over 24 hours of drugs that caused contractions but "no action" Prairie Dog was still scampering around getting his picture taken with "internal Alloicious".

Fortunately, by Friday morning, Prairie Dog was posing with "external Alloicious" who was already waving his hands working on his Jedi mind tricks. In between the labor strike had taken place. Labor proceeded quickly at the end so that Alloicious arrived just before 5 pm on Thursday, and a "strike" happened in the bowling (or pitching) sense of best possible outcome: healthy baby boy, no extra drugs and procedures*, healthy me, healthy Mister, excited Prairie Dog.

His name is not Mervivian or Alloicious, but I think that's what his blog name will be.

*Several of the nurses were delighted that I was able to give birth to this child "naturally", as I had wanted to. While I was glad (in the end) that I didn't have the epidural or any other pain drugs, I'm unconvinced that being induced a week early with multiple drugs and IV lines after a pregnancy of daily anti-coagulant injections is exactly "natural". None the less, I suppose it still counts as a strike if you knock all the pins down, regardless of your grip and release pattern.