Monthly Archives: February 2012

I am organized, efficient, and capable. I am hard working and adept at keeping track of lots of bits of information. . .Vote for me!

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As a part of that world of academia, I am a member, as surely you are of your profession, of various organizations that host conferences, publish journals, and come up with useful, applicable ideas and plans for both the sub-specialty and the field at large.

There is one organization that I have been a member of for near a decade. I have published in their journal, I regularly review articles that are submitted to their journal, and I attend and speak at their conferences. But I’ve never thought to get involved at an administrative level, which would mean really immersing myself in the organization’s inner sanctum, and contributing to its welfare. Recently, however, the editor of the journal the Society hosts suggested I run for office this term. I thought about it. On the one hand, it meant committing time I can’t imagine I have, and attending the two major conferences a year, which can be pretty much anywhere in the country. On the other, this was the opportunity to participate in something I believe in and care about. I guess teaching at an Ivy League university, where everyone is earnestly involved up to their eyeballs influenced my decision: I looked around at my messy, messy house, took stock of the (virtual) stack of papers to comment on, pulled Baby MoFo up on my lap, and began to write my nomination statement.

“I am organized, efficient, and capable . . .”

Four nights later found me running through campus, wearing PJs, boots, and a jacket. No socks, no bra. It was 11:30 at night and I had not forgotten that stack of papers at school (it was virtual, after all), nor was I meeting with a student at that late hour. I had been lying in bed, about to drift off into unconsciousness, when my mind starting running through all matter of things:

1. I never did anything about that hunk of pasta sauce stuck in my engagement ring I noticed a few nights ago while I was on my way to parent-teacher interviews. I should probably stick it in the jewelry cleaner.

2. I forgot to pay for the Daddy-and-me Gymnastics night. Crap. Hope there’s still room.

3. I have to open blocks on my online calendar so the students can schedule their conferences since they begin in just a couple of days.

4. I should take my coat to the seamstress–the buttons look like they’re about to fall off.

5. I really have to start revising that article if I’m going to have it workshopped by my faculty peers next month. Which reminds me, I have to go to the library. They’re going to cancel my hold order again if I don’t pick up the books soon.

6. I should have loaded the dishwasher before bed. I’m going to regret that pile in the sink when I wake up.

7. Even the counter is cluttered with dishes. That must be unsanitary.

8. Were my rings sitting in that counter clutter? I don’t think I wore them all day.

9. I don’t think I wore my rings yesterday.

10. Have I seen my rings since I discovered the hunk of pasta sauce on them 3 days ago?

11. Yes, I did see my rings. I was playing with them while I was trying to revise my article in my office the other day, wasn’t I? Wasn’t that after the parent-teacher interview? But I wouldn’t have taken them off and left them at school, right?

12. WHERE ARE MY RINGS?

I jumped out of bed, went downstairs, looked in all the usual places: sitting on top of the microwave, on the kitchen counter, on the dining room table, on one of the bookshelves. Nada. I told myself to be calm and I did #6–loaded the dishwasher. That way, either I would have an empty counter and sink and also find my rings (could they have fallen in the sink? Could they have fallen down the drain?) or, at worst, I would have an empty counter and sink and one or two fewer things to worry about. I did my nice service for next-day me, but my heart started pounding harder as I put the last plate in the dishwasher: No rings. I took everything off the table. I pulled off the table cloth, checked it thoroughly and shook it out (not from the 21st floor–so my rings couldn’t have the adventure you must remember they had last year!). Nada. I picked loose Lego brick, pens, opened mail, DVDs, Wii games, and crumpled receipts off the bookshelves. Nada. Cleared the microwave surface of a bag of rice cakes, a container of Jane’s Krazy Salt, and The Scientist’s deodorant (huh?). Nada.

I finally decided I was driving myself crazy–that they were, of course, somewhere, and I went to bed again.

Once there, a rendition of Scarlett played through my head: “I can’t let [my rings] go [again]. I can’t. There must be some way to bring [them] back. Oh I can’t think about this now! I’ll go crazy if I do! I’ll think about it tomorrow. But I must think about it. I must think about it. What is there to do? What is there that matters?”

And so, near midnight, I was sprinting through the campus, hoping not to see my students, or rather, hoping they wouldn’t see me, and hoping, moreover, that I hadn’t been so stupid as to play with my rings in my office and then just leave them lying on my desk, and hoping, even more than that, that I had left my rings lying around on my desk or in my wastebasket or in my coffee mug or on my coat hook–anywhere, anywhere, that they could be found again.

I opened my office door.

No rings.

I sorted through the papers and lifted my mug and looked in it and under it; I pushed books hither and thither; I  checked my coat hook and wastebasket and recycling bin; and finally, deflated, I called The Scientist to say that they were gone–lost forever. As he answered the phone, I absentmindedly lifted up my keyboard. And underneath–

“They’re here! I didn’t lose them!!!”

I am organized, efficient, and capable . . .

Which is true, for the most part, and saved me over the next week, which is to say, this past week, during which time I taught my 2 classes twice; prepped for my classes; commented on 24 essays, which takes, according to our program’s requirements, about 36 hours; met with each of my students individually for 45 minutes, conferences scheduled around their busy lives, so that the 22 hours I was at or going to or returning from conferences included hours early in the morning and past 10:30pm; stayed home with my baby for the afternoon of President’s Day when there was (I was late to discover) no daycare; went to the dentist for a cleaning and a check-up; did my usual triple pick-up of the kids most days (and took them for frozen yogurt on the particularly warm day) as well as about half the drop-offs; made all three meals for everyone every day; took the baby to the doctor when the daycare sent him home (and said he couldn’t return) because he had pink eye; and all this, I should add, with no sleep since, in addition to pink eye, Baby MoFo also developed an ear infection –actually, a double-ear infection — this week, and he suffered all through the night.

I am organized, efficient, and capable . . .

But my house can often be a madhouse, and as a result, I might act as though I’ve been lobotomized . . .

Oh–but vote for me!!

A calm(ish) moment in our madhouse (in case you're wondering, Baby MoFo is about the fall off the couch, cry, and then take off his diaper and pee on the floor)

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Not-Baby Brain

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The other night I must have heard Baby MoFo crying in his sleep because I didn’t quite wake up, but I dreamed I had a newborn. In my dream, I was lying in bed, as I was, and I put my hands up to my chest to see if I had overslept, if my breasts were hardened with milk desperate to get out like prisoners at the bars of their cells. Then, in dream world, I got up, picked up a tiny, smiling infant and dropped him because I was so tired. The infant–which was probably much smaller than even most preemies–kept smiling. I picked him up again and he peed on me (he wore no clothes). Then he pooed on me. I ran to the sink to wash but instead I dropped the baby in the sink. I turned on the water anyway. He kept smiling.

Having a newborn is shockingly exhausting. You might, as I did, do amazingly stupid things. You might, as I did, brew a pot of coffee and stand over it, watching every drip, and when it was done, pour the whole thing into a jar of peanut butter instead of a coffee mug and then be helpless to do anything about the ruined coffee (and ruined peanut butter) but sob uncontrollably. You might forget to wear breast pads, as I did numerous times, and watch, again helplessly, as dark circles form on your shirt in a public place and grow bigger and bigger. You might not have the state of mind to forgive the stupidity of others: To wit, I seethingly asked a cashier if she had ever taken a biology class when, two days before Cool J’s bris, she looked at the baby and looked at me and said, “You’re already so far along with your next baby and you have this little baby? That must be so hard.” Clearly she was a kind and sympathetic soul who had really not taken a biology class. You might go to the video store and leave your baby sitting in the car, blissfully forgetting you ever had a baby (this I attribute to another family member) or fall asleep with the baby in your bed and dream the baby is a wild animal that’s attacking (this is a very reasonable dream for a new mother) and in response, you bite the animal (and by extension, your real, newborn baby lying next to you) (this, too, I attribute to another family member, who shall remain nameless) (hi sister). There is a reason Canada offers a paid maternity leave (separate, one should note, from the longer parental leave that follows it). It is very difficult to think coherently in that hormone-bubbling, sleepless, every-day-offers-new-wonders-and-agonies stage. It is very difficult to do the jobs of getting dressed, feeding yourself, feeding your family, and not crying. I can’t imagine doing another job, as well.

In the last two weeks, I feel my brain has reverted to its much-unloved Baby Brain stage.

To review:

1. I lost my car keys, house keys, and car remote in a small, enclosed space, where it would seem they would be easily retrievable, but somehow I never found them.

2. I put my cell phone in the washing machine. I turned on the washing machine. Rice trick, rice shmrick. It didn’t survive.

3. I put earbuds in the washing machine. Ditto.

4. I put a pish-filled diaper in the washing machine. It exploded. I had to run that same load three times to get all the disgusting absorbent gel balls out of our clothes. Tell me when you see a pattern, by the way, or want to hire me a maid because I’m clearly doing too much laundry.

This is from a website asking if cloth diapers are right for you. The gel balls that fill the inside of a diaper are revolting. Imagine them all over your clothes.

5. I told The Scientist that I was sure one of our babysitters had stolen the ink out of our printer. When he expressed disbelief, I convinced him that even if she didn’t happen to have a printer just like ours, she could take the cartridges into Staples and get money for recycling them. I angrily went out and spent $60 on new cartridges. Then I tried to jam them into our printer in a morning panic . . . but they didn’t fit. So I yanked The Scientist out of the shower and told him I had to print something Right! Now! and I needed his help. He obliged . . . and then discovered the problem. “How can you get these cartridges in the printer when the old ones are still inside?”

6. I got my room assignment for my new Spring semester course and was handed a key and told to make sure all was fine with the room. But rather than go check it out in advance–and I had plenty of time, seeing as it is February and Spring semester is just beginning–I showed up on the first day expecting everything to just fall into place. Instead, I discovered a) my card didn’t open the building door, b) my key didn’t open the classroom door, and c) there was no laptop in the room for me to use. I am sure I was a picture of unruffled professorialness as I greeted my new students.

7. I took out Hitchhiker audio books for our long drive for winter break. On return, I discovered one of the CDs was missing from The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. I searched high and low and low and high–nothing. I renewed it as many times as I could and then returned the boxes for Hitchker’s Guide and Restaurant with a missing CD for the latter–which, of course, the library noticed. I conveyed an appropriate measure of surprise, then apologized profusely and said that we must have never gotten the CD in the first place–what else could the reason be? (my car is not an abyss of of school projects and snack wrappers and coffee cups and toys . . . surely not). She said to keep looking. I said I would, but, of course, I was sure that I couldn’t possibly have it. Meanwhile, I kept getting overdue notices and I irritatedly wrote the library an email saying that my audiobook wasn’t overdue, I was just (theoretically) searching for the CD . . . and please stop harassing me, will ya? And they wrote back, “No problem.” Then I went into the library a few days later, and the librarian said, “Do you still have Life, the Universe and Everything?” I said, “No! I have already explained several times that I don’t have it and it ought to be taken off my record immediately!” As I walked out, I thought to myself, Hmmm . . . she must be a Douglas Adams fan, since the missing CD is from Restaurant and she accidentally said Life . . . which is funny because she was looking right at her screen when she said it. Lalalalalala . . . And then yesterday, when I was searching the car high and low and low and high for the GPS which had absolutely and definitely disappeared into the abyss . . . I found . . . the box of Life, The Universe and Everything and in it, apart from all its own CDs, the other missing CD–from The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

Well, that, I’m afraid, is something of the short list.

Three kids in, and I guess the fact is, this is no longer Baby Brain. This is my brain.

This is your brain on Baby. And pre-baby. And post-baby. Especially if there are lots of babies.

The Middle Child

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“I love this photo book you made!” declared my Shabbos dinner guest as she leafed through the book I made about Baby MoFo’s birth and bris. Actually, to be honest, she said this after she stopped laughing so hard tears poured from her eyes after seeing the picture of–let’s call it “larger than life”–me in labor (it’s not clear if I just carry big because of my short stature or if Coldstone Creamery plays a role in it)–

PP in labor (I'm not *that* big, am I?)

Then she asked: “Did you make books like this for all your boys?”

I pointed to the thick stack of albums taking up half a shelf on my bookshelf. “All those are about LL,” I said. I also kept a journal about LL–when he rolled over and when he sat up, when he crawled and when he first talked . . .

“And what about Cool J?”

Poor. Middle. Child.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Luckily, Cool J has made his own book. And while it doesn’t quite chronicle the adventures of his birth (3 contractions or so and he was out–not much of a story there!) or bris (snip! all done) or milestones (in his case, the time he ran into an elevator alone in a 50-story building, the time elevator doors closed on his finger, the time he fell out of the attic hatch . . .), it does chronicle his feelings. And his many wonderful facial expressions. And those things that are most important to him. And really–what more could one ask for as a keepsake?

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This blog post was inspired by: