Today my husband came back from New Mexico, and he said the MOST BEAUTIFUL words to me. He said, "I can cook dinner."
(And he didn't even give me any grief about my adventures in alternative plumbing tools.)
You guys. YOU GUYS. Last night I was so wrung out and discombobulated that I thought I could use a piece of fruit as a plumbing tool AND THEN I thought that I should put it on the internet for all the world to see.
I need a verb other than "thought" for that sentence, a verb that means "my brain spewed out random bits of hopeful nonsense and I failed to screen them appropriately because I was so wrung out and discombobulated." How about "frangled"? Today I am not fringling, but yesterday I did frangle. (Spellcheck is having a cow over here, let me tell you.) Usually we only mark past tense in one way: either you change the vowel OR you add an -ed. But I am so eager for my fringling to be in the past that I am doing both. We are all done with the bananas in the pipes over here, folks.
I picked up one of those Zip It things at my neighborhood hardware store today, when the manager told me that she could never get a snake to work for her. I was able to move some gunk around (and lodge more of it under my fingernails, like the inverse of a French manicure), but I am hoping the plumber can fit me in double-quick.
I want to write a post about breastfeeding, but I feel I must create a little distance between fringle-frangle Jamie and writing-about-breastfeeding Jamie. Would you listen to a person who thought she could snake a pipe with a banana? I would not. (I mean, I did listen to a person who thought she could snake a pipe with a banana, but I know better now.)
I was deciding what to call this post when there was a cry of "Oh, crap!" from the kitchen. The dishwasher was spraying rinse water into the cabinet under the sink.
May I wring my hands for just a few minutes, internet? I am tired. My husband has been out of town with the 14yo since the 14th. They're at Philmont, which is great for them. I'm really glad they're doing this together. I'm just tired, is all. Do you know that smell that a drain clog gives off? I have that smell embedded in my skin and under my fingernails. It's not my favorite smell.
I was hanging in there, despite teaching an intense summer class to half of the cohort that just shredded me in their spring-semester evals. The first week we ate almost all of our CSA vegetables, which is a pretty good proxy for my on-top-of-it-ness. We had some kohlrabi left, but we almost always have some kohlrabi left. I made it into a nice little slaw with grated pineapple and a chili-lime-mayo dressing; unfortunately, I got a little heavy-handed with the chili.
This week we have eaten almost none of the CSA vegetables. Baby fennel, I ask you. What is a person supposed to do with baby fennel, besides feeding the stalks and the fronds to the guinea pigs? Probably my July self will think that is a silly question, but my late-June self is focused on the basics.
I had asked my mom if she would come and visit me over the weekend, thinking I could enjoy some adult conversation. I said, "I'm not going to be very hostess-y, let me warn you. The housekeeping standards around here are not going to be super-high." But then, you guys, my mom decided to bring my dad and my niece and nephew, and I got all weird and obsessive about being hostess-y and cleaning my house. Result? I am tired.
Even last night, I was still hanging in there. I was cleaning up after dinner when the kitchen sink backed up. I plunged it, to no avail. I plunged it some more, and it made promising noises but nothing changed. I ran the dishwasher, because I forgot that it drains into the same dumb pipe, and I watched in alarm as the sinks filled and filled with water from the emptying dishwasher.
I hit it with drain cleaner and went to bed. In the morning the sinks were empty of water but covered with disgusting sludgy residue.
Tonight, after further faffing with the plunger and slurries of baking soda followed by lashings of vinegar, I brought up the bucket and took off the P-trap. I hoped that it would contain a nice accessible little clump of coffee grounds and bacon grease, which I could clear out with only a little nose-wrinkling. Then I would reassemble the sink, feeling brisk and accomplished. No big deal, just knocking out a little plumbing repair. As one does on a quiet Sunday evening.
The problem, it turns out, is further down the line -- to far for me to reach but not by much. I have now tried and discarded a variety of solutions to this difficulty. (I fear this post will cause my husband to shake his head when he reads it upon his return.) I found some sturdy copper wire in the basement, and I thought perhaps it was the right combination of firm and flexible to push through the clog. No joy. I entered the fray with the cardboard tube from a roll of paper towels, which I advanced far enough into the pipe to cover it (and my hands) with muck, but not far enough to dislodge the clog. You know that baking soda/vinegar home remedy for clogged drains? I used a syringe to squirt a baking soda slurry into the pipe along with a vinegar chaser. ...And I discovered there's a reason plumbers don't wield syringes with baking soda slurries in them.
I asked the kids to vote on my wackiest idea over dinner. I said, "What about a banana? Firm, flexible, with a bend in just the right spot. Is that a totally crazy idea?" They agreed that it was a crazy idea, but they couldn't come up with anything better. The good news is that I did not get a banana stuck in my pipes. (That would have been a fun surprise for the plumber, would it not?) The bad news: there's also a reason plumbers don't snake pipes with bananas.
Right now the dishwasher is running with the bucket positioned to catch its draining water. The unhappiness from this post's first paragraph involved a misjudgment about whether the water from the wash cycle had finished draining, but the resulting spillage has been mopped up.
I've been reluctant to post about my husband's absence, because it leaves me alone with only the shrieking alarm system and the slavering Rottweiler (and the 6-foot teenager whose leisure-time energies are largely devoted to advancing his already formidable karate skills). But oh, internet, I miss him. I can do this; I know I can. It's just that I'm tired.
Stella was not looking forward to the theater camp performance. "It's going to be terrible," she told me. "The dance is so dumb." As the week progressed she became less emphatic about it, but...just between you and me and the internet, her initial skepticism was warranted. I cannot be the only person who winces at an announcement that we're about to listen to the Good Attitude Rap.
All the parents had signed consents allowing the director to put a video of this performance on YouTube. I thought this would diminish the number of parents recording on their phones, but I was completely wrong. Oh, person in front of me, if you hold your phone above your head and move it from side to side to side, it's hard for me to see the little girl I came to watch -- the one who is hoping to make eye contact with me.
Midway through I noticed a woman in the front row who was videorecording the performance. Behind her, a woman was trying to videorecord the performance, but half of the image on her phone's screen was filled with the shoulder/arm/phone of the woman in front of her.
I thought to myself, "If I were not constitutionally opposed to the idea, I could take out my phone and fill the screen three-quarters of the way with images of those other women, while the person behind me filled his screen seven-eights of the way with images of the three of us, and the person behind him filled her screen fifteen-sixteenths of the way with the whole gang of us. And then the ghost of Zeno would descend and say, 'Ha! You'll never make it out of here!'"
Thankfully, I escaped to tell the tale.
Dear Police Chief Jones:
I read your comments on public safety in New Albany (population 8,829) with the keenest interest. I was planning to let my 7-year-old daughter walk by herself to our neighbors' house, where she and her friends would play unsupervised in the attic. Thanks to your insights, however, I have seen the error of my ways and have equipped her for the day with more sensitivity to the horrors of the world we live in.
First off, a girl needs a flashlight to go outside. Even though she only has to cover 50 yards, one never knows when night may fall. (Well, some people pretend to know when night may fall, but you and I know better.) And in a world where every approaching stranger must be viewed as a probable kidnapper, it's important for a girl to have something heavy to fling at her assumed attacker's head as she runs away while shrieking "NOOOOOOO!" -- per your instructions at Safety Town. I am sure my neighbors (most of whom have formed the dangerous habit of sending their children outside unattended) will quickly understand the wisdom in my teaching my daughter to bean them with flashlights before she runs away screaming.
Next up: goggles. Although I have repented of allowing my daughter and her friends to play without direct adult supervision, it's important for adults to remember that even supervised play is only fun until somebody loses an eye. Barbie dolls have so many pointy bits! How has my daughter managed to survive for 7 years without causing herself irreparable damage in the pursuit of fun?
Goggles, however, do not provide sufficient eye protection. Thanks to your message of menace, I am casting a suspicious eye upon the sun. I've read that one day it will explode in a deadly fireball. And if that day is today, Chief Jones -- a prospect approximately as likely as that of a stranger abduction taking place in New Albany today -- my daughter will have sunglasses to shield her beautiful eyes. It's the responsible thing to do.
With the hand that is not holding a flashlight, my daughter wields a fire extinguisher. As a man of your perspicacity doubtless knows, spontaneous human combustion is a risk we all face. A study mentioned at that link investigated 30 reported cases of spontaneous human combustion. Since this number is larger (by 30) than the number of stranger abduction cases reported in New Albany, I can only conclude that spontaneous human combustion is an event for which every child must be adequately prepared. (My daughter argues that these accoutrements leave her with no free hands for playing, but I have reminded her that safety is the first priority for every sensible parent.)
You will also notice that my daughter is sporting duck boots, a footwear choice prompted by Revelation 16:3. While imprudent parents might think it unlikely that Jesus will return while she's walking to the neighbors' house, it should be obvious to anyone that the odds of Our Lord's returning today are even higher than the odds of a stranger abduction in New Albany, OH. My daughter will not be walking through any rivers of blood in her sandals, no sirree! (She is attempting to tell me that the boots are (a) big enough for her 19-year-old brother and (b) uncomfortably hot on this 95-degree day, but I am sure she'll thank me later.)
Around her midsection she is swathed in bubble wrap; atop her head is (of course) a bicycle helmet. I have it on good authority that we need to beware of falling objects (see the definitive work from Little et al. on this topic), and so I have told my daughter that she is to keep her helmet in place until she leaves home for college. After all, I've been writing since before she was born about the idea that parents can't be too careful.
As I read your thoughtful words, Chief Jones, I thought to myself, "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?" They used to broadcast that important message over the airwaves all the time, back in the good old days when Ramona Quimby's mother drove her to kindergarten every day. No. Wait. I'm sure Ramona Quimby's mother meant to drive her to kindergarten every day. Probably she would have if she'd known the horrifying statistics on how many children die in motor vehicle accidents as compared to stranger abduction.
Your comments have given me so much food for thought, Chief Jones. I can hardly wait for your ideas on fostering greater self-sufficiency among my undergraduate students. For some mysterious reason, many of them seem to think that adults should be telling them what to do.
So I'm still thinking about the triathlon. I have lingering fears about group exercise -- I blame them mostly on unhappy PE classes where I was always the smallest. Well, no, that's too simple: I think it also had a lot to do with coming from a non-sporty family and feeling perpetually behind the curve, whether in swim lessons or football spectating. I am still surprised when I have fun exercising with other people. But really, that's the way I am most likely to have fun exercising.
Two years ago, one of my college roommates floated the idea that the five of us should do a women's mud run. At Amy's suggestion we registered, a little skeptically, and then spent months chatting at Map My Run about our preparations. It doesn't take long to log a workout; it doesn't take long to click like or leave an encouraging comment. It's a quick and easy way to say, "Hey, I see you showing up and slogging through. Way to hang in there!" It opened the door to more frequent email conversations about the rest of our lives, and we had a surprisingly great time splashing in the mud. In college we listened endlessly to the early Melissa Etheridge albums, and so the backs of our team shirts said "Somebody bring me some water!"
In 2015 Amy was diagnosed with breast cancer. While she wasn't up for competing in this year's triathlon, she came to cheer us on. One of my other roommates suggested that we dedicated our efforts to her; the rest of us agreed, of course. We made secret team T-shirts with different Melissa Etheridge lyrics on the backs, this time from her song about breast cancer. At dinner before the triathlon we told Amy what we were doing and gave her a shirt of her own.
I do not know whether I would have done the triathlon without my roommates. I could not be any more certain that I wouldn't have enjoyed it as much. It was really discouraging for me to keep working and working on my swimming, wondering when (if?) I would ever get better. Knowing that two of my roommates had taken or were taking adult swim lessons prompted me to think, "Hmm, maybe I am not actually too bad at swimming to sign up for lessons." (<- That is an actual thought thunk by February Jamie and March Jamie, alas.) When my skeptical self was what-if-ing in the run-up to the event, I could trust that my roommates would understand if things went awry. Because I am an inveterate what-if-er I would think, "What if I'm the ONLY ONE of the roommates who doesn't finish?" Because they have been my friends for almost 29 years I could then think, "They will love me anyway, and understand that I am disappointed."
Do you remember when I was so freaked out about my first 10K (PELVIS SHRAPNEL!!) and then I had a glorious day? The triathlon was the same thing all over again: 'WARE THE INVISIBLE KRAKEN --hey, wait a minute, that was awesome and I want to do it again! Maybe I could be less angsty if I accepted that I am angst-prone Maybe I'll try that. Whether or not I can ever quiet the brain weasels, it's important for me to stay connected to people who are being transparent about showing up and slogging through.
As I was trying to prepare mentally for the race, the run leg felt like the wild card. I knew the swim would be hard; I knew the bike would be fun (barring unforeseen mechanical issues). But I didn't know about the run. Would I be invigorated by the crowd and the nearness of the finish line? Would I be exhausted and discouraged, with dead legs and a weary heart? I had never put a swim and a bike and a run together, and as the race drew closer this seemed like an important oversight.
This was a big race, with a sizable transition zone. Because my wave was one of the last to leave, there were lots of people milling around transition who had already finished. I couldn't have run through transition safely, I don't think, and so I walked my bike from the dismount line all the way to my rack, about 10 yards from the run exit. I spent less than three minutes in transition, but that was all I needed to ease the unpleasant brick sensation in my legs. I started off the run leg feeling surprisingly good.
In training I did a number of bike-run combos, but almost always in reverse order: run first, bike second. I wanted to build endurance and accustom my body to combining the two different types of workouts, but I am so injury-prone, and running after biking feels so strange, that it made sense to me to switch up the order. Somewhere I had read that regular brick workouts are important so you don't go out too fast on the run, but I scoffed at that. "Ha!" I said to myself. "That is approximately as plausible as the idea that I might accidentally go out while levitating." Sure enough, on my brick workout a week before the race I set off at a "comfortable" pace of 7:23 -- completely unsustainable. In the race I was watching my Garmin carefully, and again I had trouble reining myself in. My plan was to run the first half-mile slowly, at 11:xx, and see how it felt. It felt mostly fine, once I tugged myself down into that target range, but I was having some intestinal rumblings. Near the first mile marker I stopped at a porta-potty.
You guys, triathlon kits are not designed for speedy porta-potty stops. I was wearing a team shirt (about which more later) over a one-piece tri kit, which meant that I had to wriggle my sweaty arms out of the T-shirt sleeves and out of the tri kit straps, and then reverse the process with the added challenge of hiking up the skin-tight shorts over sweaty legs. "This could be its own event," I thought to myself. (Speed Pooping, coming soon to a race venue near you!)
I had planned to run-walk the 5K in 6-minute/1-minute increments, but I wound up taking fewer walk breaks than that. I saw my sister-in-law and my nephew a little bit past the halfway point, cheering. "Come on, Boo," she shouted, "let's run with Aunt Jamie for a minute!" My nephew (he's 4) didn't really want to run, but as I headed toward mile 2 she bellowed after me: "Weeee looooove yoooooou, Aunt Jamie!" That kept me going until the mile 2 marker, where I walked the water stop in the interest of wearing less sports drink, and headed toward the finish.
Do you remember when I joined a running group in the summer of 2012 with much trepidation? (I swear, instead of being called "Fitness" this category of posts should be called "Jamie fears that people will point and laugh at her and then -- who knew? -- they do not point or laugh. Surprise!") That summer my group had two leaders, who had a good cop/bad cop thing going: one sweet and encouraging, the other with more of a drill-sergeant-y vibe. Don't get me wrong-- she was a pleasant sort of drill sergeant, but she was always the one telling us to pick up the pace, and to sprint to the water fountain, and to hang tough even though it was a hundred (million) degrees outside. I had about a half-mile to go, and I was alone on that stretch of the course, and I was tired. It was the sort of tired that I knew I could push through, because I've been that tired on the treadmill more times than I can count. Five minutes, I told myself. That's 300 seconds. Say a decade of the rosary and then you can walk if you need to. But the tired side of me was feeling rebellious, perhaps because I had been suck-it-up-Buttercup-ing for two hours already, and then I saw Bad Cop Julie running the other way on the course. The funny thing is that she didn't even recognize me. But when I said, "Hey, Julie!" and she waved back and said, "You're doing great! You're almost there!", my tired self sighed and got with the program.
Suddenly I saw Joe. "Hi, Mom!" he shouted. "You're doing great!" He had run back from the finish line in hopes of seeing me as I came, and he ran toward the finish with me -- dear sweet Joe, offering me the same encouragement I tried to give him in his first 5K last summer.
This last bit of the course wound through a wooded area. It was pretty and shady and downhill -- all plusses -- but I kept thinking I should be able to see the finish line. When it loomed up out of the trees, and I could hear my family and my college roommates and their families shouting my name, an enormous grin spread over my face.
I was going to say something self-critical about how very fast the photographer's shutter speed must have been for him to catch me airborne, but I am going to refuse to be self-critical. This is me, doing something hard that I didn't know if I could do -- doing it faster and more gracefully than I even suspected I could do it. (For real: I finished 12 minutes faster than my most optimistic estimate.) And 30 seconds afterward, when they took the timing chip from my ankle and put a finisher's medal around my neck, I burst into grateful tears.
So you guys, I finished my triathlon. It was fantastic.
The swim part was not fantastic. The swim part was moderately miserable, actually. I am super-nearsighted, and my anti-fogging measures (read: spit) didn't keep my goggles from fogging, so I was swimming blind. I could see vague shapes for about three or four feet, and nothing further. This race had swim buddies available for less confident swimmers, and I latched onto one while I was waiting for my wave to start. It didn't work out as well as I'd hoped. I was wearing earplugs (I don't think I told you about last week's nasty case of swimmer's ear, did I? the one where the nurse-practitioner took one look and said, "yeah, no wonder that hurts"? one more proof, if any more were needed, that humans were not meant to be aquatic) -- anyway, I had a hard time hearing my swim buddy's voice. She just did not seem to get my degree of sensory impairment. She kept telling me, "Just swim to the orange buoy" -- which was kind of like telling me to swim to the invisible unicorn. I couldn't hear what she was saying and I couldn't see where I was going and there were kicking feet all around me and there was more chop than I was expecting and the visibility underwater was pretty much zero.
I did not panic. About 200m in I hit a spot where I could stand up, and I thought I'd just catch my breath for a quick second. When I tried to stand up, though, I got a faceful of water. I had thought I was at a point in my swimming where I could deal with a faceful of water, but it turns out that pool water is easier for me to deal with than turbid water inhabited by invisible unicorns or perhaps krakens. Still, I did not panic. I had to pause by the lane line, not caring who might be behind me, and pull up my swim cap and goggles for a few seconds. My swim buddy had disappeared.
I was breaststroking like a little old lady, because going under the murky water and coming up to chop and splash rather than nice breathable air was stressing me out. There's a reason, though, that little old ladies don't breaststroke very quickly, and I knew I could move faster on my back. So I did. Even though I was yawing from side to side across my lane, one little bit of happy news was that I could sort of time myself by the horn signaling the starts for the remaining waves, and I could tell that I was making better time than I had expected. Faster than I had hoped, I was two-thirds of the way through the course.
At this point I had another opportunity to swim with a buddy. And OH YOU GUYS THIS BUDDY WAS THE BEST. THE BEST BEST PUFFY HEART BEST. His name was Don, and he was SO encouraging. Not in a false or a sappy way-- he was so genuine and helpful that I am leaking tears here at my keyboard as I try and fail to tell you about him with resorting to more capital letters. THE BEST BEST BEST. (Oops, my pinkie commandeered the caps lock key there. Don deserves some caps lock action, though.) Instead of telling me to swim toward an imaginary purple amphisbaena, he told me I'd be at the buoy in about 5 strokes. So helpful! He offered some gentle guidance on my technique, reminding me to take nice long strokes, and that made me more efficient and also calmer. I had been worried that I might get increasingly freaked out in the water, because there's a limit to the number of times I can push back panic. As it turned out, the last third of the swim was by far the most manageable. Oh, Don, wherever you are I am blowing you an appreciative kiss.
When I stood up at the end of the swim I looked at my watch and I was astonished to see that I had finished it faster than I'd ever hoped. (I feel certain that the course was shorter than advertised, because I was swimming slower than planned.) Wheee! I had been bracing myself for a first-percentile finish, but as things shook out I almost cracked the tenth percentile. (Oooh, within my wave I almost cracked the 20th percentile. Go me!) All that obsessive stressing about last year's results -- "WHY am I so much slower than all of these women?" -- and it never crossed my mind that the course wasn't measured accurately.
There on the sand I was suffused with relief: I hadn't needed to be pulled from the water, I hadn't been disqualified for hanging on the lane lines, I hadn't had a total freakout panic attack, I hadn't cried, and I hadn't been last!!! (I require every single one of those exclamation points to express my feelings at that moment.) I had a brief moment of distress at the special needs table, where it took me a minute to realize that someone had knocked my glasses onto the ground (eek!). But they were intact, so I headed on up to transition cheerfully. I could see! I could breathe! I had defeated the kraken! My family was cheering for me as I left the beach.
(Later when I learned that they could see my progress through the whole swim ("we could tell it was you by the green on your tri suit, Mom!"), I felt embarrassed. I did not look like much of a swimmer out there, you guys. But I think, on reflection, that I am willing to set an example for my children of doing hard things clumsily but willingly, and of being patient with myself.)
Oh, gosh, I am pushing a thousand words already. Maybe this post needs a sequel. Before I go, though, I want to write a bit about the bike. I don't have nearly as much to say about the bike leg because it was fun and easy. I love riding my bike, and it was really a joy to be out there on the course -- no need to worry about cars or pedestrians, glorious weather, plenty of companionship but no crowding. It was so lovely that at one point I was overwhelmed with gratitude, tearing up as I thought about the gift of a healthy body and a beating heart and a beautiful summer day. (Also, shallowly, one of the fun parts of having a slow swim leg is that then you get to pass a ton of people on the bike leg.) One of the benefits of training here on the prairie is that fierce winds are the norm. There were lots of complaints about the headwind on the uphill portion of the course, but it only slowed me down a little. I had hoped to average 15mph; I'm okay with 14.4. The time zipped by, and soon I was heading back to transition for the run.
To be continued! (The suspense is killing you, isn't it?)
For a month now I've been thinking I should write a blog post about the things I ought to do this summer. It's often a good impetus for me to post my plans publicly. As I mentioned last night, though, my mojo has been MIA. Part of the list is work stuff. I'd like to submit two papers, both of which are pretty close to complete. (One will have to be given a thumbs-up by the co-investigators on the grant that funded it, but I'd like to get it into their hands, at least.) I'd like to collect a bit of data for two projects: one teaching-related project, and one that I'm presenting in the fall. In an ideal world I'd get that second set of results written up. I also need to keep the ball rolling on a project that will be my major research focus in the fall.
Then there are the teaching tasks: my summer class starts later this month, and I need to prepare my syllabus and course website along with lining up guest speakers. I'll need to get my fall syllabi and course websites together, and I need to spend some time reading about early cognitive development in preparation for a new class I'm teaching. That class will also involve a mix of lectures and hands-on stuff, and I know I'll be happier in the fall if I get the hands-on stuff roughed out early.
Finally, there's the administrative stuff: I've only completed one of the three peer reviews I agreed to do this month, and I have to prepare my materials for my fourth-year review.
Now that I've written it down, it seems less overwhelming. It's all good stuff; it's all stuff I like doing. I just need to keep at it instead of letting the brain weasels get me down. This week they feel more like brain polar bears, but I know they are really just weasels.
I have a separate ought-to list for the house, which is looking discouragingly shabby, and still another list for summer habits I'd like to work on (consistent email processing! advance planning!). And I really must get those pictures smacked into albums before the teetering stacks thereof tip over and trap me in my dining room like a gangrenous wolverine.
Probably a person whose brain is spouting off about gangrenous wolverines should go to bed already. Maybe I will feel better if I write about the house list tomorrow. Or maybe we can at least commiserate about old houses and their upkeep.
I have been feeling a little blue. It was such a hard semester that I couldn't quite shift into productive summertime mode when it was over. I wasn't doing anything fun or restorative, just listlessly clicking about the internet while thinking of all the things I ought to be doing instead. That's a question I've been thinking about since Easter: what kinds of things are truly fun and restorative for me, and why can't I build them into my life more consistently?
Last weekend I did something that was immensely fun and restorative: I met up with some old friends and a new friend at St. Felix's Friary in Indiana. If you're in the Midwest looking for a retreat site, I recommend it highly. On Sunday morning we sat on the doorstep where Venerable Solanus Casey used to pray for people in need, and we prayed for each other. And there in the breezy sunshine I felt completely filled up and at peace. It was great.
I have been trying to hold onto that peace this week. On Wednesday I went to the office and read my spring semester evals. My undergrads, about whom I felt guilty all semester because I was so focused on my grad students, gave me good evals with reasonable suggestions. But OH, the grad evals. OH OH OH, you guys, they just reeked of nasty gossipy conversations in the grad lounge: they were oozing with howlingly unjust group-think. A couple of little providential moments there that I want to remember: I wrapped up a meeting with a colleague, saying that I was going to read my evals, and she shared with me that this group had savaged her at the end of the fall semester. It seemed so preposterous that they would say the things she was reporting they had said -- and it took away some of the sting when I discovered that they had said the same things about me. Coincidentally, I ran into my chair right as I was walking into the office, and when I mentioned that I was reading the evals she laid a hand on my shoulder. "The grad evals are going to be hard to read," she said. I talked to her about it afterward, and she's not worried. She was hugely reassuring, actually. This class always gets evaluated harshly, apparently, because there's a mismatch between the students' expectations and the requirements of the curriculum.
I still woke up at 2 the next morning and spent an hour writhing at some of the malicious comments. I feel a bit like a student coming in at the end of the semester and saying, "But I worked SO HARD and I SHOULD get an A!" But honestly, if my evals had reflected the effort I put into that course they would have been, like, levitating within the file cabinet.
So. I keep trying to shake that off, and I keep trying to shake off my triathlon anxiety, and I keep hoping that my swimmer's ear will resolve, and overall I'm feeling a little glum. But it's probably a good time for me to post some summer plans (I might finish David Copperfield tomorrow, and if not I'll finish it Monday -- my trip to St. Felix's got me off track and I've been distracted with L.M. Montgomery's Emily books), and it's definitely time for me to hop off the internet for the night. See you soon.