catching up, bearing down

I don’t have much time tonight, as it’s 10:30, and I’ve got some work to do before a meeting tomorrow. However, I feel compelled to give an update.¹

Pregnancy seems to have finally caught up with me. After feeling strangely spry for the first 2 months of the 3rd trimester, my body apparently caught sight of the calendar. Suddenly, the heartburn has kicked in stronger. I’ve started having joint pains. Gravity is now exerting a greater than normal force on me, causing me to be more strongly adhered whatever surface I happen to be sitting on. And most irritatingly, the sausage feet that visited me occasionally have not only returned, but apparently camped in for the long haul. I feel like I am walking around with a 5 pound weight strapped to each of my feet, and I can barely shove my feet into the pair of sandals that had previously fit just fine. When I take my sandals off, I get a couple of big stripes of puffiness and dents that would make the Michelin man proud. Attractive as this may sound, there is a downside. My feet hurt, dammit.

I’ve been trying to keep my feet up when I can, but this is not as often as one might expect when one is tending to a toddler. While Phoebe has gotten quite capable at many tasks, showing amazing fine motor skills in her paper-folding abilities, she has not yet mastered the art of cookery. Letting her have a go with the cooking knives did not go well, and she struggles with even the most rudimentary recipes. (This should not surprise me, considering previous research.)

Then there’s the potty training, which continues to be the bane of my existence. We are on our third chart now, each glimmering with sparkly stickers of victory. 28 stickers on each completed chart. And not a single potty usage at daycare. (The child, who apparently has some sort of will of her own, has announced her intentions of using her diaper at daycare. She can do well keeping her big-girl underwear clean and dry at home, but if she is wearing a diaper, she tends to use it. And the daycare provider is not comfortable with kids wearing underwear until they have demonstrated an ability to use a potty for a couple of weeks.)

I had an ultrasound today, as the new kiddo was stubbornly keeping his head up at my last appointment. Happily, he is now facing the general direction of the exit. Also, he appears to be growing well. (I actually had an ultrasound 4 weeks ago, too, to check on growth. My external measurements were not increasing over a whole month, which was a bit unsettling. We’ve both caught up, though.)

I also had my last violin lesson for some indeterminate amount of time, which should at least make my schedule feel slightly lighter as I continue to grow heavier. Which is good, since I am feeling the pressure of time bearing down on me. I still have work/school goals I haven’t yet abandoned, and there is some chance I can get some of them done.²


¹ I’m apparently still addicted enough to this blogging business that I will take a break from my other methods of procrastination in order to blather on.

² Assuming I stop procrastinating.³

³ I’m still also working on finishing up writing about our experiences with Early Intervention. I’ve also got some pants on the backburner. (And I say Phoebe has trouble with cooking?) So, as soon as I have a chance to catch up….

she picked black for the background of the most recent chart.
Phoebe's progress charts. Note the evidence that Phoebe is our child: she picked black for the background of the most recent chart.

a few categories of people

Tonight I am feeling envious and/or jealous of the following categories of people:

  1. Those people who ever get to sleep past 7 a.m.
  2. Those who have time to watch TV, watch movies, or read books, especially on weekends.
  3. Those who haven’t committed to revising and submitting conference abstracts due on a Friday night.
  4. Those who don’t have another conference paper revision due the following Monday.
  5. Any individuals who have not insanely committed to presenting a computational linguistics textbook chapter to a group on the Saturday morning of the same weekend as those other deadlines.

Really, it’s all good. But I find myself with strong cravings for mindless entertainment and near-vegetative activites. I thought a little bit of whine might help. Ooo, and maybe some cheese.

I am not an accountant

Sometimes I forget to tell myself that. I’ve never been an accountant. Nor have I ever planned to be one. (Not that there’s anything wrong with accounting. I can see the appeal of putting things in order.) But this lack of accountancy in my life is usually not at the forefront of my mind.

Day after day I can go about my non-accounting-related business without once thinking, “hey, I’m not an accountant.”

But just a few days ago, I became truly aware of this. “I’m not in accounting!” I loudly proclaimed. And I realized how true a statement that was. And I have Blogger to thank for this epiphany.

You see, Blogger has made some changes to their comment forms. Now, instead of being able to type in my name and the URL for this blog when I leave a comment, I must choose between logging in with my Blogger ID, using a “nickname” (Should I have a nickname? What about Snake?), or being anonymous. So I’ve been using my Blogger ID more often lately. And on a whim, I decided to check out my minimalist Blogger profile. After all, someone might follow the link from a comment I leave here or there. (Well, not here. But there.) And imagine my surprise when I saw that my profile said I was in the field of accounting.

I quickly went to edit my profile, and select “not specified” for my field, since, shockingly, “linguistics” was not listed on the drop-down menu. When viewing the profile next, I was relieved to see that I was no longer masquerading as a grad student of accounting. But then I thought to myself, “maybe I should say a bit more about myself.” So I added a bit of stuff. And saved my profile. And lo and behold, I was once more in accounting. I went back in, changed the field. Saved the profile. All was well. But, oh crap, there was a typo in my link. Fixed it. Saved. Dammit, there was the frickin’ “accounting” thing again.

“I am not an accountant!” I cried. I felt I needed to affirm this. It’s been good to have this reminder.

I have a lot of trouble defining my identity. When asked for a description, I tend to give a list: student, wife, mother, friend, blah, blah, blah. It varies how many items I put on that list. But I have never once in my life listed “accountant” as an identity.

Of course, I have never listed “not an accountant,” either. And this opens up a whole realm of possible identities. I am also not a butcher, baker, candlestick maker, chiropractor, dancer, mime, mugger, jogger, juggler, or provost. The possibilities are staggering. But for now, at least, I can just remind myself that indeed, I am not an accountant.

learning some lessons (a crankiness review)

This has been a bit of a week for learning for me. I love learning. I am a bit of a long-term student. And even my career goals for after I get the PhD involve continued research. But the truth is, sometimes, the learning process can involve some crankiness. I like to feel like I know stuff, but often learning involves being shown that I don’t know stuff. Which is not always comfortable.

Take Monday. I had my violin lesson. I hadn’t had much time to practice last week, and there were 2 new, unfamiliar pieces. Worse, I didn’t practice until late in the week, meaning I more or less couldn’t remember the pieces at all from the previous lesson. And while Phoebe has lately been encouraging me to practice (she points at the violin, and then plays quietly nearby while I practice), she has less interest in listening to me struggle with a new piece that I play poorly (she kept leaving the room). Resulting in a shorter practice session. End result: Monday’s lesson was not my best. The topic of my lack of rhythm came up. Sigh.

Take Yesterday. I noticed that a deadline for abstract submissions for a big conference was today. I had meant to submit an abstract for the work I did for my master’s project. (Re-submit, actually, as the abstract I submitted for a previous conference was rejected.) I decided that I should make the push, and spent 4 hours re-writing the abstract yesterday afternoon and evening. I then sent it to a professor (one of the reader’s for my master’s project) on the off chance she would have time to look at it and give suggestions. Remarkably, she generously agreed to read the abstract, and even came back with several helpful suggestions. She said I should definitely submit the abstract, but that it would need to be “re-written.” Crap. I thought re-writing was what I’d just done. But I re-re-wrote, and was up till 2:00 in the morning. It apparently still needs re-re-re-writing, though. (The deadline was extended, so my professor will send me more comments tonight or tomorrow.) It will definitely be very good for me to learn how to write a better abstract, but, well, I hadn’t thought the first one (or second or third) were all that bad. Showing that I indeed have stuff to learn.

Take today. Another lesson in a different domain. I took Phoebe to Whole Foods this evening, as we need some stuff for a dinner we’re having tomorrow. (The aforementioned veggie dinner.) I was trying to get out the door by 5:00, with the plan of picking up some dinner for Phoebe at the store. We didn’t manage to leave till 5:15. Phoebe usually eats around 5:30. The store is 20 minutes away. I gave her some cheese before we went in the store, thinking it would hold her till we finished shopping, when she could eat some more.

We went in the store, I plopped her in a cart. Then I plopped her in another cart, because the straps on the first cart weren’t properly attached. Then we started shopping. And more time passed. Then Phoebe realized she was cold, and I’d left her sweater in the car. (It was about 90 degrees out, but downright chilly in the frozen food aisles.) But while Phoebe is generally a very happy and well-behaved toddler, she becomes less so when her needs aren’t met. Such as when she is cold and hungry. We almost ended up leaving without most of the items on the list. After buying a bit of bread and milk for her (yes, I went all out for the gourmet dinner), and returning to the car to warm up, eat and get her sweater, we were able to then complete our shopping mission in relative calm. You’d think I would’ve known providing adequate food clothing were among the basics of parenting.

Now, it’s 1:00 a.m., and I am back at work on the abstract re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-write. I’m completely wiped out and cranky and am no longer sure I can manage to get the abstract done. Is it too late to change careers?

the eggplant strikes back: the vegesaga continues

This is week 8 of my CSA adventure.

    2 pounds of beets
    1 pound of carrots (donated from another farm, as the carrot crop failed at the farm I go to)
    1 pound of cucumbers
    a bunch of onions
    a pint of pick-your-own peas (though I just picked a half pint, as it was raining, and the pickin’s were looking slim)
    1 small japanese eggplant (I traded in my bunch of onions for a second eggplant.)
    1 small summer squash or pepper (I chose an eight ball zucchini)
    1 bunch or chard or kale
    1 sprig of thyme or marjoram
    1 bunch of basil
    1 ping pong ball-sized tomato

I’m feeling a bit down on this veggie business just now. I sent out an email to a bunch of local friends inviting them to come in small groups, and giving a choice of a dozen or so dates. It turns out that many of them want to come and/or are only available on August 2nd, and no one is available this week. It will be fun to have the bunch of folks, though I hadn’t intended to throw a party 2 days before our big trip. However, I actually won’t have enough vegetables to feed them all. I can save the beets and carrots from this week, but most of the vegetables don’t really last from one week to the next. And the point was to feed people farm-fresh vegetables, not ones that were a week or more old.

So I had a thought. Since I’ll be going away for 2 weeks, I thought perhaps I could see if I could pick up 2 shares worth next week. I know that lots of people go away during the summer, and there always seem to be a lot of vegetables at the end of the night when I arrive at the tail end of the pick-up. So, I asked the farmer. I didn’t know what she’d say, and knew that “no” was definitely a possible answer. I was prepared for the “no” answer.

What I wasn’t prepared for was how irritated I would be by that answer.

Her first answer was, “no, it’s not possible, because of the way the vegetables grow.” When I mentioned that other people might also be going away at various times over the summer and might want to switch a week, she said, “Oh, I see. But it would be too hard for me to keep track.” What I find irritating is that I could think of several ways off the top of my head that it would be feasible for people to arrange these things without it taking up much of her time. She writes in her emailed newsletters that she wants to encourage a sense of community, but all communication between members of this “community” is filtered through her. If there were even some sort of bulletin board, or virtual bulletin board, I could post a request that someone swap a week’s pick-up with me, and then some other member and I could communicate directly. But the answer was “no, I can’t keep track.” (Well, when I explained about the horde of people coming for dinner next week, she did say I could email her and that she’d consider if she learned of someone planning to forfeit their share for the week. But it doesn’t seem too likely this will work out, and I will feel like I’ve put her out.)

And then I’ve realized that part of my irritation was not just about her answer. It’s her farm, her business, so her decision. She needs to decide what works for her. But the trouble is, there have been a number of things that haven’t worked for me as well as I’d hoped.

One main issue is that I hadn’t realized how little of the share would actually be food that Phoebe will eat. (We’ve tried, but she’s become pickier.) There have been greens and onions and kohlrabi, radishes and herbs, garlic and bok choi. And then there was all the lettuce. (Do all the other members really not find 5 heads of lettuce a week to be excessive?) Phoebe won’t eat lettuce, and I can’t even freeze it for later. Here I’ve been collecting more vegetables each week than I’ve ever used before, and then we’ve had to buy additional vegetables for Phoebe. It seems so wrong to be buying frozen broccoli and peas when I have a fridge full of farm-fresh vegetables.

And I’m irritated that I’m trying to be all supportive of this CSA business, and spread the word, and encourage people to consider trying it out. And right now I don’t feel so gung ho. It’s been a fair amount of work, both to go get the vegetables (I even had to rearrange my schedule to be able to make it to one of the two weekly pick-up dates) and to prepare them.

I know that there’s a lot of variation in how the farms and CSA shares operate. My advisor at school is also participating in one, and the deal he gets sounds more appealing. He doesn’t go to a farm, but to a pick-up location that is in or near Boston. What he’s gotten in his weekly shares also sounds more appealing. So maybe I just need to find a different CSA next time around.

So, like all relationships, we’ve had a few bumps. I’m sure that we’ll make up again in a few weeks. I have enjoyed the veggies we’ve gotten so far, and we’re eating more healthily than usual, possibly more healthy than ever. But for now, I think I’ll sit and pout and give the CSA the cold shoulder.

vegetables are kicking my ass

I’m running a bit behind in the vegetable preparation and consumption. The fridge is loaded to the brim with lettuce, greens, beets, scallions and such. (There’s lots of lettuce again, but due to a ninja woodchuck who did in the lettuce seedlings a while back, there won’t be lettuce again for a bit. I swear I didn’t pay him to do it.) We got to pick our own peas (snow peas and snap peas) this week and last, which was fun.

Tonight I cooked up 3 heads of bok choi, and made a ginger cashew sauce to go with it. The sauce came out moderately well, in spite of my scorching many of the cashews in an attempt to multitask. (Did you know that cooking involves lots of swearing and shouting? It’s long been the case with me. I love cooking, but you wouldn’t know it to hear me at work. If I had a cooking show, it would either be rated R or would have lots of bleeping. Bok fucking choi. Bleep bleep cashews.)

One reason I’m behind in my veggies is that things have been hectic the past week or so. One major thing that’s been eating up extra time is planning this trip. We are definitely going. We bought air tickets. (The prices are outrageous, and shot up hundreds of dollars over the course of days. Effectively ending the debate over whether to get Phoebe her own seat on the plane. A lap baby she will be. Which, by the way, still costs over $300.) I’ve registered for the conference in Saarbrucken, Germany. My mother will be meeting us in Paris. Phoebe now has her passport. (Hurray!) Still to do is to square away lodgings for both Paris (we’re planning to rent an apartment) and Saarbrucken (we’ll do a hotel room). Also train reservations.

I continue to be wiped out, sleep-deprived, and behind in many things besides the vegetables. (Commenting, for example. I have not had much chance to comment on other people’s blogs. If you’ve noticed my absence, please know that I’m still reading, though!)

I find myself resenting the 4th of July, as it means that Phoebe will not be in daycare. (She goes there 3 days a week, and I commute 2 days a week. Wednesdays are my non-commute work-at-home day.) But with Phoebe at home, I won’t be able to get any work or much of anything else done until she’s in bed. If I am lucky, she will have a long nap, and I will have a couple of hours to either sleep or be productive. (Does sleep count as being productive?) I feel like perhaps we should do some sort of fun family thing for the 4th, and forget that I have lots of work to do. And just enjoy the extra day together. I’ll work on it, but I’m too tired to figure out something to do just now. Perhaps we will have a fun and festive Independence Day salad toss. Or maybe beet bowling. Anyone know of a craft project using kale and baby onions?

I am not an “I am not a plastic bag”

Mind you, this is not to say that I am a plastic bag.

But I have to share some silliness that’s come to my attention regarding the whole shopping bag debate. Since posting a few times about my own battles against plastic shopping bags, my blog has gotten a surprising number of search engine hits for the phrase “I am not a plastic bag.” Seeing as I live under a rock, I’d missed all the public hooha on the topic, and so the phrase seemed more than a little bizarre to me. Were there individuals out there suffering from identity crises whereby they needed to affirm their own non-plastic-bag status? bag_100×110.jpg

As it turns out, a whole bunch of people, though they are not themselves plastic bags, think that they need to buy a high-fashion accessory in order to avoid using wasteful plastic bags.

Designer Anya Hindmarch has designed a bag, the “I am not a plastic bag” bag. This is a bag, which is not a plastic bag, that advertises its non-plastic bagness through the words “I am not a plastic bag,” which are emblazened across the bag, which, as it turns out, is not plastic. They are not only not plastic, but apparently they are all the rage. Check out this bit from the FAQ page:

How can I buy I’m Not A Plastic Bag?
We have been overwhelmed by the success of this project. The UK limited edition brown bags have now completely sold out in the UK.

Apparently, folks are even selling these bags on ebay for oodles of money. There have been scandalous exposés decrying that the bags, though not plastic, are not produced especially ethically, nor are they produced in a particularly environmentally friendly way.

What I find more disturbing is that this buying frenzy not only smacks of unneccessary consumerism, but also smacks of a fad.

I’m not alone in these worries. As supporting evidence that the frenzy is about a fashion fad rather than reflecting conservationist intentions, one commenter on this blog post wrote:

my daughter has one and she loves it she takes it everywhere with her but surprise surprise not one person has commented on it which has really upset her

Ugh. I mean, why avoid using plastic bags if no one is even going to compliment you on your high-fashion anti-plastic-bag accessories?

While I applaud celebrities and other influential figures (who are likely not plastic bags) attempting to spread conscience and consciousness about environmental and social issues, does it really have to boil down to just another product?

the skies are falling (in our estimation)

John just sent me a link to an article entitled “US Airways Says Thousands Still Stuck:”

PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Thousands of weary travelers faced a third day waiting to reach their destinations Sunday as US Airways struggled to recover from the ice and snow storm that paralyzed airports in the Northeast.

The airline was still trying to find seats for 100,000 passengers systemwide whose flights were grounded by Friday’s storm, spokesman Andrew Christie said. Many of the passengers were diverted to US Airways’ hub in Charlotte, N.C., on Friday.

Holy crap. 3 days of waiting. And all this happened 2 days after we got home. So close. Here I was feeling put out about standing in line at the check-in counter for an hour and a half. (Admittedly, the weather was perfect so no flights were actually cancelled and I was wearing a remarkably patient but nevertheless wriggly, and eventually hungry, 23-pound 1-year-old that whole time we stood in line, as we got more and more worried about missing our flight because nobody was giving any information, only to be bumped to another airline, leading us to be flagged for the extra security near-stripdown search, and not getting seats together because we were added to the flight last minute, and then once we did get on the plane, having to beg, plea and avoid fisticuffs with an ornery passenger who didn’t want to change seats so we could use the carseat for Phoebe since we’d paid for 3 seats while the whole plane waited…)

I do feel sincerely sorry for those poor US Airways employees who were working the ticket counters. Dealing with all those people. Thousands of irritated people. For days. Ugh. I swear, I hope those employees have some vacation time coming. And I hope that if they need to fly somewhere, that they get there. Perhaps by means of another airline.

And another funny thing. I just saw this NYT article this morning about airlines writing apology letters. I guess somebody has their work cut out for them.

One last thing. In defense of US Airways. We did actually get home by way of our original reservations with them. Their computer system was actually working on Wednesday, at least at the time we checked in. Also, they actually are comparatively family friendly, assuming you can get on your flight. They had preboarding for families with small children, which I guess has largely been done away with on other airlines. And they had a changing table in the lavatory. Plus the crew members and some of the other employees we encountered were courteous. See? I can say something nice about them. So maybe I should rethink their slogan from the “Shut up and fly” I’d suggested before. Here are some possibilities:

  • “We do some things right.”
  • “Our flights are worth the wait.”
  • “We’re trying. Give us a break.”
  • “Hey, at least we’re not Jet Blue.
  • the skies just aren’t as friendly as they used to be

    So, we made it out here to California. We almost didn’t get here last night. Phoebe actually did phenomenally well. For example, as we stood in line for an hour an a half at the U.S. Airways check-in counter, she was a trooper. She was amazing. Played games with John’s hat. Looked around at what was going on. Even smiled at other people standing in line.

    Did I mention that we had to stand in line for an hour and a freakin’ half?? Before we could even check in? Not to mention going through security. But don’t worry! We didn’t miss our flight. Because it was delayed. So much so that we wouldn’t be able to make our connection in Pittsburgh. The last flight of the day going from Pittsburg to San Francisco on U.S. Airways.

    Anyhow, we did make it. By way of getting bumped to another airline. Which was good. Because it seems that there was a good reason we got such a good deal on the tickets with U.S. Airways: they pretty much suck. It wasn’t so much just the slowness and the delays, which were apparently caused by a new computer system. The bigger problem was the lack of organization. The lack of courtesy to the people standing in line.

    I was reflecting on some of the perky, cheerful slogans airlines used to have, remembering some from my childhood. United Airlines had “Fly the friendly skies” and Delta had “We love to fly and it shows.” American was “Something special in the air.” Such relics of another time. Airlines just don’t have such cheerful slogans these days.

    Maybe the U.S. Airways slogan should be “Shut up and fly.”

    I found a list of airline slogans. And can I just share that when I read two of TWA’s slogans, “Up, up, and away.” and “One mission. Yours,” I momentarily read the first word of the first slogan and the last word of the second. Which would make another good slogan for an airline of today.

    Here are a few more potential airline slogans:

  • “We’ll get you there. Or not.”
  • “180 days accident-free and counting.” (John came up with this one.)
  • “We’ve been winging it.”
  • “Go away.”