Monday, August 30, 2004

Midlife Mama: Looking for Enjoli

My newest column went up today as well: "Late at night, when I've stopped worrying about the hole in the bathroom ceiling, the mess on Nick's bedroom floor, and the various appointments I have for the next day, I start in on the main event: death. I don't actually think about it a lot -- not the afterlife, or whether there is one, not about my own or my children's or husband's deaths in any great detail. No, I have a specific worry, one that my late nights have not yet come to terms with: I worry that I can't die, or the family will go broke."

Read the rest here: Midlife Mama: Looking for Enjoli

New Books: Masks, Chains, and Myths: Analyzing Motherhood

My new book review is up at Literary Mama:

"When I told my parents I was expecting their first grandchild, they leapt up from the table to congratulate me with a kind of unconditional affirmation one rarely receives after the spelling bee years. While I was delighted that they were happy for me, I was also a bit nonplussed; after all, getting pregnant was one of the easier things I'd done lately. I'd been married two years at the time, had finished my master's in English and was well on the way to my PhD. Surely those accomplishments had been just as important? Certainly, they were more difficult."

Read the rest here: New Books: Masks, Chains, and Myths: Analyzing Motherhood

why blog?

I've been thinking a lot about why I keep this blog. I'd like to have a really smart blog that directs you to all the fabulous internet sites I've reviewed for you. I'd like to have a lyrical blog that showcases my writing, one that makes other writers, other mothers, say "yes, that's just how it is." I'd like to have a blog that's up-to-date, so people who care can check in and find out what's going on.

Instead I have a little bit of this, a little bit of that. It's fun, but it also feels a little like a chore at times. I write something and then I wonder why anyone would want to read it. And that's important to think about. After all, when I teach writing I insist to my students that they keep their reaaders in mind, that they think about whom they're reaching.

I can't work this all out now. It's pouring rain--the remnants of tropical storm Gaston are hitting Richmond and doing so with great force. The power's out all over town (not here, yet); there's flooding beyond belief, including about two inches of standing water in our formerly dry basement; and I probably shouldn't be typing during a thunderstorm. It took me an hour and a quarter to drive the five miles home today--I kept coming to flooded out sections of road and having to find a different route. In the end I drove through a patch that was about two feet deep of roiling water--I saw a recycle bin floating across the street. I just gripped the wheel and prayed to make it through. There was a dead car in the intersection but the little bug made it. By then I was only a couple of blocks from home. I breathed deeply and crept along the next couple blocks, then turned right onto my block--and was met by a tree limb down across the road. So I breathed again, turned around, and went around the block, finally making it back home. Mark and Nick met me with umbrellas and all was--mostly--well.

Oh, Mark patched the roof over the weekend and it's mostly holding. The worst part is the professinally installed patch. Take that!

Monday, August 23, 2004

back to school

The kids still have two weeks of summer, but Mark and I went back to school today. These first two weeks always feel a bit split; we try to manage to act as if it's still vacation, but we're really working. It doesn't help that both Mark's birthday and our anniversary fall during these first two weeks.

That said, it was a good first day. I have a writing class and a seminar to teach this semester, and I met the writing students today. They laughed (enough) at my jokes, made some of their own, and wrote fluently and vividly for ten minutes--long enough to get out a few paragraphs they then weren't embarrassed to share. Teaching writing is rewarding for me: the students really want to learn, they are willing to work, and they see results. I love teaching literature, too, but the results are less apparent, to both me and the students--I think they sink in over a much longer term--so it's not as rewarding in the short run. I'd like to work it so I can do both more often, as I am this semester, but I'll have to write (and publish) more to make my credentials a little more compelling, first. In the meantime, I'm enjoying what I've got.

Oh! And the roofers came Friday and patched our big hole. And it rained Saturday and nothing came through, so things are looking up.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

days of the week: Parents are People

Posts here at "days of the week" are often lovely; there's a heart-breaking one about miscarriage here, for example. But read this too:

days of the week: Parents are People: "I've always suspected that in the minds of children, mothers are more props than people, and that even as children turn into adults, it is hard for most of us to concieve of mother as 'person' whose existence is complicated by ambuigity and desire. Perhaps this is why psychiatrists were in their heyday so keen on blaming mothers -- they were still seeing us through childish eyes, seeing us as need-meeting machines rather than regular folks.

What complicates this notion that mother is not a person, somehow, that for many of us, mother also serves as the first model of what it means to be human, how we should move through our days.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Ms. Magazine Summer 2003 Interview with Julia Child

Julia Child died today. I've never cooked anything, I think, from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, even though I have it, but I loved to watch her on TV, to hear her talk, to read about her.

Here is an interview she gave last summer.

Ms. Magazine Summer 2003 Interview with Julia Child

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Thursday, August 12, 2004

The Chronicle: Career Network: 07/29/2004

The Chronicle: Career Network: 07/29/2004: "For some time now, I've been playing both sides of the Mommy Fence with the other mothers in the neighborhood. For whatever reason, I feel some pressure to present an image to those mothers and to others at my kids' school of a mom who is not a workaholic or even a full-time member of the work force."

Read the whole article. She talks about what happens in the summer when you are both mom and professor...not enough of either job! It's what I was just complaining about, put better.

missing Mariah

The house feels pretty empty without Mariah, who's now off on her third week away this summer (fourth if you count the one she spent with us). She's in CA now, visiting my sister and her family, and entertaining the world's best nephew/cousin, the fabulous Ben. She's having a great time, I'm sure. And we're doing fine here, really. If it weren't for that rain...

Actually this is the crazy time of year when everything has to be got ready for the fall semester. Every year it sneaks up on me. Every year I feel as if the summer has just disappeared. I know the rest of the world thinks we have a cushy job, we professors, only teaching a few days a week, summers off--and I can't deny it. It's pretty nice. But at this time of year I feel that I pay for it, really I do. Especially when I have to go back to school in late August and the kids still have two weeks of vacation. Whose idea was that schedule?

OK, enough complaining. Time to get back to work.

rain, rain, go away

I suppose I shouldn't complain, since we're not in the path of either of the tropical storms headed for Florida right now, but could it please stop raining? The roof isn't fixed yet and every time it rains I worry that another chunk of ceiling will fall. And the roof can't be fixed until--you guessed it--it stops raining. Sigh.

Saturday, August 07, 2004


vacation over, we're back at home. A week w/my folks is plenty--it was lovely, restful even, but it was enough. And now we're home. The hole in the bathroom ceiling is no bigger than when we left (despite much rain in our absence, so that's good) and yet nothing we left broken is miraculously fixed. I hate that. So now all the old stuff is still there to deal with. But I think I'll take a nap, and maybe do the laundry, first.