30 March 2007


Working through the dissertation is by far one of the hardest things I've ever done. I would almost rather be pregnant and give birth again than have to face this process. Almost. But at least pregnancy, even labor and delivery, is something that you know you will come out on the other side. This, I'm not so sure. In fact, at one point while ordering our new counter top, I fantasized about working at Lowes. Doing nothing but typing in people's orders all day long...ahhhhh.

The problem is that the self-doubt, the anxiety, the stress all stems from one particular question--am I smart enough to do this? In almost any other job, you could learn a skill--to be a better salesman, to check people's groceries out faster, to reach your students more clearly.... overcome by gathering knowledge. It's the intrinsic intelligence that I'm worried about--as irrational as that fear probably is (God, I hope it's irrational). But I think that (with, no doubt, a few exceptions) this is a fear that most grad students have to deal with at one point or another. Because there is that possibility that you just don't have what it takes to get a job, to write something important, to make it in this profession, not because you haven't learned enough or because you have a goldfish memory sometimes (which I do), but because there is something wrong with all of that grey matter sloshing around upstairs. But the fear that somehow I'm not smart enough to do this isn't something that can be. That's the part that's paralyzing.

So when your director says that you're dissertation is doing something 'really smart,' you don't take it as a compliment. Instead, you panic, because you know that she must be misunderstanding what you think you're doing.

That's the hard part of this profession: To get a Ph.D., to want to be a professor and make your living from ideas and research, you have to be personally and emotionally tied to your work. It becomes a huge part of your identity. When you doubt your work, you naturally start doubting yourself. I'm not sure that there's a way out of that cycle. I see it in friends who are finishing classes, in friends who are about to take exams, and in friends who are on the market or who are starting new jobs. It's why so many people never finish.

Unfortunately, I have a lot riding on this. Little man is going to want things someday--to go to college, to take vacations, to have a momma that is fulfilled with her career. And I'm going to want to give it to him. Having a baby through this forces you to focus eventually. If I screw this up, a lot more could be at stake.

28 March 2007

Visual DNA

This is what I do instead of the work I should be doing....

27 March 2007

Of all the things...

Monday my dad called. Apparently, my great uncle's wife just died. They went 9 days apart. I've been racking my brain for the right word--something that encapsulates sadness and shock. That family's been through so much...

23 March 2007

From somewhere in Ohio

We're back in my hometown this week for my great uncle's funeral.

I wasn't overly close to my uncle, but we decided to come back for my grandpa and my mom. I'm glad I did.

It was the most amazing funeral. I've never really seen such an immense testament to the fullness of a man's life. He was a fireman-- the chief for around 30 years. He was a father, a stepfather, a grandfather, a brother, a husband, an uncle, and from the amazing number of mourners, a friend and community leader. Hundreds came to calling hours. The day of the funeral, 300 came to the funeral mass. The priest almost broke into tears during the homily. Fire Engines from 15 different towns came to take part in the processional from the church to the grave site. Behind the hearse, 3 limos carried the immediate family. Behind them, the fire engines, chief's cars, sheriffs cars, and others. Then there were the rest of the mourners. Cars for the 8 miles between the church and cemetery had to pull off to the side of the road to let the procession pass. EMTs, Police, and Firemen all along the route stepped out of their cars and out of their stations and stood at attention as the procession passed. When we arrived at the cemetery, 2 hook and ladder trucks--one from each of his firefighting sons' towns--made an arch for the procession to pass under. In the rain, 20-30 firefighters stood at attention as the procession passed and then as the final prayers were said over the casket.

I have never seen such a thing. I've never even heard of such a thing as this funeral. It made the Cleveland news, it made the front page of the local newspaper.

My uncle was buried in a family plot, next to his mother and father under the brown marble St. Anthony that I've visited since I was a child. His brothers wobbled. One almost collapsed. His widow seemed numb and distraught.

Funerals are always difficult, no matter what your beliefs. No matter how close you are to the deceased. It's hard to see people who are always strong cry. It is hard to see the end of one chapter for a family.

But the funeral of Mickele Calderone was a testament to what a life can be.

18 March 2007

I'm exhausted...and spring break hasn't even started yet

This week has not been what you might call a good week. See this picture? This is pretty much the view I've had for the last, oh I don't know, 4 or 5 days. See, little man here caught some kind of bug from his day care. Some kind of nasty little stomach bug. And, being the sweet wonderful child that he is, he decided to share it. With all of us. So far, only the cat has remained unscathed. Needless to say, he's been a little clingy. And I've felt downright gross. A lovely way to begin spring break, no?

With the week of the nasty little stomach virus that made it's way through our house and with our recent decision to head back to Ohio for my great uncle's funeral, I have officially come to the realization that the chapter of my dissertation that I promised by advisor will not be done on the 26th. I'm not good at missing deadlines, and now I have to write an email explaining why I need to push it back. yuck. I'd almost prefer the stomach virus again.

So on Tuesday we take little man back to Ohio for a few days and I officially give up any hope of making any progress on the diss this week.

Usually I'd love to have an excuse to spend 5 days without work with little man and the hubby. But I've been seeing a lot of little man lately (see picture above). It could be a loooooong week.

10 March 2007

The first posting

I've been wanting to start a blog for a while. I like the idea of sending all my frustration and joy out to the anonymous universe. Plus, it seemed like a waste of time that I could convince myself was also quasi-productive. But for weeks I've hesitated, because I couldn't think of a name for my blog. I wanted something somewhat creative, yet quirky without looking like I was trying too hard. I was about to give up.

Then one morning after my morning workout at the gym, I told the hubby proudly that I had just biked seven miles to nowhere. He thought it would be a great name for a rock band, but I had other ideas....

So I've finally decided to start this blog. I'm hoping it will help relieve the stress of writing a dissertation and being a mother.

So enough with the introductions... here goes nothing.