Wednesday, February 29, 2012

How to Put the Icing on the Cake of a Stressful Week

Feeling overworked? Dealing with a crisis on your campus? Feeling anger towards those whose mess you're having to clean up? Then I have an idea for how to make your emotions more balanced and complex:

Have a car crash.

By having a car crash, your resentment and anger towards other people will be suddenly tempered by self-blame. The self-blame will balance your anger towards others while also increasing your level of guilt. You will feel guilty because, of course, this is going to cost money and affect your insurance. And, also, you've just bashed into someone else's car.

Now, I should be clear. I'm not suggesting you do anything truly dangerous or injurious. After all, you, like me, often have small children in your car. And even if you're thinking, "Oh but if I get injured then I will be able to just rest at home for a while and avoid work," you need to think again. As well all know, car crash injuries, even minor ones, are the kind that creep up on you again 15 years later when you find out that your neck vertebrae are fused together. So, I have a suggestion for avoiding serious injury:

Crash into a parked car.

If you crash into a parked car, you minimize the risk of injury to self and others as long as you aren't going too fast. There are many opportunities for this kind of crash. For example, if your daughter's dance studio is like my daughter's, then, when you back out of your parking spot, you'll need to back right into a two lane road. If, while you are trying to make sure you get all the way into the far lane to make sure you're not facing oncoming traffic, and if it's really dark, then you might easily back right into a car that is parked parallel on the opposite side of the road. Also, if the far side of the road takes a dip, and you drive a mini-van, and it's dark, it will be almost impossible for you to see the parked car because your van's back end will be facing up hill and the other car will be totally below your line of vision, which makes this difficult to do on purpose but very easy to do by accident.

Of course, you don't have to do this at your daughter's dance studio. Any driveway that requires you to back into two lanes of traffic should be comparable. I would suggest, however, that you don't do it at a gym where big muscled guys might scream at you while your daughter waits in the car. The good thing about the dance studio, if you can arrange it as well as I did, is that the car might belong to a very nice woman who is attending a belly dancing class and who is dressed in full belly-dancing garb. So, rather than screaming and shaking a fist in your face, she will just smile sadly and jingle a little bit.

If you want to really add to the complexity and interest of your emotions, and if you want to raise the stakes financially, you could crash into a fancy car. You wouldn't want to crash into a Ferrari or brand new Porsche Boxter; that would be a bit too serious, but you might try something like a 40th Anniversary Edition of a Mustang GT that is painted with a special issue paint called "Crimson Red."

You might be thinking that, more than adding emotional complexity and balancing the directions of your anger, that such a car crash would put you straight over the edge. Well, to mitigate this eventuality, I would suggest that you do, indeed, have a child with you during this small crash. You will have to maintain a sense of calm in order to keep her from getting too upset. And then, afterwards, when you've finally caught up with your husband and son who are waiting for you at the fish and chips place, your daughter, as you're walking up to the restaurant might take your hand and say, "Mama, if you need money to pay for the crash, I can give you a dollar." And you will smile and say, "Thank you, Sweetie. That is very nice of you."

And then she will run into the restaurant shouting, "Daddy, guess WHAT?!?! We CRASHED!!!"

And when your husband looks at you, you will have nothing to do but just smile sheepishly, shrug, and nod.

And, then, my friends, work won't seem so bad anymore.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


Hey, Virtual Book Club peeps. Just blogging to say that because of massive amounts of prep reading, I haven't finished Foolscap yet. My Kindle tells me I'm about 40% of the way through. But I know the rest of you are probably finished, so you don't need to wait for me. If you post about it, I can skip your reviews until I catch up. Right now, I'm re-reading Frankenstein so that I can teach it again in a couple of weeks. I only teach it every two years, so I always have to re-read. We're up in the mountains this weekend--a great setting for curling up with Frankenstein.

BTW, am I the only one who things "VBAC" when seeing or writing "VBC"?

Monday, February 13, 2012


Some of you may remember last September when I sent an article out for submission. Well, it was rejected. I got the notice today. It was the first article I've ever sent out, so I didn't really expect it to be accepted.

But then, about a month ago, I received this message from the managing editor:

Dear GEW,

We have now received one positive report on your submission, and the second reader has been reminded that we were expecting a report on 5th January; the mid-winter holiday break always causes delays. The editor will go over the reports as soon as possible after the second report arrives, and we plan to send you a decision letter by the end of the first week of February at the very latest. Apologies again for this delay, and we truly appreciate your patience.

The whole idea of "positive report" sounded very, well, positive, and I started to get my hopes up just a little bit. I hadn't heard back by last Friday, so this morning, I contacted the editor, and they posted the results: rejected. Apparently, the second reader did not think the article was very good at all.

The upside is that I now have quite a bit of useful (if not somewhat depressing) feedback. For now, I'm trying to focus on the mostly good report and allow myself to be bolstered by it, but it's very easy to ruminate on the bad report and tell myself that "zie's right, zie's right, I know zie's right." The negative review made quite a few remarks about recent scholarship that I've overlooked, omitted, etc. I am a part-time student at a UK university, but I live and work in California. I'm several hours from any really good libraries, and I rarely get to talk to anyone about my specialty. I feel quite isolated in my work, and I think that isolation was evident in my article.

So. Now. I must go on. But it's hard. This has been a tough week. As I reported over at Dame Eleanor's Writing Group, it's been a hard week at work. My college is in the midst of a serious crisis, one that requires I be roped into all kinds of panic-mode work groups and task forces. I was at a steering committee meeting today, and the voice inside my head was saying, "I can't do all of this, people! I don't care if the college is falling apart! I want my life to be about me! I want to focus on me! I feel guilty about neglecting my family! I'm tired of giving so much to the college! My scholarship sucks, and I have no idea how I will ever finish my dissertation!"

And, really, I don't know how I will finish. I know that I must. And I suppose that, eventually, I will. But the reviewer comments confirmed some fears that I have about my work. Plus, already, I feel as if there is no way for me to read all that I need to read, and now I feel that way even more. And then there is the writing . . .

Add to all of this the fact that I'm up until nearly midnight several nights a week doing my prepping and grading (because the days are filled with classes and committee work). And I work quite a few hours every weekend--and not on the dissertation.

I just don't know how I will do it. Last week, I blew off my "mindful inflexibility" hour on Tuesday so that I could get some prep work finished instead. Maybe that neglect (combined with my article rejection) is why I feel like such shite.

Sorry to unload like this. I know that many of you have been in the same boat that I'm in. But right now that boat is making me sea sick. Why, oh why, did I decide to take this voyage? Right now, it's hard to remember.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Gauntlet

I'm doing some prep work and filling out my to-do list and calendar for the week. It's not lookin' pretty, y'all. I'm feeling pretty scared.

But here we go. No way out but through.