Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Turning Over a New Leaf

I'm afraid 2010 is going to prove to be the year I failed utterly and completely at blogging. I'm not going to ditch the blog entirely because I do feel inspired to write posts once in a while (much, much more often than I actually get around to writing them, nowadays), but I do feel a bit sheepish because the last time I wrote anything was at the beginning of the month and it's now less than a week until September.
The past week has been rough going. For some reason I am not dealing well with the transition from summer to back-to-school this year. Everything was annoying me. Here's the short list of people I temporarily wanted to throttle last week:
1. The other members of the editorial team for the website I kindly help to edit for a professional organization. Please don't launch the website unless you're relatively positive you really have gotten all of the kinks out, especially when one of the kinks is all of the e-mail sent to any contact on the site--ALL OF IT--coming to my inbox instead. Also, if you have told me that the deadline for finishing a particular project is "Immediately once the website is launched," then I would like some warning about when it's actually going to launch, as opposed to just receiving the same e-mail that the rest of the 2,000 members in the organization received the day it went live. That took some scrambling.
2. Students registering for my fall class. There are two sections of the exact same class. I'm so glad that 20 of you decided to register for my section, leaving my colleague with only 5 students. And I'm sorry, but if my class fills up before the first day of school you are out of luck. Why in the world would I let you oversubscribe my course and become my 26th student when the exact same course is being held a mere three hours earlier and only has 5 students in it?
3. My friend's 4-year-old. Aw hell no, child, you do not throw a food wrapper on the floor and respond to my polite request to put it in the trashcan with, "YOU do it." Count your blessings that I am only the baby-sitter so all I could do was give you my meanest look and my sternest, "No, YOU opened it so YOU do it."

Other things were annoying me, too, but I've actually been in a good mood for the past couple of days and rehashing the list will just remind me of why I was so annoyed in the first place last week. I think I'd rather just let it all go and move on. I was so obnoxious last week. I cried out of frustration two nights in a row recently, both times over absurd things. The one night I was sobbing on Penn's shoulder because I was worried about how having a baby might make us the kind of dreary, hopeless, dragging-through-life-with-just-the-bare-necessities-never-trying-new-things-or-having-fun kind of people I never want to be, and suddenly in the back of my mind I was like, "Wow, this is a really irrational thing to be worrying about. Crap, what if this is a hormone thing and I'm already pregnant?!?!" Luckily that fear was averted the next day (but, um, yes, I guess it was a hormone thing!). Anyway, I think the brief bout with moodiness has passed.

Now I just need to convince myself that I'm excited about the school year starting. For the most part, that's true. I'm excited to teach my fall class (hooray for teaching my own course two terms in a row!), I'm excited about having time to devote to my dissertation instead of to summer projects, I'm excited about all the fall activities coming up and the fact that every week brings me closer to the wedding and a three-week honeymoon.

I also need to convince myself that, even though I'm not as on-track with my dissertation as I hoped to be at this point, I have done a lot of other important, career-building things. I think part of my grumpiness lately comes from the fact that it has been almost a year since I took my comprehensive exams and I feel like I haven't advanced at all since that time. That's not true at all, though. In the past year I went to London to do research for my department and helped to lay the foundation for a study abroad program, I completed a bunch of the requirements toward a university teacher certification that's going to look awesome on the resume, I wrote a book review that is being published next month (!), I wrote and defended my dissertation prospectus, I directed a show, I created and taught a summer course, I was invited to present a paper at an upcoming conference, I became the assistant editor of two publications and a website. That's not bad for a year's work, and that's not including the fact that I've been planning a wedding and holding down my part-time tutoring job in addition to my university job.
I need to stop comparing myself to other academics. I need to start giving myself more credit for the things I have accomplished so far. I need to give myself permission to work at a reasonable pace and give myself credit for each step I take in the right direction, knowing that I will finish this degree eventually. And I need to remind myself that the goals I initially thought I had when I started this degree have changed. It's not just me in the picture anymore. I'm not discounting the importance of finishing the program, but I'm factoring different priorities now, too. But that's a whole 'nother post.

P.S.-In all the frustration of last week I did have one really big highlight: my wedding dress was delivered to the bridal shop and I had my first fitting! I hadn't seen the dress in the shade I ordered (I tried it on in true white and ordered it in "pearl"), so it was so exciting getting to see and try on my actual dress. I love it! And it doesn't even need alterations, just hemming and a bustle. While I was there I also bought my veil. It was the second one I put on and the instant I did I was like, "Yes, that's it! That's exactly how I want to look." I get to go for another fitting in two months and I already can't wait for that, much less wait for the day I get to put it on and walk down the aisle.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Over the weekend I went to Montana for Jen's wedding. (You know, Jen, the one I was hiking with last year when her boyfriend proposed.) Anyway, Jen's boyfriend is now her husband, and I'm so happy for both of them.
Jen's was the first wedding I had been to since Penn and I got engaged in November, and it felt different than any other wedding I'd ever been to because the whole time I was there I kept thinking, "Eeeee! That's going to be me in five months!" When I met up with Jen when I got to Missoula on Wednesday the very first thing she said when I got into the car was, "DON'T DO IT. DON'T HAVE A WEDDING. EVERYONE IS DRIVING ME INSANE." The poor girl. We went to have lunch at a local river park where food vendors set up stands and then we hit some of the local boutiques and then went to a bar to have a beer, and during the four hours we were together her phone rang approximately every seven minutes. People were calling to ask about the plans for the bachelorette party that night and texting to say they had arrived at the airport and calling to get phone numbers for other people coming to town and calling to ask whether or not it was time to start working on salads for the rehearsal dinner yet or if it should wait for later and on and on and on. Frankly, after watching her text and talk on the phone all afternoon I was going insane, too. I forced her to turn it off for forty minutes while we had our beer just so she could get a break.
Anyway, lesson learned: delegate! After watching everyone drive Jen crazy with questions I decided I'm doing one of two things:
1. Give a couple of friends every single detail I can possibly think of and let them be the contact people for the two days before the wedding. At the very least they can serve as call screeners, answering the questions they can and only directing people to me or Penn when needed.
2. Go all Bridezilla-style and give all of the guests a printed itinerary for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday with every detail I can think of, which should hopefully cut down on some of the "What am I supposed to wear tonight?" type of questions that Jen kept having to field.
I realize I'm going to get bombarded with questions and calls no matter what. I also realize that in one weekend there is no way I'm going to be able to spend true quality time with all of our guests (or any of them, probably). Still, I'd like to be able to have conversations with the people I'm actually with at the moment without having to answer my phone every three minutes.

When I wasn't picking up useful wedding tips [any song that was played at house parties when we were in college 5-10 years ago still makes everyone crowd the dance floor; tell the DJ exactly who is supposed to give toasts and don't let him just randomly pass the mic around] I was just enjoying myself. I went out to Montana by myself since Penn is saving up vacation days for our honeymoon and couldn't take three days off work. Before I left Penn asked me if I was worried about going to a wedding by myself where I wouldn't know anyone except the bride and groom but I said, "Nah, I'll be fine. I can be outgoing when I need to be!" It turned out that I was right and I had nothing to worry about at all. All of Jen's girlfriends from Montana was great: laid back, friendly, chatty, funny. They took me into the circle right away and by the second day of my trip I felt like I'd known them forever. I ended up sharing my hotel room for a couple of nights with one of Jen's work friends who had flown in from California, and she and I hit it off right away, too. I had planned to stay at the hotel by myself all four nights, but Jen's house was so busy that her friend felt like she was imposing by staying there, so I offered my second bed to her. It ended up being nice having company for two nights (and having someone to share the hotel bill with didn't hurt!).
In addition to the wedding itself--which was a blast, I danced all night long--I went to Jen's bachelorette party, I jogged along the Clark Fork river trails, I hiked the "M" (the peak near the University of Montana and I hiked it twice in a row because I'm a beast!), I took advantage of the fact that there's no sales tax in Montana and I hit some of the cute boutiques and bought a couple of dresses and a pair of sunglasses, and I went river rafting with Jen and her husband and a bunch of friends who had been at the wedding. Missoula is beautiful. It reminded me of Idaho (which I visited as a kid) and it made me miss my family's house in the Rockies.
Overall it was a relaxing, enjoyable weekend. It's too bad that Penn had to miss out on it because I think he would have had a great time, too. Still, it's nice to know I can hack it on my own and have a really good time meeting new people, even without the "other half" I'm growing accustomed to having around most of the time.