Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Half way!

Sprinting through this week!

Monday: dentist appointments for me and Maryna, school to turn in my tenure packet, meet with students, prep my materials for Tuesday.

Tuesday: teach all day.  Ok, so it was really only 3 hours but that was three really energetic hours of talking and pacing.  I feel like I did 2 hours of Zumba.  Also organized a series of talks for the semester and did one of the two reviews I need to do this week (this means reading someone else's 30-40 page masterpiece project and telling them why they're stupid and awful.  It takes hours and hours and hours).

Weds: another dentist appointment for Maryna, a screaming angry Jorge, back to work.  Locked my keys in the car and had a dead phone battery before I even left the house, so, blah.  Still dealing with angry kids.  Tonight I still need to do another review and figure out what we're talking about in my lectures tomorrow afternoon.

Thursday (tomorrow) more teaching, enrolling some students that are currently wait-listed, dealing with job stuff.

Friday -- dare to dream, taking the first day off in about 15 consecutive days of working so we can go to the Great New York State Fair (yes, that's what it's called here).

Weekend -- do research on my paper.  We need to get that out to a journal and into the hands of people that will spend hours and hours telling us why our year of effort is insufficient.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Catching up

Of the giant to-do list, this part is somehow the most and least important.

It's my tenure case.

For those that aren't familiar with academics, there's a process called tenure.  The point, ostensibly, is to promote really good research.  The idea is something like this: you hire someone and give them a probationary window of 5-10 years to prove their worth.  During this time, they work on research and get a few thing published to show that they're capable of producing good work. However, research is a fussy thing and sometimes you spend a year doing something that amounts to "turns out this is completely unaffected by that" which is only interesting as a footnote, not a full-blown research paper. Or you engage in something that requires tracking and measuring and studying something over a 5 or 10 or 40 year time period. Actual output is a "noisy signal" of real effort, as we say in economics. It's hard to tell who's working hard on a long-term project and who's just napping under his desk all day. The tenure process is an attempt to organize that: work hard on some shorter, low-risk projects to show you know what you're doing and then we'll grant you tenure so you can work on those longer term, high-risk projects that may take years to develop.  With tenure, you won't have to worry that your annual review has nothing new to show this year.  Get something really good published every few years and we'll assume you're still working hard behind the scenes.

So, my probation is up.  I have to submit everything I've accomplished and see if they think it's evidence of me being a decent investment and risk for future less-monitored work. I have three published articles (two in top rate outlets) and two more under review for publication with pretty encouraging feedback from the editors, and 8 more projects that I've had abysmal luck with thus far. But it's all due Monday, and so it's organized into 29 file folders, 34 pages of documentation, and a four page resume (CV). Super important.

On the other hand, not one person will look at it until January and I can make updates.  So completely unimportant.

In the mean time, Tuesday's the first day of my classes and the semester's still pretty much all up in the air.  And there are 3 papers I need to read and provide 1-2 pages of professional comments for--this is, in fact, a big part of the job.  So, done with the "super important hurry up and wait" thing; now on to the all the "stuff that couldn't wait but had to anyhow".

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Life gets stressful here on a fairly regular basis, but this week...this week is killing me.

Monday, Aug 31, my tenure packet is due.  I am up for review this year and if it goes well I have tenure and a job for life.  If it goes badly I have no job at all.  There's no in between, and right now most early feedback is discouraging.  I have until January to make edits and updates and I have two (maybe three?) major projects that could swing that vote around completely.  Or we may be uprooting onto our next adventure one year from now.  My materials so far include my 4 page "CV" (resume), a 28 page summary of my career, and a file-box containing 29 folders with publications, working papers, letters of recommendation, thank you letters from students, and so much more.  If those two projects come back successful that will tip the scales decidedly in my favor.

Monday, Aug 31, my syllabus for my class is also due.  It's in a shambles and I'm re-designing it with big intentions of having it done by Friday. Or at least a skeleton of it and I'll pretend it was my intention all along to hand out the real deal a week later.

Tuesday, Sept 1, I have two other major projects due. Because life.

One of those major projects for the tenure case is a paper I've been working on with my co-authors for nearly 11 months. We're soooo close to being done and it should be my top priority because every day counts on getting that back to the editors and reviewers...but Monday and Tuesday's deadlines really can't be procrastinated anymore so it keeps getting moved down on the list.

Other random work stuff: Wednesday I have to judge a case competition. Thursday I have to attend a 2 hour convocation ceremony welcoming students back to campus. Friday there's a planning meeting for the lab I co-manage.

Life goes on and so this week in preparation for my first professional appearances in 4 months I had to get a haircut since my last one was in May.  Monday, Aug 31, I have a dentist appointment.  Friday of this week has a medical appointment for one of our girls and, since they're getting older, it's nicer if mom is there.

This weekend will likely be completely absorbed with work stuff.  The kids don't start back to school for another two full weeks.

And Rob still has bronchitis.  And Maryna is still not talking.  And August is still off the walls most of the time. And Katie and Jorge are amazingly easy this week (hallelujah, take a win where we can).

Saturday, August 22, 2015

I refuse to get derailed.

This morning, I started the dishwasher and was finishing up some counter-wiping when I heard what sounded like a bucket of water dumped/dropped from up high. I assumed the dishwasher did something strange, but no water was leaking out so I figured a dish tipped over inside.

Twenty minutes later I walked into the garage to find a 4'x4' window had just fallen out of the wall and smashed into a billion pieces on the concrete floor.

In other smashing news (see what I did there?) a teenage girl from our church has reached out to M a few times to ask her to go hang out at the mall.  M has mostly handled this with excuses and avoidance. She's so uncomfortable in social settings. But on Thursday the girl's mom sent me a message asking if M could please go on Friday. I offered to drive both girls and hang out with them, figuring I'd do that until I knew M was comfortable and then I'd make an excuse to go sit with a coffee in the food court area for awhile.  She agreed!  In the end, the other mom came, too, and we all walked into the mall together.  Almost immediately the two teens headed off to look at jewelry and clearance clothes while the other mom and I walked around for about 45 minutes just chatting.  It was about an hour total, but it was a good dip into the socializing pool.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

And life is back


Rob has bronchitis and an ear infection or something.  And maybe Lyme disease, we'll find out later.  He went to the doctor today.

One young person in our house is buried in hormones. The other three are...well...see posts below.  A soupy bowl of oatmeal fell out of the laundry detergent cabinet last night as I did the 8th load of laundry for the day.  Tonight's meal consisted of a soup only 2 people would eat, perogies that only 4 people could eat (one of whom would only eat the dough if it had not touched the potato filling), and a burrito of leftovers for the dairy-free kid.

And a healthy dollop of huffing, sighing, eye-rolling, impatience and annoyance because I need to work on my attitude.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

August: Someday I want to have a bowldog.
Me: A bulldog?  Like [our friend's dog] Raven?
A: No.  A bowldog.
Me: A bulldog.
A: No, a bowldog.  The kind of dog what you can bowl into things and knock stuff down.

They're back, and just as noisy and chaotic as ever but maybe just a little funnier than I remembered.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

It's not that I don't LOVE those kids...

...but in the past 4 days...
1. Rob painted the garage.
2. Rob installed gutters on the garage.
3. We cleaned the house on Tuesday and it's still clean.
4. We have only had to run the dishwasher twice.
5. We have only had to do laundry once since the big "home from vacation" unpack-and-wash on Tuesday.
6. I've had more heart-to-heart moments with Maryna than in 10 months combined.
7. We've eaten at 3 restaurants, all after 7:30 PM.
8. Mini-golf.
9. I'm sewing in the dining room undisturbed.
10. I taught Maryna to knit.
11. We have watched 36 episdoes of GLEE and still going.
12. Popcorn for dinner.
13. I managed to work 35 hours in 4 days all from home and get a ton done.
14. Did my nails and they still look nice (ish).
15. I've had to hand-wash a few dishes because the dishwasher just isn't full enough to run yet and I need something.
16. Uninterrupted shower.
17. Sleep.  Oh sweet glorious amazing beautiful delicious sleep.
18. I finished a book and started another.
19. Almost no grocery runs.  Ok, so two.  But I think if the main purpose of the grocery run is more chocolate for laying on the couch and watching Netflix, it doesn't really count as an errand.
20. I peeled and chopped 12 potatoes this afternoon and not one person felt the need to demand to help and then wave a knife around like a magic wand.
21. We cleaned the toys out of the yard on Tuesday and it's still presentable.

And, seriously, my kids are great.  They're huge helpers, they are pretty responsible (never mind the wadded up toilet paper I found paper-mache-ed to the shower wall.  Or the three mismatched socks I found under the couch.  Or the 2 cloth napkins jammed behind the dryer.  Or the  gigantic mess that was my sewing room tables and floor.  Or Legos freaking EVERYWHERE in this house.  Or the pens and markers left under the couches and tables and on the stairs and behind the heaters.  Or the books with used tissues shoved in them as bookmarks.  Or the underwear under the bed.  Or the broken hanger art installation on the closet floor.  Or the game pieces to various games found behind various heaters and furniture.  Or the puzzle piece --just one--on the basement floor.  Or candy wrappers behind the washing machine.  Or the fact that there's never pillow cases or sheets on Jorge's bed, no matter how often I replace them, they just evaporate, apparently.  And the q-tips and floss-wands all over the bathroom floor.  And toothpaste on the sink.  And nail clippers that disappear for weeks at a time, along with flashlights and markers and scotch tape and staplers... )

**Big calming breaths**

Where was I?  Right, my kids are pretty responsible and work hard.  They're  Wow did we need this break.  Thanks mom and dad.