Monday, November 22, 2010


I'm starting to open to the idea of not finishing this degree, but I have to get through this part of it, and I'm really struggling to do that. Every time I open a document to get through a couple of papers, to review my exams so I can prepare for the defense. I get that frozen clutch around my throat. Am I trying to sabotage myself? Probably.

I honestly don't know what else I would do. I don't even know what I *would* do with this.

Also, I've been feeling a lot of pregnancy/loss sadness. Maybe it's more pregnancy. just sort of sitting around and realizing I'm feeling something familiar. Yet painful.

Sad, maybe.

Maybe I'm just anticipating.


I don't even know what I was going to write. I expected that there was going to be major crying this weekend. Instead, I woke up to a migraine yesterday. I have PMS, too.

Most of the people who took comps with me have (of course) successfully defended. I don't go for another week. Right after the holiday.

I have a lump in my throat.

Maybe I'm just overwhelmed with everything.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Mel from Stirrup-Queens posted an excellent salve for getting through the holidays, and she includes a little note to carry in your pocket, should you need a reminder.

I hope you know that I'm here, too. Ready to listen if you need to bitch. And really, it makes me feel better to know I'm not the only one just trying to endure all this. Seven weeks til the holiday season is over.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

November: Catching up

It's a hard month. I do that calendar thing, where I connect dates and smells and air quality and my mood and state of mind.

Sorry it's been a while. I got through writing comps, crying as I handed them in. I was overtired and convinced they were horrendous. I was up and down the next few days. After I shared my concern, my adviser read through them and agreed it wasn't my best work, but they were "conceptually strong," if a little thin. I needed to fill out my ideas, support my work, bring my scholarly voice to the table.

But I do understand, now, the huge milestone I've just gotten half way through. I was sort of panicked, not sleeping or eating well in the weeks before.

And, of course, the arrival of my newest niece. I crashed for a day and a half, and woke up ready (more or less) to focus on work the next day. I have moments, hours, where I feel connected and love for her, I want to buy her soft, cute things. But there is difficulty between my brother, his wife and my family. She seems to be entirely resistant to sharing this child with us. My father lives maybe 10 miles from my brother and SIL, offered to help, to bring food. Never got to hold her until she was 10 days old. Only after my sister and I gave my brother a hard time.

They took the baby to southern CA for four days for SIL's cousin's wedding when the baby was two and a half weeks old. They got approval from 2 pediatricians. My sister reached out to them. Volunteered to drive the hour so they could spend a little time together, so she could meet the baby. No dice. In the past, SIL has resisted my brother going anywhere without her. I assume there was no way she'd let him go with the baby for an hour. And she seems to hate my sister, based on previous experience. Despite attempts to bury the hatchet six months ago, it's still rough. My sister was pretty hurt, too.

Of course, the fact that my brother and SIL are fighting indicates that at the very least, he is attempting to stand up for himself. In the first week, he had to compete with SIL's family just to get to hold his own child.

All this makes it hard to be joyful. And it's not about deserving, or ease of reproduction or anything like that.

My sister sent pics of her daughter as a little black and red ladybug. The sweetest little ladybug you have ever seen in your life. My reaction, reflex was that ache in the belly, the love for the sweetness. I even got a twinge of that for my brother's baby girl. It's there -- I know it is.

But all this makes me feel resentful. Sad for my father. My sister echoed my fears that we are going to drift apart as a family. It sucks to validated that way.

So my dad is going to LA to be with my sister and her family for Thanksgiving. We planned to stay here for the holiday, what with the new baby and our over-protectiveness of the pup. And I still feel like I'm recovering from writing comps. Like everything I pushed aside to prepare for/freak out about comps has come rushing back.

It turns out to be a good thing that we are not traveling for the holiday, as I will be defending on the Monday after. I have a ton to do to prepare for that. A ton to prepare.

C is in the midst of the job hunt, so we don't know where we'll be next year. This forces us to put aside plans for family building, as we don't know what resources we will or won't have.

I'm having trouble getting back to work to complete my comps defense, and the other stuff. My therapist keeps observing my apparent ambivalence about completing my program, getting the degree. It's so tied up in pregnancy and grief, I really can't tease apart what issues are professional and what issues personal. It's too entwined. Hope, work, success, failure, pain, grief... and then trying to initiate a project based around constructs of womanhood, motherhood, personal and professional goals, and (potentially) loss.

I'm wondering, again, if this whole experience hasn't been contaminated by trying to have a child, by the loss and grief. If that pull for a child hasn't ruined my professional focus, acuity. Today, in therapy, I admitted that that pull comes first. I would put everything aside for a year or two to build our family, and then go back to my (professional) work. Child. Then work.

Also, I had a particularly difficult class on Friday, which makes me feel even less effective as an educator, an academic. And I have to be there, I have to teach 3 times a week. And I wonder how much I really want to deal with this for the rest of my career. What is it that I even want to teach? I know what I want to explore, but how can I translate that to tenure?

I know what I enjoy doing, and what crap I hate doing, just from having a variety of jobs before I found this path.

C has said that he just wants me to be happy. To find work that satisfies and pays a salary of some sort.

I think I have a story to write. Others' stories, too, perhaps. Not sure what it is, yet. But what can I do for a *living*? Work that leaves me satisfied, at least some of the time.

And what about parenting?

One of my dear friends came back into town to defend her dissertation on Friday. It was so very good to see her. I'm so proud of her, and all she's accomplished. All the work and stress. And she's so good, as a mama, as a professional, as a friend. But, there's something else...also, I don't know. There's that wish for accomplishment, I guess. Maybe some envy. Work. Family. I know it doesn't come without hard work.

Maybe it's just recognizing, again, what I want.

I've been resistant to writing all this here, because it's not directly related. Though, I guess, this is life after. Writing makes me feel better, so I guess I'll come and spew occasionally.

I've been thinking about you all, as we enter this season of loss. Isn't that something? For most people it's the happy, stressful holiday season. But this is the time of so many of our losses. I'm glad to say we are not traveling at all this season. We will need the money for (hopefully) C's job talk travels, but neither one of us is feeling the joy of the season. Not even enough to fake it. I wonder how long it will take to have that carefree, celebratory mood. Maybe not carefree (I keep typing careful), but to really enjoy it.

So, we will have a quiet few weeks together. I am considering trying to find something to be grateful for each day for the next few months (at least), lest I get too morose. Today, it was a warm, safe space to come in from the wind and rain. I guess that fits in more than one way.

Thanks for stopping by.