Sunday, February 28, 2010

I just forgot

My job allows me the flexibility to go see Mr W when he's in things at school during the school day. I've been good about attending the various functions for the last 3 1/2 years, and it usually feels to me like he doesn't really care one way or the other if I'm there. I get a a nod as the class files out, for example.

Boy, was I wrong. Last week, the third grade had their storytelling festival, and I completely forgot about it. The invitation was on the table, and I had it on my mental calendar that it was coming, but it passed me by. It wasn't until Friday night when I said something like, "when is that thing?", that I found out I missed it. He was mildly upset, "you said you'd be there", and "my heart just wasn't in it without you there". Ouch.

I gave him my reassurances that I would attend as many future events as I possibly could, and paid extra attention to him when he had his skating lesson the next day. That's right, I HAD my knitting, but CHOSE not to work on it. He was looking for it, too. I was up in the stands, and he'd look up occasionally and wave. It's funny, I really thought he didn't care one way or the other. He probably didn't, either, until I wasn't there.

I'm always trying to get Mr W interested in extra-curriculars, and we wandered around the pool-ice skating place for a while after his skating lesson yesterday. We walked into the pool area, and he was interested in watching... that's right, this is what caught his attention.... women's water polo. So many sports elicit absolutely nothing from him, I was a little surprised he wanted to watch this. He was impressed they tread water for the playing of the game (I was too, it looks like a difficult sport).

All in all, a very productive day yesterday. I got my mattress delivered, and got the bed assembled, and it's super comfortable. Getting the king sized bed that I had when I was married out of there and replacing it with a queen size has left some space in my bedroom, and I'll be on the lookout for a reading chair this spring at the garage sales. Whoop!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

More thoughts on love

Dear self,
You're doing a pretty good job with this whole "being on your own" thing. Really. Compare yourself right after the divorce to where you are now, and you really seem like you are doing well: good job, healthy kid, nice little house, some hobbies, good friends. But you need to resist the urge to pursue relationships with men that SEEM like they should be a great fit.

Case in point, well, look at the situation you are in. This person found you on one of those online dating sites, you looked at the picture and felt, well, neutral. But the profile information was really interesting and intriguing and you liked where this person was coming from. Upon the first couple of meetings, there was a lot of common ground as to general outlook on life, professional stuff, religion, and you, dear Linda, thought that was enough that you should take the next step and point the relationship toward a physical one. Even though the ambivalence kept you up a couple of nights.

Let's just review this again. That's a bad idea. Make friends all you want with whomever you want, and save the good stuff for someone who you simply can't resist pointing that kind of affection towards, OK? And it's perfectly fine to go about your business for a while without "finding a partner" as one of your foremost goals. Honest. It's getting to be spring, and there's lots to do around your humble little house. So, try this, alright? Be single for a while and enjoy that ride.

Much love,

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Work, work, that's all I ever do around here

In addition to my full time job as a postdoc/technician for a government agency grinding up mosquitoes and extracting their DNA in the name of science, I also teach one course at the local community college. It was something that I decided to pursue about a year ago, when I gave a talk at work and a couple of people remarked that it looked like I'd make a good teacher. I'm apparently swayed by flattery, because here I am, the second semester into it.

Let me say I love to teach. The students are generally responsive, and it makes me feel like I'm giving something back. The grading takes a long time, but after the grueling first semester of getting lectures ready (sometimes the morning they were supposed to be presented), I'm a little bit ahead, although it's still a 15-20 hour a week deal. I was really hoping there would be an opening locally for me to do this full time, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen.

The time it takes to do both the regular job, and the teaching job has had an impact. When I feel stressed about the class, I don't sleep well, and that pisses me off a little. I've come to realize I just can't do both, and have instructed a couple of friends to dope-slap me (metaphorically, please) if I get the notion to do this again in the fall. I've already declined summer classes, as I want to be able to do stuff in the evenings, will be traveling for work and vacations, etc.

Things have been a wee bit tentative at regular work lately, and it swings back and forth between "we don't know if our program is going to survive" to "we'll be OK". My boss is planning on field work for this summer, so that's a sign to me that he's assuming that we contractors will be around for another year. I've recently finished up a project and submitted the manuscript to be published, and am working on a couple of new projects that I'm enjoying, so this is good news indeed.

I've worried before about not working with plants, as that was my major in school, but it turns out mosquitoes, by virtue of the fact that each is an individual, yet there aren't really the ethical concerns about killing them for science, are good study organisms for the evolutionary biology questions I'd like to answer in plants anyway. So I've more or less decided that I'll stay here as long as they'll have me. The money is good, it's local and the hours are flexible. Overall, it lets me do the other things in life I want to do, and once I shake this class in early May, I'll be freed up to do that stuff. Like getting more involved in the sustainable agriculture movement here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Double bad

Occasionally, Mr W asks about whether his dad and I will ever get back together. Up until yesterday, they were the distracted questions of young kid. Last night, though, he asked as though he thought I'd say, "Yes, that's a good idea. Let's try that". It probably makes perfect sense to him - x and I are in the same town, we talk amicably when we see each other, why on earth would we not just all live in the same house?

This bugs me for two reasons. The first is, of course, that I have to tell Mr W that it's not in the cards, now or ever, that his dad and I will be getting back together. It was a fairly clean break (although see reason #2), and not only has the offer never ever been put on the table, I wouldn't go back if I could. It pains me, though, to see his disappointment in my denial of what he saw as a pretty reasonable request.

The second reason is that I have to come up with kid-friendly reasons as to why the marriage ended in the first place. And that is hard to do, given what actually happened. I can't say, "Well, he had an affair so I was forced to take the drastic action of divorcing him", or, the real zinger, "Well, he refused counseling, and had absolutely no desire to reconcile". No, those things aren't fit for a 9 year old who needs a functional dad in his life.

I'm sure as hell not going to be the one to tell him what his dad did to end the marriage. But anything else makes me look like an equal partner to the end of it, and I think that sucks. For now, I told Mr W that his dad and I had problems getting along (even THAT is so chicken shit), and we decided we'd be happier living apart. It really minimizes what marriage is supposed to be, and I don't want to delude the kid that people stop being married for no good reason, which seems to be the case here.

Typical of a 9 year old kid, we talked about it for a couple of minutes, and then he abruptly wanted me to continue reading the bedtime story. This won't be the last time it comes up, though, and I need to come up with a better response.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Stitchy Coolness

My dear SIL Lori sent me a really cool Valentine's day card that I wanted to post a couple of pictures of. I didn't know you could DO this - use a sewing machine on a piece of cardstock - it is such a cool idea, I love the effect. She quilts, so know about things thready and fabric-y. It's so nice to be remembered!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Quote me

Well, quote Jenna, who writes a nice blog called Cold Antler Farm:

"Happiness is understanding you don't want to be, can't fathom being, anyone else."

Friday, February 19, 2010

Growing stuff

I'm happy to be attending a seed-starting class tomorrow at our local horticulture gardens. In these tough times, I'm thankful the city has kept the place open. Afterwards a friend and I are going seed and dirt shopping, and I hope to get everything I need to start my veggies. Taking a cue from Jordan, who is taking a systematic approach to seed starting and plant planting, I'm going to devote some time to making some notes on when I should be planting based on when I want things to be ready. I'm usually a throw-it-in-the-ground-let's-see-what-happens kind of gardener, so this would be a change.

Once again, I'm behind on prep, so I won't be planting any cool weather things this year. Instead, I'll be concentrating on building the beds, getting my compost ready, buying a load of soil and laying down mulch. Bye bye grass, my goal is to have a small bit of lawn for show, and that's it. I have decided to go ahead with the deck project, and that will hopefully happen sometime this spring.

At the same time, I'm still on the fence about joining a CSA. I don't want to have to drum up someone to split a share with, and I'd like to work some in exchange for a discount on my share so I can learn a thing or two about the process. The thought has crossed my mind that I could conceivably both have a vegetable garden and be part of a CSA, and then preserve the excess. Canning scares me, though, and I could see myself composting extra vegetables instead when I got busy.

I think it's important to get to know some of the people doing this sort of work locally. I still toy with the idea of being a small farmer (no animals, but produce and maybe cut flowers), although I don't really know what's involved, so it's a romantic notion of escapism. Still, the idea of growing things for myself and others is very enticing. Somewhere in there is a workable scenario.

This is partly Ginger's fault. Ginger and I share a cube at work and lately she's been telling me about her dream, which is to own and operate a guest ranch. Why not? Real estate is still relatively cheap, and she's knows someone who is interested in providing financing.

Such dreams. Well, it looks like there are people out there who are doing this locally, and even an organization the NoCo Food Incubator that has a lot of info on local, sustainable agriculture. It sure is fun to think about.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A proper burial

One of the things that I think is cool about my SIL, besides the great way she and my brother exist in their relationship (lots of back and forth, but in an atmosphere of cooperation) is that she reads cards. As in Tarot cards.

Now, I'm a sciencey person through and through, but there is something about the cards that, I believe, taps into a person's subconscious and reminds them (us) of things that either are going on, or that we need to think about. There are lots of different styles of decks, although they all have the same cards. She's had the same deck for a long time, and I like how she's familiar with the symbolism (there is a lot) on each card.

I asked her to do a reading when I was there this past weekend. One can do a general reading, or ask a specific question, and I usually opt for the general reading because it covers everything. I won't bore you with what each card was and what it meant, but the first two cards that are laid down represent where you are now. The first is what's immediately going on, and the second is what "crosses" it - what confounds, or enhances, or affects it.

My first card represented loss, and the second was the Illusion card. In short this meant something like, "if you think you've dealt with a recent loss adequately, you're fooling yourself". This got me thinking about the end of the long distance relationship I was in, and by the time I was driving home from the airport, I had mulled and thought, and come to the conclusion that I needed to send one more note to this person and put the relationship to rest for good. I hadn't realized it until that point, but it felt like the relationship ended without any tip of the hat to the things that were good about it.

So I wrote the note, he was his usual gracious self, and I feel like the relationship has had a proper burial. This is good, because I've been hanging out with someone as friends that I think wants to get a little more serious, and I now feel like I'm more ready to go that way. Yes, this is the same person I've been musing about lately here in blog posts.

It's wacky to me how this psychology stuff works sometimes. It seems to simple and straightforward that the letter needed to be written, but it took a long time for me to figure out I needed to write it. I feel absolved.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Dropped on the gerbil wheel

I got home last night from visiting my brother and SIL in MN. I didn't do much, just answered some emails, unpacked, and went to bed. Of course the cost of leaving for a weekend is to play catch-up for a few days, and that's OK. The visit was worth it.

It is always nice to spend time with my fam, and J and M are generous hosts. We watched a lot of the Olympics, which I think I gravitated toward because my TV is only there to play Mr W's videos from the library. It's easy to get caught up in the drama (I use that word in a good way) and appreciate good athleticism, no matter what country the person belongs to. We also marveled at how people from all over the world could do the same sport and come together and be a few tenths or hundreths of a second different in their times.

I need to make a quiz for tomorrow, get Mr W, get the dog, call the mattress people to see if they'll deliver my new (cue the trumpets "AAAAAAHHHH") mattress on Saturday afternoon, and meet with a person on campus about a potential job opportunity. It's sort of like being dropped on a moving treadmill.

I am excited to talk to this person on campus, though. It's a research/lab manager job and the job description and the kind of lab it is sound like something I would write up if someone asked me, "what kind of job would you like at this point in your career?" I'll know more soon.

It was a good trip.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Some thoughts on love

It's been a busy week. More busy than I like to be, really. I had Mr W all week because I'm leaving for MN this afternoon, and I tacked on things that could have waited until a different week, like getting my hair done. I also substituted for another instructor's class, because he's covering mine on Monday, and had all those lab reports to grade (which thankfully are done).

I had a dream last night that I met some people at a coffee shop, and went out running with them while holding papers that I was supposed to read. Elsewhere in the coffee shop, the owner was taking a leisurely bath. Hmm, I guess I feel like I've got a lot going on.

Those kinds of days I just need to plow through, and try to remember the big picture, where that stuff is small compared to other things.

Anyway, thoughts on love. Well, most years since I've been divorced I've been tempted to wear a black armband on Valentine's Day. I never have, because I think it's too much of a statement, but I joke to myself that that's how I feel. Perhaps it's because of the bombardment of advertising that makes single people feel bad that they don't have anyone to celebrate the day with, but I forget it's about love. You know, the stuff that is bigger than the romantic love on greeting cards.

I usually forget until after the fact that it's OK to celebrate the love I have for the people in my life who are friends and family. Even if it's only here in this post, which I hope it's not, I'd like to acknowledge the bonds between myself and the people I care about. I think I'd be a much different person without those connections.

And what of romantic love? I haven't given up hope at all on that front. I've had something interesting happen lately and it hasn't played out fully yet. I met someone online who was the one to start the conversation. At first I was sort of neutral about him, for a couple of reasons that I'm not sure are valid or just me making excuses for not feeling the way I'm supposed to feel. He doesn't have kids, is 6 years older and has been married twice (with valid reasons for divorcing in both cases, it sounded like).

Otherwise, we have a lot of common interests and I enjoy our time together. He wanted to move rather quickly to a physical relationship and I've resisted, saying I don't feel that way. The funny thing is, I'm not sure if I do or not. I don't know the extent to which we can modulate our emotions to proceed or not proceed in a relationship and the idea that I appear to be hesitating on proceeding makes me thing that might mean I simply don't feel it's a good fit for whatever reason.

And all of this might be moot, because the dating thing can move pretty fast. He might have already started up another relationship he hopes to turn into a dating one, and I think I'd be both relieved and disappointed. I realized I learned a lot, though, and it's stuff I should have learned earlier. My x was my first boyfriend, which simply amazes me now. I feel like I've had to do some necessary dating stuff at this stage of my life instead, because we all have to do it (or something like that).

Anyway, Happy VD. May the good thoughts flow freely and you feel 'da love.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

13 more to go

I'm making good progress on these lab reports. The students actually write fairly well, they just don't quite know what they are supposed to say, although we give them pages of what is supposed to go in the document.

In other news, I signed Mr W up for skating lessons. Beginning Hockey Skate, it's called, and it's for kids who have not skated before. He's looking forward to it now, but when I told him, you'd have thought I signed him up for princess classes or something equally awful. Crying, yelling, accusations of me being the worst mother in the world. Blah, blah, blah. I told him he could pick some other sport to try, as this was the point after all, but he finally said he'd try the skating.

I wish I had that much energy to throw into something.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The downside

I am thrilled to be heading to chilly Minnesota this weekend to visit with my brother and SIL. They are consummate hosts and I always leave there feeling (besides full, and a little hung over) very loved.

There is a stack of lab reports on the arm of my couch that are staring at me right now. I have 23 to finish before I go out of town Friday afternoon. These are the first ones they've written, so each one takes 10-15 minutes to grade. I'm heading over to try to knock out a couple before Mr W gets up, and don't want to find myself at midnight on Thursday with "just a few more" to do.

I'm proctoring an exam for another instructor on Wednesday, so that will get me some grading time, but otherwise it's going to happen in the evenings. This is my least favorite part of teaching. On many of these, the writing is OK, it's just too flowery for scientific writing. I try to cross out what doesn't belong, and rewrite some sentences to give them an idea of what to say.

Others, and I've gotten one already from a student that is going to be a problem child this semester, are so poorly written they have too many grammar and spelling mistakes for me to correct. For this one, I'm recommending she go to the Writing Lab on campus for help. It's not my job to teach her how to make a sentence, right? I wonder how she got this far.

OK, 23 more to go.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

This is the one

My dad gave me money for Christmas towards a sewing machine. I want something that can sew through a couple of layers of felted thrift store sweater, and this is the one I've decided on. I was going to get a refurbished one, but this comes with support and a 25 year warranty, so I think it's a good choice. It's a Threadbanger TB12 - I feel hipper already.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Sweater Score!

I went a little overboard the half off Saturday sale at the thrift store today. Look at my treasures!

First, the ones I will actually wear.

Next, ones that I will throw in the washing machine on hot and use for felting projects.

Finally, ones that in my most optimistic moment looked like I could frog and reuse the yarn to knit something else. Of most interest to me, technique-wise, is the orange one, which has no seams except for the sleeves. That means it's probably hand knit, and someone knit the body in one piece in the round.

If you're looking for sweaters for these kinds of projects, look for ones whose seams are sewn together, not serged. If they are serged, you'll see lots of thin sewing thread along the seam.

I have no idea when I'll get to these, but they'll wait for me.

Assuaging mild guilt

My ex-mother in law, who I usually refer to as my MIL, is here in town. She hasn't had an easy go of it at all. Both she and my FIL, who passed in 2004, had polio as teenagers, and they strived to live as normal lives as possible. She's in an assisted living facility here in town.

She and I had a great relationship when I was married. She tried really hard to let us make decisions that were best for us, as opposed to ones where they would benefit somehow. Very selfless that way. After the divorce, though, the responsibility of communication has fallen to me. Period. She doesn't call, and if I don't call her, I don't talk to her.

I know she's being her "I don't want to bother anyone" self, but I'm busy! I forget to contact her, and then a couple of months go by and I feel guilty. Every time I see her, I tell her, you can call me if you need anything, or if you want to get together. And she says, "OK dear", and never calls.

So I called her yesterday, and will pop over there for a visit tomorrow. I always feel like I've done the right thing after I've visited, but still guilty that I don't make more time to see her. I think I'll bring her some flowers. I bought some for myself the other day, and it reminds me how much I like having fresh flowers around the house. They were even fair-trade, so I can assuage my guilt over carbon footprints, and slave labor and such. Life's a little complicated sometimes.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Weekend - part whatever

As usual, I have high hopes for getting a lot done on this weekend free of kid duties. This is especially so this weekend, because I'm going out of town next weekend to the frozen nort' of MN to see my brother and SIL.

My boring and totally attainable goal is to get my lectures ready up through next week, plus get the test made and copied. I'm also going to start working on my application for the Casper job (insert friendly ghost jokes starting now). It will be great practice, especially if I'm lucky enough to get an interview, for when it's time to move to the next thing job wise.

There is a poetry slam at a coffee shop downtown (a 10 minute walk) tonight. I've always wanted to go to one, and I'm going to try to do it tonight. I often chicken out on Fridays and just stay home if I'm not meeting someone somewhere, but it sounds like fun and I'm going to try.

Despite the snow, I want to start thinking about starting some seeds for the garden. I see vast fields of broccoli and carrots on our land. Well, not really. Mr W's list of acceptable vegetables includes those two, so we're going to grow those. Broccoli takes up a lot of room but I think that's OK, because we will actually eat it, as opposed to me growing something like eggplant, that even I'm iffy on. I've got other things I'll grow too, but I wanted to make this garden something the kid could make sense of by already liking the produce that will come out of it.

And speaking of my dear Mr W, my Zach, my Zachmo-a-go-go, is going to be 9 tomorrow. Holy Toledo. Nine! I'm so pleased at how he's turning out so far, I could just bust a seam sometimes. I love how he's really creative, yet analytical. We were at the dogpark the other day, and there was a 13 year old dog there. Mr W says, "how old is that in dog years?" I said, well, it's a hund... and he cuts me off and says, "it's 90-something". He was right, it's 91 and he figured it out in his head. Smarty pants. Love him to pieces I do and he's having a sleepover at his dad's house tomorrow that I'll show up with the cake for. Transformers on the cake, of course.

Hope your weekend's shaping up to be a good one.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Job uncertainty

I posted a graph a couple of days ago that showed President Obama's proposed budget in terms of funding for various science agencies. It's great news that so many of them are having their budgets increased. The CDC, however, looks to lose over a hundred million dollars of funding. We are part of the Department of Health and Human Services, which has a lot of other functions besides ones that are considered basic science.

It's impossible to predict anything from the graph, and it's only been proposed. It still has to be voted on by Congress. However, the new head of the CDC has proposed cutting funding for West Nile programs, so people where I work are scrambling to show what we do in terms of benefiting public health.

All this is to say that things are uncertain at the moment. And that has me thinking what I want to do when I grow up. I was so grateful to get this job, it's hard to overstate my sense of relief in landing it. At the time, I had run out of money from my divorce settlement, had asked my dad for money (something I hadn't done since I was in my 20's) and was using my credit cards more than I should. I had been ready to commute all the way to Denver or to Cheyenne, WY (an hour south and an hour north, respectively) for a job.

And this job has been a really good job. My boss is results-oriented, so he doesn't spend a lot of time breathing down anyone's neck. I get to work on my own projects at my own pace and I like that. I've gotten two good first-author publications out of it (a good thing in my line of work) and that's good too. I make enough money to support myself and save a bit. So if this job is eliminated, I will be bummed out not only because of the money, but because it's a good job.

But sometimes it takes a kick in the pants like that to jump start one to the next thing they are going to do. Although I've always admired and yearned to be a university professor, it's not in the cards for me while I'm raising a child. I don't want to move Mr W potentially far away from his dad, and I don't want the pressure of starting and maintaining "an externally funded independent research program", which is a requirement of those jobs.

What to do? Well, post-secondary teaching jobs include community colleges, junior colleges, and other institutions that don't have graduate programs. In those jobs, teaching is the main thing, and it's usually to reasonable motivated students that want to be there.

So, this is what I want. I want to get a full time teaching job teaching biology. I am reasonably qualified, if I may toot my own horn just a bit. I have a PhD, which looks good, I have taught before, and I have a degree in education (it was 20 years ago, but still). I keep hoping that my local community college will have an opening, but it doesn't look likely. They are, however, building a new building, which will increase their capacity to offer classes, and who knows. I might stick around doing the one class thing until they open the new building.

There is a job opening, though. It's in Casper, WY, (pop 50,000, making it the second largest city in WY!) which is about 3 hours north of here, right along Interstate 25. It's at Casper College, and it's doing what I want to do. I'll post more about this process, but I'm going to apply for it. I have a huge concern over how this would impact Mr W. He very much deserves to have two parents in the same town. I don't know how we would get around that, although his dad might be willing to move as well.

This post is long enough. More later. Thanks for reading this longie.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A post in which I bitch

There seem to be several things converging that are eating up my mental energy at the moment and I feel like I just want to rest. I'm fighting a head cold, so I'm stuffy and my voice is cracky. My dog park wipe-out is mostly better, except there's one spot to the right of my sternum that hurts when I stretch. I'll probably have to go get that checked out.

Work is kind of wacky. The graph I posted yesterday includes a cut to the entire line-item in the federal budget for vector-borne infectious disease (i.e. mosquitoes, ticks, fleas) programs. People seem to think they'll restore some of that, but that, combined with trying to shoehorn us into the new building (we were supposed to stay in the old building, but things changed and now we have to be accommodated by shuffling other people around) makes me feel like they might just say screw it, and cut the program.

I've gone around on this a bit, and I would be OK. I will do another post on what I've been thinking about career wise, but I can do OK on unemployment for a few months.

The other thing is that I feel like kicking myself because I haven't gotten far enough ahead in class prep, and I feel almost as swamped as I did last semester. And for no good reason, except I was waist deep in the online dating stuff, so I feel like my time was not well spent. I'll get time this weekend to catch up, and suspect I won't feel better until that is done.

One a bright note, Mr W turns 9 on Saturday. My sweet wumpkin is getting to be not so little anymore. I'm buying him an Erector set.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Might be time to dust off that resume....

Graphic found on