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New Year's has turned into a difficult holiday for me the last few years. Instead of a happy taking stock and striving for new accomplishments in the coming year, it tends to be "sum up all your failures of the year, and oh by the way the things you plan to resolve are exactly the same things you resolved and failed at the last 4 years in a row." What the hell kind of holiday is that?

It's exacerbated by the fact that most of the most active people I follow on twitter (classics and digital humanities types) are currently attending national conferences (AIA/APA, MLA, and AHA are all this weekend) and I feel like a professional failure. I know that in the long term the odds of my career continuing and being satisfactory are good, but I am having a hard time keeping my eye on the long term. On a day-to-day basis I am keeping busy (personally), and keeping an oar in professionally (I attended two by-invitation professional meetings this year, was asked to review grant proposals for a prestigious funding body, and have been asked to develop a summer week-long course). But every couple of weeks I have panics that I don't actually have a JOB and may never again. Work and busy-ness is nice, but so is money, everyday feedback, coworkers, and professional esteem.

The year overall was good. The kids are attending a school that is better for them than last year's, and they are doing well. They are good kids. mr. flea is happy at work and seems well-regarded, and this year managed to become An International Expert in His Field (was invited to lecture in China.) Me not working means less stress on me and everybody, and we've dealt just fine with the lower income. Our house in Georgia is rented through July, and maybe it will sell this spring. We've set up 529 college funds for the kids, thanks to some family generosity. We have nice things, a safe and warm and fairly pleasant place to live, plenty to eat, and more wealth and security as the average family. I am not a failure; I am doing my best to balance what's good for my family and myself in the face of a challenging economy and the stresses of middle-class life. Right?
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This kids went off happily to their second day of school today. Both had good days yesterday; Casper LOVES her teacher (who is impossibly young and cute and has a soft spot for Casper because beloved K teacher Mrs. E was current teacher Ms. T's mentor). (Mrs. E also won a award for excellence in teaching yesterday.) Casper had homework, and her spelling is back to IMPOSSIBLE. We worked a lot on reading this summer but clearly we neglected writing. I need to ask Ms. T about some ideas, and especially ask if she wants us to sit with Casper and correct her homework (which Casper hates and tells us not to do). I feel like she really needs to come to accept the need to edit her writing, because clearly no gift for ease with spelling is going to emerge.

Dillo is doing just fine, and seems to like Mrs. Y, who is older and very mellow. There are a few kids from his old class (I waved at Deyaneira this AM and she grinned and waved back) and a lot of new ones, and the class seems to just have a nice mellow vibe. I think this will suit Dillo just fine. He's interested in rough and tumble boy wildness, and if there are a bunch of boys like that in his class he'll act out, but he's actually more comfortable in a quieter, steretypical-girl environment. This class is pretty even but a little heavier on girls, and the teacher is very calm and low-key. Mrs. Y seems to have cleverly earned Dillo's devotion by using a dry-erase marker from the (huge bag of) school supplies he brought in. Dillo also told me, somewhat indignantly, at dinner last night that he hadn't learned to read yet! I explained that since there were many new kids who had never been to school before, the first few days are about teaching those kids the routine, which he already knows. Then they will get to reading.

mr. flea is in New Mexico today, flying home and back by bedtime, I hope. He has an interview that went very well, and expects to be offered the position, a post-doc. His current position ends next Tuesday. There is a permanent job that he's applied for that is a possibility, so if he is offered this new Mexico post-doc we will need to weigh our chances and make some decisions. I am actually feeling kind of good about New Mexico right now, although that may be in a large part due to the weather in Georgia in August.
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Stuff coming up:

Friday: Casper's dance recital.  We are to have her at the theater for the dress rehearsal tonight at 5, in costume and makeup (pink lipstick and blush), hair "half-back and curly."  Well, it will be half-back, anyway. She is doing a tap routine to Elvis.

Next week: Casper's school musical; Girl Scout overnight camp in co-leader's back yard; Mother's Day.

Then: May 17 is last day of school; taking 18 and 19 off; possibly family camping trip.

June 1: mr. flea has a job interview in Dublin, Ireland.  He wants me to come too (on our nickel) and make a nice trip out of it.  My mother has vaguely offered to come down and watch the kids (who are signed up for camp that week - June 1 is a Wednesday).  I am resistant because of the price of a plane ticket (currently well over $1000) and general stress and hassle factor.  Dunno.

(June 10: minor one-day conference in Atlanta that nobody has talked about yet.  Must ask colleagues.)

June 24-26: American Library Association annual meeting in New Orleans.  I have been invited to present my bibliography project to a group of classics, medieval, and renaissance studies librarians.  We have no travel funding in the library; the classics department has offered me $300.  Registration for the conference is $215 (plus $60 membership), and I need to think about transportation and lodging and food.  I haven't pulled the trigger on actually going yet, but I am probably going to.  Again feeling overwhelmed by hassle and expense.

I don't know why I'm feeling so overwhelmed by all this.  Maybe partly because it's the last week of the semester so all the students are basically insane.


Apr. 2nd, 2011 05:20 am
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It was 3rd quarter teacher conferences this week, and we had a good conversation with Casper's teacher and the Spectrum teacher.  She's really a fascinating creature, Casper is. A mix of things - brave in some ways, fragile in others (we had an awfulizing meltdown Wednesday night), capable of focus and extremely detailed work but often careless in her schoolwork. Spectrum teacher, whom I like a lot, noted that Casper does tend to march to the beat of her own drum, in terms of classwork as well as socially. She's unsure how to negotiate group work, and will sometimes wander off and just start getting things done by herself. When working alone, she is usually quite focused and confident.  Both teachers noted that she tends to approach problems in unusual ways - Mr. H noted that she almost always solves math problems through methods that none of the other kids use, and methods he hasn't explicitly taught, and Spectrum teacher noted the same sort of thing.  This is interesting to me and makes me glad she's in Spectrum where they can appreciate this - I think a lot of "gifted" kids at her school are like I was - wicked smart, precocious verbally and good readers and adept at processing and incorporating new information - whereas Casper in some ways really does "think different," even different from the average smart kid.  This could be a great benefit in her life, if she can turn it to her advantage.

Her reading is going fine - Fast ForWord does seem to be helping.  Mr. H talked about the program a bit - he's actually gone and used the software to see what it is like - and it generates reports that show things I've instinctively known for a long time - that she does often miss common and fairly simple words like when and were. She definitely has trouble with long vowels, too.  The program does some ear training exercises, with different tones, and also promotes focus.  I think there have been definite improvements.  I still worry that neither of the teachers were able to really have a conversation about what Casper struggles with about reading - what is it that makes this hard for her, and how can we specifically target strengthening it?  Spectrum teacher noted that most of the interventions for struggling readers are geared towards kids who are less generally intelligent than Casper is, and who often have other language problems alongside reading problems (Fast ForWord, for example, is especially recommended for kids with auditory processing problems, who often have limited vocabularies and are slow to talk - NOT Casper!!)  I'm almost to the point that I'd like to talk to a reading specialist, who has the background and experience to help me understand and explore what are the factors that make Casper struggle.  But, again, she's doing fine, grade-level work (except most of her Spectrum peers read well above grade level.)

I am having a week of depression and social anxiety, feeling isolated and generally low and anxious.  I cut all my hair off yesterday and didn;t even get much of the usual post-haircut boost that I do (you know, where you spend the rest of the day walking around going "I'm so cute!") It's spring and houses are going on the market and it's the time when Universities are making hires and people are planning moves and changes over the summer, and we have no idea what the plan is for the future.  Well, signing up for summer camp starts today, so I guess we just trundle forward.
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UGA has started an Engineering program. It was approved by the Board of Regents last month (barely). Now they are posting tenure-track jobs, including one in mr. flea's subdiscipline that starts next August. Interesting. Except as far as I know he has never taught. Do they care about teaching in engineering programs?

the future

Sep. 8th, 2010 11:17 am
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mr. flea's contract is up in 11 months. So he's sensibly starting to apply for jobs. Our first pick would be something permanent here, but things are not trending strongly that way. He's applied for one job at the EPA in Cincinnati, and today called me to ask if it seemed like a good idea to apply to a job with IBM. In Dublin. (Ireland, not Ohio.)

That would be interesting. Note I am already mentally selling furniture and renting out our house. Dear brain, please stay in one place.


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July 2016



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