Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Summer "Break" Update 1

Book review? drafted (and then I found out it's not due until end of June, so I'm a month ahead--victory!--but anyway, it's a double header of this and this)

Beehives? we moved the bees from their mailing packages into their gorgeous new waterfront apiaries this week

Bad television show? watched (Hemlock Grove S1)

Banjo? not much--the C chord is hard to get right and my kid screams when she sees me bring out "jo jo"

Sewing? so far, just this dress (Simplicity 5695)

Next up:
1. Felt food is my newest DIY toy project idea... who knew there was this out there?
2. Matching outfits for me, the kid, her dolly
3. Book proposal and prep for RBS course in June
4. Finish reading The Beetle and move on to a real "for fun" book, as opposed to reading something fun that I also plan to teach in the fall
5. Sign up for banjo lessons

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Thoughts on Two

This kid eats frozen peas stuck in fresh raspberries. She pretends to apply make-up to her face with a tampon. She gives me "pedicures" while I get ready for work in the morning. Today her new words were "dirt" and "hummus" and she correctly identified the number 8 after pushing that button a gazillion times on my cell phone. She is two.

In this picture, she is sitting on my lap and eating a birthday cupcake at school, surrounded by her beloved friends and teachers (and papa is in the background). She makes life worth living.

Before she was born, I was afraid she wouldn't be. And after she was born, I was afraid I would fail to get my dream job and I'd have to explain to her later why I gave up trying. Neither of these fears came true, and most of my biggest hopes have. I am so blessed to have the constant challenge and opportunity to balance my life with this brave/cautious, grinning/screeching, easily frustrated/simply pleased, mischievous/curious, strong/fragile, hilarious/heart-breaking kid and my life as an English professor teaching college kids who roughly fit the same description.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Breast-pumping at Conferences, and the Renewed Curiosity of the Boob

Miriam Posner has published a valuable, informative article about how to accommodate a breast-pumping mom at an academic conference on her blog.


At a conference in Houston, someone (someone really smart, with a PhD and lots of books and articles) suggested that I should use a public bathroom to pump during a large group dinner at a fancy restaurant. I was desperate, so I checked out the bathroom: the only outlet was near the sink, far away from any locking stalls. To relieve myself of engorgement--or just to stay consistent so I could keep producing milk on my daughter's meal schedule--I'd have had to get half-naked (I supposed I might have fashioned a drape out of my suit jacket) and stand before a wall of mirrors with vacuum cones stuck to my boobs, the loud WHIRRRR of the machine defeating even vague aspirations to inconspicuousness. I ended up taking that meal to-go.

At MLA in Seattle, a well-meaning volunteer sent me on a wild goose chase looking for *the mom room* deep in uninhabited portions of the Convention Center. Eventually, I was so frustrated that I finally locked myself into one of the presentation rooms, hoping I'd not meet someone famous, or anyone on any of my interview committees, on the way out, 20 minutes later. I also pumped my way through some over-scheduled campus interviews. (You just try to explain to the interviewers why you need 20 minutes to yourself between that meeting with the dean and the luncheon with the students--without revealing you have a hungry 8 month old two states away waiting for your happymeals.) And I was the one begging the airplane attendants for new ice to put in my travel cooler that was full of the saved milk I was dragging home for the kid. That stuff is liquid gold! Pumping-and-dumping can make a hormonal, sleep-deprived new mom on a job interview dissolve into a puddle of tears on the inadequate floor space of an airplane bathroom.

I nodded my head the entire time I read Posner's article, but there are a few things she was simply not petty enough to mention: 1. how fast you leak when you can't pump in time--milk blossoms ruining your nice conference outfit and causing untold embarrassment (and 1a. the discomfort of those maxi-pads for breasts); 2. how hard it can be to find ways to save the milk you've pumped--ice, coolers, decent sized fridge/freezer units in a hotel; and 3. how darn heavy the pump equipment and cooler (full of ice and bags of milk) can get over the course of a day (and 3a. that awkward moment when someone asks you what is in the huge blue plastic case you're carrying around with your laptop, or jokes about what the cooler might contain, you know, to get you through the long day of panels.)
I paid some good money (about $30 or $40/month) to rent a hospital-grade breast pump for some of these conferences, and that thing was a brick. It's like carrying a precious brick--one that will cost you about $450 to replace--in your suitcase through airport security, lounges, bathrooms, lines, planes, taxis, hotels, and so on. You already never stop thinking about your boobs and when they're going to betray you, and now you've also got a gold-producing brick (with various tubes and funnels) to babysit.

Funny thing: my kid weaned herself as soon as she learned how to walk (away from me), and she has not considered my chest since that time, eight or so months ago. Until last week, when she learned the word "boobs" and now she's constantly checking to see if mine are still around. At my house, we are hoping that this renewed interest in Mama's chest does not transfer itself to daycare.