A bit of a sad day for the folks here at P.h.D. (And by folk I mean me.)

After three long years of writing Pretty Hard, Dammit on, I'm moving.

I spent some random precious hours for a few months attempting to tinker around with Blogger’s very limited templates, and I utterly failed to successfully edit the html on the template I did find that I sort of liked, (I could never get rid of that stock picture of the stupid highway above) so I gave up in complete frustration. Then I started looking around for other blogging options and found WordPress. Woah. It’s like a Mac - easy and intuitive. Why I didn’t I switch over there years ago, I don’t know. Anyway, so far I love love love it. It’s fancy and schmantzy and smells like newly mown grass. Well, maybe not that last part. But is is cool.

I’m hoping I don’t lose anybody in the switch! I won’t get rid of the old blog here at Blogger and I migrated all of my old posts so you can catch up on old times in the shiny new format, but I won’t be adding any new posts over here anymore.

So Fabulous Readers, Please Please PLEASE update your links, bookmarks, bloglines, etc. to the new URL:

Was that too needy and beggy? How about sensationalistic and tabloidesque? --

Be sure to update because you know you won’t want to miss a minute of the crazy antics of Stewgad (Is she writing? When will she finish?), Spousal Unit (Is he cooking? When does he start teaching?) and The Gadlet (Is she walking? Is she talking?), be sure to come on over to the new site!

So long, Blogger, and thanks!

I guess in life sometimes we get exactly what we deserve, right? And, of course, payback, she is a bitch. But particularly in matters of childcare I often think that the ironic gods of parenting reach out their dry twiggy fingers and deliberately pinch so as to protect us from our own hubris and hence our children from our grandiosity.

Well, yesterday, they struck me but good.

For the past few months I’ve been gleeful with pretty damn near everyone about The Gadlet’s pooping prowess. Inevitably in conversations, whether with people I see every day, folk I hadn’t seen for a while or even strangers I had just met, something in me felt strangely obliged to tell them within the first few moments of conversation that MY Daughter poops in a potty at 10.5 months. “Have I told you about the Gadlet and the Potty yet? No? How, you ask? WELL, let me tell you, that WE are so IN TUNE, she and I, and we are SOOOO in Sync that I can ALWAYS tell when she’s pooping, and so I ALWAYS rush her to the potty before it happens and, eh, voilá! Poop! In a Potty!! It’s so much tidier and neater -- it’s brilliant. You HAVE to try it. Eh? No kids? Oh, well, when you get them, get them a potty RIGHT AWAY.”

Yes, pride cometh before a fall.

So yesterday, Spousal Unit went out to run some errands, leaving me making curry chicken salad with pecans and fresh cherries and the Gadlet having a nice lunch of blueberries, cheese, pasta, and zucchini. Well, I was kind of distracted, what with making curry sauce, chopping chicken, and cherries, so I was giving the Gadlet only about half of my attention. At one point, however, I heard a tell-tale little grunting sound. Aha! I thought. She’s firing off a warning turd. Excellent! “Good girl, Gadlet! Let’s go to the potty!”


We go upstairs. I get the potty out of the bathroom and put it on the floor of her bedroom next to the changing table, as per usual, and put the Gadlet on the changing table, chattering about the potty the whole time. Alas, when I take off her diaper, I find that that warning turd had actually been the whole shebang. And it was a pretty big bang. There was a TON of poop, and it’s pretty much everywhere. So much for being SO IN SYNC. Well, I swallowed my pride a little bit, and decided that I’d persist with the whole potty thing just to keep the rhythm of it for her. Plus, I was worried that maybe she wasn’t done pooping. So I left the diaper on the changing table, and plunked her on the potty.

At which point she proceeds to reach down and grab her little poopy bottom with her hands, getting the stuff all over her fingers.

“AAAK!” I shriek, “STOP! STOP STOPIT STOPIT!!” I grab a diaper wipe and wipe her hands. That got rid of the worst of it and she seems slightly cleaner, but I’m still feeling like her hands could be cleaner. Then I got a Brilliant Idea, that I confess was partially prompted by concern with cleanliness and partly prompted by the increasingly pungent smell wafting gently from the diaper on the changing table. It was so gross it was forcing me to rethink my indignation when the other day Spousal Unit had lovingly compared the smell of the Gadlet’s shit to a very busy Chicago Public Restroom. My Brilliant Idea was to very quickly run into the bathroom, drop the diaper into the toilet to soak (it’s cloth) and grab a wet washcloth to better clean off the Gadlet’s poopy fingers. I look down at her. She’s sitting contentedly on the potty “reading” the cute little book “More, More, More, Said the Baby.”

So I ran in the bathroom, plunked the diaper into the toilet, grabbed a wet washcloth, and returned to the bedroom.

Big Mistake. Huge. A Mistake of Epic Proportions.

In the 20-30 seconds it took me to do that, The Gadlet, newly mobile and reveling in her own mobility, had peed, liberated herself from the potty, kicked it over, spilled the pee, traveled a few feet, and plunked her poopy butt onto the WHITE CARPET. (Installed in the room long before it was a baby’s room.)

I think that thus far I have neglected to mention that the Gadlet’s meals the day before had mostly consisted of blueberries and, sigh, beets. I’m sure that those of you out there who aren’t parents have never closely examined any poop produced after the consumption of such intensely colored foods, and so let me tell you that the deep purple of blueberries and the deep burgundy of beets make a magical color wheel combination that the Pottery Barn might creatively call “Deep Cloak,” “Midnight Iron,” “Coal Mine,” or perhaps “La Brea Tar Pit.”

Before she could spread anymore Midnight Iron shit anywhere, I swooped her up, and ran her into the bathroom, stuck her in the bathtub, and turned on the water. I pulled the lever for the shower massage/hand spray thingey and grabbed it, and her, and started to hose off her butt. At which point she dove forward, trying to clock her head as hard as she could on the side of the cast-iron tub, so I dropped the shower sprayer and grabbed her before she connected head to tub. I’m sure you can imagine what happened next. That shower thing started acting like a greased snake writhing away from intense danger, and sprayed water EVERYWHERE.

So there I was, sopping wet, holding a now wet and slippery, yet still poop-covered baby, with a diaper full of blue-black crap soaking in my toilet, and a perfectly ass-shaped indigo stain and a puddle of pee on the bedroom carpet.

But here’s the worst part.

I managed to get the Gadlet clean and in a new diaper and in bed with a basket full of toys so that she would be marginally entertained and isolated from the shitty floor while I dealt with this situation. I made a solution of OxyClean (that stuff ROCKS), and grabbed a pile of rags, and started to clean up the carpet. The Gadlet, clean, slightly damp, and cute as can be, pulled herself up to standing in her bed, craned her head over the edge of the rail, looked at me sweetly and said:



TWSNBN Update:

I'm a few sentences away from finishing the composition part of the article. I'll be done with the revisions (and hence this draft of the article) by the end of the week. (She says confidently!)

Dr. Horrible

I'm sure you've all caught this by now, but it's only going to be around for a few more days, so if you haven't seen it yet, go get it now.  

I laughed, I cried, it was much better than Cats.  I'm going to watch it again and again.  

Even if you're not a big crazy Joss fangirl like I am, Dr. Horrible was totally worth the $4.  

Back to work now...


Since the last blog post, I've survived a number of milestones:

1. My Birthday (July 2) -- 37.

Urgh. I hate the -7 birthdays, because that is when it hits me that I'm closing in on the next decade. I totally freaked out when I turned 27 because it meant I was Almost Thirty. So turning 37 means that in my own mind I'm Almost Forty. Which is, as we all know, the end of everything youthfull. I mean, at 40, I'll practically be an Old Lady. From here on out things will only sag, and droop, and crease, and cease to function more. I also freaked out a little because I realized that when my mom turned 40, I was 16. So she was in her 40s when I was in college. I'll qualify for the AARP before the Gadlet is in college. Worse, when she turns 40, I'll be 76. Math just wasn't working for me this birthday.

Despite my manic calculations, it really was a good day I worked some, hung out with my great little kid and went to a park for a picnic with Spousal Unit, the Gadlet, Innana, and her guy. (I forget what she calls him on her blog.) We got take-out from the cajun/fish place and hung out in the grass, playing bocce and watching the Gadlet eat her favorite food -- Cheerios. Plus, our town put on a fireworks display. Just for me! No, really, like most towns, it can't afford the fireworks for the 4th, which is ok with me because the 2nd is the more historically accurate day of independence anyway and then I get fireworks on my birthday. (By the way, what cities DO get to do fireworks on the 4th?) This year, though, we crapped out and went home to bed before it got dark. That's how you KNOW you're getting old, when you can't stay awake for the 9 p.m. FIREWORK display.

2. Vacation (7 days) with Divorced Parents who hadn't seen each other in years (15).

Normally, vacations are relaxing. And, it turns out, this one was, mostly. But, there was a BIT of tension around the start of it. Here's the story. Last Christmas we gave my mom the gift of a week at a lake house with us and the Gadlet and both of her kids. Unfortunately, my brother and his wife couldn't make it after all, so it was going to be just 3 adults and one baby in a house with beds for 6. Then, I get a call from my Dad and it turns out the only week he had off this whole year was last week, so he could either not see the Gadlet for a whole year, or be here at the same time that my mom was. Fortunately, my mom is really cool and graciously suggested that my dad should just join us at the lake house. It was nice in theory, but how would it really work? It was totally crazy. They got along like a house on fire. They didn't stop talking for the first few days -- sharing stories about long-forgotten relatives and gossiping about the scandals among their long-lost friends. It was wonderful and funny. They seemed to really enjoy each other's company, which was nice for all of us. It was so nice, we've booked the place for the same week next year for all of us again. I'm kinda scratching my head over this one, but also thanking my lucky stars and whatever gods of forgiveness there are out there.

3. Gadlet Urine Project -- The Specialist Edition

We finally got in to see the pediatric urologist this week. By now, that UTI that the Gadlet had is a long-forgotten memory, except for the preventative antibiotics she's been on since then. So we went to the Big City Hospital, where they did the catheter-dye-xray-pee test, which they managed to do successfully. The worst part for the Gadlet was being held down totally immobilized for 25 minutes. She screamed on and off pretty much the whole time. She was able to calm herself a few times by tugging on her hair while her hands were pinned above her head, and also when Spousal Unit sang to her. When it was over she just hugged me and sobbed. Then I gave her her favorite toy -- a stick with jingle bells attached. She got this huge grin on her face and started shaking the thing and dancing, which was sweet given her blotchy face and red eyes from all the crying. This kid clearly has a sweet short memory and easy disposition. Then we had some lunch in the cafeteria of the hospital. (A nice grilled Cubano Sandwich for me and Spousal Unit, kale and yogurt for the Gadlet.) Then we got to see the specialist. He came in, looked at her films, and pronounced her just fine. Then he took a peek at her coochie to check out the labial adhesions (or strings as Spousal Unit keeps calling them). He was utterly unimpressed and said so. Apparently, they'll go away after puberty, which is when she really needs the thing anyway. So, all's well that ends well. It's funny, though, all of these heroic measures from the Pigg-o-Stat onward just because the kid had a fever. And while I'm absolutely thankful that there is nothing wrong, part of me wonders if just because we HAVE the technology to do all of these things, whether we actually SHOULD do them. I don't mean that I want to neglect my daughter's health, but maybe we should have waited for her to get another infection before launching down the extraordinary measures road. The specialist did apologize for making us come all of that way, and did say point blank that had the medical care providers in our town been, ahem, better at inserting pediatric catheters, then we wouldn't have gone through all of this. Poor little local hospital.

4. That Which Shall Not Be Named

Still shall not be named. I'm inclined to clam up a bit on this one, but that probably isn't too healthy. So, I'll share. I got quite a bit done while my folks were here, but things have slowed down in the past week -- mainly because I lost one of my daycare days to the doctor adventure. I'm starting to feel the looming semester breathing down my neck, but will try to keep my chin up and get a lot done in the next couple of weeks.

Hope you're all having a great summer.

Go Figure

I woke up at 5:30 this morning (the Gadlet's usual wake-up time) to a quiet house.  But my brain was buzzing -- with ideas about the article.   So, I got up and wrote two pages of notes about the stuff I was thinking about -- good material that will enhance both the chapter and the article.  

Isn't the love-hate relationship that we have with our dissertations so funny? 

Thanks all for your great comments.  I took a lot of the advice -- I chilled out a little, started taking it in little chunks, and working in little bits of time.  I got my butt out of the house, which is usually the number one most important thing for me.  I just don't work well at home.  I like to work in crowded, noisy places where I'm alone with a lot of people near me so that I'm not lonely and where I can get food, coffee and/or books at a moment's notice.  This week I've been at the big box bookstore with internal evil corporate coffee shop.  Yeah, I know, it's evil, but they have free parking.   But, it is pretty generic and soul-less.  Funny story from Tuesday -- A woman sat down next to me in said evil cafe.  Her phone rang, and she said "Hey.  Where are you?  I'm in the cafe." Pause.  Looks around.  "I don't see you."  Pause. "Oh!  You're at Borders???"  She was in the Wrong Evil Corporate bookstore.  She turned a little red, and then popped up and headed out the door.   It would have been really funny if it wasn't such a sad commentary on the homogenization and gentrification of America.

Anyway, working there the past couple of days, I realized a couple of good things:

First, I realized that I don't have to make this article into something it isn't.  I think I've been feeling like I have to gather EVERY POSSIBLE BIT OF INFORMATION out there on this subject or else the article will be shite.  But, that just isn't possible this time around.  It will be something very nice I will do for the book.  For now, I just need to work with what I have.  

That led to my second realization -- that I didn't actually know what it is I have.  So, I did a bunch of organizing of my sources and have been taking notes on them for the first part of the article. It has been a HUGE help.  I'm feeling good about what I'm finding and even enjoying it a little.  Imagine that.  

Plus, I decided that the quality of my life just isn't worth the freak-out.  That I could choose to be insane and worried and stressed-out about this whole thing, or I could opt for calm and a degree of sanity and health.  Maybe it is the wrong choice, but I think it is a better one for my long-term life, really.  I don't know how long I could sustain the level of stress I was generating.  My guess is not that long.  Besides, both Spousal Unit and the Gadlet like it better when I'm less tense.  

In the interest of the quality of life question, we're going "camping" with some friends this weekend.  "Camping" in the sense that we'll be away from home, and sleeping in sleeping bags, but not camping in the sense that we're going to a nice place with a kitchen and bathroom and a lake.  I'm going to take the computer and get up early each day and do a couple of hours of work both mornings, but I'm also just going to let myself have some down time.  I think it might help. 

Thanks again for the support.   I'll check back in on Monday.  Happy weekend!  

what day I'm on in this horrible countdown, definitely don't want to know how many days are left!

Personal note to Mom -- the rest of you can skip it if you want to: 
(Before I write this, I just need to put in a disclaimer for my mom because she reads these things, freaks out, and the calls me immediately, sure that I'm either on the verge of offing myself or on the edge of going postal at the post office or something, and then her worry adds to the whole pressure of everything, cause, you know, she's my mom, and I don't want to worry her.  So, Mom, chill.  I'm ok.  I just need to vent.  I'd recommend that you don't read this post. If you do, I'm gonna regret telling you about this blog!)

I'm sitting at home in a panic.  Serious panic.  I keep getting these nagging emails from the editors of this volume that I've agreed to do, (What?  It's only 2 years late, sheesh.  Can't they just Chill?)  and I'm totally panicked about this stupid freaking article.  So much so that I'm becoming paralyzed, a little paranoid, and having a bit of a wig out today. 

I realized that it is really hindering my progress on the dissertation -- I'm so worried about Getting It Right for this article, because god knows, the world is going to see it and judge it so I can't make ANY mistakes because it is the first real thing I will have published and it is going to be a pretty important volume in my field, so it must be right and perfect and not totally stupid and fucked up.  

In the face of this need for total perfection (OH, and perfection really freaking FAST!!!) I just shut down.  I spent the morning hiding in a novel and the afternoon staring at the computer in a bit of a tizzy.  It sucks.   And, the strange thing?  I kind of just want to write the freaking chapter and forget all about this article. 

But before all the well-meaning folk out there tell me to do just that, I have two important reasons for doing it, one selfish and one selfless.  

Selfless reason:  If I don't do this article, the volume won't be published.  There are an unspecified number of other historians depending on me to do it.  And they're all done, it is just down to me.  So if I fuck up, I fuck up other people, not just myself. 

Selfish reason: I don't have any publications, really, so I need this for the tenure track.  If I don't publish, I'll lose my job. 

But in a gordian knot-like situation if I don't write this article, I'll lose my job.  If I don't finish my dissertation, I'll lose my job.  But if I spend all of my time working on this article, I won't finish my dissertation, and I'll lose my job.  But if I spend all of my freaking time reading novels because it is one way of handling a crippling panic attacks, I won't finish any damned thing and I'll lose my job.  

How's that for pressure?  Shit, no wonder I'm freaked out.   

Plus, to add insult to injury this morning I sat on my glasses while on the couch reading said stupid novel, so I've been walking around all day squinting like Mr. Magoo from those old cartoons that you can probably find on YouTube because everything is on YouTube, although I prefer Hulu, myself.  

Where was I?  Oh yes, in a rant. 

So here is where I stand.  I have 23 pages of stuff that will probably work in the article with a little tinkering.  They are also the bulk of Chapter 5 and as I tinker with them, I'll still be tinkering with chapter 5.  On Saturday I wrote a rough draft of an introduction to all of this material and then spent Sunday ripping it apart.  Hence the panic, I think.  I now find myself with not much to show for a whole weekend's work.  Oh, and plus today.    ARRGHH!!! 

And, I've got all this other shit to do, right?  Class prep for the fall (I'm teaching a new freshman class) committee stuff for this group I'm working with, not to mention the hundreds of emails that people have sent me that I haven't replied to because every new email feels like the last little straw that just might kill me.  

Well, thanks for listening.  I appreciate the forum in which to vent my worst fears and to confess my deepest weaknesses.  I'm going to try to calm down and do a little work before I go get the Gadlet.  Who, incidentally, learned to sit up from a lying down position all on her own little self in the middle of the night last night.  She let out this huge cry at 3 a.m., so Spousal Unit went in to check on her and there she was sitting up in the bed!  I think she'd gotten up there by herself but couldn't figure out how to get back down.  It was adorable.  Even if it was 3 a.m.  

She's the one thing right now that isn't making me panic.  Isn't that funny, since I spent 9 months panicking about her, absolutely sure that she would bring all of this stress to my life?