Friday, October 14, 2016

F#31: Fertility

I was trying to figure out if, how, and when to write this post.  But since tomorrow is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, and October is dedicated to that, it seemed appropriate.

If my first pregnancy had gone to term, that baby would have been born in early to mid October 2015; he or she would be a year old now.  

But that didn't happen.  Instead, I had a miscarriage the same day we had the confirmation ultrasound.  Mere hours after we first saw that little jelly bean, something I had wanted my ENTIRE life, that little jelly bean was no more.  The doctor told us he couldn't explain it, and I knew that was true, especially at five weeks.

To say I was devastated would be an understatement.  I didn't tell anyone, other than my family, and the few friends who knew.  It happened Presidents' Day weekend, so I was "better" after a few days and went back to teaching right away.  

But I didn't forget.  Although we got pregnant a few months later, I was paranoid.  So afraid to go for the confirmation appointment and have something go wrong.  We got a surprise, though; I was almost out of my first trimester!  We had a little less to worry about.

October 2015 rolled around, and there was a little skip in my heartbeat when I realized my first baby would have been there.  It helped that we found out the gender of our second baby Columbus Day weekend, the little girl I had always dreamed of.

And then it was Presidents' Day Weekend in February.  I was thirty-six weeks pregnant and had a regular appointment.  But I knew what had happened the last time I was at the OBGYN that weekend, and I was afraid.  Afraid that, so close, something would be wrong.

Our daughter arrived the day after my husband's birthday, a week earlier than we had expected.  She is one of the five best things that have ever happened in my life, and I am so in love with every part of her, even the poop, and teething, and screaming.  But I don't know if there is a February or October that will ever pass that I won't think about that first pregnancy.

I know I have it luckier than many other women, women I know.  I only had one miscarriage, and my husband and I were only trying for about a year before we got one to "stick".  It could have been more losses, it could have been a longer period of time.  

But this is a club that a lot of women are in, a club that no one wants to be a member of.  And most don't talk about it, until it happens to someone they know.  It's kind of a weird thing to bring up in conversation, right?  "Oh, how have you been?" "Fine, I mean, you know, other than that miscarriage a month ago." 

Kind of a mood killer.

No one wants to normalize this, but knowing other people have gone through it helps a lot.  I had a support system, fortunately for me, unfortunately for the people who had walked this path before me.  So for those of you out there that this happened to, or might happen to, know that you are not alone, and that someone is here to talk.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

F#30: Force Friday

I know I've already done a post on fandoms, but I need to single Star Wars out in particular for a moment.

Tomorrow, 9/4/15, is Force Friday, when a new set of merchandise is released in anticipation of The Force Awakens hitting theatres on 12/18/15.  Social media is full of Star Wars related pictures; Twitter was kind enough to add an X-Wing emoticon to the hashtag people are using.

And yet...I am cynical.

This doesn't JUST have to do with the fact that I am a "responsible adult" who has "work" and "bills" and can't go buy fun toys with everyone else at 12:01AM.  (This responsible adult WILL be going to a midnight showing of Ep VII, definitely with my husband, possibly with my stepson, and then we'll all play hookie from school/work the next day.)  

No, I'm throwing shade at all the fans.

Because many of these same people are the ones who absolutely lambaste Episodes I-III, saying they won't show them to their own children, or talking about how AWFUL they were.  And as much as I shouldn't let it bother me, it does.  While I long ago abandoned the Star Wars novels, especially when I realized their stories were not canonical, I have always held to the belief that George Lucas knew what story he was telling, and the canon is the canon.  And I have always looked at the Prequels as a completely different TYPE of storytelling; not worse, just different.

So when Episode VII comes out, and people start hating on it the way they hated on Episodes I-III, it's going to get my fangirl up.  I want to enjoy Lucas' sandbox in all its glory, and I don't need party-poopers telling me that some of my toys suck, just because they're different from the first set of toys we were playing with.

That's not to say I don't have concerns.  With three new "Episode" movies, plus a few stand-alones, and television shows in the works, I am worried we may become over-saturated as a fandom.  One of the things that makes Star Wars so beautiful is that there isn't THAT much of it.  The more we add to the base, I am wondering how that might take away from the special-ness of it.

So to my fellow Star Wars fans, I only ask that you try to love all of the canon we've been given.  Recognizing that there is good and bad in ALL of the movies (yes, even The Empire Strikes Back), I think we call all agree it's time to stop hating on JarJar, and just appreciate the whole story that Lucas was kind enough to give us.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

F#29: Flashbacks and Alternate Realities

Yesterday I started the internship for my MA in American Studies.  The location of said internship is right next door to where I had my first "real" job after college.  I was twenty-two and no one would hire my English major self.  Because...who hires English majors who are competent in reading and writing?  I stayed at this job until I started my journey toward becoming an educator.

As I took the bus into my internship yesterday, it was a definite flashback to that six month period where I was part of corporate America.  I woke up at seven AM.  I read on my commute instead of swearing at other drivers.  Later that day, I got to eat lunch outside, over half-an-hour, watching other Young Urban Professionals walk by.  

This could have been my life, I think.  I could have found a way to stay at the job I had, maybe moving around to other departments, or going to a different company entirely.  I could have eaten leisurely lunches, or maybe even worked out over my lunch break and had a snack at my desk later.  I could have visited the farmers' market on Fridays to pick up pieces for dinner.  

Of course, that life doesn't lead me to my best friend, or my husband.  That life doesn't take me on a guided tour of Prague and Budapest.  It doesn't give me my summer's off (sort of), or not having to worry about how I am getting to work when there's twenty-seven-million inches of snow on the ground.

This internship will be challenging but fun.  It will give me a chance to see "how the other half lives".  And it also gives me something to look forward to, when I have moved on from teaching and am ready to try something new.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

F#28: Feminism

I have decided that I am a bad feminist.  The things that enrage the internet, and some of my friends, do not enrage me.  Some of the things I did not even realize were rage-inducing until I saw the kerfuffle playing out on social media.

Since she is en vogue at the moment, let's talk about The Age of Ultron and Black Widow.  I have not read any of the comics, so I don't know how the movies have stuck to or diverged from her story lines.  But I do know that I like her very much as a character on screen.  She is funny, she is confident, she kicks all the ass.  

But, of course, people complain.  Some of these complaints I find to be completely valid.  When you look at the toys and clothing for the newest Avengers film, you will notice that our dear Black Widow is nowhere to be seen. (A friend did find a shirt at Hot Topic, but she's not front and center).  And saying she's a slut (yeah, Jeremy Renner, not cool) is obviously not only not okay, but also totally inaccurate.  (A post for another time--the "appropriate" number of sexual partners, for both men and women.)

The ongoing complaint of the movies (besides that she hasn't gotten her own: again, totally valid) is that she's a supporting character or that she's too much of a woman when she should just be one of the guys.  

So what? So what that she's a woman and has a soft spot in her for her friends?  Did we complain when Tony had a soft spot for Pepper?  Or when Cap looked for his Peggy Carter?  Thor and Jane?  Nope, we are glad to see that our heroes with hearts.  So why is it a problem when Natasha wants to be a little softer, regret a choice that was taken away from her?  I don't want to spoil the movie for people who haven't seen it, but...I don't think that's the Red Ledger we heard about in the first Avengers.  It just doesn't make sense to say that it is.

Black Widow is what has enraged the nerds; Dad-Bods have enraged others.  Something else will enrage me shortly, I'm sure.  Until then...I'm a bad feminist.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

F#27: Finding My Niche

Semester Two of grad school.  One class is very abstract random in its organization and is supposed to be part of my Museums concentration, although I haven't figured out how exactly.  The second class is at least about doing research, although some of the books are pretty painful to read.

So in this class, we were asked in our first week what our research interests were.  Everyone around me had answers: contemporary art, maritime history, African American history, Native American history...the list went on.  And then when the professor got to me, I was stumped.  I am interested in just about everything.  How am I supposed to know what my research interests are, and on what I want to do my thesis? It's only semester two...I have five semesters in total to figure this out!

But I started thinking about it.  Although I understand the impetus to researching the oppressed communities of American society, I also find it would be disingenuous of me, as a middle-class white woman, to pretend I can somehow make sense of the information I would be retrieving.  

Despite my distaste of New England as a child, and my distaste of the weather currently, the region is fascinating.  As "home base" for many of the European immigrants, we've got a lot of history.  Some of it is not very pretty, including the witch hunts/trials of the 17th century.  But is it too obvious, as a New England woman, to research the plight of other New England women?

Another thought I've had lately, but I'm not sure how I'd formulate it exactly, is that I'm intrigued by the representation of American history in fiction.  This comes partially from Sleepy Hollow just finishing up its second season on FOX, but also my love of historical fiction.  What are the things that movies, television, and literature consistently get right, and what are the things they consistently change?  Is this a thing I could even do research on?  I mean, how many books, movies, and tv shows would I have to consume in order to find an answer?

I am excited to begin this next trek in my academic journey, but I definitely don't know what map I am going to follow.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

F#26: Furthering My Education

I should be writing a paper for one of my grad classes right now, so if anyone asks, this is serving as a brainstorming/pre-writing/getting the gears moving exercise before I dive back into my analysis of Cowboy Bebop as a Space Western.

The Husband and I are both back in classes; he after a five-year hiatus, myself after a ten-year hiatus.  I finished my MA in Education in 2004, safe in the knowledge that I would never have to enter a classroom again if I did not want to.  I understand the irony of this as a teacher, but once you have a full-time teaching job, it's way harder to devote a lot of brain energy to the classroom...or at least, to the other side of the classroom.

Still, I was ready.  As much as I have disliked many professional development seminars and lectures, I do not dislike learning.  On the contrary, I love to learn.  I love to discuss what I am reading and studying with other people who have read and studied the same thing.  Although I am not part of a book club, I would find it an extremely satisfying experience to be able to talk about a book I have just read with other people, to hear their views and see what struck them.

But what to study?  I had considered going for my doctorate in Education, but the program I wanted (Curriculum and Instruction, a continuation of my MA) does not exist in a doable way in the state I live in.  I could have done online classes, I suppose, but I am old-school (if you'll pardon the pun) and enjoy the face-to-face interaction of classmates and instructor.  I did not want to go for my 6th year, or get another Masters in Educational Leadership, as I don't think I have the temperament for administration.  So I was stuck.

Fortuitously, I was listening to my local NPR station one day (because that's how I roll) and they were interviewing the curator of the Irish Hunger Museum (  I listened with interest as she discussed the placement of objects in the exhibit.  This got me thinking that, obviously, there was a training program for this sort of thing, a degree of some sort that discussed this and other aspects of museum stewardship.

My quest began for a program.  A quick Internet search (thanks, Google) led me to one college in my state that offers such a program.  I looked into the requirements, saw the deadline was approaching, and had to make a choice--to apply or not to apply, that was the question.  In some ways, this was the right time: my husband was also going to be knee-deep in studying, we have no children living with us full-time.  I wouldn't go so far as to say I had mastered teaching, but I did know what I wanted to do for the following school year, and even had a lot of it mapped out.

So, decision made, I began acquiring letters of recommendation, and trying to write an essay about why this was a good fit for me and, more importantly, why the college should want me in their program.  I was a little rusty on that front, but my BFF assured me it was solid, so off it went, with my application fee and a prayer.

As they say, the waiting is the hardest part.  Getting the large envelope in the mail this past June was amazing because I felt, for the first time in awhile, like I was smart.  (Ironically, this is the same institution I decided not to apply to for my undergrad, because my SAT scores were at the low end of their acceptance range and I didn't want to be the dumb kid in class.)  I quickly set about emailing advisers and filling out financial aid paper work, so I could secure my spot.

I am taking two classes this semester.  My husband keeps calling me an overachiever, as I am trying to read ahead, get papers written ahead, and generally be more than on top of all of my work.  As my work year progresses, I won't be able to leave papers at work to be graded; they will need to come home with me and be entered into the system.  So if I can get ahead of it now, so much the better.

I am sure as the semesters wear on, I will be tearing my hair out, staring at textbooks wondering what I have gotten myself into.  But, in a weird way, this is helping me as a teacher.  Not for what would seem obvious, that I am acquiring new knowledge, but that it is putting me in the same sphere as my students; I am reliving those moments of head-scratching when you read something that doesn't make any sense, and you know you have to talk about it with people the next day.  I am considering having my husband video me one evening so my students can see 1. what studying looks like and 2. that I am indeed human.

I am proud of myself for this whirlwind decision.  If all goes as planned, I should be done with my degree by December 2018.  And while I won't be putting Dr. in front of my name, I will know that I have two Masters under my belt, and that's nothing to crinkle my nose at.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

F#25: Friends

My step-son's birthday party did not kill me; I know you were all worried.

How it got to be July, I do not really know.  I mean, I obviously understand the concept of time moving forward, But I feel like I was just wearing layers of sweaters and now I'm fighting the "stay cool" fight.  (Our pool is closed again after opening not happy about that.)

But today I am thinking about friends and friendships.  Friends come in and out of our lives at various times, for various reasons.  We grow up and away from some people, but toward others.  Physical distance, changing tastes, changing lives all play a part in the landscape of platonic relationships.

I have great friendships with a lot of wonderful men and women.  Some of these friendships have been unexpected, others are straddling that line between co-worker and companion.  Some are really in a great place.

But then there are the friendships that fade, that change in ways that could not be predicted, and that makes me sad.  I feel people drifting away, people with whom I thought I would share amazing moments.  As someone with a unique set of self-esteem hangups, I assume that this is somehow my fault, that I have not done enough to keep these relationships healthy.  

Was I just lazy about checking in?  It feels kind of like dating someone new.  How often should I text?  Should I be upset when they don't text me back?  When do you text again?  At what point do you realize that your friend just isn't that into you and you need to give up the dream?  

I get a little offended when people I thought I was close to don't share things with me.  I like to be helpful and supportive, to share in the highs and lows with people who have done the same with me?  Perhaps I ask too much of people; perhaps I over-share my feelings and experiences with the wrong people, and that's why I don't get a balanced response in return.  Does this make me selfish?  Do I not have an accurate understanding of humans?  Does it really matter?

Moral of the story/questions: Friends are important and we should try to hang on to the good ones.  But how do you maintain friendships?  What are the signs someone just isn't into you anymore?