Sunday, May 31, 2009

"Is there a doctor on board?"

called out the flustered flight attendant from behind the first class divider on our flight out to Boston for my defense/graduation. It may have been the 4am wake-up call combined with the frazzled state of traveling solo with the 2 kids, but I found that incredibly amusing at the time. "He's asking one flight too early," I told the man behind me (who turned out to be a "real"--a.k.a. medical--doctor), as I explained that when I returned, it would hopefully be with the "doctor" title attached. 

Turns out that a man in first class had become unresponsive and needed to be resuscitated by the medical doctor behind me. So, down the plane went for an emergency landing in Souix Falls, South Dakota. The paramedics met the plane, and we waited on the runway for an additional hour while they filled out the paperwork necessary to document the medical emergency. 

The good news is that there were no such medical emergencies on the return flight. And the even better news is that, should there be a rhetorical emergency, I am officially qualified to deal with it. 

I'll leave off with some of my favorite moments from our 2 weeks on the east coast. I don't have pictures of one of my favorites, which actually turned out to be my defense. I was terribly, terribly nervous to defend, but in the end the experience was very positive. I felt prepared, and, thanks to the many people who I enlisted to pray for me, I also felt very calm. It was gratifying to talk for 2-3 hours about the project I had been working on for the past 4 years and to have people who were genuinely interested in and appreciative of my work. Here are some of the other favorite moments. They include finding my family in the graduation crowd, being hooded, having my kids see me graduate, eating at our favorite Italian restaurant in Boston's North End, the beach house, sailing and hiking in Bar Harbor/Acadia Nat'l Park in Maine, and many more!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

I've never been much of a fan of Mother's Day. It started with the days of unsuccessfully trying to conceive and being reminded of my inability to fulfill what it seemed I was created to do. I thought it would change when I did become a mother. But even then, Mother's Day has always seemed to be about holding up the ideal for praise. Either way, a day fraught with sadness/bitterness or some strange kind of guilt. But on my sixth Mother's Day now, I have been less judgmental and expectant about what the day will hold for me. I sat in church, wearing the flower corsage Mister made for me, craning my neck to see them singing "Mother, I Love You," and pasting a smile on my face during the talks. 

Mister and I at his class's Mother's Day tea party, with me, wearing the flower corsage.

I think my history of dislike for the day comes from a sense of the complexity of emotions behind it for so many women--women who have lost their mothers, women who are not mothers and would like to be, women who are trying to come to terms with their own preconceived notions of motherhood versus the sometimes-hard reality of it, women who expect a day devoted to them but don't actually get it, and so on and so on. I like Anna Quinden's take on Mother's Day here:

"Mother's Day is still fraught with strong emotion, if only because each year I feel like a fraud. It is undeniable that I have given birth to two children; I remember both occasions quite vividly. But the orchid corsage, the baby-pink card with the big M in curly script, the burnt toast on a tray in bed--they belong to someone else, some other kind of person, some sort of moral authority. They belong to Mother, and each of us knows quite well who that person is, and always will be. That person is a concept. I suppose that is where it all goes wrong. I know few people who have managed to separate the two. . . . 

That is hard to imagine, even harder to accept, for among other things, it means realizing that your own mother felt this way, too--unsure of herself, weak in the knees, terrified about what in the world to do with you. It means accepting that she was tired, inept, sometimes stupid; that she, too, sat in the dark at 2:00 A.M. with a child shrieking across the hall and no clue to the child's trouble.  . . . 

It has to do with Mother with a capital M: someone we are afraid to be and afraid that we can never be. It has to do with a torch being passed, with finding it too hot to hold, with looking up at the person who has given it to you and accepting that, without it, she is no Valkyrie, just a woman muddling through, much like me, much like you."

Despite my feelings about Mother's Day, I am grateful today for the children who are patient with me as I muddle through, and I am grateful for my own mother who persisted in her own muddling through and is still does her very best during all of the many times that I still need her. 
1.  Opportunity, 2.  Children laughing, 3.  An afternoon nap/rest

Friday, May 8, 2009

Wanna see my baby?

Not this one, although he's looking pretty darn cute.

But this one. I mailed it off last week. Instead of 9-10 months of germination, this one took 4 years, and the delivery has been painful but rewarding. As I waited almost 2 hours in Staples for 4 copies to print out, I sat there and got a little emotional thinking about this journey. 

I also tidied up my office, which J has been bugging me about for almost all of those 4 years. The stack on the left is copies of articles I read--just the ones I printed out. The stack on the right is interview transcripts--almost 300 pages of them.
The notebooks are full of fieldnotes and revision notes. The middle stack are drafts of various chapters, 2 of which didn't end up in the final product. The stack on the right are my typed up notes on books and articles I read. 

It's kind of fun to see some visual representations of the work put into this. Unfortunately, I'm not quite done. I could use all the prayers I can get when I fly east a week from Monday to defend it. 

1. Reaching a long-awaited goal, 2. Feeling peace about the journey, 3. Cleaning up my office and knowing it might actually stay that way for longer than a day.