jump to navigation

Married to my work April 13, 2014

Posted by mareserinitatis in career, engineering, family, personal, societal commentary.
Tags: , , ,
5 comments

In the past two weeks, I have been introduced as Mike’s spouse twice in professional settings.

I usually view this as something akin to the Kiss of Death: the person receiving this news is likely to consider me an appendage to my spouse and therefore rather useless.  It’s not that I mind people know I am married to Mike.  He’s very competent and he’s a nice person, so I’m certainly not ashamed of it.  It’s often the reaction I get that bothers me.  We have both noticed that some people will make a point of talking to him and ignoring me entirely, even when the project is mine and has nothing to do with him.  (Of course, people do this even when they don’t know we’re married…)

In the first case, I found this rather interesting because it had a couple oddities relative to other introductions of this nature.  First, the person I was being introduced to had no idea who Mike was, and in fact, never did meet him.  I’m not sure why my marital arrangement was the first thing that came up, but I just sort of sigh and roll with it.  Second, I think one of the people we were with was more annoyed about the way I was introduced than I was.  While I just sort of shrugged and carried on as though nothing happened, shaking hands with the visitor, one of the other people who knew me repeated my name to the person two or three times.  As much as I’m resigned to this sort of thing, apparently other people are not, and my inner voice yelled, “Huzzah!”

The second situation was very unnerving.  Mike and I coauthored a paper which was accepted at a fairly selective conference.  The introduction to our presentation explained that we were a husband and wife team, and I inwardly cringed.  I was expecting the fallout to be very awkward for me.  What was odd is that, for the most part, this didn’t seem to make a difference to anyone.  Or maybe they already knew so it didn’t matter.  Mike has had a paper accepted there before, and I was invited to give a presentation last year, so we’re not complete strangers to this group of people.  With perhaps one exception, there wasn’t any noticeable difference in the way anyone treated him versus me.

While the “being married to my coworker” thing has it’s problems, it seems like some people aren’t letting it be as big an issue as it used to be.  It’s kind of nice to be considered a colleague and not an appendage.

It’ll make my day when people regularly introduce him as my spouse, though.  (It has happened once or twice, but not nearly as often as the reverse.)

Advertisements

Welcome to 2014 January 12, 2014

Posted by mareserinitatis in family, older son, personal, younger son.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Despite all of my good intentions, it’s taken a bit more to get back into my routine.  The youngster went back to school on Monday.  I was relieved not to be teaching this week (or this semester), but I had a paper deadline this week along with a lot of other anomalous stuff.

In particular, a friend of mine passed away at the beginning of the week.  It’s made this week seem a bit surreal.

That’s given me an opportunity to think about my priorities, which was something I had started reflecting on over the break.  I’m not one to make resolutions, but it’s good to reflect on goals.  And nothing will make you think about your goals more than realizing they can be cut short.

My thesis has been weighing heavily on my mind.  I definitely reaffirmed that I want to finish my PhD, but it’s been hard and frustrating this past year, particularly the past three to four months.  I really anticipated being farther because I didn’t anticipate how rough the fall semester would end up being.  So I’m working on getting my schedule set up to have more time to devote to that.

Realistically, that’s the one thing I’m really not happy about.  It’s a big thing, so it’s not something as simple as, “I can put in 15 minutes a day on it.”  But I’m making an effort to rearrange a few things, particularly with kid schedules, to facilitate getting more time on things.

I also want to be blogging regularly again.  The holidays and grading threw an awful crimp in that one.  One day isn’t a data point, but you need that data point to start a trend.

I’m happy to report that our housekeeping effort is going well.  That is, the kids are doing a great job.  I gave up on trying to have them get things done before the weekend.  We just schedule a time for them to work on it and, when we tell them it’s time to, they do.  (We’ve found that it seems like we can’t get to it every week, but we’re holding steady with every other week at least.)  We pay them according to which jobs they do, and we match everything they earn with a deposit into their savings account.  The house is staying cleaner than when we had a housekeeper, and I think we’re actually spending less.

This is actually much more about the kids than it is about the house, though.  I’m really happy that they are both at a point where they are taking responsibility for their chores.  I hate breathing down their neck about anything. I also really am happy about the fact that doing chores is one thing they do cooperatively.  They have a system worked out – older boy does the tall stuff, younger boy does the floor stuff that older boy hates, etc.  They worked it out themselves and, even better, they seem to have fun doing it.

At the same time, the older son is getting ready to go to college this fall.  I anticipate that there will be a lot of changes despite his plans to live at home.  I’m impressed that he’s trying to move forward cautiously and not bite off more than he can chew.  I also have no idea how the big changes over the next couple years will affect the younger son, who quite adores his older brother.

I anticipate there will be a lot of bumps in the road this year, but I’m hoping that it will be uphill from here.  I guess I’d rather start the year on a sad note so that I can look forward to how much better it will get.

Guest post by Gigadog: “Help me, please!” December 1, 2013

Posted by mareserinitatis in personal, pets.
Tags: , , , , ,
add a comment

Mom took a picture of dad and me while he was scratching my neck:

gigadog_elfDad was just placating me.  You know why?  Mom is making me wear this ARFul costume next weekend.  Mom says that I’ll love it because we’re going for a long walk.  Yeah…a long walk, where people won’t see beautiful me, they’ll see beautiful me all covered up and looking like an elf.  

Also, it’s supposed to be -5ºF that morning.  That’s cold, even for a fluffy pup like me.  I have no idea what mom is going to do without a beautiful fur coat like mine.

She says it’s for a good cause, though.  Something about ARFritis.  If you can please donate, it might almost make it worth it to go out in public, especially in the cold, and both mom and I would be very happy.  (Although, let’s face it.  I’m a dog, so I’m pretty much happy all the time.)  It certainly would make it worthwhile to look so silly and undignified.

You can help by donating here.

Thank you!

 

October sucks October 13, 2013

Posted by mareserinitatis in engineering, family, older son, personal, teaching, work.
Tags: , , , , , , ,
1 comment so far

I really am starting to dread October.  Being in the midst of it, I understand why.

October is when *everything* happens.  There’s no way to handle it but to keep going until the sheer exhaustion kicks in.  For me personally, I have NSF proposals due.  I am deep in the throes of teaching and grading.  I have reports due and conference papers to prepare.  My kids have all their various sports and other activities in full swing, meaning that we have activities going on 3 or 4 nights per week.

This year is definitely worse than last year because I’m still recovering from my medical fiasco last month, complete with lots of fun follow-up tests, and still am not able to engage in complete stress relief on a regular basis (i.e. running).  Further, the older son is going through the college application process, which is generally more time consuming than either of us really likes at this point.  I am hoping that these factors won’t be present in Octobers to come.

Half-way there, though.  Just a couple more weeks, and things will ease off.  One of the sports that both boys are in will be done until spring, NSF proposals will be over, most of the major grading I have will be done…and there will be leftover Halloween candy.  As long as someone saves me a peanut butter cup, I’ll be fine.6a0120a5580b8e970c013485bc4913970c

Quakers like oats, not oaths August 22, 2013

Posted by mareserinitatis in personal, religion, younger son.
Tags: , , ,
6 comments

Last spring, younger son came to me and said he wasn’t comfortable saying the Pledge of Allegiance. His reasoning was that one of the ten commandments says one should not pray to false idols, and he very much felt that saying the pledge was the equivalent of praying to a false idol.

I thought this was a very interesting perspective, and I admired his desire to be consistent.  It also felt like one of those ‘teachable moments,’ so it led into a whole discussion on the Quaker view that one should not take oaths. Not only does it have a basis in the new testament, but many quakers feel like it creates a double standard for truth. There’s also the issue that you’re making a promise to adhere to something whether or not it contradicts your conscience or beliefs.  (I previously discussed oath taking in this post.)

After our discussion, I sent an email to his teacher and principal discussing his decision and how this is part of our beliefs as Quakers. They said they understood, and there would be no problems.

I was glad to hear this.  The younger son actually attends a religiously affiliated school.  I have no problems with the beliefs of this religion, but I have found that there seem to be some differences in implementation of those beliefs.

I wasn’t sure how the younger son would handle things in a new class this year. I asked him if he said the pledge, and he said yes…and then realized he’d forgotten about what he said last year. So he immediately said he wasn’t going to say it any more. But then he said that he also had to say a pledge to the christian flag and an oath to the bible. But that was okay, because it’s really an oath to God.

That really disturbed me. First of all, I have no idea what the Christian flag even is. Who decided the Christians needed a flag? (Mike informed me that the Methodists did about 100 years ago.)

Yep...there really is a Christian flag.

Yep…there really is a Christian flag.

Second, many Quakers don’t hold to the notion of the Bible as the literal word of God.  I asked the younger son if he would make an oath to the bible if it said that slavery was okay. He said no, and I said that the Bible does in fact say that slavery is okay. We talked about how making oaths in general is a bad idea because people can put bad ideas into good things, and by making an oath or a pledge to something, you may unknowingly be agreeing to a bad thing. The Bible is a good book because, read with an understanding of the social context,  it can help us to become better people.  The point was also made that the men who wrote it were not bad people, but they had a lot of different beliefs back then that were incorporated into the Bible whether or not we think those ideas are okay today or were actually divinely inspired.

I think that was really rough for him. He’s still at the stage where he likes to see things in terms of black and white, good or bad. I just took something he’s been taught is all good and sacred and told him that there is evil in it. I could tell he felt bad learning that, and I felt bad for shattering that particular world view. But I also want him to understand that his conscience is the most important moral compass that exists for him, and he needs to learn to trust that instead of blindly following what other people tell him.

I am worried we’ll be hearing from his new teacher.  I’m also having trouble dealing with cognitive dissonance because my son was asked to make an oath to something that says not to take oaths.

Advice for life July 2, 2013

Posted by mareserinitatis in family, personal, societal commentary.
Tags: ,
3 comments

I found this while scrounging around my old blog for something.  I never found it because I got distracted when I found this.  It’s a compilation of my life experience distilled into a bulleted list of advice.  It was a nice refresher, so I thought I’d share it here.  If you have anything you’d like to add, feel free in the comments.

Be independent. Don’t depend on other people. Accept help when others offer it with good intentions but not if they give with strings attached. Be a person others can depend on, even if they don’t want to.

Never take your friends and loved ones for granted. Never hold back your feelings for them. Take every opportunity to let them know you care about them and appreciate their place in your life. Spend as much time with them as you can. You will regret missed opportunities later on.

Don’t wait around for other people to do things. You miss out on a lot of wonderful experiences, and our fears about doing things and being alone are often unfounded.

Don’t expect loved ones to easily let you know their feelings because a lot of people aren’t very good at expressing them. Just know that caring for a person never goes unappreciated and take their words at face value.

There is an unlimited supply of love in the universe, and you’re free to give out as much as you can. And you should!

Don’t be too hard on yourself and don’t hang around others who are negative about you or anyone else. It will take a long time to recover from the damage this causes you.  You can’t make everyone happy, but you should be honest with yourself and be the best person you know how to be. That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement, though.

Never react to someone in anger. If you’re angry, take some time to go away and think about it before you say something stupid.

A person will remember the way you treated them and talked to them for the rest of their life. Think about that every time you interact with them. This is especially important when this is your family and you’ll be around them for many years.

Have goals in life, but be flexible. Having goals doesn’t always mean reaching them, and failing to reach them doesn’t reflect badly on you. The path toward the goal is a means to growing as a person, and that is more important than reaching the goal. Sometimes, often times, those diversions away from the goal will make you a better person.

It’s here! It’s really here! March 4, 2013

Posted by mareserinitatis in education, older son, personal.
Tags: ,
1 comment so far

The older son recently celebrated another orbital trip around the sun, and it made me realize that it’s pretty much time to get serious about this college thing.  Part of it was the realization that I teach in the fall (which came up because of other reasons), so if the older boy plans to make any college visits, it’d be ideal if they were in the next couple months.  The fall will be difficult, at best.

Of course, we’re also sitting here wondering if maybe just staying local for a couple years would be fine.  He could start here (or even keep on taking exams for placement), live at home, and transfer out should he so decide.  However, I want him to evaluate all of his choices carefully.  He’s starting to look at potential majors for college, we’re going through the mess of signing him up for standardized tests, and probably most importantly, Mike is panicking about the potential bills showing up in the mail which also has the older boy starting to think about scholarships.

You know, I thought looking for colleges was stressful when I was in high school.  I don’t think it’s really any easier as a parent.  In fact, in some ways, it’s worse (although in other ways, it’s certainly better).  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.  I am glad that I read Crazy U a couple years ago, though.  I think it made me realize that getting really worked up about the whole process is probably counterproductive.

New year’s…ahem…goals, Pt.1 January 1, 2013

Posted by mareserinitatis in personal, running, younger son.
Tags: , , , ,
6 comments

It’s very easy at the end of every year to look at the numbers on the scale and feel disappointed that they aren’t smaller.  Or I can take measurements of my body and be upset that my diameter is definitely not where it should be.

It’s frustrating to me because I watch my diet fastidiously and am very physically active (well, when I’m not in front of the computer).  But here I am.

Granted, this year has been been better than most as a result of my celiac diagnosis.  I’ve been on the diet about 4 1/2 months, and it’s unbelievable the amount of positive feedback I’ve gotten about how much better I look.  So obviously things are going well on that front.  However, progress, as always is slow.

I also am not one to make resolutions as they can be easily dropped.  So instead I set goals.

I never try to set the goal of reaching a certain weight or size.  It turns out that since I started the celiacs diet, I haven’t really lost more than about 5 pounds.  However, people tell me constantly that I look it.  And, from what they’ve said, they think I’m lighter than I am.  Mike has made the observation that I appear to be denser.  However, after that comment almost resulted in physical violence, he amended it to “more compact”, which was, in my opinion, a more agreeable euphemism.

My goal, therefore, is to continue to improve my health by watching my diet and running.  (In fact, I have already signed up for a half-marathon in May.)  I am hoping that my efforts toward these goals will result in weight loss, but I will try not to shoot for a particular number.

There is one thing that makes me sad about my becoming “more compact”.  When the younger boy was about 4, I remember him wanting to cuddle on someone’s lap.  He decided to try dad’s lap as it had the closest availability.  He went and sat down on Mike’s lap…and proceeded to wiggle around for five or ten minutes, obviously unsettled.  He got off Mike’s lap, looking disappointed.  Then he came and sat on my lap.  With just a few minor adjustments, he ended up completely still with a contented sigh.

“Mom, you’re soft.”

I want to be healthy and will work toward that, but I want to be soft enough for little boys to want snuggle on my lap.

Running Update: 1 year! October 17, 2012

Posted by mareserinitatis in personal.
Tags: , ,
1 comment so far

I haven’t been giving my monthly running updates because, since June, I haven’t been able to run.  At least, not until earlier this month.

It turns out that I had tendonitis in my ankle.  It took quite a while to heal up (nearly 3 months), and I got outfitted about three weeks ago with some custom supports to prevent this from happening again.

I’m excited to be running again because as soon as registration opened up for the Fargo Marathon, I decided to go nuts and signed up to do the half next spring.  I’m using a very basic-level plan that takes 35 weeks to prepare.  So yes, I’ve already started training.

It’s a run-walk program (one of the Jeff Galloway plans), and part of this is establishing the proportion of the time spent running versus walking.  I did my first time trial last week and discovered something strange: I’m faster than I was last spring, even after three months of no running.  I also discovered that doing the walk-run combination, I’m nearly as fast as just running…and a lot less worn out when I’m done.

I’m guessing the increase in speed is due to my change in diet.  I have been getting a lot of comments about how I look like I’ve lost weight (despite the fact that I haven’t) in the past couple weeks.  I think it’s simply a result of the inflammation going down now that I’m not eating gluten-filled foods any more.  I guess this is another way to tell things are healing up.

I’m also signed up to do the Jingle Bell Run at the beginning of December.  It’s a fundraiser for the Arthritis Foundation, so if you care to sponsor me and/or my team, click here.  (Also, I appreciate efforts to sponsor me because my teammate is the lead fundraiser so far, and she’s making us all look bad.)  😉

Stupid school year August 20, 2012

Posted by mareserinitatis in education, Fargo, personal, teaching.
Tags: , , , ,
2 comments

I may be in the minority, but I really, really hate the fact that school starts here this week.  I’m of the opinion that school should not start before Labor Day and should not go past Memorial Day.

Part of me would like to say that this dampens my productivity, but I’m not entirely convinced of that.  I think it just lowers my stress-level to not have to worry about running kids around while teaching and trying to get some research done.  I just hate being tired all the time.

Another reason I’m tired is that I’m still not running.  I apparently had tendonitis in my foot, and most likely there was no sprain.  I’m getting lots of ultrasound and massage treatment.  It seems to have improved a lot, and in a couple weeks, I’ll have some new custom orthotics for my running shoes.  Then I’ll get to start running again.  This is good because aside from helping me from feeling so run down all the time, it does a lot to keep my mood up.  I’ve been grumpy for about two months now.

I’m also getting used to being gluten free.  It’s not all that bad, but I still can’t eat things with lots of fructose or lactose.  Those problems should hopefully disappear as my insides heal up.  I just wish I weren’t so hungry all the time.

But in the meantime, I better get finished with tomorrow’s class prep.

%d bloggers like this: