Saturday, March 31, 2007

A Horrible Saturday Morning: Narrative in Pictures

The dogs found a snake and brought it inside when Isaac opened the door. There was no telling if it was an innocent garden snake or a venomous rattler.

I very bravely I put a bowl over it and got on the bed. I think the snake was dead, but it could have been only knocked out and could have awoken at any moment.

Fortunately, Page was only half an hour away and promised to rescue us.

Page's boyfriend Andy is very brave and helped us get rid of the snake.

Times like these, I don't blame the patriarchy.

Reasons To Be Glad I Was Rejected:

As previously mentioned, I didn't get the FLAS (Foreign Language Area Studies) Fellowship in order to go to Bangladesh this summer and study Bangla. Here is why I am relieved.

Note: This post is clearly an attempt to act as though I'm strong enough to laugh off the sting of rejection.

1. Who wants to risk Dengue Fever anyway?
2. I won't miss the premiere of the new Harry Potter movie AND the sale of the seventh and final Harry Potter book in July.
3. Instead of visiting Bangladeshis in Dhaka, I can visit one in Ohio.
4. I can get my "Classical Sociological Theory" course out of the way this summer.
5. I will be able to actually RELAX a little.
6. I won't have to eat rice every day, every meal, for two months straight.
7. No load shedding, intolerable heat, wading through poop water from the monsoon floods, mosquitoes (well, not as many anyway, and certainly not the malaria-carrying variety), black boogers, or dhaka diet (dysentery).
8. I won't have to be separated from Isaac for two months.
9. I will definitely save money that I would have ended up spending on bootleg dvds and various textiles.
10. I really didn't need to go this year anyway. If the jerks reject me again next year, well, that's a different story.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Damn the Bernoulli variables!!!

I messed up on my test. According to my review sheet (above), I memorized the justifications for the derivation that is shown, but the question on the exam asked us to DO the actual DERIVATION and didn't mention the justifications. So I drew a nice little design and handed in my test.

I think I did okay on the other stuff, but only time will tell. I'll let you know how I did after spring break, which my brain officially went on today.

Oh, and to make today extra-special, I just found out that BOTH of my funding applications for next year were rejected. I think I'll just crawl under a rock now, back where I belong.

Monday, March 26, 2007


Why am I taking statistics? It's not required for my program. I could walk into my adviser's office today and say I want to change my plan of study and she'd be fine with it. I mean, I took the one intro class and got an A, so that's good enough on my record, isn't it? Because in the long run, am I really ever going to remember what a multinomial regression is? Or a likelihood function? Or an odds ratio?

I think at this point it's become a personal challenge, like I have to do this in order to believe that I have what it takes to get a Ph.D.

But this weekend, I was working on my stats practice exam, and the stupid thing made me cry. I've cried a lot because of statistics during this academic year. I know that I'm not dumb. The stuff just doesn't make sense to me.

Much to my initial relief and subsequent anger, I got the following email from the TA today:

"Hello all, the practice exam has some material on multinomial logits,
where the outcome variable has more than two categories. We haven't
really covered that much in class or homework, so don't worry about it
much when you're preparing - it won't be on the exam."

I'm still in the anger phase. I really spent a lot of time trying to figure the problem out, and then spent a lot of time beating myself up for not knowing how to do it. Sigh.

The test is on Thursday. Wish me luck.

Sidenote: Congratulations to my friend Tanya who submitted her Master's Thesis today!!

Friday, March 23, 2007

I love my kid.

Isaac has been to school with me three times this week. It's been exhausting, yes, because I have to plan in advance for things like potty breaks and the fact that his legs are very short and he can't walk as fast as I need to in order to get to class on time. But yesterday was probably one of the coolest days I've ever spent with him since he was born.

He accompanied me to my office, where he played video games while I worked. Then we went to my stats class together. I was a little worried about taking him to this class because the professor tends to get annoyed when students make rustling noises during class, or when I raise my hand to ask too many questions, or whatever. I was pleasantly surprised, though, when he came over and introduced himself to Isaac, and gave him some colored chalk and told him to draw right on the desk. He even stopped the lecture once to come over and check out Isaac's drawing.

After stats class, I had to work for a few more hours, but there was nothing to do so I read book one of the Spiderwick Chronicles to him. (Highly recommended. I bought this book for him last year for his birthday but he was too young for it. It's perfect for right now, just a little bit scary, too.) We almost got through the whole thing before it was time to go to my meeting. Isaac was really excited because I promised him that after my meeting, we'd go look at the effigy mounds behind Ag Hall that we stumbled upon the other day.

Sidenote: Isaac is so well behaved, a fact for which I claim zero credit. My fellow students were all surprised at how good he was during classes. He really is a good kid. Case in point: I enjoy saying the word "ass". Isaac has decided that it's not appropriate to say "ass". So now I have to say "butt" instead. (But he agreed that it's okay for us to use the word when nobody else is around.)

After my meeting, Isaac and I decided to drive over to Picnic Point (see the previous link) to see if we could find those other effigy mounds. I didn't realize that it's a walking/biking trail, not a car trail, so we ended up taking a REALLY LONG WALK through some pretty muddy terrain. My shoes got all gross, and my legs were aching, but Isaac was so happy that I just didn't care! He kept stopping and giving me hugs and saying, "You're the best mom in the world!" I just drank it all in - the sunshine and fresh air were great, yeah, but the beaming smile on my kid's face was worth a thousand spring days!

We didn't end up finding any effigy mounds (well, we saw some suspected burial mounds, but nothing animal shaped) but we did have a wonderful day that neither of us will soon forget. There might be something to this whole "enjoying exercise as a family" hoopla that people talk about. I dunno, but I'm gonna make it a habit.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The rundown:

Masud left this morning extremely early. Fortunately I'm used to early morning drives to Madison. We had a wonderful week being together as a family. Masud has not had a haircut since Christmas, and we liked his new curly hairdo (see pics). I had to spend most of the week in Madison, but Masud and Isaac hung out a lot.

Isaac's birthay party was total MAYHEM! We had it at a bowling alley (really smokey and gross but lots of fun for energetic first graders!) It was a team party, because Isaac's friend Alex is also turning seven in a few days. I was in charge of the "bowling area" and the other mom was in charge of the "food area". I was exhausted by the end of the night after keeping the lines moving and helping the smaller kids bowl. My back is a tad sore. Isaac really raked in the loot, though. I need to really step it up when purchasing birthday gifts for other kids...jeez, they spend the money!

Now it's back to the grind. I need to catch up with some homework and Isaac is on spring break next week, so he'll be commuting with me to Madison. I'm sure I'll be ready for the weekend by Tuesday or so. Carry on, friends!

Birthday party - first graders are party animals!


Thursday, March 15, 2007

My mom is beautiful.

Happy Birthday Isaac!

Isaac is turning SEVEN today! Of course, he is the most awesome seven-year-old on the planet. I am posting some pictures that Maddie's Nana took at a long-ago rendezvous at Chi-Chi's in La Crosse. Isaac was 8 months old and I had really really short hair. And that's my soul mate Debi in the other picture.

Isaac's birthday party is scheduled for tomorrow night. We're doing "bumper bowling" (those of you with less than league quality bowling skills will know what this is) and we're having pizza and cake. His best buddy Alex is also turning seven, so we're having a team party. I'll try to remember my camera. It's sure to be action packed.

Friday, March 09, 2007

This weekend's to-do list:

1. Reconnect with spouse (who's plane lands in Madison at 9:37 tomorrow morning).
2. Read the book "Regional Advantage" and write a 1400 word book review.
3. Read the book "Satanic Mills or Silicone Islands" and reflect
thoughtfully in order to have something good to say during discussion
on Tuesday.
4. Read the book "Consortia" and write a summary for group project.
5. Complete statistics homework assignment on Logistic Regression.
6. Worry about the fact that I have not really started to research for the 30 page paper that is due soon.
7. Worry about the fact that I have to have a first draft of my group project by March 21st.
8. Do laundry so that I have pants to wear that don't have DQ ice cream spilled on them.
9. Clean out the hermit crab aquarium because there are bugs building a colony in there.
10. Give the dogs a bath. (This should really be number one because they reek).
11. Finish planning Isaac's birthday party for Friday (Including party
favors, order the cake, get a present for Isaac's friend who is also
turning seven, teach Isaac how to bowl so he doesn't freak out when all
his friends are good at it and he sucks.)
12. Call my grandma who has been sick.
13. Balance checkbook and pay bills (Save me please.)
14. Grocery shopping? Isaac drank curdled milk yesterday.
15. Pluck eyebrows, or else sign up for a Frida Kahlo look-alike contest.

And to top it all off, we LOSE an HOUR this weekend. That really sucks. Bad.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Please don't take my radical stance personally.

This post by Ilyka (via Twisty)is quite perfect. Read it.

And it also made me think of something Tanya told me this weekend (and she gave credit to Dr. Cynthia Enloe who said it first):

What does the word "radical" mean? Think of the radical sign in math - it means to go down to the root. So a "radical" activist is one who identifies the root of the problem, which may be seen as quite threatening to those who benefit from their privilege. This may explain why feminists provoke such strong reactions in people (and perhaps why this feminist tends to get emotional when arguing her point.)

So, my friends, please don't take it personally when I blame the patriarchy.

Monday, March 05, 2007

I love this woman!

A cheer for SAHMs (and WMs!)

SAHM = Stay At Home Mom
WM = Working Mom

I have a button on my backpack that says "Every mom is a working mom." Staying home and taking care of a kid is really hard work, people. And there is no pay. Yes, of course it's fulfilling, but so is going to work every day and getting a nice fat paycheck direct deposited into your checking account! And having your identity hinge on something other than how many vegetables your kid eats!

I have just read a wonderfully eloquent blog post about a woman's decision to stay home with her daughter. I have three comments: 1) Reading her post made me recall the gut-wrenching feeling of thinking about going back to work and leaving my baby, and I also thought about the times that I actually locked my SAHM self in the bathroom and pretended I was sick just to be ALONE for a few minutes. 2) I concur about the lack of decent daycare facilities. It's ironic that most people who live here have two jobs, but that there is no really adequate place for them to leave their children while they work. 3) As a feminist, I've had to wrestle with the negative stigma placed on women who choose to stay home (as opposed to the equally negative stigma placed on women who choose to work). I came to the conclusion that it is extremely courageous to choose to stay home and raise one's children. It's also courageous to choose to work. Basically, becoming a mother takes a huge amount of courage, because no matter what decision you make, you'll probably have to take criticism from somewhere. The key is to make the decision that's right for you and your family, and to be confident that you are the best person to make that decision.

I think Big W summed it up best when she said, "any time you are going through an identity amputation, well, it ain't easy." For me, it required medication and lots of ice cream, but I came through it with a strength that I can now draw on daily (as well as enough abdominal fat to survive on when the revolution comes). I'm proud of how I've raised my son so far, and I think I've made the right choices. Three cheers for all the moms making all the choices that will affect the next generation. It ain't easy, but there's nobody more qualified to make the choice than you.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Good Samaritan

This morning I went in the ditch for the first time this winter. The roads were horrible and I was driving really slowly, but did a 180 and really wedged my car into the snowbank. I couldn't get out because I had snow packed on both sides of the car. After at least three jerkwad motorists drove past me, a very kind man stopped and offered to pull me out. (He was actually driving a huge snowplow for the county, but don't tell anyone because he could get in trouble). He had to crawl under my car and hook up a big chain and then pulled me right out. Then he stayed in the middle of the road with his big rig and held off traffic so I could turn around and head south again. There ARE nice people in the world!!! Chances are, he's a Republican (this being Marquette county and all), but he's definitely got the bleeding heart of a Democrat.

Today I'm trying really hard to finish a stack of reading so that I can have Sunday off. My brother and sister will be home, and then my gorgeous friend Tanya is coming to visit for the weekend. Let's hear it for reunions! Now if only I could concentrate on Latin American politics and labor laws. Happy Friday everyone!