Friday, May 29, 2009

Anybody There?

So... I stayed up really late when I couldn't and shouldn't have (given the absurdly busy day that I had today) to blog, but I wonder if there's anyone out there reading.

Anyway, it doesn't really matter because I write primarily for me and I needed to do that last night. I've been doing too much for other people, as usual, that's why I don't feel one bit guilty about my blogging.

I will go to bed now, but I just wanted to say that the musical at the school was AWESOME and worth all the effort. I just wish my laptop cord hadn't died (it was already giving us trouble) leaving me with no access to my half-done power point presentation -- because our battery has died a long time ago too :-(. I had to start from scratch and the presentation wasn't fully finished during the program. Oh well... nothing can be perfect, can it?

Well, it looks like I'll be back soon -- I seem to be in a blogging mood ;-). (4 minute post!)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Question of Identity (of Lack Thereof), oh, and dreams...

Apart from being a mother,* right now I feel fully devoid of any clear identity and that is pretty disconcerting, I think...

I felt compelled to write this after quickly browsing through my blogroll and reading entries from most of my favorite bloggers there. Lately I've been feeling some pangs of envy and disappointment when I read about the experiences of blogging friends who are in the tenure track path or even those who have steady jobs. I feel relived when I read the few who are still finishing up their degrees and enthusiastic about M, for example, who's basically done (congrats, my friend!).

For ten years I had a clear-cut identity: I was a graduate student, working on my degree. Half-way through that journey, my life took a permanent "detour" into motherhood and I think that this, as I have blogged repeatedly, almost insistently, about made me be even less interested in my "professional" self than in my personal self as is already natural to me. It was very comfortable (if hard -- you can read my rejected unpublished "essay"), however, to have this identity and I enjoyed it, after all, I had excellent reasons to have taken that long to finish the Ph.D.

My decision in favor of mothering and against flimsy and difficult connections to the academic world (trying to get adjunct or lecturing positions -- something very hard for me because of my area of specialization) has had some interesting consequences. On the one hand, I love even more being with my sons (more about this on subsquent posts), but on the other, I have this very diffuse, almost hidden feeling that it would be nice if I could be connected to academia once more, even if only as an "invisible" adjunct. Being in no-(wo)man's-land is no fun, I think, particularly because I did put a lot of effort into getting the (yes, really) useless Ph.D.

So here I am, not an actual elementary school teacher (I was just an "aide" PhD and all -- crazy, no?), not an academic, not really employed, not a really good housewife (because my crazy minded self absorbed navel gazing 'writer'/academic brain does not serve well in keeping house, etc... I've given up on myself), not...a.. thing. Except mother, of course.

[here comes the life "dream" part]
This doesn't bother most of the time. People have commented here things to the tune of that since I achieved my "dream" of getting the PhD I should be happy about it and try to put it to good use or some such thing, but I have to confess that getting the degree and becoming an academic has never really been any "dream" of mine. I've always LOVED to study and I did what I did passionately, but my motivation was never a clear cut and planned path to become an academic.

My dreams? Primarily, I dreamed of finding someone [check!]. I've always dreamed of having children [check!]. I dreamed of visiting Europe (have gone twice), seeing as much art as I possibly can (something to do in the excellent museums of this country which I've also visited multiple times)...

Dreams for the future? Travel even more, particularly with the boys (ah, Europe again!). Spend lots and lots of time with family (and, if possible, friends). Have more time to read and pursue my interests, to have "a room of my own" like my crafty counterparts. And... the dreams that I don't allow myself to dream (BTW, I really enjoyed your latest post, sis!) because of various still unblogged reasons: writing.

So, back to identity. I wish I could identify myself at least as a "writing mother," but as it is I am only a "blogging mother," which is similar, but not quite the same. Lately I've been feeling an almost imperceptible, if throbbing, need to try to go back to my academic interests. I know that I'm lazy and that I could/should have published several articles already, but it's hard to keep it up when one is not in an academic environment. Hopefully my knowledge won't go away in just some months, or even years... and I hope I can use it in the future. It's not my dream, it's not even my identity, but it's a hope.

In the end, being in an "identity-less" situation is not really a problem... I just wish I had more energy and passion and not so much disillusionment with academia so I could take up academic pursuits wholeheartedly. As it is, though, I am much too "poisoned" against it not to have qualms and insecurities. Everyone has those, don't they? And living in this in-between situation doesn't help either...

You know, I really needed to sleep because tomorrow is a BIG day, but I needed to blog too. I owed it to myself, right? [sigh, and this post took an hour to write, not only the 18 mins of the previous one, sigh some more]

* And I cannot emphasize enough how much I ADORE being a mother. I still insanely fantasize about having another baby (last week I dreamed one night that I had gotten accidentally pregnant and I felt so utterly relieved! "YES!" I thought in the dream, "I can finally do what I so wanted to do, have another baby) and I am fully invested in my "identity" as a devoted full time mother.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I Owe You (And Myself)...

... more posts, more photos, more everything. But I haven't been able to find the time and, sometimes, the energy. I still constantly "blog" in my head and I feel sad that none of these posts come to light. It's even worse with the several posts that I've actually drafted in my journal over the past year. It would just be a matter of typing them up and "publishing" them in the blog, but some of them are about very sensitive subjects (my frustrations with writing, for example) or interesting but perhaps... I don't know... difficult subjects -- such as my feelings about being an expatriate and now an immigrant in the U.S.

Worse yet is the desire to post photos and keep up the photo-blog, but I keep myself from even beginning because I know it's time consuming because I love photos way too much.

And writing about the boys? I hardly ever do it here anyway, in spite of my "status" as a "mommy blogger" (I prefer blogging mama) and then the things they say, the way they are gets lost in the fast-paced living, and forgotten... very sad.

The situation hasn't changed one bit and I haven't yet started acting on it (looking for jobs), but our attitudes about it are slowly shifting. We're just going with the flow... We've just had some CRAZY days and now we have to slow down a bit. And talk more about everything (time for talking has become scarce with all the guests we've had, etc.).

OK, quick "weekend update" to end the post:
K's friend D (that beautiful girl's father[end of post]) arrived on Friday evening, on Saturday K drove with him to Washington D.C. and I stayed alone with the boys (this being alone with them is a highly bloggable subject ;-) and we went here. My sister-in-law arrived with her two boys around 8 pm and two hours later my mother- and father-in-law got home as well. I had to prepare for Linton's birthday party the next day but I stayed up late talking to my SIL and MIL, we only get together a few times a year. Sunday was crazy, but the party went really well (BTW I owe you photos from Linton's birthday party last year, then Kelvin's and Linton's this year, see?) -- K and D returned in the late morning on time for the party (which was a lunch).
On Monday K, D and the boys drove to NYC together while I did many things -- including finally picking up my cat in Northeast Philly!! -- and shopping for many hours for things to send to D's wife. K hardly had time to talk to his parents and they did it over breakfast yesterday morning (OH! It was K's birthday yesterday BTW, I should really have blogged about it!). So, there you go...

And tomorrow is the school musical and it's going to be GREAT, I'm sure! I'll keep you posted. Long hours of work ahead, though. Preparing power point presentations, decorating the set, typing and printing out the programs, etc...

The best of all is that I was able to take these last 18 minutes to write a blog post! I guess I owe "us" a bit less then, right?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tired of Waiting...

... for an offer on the house that never comes and perhaps never will.

... for the bank to finally do its part and analyze our case for loan renegotiation/reduction (who knows if they ever will either).

... for myself to stop dragging my feet and sending out some job applications (yet, I am yet to work on those -- I still want to stay home with my boys).

... to go back to normal life, and not have to keep the house perfectly stage at all times.

... to get my cat back (we didn't go pick him up yet in part because it requires driving to Northeast Philly, we should take care of that this weekend).

... and for many other unrelated things...

Yesterday we used the dishwasher for the first time in nearly two months. We definitely needed it because we had guests for dinner (friends from Massachusetts and their gorgeous baby boy) and my brother-in-law and his family arrived to spend the night and ate before going to bed. Up to now we had been washing the dishes whenever we used them and putting them to dry in the dishwasher so we could have a spotless kitchen at all times.... Blah, that was getting old! Tonight we began to load it again after putting the dishes away. That feels like a good step in the direction of some normalcy.

I'm not really feeling depressed anymore, I just feel kind of numb. I can't even pray, you know, because I don't know what to pray for! For a miracle new source of income to appear and enable us to keep the house? For a good offer and buyer to this house that we're really sad to leave? You know, I have to convince myself that this situation is actually the "new normal" in our lives, but it's hard. Really, I'm fine, but I have to confess that I never imagined, not in a million years, that we'd ever go through something like that. It's the hardest thing that's ever happened to us, at least to me. We're still a loving, happy and blessed family, but I think it's sad to simply have to lose the house and all the investment we made in our 8 years of home ownership. And the uncertainty of it all takes a toll on us too.

And weirdly enough, it feels worse because the original cause our personal crisis is NOT related to the world's economic crisis. K was laid off back on "Black Wednesday 07" as part of: 1) internal politics and 2) the after-effect of an academic study's result that ruined the profitability a major medication of the particular big pharma he worked for [I know, super long sentence, sorry about that]. Then, he was re-hired, and he voluntarily quit to go back to academia.

Buying this particular house was our only major mistake -- one I naively imagined would not become this problem it is now.* And, of course, it's at this point, -- and only here -- that our trajectory and the economic and mortgage/real state crises collide head on.
* See this post about the economic crisis. It's not a bad post, but what I said at the end of the first paragraph is just coming back to bite me in the head. I can't even cite it here, or read it, for that matter, because I feel so foolish and downright stupid!! Feel free to check if you want.

All right, enough whining for now. I will try to balance it out with more cute photos soon, OK? Thanks for listening.

Monday, May 18, 2009

One More Visit (sigh)

So, we're soon leaving for one more visit and I have to say that I'm getting really really tired of having to leave the house immaculate all the time. And some of the visits are also at importune times, such as Sunday morning at 10 or Monday evening at 7:30.

To top it of, today I'm babysitting overnight for my friend and I have another 7 year old and a 9 y.o. (both boys) in addition to my two. Thankfully we're going to have dinner at another friends' house (potluck style) and I'll have the boys take their showers there before we come back home and they (hopefully) collapse in bed.

So, yeah... boring entry, but I wanted to post again, even if briefly.

Oh, on a funny note, today I finally cleaned up a tiny, but unsightly "booger smear" (ah!! boys...) behind the big couch in the living room. It was one of the little things that had never been taken care off since we put the house for sale and we were actually joking the other day that we hadn't sold the house because of that. What if it works? Keep your fingers crossed! ;-P

OK, and for some "good juju" as my friend Chicagomama used to say, here's a photo for ya:
This is our friends' daughter, who was visiting from Brazil with her mama last week.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Shorts (Update)

- I've been really tired and sleepy lately, so I haven't been able to devote any late nights to blogging.

- On Tuesday K decided to lower the price of the house by 15K. I was pretty upset about it, but hopefully it'll help to sell.

- We had three visits this week and apparently the people who saw the house on Tuesday are planning to put an offer. The closing date would be July 15. Please pray/ keep your fingers crossed for us, since the last two times it didn't happen. I don't want to have false hopes again... :-(

- School will be over in two weeks. We're doing a full musical which I adapted and wrote 6 more parts for, so all children would have a speaking part. It should be a great success, but also lots of work, obviously.

- I really really really want to go to Brazil with the boys late this summer, but it will depend (like everything else in our lives) on whether we sell the house, etc. (if I went I would finally be able to see my youngest nephew!).

- I'm sure there'd be tons more to share, but I have to go to bed now. (it's actually 1:27 am)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Happiest Mother on Earth

Really, I couldn't be happier than I am to be a mother (which was always my greatest dream in life) and I hope all mothers today may feel like I do -- the happiest, most blessed mother on earth!Taken one week ago at the seat of power of this country (some might say the world) by my friend Sandra, who is going back to Brazil with her most beautiful daughter (photos forthcoming) tonight. We're driving them back to New York (JFK) later. It was a nice week!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Time is Running Out

So... I continue to be busy with my friend and her shopping excursions (on top of work until today), but hopefully tomorrow and/or Friday we can do some sight seeing.

The distractions aren't helping much anymore, though, because time is definitely running out. If we don't sell this house soon things will be looking really grim for us in the near and perhaps even distant future. School will be out on May 28 and then my paltry contribution to our household income will end (not that it helps much, even with it we cannot afford the mortgage and other living expenses anyway).

I can get the boys, try to book some award travel tickets and "flee" temporarily to Brazil, but that won't solve the problem, we'd just be saving a few dollars. As for work for me, what would I do with the boys? My parents are as strapped for cash as we are right now, so it'd be hard for them to come to help, but they'd certainly try. Well... that is, if I find something, anything.

I just wish I could plan the next few months, I just wanted to be able to feel "normal" again. Money is a curse, that's why I will never ever think it fair that some have so much and some so little. K told me that Michael Moore's next film is about capitalism, yeah... it will be very depressing.

It looks like we're going to have a miserable summer.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Too Busy Living to Be Depressed...

... But in the few moments in between all the busyness it all comes back in full force. It's all there in the background, all the time, unbearably so.

Anyway... crazy-lovely weekend.

Friday: leaving at 6:30 am to drive to JFK airport in NY to pick up friend and her 11 month old daughter (thankfully K drove!). After dropping K off at NYU for a meeting, driving for 3h around Manhattan to show our friend around and being driven away to NJ and back on the road by the rain, chilly winds and lack of parking by Central Park (we wanted the East side -- impossible on 5th Ave., only the West side has parking on weekdays). We spent the afternoon at Elizabeth's IKEA (only 3 1/2% taxes!) and drove home. Arrived at 7:30 pm, left around 9 to drive to Maryland.

Saturday: Peaceful day at my brother-in-law's house (he was away taking classes towards his doctorate)...

Sunday: Rain continues, oil change for poor abused car needed, so we drove to D.C. only at 5 pm so our friend could take photos of the main points. Lovely photos taken -- hopefully coming soon to a 365 project near you (actually, near this blog ;-). Got back home around midnight.

So... no time to mope.

Nothing yet. Two showings last Saturday. Still raining, lawn needs mowing. It's tiring to keep the house in perfect conditions. We just hope it pays off, like it did to American Family!! Good for them!