A Case in Point

As if academom had willed it, I had one of those days where my worlds clashed. It’s like that Seinfeld episode where George’s world with his friends is about to meet up with his world with his fiancee. I’m checking my son’s homework this morning and find a note from his teacher that says he hasn’t been doing his homework. Instant guilt. I find my son, begin giving him a stern talking to. He breaks down, misses the bus and I have to drive him to school which makes me slightly late for work. I bring this guilt and anger (a little) to work with me.

At work, I e-mail the teacher, apologize profusely for my slacker son (and his slacker parents) and promise we’ll do better. I manage to put all of that aside and do real work until I’m sidetracked by a talkative co-worker. Post-lunch, life gets bad when I find out because of a programming glitch, several people have dropped out of Blackboard. I spend time manually adding them back in and dinging the programmer. I don’t understand the programming and feel powerless–akin to the way I felt in response to the teacher’s letter.

Flash forward a little, I’m plugging away again, getting ready to read some blogs and post something in my professional blog when I am dragged into the lab because a woman’s life work has been erased. (The lab I maintain is a video lab and nothing is supposed to be removed without my permission.) We spend hours trying to recover the files–no luck. We will have to import over 100 clips again.

I go home defeated, thinking I should just have been a stay at home mom, so that I could make sure my son does his homework and I wouldn’t have to deal with all of this stuff. Sigh. Do men have these tensions? It’s not like I was angst-ridden all day about the homework thing, but it was there nagging at me. I know in my heart of hearts, I would not be satisfied staying at home, but I think about it. It’s very tempting on days like these.

IT Kitchen

Okay, this idea is really great–an online workshop about wikis and blogs. I have been talking about wikis and blogs for years. I only this year got around to really using them regularly, but as an IT professional who works with faculty, I’ve been trying to encourage faculty to use blogs and wikis for teaching and research. Aside from one famous blogger in our midst (who’s now gone), the faculty seem to be averse to blogging. I held a workshop about wikis and blogs and only one faculty member came. Perhaps they’d look into this workshop from time to time and learn something. I’m planning to let them all know about it. I don’t feel like I’m enough on an expert to contribute, but I’d like to try. I can’t wait to see it in action.

Progressive Girl

Turns out–I’m neither a Soccer Mom nor a Security Mom–I’m a Progressive Girl.

Some of this stuff fits. For instance:

She drives: a small SUV but really wishes it got better mileage; once she can get a good hybrid, she will.

This is sooo true. I drive a mini-van and I’ve already declared that my next car will be a hybrid. Have to wait for the money, though.

Thanks to profgrrl’s post for this little tidbit.

Security Mom

Apparently, I’m supposed to have morphed into a security mom. I have heard this term before, but brushed it off. For one thing, I was never really a soccer mom. I just don’t fit the profile. For another, I am not obsessed about the security of my children, thinking that terrorists are going to attack their elementary school. I worry about other things–like whether they’ll become drug addicts or become pregnant or get aids or get hit by a car or die of a horrible disease. Security moms apparently favor Bush because they think he’ll protect us from terrorists. Well, as far as I know, Bush isn’t doing a whole lot about the things I’m worried about.

During the debates last night, finally some mention of women, but nothing astonishing. And Bush didn’t answer whether he would protect Roe v. Wade. That worries me. Though I hope I will teach my daughter well enough that this won’t be an issue, I really don’t want to even ponder the possibility that I would be searching for a back-alley doctor to perform an abortion for my 16-year-old (she’s 5 now.)

Sign count yesterday between my house and work: 20 Kerry/Edwards; 11 Bush/Cheney.

Tired of Politics

I’m getting tired of the campaign. I have campaign fatigue. I also have general fatigue. I have been watching all the news, all the debates, reading the papers, reading the blogs and I’m tired. It’s still a dead heat. I go to bed and the polls will show 47% Bush 45% Kerry and by the time I wake up, the numbers are reversed. My own neighborhood is a patchwork quilt of campaign signs–Bush, Kerry, Bush, Kerry. My daughter, who’s five, can identify and keep track of the number of signs for each candidate as we drive along. On the way to soccer, 5 Kerry/Edwards, 4 Bush/Cheney. She thinks they’re names though–so Kerry Edwards is one person and Bush Cheney is another. She wants Kerry to win. The name is just so much better. I’ve been looking at the lighter side of the campaign–it makes me feel better. I’ve been watching The Daily Show (recorded via Tivo), checking out sites like youforgotpoland.com and the new Jib-Jab video. You gotta laugh or you’ll cry. Frankly, I’m worried. Last election, I went to bed before all the results were in, and woke up to find we did not yet have a new president. I’m not sure I can take that again.

17th Century Sex

I spent some time working on the novel. I am somewhat stuck. I am writing about sex–not just any sex but 17th century adulterous sex, from a woman’s point of view. Ugh. There is so little real information about what women were doing in terms of their sexuality that I am at a loss at times of how to describe it. Would they have been on top, for example, or was missionary style pretty much it? Would they have initiated sex or would they leave it up to the man? I just don’t know. And acutally, I think my main character doesn’t know either–how she feels about this sex thing. She wants it, enjoys it (with her lover at least) but worries a lot–about being caught by her husband, about being labelled a whore, about her lover just wanting her for the sex. Okay–probably not a lot different from the way women feel today. Glad we cleared that up. Now if I can just get that into a nice juicy sex scene that’s not too corny, I’ll be good.

I’m making a trip to the library tomorrow to get some books to read for the novel. Research usually helps me focus more. It’s hard to juggle so many things. A job that has nothing to do with what I’m writing, a life that includes children and husband and me, and the mom thing. I was saying to myself today that I should just buck up and finish the novel, but it’s hard. I’ve exhausted myself the last couple of days, reading and writing and thinking, that it’s just hard. Okay, now I sound like Bush.

The writing is going slower though. I was on a roll the last few weeks and now things have slowed down. I had hoped for 10 pages this weekend. I got 5. I guess that’s not so bad. I’ve vowed to write every night this week except Wednesday–the debates. And if anyone has suggestions for this sex problem, I’ll take them.

The Disappearance of the Soccer Moms

I was blogging away about the demise of the soccer mom as a political entitity that garnered attention (as a spinoff of my previous post) when I clicked the wrong button and poof! into the ether it went. I had lists going and everything so this won’t quite capture the previous posting, but I’ll try. I was pondering the fact that women’s issues have disappeared from the campaign this year. We’re talking about the war, the economy and health care. All issues that affect women in some way, but are not specifically about women. We’re not talking about abortion, child care, the wage gap, sexual harrassment, rape, getting more women into executive and government positions, etc. So I thought, well, let’s find out what the candidates are saying.

On the Bush side first . . . His web site makes it hard to find information about women’s issues. I decide to go with a link under Agenda for America entitled Helping Families. Apparently, women only exist as a part of a family structure. The first 7 items have something to do with health care. I don’t think all these things are bad, but I don’t think they all have much to do with families necessarily or with women. It reminds me of when I was in sales and selling a product that didn’t have a lot of benefits, so I’d take one benefit and spin it lots of different ways to make it seem like it had more to offer. Finally, we get to an item called “Creating a more Family Friendly workplace”. Under it are two items–Flextime/Comp time and Telework. Neither of these promise that much and neither discuss making it into law. The next item is one that I personally found scary. Entitled “Keeping Children Safe,” it discusses abstinence-only sex education, drug testing in schools, and internet pornography. All of these are extremely short-sighted programs. The final item on the family agenda had to do with Veterans.

On the Kerry side . . . Much easier to find information. Two clicks “More Issues–>Women” and you come to a page with a clear agenda for women: work/family balance, wage gap, reproductive rights, increased access to education. Very clear. There’s also a section under communities for women to work together on issues that are important to them–and of course, to help elect Kerry.

So here’s my list of things not addressed well–completely personal–and from the viewpoint of a married mother of two:

  • support women’s rights at work–meaning everything from discrimination in reward and promotion to sexual harrassment to maternity (and paternity) leaves

  • support for women who choose to stay at home–a tax break, the ability to earn social security, I don’t know, get creative (read The Price of Motherhood sometime)

  • fund education and encourage states and local school districts to reform education so that it fits with current families’ real lives. After school programs are fine, but all-day school with the option of an hour or two (as much is needed) after that would be better. They system functions on this idea that somebody is home at 3:00. This would go a long way toward improving test scores, decreasing drug use and teenage pregnancy (less free time/more time studying).

  • While I’m dreaming . . . how about a required ratio of women in the senate and or house? Or at least some programs to encourage and support female candidates?

Well, that’s my rant for the day.

From the Saturday Soccer Mom

Since my kids became soccer-playing age, Saturdays are no longer days of relaxation for me. I used to sleep in–sometimes until noon. I was blessed with late-sleeping kids and so even post-kids, I could sleep until 9:30 or 10:00 some weekends. Now, I’m up between 7:00 and 7:30, then it’s shower, wrestle the kids into soccer clothes–shin guards, cleats and all, rush off to Wawa (local convenience store), get the 24 ounce coffee, bottle of water, banana (cause I never have food left by Saturday), then drive around to find the soccer field (it’s never the same one), plop into a chair, sip coffee and watch 5 year olds try to figure out which way to go. It’s pretty cute–but definitely not relaxing. After the 5 year old game, we have an hour until the 9 year old game which is much more exciting, but still not relaxing. When I get home, it’s laundry folding, ironing, grocery shopping, dinner prepping, flower planting, Halloween decoration putting up, collapsing in front of the tv.

Funny how you never see the soccer mom and the geek mom at the same time. They can’t possibly be the same person, can they? The soccer mom sits on the sideline and yells, “Go! Go! Go!” She worries her kids may be sitting out too much. She notices that she’s better-dressed than the mom to her left, but not the one to her right. She grimaces when the dad stands in front of her and blocks her view with his butt–and it’s a big one too. The geek mom, on the other hand, stares at her computer screen, shouts across the room to her colleague, “You gotta see this cool flash movie!” She worries she may be losing her tech knowledge by the minute. She thinks in acronyms–wiki, xml, html, pdf, php. She carries usb and firewire cables in her purse. She looks good compared to most geek women–and way better than the men who are really all that are around her anyway.

When she pulls into the parking lot at the afterschool care building, all of the acronyms fall away and suddenly, her thoughts are all peanut butter and jelly and Yu-Gi-Oh! She must wrap herself in these until Monday morning after the bus pulls away from the curb, its red and yellow lights signalling it’s safe to change identities. With the drone of National Public Radio for the 15 minute drive to work, she slowly metamorphizes into geek mom once again. She arms herself with her smartphone, which begins to beep for the first meeting of the day, and her iPod, which she uses to drown out the smartphone.

Sigh. And that’s just two of her identities.

Scanning the horizon

I’ve accomplished a few things from my list, though others don’t look like they’re going to happen–oh well. I managed to purchase a scanner and successfully scanned in one of my old poems with Abbyy FineReader (included with the scanner). I have version 5 here, but I have 7 at work, which is sooo much nicer. I did a quick search for some free or cheap OCR programs and there’s not much out there. I’m guessing that OCR is pretty hard to do, so not many people are going to take it on as an open source project. I might have to bite the bullet and upgrade. Sigh. I will be scanning some pictures here shortly–to go with the poems. I think this will be a fun project. My poems have never been published. Frankly, they’re not good enough. They’re better than poems that might show up in Ladies Home Journal, but they’re not Missouri Review material. But I’m attached to them for a myriad of sentimental reasons. They represent a slice of my life from college through graduate school. I’m thinking only a handful will make it.

I also managed to do a little writing–3 pages. No planting, no laundry. Oh well, there’s always the weekend.