I. am. Ironwoman.*

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(*On  a very, very small scale.)

So, as you may or may not know, I need to get into good enough shape to be able hike 2-3 miles a day, for ten days, at 8000 feet elevation, and I need to do it by the end of May. I decided the solution to this problem was to begin a Couch-to-5k program. I have never had an interest in running; I think it’s bad for your knees and other joints and I think there are other ways to keep yourself in shape. However, I am looking for a set program that will raise my endurance level in a relatively short amount of time, and which also requires no extra equipment and fits into my schedule. It seemed like this program would yield the results I was looking for.

The program involves a walk/run routine. On Day 1 you do a 5-minute warmup walk, followed by alternating running for 60 seconds and walking for 90 seconds, for a total of thirty minutes. I knew, going in, that I was way out of shape and that I likely wouldn’t be able to finish the Day 1 program right away. I made some deals with myself before I even started. Firstly, I told myself I would do as much as I could and then stop, and not beat myself up about it.  Then I would just keep repeating Day 1 until I was able to finish it all – even if it took weeks. Secondly, I decided that my goal each week would be merely to show some improvement – even if it was only running 15 seconds of a leg I hadn’t reached before. As long as I added just a little more each week, I decided, I’d consider it a victory and be pleased with myself.

I’m now happy to report that the program and the mindset are working well for me. On the very first day, I only ran on three legs and didn’t finish any of them. I pulled up 5-10 seconds short on all three. This morning? I ran six legs – ALL of six legs. And when I looked at the app after I’d gotten back to the car, I realized – there are only eight running legs on Day 1! Having never sat and done the math, I had it in my head that there would be ten or twelve or something. But I am almost able to finish it!

I am amazed and pretty proud of myself. Yes, I know people who run miles and miles just about every day. Compared to that, this is peanuts. Maybe less than peanuts. Maybe only peanut shells. But I have, number one, stuck with the program for several weeks now; number two, continued to improve my endurance every single week; and, number three, gone from being a complete couch potato to now almost enjoying exercising. I say “almost” because I actually still hate it while I’m doing it, and have to keep up a constant litany of pep talk to prevent myself from wussing out. But as soon as I am done, I quickly forget how much it sucked and kind of start looking forward to doing it again. And, just as importantly, I feel proud of myself when I’m done. Today I may have actually fist pumped when I finished that sixth leg (I had started the routine telling myself I’d just do five). I am accomplishing something, and I’m seeing positive results from it. It’s pretty awesome. I never thought I could get into good shape. Now I know I can.

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Mr. Sandman: You, sir, are no gentleman.

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Well, hello there. It’s 8:45 on Saturday. I’ve been awake since 7:30. That’s not counting the two other times I woke up after not going to sleep until midnight. Either I have developed sleep apnea (possible) or this mattress was the biggest mistake we’ve made in quite a long time. I’m not sure what to blame it on but when you feel just as bad (or worse) upon waking up as you did when you went to bed, there’s a problem. Especially as, since the advent of the mattress, I have lost the ability to nap. Used to be if I quit moving and went horizontal for more than sixty seconds, I’d fall asleep. Some days I’d sleep a couple of hours. Now? Forget it. I might start to doze off but never get fully asleep. Mostly I flip and flop and am uncomfortable for the entire time I’ve allotted myself to sleep. I didn’t used to be able to take naps and apparently I am back at that point. In this case, as well, though, it’s hard to know whether it’s the mattress or not because, around the same time we got it, I also stopped taking medication I’d taken for several years that is known to make people drowsy. So maybe that’s what allowed me to sleep during the day and now I’m back to (my) normal.

At this point, I don’t even care what it is. I just wish I knew. How can I be effective at, well, life if I am constantly sleep-deprived (and waking up with the occasional headache, back ache, etc.)

Also at this point I’m thinking, how bad will sleeping in a tent for a month possibly be? It may even be an improvement.

A Real, Live Sooner

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It is done. I AM AN OU STUDENT. I have a schedule and a fancy binder.

Following my advisement today, I enrolled in two classes. What I got…well, it’s not optimal. I had wanted two online classes, to go with the two on-campus classes I’m enrolled in at my current school. Since Robert is still working on getting back home more, I didn’t feel like having to drive to OU numerous times a week was a wise idea.

Well, I was able to get one online class, but the other that I needed is full. I don’t really have the option of not taking this class, as it’s a prerequisite for, oh, all the other Anthropology classes. So, for now, I am enrolled in an on-campus class, M-W-F. While I’m there on Mondays I will also attend the lab for my online Geology course.

At the suggestion of my advisor, I did contact the instructor of the online class to see if he’d make an exception and let me in. I don’t know if that’s at all within the realm of possibility. There may be a waiting list and I have no grounds to assume he’ll allow this. I really hope he does, though, because, if so, I will only have to drive to OU once a week…and my two local classes are going to be easy, so I’ll have plenty of time to maintain my sparkling 4.0. Or just pass. I’m good with just passing.

In either event, I am on my way.

How about you tell me how this post has broadened YOUR academic experience?

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I thoroughly dislike professors asking throwaway questions in the requirements for writing assignments. Sometimes I think they are typing just to have something to put on the paper and not because it’s actually relevant or even entirely tenable. For example, I am currently sketching a framework for my review of an ethnography (Monique and the Mango Rains) for my Cultural Anthropology class. The professor has given us a long list of points we should address in our paper and the last one is “Discuss how this volume has broadened your academic experience.”

What even does that mean? I can’t stand vagaries of that sort. That’s not a legitimate, directional request, that’s lobbing a fancy-sounding phrase at us, then ducking and covering while it goes kaboom. It’s “Well, this sounds scholarly, so I’ll tack it on there and let them scramble to eke out something that could be loosely interpreted as fitting that description.” How has it “broadened [my] academic experience?” It hasn’t. It was a good book. I’m glad I read it. I found it very interesting. But, let’s be realistic, here. It is but one of many, many books I will read over the course of my college career. It has not changed my life, nor has it been a seminal point in my education. It was a mildly engrossing, occasionally thought-provoking story…that I still would have been completely academically fulfilled without reading. I am not going to go out tomorrow and join the Peace Corps, become a midwife, or alter the course of my education because of this book. It hasn’t “broadened [my] academic experience” except as a singular cog in the giant wheel of my overall college literary intake.

Because of the ambiguity of that imperative, I am going to be forced to make something up. This is not a problem, in and of itself. If there’s one area in which I possess superior skills, it is bullshitting. I can make up the most ridiculous twaddle and write it so it reads like a dissertation. I hate to do that, though. I hate being disingenuous and claiming something changed my life when it didn’t. I hate having to string together a bunch of academic buzzwords to fit a paper’s requirements, instead of just writing what’s in my heart and mind. I can play academia’s games and jump through their hoops like a good circus dog…but I don’t have to like it.

I Left My Intestinal Fortitude in San Francisco

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Guys. I totally wussed out.

I went into SF today to check into my hotel on Haight Street. Now, I have been up here enough in the past 3 years, I don’t know what I was thinking in trying to go into SF on a Saturday. Honestly, you’d think I’d never been here before. Anyway, I got to the Haight and it was just crawling with people and cars. Y’all, I drove around for almost an HOUR trying to find somewhere to park. ALLLL the street spaces were full (and, even if I’d found one, they are metered, which means I’d have had to go feed said meter every few hours – not so handy when I was planning to park my car and leave it for the night). There was no space in front of the hotel to pull up and at least unload my eight-hundred-pound suitcase. I also never did find the parking garage I was told was several blocks away. And the thing is, there wasn’t even anywhere to pull over and consult my phone, or ask for directions. There are no parking lots in that area, it’s buildings, sidewalks, and street parking. That’s it.

After close to an hour I was running low on patience, not to mention the will to live. I was tired of being honked at and stared at, balefully, by groups of people as they sauntered in front of my car at intersections.  I was worn out, hungry, and I’d had to pee since I left the East Bay. At that point I really didn’t even feel like being in SF anymore. I wanted a nice, quiet, easily accessible room where I could spend the rest of the evening chilling and getting ready to head home (pretty early) tomorrow. So I fled the city. I headed south until I got to some suburbs (parking lots! public toilets!) and then I got on my phone and booked myself a room in Hayward. It’s a little further away from the airport than I’d wanted, but it cost half as much as any of the rooms I found on the other side of the Bay. I’ll just have to leave here around 7am to make it to the airport on time. Considering my inability to sleep in on this trip, that shouldn’t be a huge deal.

So my trip to the Bay Area ends a little unpropitiously. However, as I pointed out to myself earlier in an attempt to stave off the guilt of chickening out on my day in the city: I accomplished everything I specifically came here to do. I saw the two concerts, and I got tattooed. Anything else after that was just whipped cream on top. And, really, who needs the extra calories, anyway?

So, do they give you the fedora and bullwhip at graduation, or…???

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You wouldn’t believe how many people ask what I’m going to school for, hear my answer, and, after a pregnant pause, inquire, “So what are you going do with that degree?” At some point I’m going to start replying, “Brain surgery” and then changing the subject like it’s no big deal. Until that time, for any Doubting Thomases (Thomasi?) out there who wonder what possible use my intended degree could be, I have compiled some facts from the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics.

Anthropologists and Archaeologists

  • 2010 Median Pay $54,230 per year
  • Job Outlook, 2010-20 +21% (Faster than average)
  • Employment Change, 2010-20 +1,300

Source

No, I will never become rich digging things out of the ground and analyzing them. However, this would be a $54,230 pay increase over what I currently make in a given year, which would qualify it (in my book), as “nothing to sneeze at.” Also please note that the field is actually growing at a rate above national average, and that there will be 1300 new positions having been created by the time this decade is over (i.e. by the time I graduate).

So there you have it, folks. With my archaeology degree I plan to…be an archaeologist. I also plan to make a respectable amount of money doing something I love. Don’t worry your pretty little heads about me.

The parenting horrors just never cease

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Just when I have gotten used to the idea of myself as a mother of young children, and I feel like I’ve gotten a handle on how to handle the various ages and stages, I find myself having a text conversation like this with my oldest child and I’m left wondering, “Who am I? How did I get here? Is this really my life?”


I don’t know what to be more disturbed about: the fact that my 7th-grader and I like the same guy and she wants to fight me for him, or the fact that she tried to give me some kid I could’ve given birth to, myself, in exchange.