Thursday, July 31, 2008
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
- The fact that I thought it would be much easier to get around in Home City on crutches than it is.
- People who send you constant unsolicited emails talking about how happy they are you're coming, how they want to hang out with you all the time, and then never reply when, last Friday, you email saying, "Do you want to get together on Tuesday evening?" and you hold Tuesday evening open for them - even though there are a lot of other people you could be seeing in your limited time in Home City - and finally end up doing nothing at all on Tuesday evening.
- Paltry transit expenditures.
- Sentences that have no referent - and having to read, for your work, multiple essays by the "important" critic who uses them all. the. time.
- Studied obscurantism.
- Gloomy days.
- Sore throats.
- Being in the way.
- My own forgetfulness in matters on which I am supposed to be working with others.
Monday, July 28, 2008
I arrived in Home City on Saturday, after a great deal of distress about leaving Diamond. Ack! I was not happy, and cried a lot of the way home. I felt dejected, pulled in two directions (literally). I feel so pressured around coming back to Home City – everybody wants a piece of me. R, all my friends, my family. I don’t know how to balance it all. I know – cry me a river, Hilaire. It’s wonderful to have so many great people in my life. But the situation just inevitably puts pressure on, and the way I felt about leaving Diamond (as if it was the wrong thing to do, but as if not leaving would create so much drama that I had to) was an exaggerated example of the way every trip back is in terms of pressure, pressure, pressure.
But I have four weeks here, so it’s great.
On Saturday night, we had a party so that I could see loads of people (and also have an occasion to introduce two friends that I have wanted to set up for over a year – I finally can, now that the one has split with her horrible boyfriend). It was ridiculous to have that many people in the apartment with me on crutches – I could barely move around. But it was an excellent time!! A very, very fun party. Often I feel stressed out by parties in my own home. Not so, this time – somehow, it was wonderfully laid-back: Here, people – here’s some cheese and some gin…make yourself at home.
R adopted her first ever cat last week – he was a stray who showed up on our friends’ doorstep and so they wanted to find a home for him. He is a darling! It’s been lovely to get to know him. He was the hit of the party…he has the most relaxed, social personality. Several of those present threatened to steal him. R is happy that I’m here to help her learn The Ways of the Cat (for, though I have been catless for several years up until this time with Diamond, I grew up with multiple cats and was a cat owner into my twenties).
Though it’s sort of impractical due to my crutches situation, I’ve decided to do much of my writing at the university library. Way to go, me! This makes all the difference. I wrote about 1200 words pretty effortlessly this morning. Not having the distractions of home makes all the difference. And Grumpy ABD Adjunct and her family are picking me up and driving me on the mornings when I go in to the library, because she works here, too – how lovely!! It really helps me out to only have to make the trip between home and library one way on transit.
I am still at the library, post-writing. I can hear a cat meowing near where I'm sitting. This ain't no teeny tiny casual library, either...why is there a cat in here? I shall go investigate. Perhaps some staffer has brought hir cat to work...?
Thursday, July 24, 2008
I took Diamond in yesterday afternoon because of her lethargy. She had a high fever, as it turned out. The vet gave her another pain shot. I hadn't been giving her the liquid anti-pain/anti-inflammatory drops because I had been told to put them in her food and she wouldn't eat with them in the food - I tried for a day and a half. I was scolded by the vet for not giving them to her. I guess I hadn't realized how important these were...she had seemed better, so I thought she could live without them, as long as she was being quiet and not jumping about. I also didn't know she would have a fever because of soft tissue injury. He said if she doesn't get better within about three days, I should bring her back and he can make sure there is no internal injury or anything. Oh dear, oh dear.
Anyway, so, I'm assuming it is all going to be okay. I can give her the drops manually instead of putting them in her food, so that shouldn't be a problem - and pain and fever should be controlled in order to let her heal.
I didn't leave this morning because I didn't feel right going until she seems much better. I'm now scheduled to leave late on Friday night. I have now spent more money on change fees on that ticket (having changed it four times since my own accident happened) than the cost of the ticket itself. Ridiculous.
Now my final helper is gone and I'm here alone with Diamond for a day and a half. We'll see how I fare.
Anyway. That's the update.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
But you know what? Today I'm hurting and I'm worried and I'm frustrated and I'm. just. sick. of it.
I was at the university today for a meeting. I can't really function there - if there's stuff in my mailbox, for instance, I can't really get it and take it back to my office. Today there was a book and a couple of pieces of paper...I "cheated" on my crutches so that I could actually pick them up and ended tripping and landing and hopping on the broken leg - which I'm not supposed to put any weight on. Now it hurts. Fuck. What - I can't bloody get a book out of my mailbox, for god's sake?
And I came home and Diamond is doing worse - she is incredibly lethargic and just not herself. Although she was doing better yesterday, she seems to be doing worse again. I'm taking her in to the vet in a couple of hours. But I am leaving for Home City tomorrow morning - I am dropping her at my friend's for 4 1/2 weeks. When she's not well! And she was supposed to be coming with me to Home City!!!! But I can't manage her on crutches. I want her with me. I'm worried about her. And I also don't want to leave her for that long. My father helpfully asks if she'll turn against me if I leave her for that long. What a horrible thought.
I just want things to be easy for once. I am tired of this already. I'm tired of health problems and crises and things going wrong. And I'm tired in a larger sense, too - of managing a life and a relationship from thousands of miles away - for a year now - with no end in sight. At least another two years if I'm not successful on the job market. I don't want to do my life anymore, not like this.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
(I'm honestly fighting with myself about whether to be worried about how much has been going wrong over the last 6 months-1 year. It's so completely illogical, but today, in the midst of this latest episode, I couldn't help but get anxious about all of this...what's next? Is there someone I should consult about all of this? Am I doing something wrong, for goodness sake?)
I generally let Diamond, the cat, out onto the deck in short supervised stints of about 5 minutes. She longs to be outside, but the issue is that if I let her out, she jumps over the deck onto the roof of the apartments below and from there, there is a threat of jumping all the way down to the ground - not good. Usually I can keep her from jumping over, but last night she made a run for it and jumped over. I spent five hours trying to get her to come back over - I was slightly incapacitated because of my crutch situation.
At one point she tried to jump back over to come in, but it's high - about 5 feet - and she couldn't get over. I watched her hang on the side and then fall back - I couldn't get at her. I felt bad. I didn't think much of it, but later realized that she may have hurt herself at that point. At midnight, when she really desperately wanted to come back in, she began yowling and growling in an Exorcist-like fashion, pacing, and intermittently putting her paws up as if to try jumping - but the yowling would increase when she'd do that. Finally she tried, and I was able to grab her little paws and pull her over - ouch, but there was no way she'd get over un-assisted. She was screaming. She came into the apartment crying in pain, and then tried to hide, and yowled Exorcist-like, and lay there panting. Finally I figured out that she was most sensitive around her little chest and shoulders - but they didn't seem to be broken or dislocated. At one point, she went from panting to lying on her side, totally still and barely breathing, and I thought she was dying and called an emergency vet (at which point she got up and went to her food bowl, all normal-like, and I called off the emergency!).
Long story short, Diamond spent a very uncomfortable night. She wanted to come up on my bed, but every time she'd put her little front legs up on the bed, she'd groan in pain - she couldn't jump up. It was HEARTBREAKING. And because I'm incapacitated, I couldn't go and pick her up.
First thing this morning, we took Diamond to the vet. He kept her there for the day so he could x-ray her and then let the sedation wear off. The good news is that nothing is broken. So it is some kind of soft tissue injury - ligament or tendon or muscle. She was given a pain shot and I have anti-inflammatory painkillers for her for the next few days. Poor thing threw up in the car on the way home, and again since she's been here. She's totally dopey after the sedation. She won't leave me. We napped - her lying on my chest - for two hours this afternoon. All she wants to do is to sleep it off in my lap. It's kind of heartbreaking, though I'm so happy to hear that nothing is desperately wrong.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
I teach a first-year course. (Well, actually, I teach two: part one and part two.) Part one was initially capped for next year at 80, and I was watching enrolments. It maxed out. And all of a sudden the cap had been raised to 100. I was pissed off; I had no idea who had authorized raising the cap. I certainly hadn't been consulted. (Hmmm, I sense a theme. Do you?) The course quickly maxed out at 100. I have just the one TA, so was concerned - and pissed off about the continued lack of consultation. But was also happy, because higher numbers make it easier for me to argue for a new hire in my program; as you'll recall, I'm the only one, and I desperately need a colleague in a particular area to make the program a viable option. So I've been ambivalent, but decided not to fight the raising of the cap (if I could even figure out who had authorized it) in the interest of growing the program.
I've had one student query about whether there is any possibility of over-enrolling the course, which indicates that if the cap were to be raised even higher, there would probably be students to fill it. There is no possibility of letting anyone else in, though, because the room it's scheduled in only holds 100.
But today my Chair emailed me and asked if I wanted to change the room so we could raise the cap even higher. I'm torn. Part of me wants to because of the way this will help me argue for program growth. But part of me doesn't want to because of the workload it would entail. My instinct is to reply by explaining my qualms about it and asking if I could have another TA - if I could have another TA, I'd support raising it to 140.
Here's the thing: Resource scarcity. My Chair and I are potentially going to be pitted against each other in the fall...He'll be advocating for a hire in his area and I'll be advocating for one in mine - through him. It is he who will make the case to the Dean for another hire. Given that he already has several people in his program, and I have only one in mine, I think I have a better case. But still. I need as much justification as I can possibly muster for getting a new hire; the more students I take on, the better the chances. Do you, oh wise people who have administrative savvy, think that it is okay, given that, for me to not immediately go for a raising of the cap, but only on the condition that I get another TA?
As I type this, I think, of course, dummy!! Do not think of this as a game of sacrifice! Do not get into the strategic game at any cost, taking on an unmanageable number of students for some "greater good" in an institution that hasn't been very good to you! That you don't even want to stay at!
Am I right? No further raising of the cap unless I get another TA, even if I harm my chances of another hire?
Friday, July 18, 2008
I didn't feel as cooped up as I thought I would. Mostly because every day, we'd go somewhere...we took cab rides so I could go to the coffee shop I like to go to, which is ridiculous -but saved me from feeling stuck in the house. And I spent most of the day at the office on Tuesday.
I was also able to stop myself from channelling the bitchy daughter persona (mostly). We did have a couple of tense moments, but overall I'd say we did very well - we got better as the week progressed. We bonded over So You Think You Can Dance (to which I very quickly became addicted while in hospital in Hawaii, and now download since I don't get TV channels). I'd say it was a success for us. Maybe things are easing up on that front.
What was most confounding was eating-related stuff. My mother is obsessed with dieting - but not very successful at it. She lost a bunch of weight a year ago on an incredibly restrictive plan, and has put some back on, as people do, and spends all her time thinking about how to eat. Fine. I'm not going to pretend I don't think about what I eat, and especially now, when I am getting no exercise whatsoever - barely even walking. But it grew wearing to watch the contradictions...for instance, her constantly saying, "I have to get back on track, I have to..." and then having two mocha frapuccino-type drinks and an ice cream cone one day. And thinking that was okay because she didn't have lunch. But then continuing to go on and on about how badly she's eating. Buying two types of cookies and a lemon loaf for the house one day. And then having the nerve to say to me, when I ordered a small butter tart in the cafe, "Ohhh, sinful, sinful...!" Look, I wanted to say. Don't drag me into your thing. And never, never use the word "sinful" when talking about food...it's offensive. (Miraculously, I kept my mouth shut in this instance.)
I know, I should have more sympathy for this kind of thing. I understand the cultural underpinnings, blah blah blah. But it was frustrating, and my irritation was piqued by the way she drew me into it.
My father arrived yesterday. It will be nice to have access to a car once again, so I can avoid the extravagance of paying $16 for a round trip cab ride to the coffee shop! And it will be fun to work alongside my dad, who will also be writing (his work).
My own writing is much going slower than I'd like due to discipline problems, but I can see it shaping up...I daresay it is even starting to be fun.
And I'm planning my time in Home City and Home Province...I'm leaving next Thursday. I'm so looking forward to seeing folks there (including you, Grumpy! - I'll be working at the library). Have a trip to Little City planned (city of my First University position, and city of Favourite Aunt and other family members) and from there to Dad City. Stopping for a visit with ex-Supervisor at her cottage on the way home. I'm inordinately excited about all this...being back in my own territory is going to be thrilling. And it will be easier to get around than it is here in this crutches state...I will be able to take transit and actually get to the places I want to go. What a difference that will make.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
"!," I thought. What a far cry all of this was from the punitive Dean I'd been dealing with most of the year.
And I thought about how the Dean has just been doing the annual review process that leads to merit pay and another kind of performance-related salary increase...these were just announced and added to our most recent paycheques. I somehow landed in the top rank of my department and got both of these two bonus-y things. I looked impressive on paper, I guess. I looked like I had things happening for me. Maybe even like I might bring in outside money in future (ironically, since I failed to bring it in with the last grant application), and that is what this Dean and this institution care about more than anything - anything - else. I am certain that it was because recently he had to look over my record in detail, and see that I've got things going on, that he suddenly warmed to me the way that he did. What a world this is. Presumably I need support and mentoring more if I am flailing - but it is not forthcoming until it's proven that I'm, in fact, doing just the opposite.
In other news, I'm on these crutches until the end of August. Normally I would be back to the doctor the week of August 11 (six weeks after the injury) and could maybe be given the okay to walk again then. But I will be in Home City, and not back until later in the summer. So I have to wait to see him. He did say that at the six-week mark, I could cautiously see how it felt to walk without them, but he seemed pretty wary of that idea. So, yeah - looks like it's crutches for me until August 27. Blech!! Hopefully I can go swimming - I can't believe I forgot to ask him whether that would be okay.
Oh well. It looks like I will leave for Home City a week from tomorrow, and I will still have four and a half weeks there, so that's great.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
I tried to start writing my book project yesterday. It did not go well. I - always, always self-censoring - felt too overwhelmed by the thought, "I am writing a book." I defeated myself immediately. I ended up with one sentence. I have to work through that.
As I noted yesterday, I am mostly in good spirits, and even able to see the positive in this (I will develop great upper-body strength!). But I do see where I might became very downcast...chiefly about exercise, and about dancing. I was supposed to be going to dance camp in August - a blissed-out week in the woods. This tends to be the most joyful time in my life. It is especially so now that I live somewhere where I can't dance. I won't be able to go to camp this year - and believe me when I say that it was the brightest light of my year, the thing I've been most looking forward to, for months and months. I really feel cheated.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
The first thing I want to mention is how painfully aware I was that this is a colonial society. This was underscored in particularly grotesque ways in Honolulu, which is of course characterized by a nasty divide between native Hawaiians and the reams of tourists. Because I was staying in Honolulu proper, and not Waikiki, for the first few days of my time there - and attending a conference that was addressing the political and cultural concerns of native Hawaiians - and I only later I moved to Waikiki, this division was particularly apparent. Although I had a good time during my two days in Waikiki, I also felt quite unsettled to be living in what, for all intents and purposes, is a theme park - Rodeo Drive meets Fort Lauderdale - after spending some time confronting the disenfranchisement of Hawaiians in a settler society. I was happy, at least, that we were staying at the far end of Waikiki, so a few blocks out of the capitalist epicentre that was the main strip.
When we left Honolulu, we flew to the Big Island. I had rented a little cabin in the Puna District, which is a decidedly non-tourist area...the part we were in had no commercial zoning, so there wasn't a store in sight...to buy anything, you had to drive twenty minutes to the town of Pahoa, a little counterculture enclave (as was the whole area, really). It was such a contrast to the Waikiki experience - and so welcome. The cabin was beautiful - a Balinese teak kit home. All screens - few actual glass windows - so the breeze flowed in softly. I wish I had pictures to show you, but they're on R's camera and my computer wouldn't download them. Anyway, it was off the grid and just lovely. The area is a lava field, but there is also coastal jungle grown up over it, since the lava covered the area 50-odd years ago. The most amazing contrast, this encrusted black lava ground, and the lush jungle plants. There was a pineapple tree in our yard. At night, there was an incredibly loud cacophony of frogs - it was so loud you couldn't hear yourself think...but it was amazing how quickly we got used to it, and slept through it as if it were completely normal for us.
I don't have many pictures of most of what we did in the two days we had there before my accident. We snorkeled in tidal pools, and swam at black sand beaches (the whole east side of the island is volcanic black sand), and the water was warm and the surf was high. What I do have pictures of is volcanic activity, which is the thing that excited me most about the area. It kind of blew my mind, frankly.
One volcano, Kilauea, is very active right now. They have opened up a viewing area right near where we were staying - a 6- or 7-minute drive from our cabin. This is for watching where the lava flows into the ocean. We went there immediately after arriving. You drive through this rather apocalyptic landscape to get to the viewing area...it was covered by a lava flow in 1983:
I can't even get my head around this landscape...the plants pushing their way through what should be such unforgiving stuff...
And then there was the flow hitting the ocean...every few seconds you'd see lava-debris spewing up. It was incredible...Watching the earth expand...watching history happen, essentially, since the Island is actually growing because of the flow...
The best time to go, though, is after dark, when everything is glowing red. R did that on her own, one night while I was in hospital. Her pictures are amazing. That alone is a reason I have to go back - I have to see it for myself...
The day I had my accident, we went to Volcanoes National Park:
Again the amazing contrasts. Here, we hiked down to this bleak volcanic landscape through this beautiful, cool, fern-y rainforest:
We left there, planning to return later in the week and do more lava-viewing. But later that afternoon I had my accident, and so it was not to be. We were at the black-sand beach two minutes from our cabin - Kehena Beach, a gorgeous, hidden little crescent you get to by scrambling down a volcanic rock cliff. Having a dip at the end of this very satisfying day of volcanos and a passionfruit margarita in Pahoa. The result? Breakage. Hospital. Sigh.
But all in all, I am in pretty good spirits, and so taken with the Big Island of Hawaii that I must get back there.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
I'm sorry, but what the hell? Am I so lowly that I'm not supposed to even be consulted? But apparently not so lowly that I can't be their feminist theory slave. Fuck them. I want out of this place.
Also, being at the office, on crutches, and hopping around on one leg? NO fun. When what you do, by definition, at the office in the summer is pop in to scurry around doing photocopies and getting signatures, etc. I can't believe I have weeks and weeks more of this.
Monday, July 07, 2008
I fractured, last Monday, my left "tibial plateau" (essentially part of the knee joint) quite badly. A wave knocked me over as I was walking into the water - which shouldn't have been a problem, and it was just a fluke that I fell the way I did and broke it. I went to the hospital the next day (it didn't seem bad enough right then, and only became grotesquely swollen, and me unable to walk, that evening). Spent 12 hours in emergency, then was admitted that night. Told by the orthopaedic surgeon that it should be operated on - a fairly major and complicated operation that would involve putting pins and plates and all that stuff in my knee, and yet would still probably result in me having arthritis or some mobility restrictions. Good times. So the doctor was at first going to operate on me there, but then was quite strongly advocating that I go home to have it done, so that the same doc who operated on me could follow up with me, because of the strong possibiblity of problems with the surgery and outcome.
So I stayed in the hospital, with myself calling my OB/GYN in Scary City (the only doc I really have here) pleading with him to find me an Orthopaedic surgeon who would admit me into the hospital. The hospital people were arranging with my travel insurance to get me home. Meanwhile I hung out in hospital, transported around by wheelchair and then later by walker and then by crutches. We weren't able to leave until Saturday night. The insurance had booked R and I into first class flights so I had more room as was not able to bend leg. These flights - overnight, red-eye - were a horror because the folks at the hospital in Hawaii had struck mortal fear into me by consistently warning me about the possibility of dying of a blood clot on the way home, because of having been lying down for so many days before. I had been given daily injections of anti-clot stuff, but I was still terrified. R said I seemed so worked up on the plane that I was going to give myself a heart attack. And then I was also having some sort of awful reaction to the meds I was on for pain. God, the traveling was the worst part of the whole thing.
Then yesterday morning - Sunday - I arrived back in Scary City and was escorted straight to the hospital, where I was admitted into a horrifying ward that I have named the Dickensian Ward. It was so noisy and chaotic and disturbing and smelled liked pee, and I was shocked. (Thankfully I was transferred when a semi-private room became available in the evening.) The Orthopaedic surgeon on call right now had agreed to take me on. I met with him yesterday and then again this morning, when he discharged me. After looking at the x-rays and MRI, he doesn't feel that the extremely complex surgery is worth it. Thinks I can probably heal almost as well (read, not fully, but mostly) without doing it. So here I am. At home, on crutches for weeks more. R is here for the week (she had to take an extra week off work in Home City, which I feel bad about), and then my mother insisted on booking herself a ticked to come here for five days, and then my father for a week. By then, I should think I'll be in pretty good shape, though probably still on crutches.
So, yeah. That was Hawaii. It was great up till this happened. And I was supposed to leave for Home City this Wednesday, for seven weeks. Now I can't. Now I'm here for at least three more weeks. There goes my long summer with R, which we really need because we are on tenterhooks.
Really, it is so ridiculous I could almost laugh. I've had more health/medical problems in the last twelve months than I've had in my whole life, it feels like!!
Anyway, will now go to start checking out your 145 posts in Bloglines - good reading for an invalid!!