Tuesday, May 12, 2009


There’s something about the grading this semester that’s getting to me. That’s unusual, so it needs more thought to sort out. Partially, I know that it’s the intensity this year from the unusual volume--it’s a long and not-very-interesting story, but I’m doing more than usual this semester. It’s stressful in part because of that volume and my need to get it done so other things can get the attention they need. Even so, my sense is that there is something else going on; I’ll cogitate.

The first signal was when the last bit of the raised skin on the incision on my head came off yesterday. It’s not exactly been a scab, but the one place that from the first day has been unhappier than the rest of the scar finally seems to be healed. Yet when something surplus to requirements fell off yesterday, one of the thoughts that trickled in after a while was “back to that pattern again.” What pattern? That’s complicated; when growing up, my father’s habit was to draw out patterns in others. This was never a good thing: a pattern usually meant that you were failing to measure up in some way. The theme he used to weave around and through those affecting me can be summed up as “a day late and a dollar short.” Thus, I just missed qualifying for Phi Beta Kappa (some minute portion of a grade-point separated me) even though my mother had, of course, easily qualified. Ditto some other academic honor he figured should have been easily mine. And then there were the birthdays of our children. When the girls were small, from the days they were born on, he often “joked” about how close I’d come to producing them on “the right” days. Kearney’s birthday is one day after my father’s and four days before HIS father’s: could not I have hit either mark, given their proximity? There’s something wrong with Shea’s birthday, too, which isn’t coming to mind just now.

It wasn’t that any of this had that much impact: by then, I’d worked through a lot of the constant hail of criticism and was not only inured to it, but able to reject most of it. Usually, I managed to feel sorry for him that he should live in such a box and push people (well, certainly me) away through that world view. What does it say that your first comment about the birth of your first grandchild is that it’s on the wrong day? Too bad for you is what I say.

On the other hand, leftovers are still there lurking in my psyche because the thought floated by when the last bit came loose yesterday: just missed the eight-month mark from the surgery; here’s Tina, a day late and a dollar short again. There’s no point in going into how many ways that’s stupid. That would take a lot of cataloging.

Instead, it’s a useful marker that I am anxious in some way that’s worth heeding--as if the strange dreams, tight muscles and other general stress hadn’t been marking this clearly enough. Oh well. The best news is that one of the dreams that threatened to go off the rails and become truly disturbing took a different turn when my dream-self acted like a grown-up and changed the course it was following. That was nice. At the same time, for the first time in weeks, I hit that wall of no-energy yesterday afternoon and needed a nap. Another signal to heed--as soon as the grades are in. All roads lead there right now, so on that note, back to the grading. At least it’s a visually-pleasing time to be doing it: we’re in my absolutely favorite part of year, before the big heat comes, yet while everything is green and gorgeous. On most of the second floor of my house, we exist in trees through our windows. It’s a great place to live. As soon as the grades are done, it will be a great time, too.

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