Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Oh Worcester, why are you not any other town?

Just got back from a trip to the pacific northwest followed by a quick trip up to Vermont to watch Ted run another marathon. My friend mentioned that it must be tiring and I agreed, especially regarding the stress of sitting on a blanket in a park waiting for Ted to run by. If only he could slow down a little, I wouldn't have to constantly pick up my blankie and move the kids to another play ground. Some people are just self absorbed I guess.
I love Portland, Seattle and Burlington. I want to move to each of those towns simultaneously and sell used books, throw fish and make cheese for a living. Is there a way to combine them? Maybe I can just accept that I live in Worcester and throw books about cheese eating fish at the Mass Pike toll collectors.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Guilt

From the day of my diagnosis, I have been filled with an unshakable sense of guilt. My rational analytical mind can not overcome the overwhelming thought, "it's my fault that my children will suffer". People say that time fades all wounds. They lie. I have the exact same feelings right this moment that I did the day of my diagnosis. The only thing that has changed for me is the frequency and duration of my collapses into the abyss of guilt. I'll be walking down the hall thinking of anything but cancer when out of nowhere I envision my children at my stagnant bedside. What a drag! I almost wish I was scared of this disease. I think fear would be easier to manage than guilt. I would rather cry for myself than for my children. So there it is, after two years, I may go days instead of minutes without the undercurrent of guilt pulling me out of the moment, but it doesn't mean I can breath easier just because I spend less time under water. I just want to get them to a place where they want me but don't need me.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Confessions from a Freshman Chemistry adjunct

I was hired on a Thursday to start teaching the following Monday on a subject I hadn't seen in nearly twenty years. Not only did I not have the book that I was to lecture from, I didn't even know it's title. I searched youtube for "how to teach college chemistry" for some ideas. I asked my PI if he had any random notes or an old syllabus left over from when he taught at MIT. He laughed at me a little..and then probably a lot when he walked out of the lab.
Two nights before I was to greet the class, I received one of my most favorite emails. It was a complete set of lecture notes, quizzes and exams from the professor (who was on sabbatical) that I was replacing. AHA! Start with the atom! Makes sense right?
I had no idea what I was getting into.
At first, I was spending about 4 hours of prep time for every lecture. I would read the sections carefully, then type lengthy notes, then read my notes and make handwritten notes in the margins. I would re-read them before the class and then breath a sigh of relief at the end of each lecture.
As time went on, I was able to spend less time on the prep. My notes deteriorated into bullet points which quickly fell by the wayside. Ultimately, I ended up zeroxing the book and jotting a couple notes in the margins. No one could ever accuse me of throwing material at them that they couldn't find!
Even with my reduced prep time, it was still quite a bit of work, but it was full of rich rewards. In fact, I'm reaping them now as I dole out the grades that the students earned on their final for the second semester. I feel a little like Santa as I hand each one out..only I'm a skinny little beardless girl and the kids worked extremely hard for these presents!
I'm already nostalgic for my days as Professor Painter and I haven't even turned in my key. If I could have multiple careers I would choose this one in a heartbeat. I loved the students, I loved watching them love science. I loved office hours, their minds opened up right in front me. I was hired on a Thursday to start learning the following Monday. I think I learned more than they did.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Choosing my battles

We've all heard the cliche, "choose your battles carefully". This is usually followed by the even more popular, "don't burn your bridges". Well, I'm really bad at following advice and even worst at adhering to diplomacy. When I have a problem with someone, it's very obvious. I may not be tactful, but I am honest. I may not be graceful, but I get my point across. I may not win, but I will always fight.
I do need to choose my battles carefully. Not because I don't want to burn bridges, but because it's exhausting to try and maintain any sort of integrity or solid set of values without pissing someone off. I try and live by the golden rule, but I think that might actually be part of the problem. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Seems like a good idea, right? I guess it works out if what you want is to be coddled, lied to and dismissed. I prefer to be told when I make mistakes, hear the plain truth and to be treated like an adult. And therein lies the rift between me and all the people on the horizon of my life whose form I can barely make out through the smoke of what I imagine are multiple bridges all burning in unison. So be it. I'd rather warm myself by those fires, sanity in tact, than put down the bat when it's time to swing.