Catching up with a Time Vampire

As you all sort of know I took my PhD qualifying exams a few weeks back. It was a weeklong torture ritual, but thankfully it’s over now. Well… sort of.

One of the great things about my department is that they arrange for the rest of your life to stop for a week so that you can concentrate on your exams. The bad thing is that nothing actually stops. I work three jobs, two that I actually get paid for. I took the week off from all of them. And it was great.

Except… all the things I needed to do that week in those jobs, still needed to be done. Which meant that when I got back, I had two weeks of work in three jobs to catch up on. And… well you can’t do that in one week. So here I am, weeks later, still trying to catch up. Because I do just about as much work as a person can do in a week on a normal basis. The problem with that is it leaves no time at all for doing work from previous weeks.

So what little time I have is still being sucked away by a time vampire that should have been dead weeks ago.

Why this Blog is Typed

I had another entry planned for tonight, but this one’s been milling around in my brain for a while and it seemed a fitting follow up to Cammy’s post from yesterday.  A while back I told Cammy that due to my health problems I am sometimes unable to hold a pen without using both hands and that even more often writing by hand is painful.  This was a much bigger deal to Cammy than it was to me.  As she proclaimed her sympathy it seemed a little out of proportion to me.  But that’s the difference between Cammy and me.

As Cammy wrote yesterday she likes notebooks.  She likes writing by hand.  She has told me that she writes better and faster when she writes her first drafts by hand.  And I think that’s wonderful for Cammy.  But I am the exact opposite.  I hate writing by hand.  I love that I have a laptop and I love that I can use it to take notes in class now.  I hate when I have classes where my laptop is too unwieldy to use.  As a professor I do not write on the board.  If I can’t use a computer to put it on screen you better get it down on your own from my lecture.

And yes, some of this is because of the pain and the lack of fine motor control.  But the truth is it goes back much further than that.  The truth is, I have terrible handwriting.

I know, I know, everyone thinks they have bad handwriting.  But in my case, it’s true.

Where I went to elementary school we got grades in handwriting.  I used to get straight As and one C every 9 weeks.  Every 9 weeks a big fat C destroying my GPA (which I wasn’t really aware of being as I was a munchkin, but still!)  Initially the school told my mother I had a severe learning disability and couldn’t start kindergarten.  My handwriting was a big part of the cause.  From a very young age I became aware that good handwriting was associated with being a good student.  It was kind of okay for boys to have bad handwriting and be smart, but it was not okay for a girl to be the same way.  So every time I looked at my handwriting a little voice reminded me that it was proof I really wasn’t that smart.

I tried to improve it.  Sweet Cthulu did I try.  I was forced to spend summer vacations practicing penmanship.  They decided it was the result of underdeveloped muscles in my fingers, so I was required to spend a certain amount of time each night squeezing a bean bag.  NOTHING HELPED.

People will tell you that anyone can have good penmanship if they try.  Those people are assholes who were blessed with good penmanship from birth.  It’s a bit like me saying, “You can put your feet behind your head if you just try hard enough.”  I mean I can put my feet behind my head.  Contortionists and yoga practitioners can put their feet behind their heads.  Porn stars can put their feet behind their heads.  Clearly you just aren’t trying.  Porn stars have more discipline than you, can you believe that?  Theoretically, biologically, everyone should be able to do it.  But I’m guessing most of you can’t.  Handwriting is the same damn way.

Yes, I can make my handwriting legible.  But it is an annoyingly slow and physically painful process.  It’s also one that is completely pointless.  Except that it’s not.  Studies show that teachers and professors tend to grade papers higher when the student has good handwriting.  Applicants with good handwriting are more likely to be hired.  You know that whole thing where I internalized good handwriting=smart?  Clearly I wasn’t the only one.

So this is why I type everything I can.  Because every time I try to write something by hand, all this ish surfaces.  Is there some kind of therapy for this?

Still Not a Midwesterner

Let me just say now, for any MTV, MPB readers out there who may not fully appreciate this, that whenever Cammy reads this she will be intermittently rolling her eyes at me and yelling cross country at me for my stupidity and lack of self-preservation instinct.  And when Cammy gets mad her Texas twang gets stronger, so let that amusing image warm your heart.

As previously mentioned, I’m a military brat.  I grew up a little bit of everywhere, but mostly on the east coast.  A childhood in Florida gave me a more than healthy fear of alligators and crocodiles (I know there’s a difference, but if one is close enough to me for me to care, I’m not taking the time to analyze snout shape).  I have a healthy respect for hurricanes.  But tornados?  Not really part of my world.

Yes, they happened every once in a while.  Yes, I know that they’re devastating.  No, I would never be one of those idiots on the weather channel deliberately parking my car in the path of one.  But mostly we made fun of my father (who grew up in West Texas) for going out on the porch during storms and watching the sky.  Somewhere between becoming a mother and evacuating a roller coaster in a thunderstorm my sister became afraid of tornados.  When I told her I was considering a university in Missouri she looked at me in shock and said, “But it’s in tornado alley.”  In her mind, that should have absolutely ruled out going to school there.  This has naturally resulted in my mocking my sister a bit.

I moved to southern Indiana instead of Missouri.  My current town of residence sits at the bottom or a bowl so we rarely get tornados.  Or so the old timers tell me.  And so I tell my mom.  Who bugs me constantly about buying a weather alarm.  My stance is, I live in a second floor apartment, what the heck am I going to do even if I know there’s a tornado?  (Yes, yes, Cammy, I know, hug the toilet).

If you needed further evidence about my lack of healthy fear of tornados:  I saw my first funnel cloud this summer.  I was driving home from Indianapolis when I got hit with a nasty thunderstorm.  Suddenly, I looked across a field and way over there was a funnel cloud.  It wasn’t on the ground and it wasn’t moving towards me.  Still, my reaction?  Nearly crash my car going, “Dude!  How cool is that?  It’s a funnel cloud!”  Whereas I’m reasonably sure most of my new Midwestern friends would have gone, “Oh shit!  Oh shit!  Oh shit!”

This morning I thought, “Oh shit!”  Right after discovering I was under a tornado warning.  But it wasn’t because I was afraid of dying.  It was because I was about to catch the bus because I wanted to get to campus early to finish my Middle English reading assignment.  (Margery Kempe’s autobiography.  Summary:  She talks to God.  She cries.  People are mean to her.  She cries.  She talks to God.)  I’m having a crazy semester and there is no room in my day planner for a tornado warning.  It’s not like they cancel classes for this crap, so there’s no benefit to this.  Just an annoyance.

So what it meant in the long run was I caught the 10:15 bus instead of the 9:55 bus.  (I got the all clear text message as I was locking my door).  I faked my way through the end of Margery Kempe.  And I realized that I may never be a good Midwesterner.