Monday, October 19, 2009

Desperately Seeking Sherri: A Semi-Year in Review

So. Sometimes a couple of months go by and I'm nowhere to be found. Such is the story of my life. The difference (for those of you out there who have known me for a long time), is that nowadays, when I drop from the blogosphere, you don't need to call mom and dad to stage an intervention because I may be lying in a pile of my own slobber whilst my unopened mail piles up around me. Now when I have a lapse in the blogosphere, it's because I'm out and about. I come and go, all the while carrying tons of blog-fodder in my head. But for the past six months, I've actually had some momentous stuff happen in my life and I didn't even stop for one minute to blog it down.

But I miss you, dear blog, so here's a short list of what I will call "Desperately Seeking Sherri: A Semi-Year in Review."

May 2009:
Finished spring semester. It wasn't pretty, but I did it with little sleep, a lot of coffee and a stellar support team with husband K. as captain. K's big moment as team captain came at the end of the semester when I got my grades and burst into tears because I got a B+ in one of my classes. I also got three A's, but, as per my usual "let's be really, really hard on myself for not being perfect even though I missed two classes because I gave birth," I honed in on the B+. At first, K looked at me like I had grown two heads when I told him what I was crying about. "I know, I know," I cried, "tons of starving kids in India would be happy to eat my B+, but I still didn't want it." But he knows me, so he just stroked my hair and told me to get a grip and be happy. Crisis averted.

July 2009:
Baby A's first airplane ride when I flew with her to Oregon to meet all the cousins. Words cannot adequately describe the blog-fodder contained in those ten days. Suffice it to say that any conflict that occurred (think kitchen stand-off between me and the family matriarch) paled when compared to the pure joy of seeing all the cousins running around in the yard where we used to play, having a slumber party with my sisters, eating the best hamburgers, fries, and soft-serve cones at the Cove Drive-In, staying in the kitchy-paradise of the Historic Union Hotel, and being with my mom and dad in my childhood home. It was My Big Fat Happy Reunion.

August 2009:
Moved to a new house just around the corner from our townhouse. K and I decided to sell our townhouse and take the no-shared-walls plunge into a single family home with our own yard and all. We also decided to open our walk-out basement to K's parents. They are in their late-70s and were living in a condo in town after selling their home a few years after retiring. Your first reaction to this is, "What? living with the in-laws?" I know, crazy. But I tell you, they are wonderful. Won.Der.Ful. Maybe it's the fact that they are older, or the fact that they are just as down to earth as my parents--which I didn't think was possible to find. But it works.

They do their own thing, and when they're not doing their own thing, they're cleaning my bathroom, showing us how to save 30% of our laundry soap by reducing the amount measured per load, or keeping a weekly log of the electric meter reading out back to make sure that the newfangled digital meter reading system is accurate. You can't make this stuff up. It's straight from The Great Depression, which happens to be when they were raised. And most of all, they are taking care of baby A while K and I work and go to school. You cannot imagine what it feels like to take A down the stairs in the morning before I go to school, knowing that she is loved, safe, and cared for while I'm away. I also, much to Grandma J's dismay, hired a college student who comes over twice a week to babysit. We did not want the grandparents to watch her full- time. Baby A is a lot of work and recently became mobile, which makes for exhausting days. They of course see this as an "unnecessary expense" (see above Great Depression reference), but it makes me feel better.

September 2009:
I took my comprehensive exams, which is the culmination of three years of Ph.D. coursework and serves as the "bridge" between doctoral student and doctoral candidate. Kind of like going from Brownie to Girl Scout, but without the cool candle ceremony and s'mores. Studying for and taking comprehensive exams was quite possibly the most mentally-exhausting thing I've ever done. Including going through labor and having a baby. Plus, there's no epidural. But, having "passed" all of the written questions and my oral exam coming up on November 4th, it's nearly over. For all you moms out there, the oral exam is like the pushing is over, the baby is born, and now it's just that nasty placenta. Oh, and here's another way that it's worse than labor: I didn't look back at the piles of paper when it was over and think, "oh, honey, let's do it again..."

Which brings me to October, where I sit at my computer with the crisp fall breeze coming in my new home-office window and a steaming cup of coffee nearby. I can hear the sounds of baby A's lullabies through the wall as she takes her morning nap, and the clamor of Grandpa and Grandma downstairs. I'm still desperately seeking Sherri, but I think she's close-by.