Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Blood Pressure Rising

Stupidly, I checked my email this morning. There was a note from someone on campus, saying that the headmaster has requested a meeting with members of a committee I'm still on (until September), and it's going to be at noon. I checked the date. That's noon, today.

I'm guessing this is going to be an unpleasant meeting with bad news about budget stuff.

My seemingly peaceful week has suddenly gotten less relaxed. I made an appointment yesterday to get my car's oil changed (after the long trip) and the air conditioning checked (for this afternoon). Usually, I don't worry about car air conditioning because I'm a dog at heart: I prefer to have all the windows open and sort of put my head out with my tongue and ears flapping in the breeze. But my Mom is coming to visit, and while we never had air conditioning in our cars as kids, and she poohpoohed our desire for such, now I'll hear endlessly if I don't have it in good repair. ("Why don't you get it repaired?" "Because I'm a dog at heart and like hanging my head out the window." Just doesn't make it...)

(We took a vacation once which involved driving our un-air conditioned car across a high desert towing a trailer. The car was overheating, and you know how to help a car with overheating issues? You turn on the heat, full blast. So we drove across the desert with the heat on, a canvas waterbag hanging on the front bumper [haven't seen those for a long while], and wet towels on our faces as we hung out the windows to get what breeze we could.)

So, yeah, I invited my Mom to visit for a week. She made reservations to visit for 10 days, because "it's hardly worth it to fly across country for less than a couple weeks."

There's a sort of disconnect where she doesnt' quite believe that I shouldn't just up and drop everything to spend time with her. She wants a full week at Thanksgiving, and just can't quite buy that I have things to do in addition to attending my classes. And she wants to watch me teach. Imagine, for a moment, your parent going to watch you at work. (Do other parents expect this? Is it a teaching thing, or do lawyers' parents watch them in court or consulting with clients?)

So, yeah, a full 10 days. And it's my own damned fault.

Fortunately, my sister-in-law is a goddess, and we're going there for a weekend. And it looks like my niece will be coming to visit me for part of the visit, so that should give my Mom something to focus on besides the failure that is me.

I have another meeting on Thursday (to get help teaching The Latehomecoming) and an appointment on Friday because it sucks to be a middle-aged female in oh so many mundane, boring, unworriesome but mildly painful ways.

On a more cheerful note: we had a good ride yesterday, finding our way to this little town in the middle of nowhere, though not far from our small city. It had gone from mid-70s to high 80s or more while we were out, so we were drinking a lot of water. And there, in the middle of nowhere was a bar. So we went in, and the bartender kindly refilled our water bottles with cold water, and the locals were friendly (in nice ways). We commiserated about the heat. And when we left, we were glad to be outside in the heat rather than inside in the smoky air conditioned bar.

But, I bet we gave them something to chuckle about for a while, two middle-aged women in lycra on a hot day walk into a bar.

I'd better shower. We're headed for the 90s today, so I'm going to wear shorts to the meeting. It's summer!


  1. richard10:35 AM

    Yay, someone else who knows the heater trick? I had to use that one steamy summer day to get my car to the shop. I have never been so grateful that I am blessed with a (very meager) understanding of automobile subsystems.

    Don't try it in a vintage VW bug, though.

  2. After three days, guests are on their own. But you know, years ago my father wanted to watch me teach. It made me nuts, but it gave him pleasure. And I'd bet there are lawyers out there whose parents have wanted to see them argue in court. (My father wanted to see me in class, not in office hours.)

    Hope the meeting wasn't too grim. Our budget situation is pretty dire.

  3. Richard, Now I'm curious! Weren't old Bugs air-cooled? Why wouldn't it work?

    Susan, I'd like the three day rule, but there'd be no way for my Mom to get anywhere, because there's no public transit. I guess she could take my car and I could take one of my bikes... (actually, that seems like a good idea in some ways, but she'd be really unhappy at me).

  4. i used the heater trick, too, the one time i drove cross-country. my car was a 1970's honda civic, and it was not liking the desert much.

    i was a trial lawyer at the other end of that journey; i'm pretty sure my parents would have liked to see me in court, but they never visited.

  5. p.s. -- i'm pretty sure that students and colleagues won't mind meeting mom! they'll say hi, tell nice stories about you.

  6. My theory on parents in the classroom is this: hey, why not? :)

    My parents have wanted to see me teach for years. I held off at my current school for a while until I was no longer the "new kid." I now know my colleagues well enough to know they wouldn't care (but it would have made me self-conscious my first few years here).

    I had a terrific bunch of first-years, and I knew they'd think my parents were "cute." Also, I come from a long line of teachers, and I grew up hanging out in my dad's classroom while he was teaching. In our family it's kind of normal to teach with an "audience" of extras in the room.

    So my folks came to class. I introduced them as "The Amazing People Who Cheered Me On Through 26 Years of Education," and I asked my students to give them a big round of applause in welcome. They sat in the back, and participated in class discussions (the topic was one on which both of them are knowledgeable), and at one point my mom even sang! (It is a music class, after all, and we were trying to remember how a specific song went...and she was the only one who could remember!) Anyhow, they sat back there beaming with pride. It was slightly embarrassing but awfully cute.

    There is family precedent for this: My great-grandfather, who never finished high school but who valued education nonetheless, was terribly proud that his son (my great-uncle) earned a PhD and became a professor. He used to audit his son's classes--he'd show up all dressed up in his best suit and sit in the back row, beaming with joy. The students loved it.

    Of course, Take Your Parents To Work Day wouldn't work for everyone; not everyone has the type of parent/child relationship or the work environment that would make such things comfortable and unobtrusive. But if you feel ok with it, your students probably won't mind at all.

  7. Bardiac, I just mean that after 3 days, I don't do entertainment. My Mom can sit and read a book while I work or do whatever.

  8. My dad actually came to see me teach once. This was after I had been teaching for about 15 years, so I felt really confident of my skillz. He loved it, though he did tell me (earnestly) afterwards that he thought I should consider using Powerpoint. (He's an engineer.) "Dad," I told him. "Power corrupts. Powerpoint corrupts absolutely."

  9. richard11:53 AM

    Yep, the old bugs were air cooled. But the heater was electric, it didn't use the heat generated by the engine. So running the heater would just heat the engine even more.