Category Archives: Microblog Mondays

Microblog Mondays: Terry Who?

I was eating lunch at the university today when I overheard something that brought me up short. Two undergraduates (both male) were sitting at the table next to me, and one of them had pointed to a poster showing an upcoming film. The words “Terry Fox” were uttered.

“Who’s Terry Fox?” said the other.

I just about fell out of my chair, as did the first student.

“You don’t know who Terry Fox is?” he asked, incredulous.

“Never heard of him. Is he a director or something?”

The first student then proceeded to give his friend a brief rundown of the Terry Fox heroic arc.

“I can’t believe you don’t know who he is,” he finished off, almost stammering in his shock. “We have a run in school every year. Everyone knows who he is.”

At this point I couldn’t help myself and jumped in to the conversation. “Saying you don’t know who Terry Fox is,” I said, “is like shouting to everyone in this room that you’re not from here.”

“I’m not from here,” said the second student. “I was born here but I grew up [in southern United State].”

We gave him the salient details: the cancer; the loss of his leg; the Marathon of Hope; the return of the cancer; his continuing legacy.

“He’s the ultimate Canadian hero,” I finished. “He’s an Everyman. He’s an ordinary man who set out to do something extraordinary, and even though he failed in his ultimate goal, his legacy has lived on. It’s probably even more powerful now than if he had made it all the way across Canada. He’s not political. It doesn’t matter what you think or what you believe, you can’t help but support him.”

“Yeah,” said the second student, by now completely on board with the Terry Fox myth, “if you were against him, you’d be for cancer!”

We all laughed, I said I hoped they had a nice afternoon, and I headed back to the library.

It was an interesting conversation to have the same day I read Mali’s post about the cultural differences between use of language. Right up until the American student opened his mouth it had literally never occurred to me that there were people out there who had never heard of Terry Fox. His Heritage Minute is embedded in my memory for life.

So, my readers, you tell me. If you are not Canadian, have you heard of our hero? If you are, is he as strongly embedded in your cultural consciousness as my own?

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

Advertisements

15 Comments

Filed under Microblog Mondays

Microblog Mondays: Associations

A couple of weeks ago, for reasons I won’t get into here, I bought a breakfast sandwich from Tim Horton’s.

It’s been years since I’ve eaten one of those (I can’t even remember the last time).

I opened up the wrapper, took a bite…and I was back at the clinic.

We used to eat them, you see, Q. and I, back in the IUI days of 2008 and early 2009. We’d arrive at the clinic as early as we could, and then Q. would go out to find breakfast after he’d done his bit, while I waited for it to be my turn for the ultrasound. It was our routine, a way of trying to attach some semblance of normalcy to a situation that was anything but normal. We’d sit side-by-side in the clinic’s waiting room, eating our breakfast sandwiches and drinking our caffeinated beverages (black coffee for Q., Earl Grey tea with milk for me) and listening for our name to be called, for our doctor to tell us that they were ready to try, once again, to get me pregnant.

They’ll never be ‘just’ breakfast sandwiches for me. In the same way that the transit stop where I used to get off to go to the clinic will always be associated with the clinic, even though I no longer go to the clinic when I get off there, those sandwiches for me will always taste of the waiting room, the early mornings, and our quiet, mounting despair that we might not ever get to be parents.

We did become parents in the end (although not from any of those early mornings). I no longer have to fight down a rising anxiety attack when I see the name of the clinic’s transit stop flash past. Outwardly, I look like I’ve ‘made it’. There’s nothing to mark me out as infertile.

But it only takes one bite of a breakfast sandwich for it all to come back.

Do you have infertility associations that have stayed with you?

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

1 Comment

Filed under Anxiety Overload, Microblog Mondays

Microblog Mondays: The Good Patient

I am usually a model patient.

The chief ultrasound tech at the clinic used to comment on it, saying, “Turia, you are a good girl. You take all your medications on time. You come in when you need to come in. You are a perfect patient.”

This always struck me as crazy, because there was so much on the line at that clinic. Why spend thousands and thousands of dollars to not take the right medications or skip monitoring or do the IVF trigger shot too early or too late? But I guess she had seen all of those and more.

This morning I had my second appointment with my new endocrinologist (who is just as competent and just as pleasant and just as organized as she appeared to be at our first meeting). We went over the bloodwork I did two weeks earlier, and she was very happy with the change to my synthroid, but a little perplexed as to why one other factor still wasn’t in the ‘normal’ range.

“It could be something totally benign,” she told me, “in which case it’s just indicative of either low Vitamin D or low calcium.”

At that point I had to admit that, despite what it said in my chart, I had largely stopped taking both Vitamin D and calcium back in the summer. I got out of the habit when we went to visit Q’s family and never got back into it. I haven’t even been taking a prenatal, even though I’m still nursing P.

I’m eating dairy again, but not huge amounts of it because of what I discovered when I was regulating my cycle before P. was conceived, so I’m quite sure I’m not getting the 1200 mg a day she wanted. And I know I should be taking Vitamin D because it’s a given that everyone in Canada is deficient without supplementation. My kids get theirs, but taking care of me had slipped through the cracks.

She was very good about it and suggested that we do another round of blood tests in three months to check everything was back to normal.

I was unbelievably embarrassed.

I’m still mulling over my goals/resolutions for 2018, but one of them was definitely going to be “take better care of myself”. I had thought to start small on this by restarting my flossing habit (which once was impeccable but has been far from ideal ever since P. was born).

I guess I better add “take your vitamins” to my list.

How’s your self-care? Where are your weak spots?

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

3 Comments

Filed under Microblog Mondays, MSPI, My addled brain, Nursing, Thyroid

Microblog Mondays: Care Less

I am giving a seminar paper this week at my new department. I (foolishly) volunteered to give a paper earlier in the fall, back when I felt guilty about spending so little time there as their new postdoc.

At the time it seemed like a great idea, although it’s felt like a progressively less great idea the more time I’ve spent writing the paper; it felt like a downright terrible idea this morning when I managed to crash Word while trying to figure out how to insert accents: I not only failed to learn how to type the accents I needed but I also lost two good paragraphs (which could not be retrieved even after much Googling of where the Autosave document ought to have been).

I was happily writing my paper last Friday when a horrifying thought occurred to me: I don’t know most of the people in this new department. At my home university I’m a known entity; I give good papers which emerge from good ideas. At the new place my supervisor knows I’m a decent scholar, but I’m a stranger to pretty much everyone else, including the Chair.

For a moment I found myself paralyzed by the thought that I might make an ass out of myself. It was imposter syndrome (something which I have struggled with for my entire academic career: see here, here, oh and here too) rearing its ugly head. I allowed the usual thought process – I might say the wrong thing! They might ask me about my translations! I’ll be exposed as a fraud who knows nothing! I’ll embarrass my home department, my supervisor, and Q.! – to wash over me.

And then I quashed the negative thoughts.

I am giving a paper about a project I’ve been working on for several months (and have been thinking about for a couple of years).

I will know more about my subject than anyone else in the room.

I will be fine.

And (and this was the most freeing thought of all, largely because I’ve never managed to think it and believe it before) even if I make an ass of myself and they think I’m an idiot, I don’t really care. My future in the profession (if there is a future for me in academia) does not depend on their good opinions of my work.

It was amazing how much better I felt after that.

Are you plagued by imposter syndrome too? What do you do to counteract it?

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

5 Comments

Filed under Anxiety Overload, Life after the PhD, Microblog Mondays

Microblog Mondays: My Field’s Harvey Weinstein?

TW: Sexual assault and child abuse mentioned.

Last week I was wasting time on a jobs wiki  when I stumbled across a couple of links to articles about a sexual harassment lawsuit that had been filed by a graduate student against an EXTREMELY PROMINENT academic in my field. The lawsuit alleged not only that said famous professor had harassed her repeatedly for years, but also that the university had turned a blind eye to his behaviour, even when she had complained.

Quite recently, about a month after the original articles were published, another one came out indicating that the famous professor has stood done from all teaching, advising, and other student-related activities. The anonymous comments on the job wiki have made it clear that this professor’s reputation for sexually harassing women was well known, even outside his own university.

Assuming the allegations prove to be true, and if it was also true that “everyone knew and nobody said anything”, it sparks a number of interesting moral issues. Were you complicit if you sent high-flying female graduate students to work with this individual, knowing his history? Were you complicit if you sent high-flying male graduate students to work with this individual but warned off your female students, knowing that your male students would then reap the benefits of being associated with such an academic superstar (including very high placement rates in tenure-track positions)? Were you complicit if you knew his history and still invited this individual to your campus to give a lecture, or asked him to write a chapter for an edited volume, or to review a manuscript, or any of the myriad duties that fall on established academics when it’s “business as usual”?

Are we complicit if, going forward, the allegations are proven and we still cite this individual’s articles and books in our own research?

While reading up on this I also discovered that last year another professor in our field pleaded guilty to trading child pornography over the internet. Q. has a very famous and influential article by this individual on the syllabus for one of his courses. It seems a no-brainer to strike that off, but (as my rabbit hole of Googling quickly proved) this is a thorny issue and one that a lot of academics are now wrestling with.

Can you separate the scholarship from the scholar?

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

3 Comments

Filed under A (Good) Day's Work, Microblog Mondays, Soapbox

Microblog Mondays: Sugar Overload

Until this year, I had never really understood parents who opted for the “switch witch” concept, where they either take away their child’s Hallowe’en candy at night while the kid is sleeping and leave a toy instead, or give the kid a choice between keeping the candy or keeping the toy. I didn’t have much of a problem with E. enjoying his Hallowe’en spoils, especially since he only visited a handful of houses every year and was happy enough to be limited to one piece a day (after dinner).

Then there was this year, and because E. is six now he wanted to stay out trick-or-treating for longer and because his costume was so ridiculously amazing many of our neighbours gave him extra candy- huge handfuls of it in some cases.

He ended up with a TRUCKLOAD of candy- it filled the bowl in which we’d kept the candy that we gave out to 80 or 90 kids, plus he needed an extra container for his chips.

He’s been able to choose something nut-free for his lunch and he can have a piece after dinner if he’s had a good supper and if he remembers to ask for it. He’s never argued about this, and the result is that, even with Q. and I eating a significant number of his mini chocolate bars after he’s gone to bed, we’ve still barely made a dent in it.

We have a blanket rule that Hallowe’en candy is removed from the house on the 1st of December (so we can enjoy a couple of candy-free weeks before all the Christmas goodies start piling up) and, again, E.’s never argued with this because he’s usually eaten almost all of his candy by then and he’s a bit bored with it.

This year he’s still going to have a lot left over, so I’m not sure how he’ll react.

I don’t see anything inherently bad in eating candy as the occasional treat, and I’d even be up for E. having a big binge and making himself sick in the process as a learning experience, but I have to say that the sheer volume of candy he came home with this year has made me seriously consider the switch witch idea for the first time, even if I would dearly miss the mini Twix and Wunderbars.

If you do Hallowe’en (or did as a kid), how is (was) candy handled in your house?

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

 

8 Comments

Filed under E.- the seventh year, Food, Microblog Mondays

Microblog Mondays: What’s Your FOMO?

I have been reading (and enjoying) Morra Aarons-Mele’s Hiding in the Bathroom: An Introvert’s Roadmap to Getting Out There (When You’d Rather Stay Home), which I heard about from Mel (thanks, Mel!); it’s given me a lot to think about, and helped me understand why I find it so difficult to think about leaving academia (spoiler alert: I’m not only an introvert but also a hermit and academia, at least in the humanities, is great for hermits).

Early in the book, she writes about the positive side of FOMO (pages 29-31), writing that “once you get in touch with your FOMO, it can be a powerful diagnostic tool” and “like a sore muscle or overused tendon, excessive FOMO is also a sign that a behavior has to change”. If you are always feeling FOMO about the same things, that can be a signal about what you feel is lacking in your own life.

This point really struck home with me, because I know exactly where I experience FOMO. I might get a twinge of it now and again if someone has gone on a particularly exotic vacation or spent a lot of time at a cottage or gone out for a weekend of eating at nice restaurants and watching live theatre, but those moments of FOMO are fleeting: I don’t really want to be that person doing those things. I wish I could do those things too, but I’m content with the current phase of my life and I can see that those things don’t easily align with that phase (read: raising small children). I’m even less likely to experience FOMO with career-related news (which is the kind of FOMO Aarons-Mele is discussing) because I’m not ambitious in that regard (even though I often feel guilty that this is true).

When does my FOMO strike?

  1. When people take better photographs than I do (especially of their kids and/or landscapes)
  2. When people announce they’re publishing a book (especially bloggers who started blogging after I did [not that I ever thought this blog would lead to a book- it’s more that they were able to find a blogging niche that eventually opened the door to a book]).

It’s not rocket science to see the changes I need to make to triumph over my FOMO.

For photography:

  1. Take more pictures
  2. Switch from AV to Manual mode and start shooting in RAW
  3. Read my camera’s manual to figure out what I don’t yet know how to do
  4. Learn how to edit my pictures using Lightroom
  5. Possibly take some sort of online course if I’m still not seeing the results I want

For writing:

  1. Write more
  2. Set aside dedicated time for writing each day/week
  3. Edit my work if I finish something
  4. Actually submit my work somewhere so it might have the opportunity to see the light of day

Seeing the steps forward is always easy for me. Actually taking those steps is often another story.

Do you experience FOMO? Is it fleeting or is your mind trying to tell you something?

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.

5 Comments

Filed under A (Good) Day's Work, Anxiety Overload, Microblog Mondays, Writing