15 August 2006

Wiggle Memories and Other Rambles

So my first 44-year-old blog post has been slow in coming. The passage of time, not so slow around here these days, but the blogging, very slow. So I have a lot of posts in my head, and I beg your indulgence as I ramble a bit about some of those topics here. It's a place to start, to get back into what I hope will be a good bloggy groove.

Topic the First: being department chair
Still-43-year-old me became department chair, and 44-year-old me has been busy as a result. It's probably not too politic to discuss some of the transition here, but let me point out a few things I've discovered in my office:
  • my predecessor's 1993 tax returns
  • files for people who left our department sometime in the 1990s, in a drawer labeled "current staff"
  • nicely organized files left by the person who moved out of this office in 2001
  • big piles of documents from 2001-on
  • happily, two folders full of Useful Information That Answered Questions, which I found by pure luck
So it's been a rather messy start to my new gig as department chair. I can report that the floor in the office is now visible, that I have 9 fewer chairs in the office than my predecessor (partly why the floor is now visible, although unpacking boxes also helped), and that both my colleagues and my dean have been very helpful so far. Someone brought me eggplant parmigiana today, just because she thought I'd like it. And the dean's office has answered around a zillion questions and has also made it possible, for the most part, for me to move ahead on my own terms without being too responsible for anything that's gotten lost in the transition. So I think this will all be OK in the end, and it's both humbling and inspiring to see the ways in which so many people are willing to help me learn my way (and to realize the many ways it's possible for a department chair to help her colleagues). I think I"ll like this job. And I know I'll like it a lot more a month from now, when some key processes that were largely managed by my predecessor are finished, and I'll be moving into work that I can guide from start to finish.

Topic the Second: Where have you been lately?
I started 44 with tons of organizing at the office, and then my family arrived: first my sister and her family, and then our parents. Between the family, the boxes at the office, the forms that needed filling out (requests to add faculty lines, requests to deal with salaries, requests for help with promotion and tenure matters, just to name a few), the start of the State Fair (which deserves its own post), and the boxes at home (because our renovation project is almost done, so now we can move back into the old part of the house), I've missed blogging. And I've been working on tons of posts in my head, trying to work out the weird kind of jealousy I feel about watching one of my neices, who's close in age to Curious Girl, trying to work out the odd dynamics with my family. They don't quite get me, and I let that fact get to me. So I've got lots swirling around in my head about sameness and difference, belonging, developmental variations, school, and praise. It's been nice having so many people here, but it's left me with lots to think about.

Topic the Third: The Empty Car Seat
Curious Girl and Politica flew off to visit Politica's father today. They'll be back on Thursday. I hate it when they go away. I stayed here, thinking that I needed to be around to manage some fall preparations here in the department. Turns out I got all that finished yesterday, so I could have gone, but I'm here. Here with time to complete my syllabus and unpack my office, so that's probably good. But still, I'm here, not there, and the house is too quiet. Andrea had wonderful photos illustrating her empty feelings when Frances and Erik went away last month. I'm not so organized as to upload my photos promptly, but if I were, I'd have taken a photo of the carseat. We don't spend that much time in the car, really, but the sight of the empty car seat in my little Curious Girl-view mirror makes me want to cry. (In fact, I had to pull into the airport hotel parking lot so I could cry for a minute after I dropped them off.) CG was so very happy to be off on a trip with Politica, so very happy to be visiting her Morfar. And I'm happy about that, really. Politica's been spending a lot of time at work this spring/summer, and it's good for the two of them to have some special time. I know that. But still....I don't like being away from CG. I want to be there with her, taking care of her. Laughing with her. And I want time to chat with Politica after CG goes to sleep.

And I don't like being the only person home in the house. So I'll stay up late and sleep with lots of the lights on.

Topic the Fourth: The Real Wiggles
The last time I posted about music, lots of you turned out to share my passion for show tunes. Hurrah! So now let's talk about the Wiggles, a group which has gotten quite roundly criticized in the opening posts and comments over at Corndog's (most excellent) Flatulent Four tourney.
Corndog, for example, says:
I've got an episode of The Wiggles in the can, so to speak, and all I can say is, if there's anything worse than that out there, then I'm going to be a slobbering idiot by the time this tournament is done.
Now, not everyone in this little corner of the blogosphere is down on the Australain foursome.
Dani (at Postcards from the Mothership) had lots of fun seeing the Wiggles, or more to the point, seeing her sons see the Wiggles. Curious Girl has been a big fan of the Wiggles for about a year. After one of her surgeries, someone brought her a Wiggles video to watch while she convalesced, and she just took to them. While the music isn't quite as good as, say, Ralph's World or Elizabeth Mitchell/Lisa Loeb, it's way better than that of the purple dinosaur, and Politica and I have been amused at CG's emerging Wiggle habits. She likes to drag one of Politica's guitars out to play along with Murray on the song of the same name. During their version of "Maire's Wedding," she'll stop the tape to give herself time to change into a dressup dress and then dance around. So when we found out the Wiggles were coming to our city, we asked her if she wanted to go. "yes!" she said (even though it might be a little loud, and it would be dark during the show.) We were wondering whether Wiggle-enthusiasm would outweigh fear of crowds and loud noises, but decided to give it a go.

CG didn't have quite the dancing experience that Dani's sons had, but she had a ball. My parents had given her a new green-with-white polkadots dress, and she wanted to wear that to be "fancy" for the show. Then she realized her green dress would match Dorothy the Dinosaur, and she was quite happy about that. Dorothy smiled at her, CG informed me, and told her that she liked the dress. We all had a good time at the show. There were no surprises: the Wiggles or their introducer explained everything (they warned when the sidekicks were coming, they explained that the lights would go down, they explained the jokes in advance). CG doesn't like surprises at shows, so this was all great for her. The Wiggles came out into the aisles--even coming up into the cheaper seat aisles, not just on the floor near the stage--to wave at the children. They read all the signs people were holding up, and they sent Anthony (the blue-shirted one) up into the nosebleed seats to read two signs they couldn't see from the stage. They did a great job of making all the children in the pretty large arena feel included.
They make themselves laugh with their jokes, which I think is endearing (although I concede others might consider it weird). And they made CG laugh and smile, and I saw her singing along.

So it was fun. And CG is still talking about how we saw the real Wiggles, driving their big red car on the stage. "It was too funny," she told one of our friends last night. Too funny indeed.

And with that, dear readers (if indeed anyone is still reading), I'm heading up to bed. It feels nice to be posting again, so thanks for your patience with my little hiatus. I'll be trying to catch up a bit on your blogs this week, too. I've missed you.


JM said...

yay! glad you're back.

Arwen said...

Second that!

Beanie Baby said...

Me too.

And I hope your tribe comes home soon and fills up those holes.

Pilgrim/Heretic said...

Welcome back! I'm very interested to hear more about how the chair-gig goes (there's some chance I'll be headed in that direction in the next few years myself, and I'm hopelessly naive about the whole thing.)

turtlebella said...

Glad you are back too!
Hope CG and Politica return soon. I'm always the one going and it's easier to be that person than the one that stays back.

Phantom Scribbler said...

What a lovely Wiggles concert narrative. You've convinced me that it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if I cracked open the still-wrapped Wiggles DVD someone gave Baby Blue as a birthday present...

So glad that you're back! And it sounds like you're handling the new chair duties with grace.

Repressed Librarian said...

Welcome back :-)

susan said...

I'm glad you're still here reading! Hi everyone.

Phantom, there was a pretty interesting article in the NY Times magazine about the Wiggles last spring. If you (or anyone) want it, I'll e-mail it to you--it had bit of a discussion of their background and philosophy, and it was pretty interesting to me as the mother of a big fan. I think you could do worse than the Wiggles.

corndog said...

OK. Maybe the Wiggles aren't as bad as I make them out to be. But they still creep me out a little bit. And I'm still gonna bust their chops in the crap-off, if only for comic effect. I am glad you and CG had such a good time, however, we have chosen not to let our boys know about the Wiggles show in Charlottesville next week. And thanks for the links.

Mommygoth said...

Argh - inheriting someone else's mess - what a pain! Sounds like it's all starting to level out, glad to hear it.

We missed you!

Virago18 said...

RE. Topic the third. I do that too, keep more lights on and especially stay up late when my family's away. I think it's to minimize the amount of time I'm laying there in the dark thinking about how lonely it is.

Wish I was finalizing my syllabus and getting ready to come back to school with you.

DaniGirl said...

Aww, I'm glad you and Curious Girl had such a good time! Our love affair with the Wiggles continues unabated, I'm afraid, and Simon *still* talks about Jeff walking right past him at the concert.