bumps in the road.

Well, we’re 4 weeks into the semester now, and it’s been a bumpy ride.

First day!
Madrigal and Me on the First Day of School

Transitioning to teaching two classes has been a challenge for me (I’ve only ever taught one class per semester before), and the MWF schedule is utterly unrelenting in a way that really hard for me to cope with. I get done with my second class on Friday afternoon and think, “yay, I can take a little break!” except no, I can’t – there’s Monday’s classes to be prepping. Add to that the fact that it’s my first time teaching this Foundations of Cognitive Science class by myself (I co-taught it 4 years ago, so even that experience is pretty well forgotten!), and the first time teaching this particular version of my freshman writing class, and well, 2 new preps on a MWF schedule just ain’t easy. Next semester I’ll be back to teaching T-Th, which I much prefer; I can prep Tuesday’s classes on Monday, prep Thursday’s classes on Wednesday, and have Friday for other things, like, you know, finishing my dissertation. Unfortunately, my dissertation ACTUALLY needs to get (at least mostly) finished THIS semester, which means carving out an hour here and there in between class prep and office hours (which are always well-attended – I can’t complain, because it’s all students who are just SO EXCITED about my classes, but gosh, I could really use some unattended office hours for prep!). I’m just never not working and though I do love working with my students, I’m stretched so thin that it’s wearing me down. And it’s only been 4 weeks. (I did another “Day in the Life” photo challenge documenting a typical Wednesday for me; if you want to see what that’s like, you can find it here!)

The transition’s been hard on Madrigal and me. We got used to spending all afternoon together every single day over the summer, and now she’s doing full school days (and my husband takes care of the pickups, which mean leaving work early, a couple of days per week so that I can stay full days at work). We barely see each other! We’re both adapting, but the first couple of weeks were SO hard. I missed her so badly at work that I’d cry in my office, and she missed me so badly she cried at school. She tells her teachers “I miss mama” a lot. Breaks my heart! But really, she’s thriving at school, and her language skills are just taking off, and it’s amazing to see her becoming her own person.

on the "big girl" swing
On the “big girl” swing

Knitting hasn’t been going all that smoothly, either. For one thing, I don’t have much time for it – I’m usually spending my evening time, after M goes to bed, working until it gets late enough that I need to just go to bed. (The lack of “me”-time is brutal so far this semester. I should be working right now, honestly, but I’m just going bonkers. I can’t do this, long term, which is giving me serious misgivings about the career path I’m on.)

But I *had* gotten a decent amount of knitting done on the “Extra Yarn” sweater for M…

A brief knit break

…only to discover, once I tried the body and the single sleeve I’d knit on M this morning, that it was coming out too small. Off to the frog pond it goes.

headed to the frog pond

In that picture, you can see some of the details I was using – the folded hem, the attached i-cord that I created by picking up the purl stitches on the turning round (I used this technique for my Sullivan design as well), and the “heel stitch” elbow treatments on the sleeve. Unfortunately, I made a rookie mistake (funny, since I’ve been knitting for over half of my life at this point!), and didn’t think about how my gauge might change between a flat swatch and knitting in the round. Turns out, it got smaller. Not a LOT smaller, but multiplied over as many stitches as it was, it meant that instead of a looser, A-line fit, it basically made M look like an overstuffed sausage. Not cute. Not what I was going for. So, out the window goes all of the knitting I managed to accomplish in the past month. Ugh!

I never used to get why knitters would keep going and finish something after it wasn’t working – and I still don’t, honestly. I’ll always put in whatever time it takes to get a finished product I’ll actually use/wear, and I’ll rip and redo a million times if that’s what it takes. But now that my knitting time is cut so short, I at least kind of understand the impulse to avoid ripping at all costs. It’s painful to throw away all that work.

My mind is filled with dreams of sweaters and dresses and pants to knit and sew for my beloved girl, but I don’t know when I’ll ever have the time to do it. I swear I’ve got an entire book worth of kids’ knitting patterns banging around in my brain, and it’s making me crazy not to be able to do anything with that. I hope this stage is temporary – just until I finish the dissertation. We’ll see.

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