Saturday, September 28, 2013

Things going on: a quick update with pictures

Maybelle and I are now celebrating the one-week anniversary in our new home.  And by "celebrating" I mean feeling completely exhausted but happy in the new space.  Maybelle fell asleep in about five minutes tonight (not the normal amount of time it takes her), and I decided to force myself to stay awake to write this post.  It's 9pm.

Here's Maybelle at the playground that's about three blocks from our new place.  It's super-nice, which means that a bunch of middle-class white people moved into this neighborhood a couple of years ago.  The city of Charleston was like, "Whoa, that nasty rusted out old swing set isn't going to be acceptable anymore."  I appreciate the playground even as I feel the need to roll my eyes when we go to it.

It's really nice.

Nonni was here this week, helping us to settle in.  Oddly, I have no pictures of her at all.  But we had a great time, and I didn't have to bike from Wednesday on because I had a chauffeur here at the house.  Mom and I cleaned out the remainder of the attic and the inside of the old place, and we continued the process of making the new place more a home.

I had my inGenius presentation on Wednesday.  Good lord, was I anxious.  I truly practiced my talk 20+ times on Tuesday and on Wednesday.  I was reciting it over and over again on Wednesday--in the bathroom, riding the bike, walking across campus.  I made my student worker listen to it at least twice, along with other students who happened to wander into the WGS office.  Two different professionals wanted to talk with me, and I made them listen to the talk first.

All that effort paid off--I remembered the whole thing!  I never had the moment of terror of "What the hell am I supposed to say next?"  And I was really happy with what I said, the images that accompanied it, and the clip from The Wrath of Khan that I included so that I could have an explanation of the Kobayashi Maru.  Truly the only thing about the talk that I feel a bit bad about what that I was ending on a high point--talking about disability as an embraceable form of human diversity, and about Maybelle not having to meet certain standards to be a viable human being.  "She is valuable just exactly as she is," I said.  During this emphatic ending to the talk, this image was supposed to be on the big screen behind me:

Unfortunately, the screen was black.  Oh, well.  I still felt great about the talk--I'll post a link to the video once it's up.

And I am so glad that the talk is over!  That much anxiety wasn't pleasant during a week in which I'd moved.

Finally, here's Maybelle just before her dance class began.

The child loves her dance classes.  Loves them so much that she continues to ask for them every single day.  "First school, then dance class."  Thursdays are big days around here.

Goodnight, folks.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Our new house

The old house, empty.
Maybelle and I have moved.  Moving is a huge transition, but it's actually been fairly easy because we've had such a fantastic group of friends helping us through the process.  Here's some of the process:

  • Adam packed almost all the books.
  • Adam and Trey moved all of the handmade furniture and things that belonged to Walter out to the wood studio.
  • Larry spend six hours packing up the kitchen and lining all the boxes up neatly so that the moving crew would get the (mistaken) idea that I'm neat and careful about my stuff.
  • Claire hired the moving crew and was in charge of the whole set-up of the new place.  She had a vision, and it turned out beautifully.
  • Larry and Claire both were the "throw it away" voices of wisdom.  "Claire, do I need these files?"  "No, throw them away." "Larry, do I need these pictures of Maybelle's?" "Just save one a year.  Throw the rest away."  I got in the spirit and made an "all done" box of books as we were unpacking those:  books I've never read and never plan to.  Bye bye.
    Five of the eight kids who helped us.
  • Cindi, Steve, Sarah, and Tom spent a few hours in the attic at the old house. Let me repeat that:  in the attic.  They pulled out 85% of the stuff up there so that I can go through it in the house without having to be in the attic.  They followed Claire's advice, and if there was stuff they felt certain should be thrown away, they said, "It just fell in the dumpster!  We don't know what happened!"
  • Lily, Sam, and Brian McCann were in charge of Maybelle's room, which is beautiful.
  • Lily and Frances unloaded the books (well, the 25% of them that would fit) and put them on the shelves in the living room.
  • Cindi and Claire set up my bedroom.  Twice.  (They changed their minds about how it should be laid out.)
  • Larry tuned up my bike.
  • Claire and Cindi did the kitchen.
Maybelle in her new home
This is only telling you a bit of what happened.  I followed orders as best I could, which was wonderful:  I didn't have to make decisions.  I just did what I was told.  The house now feels like a house.  Maybelle has a new big girl bed, which she's thrilled with, but much of the rest of the place looks quite a bit like it did before.  So she and I are both settling in, feeling comfortable.

On the way home from church this morning, Maybelle said, "Go home!"  

I said, "We're going to our new house."  

"No!  Home!" she said, a reaction I've been warned will happen for a few weeks. But then she paused and said, "New home!"

Now she's watching The Wizard of Oz, eating her weight in fig bars, and apparently feeling comfortable and happy.  In our new home.

Saturday, September 14, 2013


These days Maybelle has started saying "haley" a lot.  She says in a pleasant, observant way.  At first I thought it was the name of one of her classmates.

"Do you mean Holly?" I'd ask.

"Haley!" she'd say.  





Then I noticed that she's using the word in particular contexts, like when she's carrying around Lela, the girls, the monkey, Bolo, Dora, Boots, and Swiper.

I held up one of the girls.  "Is this Haley?"

"Girl," she responded.

"What's her name?"



In the last 24 hours, I've started wondering if "haley" in some way refers to the whole cohort of folks that she carries around.  This morning, walking down the hall with her arms full, she announced "Haley!" quite happily.  Then when she'd been on the porch with them for a while and I called her in for breakfast, she said, "Haley!", then looked at me and said, "I want help, please" so that I'd aid her in picking everybody up.

So:  what is she saying?  Is there some word that sounds like "haley" but means "bunch of folks"?  Could haley be some sort of slang term that I'm completely unaware of?  Is it a misinterpretation of a word or phrase that I say (like, "Hell, yeah"--except I so rarely say that)?

That's what this blog post is about.  I'm looking for some brainstorming, folks.  Help me figure this out.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

inGenius! (yes, a title I have to live up to)

On Thursday, September 25, at 5:30pm, I'll be joining an impressive line-up of folks to talk know...things in the world.

It's a great event--and an honor to be invited to speak.  Each speaker is allowed five minutes of time. Five minutes.  For a professor, that's going to require a great deal of practice, because I can take five minutes making the point that prefaces the point leading up to my main point.


So I'm practicing.  I'm going to cut extraneous stuff.  I'm going to be concise, witty, profound, and energetic.  (The energetic I can actually promise.)

The good news is that I have not only cool things to say, but gorgeous pictures of Maybelle to accompany what I'm saying.  And I will even show a 44 second clip from Wrath of Khan.  That alone is reason to attend this event.

Here's the site where you can see everyone who's presenting.  Don't y'all think it's a little unfair that I'm presenting right after Quentin Baxter plays?  Yes, it is.  Maybe I can pretend that he's warming the audience up for me.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

OMG! Totes adorbs!*

Today was Maybelle's first dance class.  She's taking the Pre-K Discover Movement class at a local studio called DanceFX (which I've talked about before, and also before....).  They very wisely don't let the parents into the classroom, so I didn't get to see what happened--but I got to see her beforehand.  She was wearing a leotard and pink tights...and in general I'm not at all interested in encouraging Maybelle to fit into standard gender norms.  Not at all!

But she was damned cute in that little outfit.

She ran around the dance studio before and after the class, watching herself in the mirror, and her teacher said that she did just fine in class.  Periodically throughout the class the parents in the lobby would hear delighted laughter from the classroom.  When Maybelle came out, she said, "Dance class!  Dance class!"

It was interesting being in the lobby, waiting for Maybelle.  Perhaps this deserves its own blog post, but I'll say two things:

  1. It'll be no surprise to anyone to learn that mothers were the only people there--nary a child was brought by a father, and 
  2. It might be a surprise that I got to have a lengthy and interesting conversation with two neighbors, one of whom is a PhD, and one an MD.

*I don't think full-grown adults are allowed to use these words, but Trey and Catherine use them, so I'll pretend I'm quoting them.