Academic Leigh Speaking

A professor, four kids, and a crash course in work/life balance

Life and Death February 22, 2013

Filed under: Events,Totally Me — leighj @ 7:54 am

It’s been a dramatic month. People in my department are working too hard, our Tuesday babysitter didn’t come back, Patrick turned in his resignation, the boys continue to grow and develop their own opinions that we have to accept or talk them out of, and it keeps on being cold. So I haven’t blogged lately–my time for that is coming back on Tuesdays, so I’ll get back on it soon.

This past Tuesday, I went with my friend to her grandfather’s funeral in Culpeper. She’s had a bit of a sad couple of years, so I wanted to be with her while she mourned her grandfather–even though he had lived a long, productive, and happy life. We’re always sad when someone we love isn’t coming back. I met her best friend from high school and her brother and sister-in-law. They were so fun and nice, and it’s clear how proud they all are of my friend who works hard, is so stylish, and is really whip-cracking smart. We ate lunch at a BBQ place that had a sign, “Vegetarians feel free to change your mind” hanging over the door. I didn’t exactly change my mind, but I did break the Whole30 rules (whatever, I broke those after the first week, who am I kidding?). It was so peaceful, and I felt like she and I had grown up in the same town with the same intelligence, more or less–Culpeper is bigger, and she might be smarter–but with radically different experiences, and it made me sad. I’m accustomed to teaching women’s studies and thinking about all the ways that my privilege might prevent me from seeing my own or other people’s oppression, but it’s uncanny to be confronted with another version of you, just with some chance differences.

We returned to the city and she dropped me off at Metro so I could get to my friends Kathy and Dan for their 37! week baby appointment. They are having a home birth, and the Washington Post is going to video it, and I am going to be acting doula for Kathy. The cosmic, seismic shift between a funeral and a midwife appointment is hard to describe. Luckily, I told Kathy that I was a little off-kilter from the emotions, and she said she knew exactly, having working in a hospital as a nurse and experiencing that polarity often. We heard the little baby on the doppler, toured the house, and got to know each other (the Post people, the midwives, the woman who will play with the older child, the dogs) in preparation to welcome the newest member of the family. I’m so lucky to get to be there.

Then I rode Metro home during rush hour and texted nonsense with my friend Liz. Including this–Me: What is NoMa?; Liz: I just googled it. I didn’t know that neighborhood had a name and a website trying to make it cool.

This is a tiny snapshot of the emotional work I’ve been doing this month.

P.S.  I was going to put tags on this post, but I didn’t want to put these topics in the same box…

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One Response to “Life and Death”

  1. CK Says:

    Jess’s wedding is at a winery in Culpeper, so I’ll be back in the area in June. Let’s visit then!


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