So, about the last two weeks…

What happened to me…

Oh, my, where to start this story. I want to write it down before I forget it, as I know I will. Well, not the experience, per se, but the details. And I don’t want to forget them. As I’ve learned all too well over the years, these experiences that shape me come back to haunt me in the future, and I’d rather know and remember what happened, and when, so that I can be ready when that does happen.

So where to begin? I traveled out east for a visit with an established specialist to try to get some answers to my chronic undiagnosed medical issues. And it gave me an opportunity to see my family – bonus! The trip started well, with travel going smoothly, a wonderful visit, and time with my parents. Since my brother and his family live near where my medical visit was, we had lunch with him, before my appointment, and my parents hung out with him while waiting for me. That night, we’d planned a family dinner, in part to celebrate my parents’ 50th anniversary.

We arrived at the restaurant with my parents, brother, and his family (2 kids, spouse), and were seated on a lovely outside patio, and had a toast to my parents after we ordered. Then I made my way to the bathroom… which was in a basement requiring me to go down some outside steps and then into the basement of the restaurant itself.

And that’s where things went off the rails. I caught my foot on what was apparently a 2 inch high threshold that was not marked in any way, and could not catch my balance on the rug inside the door, which propelled me… right into a cinderblock wall, which I hit with my arms (I’d stretched them out at some point) and eventually my head (ow).  

The next thing I knew, I was face down on the ground, my left shoulder was killing me, my glasses were knocked around, and I was bleeding a lot from my forehead. Cue chaos – some poor kid from the kitchen found me immediately, and then there were staff and lots of paper towels for my head. Someone finally found my parents and brought them down, then the EMTs arrived. Fortunately, I never lost consciousness, and my glasses, while somewhat worse for the wear, survived, too.

A short ambulance ride later and we were at one of the inner city hospitals that was one of the only ones accepting patients that night. Who knows what was going on, but all the others were closed. To make a VERY long story short, they were so busy at that ER that my parents and I decided to leave (I was very stable and just fine other than ow, my shoulder, which was probably dislocated) and get me to the ER near where they live, which would be much faster. This ER actually saw me, took some x-rays, gave me a sling, and sent me to a room to wait for the PA. Whew.

The PA showed up to look at me, told me she’d reviewed my x-rays, and when I said, “oh good, I think my shoulder is dislocated” she looked at me and said, “actually, you have a fractured humerus” (that would be the upper arm bone). Oh. Oh great. I think I said “Really?” And she said yes, again. Management is typically conservative – sling, then PT, and she said I could travel home and then follow up with ortho here. She did stitch up my head quite nicely – and without a numbing injection, which I requested since I HATE them. (She was a bit… doubtful but I did just fine!)

I finally got a shower when we got to my parents’ house, got maybe an hour or two of sleep, and spent the next day trying to do some work and figure out how to do things with one arm. I couldn’t move my arm much more than bending my elbow – I couldn’t move it out to the side, or up, or put any weight on it or carry anything in my hand.

Everything seems to take forever when you only have one arm to use and you’re used to having 2. Think about dusting (If you dust, that is…). You pick up things with your nondominant hand, usually (fortunately, I broke my non-dominant arm, which has been a huge blessing in a way!), and then dust with your dominant hand, right? When you have to do that all with the dominant hand, it takes for freaking ever!

I also had to break the news to my friend, who’s also in charge of our academic programs, to let her know I’d have to be teaching online for a few weeks since my face looked like, well, like it had met a wall. Sigh. She was fine with it, of course! Otherwise, I haven’t told many people here. This friend, the person for whom I was supposed to guest lecture today, my ex, and his mother, who lives locally.

The next day, I was traveling home. Mom got me to the airport well ahead of time since I was worried about traveling with one arm in a sling, and an unstabilized and painful fracture. The only problem… the check-in line when I arrived was not moving. At all. People were just standing there and EVERYONE at the counter was taking forever and that’s when I learned that my first flight was delayed and I’d miss my connection, but the little “find an alternative” link in the app didn’t have ANY options. I didn’t know that Thursday had been an epically bad day of travel due to the weather that week in the Midwest and south so everything was backed up and people had been rebooked from Thurs to Fri and so everything was overcrowded and delayed and awful.

Then began the debacle of trying to get home. When I finally got to the counter – an hour after I arrived, I think – I explained the situation, and through some miracle the agent found a seat on the later flight from my connecting city home. But then the first flight wasn’t as delayed as anticipated, so she also put me on standby on that – my original – flight. Which, unknown to us, put me on standby on the first flight to the connecting city. Oh yeah, it was a mess. And I didn’t find out until I got to the gate, and the poor agent told me I did not have a seat, and I lost it. I just dissolved into tears for the first time since this had happened. I was in so much pain, and so tired, and just couldn’t believe that this was all falling apart at the last minute.

A couple of minutes later… probably wanting desperately to be rid of the crying girl on the other side of the counter (I NEVER cry but, well, this was hard. Really hard.), he handed me a boarding pass with a seat on it. I didn’t even care if it was in the bathroom at that point. I thanked him profusely and finally – finally – got on the plane. In the way back. With a tight connection. Fun! After the deplaning debacle when we landed (Everyone had tight connections, seriously), I moved as fast as I could to the original connecting flight, got to the desk, looked down, and… there was a boarding pass. With my name. And a SEAT. I HAD A SEAT. Cue the tears, again. (I was really really tired and in pain, obviously, but even weirder? No one noticed, or seemed to notice. No one asked if I was okay, or if I needed help. Maybe I just looked too scary? [I had a major black eye and bruising and oh, yeah, stitches on my forehead…] Maybe COVID? Who knows, but… it was a bit odd…)

We finally landed, finally got off the plane, and miracle of miracles, my bag finally arrived in baggage claim. Getting the suitcase in the car and then myself was interesting – and painful – as was figuring out how to drive with one hand, but I managed and finally got home. Where I’ve mostly been for the last almost two weeks.

Because the saga isn’t over. Oh, no. But that gets its own post. I’ll just say that I’m okay for now, but the road to recovery is never smooth and I’ve definitely had some… bumps.

I’ll be back as soon as I can, but dealing with some of those recovery-related things today, so it may be a day or two. But I’ll be back! I swear.


Well, disappearing for nearly 3 weeks was not planned, to say the least. And sharing why will take a bit of time. So just…well, just a head’s up that if you’re paying attention to this random space on the internet, I haven’t been vaporized, and I promise I’ll be back to explain a bit more. I’m hoping to get some time to do this today or tomorrow…

I do hope all of you who regularly stop by are well – I have been keeping up with all of your blogs as I am able, although my comments have certainly dwindled. I hope to rectify that soon, too.

Random voices from the past

I was thinking about this this morning, as I put on a very casual outfit for the day (think leggings + hoodie). I teach this afternoon, but I’m kind of over the idea of “dressing up” to teach for 2 hours. I’d rather be comfortable – and the students honestly do not care. Plus, I rarely see anyone else (faculty, administration, deans, etc.) when I go into the building this late in the day.

Which is why it surprised me to have a voice pop into my head from, I kid you not, my junior year in college. It was summer – this might have had something to do with the connection my mind made – and I was taking classes in an effort to graduate early and get work experience as soon as possible. (The fact that this did not work out – at all – is a story for another day… I graduated early but the whole ‘work experience’ thing did not happen…) My roommate and I were in our rotation for psych/mental health, and we were placed at a locked-down mental health facility (it had skeleton keys – we were issued one each on the first day of our rotation). We were told to wear “street clothes”, which in those days meant a Gap short-sleeved t-shirt and khakis (also Gap. yes, it was the late 90s). I will never forget the day that I had my evaluation with the professor and she told me to my face that I dressed horribly and ‘looked like a patient’. This might be the time to point out that my roommate was literally wearing the same outfit. But she only said it to me.

And that was what I heard in my head this morning when I put on my perfectly appropriate, clean clothing for the day. Which, of course, led me to second guess what I had put on for the day.

And THAT got me wondering about why these random voices from my past – this is not the only one – pop into my head. Still. And why they are almost all disparaging comments. I suspect the reason has something to do with the fact that I am (still) not confident in who I am, despite my assertions to the contrary. That I still compare myself to others, and find myself lacking.

I guess the key is that I don’t need to listen to these voices. But it’s hard to break a habit I’ve had for years. Perhaps the best way forward is just to continue to ignore them – as best I can – and remember that I am my own person. That I know what I want, and what I need. And that I don’t need to justify my wardrobe, my existence, or anything else about me to anyone else. And, perhaps, figure out some way to build my confidence in myself. Maybe this will come naturally as I move more fully into a life on my own, without a partner. I suspect it will take a bit more work, though. The question is, am I prepared to (finally) put in that work? I guess time will tell.

“You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody.”

― Maya Angelou


Well, that was a longer pause in blog posts than I intended. Goodness. I think the last time I posted was nearly a month ago. I certainly didn’t plan to be post-less for so long, but, well, life and work and various and sundry “things” conspired to keep me from sharing my thoughts in this space.

And wow, I missed it. Even if I am just putting these thoughts out into the ether, and no one is reading them, there is something cathartic about writing posts about what is on my mind. It’s different from what I write in my personal journal, and I am finding that I really value both.

All of that to say, it’s good to be back. And today it’s going to be a hodgepodge of randomness, because it’s Monday, technically a holiday here in the US, and I honestly don’t have a more thoughtful, composed (ha, I almost typed “composted”) post in my head. So, here we go…

  1. Work stuff. Oof. The last post I had here was right before the end-of-semester grading frenzy. We are on a hard deadline for that so I was prioritizing that for several days. Fortunately, my students’ papers were pretty darn good (points to me for building a lot of feedback into the writing process) so there were fewer papers that made me shake my head and despair for the future of my profession than in past years. 😉 Tomorrow marks the start of the summer session, and I’m super-nervous about the course that I will be teaching for the first time. Ooof, again. Let’s just say the person who taught it last year was not, um, forthcoming with information/support/resources. I basically reconstructed what they did by downloading and reviewing the files and the course website. The first class is tomorrow afternoon – so here’s hoping it goes well. (I do still need to do a more in-depth read of the articles assigned, too…) We also have several PhD students at time-intensive points in their programs, so I have responsibilities related to that, too. In other words, summer has started but other than not having any standing meetings (hallelujah, since they’re mostly on Friday afternoons, something Kae can sympathize with now…), it’s pretty much the same pace as during the academic year. Not uncommon, but let’s just say that last week’s break was desperately needed.
  2. And on that note, life stuff. Specifically, travel and vacation stuff from last week. It was wonderful to see my parents and get some down time during the all-too-brief transition from spring semester to summer session. We spent time on the (very windy) beach, I read at a speed I can only maintain when I have no other responsibilities (I did read the hardback version of Codebreaker, about the development of CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing and the women who made the discoveries and connections needed to support its development in… 2.5 days. It was nearly 500 pages. When I’m passionate about something – and have the time – it’s good to know that I can still be the reader that I “used to be” before life took over…). I got more quality time with my parents than I had had for years. And then, well, there were some downsides. I got a skin infection related to the health issue I’ve been having for several months now. And then, my dad’s “allergies” turned out to be… COVID. So, yeah. I see my parents for the first time in a year. And one of us gets COVID. Sigh. This meant that I wound up sleeping on the couch (not super-comfortable, but at least it let me get horizontal) for three nights, so that my dad could isolate and my mother was not sleeping on the not-super-comfortable couch. Let’s just say my hope for deep, restful sleep was squashed when he tested positive. Fortunately, he is much better now (his symptoms were relatively mild), and neither my mom nor I seems to have contracted it. I’ll know for sure when I test later today. (Fingers crossed, as that would complicate tomorrow’s class a bit…) (OK, edited to add, overwhelmingly negative, which means my immune system actually functioned properly for once! Woohoo.)
  3. There are other life stuff things, but moving on… I have a crazy long list of personal to do’s to go along with my work related ones and can I just say that while writing them out helps (classic brain dump style), it is really overwhelming to look at everything, all at once. Also, I haven’t updated my work to do lists in weeks and I’m dreading doing that. Whine, whine. I am grateful to be busy – otherwise, I would be bored – but some days it’s just overwhelming. I know we all have these challenges, so I also know that I’m nothing special when it comes to long to do lists. 🙂
  4. We are finally – FINALLY – having more seasonal weather here. It’s supposed to be hot as blazes here today, then more normal the rest of the week. Well, except for the severe storms. Tomorrow. Likely when I’ll be walking from the parking ramp to my class – because that’s how it usually goes. 🙂 Despite the more normal temps, though, I am feeling distinctly under-inspired regarding any plants/herbs for my mini balcony. I usually at least TRY, but this year? I’m just…. not into it. The idea of getting some potted herbs, repotting them, putting them on the balcony… it’s pathetic, but it just seems like a lot right now. (I think part of the reason I feel so pathetic is that my dad is like super-gardener-man, and… while I love it? it’s not a key part of my identity, the way it is for him. I’d rather be reading, thanks.) So maybe, in the interest of not adding *one more thing* to my to do list, I’ll just… skip it this year.
  5. I have so many blog posts clogging up my brain… so I hope to show up more here in the next few weeks. It’s going to be an interesting summer – 2 more trips, both involving family; teaching a new course; getting 4 manuscripts out the door; and prepping for another busy academic year ahead. Already. Ha. Oh, and while I *thought* that our work meetings were all going to be virtual? As in, I thought it had been decided? Um, yeah, no. Apparently it was too far down the agenda for the last governance meeting of the year, and so now, the decision will be made by 4 people. We were all able to weigh in – and nearly everyone voted in favor of virtual only or hybrid – but I worry that 2 of the 4 people will hijack the process because they are strongly in support of in-person meetings. So until I hear otherwise, I’m going to fret about this. Of course. It’s me, I fret. It’s what I do. Fortunately, one of my closest friends at work is one of the four, and so a) I know she will speak up on my behalf, and b) I also know that she will tell me what the outcome is as soon as she knows. But still. Unnecessary and dumb stress. (Also, seriously, who wants to sit in a crowded conference room that never has enough seats on a FRIDAY afternoon at 3 pm? Particularly when we have experienced the joy of online meetings for the last 2+ years? Sighhhh….)

I hope you are all well. I have missed this space, and interacting more regularly. May was… well, it was kind of a cluster, to be honest. Here’s hoping June smooths out a bit? Maybe?

Aiming for this: “I will be calm, I will be mistress of myself.” (Thanks, Jane Austen…)

An ordinary life

***Thank you all for your absolutely lovely comments on my last post. It took a lot to post that, and it took a lot out of me, to be honest. Reading your comments, and the support your offered me, made such a difference. So thank you. Again, I am grateful beyond measure for the community we have built. <3***

I’ve noticed a bit of a theme in the quotes and passages that I have saved in the last few weeks… the idea of striving for an ordinary life. That not all of us are meant to be extraordinary, shining stars, brilliant points of light in the Universe.

No, most of us on this earth will live perfectly ordinary lives.

And that is perfectly fine. In fact, it may even be better than being pressured to become extraordinary, and then to stay that way. At least, in my opinion.

Because, really, what is wrong with living a (mostly) ordinary life? I think most of us want to be fulfilled in our daily lives, to feel like our time here on earth is worth something, that it contributes to the long arc of human history. But you can do that while living a lovely, ordinary life. You don’t have to be exceptional to make a mark on the world, or to touch the lives of the people you encounter throughout your life.

There is some comfort, for me at least, in being one of the masses. One of the legions of people out there living ordinary lives. Obviously some ground rules apply – treating others well, not committing crimes, etc. I hope that for most of us that’s obvious – and easy to achieve. But if you treat others well, if you live your life on your terms without hurting others, or infringing on others’ rights, if you make some contribution to society, take responsibility for your actions… you may be living an ordinary life, but you are contributing to the collective good that keeps our society and our species moving forward (at least for now).

I’m ordinary. And you know what? It feels good to be ordinary. Removing the pressure of being “the best” (for me, especially, in my work life), and knowing that my ordinary life and work ARE contributing? That is enough for me.

“But the more I grow as a human, the more ordinary feels like the most true, most relieving, most human kind of life to find ourselves in… I think we lose sight of our humanity when we prioritize winning over everything, success over contentment, the Next Big Thing over feeling at peace in what we’re doing, followers over connection, and a continual upward trajectory over being present with what we already have/do/are.” Lisa Olivera

I’ll have no trumpets, triumphs, trails of glory.
It seems the woman I’ve turned out to be
Is not the heroine of some grand story.
But I have learned to find the poetry
In what my hands can touch, my eyes can see.
The pleasures of an ordinary life.

Judith Viorst