Uff da

July 25, 2012

My dossier is turned in. Finished. Complete. I can make no changes and it is out of my hands.

Uff da, I say. It’s what my mother says when picking up or setting down something heavy. The oh-so-useful Scandinavian-American expression that expresses relief and/or weariness and/or a sense of being overwhelmed and/or a sense of dismay. And it’s appropriate because while there’s a relief that comes with being done, there’s some initial anxiety about letting it out of my control, too.  I am trying my best to stick with the knowledge that I gave it my best shot. And since I don’t hear anything back until March (I know, who dreamed up this nightmarish timeline?) I need to let it go.

I pulled quite a few of my supporting materials from my 3rd year review. My review from when I was a golden child and right on track. The review I wrote while stuck in an overheated office in January of 2008, only just aware that I was pregnant and so sleepy with first-trimester tiredness that I had to get up out of my chair every five minutes to stay awake to write. I remember feeling fiercely protective – I was going to write the best third-year review ever so that when I told people I was pregnant they wouldn’t worry about it affecting my work and I’d be able to provide for my child.

I can’t help but to contrast the then with the now. The now when I don’t write Teddy’s name or story on any of my context statements or in the narrative describing my work, even though he is there, hidden behind the words. Subtext. (And how lonely and sad and strange a thing, to tell one story while your heart writes another.) Comparing then and now, with the help of so much documentation, makes me feel pretty awful about the person I’ve become in some ways. I really do have less energy, less certainty about future projects. My plans have changed – they are smaller in scope. I am less trusting of the future and less willing to claim that I can shape it, which is what people like to hear.

On the other hand…

I am not yet done becoming. I am newly aware of some of my broken places, and some of those places weren’t in great shape before they were broken, you know? I don’t get credit for self-awareness, and perhaps no one should, really. But I think that it will help me become better in the long run. Maybe not better than the person I would have been, but – I am finding surprising strengths within myself all the time – maybe so. I am not going to judge myself that way anymore, in any case. It feels good to make that decision, even though I know it’s one I’ll have to re-make as self-doubts appear.

The other thing about a massive review and presentation of years of work is that it helped me realize how much I’ve done. I’ve done a lot, and a lot of that is really good. Many friends and allies came out of the woodwork to support me while I was putting it together, which I think bodes well, but (and much more importantly) made me feel a lot happier and more at peace with the whole process. They were there for me because I’ve been there for them, and because, in my years here, I’ve made my workplace better. Not everyone can say that. And that will be enough for me, no matter what happens.

It’s good to know that, too.

Anyway, on to August, and to becoming whoever I will be.

Uff da.



  1. Best of luck to you. I know just what you mean about being less trusting of the future, and less sure that I can control what happens. It makes it much harder to fake the level of professional confidence that people seem to expect. Here’s hoping that the truth of your story shows through, and you get the tenure you deserve.

  2. “And how lonely and sad and strange a thing, to tell one story while your heart writes another.” I keep turning this line over and over, I think because the heart story so often seems to get short shrift in favor of the other stories that others want to hear. And yet as you say it’s there, part of the other story.

    I read this last night and thought, yes, March, that’s a long time, but only this morning did it dawn on me how far away that is. Seriously. I have never been good with waiting, even knowing something is out of my hands. Ugh. But I know August looms large. I hope the month is gentle on you this year. I’m thinking of you and Teddy.

    • I absolutely loved this line too. I also loved the title. : ) I am 1/4 Swedish (my mother’s mother’s side of the family) & am quite familiar with “uff da” — although, living far from my family these days, I sadly don’t hear it as much. i used to have a magnet with those words on my fridge (until it fell off & broke). 😦 I tell non-Scandinavians it’s sort of the Swedish version of “Oy vey.”

      Anyway — on to August indeed. I’ll be thinking of you as I face my own August challenges.

  3. So pleased for you. Sending love as we round the bend for August. Again.

  4. What a gorgeous post. I went to school in Wisconsin where I learned the term uff-da (and still use it). I love the idea of him being there, being the subtext, the person hidden inside all of those words. He’s woven into the fabric of your life.

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