Libby Gruner

Libby Gruner is an English professor at mid-career who started her family in graduate school. She lives in Richmond with her husband and two children, whose 7-year age gap means that she will be the parent of a teenager for quite a while yet.

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Most Recent Articles

October 1, 2012
Let me start by staying I do not aspire to perfection. (If you've ever seen my house you will know that this is a gross understatement.) So you would think I'd be in complete agreement with Barnard President Debora Spar, whose recent piece in Newsweek is titled, "Why Women Should Stop Trying to Be Perfect." Spar's piece is accessible, clear, and often grimly funny in the way people sharing parenting stories can be. She writes of delivering a lecture in a suit that smelled of baby vomit, of slipping out of meetings to attend piano recitals, of missing track meets when a deadline loomed. I get it: she's been there, she's juggled home and family, and she has the scars to prove it.
September 24, 2012
Saturday afternoon, I took a nap. Somehow that feels like a confession, something I should feel a tiny bit guilty about. And yet it was, after all, the weekend. And my sleep had been a bit interrupted the night before -- the cat was chasing things around, or my son was up playing computer games, or something -- so it was completely understandable. But it still felt a tiny bit self-indulgent. I had a to-do list that included grading, house-cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping ... most of which went undone while I slept. I wasn't sick, I was just tired.
September 17, 2012
I passed another milestone of middle age last week: new eyeglasses with progressive lenses. And, as everyone told me, it’s taking me some time to adjust. So I’m feeling a little off-kilter as I begin the week.
September 10, 2012
So we've made it through the first two weeks of my semester, and the first week of Nick's. And what have I learned so far?
August 27, 2012
I've just spent the last hour and a half working on my semester plan, and I'm not done yet. I've filled in as many appointments on my calendar as I know about, looked over my class schedule and meeting schedule, and done my best to figure out when I'll be working on my research. According to my semester plan, I have at least three days a week when I can do something -- anything! -- to advance my current project.
August 20, 2012
My first teaching day is a week away and I think my syllabus is ready, amazingly. I e-mailed a link to it to all my students and I believe it was less than an hour before a student e-mailed me back to ask about a date confusion--alas, there was a typo in what I sent out. It's fixed now, but it's not exactly how I intended to appear to my students. Ah, well, perhaps it's just as well that they get used to the idea that I am not, in fact, always going to be right. (Far from it.)
August 20, 2012
  ·      My first teaching day is a week away and I think my syllabus is ready, amazingly. I e-mailed a link to it to all my students and I believe it was less than an hour before a student e-mailed me back to ask about a date confusion--alas, there was a typo in what I sent out. It's fixed now, but it's not exactly how I intended to appear to my students. Ah, well, perhaps it's just as well that they get used to the idea that I am not, in fact, always going to be right. (Far from it.)  
August 13, 2012
In a recent New Yorker article, Atul Gawande compares medical—especially surgical—care to the service at the Cheesecake Factory chain of restaurants. While the analogy seems somewhat absurd at first—no doubt Gawande's point—we are soon sucked in to his comparison. The cooks and servers at Cheesecake Factory master hundreds of recipes, serving thousands of customers exactly what they ask for, night after night. Why, he asks, can't medical care work the same way? Why can't doctors deliver a measurable standard of care on a routine basis?
August 6, 2012
When I was in college I learned a lesson that I seem to have to keep learning, which is that I'm not really happy unless I'm at least somewhat busy. I came to think of it like riding a bicycle -- too slow, and you won't keep your balance and will fall right over; too fast, and the slightest bump in the road becomes a major problem.
July 30, 2012
I didn't write about Colorado last week. It was too recent, too raw. I didn't think I had anything to add. I saw memorials on FaceBook, Op-eds about gun violence and violent movies, and all I could do was nod my head. There didn't seem to be anything else to say.

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