Monthly Archives: June 2016

Maybe I should start a think tank

(Tangentially, I wrote a Scary Mommy article recently: 10 Things That Surprised me About Having a C-section. Let me know what you think. More on that front to come.)

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After a lengthy, meandering series of patio discussions recently with M, it was actually two conversations with friends (you know who you are!), a job posting, and a scheduled job interview that pushed me from aggressive hedging (it’s not just an oxymoron, it’s a lifestyle!) into the realm of needing to act.

This is about the job thing again.

The morning unfolded like this:

  1. I received an email telling me I have a 3 hour job interview lined up for tomorrow. For the job that I was just telling M last night I think I may neither be qualified for, nor want.
  2. I told a friend that I couldn’t meet her for lunch tomorrow, because of it. She asked about the job and then kindly said that it sounded “intellectually beneath me”. That gave me pause.[1]
  3. I told a long distance friend about the job interview and she said “Great but… that’s not really what you want to do, right?”
  4. Money, I told them both. We still haven’t paid off the twins’ medical bills (etc.)
  5. I saw a posting by data & society looking for a research manager. My heart started beating faster. I’ve wanted to get involved with them for a while. I read through the entire posting, and when I made it to the bottom I saw the dreaded words: “This is not a remote position. You must be able to work full time from Data & Society’s offices in the Flatiron District.”  I must be in good company trying to find remote work…

I paced around my house, feeling depressed. Dropped a quick email to danah, who I went to college with and who sits on the advisory board for d&s – and who by no means has the time to reply to an email from me.

Then the twins started screaming, and I had to disconnect and try to juggle tandem feeding of two fussy babies. I may have sworn a few times.

IMG_7739

The twins were kind enough to do this while I wrote the blog entry.

Ok. So I’m in Houston. I have a PhD in anthropology with a focus on media/technology. I’ve spent the majority of my career in the academic world. There are no positions here for me, and only money buys me the time to work on my publications (need to not be doing other jobs full-time, including watching the babies).

Maybe I should start a research group. Or a think tank. Or freelance research until I can find enough work to start the group. I know so many underemployed or unemployed PhDs. Adjuncting is unsustainable, financially. Not everyone can move, so we could all work from where we need to be- providing on-site researchers around the world for our clients.

Please share this with anyone who might be able to help with this mission. Anyone I can connect with on this would be a valuable ally.

 

  1. I don’t like thinking anything is intellectually beneath me- but I know what she means. Not challenging enough, not aligned with my professional trajectory, whatever that is.
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I Should be Job Hunting

But instead I am using the maybe ten minutes of time I can cheat from today to write in here. Because I need some unwinding, now! It’s really been a crazy day, and also a crazy couple of months. To the point where I can’t tell if the house being covered in my hair is postpartum shedding or stress shedding. Because I do the stress thing, but the postpartum thing happens to most women (I hear).

Anyway.

What can I write about here without getting into trouble or getting anyone else here into trouble? Ok, not going to talk about the M’s ex-wife situation because that’s going to lawyers and mediators soon. How about my ex-roommate suing me for moving out early (because I got pregnant and engaged)? Nope.

I never needed a lawyer before this year. Now I need a really good one, and a friend willing to start a successful gofundme (or ? site?) campaign to make that happen. Because I won’t beg for money even when I need to beg for money.

Adding to that issue, I got laid off this past Weds. (Hang on, crying baby…. Ok, back.) I guess I’ll tell you about that.

Since returning from maternity leave to find that all the senior management at my company had been laid off, I felt like my days there were numbered. I mean, they never really had any work for me there. I did mostly busy work, and that’s not what I got a PhD for.

But before maternity leave, well, I was super (duper) pregnant and not really up to job hunting, beyond academic job apps. The problem with those apps is that I was too tired to (Hang on, crying baby…. Ok, back.) get it together after a long work day and publish the articles I need to be publishing / write the book proposal I need to be writing… So I wasn’t a compelling candidate for a tenure-track position.

Anyway, I honestly tried to bust tail on the aforementioned busywork. Occasionally I was thrown tasks that I had zero background in and qualification for, and that would trigger massive anxiety. I was getting f’ed with a lot there, and would often find myself pacing the hall, furious, or trying not to cry.

So anyway, a week ago this past Friday I was assigned a task that was in no way finishable in one day. And obviously, I was supposed to do it in a day. I froze. I had a panic attack. After a weird convo with my boss, I ended up closing the day unsure whether I should be trying to finish it over the weekend. But that was no easy feat, because we have four boys of different ages in the house who need caring for, and just Martin and I struggling to stay on top of the chaos. I did check in on the task (twice), but heard no reply.

On Monday I was asked to do it by Weds. I cracked my metaphorical knuckles and (Hang on, crying baby…. Ok, back.) came up with a plan to get it done. And Mon, Tues, and Weds I missed pumping sessions, skipped eating and drinking and peeing and… finally at 3:45 pm on Wednesday, I finished. 15 minutes before I needed to pick up the twins.

Boss called me into an office in the back- one of the laid off senior managers’ offices. He checked my work, told me it was complete, and then told me I was laid off.

I almost drowned in the weirdness.

Despite my boss’s suggestion, I didn’t want to go awkwardly out into the main room (the “bullpen”) and say “Hey guys, I got laid off. Nice working with you. Love you, bye!” I’d rather march into the main room with my pumping bra still up my shirt and accidentally drop it on someone’s foot. (Happened once.)

I opted to slink out and leave most of my stuff (including the day’s pumped boob milk) behind.

I was reeling. On one hand, I saw that train coming a mile away. On the other hand, I was ashamed to be laid off, and furious, and sad.

M and I stayed up until midnight drinking wine and postmortum-ing the whole scenario on our back patio.

I am holding a lot of details back (Tangent: I just shed a few hairs on my computer), but I’m not a total idiot- anyone could read this. I’m just mostly an idiot.

Onward with figuring out what to do with my life at 37 with a PhD!

 

Dressing for Abdominal Muscle Separation

Following a twin pregnancy, I ended up with the “to-be-expected” diastasis recti (abdominal muscle separation). Basically, my ab muscles spread apart so far to accommodate two huge babies, that they’re having trouble pulling themselves back in and up. I made an appointment for physical therapy today though (and you should too, if you have the DR).

In the meantime, I’ve been trying to figure out clothing. As anyone postpartum knows, fashion is a bit of a challenge while you’re changing size. My maternity pants are too large and baggy now, but I can’t fit comfortably into a single pair of my pre-pregnancy bottoms. So I’m putting together a bit of a checklist for myself, and thought I’d share the research effort- my finds are biased towards things I can wear during a hot Houston summer.

And I learned the hard way- don’t buy maternity dresses- they’re meant to accentuate the belly, and they’ll make you look like you’re still pregnant.

None of these are affiliate links, nor did any give me any free products to review (although, um, if any of you lovely clothing purveyors are offering I am for sale. Hit me up.)

  • Elastic waistband skirts – I love how many colors these come in, and I ordered the mint because it’s spring! (Or summer. Sprunger.)
  • Relatedly, I love how this top gathers just where I need to divert people’s attention. So many nifty colors, too.
  • This asymmetrical nursing top  – I actually have found that when I try to wear baggier tops, especially maternity tops, I look bigger. The cut of this top is really flattering on my torso with its giant paunch.
  • That said, I think tees along these lines would actually work too.
  • This link may not work for long, but there was a whole tunic category here.
  • These work / business casual pants that are also forgiving of a changing waist size (ordering a pair for summer!)
  • Basic shorts in a nice elastic waistband. Because: weekends.
  • That whole “dress yoga pants” thing? Made for us postpartum ladies.
  • More affordably, I shopped at uniqlo often when I lived in Japan. And they make so many pairs of pants that I can wear right now. Apparently they’re looking into a Houston store, which would be almost as confusing to my poor brain as the Japanese grocery going in around the corner.
  • I’m kinda eyeing some comfy shorts from H&M- and trying to decide if these would show more leg than my late 30s self wants to show. This dress might hide my tummy with its waist cinching action. Belted dresses in general could really work at the moment- ooh, I like this shirt dress too.
  • Dang, I wish these belly shaping pants would come back in stock in my size.
  • Plus: Don’t be afraid to try something tailored in the waist. I know, I know. But a lot of the large “tent garments” actually exacerbate the problem. <— I have clearly read far too many women’s mags during my maternity leave.

Ok, I need to stahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhp.

An afterword: This is in some ways a controversial topic. No, I mean it! On one hand, I don’t believe in feeling badly about my body on an intellectual level. On the other hand, I roll my eyes at the “tiger stripes” rhetoric about stretch marks. Truth: I can’t wait to heal my tummy muscles! Truth: I want to smile when I look in the mirror in the meantime AND be comfortable. Truth: the time I actually wore PJ pants to work in desperation was a day I hit peak “I am frumpy” inner monologue.

I actually don’t do well with fashion. I’ve never had much taste in clothing, and find the choices overwhelming. In some ways, having limitations is really working for me. But it’s a bit defeating to get dressed at the moment so, I guess I’d better go shopping…*

*M, if you read this, I’ll hold off for now because… vacation money