Tag Archives: work

Got my Pumpkins, But not my Life Plan

Every week is different, but they’re all pretty interesting… what makes them so is the combination of different projects I’m working on at the moment. Project one is the babies. Project two is teaching, and trying to maneuver behind the scenes to turn that job into a full-time position so that I can stay in academia without leaving Houston.

More than a year ago, before I came down with a case of “the pregnancy”, I submitted a journal article. I got back the usual “revise and resubmit”, but I actually hadn’t opened the feedback until now, a year later. I was too tired and overwhelmed.

The reviews are hilarious. One recommended immediate acceptance and gave it the highest possible scores. The second went on what sounded like an emotional rant about what a piece of garbage it is, and gave it the lowest possible scores. The editor was like (….) but wrote that if I managed to garner such extreme reactions I must be doing something right. Kinda cool. Anyway, I must revise some bits to address “angry reviewer”‘s gripes.

I am also toying with taking on freelance projects- this happened by accident. A design firm in town got in touch with me out of the clear blue and asked if I’d do a three week project for them. Then, after my hopes skyrocketed, they flaked- said they’d decided they could handle the project in-house after all. But I got a taste of the money, and I must admit, I liked the idea of actually getting to pay down my debt.

Speaking of, my first choice academic publisher wants to talk to me about my book- in person. How do I explain that I don’t have the money at the moment to fly to conferences at which I’m not presenting because their call for papers happened when I was birthin’ the twins? (Plus, I don’t know whether they’re even worth the investment right now!)

Oh, so much life confusion.

Ok, so some random things:

I can hear little C2 babbling upstairs- the little dork has only been “napping” for an hour, but he slept through the night last night (Sweet Jesus yes) so he’s forgiven.

After seeing how much baby food for two growing twins is costing us, I am back on the “making baby food” bandwagon (not an affiliate link- I don’t have my act together enough for that). I may be behind on all other crafting and planning and tidying and exercising, but the baby food thing is happening. You’ll see.

After my friend K got me to go to two in-person classes with her, I tried the online Bar Method classes yesterday. How are they? I have no idea- a minute into it, the twins started fussing and crying, and they didn’t let up until I forlornly turned off the video and gave them my full attention.

Being only the stepparent, I had no idea Monday was a day off for A and C. Made me wonder whether I have the day off from teaching too. But nope, it’s the usual routine. I got a fun primer on the sins of Columbus from C this morning – as we say in Texasland, Happy Fall y’all.

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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.)

***

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.

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!

 

I Can’t Avoid This Any Longer

I’m sorry blog, you’ve been so neglected. I have been rather quiet actually, and not wanting to share what’s in my little bubble as I mull it over. I went back and read everything I’ve written so far this year, and I seem to keep circling around the same themes.

The big thing I’m battling is how my entire world view changed after things with J ended. I spent nearly 35 years of my life obsessively working (on establishing an academic career, if you’re new to this blog), and not really feeling that happy about it, but driven to find happiness through it somehow eventually. I grew up feeling like people were unreliable, and happiness had to come solely from the things one did independently to make one’s own life better and even impressive (to others). I kept people at a distance, even J because I never did trust him after a really rocky start to our relationship. We never established a core foundation of trust. I trusted him more than anyone else in the world, and I still couldn’t tell him some of my fundamental truths.

When I was with J, I never thought about “family”, and now it’s all I can think about. It is the motif of 2014 for me. Is it wrong to devote myself to the pursuit and establishment of family with the same intensity as I do my academic work? The same determination and drive? Semi-relatedly, I’ve been asking a lot of questions of women I know about this whole “biological clock” notion- it’s really interesting to me. It seems to be contingent on being around a person that the body senses is right. Plenty of women I’ve spoken to have said that around one partner they never felt the desire to have kids, and then when they met someone new it went into overdrive. Someone told me just last night, that her body said to her: “I don’t care one bit about logic or planning. You need to make this happen with this guy [now her husband] however you can.”

I wonder if this is something women often feel, but don’t talk about because they’re afraid of being judged (mostly by other women!) and because we all want to be seen as rational actors.

I’ve been having so much trouble working because work makes me actively sad at the moment, and I haven’t gotten to the bottom of why yet. Is it that I’ve sacrificed so much to get here? Is it that for too long I repressed my feelings through work and I now need to deal with my feelings before I -can- work?

I’ve been quiet on here about my boyfriend, M, too, because it’s only been 6 weeks and I don’t really want to jinx it, or publicize it too soon. I mean, I was wrong in the past, and it’s a certain amount embarrassing. But this one feels 180 degrees different from those experiences. In the past, I experienced a lot of doubts, and needed to do a lot of mental juggling to make things feel like they fit. I thought that my incapacity to relax or really speak about my feelings and experiences to those guys honestly was due to something about my compromised mental health. As it turns out, meeting the right person is a game changer. This new relationship is different from my marriage, from any of the dating experiences I’ve had. In this case, all of instincts tell me without reservation that this is right. (I just stared out the window for about ten minutes after writing that.) Yeah. I don’t know why I don’t have any doubts about him. But I don’t. Not a one- apart from the complication that me applying for jobs around the world and him needing to stay here introduces. But that’s not about him, that’s about circumstances.

People watching from Omotesando

Working does help (oddly enough considering how much I procrastinate lately). So does getting out of the apartment, which is a space I mostly associate with crying until I pass out. I had an appointment today in Omotesando, so I just stayed here. I caught a glimpse of myself in a bathroom mirror, and my face looked drawn and grey, with deep bags under my eyes. My appearance startled me so much that I took a photo and Line-ed it to J… I think I wanted him to see the physical toll that all of this is taking on me.

My parents are the only reason I was able to extend my research stay another 60 days… annoyingly, had I known when I applied for this grant that I’d need to be here 15 months this time around the Grant Agency would have funded me… but I didn’t anticipate it, and when I was poised to run out of money on June 15, my parents wired me the money to cover my continued stay. I feel really guilty, actually… at 34 I wish I was supporting them. Until recently I wasn’t broke, and I didn’t know that I would be, so I didn’t plan for this. I genuinely don’t know how I am going to cover my bills come December. I might have to see if someone wants to rent a room in my house. (I wonder if $400/month is fair for full use of my furnished house. It’s in Houston, and a 15 minute drive from campus in the uncool direction…)

I so much prefer Omotesando to Harajuku, proving, I think, that I am indeed a giant yuppie.

Monday I do a presentation about my research in Japanese. Oh my… am going to see if I can run it by T on Sunday evening. To distract everyone from my incoherent babbling I am using lots of photos. This is contrary to the usual English-language anthro conference approach of reading an essay out loud to a room full of people whose power of concentration must be better than mine.

I kind of want to get Japanese fancy manicure-nails done before I leave, just to do it, but I wonder how long they last… miss my cheap American pedicures.

Right, anyway, parents sent me money, and they actually sent extra to help with my medical expenses of late (woah, baby carriage filled with 5 Chihuahuas just passed my cafe… distracting).. so today I was wearing a pair of shoes that has somehow, recently become way too small for me. My feet aching as I walked, I leapt at the chance to nab a cute pair of strappy sandals for $30 (3000 yen). Ironically the shop only had size 25, and I’m a 26, but I tried the LLs on and they fit well enough. So I bought my first luxury item (tattoo and eating out aside- which are not to be downplayed) in months.

I tried to leave my old shoes with the shop owner and not take the box, but she was having none of that. Not that I blame her. I’ll put them up for free on craigslist and see what happens. (There go those dogs again!)

I keep wondering how American tourists end up here. Considering how few vacations I’ve taken in my adult life, I am often startled to realize that other people… do that. I wish while I am in the “neighborhood” I could see Korea (North, of course) or China or Australia… but I don’t know how I’m going to financially pull off the mandatory conferences next academic year, let alone gallivanting around East Asia!

Also confused lately about which name to use. I am legally still LM, but I already think of myself and am trying to get people to refer to me as LR… I have to go back and forth depending on the situation. And I think I’m confusing a lot of people. Never. Never changing my name again… and I suppose someday I do want to meet someone and fall in lurve again…

(see, I still do have hope despite the depression)

Wow, I meant to take a 2 minute break from working and went on this ramble…

I never wanted to get a divorce (does anyone?) … my anxiety makes me rather conservative about how I live my life, so… yeah, despite appearances I’m just a homebody who wants to feel safe. I feel like I am surrounded by babies and pregnant women right now…. and cruelly, as I am 34, I know it’s the wrong time for me to be pregnant/have a child, but seeing infants reminds me of how alone I am.

I think I’m going to pick up this book soon: Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone, although Eric K can suck it for having a family of his own.

So maybe this fluffy one too: “Single: The Art of Being Satisfied, Fulfilled and Independent”