Monday, October 31, 2005
"If you're coveting sleep time, it's not just that you need physical rest; your subconcious also needs those Z's. Don't be shy. The sky is the limit these days, so expect nothing less. By month's end, your geographical scope will broaden."
I'd say they pretty much nailed that one. I need time off work to recuperate from my time off work, and I've been to the east, midwest, and west in October. May November be less eventful.
On my plate this week: visiting colleagues today and tomorrow, giving out halloween candy (so I don't eat it), giving a talk at a 2-day conference, and working through the comments i just got back from third author. Oh, and applying for 3 jobs.
Tomorrow is the 1-year anniversary of my oral prelims. And still the defense seems so far away.
Sunday, October 30, 2005
Saturday, October 29, 2005
Sorry, I'll have a better post on Monday.
Friday, October 28, 2005
It was hard going to Gram's house and realizing that I no longer had any reason to go through that neighborhood, one that I have known my entire life. And when I first arrived at Gram's house, it was "the way it should be" - the way it is in innumerable memories of my childhood. But by the time I escaped this afternoon, the pillaging had already begun and I felt like Gram's dignity was being desecrated by the desperate materialism (albeit emotionally-driven materialism) of the generation above me. I don't ever want to be in that house again. I want to leave my memories of Gram's house untarnished.
So I escaped to my in-laws. As we drove out into the prairie, with the familiar cornfields and dotted with lakes, I felt the tension starting to rise from me. And this evening, at my in-laws, I even managed to get in a few good comebacks. It's nice to be here with this nuclear family who are rejoicing at having their eldest son home again, if only for a few days. I know they have their own problems, but they are not currently in crisis, and for me that's comfort enough for now.
As I made the decision to escape to my husband's family rather than to keep bearing the cross of my family's dramas, I felt like I was taking another step in securing/bonding my husband and I together as the most important family unit. Not that I no longer have need of my mom and brother, but that I have another, separate but equal family now with Husband.
One last parting thought, from the blue collar sage at Gram's funeral: "Be kind. Every person is fighting their own battle."
I need to remember that.
Monday, October 24, 2005
As S wisely told me this morning: "Your world has subtly shifted, it's normal to be freaking out." Just wish that I wasn't being ambushed by so many things at once. 'Twill be interesting to try to integrate me being in work crisis mode with dealing with my grieving family with a supposed-to-be relaxing weekend with the in-laws. It's too bad I won't likely have internet access this week, because I'll bet I'm going to have some great things to share.
Take care of yourselves.
Sunday, October 23, 2005
Friday, October 21, 2005
- Am home from trip. Thanks for suggestions for improving my mood while on travel. Was in serious funk, but Wednesday's walk to the Mall and visit to the Holocaust Museum really improved my mood (sounds strange I know), because then I was least seeing the city not just the inside of a hotel.
- After flying all day, husband picked me up at airport and took me to dinner. Then he dropped me off for a symphony concert with S. While I would have appreciated the concert more with less jet lag, great classical music always has a way to transform my spirits and cause me to spontaneously smile. And I woke up last night with Holst's Mars and Jupiter running through my head.
- Getting paper edits back from people. Am finding that I am having a hard time working on the seemingly endless revisions, but having an even harder time getting started on next phase of research.
- Speaking of...my no data abstract got accepted for a talk at the major December meeting. Am speaking right after one of the big names in field. Getting scared...vowing to work weekends.
- Have decided to apply for "reach" faculty positions. Whatthehell, mightaswell.
- Went to departmental mentoring lunch today....would have been much more useful if I were a M.S. student who didn't know what I wanted to do with my life, because mentors were all industry or gov't people. One woman spoke frankly about the problems she's had with being a woman in a male dominated industry. Frankness was appreciated by the all female audience in my group.
- Science magazine has a great profile today of the Class of 2005, i.e., new faculty members in the sciences. Representing the U.S. they picked a lesbian couple with a 10 month old that managed to get positions in separate departments at the U of Colo. Inspiring, but rare?
- My grandpa who lives in a nursing home about 2 hours away (but who I never see, because he doesn't know who I am) is in the hospital with pneumonia and not doing well. Sounds callous, but don't care all that much (long story here), except that my dad is obviously very concerned and is flying out. So I will be going to see that side of my family and my dad tomorrow. And bring along the laptop and journal articles for the inevitable down times in the hospital waiting room.
- Husband still unemployed - contemplating taking seasonal retail job. One of the jobs that the state employment service tried to match him with is his old job! Those bastards. They just hire people, chew them up, and spit them out. But husband still seems to be in remarkably good spirits...though less than last week.
- Speaking of, need to run to grocery store and get ingredients for dinner that husband will be cooking tonight (inspired by Martha!) and spend QT with husband and dog to make up for this week's absence and my neverending work obsession.
- have a good weekend
Monday, October 17, 2005
- get to sleep in king size bed crosswise
- chance to see new places
- get to eat in fancy restaraunts (often on someone else's dime)
- a break from the normal routine
- get to interact with new people
- earn extra money
- get a break from dog walking, dish washing, being a good wife
- can't fall asleep for hours because of jet lag, paper-thin walls
- spend all day in conference rooms, hotels, and restaraunts, and when I can escape feel like I'm seeing a version of the city Disneyfied for tourists
- eat way too many calories, can't drink city water because it makes me sick, and thus I have to look like a snob as I order bottled water
- nagging feeling that I am falling farther and farther behind in normal routine
- have to try to remember names of people I may never see again
- tempting to spend extra money
- miss dog and husband
Question for the masses: When you travel for business - what do you do to make the ups outweigh the downs?
- [Sciencewoman] needs a job. (spot on!, the only thing that would have been better for #1 is "needs to stop procrastinating and finish her Ph.D.)
- [Sciencewoman] needs a room. (as I am currently on a business trip without my husband, I am not sure how to interpret this one)
- [Sciencewoman] needs a group of at least 6 people (for what I'm not sure, perhaps this explains #2)
- [Sciencewoman] needs to be where the action is. (I guess that's true, but then again maybe not, I think there's enough underlying this one to provide material for a whole post. Remind me of that.)
- [Sciencewoman] needs your support. (actually I am okay, thanks to my friends, you are all wonderful)
- [Sciencewoman] needs this yesterday. (what? what did I forget? I think it should have said, "needs to get this done yesterday")
- [Sciencewoman] needs to provide the current working draft. (to her 3rd author and S to edit? Done!)
- [Sciencewoman] needs love. (that's why I've got a dog)
- [Sciencewoman] needs help to free the musical spirit of Azerbaijani youngsters. (apparently I have some pretty specific, niche needs that I didn't know about).
- [Sciencewoman] needs help!!! (exclamation points NOT added for emphasis)
Sunday, October 16, 2005
Saturday, October 15, 2005
Written over Ohio, on Friday...
En route from
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
So here are mine.
- 10-14-05: Date I leave for DC and by which the paper is going to be to third author whether I sleep between now and then or not.
- 10-17-05: Date while I am in DC by which I have to submit the powerpoint for a talk that isn't being given until 11-2-05. How annoying!
- 10-31-05: Date of next gyno appt.
- 11-8-05: Date of big deal seminar for government agency whom I may someday wish to work for and in front of whom I certainly don't want to fall on my face.
- 11-18-05: Application deadline for job that I really really want.
- 12-5-05: Start of conference where I have to give a talk or poster on a topic for which I have no data.
Good god, I have a lot to do. Let's not post on this topic again. Days are better when they are not taken all at once.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
This afternoon I am off to theoretically help a middle school teacher improve her inquiry-based geology curriculum. I've got the introduction on my paper rewritten, and now need to redo the discussion section. Had hoped to work on that this afternoon, but the teacher visit got added to my schedule at the last minute. Also, I still don't have my normal computer back, and Endnote has chosen this time to be uncooperative (not integrating the refs cited in old version with those in new version). But tonight is gilmore girls, apple crisp, and clean laundry. And I'll be doing fine.
Sunday, October 09, 2005
Fortunately, two years ago he got his present job on the basis of a good reccomendation. It's been another straight commission sales job, but at least this company treated him fairly humanely. He spends about 6 months working in the local area, and the other half of the year working about an hour or 2 away (over some treacherous windy mountain roads), so he spends 4 nights away from home each week. The separation has been really hard on me (especially months 4-6), because I feel like I am left with running the household and trying to manage my own work, and with no one to turn to for companionship. He likes his work area away from home, because he earns more money there, but he spends his evenings at the bar or sitting in a dingy hotel room watching crappy tv.
So that's the background, now for the present situation. Husband's company got bought this spring, and it with the purchase came months of agony over the future of his job. Would all of the sales staff be laid off? would they be assigned different districts? would we still have health insurance? After he finished up "Away from Home" he got assigned a new district, about an hour from home but no mountains. And with the new district, came a new boss, and 8 am meetings every day of the week. Never mind that they weren't paying him to sit in meetings, just comission on sales. And the new boss was awful - giving the reassigned reps the worst clients, demanding better performance than that acheived by his own staff, and constantly threatening to fire them. On top of the lousy boss and meeting schedule, Husband's company is not well regarded in his new district, making it even harder to maintain good sales numbers (i.e., income).
So we've been on pins and needles for several months now about if and when Husband would lose his job. A month ago, they converted all the commission reps to salary - a mixed blessing. Sure our income would be steadier but his earning potential is lower now, and it's much easier to fire a salaried rep than a commission one. Last week, they put husband on "probabtion" giving him one week to make extraordinary (and nearly impossible) improvement. If a miracle didn't occur, my husband was going to lose his job yesterday (his birthday, no less). The stress was even affecting me. Basically, my husband was telling me that I needed to plan on being the primary breadwinner for ... indefinitely, and that he really wanted me to get a tenure-track job somewhere straight out of my Ph.D. rather than taking a post-doc and saddling him with another move and another series of dead-end jobs.
On Thursday, husband's awful boss was fired. Husband did not get fired on his birthday. Things are still very uncertain. He has not been given our home district back, though other reps have now been assigned to work here. 8 am meetings are done for now. But I still feel like he could lose his job any day. He has a strong track record but his last few months have been pretty abysmal. I guess it'll depend on whether the new boss looks at his whole history or just the most recent campaign.
Husband and I took a stress survey a few months ago. I scored mildly above average, his score was in the health endangering category. His family is wrapped up in their own troubles, and haven't even called husband yet for his birthday (yesterday, remember). On top of everything else, we've been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant. Last week, husband went to the clinic and gave a sperm sample. They say his count is low. Is there any wonder? And yet, my well meaning friends keep telling me not to be stressed. Husband is the one that needs the cheerleaders. I love him dearly and I hate to see him so stressed all the time. But I don't know how to fix the situation. It's not like he can quit his job - we need the health insurance and see above for how hard it is to find a decent job around here. I've been trying to be a good wife - I got him an ipod for his birthday - figured a tech-gizmo would cheer him up and distract him. Trying also to just be relaxed around him and do nothing (i.e., watch TV) if that's what he wants. But it's hard when I also am feeling all the demands of grad school. Sometimes I feel like it's just against the world. At least we have each other.
Saturday, October 08, 2005
grabbing a few more degrees while you're here. http://www.blogthings.com/whatadvanceddegreeshouldyougetquiz/"
apparently, I was cut out for: PhD in Liberal Arts (like political science, philosophy, or literature). "You're a great thinker and a true philosopher. You'd make a talented professor or writer."
I guess I'm on the right track, I do a lot of writing and I'm trying to become a professor. but I'm in the natural sciences and not the liberal arts. Maybe I missed my true calling and that's why I spend so much time blogging!
Thursday, October 06, 2005
So instead, I'll send you off to do some good blog reading: I've had time to read very few of these myself, but I wish I could, and maybe I will.
- PhD mom is working on a series about writing your first paper. Very appropos given that one of things I can't write about right now is writing my first paper.
- Tangled Bank is a collection of the self-selected "best" science blogging of the past two weeks. All of it looks fascinating, but the most relevant to my blog seem to be:
- The worst things about science
- Second year blues
- The Art/Science divide - in something called the science creative quarterly. Confused? They are too.
- Blueprint to improve science journalism - for you, writerchica
- She falters to rise According to her profile: "A doctoral student, a scientist, a wife, an artist, a closet-soap-opera-actress wannabe, a former farm girl, a current city chic, a writer, a paranoid freak, an extroverted introvert --- and yet, I have no cape."
- Life in graduate school She says "'Im a second-year master's student in earth sciences. I love paleobotany and I want to continue in that field, but I'm currently working in other areas. I'm married to another grad student, and our life together is a constant adventure."
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Monday, October 03, 2005
- Rushed through morning routine (shower, breakfast, walk dog, make lunch) to make it to school a whole 10 minutes earlier than usual.
- Booted up laptop, still doesn't work, relinquished it to computer gurus at helpdesk
- Read email, news, chatted with S, hoped for magic phone call from helpdesk with quick fix
- Edited hard-copy good science/bad writing paper for 4th author credit. Helped S start listserv for our brownbag.
- Went to gym with S and swam 500 m.
- Ate lunch and reduced teaching philosophy to single page by removing paragraph on assessment. Delayed plans to do a job app swap with MR. Both of us behind.
- put edits of above paper into Word. (Muttered obscenities about muddled writing, atrocious figures, and inconsistent editing) Ate two oreo cookies. went for 3rd mug of tea.
- 4:30 Called helpdesk. Told computer guy to go ahead and disassemble laptop. Hell, hit it with a hammer. Just back it up first.
- Couldn't face any more word documents. Started Powerpoint to work on seminar I was "invited" to give with less than a week's notice.
- put some pretty pics into powerpoint and decided to blog instead
- wrote crappy blog post and went back to powerpoint
Sunday, October 02, 2005
I'm trying not to freak out about this (yet), because hopefully the geniuses at the college's helpdesk can work their magic and fix it. Plus, I had paper copies of the things I needed to edit and read this weekend. BUT I know it will occupy at least a chunk of my day tomorrow to deal with it, which will put me behind in my goals for October. And that's a best case scenario. I don't even want to think of the worst case one. So I am majorly kicking myself for bringing my laptop in the field, rather than the designated field laptop with Dell's cure-all promise. At least I'm pretty good about backing things up. Except those newly-downloaded field files and the figures for my paper. I sure hope they can fix it!