Saturday, May 31, 2008

Who wants a baby?

I hear that women in academia have fewer children than similarly educated women in other professions. I am not surprised, though I hadn't really given it much thought. Other people with actual parenting/academic experience have commented on this, and as I am entirely unqualified to do so I will point you in that direction if you're interested.

However, this did make me think about my own plans and the fact that I have absolutely no peers or mentors who are FIELD SCIENTISTS who have (or had) children in their 20's or early 30's. Most of my peers are still grad students, post-docs, or are just entering their first tenure-track positions. Those I know who are expecting or recently had children are lab scientists; most of these people just started new post-docs or technician positions and won't be going anywhere for a while. The few field scientists I know who had kids did so in their early 40's. Which is great for them, but not something I want for myself; I'd like to have at least a vague chance of seeing any potential grandchildren, assuming I have a kid of my own.

I'll be teaching at a small liberal arts college (SLAC), so I know that I'd have an easier time than some giving up some research in favor of family. But I LIKE my fieldwork, I hope to keep doing it, and it wouldn't be easy to give it up entirely. How do other people make that balance...or do they just choose one or the other? That seems to be the only way to go, unless I can somehow convince Partner to be a stay-at-home dad. This is possible, I suppose, but it's still not very fair of me to take off to other continents for several weeks or months every year and leave him at home with the (hypothetical) kiddo.

I'm not too concerned right now. I'm hoping to get myself established before making those decisions, and I figure I have a few biologically relevant years left. Just one more bridge that we'll burn when we come to it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


I got all of my wishes during the move: amazingly we filled the truck right up to the door, but everything fit! This was probably due to Partner's amazing van-filling skills and creative packing ideas, such as: taping one end of the futon mattress to the ceiling of the van in order to fill the available space as completely as possible and avoid box spillage. But hey, it worked!

The cat was as well-behaved as could be expected, and the rain stopped before we had to load. The trip was uneventful, and Partner's family even helped us unload the truck once we arrived at our interim location. So now all of our belongings are safely stored away, the truck has been returned, and we're ready to sit around for a while.

Partner's family is conveniently within a few hours of our soon-to-be new home, so we'll be hanging out in a more rural setting before heading over to look for a house. I love listening to birds instead of car stereos. I already feel like a weight has been lifted, even if part of me doesn't quite believe that we're actually done with the "Grad Student" part of our lives! But I get the feeling that a lot of what we'll be doing this summer will have that unrealistic, unbelievable quality to it. It'll be interesting to see what the world has in store over the next few months :)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

ready to go

Everything but the mattress, the coffee maker, the computer and the wireless router (we have our priorities) is packed and in the living room, ready for the short trip out our front door and into the UHaul truck that we'll pick up in the morning.

We're told that it will rain all day. But I expect these parting gifts from a city I'm happy to be leaving. We picked up all the boxes from my office this afternoon, so we only have one location to empty and it will hopefully be a quick few hours of loading.

My hopes for tomorrow:

Extremely "scattered" thunderstorms. As in, not over my place.

A well-behaved and adjustable cat, who just got her first collar and name/phone tag in anticipation of her escape during the move.

Everything fits in the truck. Partner assures me that the truck will be plenty big enough. At least we have a pickup in case we have some spillover.

We can be ready to go by early afternoon, and get the heck outta here!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

political interlude

My political views are probably not difficult to guess, and I don't plan on discussing those views in blog form. But given recent reactions to the Obama/Clinton race, I wanted to vent the following:

I'm getting tired of reading and hearing things that imply I must vote for Clinton in order to make a stand for women's rights and equality, yadda yadda. That I would otherwise be some sort of traitor by supporting the continuation of the boys' club that has always existed in the political sphere.

Regardless of my own decision, and regardless of the sexist/racist/classist views of both of these candidates (and there are some on both sides), aren't we supposed to be aiming for a world where we don't discriminate, vote for OR against someone simply because of their gender or race? I think basing my decision primarily on these factors, or encouraging other people to do so, is just as bad as choosing not to vote for them for the same reasons.

And maybe I'm not alone there, but I've been hearing the feminist pressure these days. /political commentary.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


I've been hooded and lauded and now I have some checks to cash (is this really the last round?!). Everyone went home and now it's time to get organized!

One week until moving day, and I found out that Budget had allowed me to make a reservation for a truck even though their office will be closed. So we're going with UHaul for an extra 30 bucks, though we'll get more mileage for free and its closer to my apartment anyway.

Things I've finally accomplished:

- Cleaned up the lab and organized all the samples/notes/books that are going with me into three little boxes. It's amazing that so many lab shelves and drawers can be condensed into such tiny containers. I've also gotten rid of the last of my haz waste, finished doing dishes and returned borrowed equipment. One part of my life, officially packed!

- Finished one of the very quick experiments I wanted to run, even though it probably isn't useful as the only one. Oh well. I'll have something for potential undergrad projects right away, I guess.

- Submitted a new manuscript that was ready to go following dissertation submission. Then I had to fix a formatting issue. But it's in!

- Organized the revision of another paper, ready to send in tomorrow (or whenever I get back to the office). I don't think it will be accepted in the end, considering that I've been back and forth with multiple editors and that what they seem to want out of it is not what I want out of it (that's what I get for going for higher impact factors!). But I'll give it the final try.

- Contacted coauthor for revision #2, which won't be done this week but which might be done in June..? But I've been saying things like that about this paper for YEARS now, so...maybe.

- Started packing the office. I have way too many papers to file.

Hopefully I won't forget to do things like turn in my keys and cancel my utilities. Good thing we still have a week before we go!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Apparently, I feel threatened

I had a dream last night in which I went to my future department and crossed out the name on the door of the visiting professor whose office I will be getting in the fall. I then wrote my name in pencil underneath. And then I thought that maybe that would make this person angry, so I ran away.

Am I already having job-related angst?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Moving on

I'm finally getting some sleep (not quite enough, but enough to function)...I'm not sure if this has more to do with eventually becoming so tired that I got 12 hours of sleep and put myself back on a decent schedule, or the fact that I've been taking melatonin and self-medicating with a night cap or two. Either way, I'm moving out of my current apartment in just over a week, so my environmental issues will no longer be a problem and I hope the insomnia won't either! Thanks for the advice, to those who commented and emailed!

I've made a depressingly small dent in the packing etc., but I did reserve the moving van and change my address, so I'm feeling good about things in general. Now I just have to find time to submit a revision and a new manuscript, and harass a coauthor in hopes of submitting another revision that should have been in months ago. At least if I have things in review over the next month or two, I won't feel like such a complete slacker over the summer!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Soliciting information

Since finally falling asleep at 7 am is not a tenable situation for me, I've decided to give in and try some kind of (non-prescription?) sleep aid. Anyone have suggestions? Part of my sleep issue is environmental (I am very noise-sensitive), so I don't have too many options regarding quiet space, relaxation, etc. I'm going for chemical induction here.

I wish I could figure out why my insomnia has gotten worse post-defense!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

A few little letters

I successfully defended my Ph.D. on Friday, which would be (well, I guess it's officially after midnight) six days ago. Today I finished my dissertation revisions (which honestly I'd just been putting off). Between defense and revision,the following would be of note:

- Uppity undergraduate student who always talks down to everyone actually engaged me in conversation in a normal tone and asked me about my plans for next year. Apparently now we're on equal terms?

- People I don't even know keep congratulating me in the hallways or over email. This includes faculty of the college I'm going to be teaching at in the fall.

- I'm no longer annoyed by the general research-university bias in my current department. Comments along the lines of "congratulations on the job, that sounds great, well, if you're interested in undergraduate eduction" still come my way once in a while, but I just think, yeah, that is what I'm interested in, thanks.

- To my surprise, some of the most research-oriented faculty here have been the most supportive, and have encouraged me to send them graduate students in the future.

- After defending my research, I suddenly feel better about it. No one had much to say about what I'd written or presented, though part of me had expected some kind of polite "I can't believe you think this is right" commentary. Maybe I'm not full of crap after all?

- I'm definitely on the verge of complacency and a summer full of cable television and long walks, maybe even some camping trips. I fear that there will be no good mix of "taking a break" and "keeping some momentum". I believe I am doomed.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Post-defense = lazy

I have all kinds of things to do. I need to pack my apartment and my office and my part of the lab. I need to file paperwork and finish a few revisions. I should run a few follow-up (very short) experiments since I have the equipment and the samples all available and ready to go. I should start to think about my class for the fall, and what materials I might want to gather while I have access to R1 University's vast library and electronic journals. I need to start organizing, forwarding mail, changing addresses.

All I want to do is play video games and exercise.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Doctor Lady

The defense went well, the talk was good, the post-talk session was very collegial and not at all unpleasant, and none of it took very long. Afterward we had snacks and drinks, followed by dinner and drunkenness. A good day in general, though I don't think any of it has sunk in yet.

I didn't really expect to feel different upon being called "Doctor" for the first time (in the unofficial, post-defense but pre-graduation sense), but somehow I expected some kind of relief or accomplished feeling. So far I've been just as annoyed as usual by all the other things about my life here that drive me crazy, only slightly surprised that this is actually the end of my grad school career and I've finally accomplished what I came here to do, and mostly trying to remember all the things that I've been putting off until after my defense.

And I'm a little disturbed by my advisor's comments after congratulating me, which went something along the lines of, "Your life will never be this easy again."


Friday, May 2, 2008

not sleeping

I'm defending tomorrow, it's 2 am, and I'm not sleeping yet. Not that I'm particularly nervous, or upset, or stressed, but I have been moving my schedule closer to a 2 am - 11 am sleep cycle over the past few weeks. I think the combination of this schedule and some nerves are making sleep fairly impossible.

I don't know what I'm even stressed about. Do I think it's even minutely possible that I won't be passed, now that my dissertation has been approved and I have a job lined up? Nope. I might be made to look the fool, but I think I can deal.

I guess we'll find out, in just a few hours.