Monday, November 23, 2009

Status Memo II

Busy busy busy don't have to time to stop must get through the next week... month... 6 weeks. But as busy as things are, they are getting better. Not so much better that I have time to write an essay, but enough better that I have time for another set of bullet-point-ish paragraphs.

Sleep: We're getting some. Not a ton, but hopefully enough. LL isn't completely reliably sleeping through the night, but he's doing it most of the time. He still seems to be sleeping more lightly than usual, so we've instituted some desperate "please oh please don't wake the baby!" measures that we normally try to avoid. He's mid-transition from two naps to one, which isn't helping. S and I are going to bed earlier and earlier ourselves to compensate, as much as that has been possible while also getting done all of the work and chores on our ever-present to-do list.

Health: I'm probably at about 85% right now. Definitely getting better, definitely still a bit weak. I'm still having some nerve pain, but it's at the Advil-can-help stage rather than the Vicodin-barely-works stage. And my fever is gone. Sleep is my friend.

School: A carefully worded email to AdvisorA has brought her back into my corner. "Hi! Remember me? Your student who is graduating very soon? You don't have very many former students out in the world, and it would really help your reputation if the ones that you DO have don't hate you. Also, it would help you if they had really good jobs that you could brag about. Can you perhaps think of some ways in which you could help me to get a good job and not hate you?" (I'm paraphrasing. She seems to have figured out the whole "helping me will help you" part mostly on her own.) She's suddenly super psyched about helping me to find an awesome job.

Jobs: Interview number one, at a mature mid-sized company doing some fairly cool work, went really well, despite the fact that I had a fever of 101. (In general, I don't recommend interviewing while delirious with fever. But my particular delirium convinced me that I wasn't impaired at all, so I didn't reschedule like I probably should have.) Luckily, the CEO loved me, and has all but promised me a job offer. He loved me so much, in fact, that when I told him that I didn't want to make any final decisions until March or April, so that I could see what happens with academic positions, he said, "No problem; we'll make the offer and you can hold it until you're ready." I'm not sure whether this job is something that I'd want to do, but it will be good to have something in hand while I look around. Most of my effort is going into applying for tenure track assistant professor jobs. Applications, for the most part, are due at the end of the year. I'm frantically working on application materials now. (CV: draft done, being reviewed. Research statement: 20% done. Teaching statement: 80% done. References: three confirmed, lining up two more. List of schools to apply to: currently at 9.) Hence the 6 weeks of busy busy hell.

Thanksgiving: Everything that could be made ahead has been made. Two 18-pound turkeys have been ordered (I'm roasting one on Wednesday, the other on Thursday). The house is clean, and the furniture has been rearranged to accommodate all the extra people. Other than a small list of fresh vegetables and fish that I'll need to buy on Wednesday, all of the shopping is done. By the way: yes, fish for Thanksgiving. S's family is from Hawaii, so poke and lomi-lomi salmon are required dishes at Thanksgiving. Also, seaweed salad and fried saimin and arare and spam musubi. When I host, I also add Jewish favorites like brisket and noodle kugel and mandelbrot (my grandmother's recipe, with chocolate jimmies). This is all in addition to the traditional turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, and pie. Can you see why it's good that we only have to host once every six years or so?

The Thanksgiving guests all arrive tomorrow. Happy Turkey Day to all, and to all a good night.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Status Memo

Thank you for all of the encouraging comments on my last post. It's good to get kicked around sometimes and reminded that worrying about contingencies does very little good. Just take one step at a time and keep moving forward. I'm working on it. Here's my status:

Teeth: LL is up to 14 teeth. All 8 incisors, all 4 canines, both top molars. The bottom molars seem to have receded a bit for now, so we're hoping for some relief. It seems that, at just under 14 months, he is almost ready to rip apart steak. Gnaw the meat right from the bone. He is a toothy force to be reckoned with.

Sleep: We finally took LL to the doctor because his sleep was getting worse and worse. We were dosing him with every child-safe medication we could get our hands on (Motrin, Tylenol, Benadryl, teething tablets) and he was still waking up by midnight every night and refusing to go back to sleep unless held upright in the glider by a loving and perfectly still parent. After several weeks of sitting upright in the chair for 6+ hours at a time, averaging only 3 hours of sleep/night for myself, something had to give. The doctor noted a little fluid in his ears (but no infection) and gave us prescription ear drops to add to the nightly regimen. He is now finally breaking through. Two nights in a row now, he hasn't needed us at all. It could be that his ear pain is resolving. It could be that the troublesome teeth broke through. It could be that he's just ready to be sleeping again. Don't know, don't care. Sleep is good.

School: AdvisorA is officially ignoring me. I don't know if it's because she found out about the funding thing, or if she just doesn't care. I haven't spoken to her on the phone for months. When I send her an email, there's typically more than a week's wait for a reply. I've been trying to set up a phone conversation with her for the last two weeks, and it still hasn't happened. Her latest "effort" earlier this week was an email that said she was available at 4:30 this afternoon, was I free then? I saw her email within an hour of her sending it, and replied that 4:30 would be great. A day later, she replied that by the time she saw my email, she had scheduled that slot with someone else, sorry, but she might be available sometime on Friday. I should just wait by my phone between 9am and 1pm on Friday, because she might call me then. Or she might not. Um, thanks.

Jobs: I have two job interviews. Yippee! Here's to hoping that LL lets me have more than 3 hours of sleep the night before.

Health: I came down with a horrible virus this week. Quite possibly the worst I've ever had. Not flu, but really really ugly. Like, attacking my nerves ugly. When I finally saw my doctor today because good lord I feel awful, she was a little shocked by how bad I was, and asked me if I was under any stress or missing sleep lately. Heh. I summarized the above bullet points, and she prescribed meds. And urged me to sleep, as if that's something I have control over. And told me to expect to feel like crap for several more weeks. At least the prevailing medical opinion is that I am not contagious, so I can continue my ridiculous life while I convalesce.

Thanksgiving: So far, I have made two briskets, one noodle kugel, one sweet potato casserole, two cranberry nut breads, two pumpkin breads, and one poppy seed cake. They are all happily snuggled in the freezer, awaiting the upcoming holiday. Spinach bars and mandelbrot are next. Twenty out-of-town relatives arriving in twelve days, and staying for a week? Bring it on!

S asked me this afternoon how in the world I'm still on my feet. I'm not entirely sure. One step at a time, right?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Midlife Crisis

I hate making big life decisions. Hate it. But you know what's even worse? Making lots of big life decisions all at the same time.

I'm graduating in June, and that reality is standing just a few months in front of me, with a giant cliff behind it. I need to look for a job, but applying for jobs requires knowing where we want to live. (We would like to settle somewhere within a day's drive of some family, and our current location does not fit the bill.) Looking for a job also, to a large extent, requires knowing how soon we want to have a second child. So I'm facing decisions on three fronts: having another child, choosing a city, and deciding on a career. And I'm completely frozen with the enormity of deciding all of those things at once.

I'm in that dangerous mid-thirties territory where fertility starts to drop, and it's not like I was exactly fertile to begin with. (It took more than two years to get pregnant with LL. I'm naively hoping that this time will be faster, but I'm not naive enough to think that a second pregnancy will come without a whole lot pain and intervention.) It seems incredibly stupid to wait to have a second child if we're sure that we want one. The only reason to wait would be for career reasons, but ultimately, if we end up unable to have a second child because I didn't want to disrupt my career path, I'll hate myself. So, we're starting to try for a second child. Right now. We're giving it a few months of the old fashioned way, but we're planning to make an appointment with Dr. M sometime around February or so.

That decision is actually the easy one. More difficult is ... how the hell do I handle a potential pregnancy while also facing a career crossroads? In general, I think that looking for a new job while also trying to get pregnant is one of the stupider things I've ever done on purpose. Because one of these things is guaranteed to happen:

1. I'm pregnant while I'm interviewing for jobs. Everybody in the world advises against this. Nobody gets job offers while pregnant. Why would I make the job hunt even harder, when I'm already looking for a job during the worst recession of my (or my parents) lifetime? On the plus side, if I do manage to get a job offer this way, at least I can strategically plan my first day of work (X months after my due date, where I get to pick X without worrying about maternity leave).

2. I'm pregnant during the first year at a new job. "Hi! Thanks for hiring me! I'm going to immediately need 6 months off." Awkward.... Particularly if I end up in one of those all-too-common fixed-length academic jobs. Taking a two or three year position, only to immediately leave for six months, seems cruel. And a fantastic way to burn bridges.

3. I'm undergoing fertility treatments during the first year at a new job. All the awkwardness of #2, with extended hormone imbalances thrown in for fun.

4. I don't get any job offers. Not the worst thing in the world, I guess, but it does mean that we can't move. S is totally willing to move to wherever I get a job; he would telecommute to his old job for a while, if they'll let him, until he can find a good local job. But there's no way we would move to a city where neither of us has a job, because that would be financial suicide. So, in this scenario, I'm unemployed, so we need S to keep his current job. So, we can't move. But we'd still be trying to get pregnant. Either we succeed in getting pregnant, in which case we will be raising two small children while living far far away from all family and simultaneously looking for a job for me. Or we don't succeed in getting pregnant, in which case I will be going through fertility treatments while looking for a job while being a SAHM while being depressed about my years in grad school going to waste.

All four of these options sound bad to me. Bad bad bad. The first one is the best of them, but it's still not that great (and the least likely: I quickly get pregnant AND I get a great job offer? Sure. Like I have that kind of luck).

Everything basically comes down to this: I'm terrified about the future. I've never before felt this uncertain about where I want my life to go.

It speaks volumes, I think, that I'm writing my dissertation and planning my defense, but those two things are the things in my life that I am least worried about right now.