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Archive for March 12th, 2009

Taking a lunch break from writing the intro to the dissertation (I finally figured out the organizational structure of the damn thing), and just saw one of those super annoying Kelly Ripa ads where she is doing laundry in 10 minutes or something. Thought about writing a screed about how sexist that particular ad campaign is and how irritating I find Ripa, but of course a little googling revealed that the awesome Superdiscomama over at The Rhetorical Situation has already summed up my thoughts nicely. Enjoy.

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Yesterday 7MilestoNowhere had a very thoughtful post about the structurally insecure nature of the academic job market and about the risk of putting our lives on “hold” until we land that perfect tenure-track job (which may never happen). Her post hit home for me because I recently went on the job market (as you may have guessed from my previous posts) and while I landed two on-campus interviews, I wasn’t offered either job. It is quite possible that I didn’t receive an offer for reasons entirely unrelated to the fact that the dissertation still isn’t finished (3.5 years after the research was completed…and counting) and I don’t yet have a major publication.

But I also know that my application would have been much stronger (and I might have gotten more interviews) if I were finished and on track to be published in a refereed journal.  I also can’t help but beat myself up because my department, and my advisor, do have excellent placement records and a number of my friends have received job offers while still ABD.

On the one hand, I know that in part, large part, this situation is a result of choices that I’ve made that I in no way regret, and that is why 7’s post was such a breath of fresh air.  I started graduate school shortly after turning 30 and finished the diss research when I was 36. I chose to try and have a baby because I didn’t want to wait – couldn’t afford to wait – until I had landed the job. So Buddy came on the scene and it has been wonderful. Then when he was nine months old, a close family member became ill, I took a leave of absence both to spend time with him and to take up some of the slack at home so SuperGuy could spend more time with him. It was the right decision. Finally, after our regular babysitter left for grad school, we tried a nanny-share with some friends – it was a complete disaster and wasted almost two months of my life and made both me and Buddy miserable. Although I would do things differently in retrospect, I can’t fault myself for trying to make it work at the time. I do regret  not listening to my intuition earlier, but that is a lesson learned.

But. BUT. I can’t fool myself that somehow circumstances beyond my control have kept me from getting this dissertation written. I have a block, a writer’s block of epic proportions. And so I have regrets. And here they are:

1. I regret not being a better advocate for myself in terms of getting therapy and treatment for postpartum anxiety. In retrospect, a prescription for anti-anxiety medication was not enough. I needed someone to talk to and I needed more help earlier. 

2. Related to number 1, I regret getting caught up in worry that we were going to go broke, that we were too poor, and that the other members of our new parent group (all from the same affluent area of the city that we live in…at the margins…in a rental) would look down on us. I wasted so much time and money on trying to get our tiny house up to snuff, and it was such a stupid waste of time. Seriously who gives a france? (not to mention the fact that we were smart not to buy in the bubble market – not that we could’ve afforded it but still…)

3. But the madness doesn’t stop there. I regret wasting countless hours and lots of money I didn’t have on a stupid idea of opening eBay store – which actually wasn’t that stupid but I just turned around and bought stuff we didn’t need with the money I made plus more, so yeah, stupid.  I put our credit and my marriage at risk and wasted countless hours until SuperGuy put his foot down and forced me to cut up the credit cards and to go into therapy. (This story has a happy ending – we’ve JUST paid off our debt – but it was such an unnecessary complication and brought so much stress and anxiety – I still can hardly bear to think of it).

4. Which brings me to my main regret. I’ve wasted so much time. Time paid for with a babysitter or with daycare. Time where I did housework, or worked on teaching, or did nothing at all productive when I could’ve been writing. Why can’t I focus? And more importantly, what am I going to do about it?

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