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Posts Tagged ‘debt free’

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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  • When your 2yr-old’s favorite game is crawling around on  the floor picking up “fluff” off the carpet, it might be time to vacuum.  
  • SuperGuy and I shared a bottle of wine last night and watched Pineapple Express. He also gave me a backrub and told me I was pretty. Both were much needed. We’ve both been going full-speed-ahead with Buddy and work for awhile now we’ve sort of lost touch with each other. He also made it clear that he is proud of me whether or not I get this job at Big University. I still really want it but he made me feel better about the possibility of not getting it as well.
  • I watched the final few episodes of West Wing this weekend – and I have to say that the REAL election of Obama and the REAL inauguration of  President Obama was much more satisfying. How nice not to have to take solace in fictional characters any longer.
  • I’ve started listening to classical music on the radio when I have to drive. It is not something I know a lot about, but I like that it makes the drive seem like you are in the midst of a Merchant Ivory film – it really does make all the ordinary (and annoying) things around you seem better – elevated and more interesting somehow.
  • SuperGuy got paid half for his big contracting job so we are going to the bank today and by the end of this week we will be DEBT FREE! It is a huge accomplishment for us and a fresh start.

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