Acade(me)

The dissertation was only the beginning.

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Sunday, August 14, 2005
Highwire Act
I am significantly stressed -- so much so that I cannot sleep, and am having a lot of problems with heartburn and headaches. I can't remember feeling this unsettled in a very long time.

I thought I would write the individual sources of stress here, so that I could rationally tackle them one by one. I used to do this a lot before I had Nathan (back in the days when I had time to write everything -- and I mean everything -- down to reflect upon when more rational). So, here it is:

Short List of Things That Are Causing Me to Lose Sleep
(and Have Heartburn and a Headache):

1.) Job Market: thinking about this makes me want to vomit, quite frankly. It's not because I don't think I'm a strong candidate for academic jobs -- no, I think my record serves me well here, and my dissertation topic is interesting and timely. The problem is the fact that I am going to spend the month of November abroad (in Berlin) and November is a big month for interviews. I recently told our placement director that I was going abroad, and his response was, "Wow, that's really great. I guess if you get an interview you'll just have to fly back, or they might pass on you." WHAT? Pass on me because I'm doing research in the field? Pass on me because I'm doing something that a person in my field SHOULD do? Pass on me because I'm actively engaged in my own research, traveling on a grant I won? It just doesn't make sense. I mean, I understand that departments want to move the hiring process along rather quickly in some cases, but to say that I could potentially be out of the running because I'm doing my research is just insane.

And there's the related thought of, "What if I don't get a job at all?" That's a real concern, I suppose, for everyone, because the market is fickle and there isn't a lot of demand right now for my specialty. Fine. But what will I do if I don't get a job? We can rely on T's salary, but I truly, truly do not want to have to do the whole academic job market thing again next year. It's only just begun, and I'm already sick of it. (On a positive note, I already have an interview set up at our discipline's major conference in September, so that makes me happy.)

2.) Research: I really love my research, but I feel as though I'm not progressing as quickly as I should be. This is partially because I have very caring perfectionists as my co-chairs, and they demand several drafts and outlines for everything. That's good in the long run, because they will not allow substandard work, but it really slows me down. Fortunately, Chapter Two is finally done, and I will finish revising Chapter Three tonight and tomorrow. Chapter Three is a lot shorter than Chapter Two, so hopefully it will be easier to do. (Famous last words, I know.)

3.) Berlin: this trip is one I've waited so long to do, and now the time is finally right. I couldn't do it last November because I had a full teaching load and was in the throes of prospectus writing, I couldn't do it this summer because the legislature was not in session, and I can't do it in September or October because of the German election. November is the right time. I am excited to do my work there, excited to live abroad again. But the thought of leaving T and ST makes my stomach turn. It's not that I think T can't handle it alone -- on the contrary, I think he'll do brilliantly. I am worried about me, worried about living alone for four weeks, worried that something will go wrong. But I must go -- personally and professionally, this is something I have to do.

4.) Another child: as I've mentioned before, T and I would like to try for another baby, and preferably in the next two months. But then I think, "What if I DON'T get a job... then we'll have two kids and one paycheck." This is something where I truly have to keep my faith strong. I suppose it will all work out for the best no matter what.

Those are the major things at the moment. I just wish that this academic year was over already and I knew something with certainty. I crave stability, I suppose, and so this year will be a real challenge.

Now, back to T and ST, who are outside in the glorious evening, watering the lawn and chatting with the neighbors. I need to be outside -- maybe it'll help relieve this headache.
Posted with care by Prof. Me @ 8/14/2005 07:48:00 PM  
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