Saturday, February 20, 2010

Need a little sugar in my bowl

I have decidedly mixed emotions today, although I know I should just be happy, go on about my work, tra la, tra la, etc.  On the good side of things, to start at the beginning, my old college prof wrote me back and said that I was welcome to use the syllabus I had re-shaped from the course that I took.  I feel good knowing that my job applications are being pursued ethically.  Plus, against all odds, Dr. Awesome actually read and commented on my chapter this week!  (My abject begging appears to have borne some fruit.)  Zi had some slightly daunting critiques to make, but after a little consideration, I think that I know how to satisfy them to the degree that time allows.  And, since zi hirself said that I shouldn't be anxious, I'm working on the assumption that zi just wants to make me bust my hump as long as the semesterly time frame allows, and then permit me to survive my diss defense.  Of course, I'm forced to wonder why, if Dr. Chair agreed with everything that Awesome said, zi didn't fucking tell me so hirself weeks or months ago.  But that's another story.

So, the bad side: I'm drinking tequila this evening because I've had not one but two of my existential fears as a young academic paraded in front of me today.  I had a pretty fun lunch today (Colombian food!) with an old friend and colleague, along with hir spouse and baby.  Not like I'm really freaking out about this yet, but I have begun to fear that the professional life I've chosen is going to sabotage my ideal-situation desires to have a family.  Before you say anything -- yes, I understand that this fear isn't yet reasonable, and that from the perspective of many female academics, I should just shut the fuck up and enjoy the relative freedom of choice bestowed upon my sex by society.  I get that.  That does not mean, however, that I don't bug out about this stuff, too.  I don't want to be one of those guys who ends up having kids when he's too damn old to run after them or pick them up without pulling a hernia.  And, since I have exposed myself to the dubious mercies of the worldwide academic job market, I really don't know when I'll be in a position to meet a likely partner, much less be able to settle down and start a family.  I don't much relish the thought of being a lonely bachelor for the next several decades, which seems both likely and unlikely depending on the time of day you ask me about it.  This friend of mine was already together with hir partner before they were even out of college; zi didn't have to deal with dating while in academic training.  But whatever; I'm still young (I hope), even though the cashier at the liquor store tonight didn't even think of carding me.  This is a fear that I haven't truly grown into yet.

The self-pitying tequila is more in reaction to some actually good news: another friend and colleague of mine has landed a job -- a real t-t job!  I always hoped that zi would get this position, but it's amazing that zi succeeded at this when zi is right where I am: frantically finishing the dissertation to graduate this May.  It helps that zi is eerily perfect for the position, in terms of knowledge specialties and a variety of interpersonal factors.  Back at our conference last year, zi and I hoisted a beer to toast our respective prelim interviews, and zi claimed that zi had a gut feeling that I would follow in hir footsteps.  (I got called for my prelim the day after hirs.) 

Of course, several months later, zi had an on-campus interview followed by a job offer, while I have had...the wind whistling outside my apartment while no one calls me for bupkis.

It's not covetousness, mind you; I would have been a preposterous candidate for this job, far removed from anything that they wanted.  And zi was ideal in just about every conceivable way.  But I was hoping that I'd have my own news -- I know, this year, it's really just fantasy to think like this -- to share, and now that I'm seriously contemplating applying for food stamps and can't seem to get my foot in the door anywhere, I feel kind of like an enormous pile of fail.  Right now, my friend is probably off getting celebratorily trashed with hir partner -- yeah, zi is also married -- and I'm nursing my usual Friday night drink by myself, wondering if I'm ever going to hear any good news again.  My friend's great news just drives home the point that, once in a while, it is actually possible to land a t-t job straight out of grad school...which makes me feel somewhat less a victim of circumstances and more of a loser.

Of course, winners are probably less inclined than losers to console themselves sorrowfully at home alone on a Friday night drinking tequila at their desks while listening to Bessie Smith and telling a sob story on a blog, so perhaps I've brought all this on myself somehow.  Maybe I just need a little sugar in my bowl...


  1. Oh, I feel you on the family/kids thing. I spent my mid-30s recovering from a divorce (killed my hopes for a family) and trudging toward tenure, convinced I wouldn't meet anyone. 402 hadn't had that much luck either and found himself at 40 with tenure but no nobody in a ... well, this town beyond sucks. And then we met, and became parents the month after we turned 38 and 44, and it's been wonderful. We're not too old for it, even if we look a bit older than some of the parents at story hour.

    My own personal opinion is that the academic job trajectory should not dictate our choices about family. Although tis true that 402 and I both were tenured prior to spawning (but I was not yet when we met), we had the problem of being tenured at universities 350 miles away. It's not ideal, but it's our life and it's great. I'm not sure that ideal exists, at least not in every moment.

    Hang in there, and have a bit of tequila for me since I'm off the hard stuff until I stop nursing :)

  2. I have nothing really supportive or from experience to say, so...I just feel the need to pat you on the back. You know how life is, up and down. Sounds like you just had one of those bad days of in-your-face fears.