I feel like, starting today, the next year of my life is a big question mark. I took my daughter to her first day of kindergarten today. I signed up for a co-working space on the east side of Austin, since we live west, and Lillian’s school is east, and I can’t write my dissertation if I only have a few hours a day at home. So, new schedule, new work space. I’ve finished my masters degree in Human Development and am just about done with my coursework. The essay I wrote based on the last rant is pretty good (after a major slash and burn from my helpful prof). It’s soon going to be submitted to the comprehensive essay review board/team/person/God/judge (and a journal). And I have an almost complete committee, minus an outside reader, for whom I am still actively shopping.
I love my daughter’s school, so that will hopefully work out well. My co-working space seems very nice; quiet, terrier-free, laundry-free, and dishes-free. I spent some time dreading today, but it’s actually been really chill. Woo!
So why am I freaking? Well, I’m not freaking too hard, but like most humans, I dislike ambiguity. I know that for the next 6-10 months I will be writing my proposal and dissertation (which it turns out are actually the same thing). So hard, but not ambiguous. But once I’m ABD, I can start applying for jobs. And that is where all the ?????????? comes in. Where will I apply? Who is hiring? How can I get a research position without having to move to another city? Should we move? Under which circumstances would that be a good idea? Because my husband is the main breadwinner, we can’t consider moving unless I’m going to be pulling in the equivalent of his pay for the region. So I can’t really consider doing what most baby academics do, which is take an associate professor position in the middle of nowhere and work my way towards tenure and a bigger, more interestingly located school. I’m not uprooting my family to move to Iowa or whatever. I would really, really like a public policy research job where I can contribute to legislation on cyber crime and cyber violence. (Hear that, Universe?) And, of course, I would like to be able to work from Austin. And adjunct on the side. Because I’m sure everything will work out exactly as I’m imagining it. I would like to make enough money to pay off my student loan debt in 10 years and get us a new roof ASAP. Sigh.
So big question marks for where I will be and what I will be doing this time next year. Hopefully, I will have graduated and will be starting some kind of job, academic or research related. But I really have no idea how all of this is going to play out, and that’s hard for me.
I spoke about my research to a local group last week. It was my first time as the “expert in my field”. That was very cool. In school, I feel like I’m constantly struggling to be smart/well-read/knowledgeable enough to say anything at all. I forget that I actually know more about my field than most people in the world. I will never reach a point where I have read everything that I “should” read to be a scholar who is above all criticism. I’m okay with that. I’ve relaxed significantly about trying to know everything. But boy howdy, am I going to be glad to be done with school. Boy. Howdy. I imagine that being criticized by other people in my field will suck mightily, but I can’t imagine it sucking as mightily as it does to be criticized by teachers who don’t understand my field, don’t care for it, or aren’t that awesome themselves.
As I move closer to re-entering the workplace in some fashion, especially ones as arcane as policy or academia, I find myself doing things like getting more tattoos and dying my hair purple. I think this is a throwback to the decade I spent trying to assimilate in the classical music culture, which meant ignoring my individuality, dressing according to 1960s aesthetics, and generally blending in. I hated that shit. So I may find myself wearing a lot of sweaters to interviews (to cover up my tats), but so be it. Digging deeply into the area of fat studies and social justice has made me very aware of the ways people police each others appearances on behalf of the patriarchy. Which can so bite me. The older I get, the less fucks I give about what other people think about how I look. How did it ever come to pass that being visually inoffensive is a good thing? I just can’t.
So here I am, in another liminal space (I just love that word). I’ll get back to the rants soon.