Memory Lane

I spent the last hour reading blog posts from when I was pregnant, and then a stay at home mom, and then a part time adjunct and part time stay at home mom. Man, has my life changed in the last few years.

My daughter turns six in a few weeks. I will likely be finished with my PhD by the end of the summer. I’m job hunting overseas. I’ve been teaching for five years now. It seems like a good time to take stock of where I’ve been, since I’ve been spending so much time worrying about where I’m going.

Academia has not turned out to be my Disneyland, but nobody can live at Disneyland all the time. I still love teaching, and I’m starting to love research. I do not love job hunting or review processes. I have lost a lot of faith in my ability to find meaningful work once I’ve finished my degree, at least in the United States. Higher education is a hot mess right now. Maybe I’ll find a research position, but the US is, unsurprisingly, far behind the rest of the first world in how it legislates cyber hate crimes (it doesn’t). So trying to get a policy job here seems unlikely. But I still love my city, and uprooting my family would be hard and impossible if the money isn’t decent and my husband can’t also find a job. I have no interest in being a full time adjunct. Gah. What was that I was just saying about taking stock of the past? Yeah. Not so good at it.

I like where I am in school now. It was REALLY hard for me to go back to being a supplicant student. Now I’m TA-ing and mentoring new students a bit, and it feels great. I don’t have the breadth of experience or knowledge that the professors in my program do, but I’m a damn good teacher nonetheless. I know how to connect with people and I know how to help with the emotional and psychological upheaval that this kind of learning creates. So that bit of full-circle-ness has been good for me.

It’s also good to be in dissertation phase. I do not love being critiqued (who does) but I really enjoy doing research on stuff I am super interested in and writing about stuff that I want to keep researching after I finish. That part is awesome. I should be a PhD Candidate by the end of March, and I am officially ABD now. Crayzay. I never thought I was on the fast track, but I just kept trudging on, even when it sucked. Turns out trudging does the trick.

Parenting gets more complicated as the kid gets more complicated. We enrolled her in a charter school on the other side of town that looked like it hit all the points I wanted. Progressive, developmental-focused education, outdoors time, emotional education. It was a disaster. Partially because the commute was insane and sucked up all my time (and gasoline) and partially because the vibe of the school just wasn’t right for my kid. So now she’s at a public, dual-language school five miles from our house and we’re all a lot calmer. It was a valuable lesson for me to heed my practical side at least as much as I do my idealistic side. Idealism and parenting are not-mixy things. It’s a struggle to stay intuitive and grounded as a parent as I pursue a goal that is so cerebral. But I also think I never would have made it through if I didn’t have my kid to remind me to calm down and connect. Getting grounded is not always fun, but I can’t parent from my brain alone.

Anyway, I’ve got lots of opinions and analyses to write about stuff, but I felt like writing about my stuff a little instead. I’m stuck at home with the flu, and it’s a good time to reflect on when my life seems to go off the rails and when it’s working. Much as I love doing all the brain stuff that comes with academia, it seems to carry with it the danger of disconnecting from myself and the people I love. I used to blog to process my feelings rather than my thoughts. This blog has been mostly about my thoughts.  I’m thinking I need a little more balance these days.




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