Sunday, June 27, 2010

My Mad Men Stories

I just can't watch Mad Men without thinking of all the ugly crap we have from that time period still sitting around our house. I love the show, but can't get into the time period, and probably because I never saw the good stuff, just the cheap knockoffs after they had been used hard and aged twenty years. And then we still kept them long after they fell apart and are still here. Just like how I associate the 20s with old people in nursing homes, because they got old and never changed from their youthful style. It was kind of a shock when it dawned on me that young fashionable people dressed like that at the time!

Anyway, my parents won't watch Mad Men; they have preemptively declared that it is stupid and inaccurate and wrong. Maybe because it really is so closely about them in some ways, and the show is not kind when it sniggers about how much more we know than those stupid people back then.

You see, my dad has a similar up-from-nowhere kind of story as Don Draper (although as you can see from his massive forehead and the fact that he looks like he's only 14 that he more resembles Pete Campbell) and as newlyweds my parents lived on Long Island while he commuted in to Manhattan back in the late 50s. He did military and space stuff, though, so he fits more the Cuban Missle Crisis plotline than the ads. They have also told me that people were not actually paying attention and didn't take the crisis very seriously, and that they are futzing it all up on the show to make more drama. Also, funnily enough, my mom loathes John Kennedy. Being mom, she has this tendency to make universal pronouncements, so of course she tells me that the show got it wrong and rather than having a shrine to Kennedy, "all Catholics loathed Kennedy. He was too slick, too untrustworthy."

I didn't bother to adjust the colors on this pic; it's faded, but faded in a completely different way than it has scanned. This long-promised wallpaper photo does not deliver the promised shock, as it doesn't get the full neon-yellow and avocado green color, nor is it the really psychedelic wallpaper I remember. It does show you though that there were two sets of wallpaper in the kitchen, because the green barns-with-talking-mushrooms pattern was over the side with the sink and window. Don't forget the avocado-green shag carpet. In the kitchen. This is probably my all-time favorite childhood picture of me, by the way. That would make it around 77 or so.

And this would be me after my baptism. The hi-fi and chair still date from the late 50s/early 60s, though. We had them until the mid 80s --- they really clashed with the half-done-over living room in oak and desert pastels. I remember looking through the phot album and going in phases from hating my mom's dress to loving it to loving the kitch of it to hating it. The next picture in the album is hilarious though, with my step-grandpa holding me and he's got greasy slicked hair, sideburns, a leisure suit and shirt mostly unbuttoned. It is amazing how everyone had to look skeevy in the 70s. It was like a law or something. God bless 'em. Just don't bring them back in a revival tv show.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Postdoctoral Money Woes

All PhD students should take note of Tenured Radical’s important financial advice for when you go off to start that tenure-track job. It’s useful and very important. However, they should also be aware that this advice is the best-case-scenario: from grad school to the tt. My posts are going to be about a more difficult, and more common path: from grad school to adjunct teaching to unemployment to postdoc. (to, I hope, a real and permanent job in the near future.) And it’s not so much going to be advice posts as me going off a cliff and saying afterwards, ooh, I wish I hadn’t done that. (imagine that as a little voice fading away into the canyon: Aaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!)

I’m planning money and its really frustrating. I’ve already spent my entire year’s salary. Imaginatively. Luckily I like the planning and the window-shopping and the waffling indecisively over what type of thing or color of thing I want to buy almost more than the actual buying, so when I made up a big list of all the stuff I would like to replace with new things, I slapped in some estimates and toted them up and decided I should probably save some of it at least for food and rent.

So I started making a budget and looking at apartments on the web. That’s really frustrating too. I should stop and note that I have always been very good at entering all my expenses in to quicken and keeping track of my money and avoiding overdrafts or other fees or spending to zero balance, but being strapped and unemployed is so hard. I wouldn’t check what I spent against my budget, since the budget was essentially “zero,” and I would often treat myself or let myself get a little something just because I get so depressed and feel so strapped, you know? So I kept records but didn’t really look at my spending patterns. Just now I used these last couple years of expense tracking to make a retroactive budget in all the important categories.

When I totaled up everything to make a typical budget month I was pleased to see it almost exactly match my soon-to-be take-home pay. Wait. I haven’t added rent in there. How can that be? How can I be moving to a (slightly) bigger salary than what I had here in GradSchoolLand and not be able to fit in rent? How have I been surviving with these levels of expenses --- these are actual expenses recorded from my receipts --- with an exorbitant rent rate? I am so confused. And pissed off. How can I buy some new stuff like a couch that doesn’t need propping up or a working vacuum cleaner if my budget doesn’t even cover rent?

Not only that, but this is not a permanent position ---- I will need to budget moving expenses (more likely mooch them off of my dad) and pay for another job market run this year. Know how much I spent on job-related expenses last year? 2000 dollars! I spent 1600 the year before that! I will have to put aside over a hundred bucks a month to pay for that again! And if I am lucky and land a permanent job I will need to pay to move again, so I’d like to have money saved for that eventuality. And I’d like a savings cushion in general. And to start saving actual retirement-type stuff. At least to not add any more debt while I’m there.

Sigh. Clearly I need to see this not as My First Job but as an extension of grad school living. A year of field research, as it were. Scratch tv from the list and movie outings. Back to no alcohol. Continue holding as close to zero as possible on the clothing expenses. (My shoe expenses have been a totally-uncalled-for pick-me-up and I need to go back to just admiring them in pictures.) And I had really wanted to move on up to a bigger apartment, have an office separate from my living room and bedroom, and I think I should stay at a one bedroom. Double sigh. (Yeah, rent is much cheaper in Somewhere Else, but I’m not going to go all the way down into the lowest rent rates for someplace skeevy and potentially unsafe. Or unairconditioned.) I even looked into asking for a spot in grad student housing, if you can believe that, but I’d have to drop to a studio there to go cheaper than the off-campus one bedrooms I’m looking at.

My cats are a large fixed expense that I can’t exactly skimp on --- what, should I not feed them? Not take them to the vet when they are sick or licking themselves raw?

I’m even more waffly on the food expenses, since I know from experience that writing at home and not having tv or being able to go out for fun means that those expensive coffee drinks are so important just to get me out of the house and not go stir crazy. But yeah, they really do add up. But then, sanity and being able to force myself to grade for two hours is also vital.

(much like beagles, Academic Cog is lazy, stubborn, and highly food-motivated. She's not as cute as actual beagles, but more housebroken.)

And a major major part of my budget expense would be those damn student loans. Yeah, I totally appreciated them when I was a student. And if I had gone straight from being a student to a decently-paying tenure track job, they would be a big but manageable and slightly annoying payment to make every month, like a car payment or something. But instead I’ve had one job to pay them, another to (not really cover) the rent, and a third little job to kinda pretend to cover my actual living expenses but really need my dad to step in and help a lot. They really suck. I don’t want to not pay them back right now because I have been paying for a year or two now and that was just on the interest! I haven’t even started chipping away at the principal. So I’ve just been pretending that my rent is 250 dollars higher than it is and assuming that it’s non-negotiable. This makes the super-cheap rental rates in Somewhere Else much less so, as well.

Meh. But, you make your choices and you live with the consequences. This would be why I rant and fume at grad students about not taking out loans if at all possible. If you think this is tough, ask some of my friends who have 70k and 100k loan balances ---- they have tt jobs but are still living like students --- living more like students now than when they were students! *(and as long as we’re on my friends as object lessons, they haven’t really started paying down the loans yet because they had to get their credit card balances under control first. Racking up the student loans is bad, but the credit cards can be even worse news so be careful and try to stick to loans with the subsidized interest rates.)* Ok, this ends my latest installment of ranty advice.

Maybe I will have to make a note to myself about “being a grad student on field research” and post it somewhere I can see it to keep my spending in line. But I am buying that new couch, dammit. There’s no point in paying to ship a broken couch cross-country.

Friday, June 25, 2010

To Boldly Go...

I would like to announce that I have accepted a position of Indentured Servitude at the University of Somewhere Else!

So, I will be moving. Moving somewhere that is not my parents' basement. That's the up side. The down side is that instead of getting paid in "money," I will be making mandatory blood donations and serving as a guinea pig for their local science experiments* while simultaneously teaching my allotment of nose-picking and remedial comp classes. However, I did manage to negotiate in my offer that I could leave my lab cage for the actual teaching part of my duties. Never say that I am not a savvy negotiator! And a 52-47 course load isn't too bad if you don't have many preps, right?

Furthermore, this new place isn't even in California! I hear that outside of Cali, they have these things called "states" and some of them don't even have beaches! It should be an adventure. People keep telling me about this "weather" thing, but really, the 60s were so long ago, why should I care? They also mention such things as "humidity" and "bugs" ---- I hope these are the names of new exotic drink combinations I can sip by the beach --- or poolside, if there is no local beach nearby. Really, how bad can it be?

And in addition to all that greatness, I get the opportunity to do the academic job market all over again! Oh joy! You know, I was missing that whole extended process ---- when was I last looking over my job materials? Last week? Two weeks ago? Anyway, this means I have to pull those damn articles out of storage and make sure the final edits go through, as well as slap together a new research plan and figure out if I'm doing some conferences this year. Luckily I was soooo productive this year in terms of articles written and conferences attended.... oooh. Hmm. Maybe I can bind all my job letter templates and call it a festschrift in honor of my advisor.

This should be interesting! I may even need to redecorate the blog.

* by using me instead of actual guinea pigs they will avoid PETA harassment, you know. Look for this new trend in ethical experimentation at the university near you.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Operation Basement is on hold.

More information posted as events develop.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Third time with bookcases is NOT the charm

You know, doctoral candidates are supposed to be smart, problem-solver types. And bookcases are known to be large and heavy. If someone is advertising large bookcases for sale incredibly cheap, you would think this was because the seller did not want the hassle and expense of hauling them away or moving them.

That said, would you think that any of these graduate students would think to measure a) their apartment entrances, b) their cars, and c) bring someone along to help them carry said bookcases? If so, you would be sadly mistaken! Not only have I emailed the measurements of these bookshelves out to all interested parties multiple times, I have had to loan them my tape measure and help them re-measure the bookcases and car openings. And had to point out that you need to measure the inside of the car opening and not the actual width of the car itself, as that means jack shit for the actual bookcase-insertion process.

So the final tally is: five prospective bookcase-buyers, one bookcase gone. Geez! The way they got snapped up instantly by email, you'd think they'd be picked up the very next day and they'd all be gone by now.

Ah well. I've got nothing but time in this process. Moving does suck, doesn't it? I can't figure out which of the three guys here is me. Maybe all of them at once.

"I don't want to go on the cart!" Ah, moving. Good times.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Bookshelf and To Do List Frustrations

Grr. Argh. I didn't get anything done today. Remember how I wasted several days waiting for Flakey McFlakerson to come get a bookcase and some other furniture? (the bookcase pickup has been discussed several times since then, by the way, but a time has not yet been set up. Heh.) Well, today was a day when someone else, let us call this person Confused and Befuddled Newbie Grad, was supposed to get the first bookcase, the one that got grabbed up first. Confused and Befuddled was smart, as this person brought along a brother and a friend and finagled somebody's truck. I think Confused and Befuddled is moving apartments and was having a very trying day.

As soon as the brother got in and saw the bookcase, he said testily, "there's no fucking way that's going up your stairs. Remember how we nearly got the boxspring stuck in the turn of that staircase? This is going to be just as bad; it's as tall as the boxspring and about as deep." Then Confused and Befuddled and had one of those arguments-you-try-not-to-let-be-arguments-in-front-of-strangers, and it sounded like they were frazzled and having a bad time of it. It also came out that they had gotten a ticket from parking in the red zone somewhere else in the moving process.

(The whole time the friend --- who may be the owner of the truck, I'm not sure --- stood silently in the middle of my living room, arms akimbo and legs spread out like he was a bouncer for a club or mafia muscle. And he never took off his shades.)

Confused and Befuddled apologized, asked to borrow my tape measure, said that maybe they would be back for it if they thought it was physically feasible, took down my number, and offered to pay me for the bookcase anyway, as zie was bowing out at the last minute. I accepted and saw them off.

When I got ready to leave on my own errands, I noticed Confused and Befuddled's wallet on my coffee table --- probably forgotten in the difficulties of finding a pen and something to write my phone # down on. I called the grad and passed on the information, and got the response that they would be back for it shortly.

Instead, several hours passed, which messed up my errand-running mojo. Not only that, but because I had called before they had scarcely left, I hadn't gone to the bathroom --- no need to be in the middle of that when they knock on the door, right? So I was waiting, shall we say, very impatiently there for a while.

So where did I have to go? I wanted to dump a load of clothes at the thrift store, drop some crap off at school, and get a jacket that I had left at a friend's. Oh, and I had cooked and eaten lunch by this time and thought that it would be a good day to buy some chips and salsa. (Now, why did I not think of getting beer to go along with it?)

And what did I end up doing? Nearly getting rear-ended at the thrift store, arriving at school after all the offices I needed were closed, and I completely forgot to stop by for the jacket. Arrgh!

At least I remembered the chips and salsa. Chomp, chomp, chomp.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Bath Envy

I'm posting a photo of my bathroom so that Kulturfluff can see why I might be begging people for pictures/stories of their remodels.

Yes, that is unfinished particleboard wood. And those 70s sticky things you'd put in the tub over the sink, painted over. (there are black "echo marks" of the same decals, now missing, inside the tub.) And the entire inside of the toilet has rusted orange.

But the most important detail is the scale: that's probably 2 feet across between the wall and the start of the tub. I would love a bathroom that was wider, particularly when it comes to cleaning around the toilet. Or storing anything.

At least the floor's nice. Although it's time to get a new bathmat, that's for sure.

More remodeling pictures!!!!

Easy Like Saturday Morning

Hello. It's Saturday morning. I'm going to go get coffee momentarily, but I just did a spin class and shower and feel like sitting around for a bit, so here you go.

Also, I need to make some Big Lists and Little Lists for both this weekend and long-term.

Do I want to go eat french toast and/or pancakes at the local greasy diner? Ridiculous question, I know --- the proper way to word it would be, is there any problem with waiting until late lunch to go have french toast and/or pancakes at the local greasy diner? I'll have to check on their hours.

My splotches are healing nicely --- in fact they are barely crusting over at all. I was expecting much more pus and peeling --- think of that 80s version of the movie The Fly and you'd be in the ballpark of my expectations --- but really I have tiny little circles of even tinier red dots.

My cat found the stack of unassembled boxes I am saving and has been chewing on them. Damn troublemaker! Both of them have also been running around on my stack of boxes and leaping off them during the middle of the night. That isn't too bad, but it makes the tape on them crinkle, and then my stupid annoying cat attacks the tape for its wonderful crinkling ability and starts ripping it off the boxes with his teeth. If I have to re-tape all those boxes again, you little jerk...!

Now is the season of moving and remodeling ---- and I would strongly encourage anybody who is doing some sort of fix-it or decoration job to post pictures for me! As I like experiencing handyman projects vicariously and mine consists of half-assedly boxing up all my books and then having the cats chew on the boxes. Not a picture-worthy situation. Martha Stewart is never going to come over and offer to have my moving mess be a centerfold in her magazine. (And that's ok, I just am feeling the need for some lovely pics to fawn over.)

Anything else? No, not really anything else. If anyone has any suggestions for something fun and exciting to put on my lists, let me know!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Ah Vanity, Thy Name is Sisyphus

See what happens when I have too much unstructured time on my hands? The summer I graduated, I blew all sorts of money on an iphone. This time, I just had a slew of expensive dermatology treatments.

It was for purely vain cosmetic reasons --- I was putting on lipstick or something and used a mirror in direct sunlight a while back, and went "aiigh! My skin is terrible!" --- but I am really glad I went. Not only do I say it is a justifiable indulgence, my dermatologist took one look at the dark splotch I hate the most and said, "I'm not lasering that. We need to take a biopsy." Then he took a bunch of pictures on a digital camera and explained to me the differences between my little brown splotches and the big one, which is multi-colored and irregular.

See, here's an example I pulled from

(It's kinda hard to find good pics on the web that are not absolute worst case extreme scenarios. Most of the pics I found were in the "hundreds of lentigos, oh, and a bunch of melanomas too!" category)

So the dr. explained what a biopsy was and how he was going to do it, as well as gave a quick reassurance that if it was cancerous or precancerous, it was very surface and thus eminently treatable. Plus he said there was a very high probability that it was just fine and we could come back and zap that little sucker later, but it was just good to know that for sure before proceeding. He has had some examples of people going into a spa and having a melanoma zapped instead of properly diagnosed. I like this guy. He seems very trustworthy.

Then he talked me through the whole laser process and the aftereffects and the potential side effects and all that, and I agreed to have the other splotches zapped. He also talked me through the various post-treatment regimens to take care of my skin and not have stuff come back, and outlined various options for what would work. Now, the lasering and all these fancy medicines and sunscreens were very expensive, but I felt very informed about it all, and I think paying lots of money for stuff that has been proven to work and might actually prevent cancer is worth it. (Whereas dropping hundreds at, say, the MAC counter would be fun but not actually part of a health regimen, and more of a pure indulgence.)

I've been to this guy before, a few years ago, and he prescribed a skin lightener instead of the laser last time (which I didn't see much improvement with last time so I gave it up.) So I've been wanting to have this treatment done for a long time and just keep putting it off for money and time reasons.

Ok I forget what kind of laser it was but it is the kind that targets pigments and burns them off, not the "ablative" kind that causes the face to peel. I had to put gauze pads on my eyes to protect them, and then he would press this thing kinda like a big flat pen or marker up against my cheek --- pretty hard, as he said the pressure would prevent me from forming bruises --- and then there would be this little sting and the faintest burning smell. Yeah, that sounds really gross but it was a pretty easy procedure. The pushing against my face hurt the most, and that wasn't too bad. I could see the laser flash through my eyelids and the gauze. The whole thing including all the explanations took a half hour. And he said that while all the crusting and peeling he described would happen to an extent, he usually overstates things and patients come back and say there was almost nothing in terms of aftereffects. He certainly overstated how bad the process would feel, so I'm optimistic about the recovery being nothing much at all.

And now I am happy! At last I have done one of the things on my "I wish I could get rid of this" list.

Looking back at this post I am struck by how many differing patterns of rhetoric I use to justify my beauty choices --- isn't it weird that I have to do a lengthy explanation and can't just do it? And aren't beauty regimens the most Sisyphean tasks of all? Nobody stays clean. Hair grows back, armpits get smelly again. Makeup fades. (or more specifically, smears, cakes, slides, and gets transferred to various other surfaces.) Part of why I've wanted this treatment for so long is that it promises to be much less of a daily effort to improve (and more of the dramatic changes of the makeover instead) and yet, I'm still going to have to put on lightener and sunscreen every day after it heals. And, realistically, I'm still going to change a little bit every day, become a little bit older, a little bit different even though it will still recognizably be the same body. I guess thinking that you can permanently fix yourself in one state like a photograph, that's the real vanity.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Well, that was frustrating

I spent most of today waiting around for a grad student, Flakey McFlakerson, to come and buy some of my cheap-ass furniture. This is after a standup and three reschedulings in the last four days. And now some of my furniture is gone, but McFlakerson ended up not wanting the stuff I really wanted to get rid of, instead taking stuff that I kinda wanted to keep around and make myself comfortable with till the end of the month. But this person wanted to load up the car right then and there and I agreed, deciding that cash money in my hand and getting it all over with now would be worth it, especially considering all the flaking out that has gone on.

To top it all off, McFlakerson has optioned my final bookcase, but not definitively agreed to buy it. I have just cleared off the whole thing, leaving piles and stacks of stuff all over the living room, but since this person has not made up hir mind nor had room in the car, I don't know if zie will actually come get it, leaving me with piles that I should not lump back onto the bookcase.

*** News Flash: I fucking hate hir and zie. These words annoy the fuck out of me for some reason. It may be because my brain automatically corrects them to her and she but then goes, "wait, what?" I think we should just go to using "it" for all third person singular pronouns; fuck gender. This ends this News Flash. ***

I'm not sure how much longer I'm going to be here --- I haven't given notice for my place yet as there's the teeniest snag we are waiting on up at the homestead for Operation Basement, and I want to make sure I don't leave myself sleeping on someone's floor with the cats in the kennel if things get messy. But, I can't pack any further. We have gotten down to the stuff I use regularly and it would be pointless to pack up. There's also the closets, but I don't want to bring more piles and clutter out into my living space. And most importantly, there's my living space, which was not bothering me when there were a few untidy piles of boxes but very soon I'm going to feel unsettled and unhappy in here.

I haven't packed any of my pictures and wall decor. How the hell does one pack that? Advice?

Oh, I did laundry today while waiting around. And I forced myself to go through my clothes and managed to cull a bag worth of stuff. I'll need to make myself do a couple more passes. I have this thing where my beloved favorite clothes I won't toss even after they get too worn out to really wear, and then I have all these clothes I don't like or that don't fit me well or that aren't comfortable (button-down shirts are a big one in this category. See my post about the potbelly) but I feel way too guilty to toss things I've only worn a couple times. As you can see, this means I'll need to make multiple attempts at culling. Remind me to clean the crap out of my trunk and put the donation pile in there.

And I haven't made moving-method plans yet. (Basically, packing boxes of books and cleaning stuff out makes me happy. It was like a tetris puzzle and I got to play with tape. All the stuff about moving that makes me (even more) anxious, I'm just not dealing with. Phone calls? Counting my money? Not even dealing with these yet.) I foresee moving company frustrations in my future.

My friend Cool Scientist Friend used abf-upack for moving to her postdoc. She loved it and said it was cheapest, and she got to fly to the new place and buy a used car instead of drive a uhaul across country. My friend who got the cute SLAC prof job and moved across the country used PODS and was very unhappy because the walls of the boxes are thin and her furniture got all banged up. I did some poking around the internets and guess what? Upack doesn't ship within states. Not even their little self-storage containers. Argh!

If I'd gotten those nice little permanent comp jobs, it would be no problem, nosirree. But moving across the state to my parents' means that I'll have to use PODS (pricey) or rent a truck/storage in Parent City, which was not my ideal. My dad has conceived the idea that he must drive down here and drive the uhaul truck for me back to Parent City. Have I mentioned that I am currently fighting him to have his driver's license revoked? He should not be tootling around town even; I am terrified of the thought of him behind the wheel of a big crazy truck. Upack or PODS means that I'm covered and can tell him I'm not even driving anything.

Eventually I'm going to look back into pricing stuff again. No rush. And once all my furniture is gone I wonder if I'll even have enough stuff to go in a POD or a truck. I probably have enough boxes of books that I could not use the trailer option. But I am not sure. Eh. *shrugs*

That's about all the news that's fit to print here, and some that's unfit besides.

Friday, June 4, 2010

I am never indecisive about taking a nap

And neither is my cat, who insists on sleeping on my hip whenever I lay down and will often follow me and cry if I am walking around cleaning in the middle of the day instead of napping:

In other news, I started a new book that I felt was appropriately titled for my current position:

Because Broke, Unemployed, and Bored Out of My Gourd was already checked out at the library.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Ambivalence (indecisiveness?)

I think I told about the time my whole family was taking the Myers-Briggs personality test together (yes we are geeky like that) and I was stumped on one of those "pick which word out of four best describes you." None of them seemed to have anything to do with me; they were all actively wrong and horrible, like ___ baby-killer ____ narcoleptic ____ narcissist ____ decisive. I remember thinking, very clearly to myself, "Well, I'm not decisive," but all the other options seemed actively insulting to me, and not me at all. So I wrote down "decisive (?)" and my sister happened to look over my shoulder and caught me, and laughed so hard she fell off the chair.

So, yes, I'm not decisive. Piledriver, maybe, but not decisive.

Of course, you know what that means: I am waffling about here and there on the whole move thing. At least I know myself: I have told everyone I come into contact with about the move because telling people is how I make things real, and it is harder to go back on these types of decisions once I have announced them.

I just had some grad students over yesterday, trying to unload my crappy furniture on them. They admired my nice little apartment and how cozy it was and how great the view was. And all of this is true. It made me want to "just stay another year" and "somehow find something," because they have managed to cobble together things and I like my place and I like this place. But on the other hand, I hate this kitchen and I hate all my furniture and I hate most of all my high rent rate and I know deep down that moving back home would allow me to get on top of my finances and think seriously about my long-term financial health, which my grad school friends are about five years behind me on, in both age and in that they are just ABD and dealing with the "cobbling" stage of grad school for the first or second time.

Besides, usually nobody wants to hang out or get in touch with me and I am mostly in the company of my cats --- telling everyone that I am going to move is bringing everyone out for the goodbyes and I am more social than usual. If I were to stay, it would all go back to usual. And really, what would I do? This is a great place to live, yes, but not a place that is easy to find work.

So I am being a little sad and regretful at this point. And avoiding more packing. I think I need a nap.

The other thing is that the moment I posted my "what the hell should I be doing right now?" post the other day, I immediately went and checked the JIL (nothing) and the Chronicle (hmm, something!) and found some more late stuff to apply to. Seriously, people? How late are you running your freaking searches?! I can see this for the visiting positions (and I have a few bookmarked), but there are still generalist tenure track positions being listed! Crazy! What are those search committees thinking?

And what am I thinking? Do I really want to apply for yet more damn jobs? Well, from the standpoint of, I am tired and burnt out on this whole process, no, but on the side of, as my sister says, "of course you want options! of course you want something with a salary!", yes, I do want to apply more. Sigh. I really do hate that waiting/limbo feeling though, and sending out new apps would put me back in that position. I guess I'll apply to them though, and assume I won't get them (because I can't deal with planning the logistics of Operation Basement otherwise) and just keep on keepin' on. Sigh.

But first, a nap. I'm decisive at least about that.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Plotting Plan B

Ok, there is no way that I'm getting that job. Seriously, I could retrain as an ed major, but there are actual ed majors out there, so why did you even contact me? You probably should have re-written the ad for an ed specialist instead of a lit one.

Not to say I wouldn't do it, but that in this economy there are people who have professionally studied exactly that area who don't have jobs, I am sure, and there's no reason why they would make me a job offer with no experience in that area instead of someone who's right up that alley.

Anyway, this means that Operation Move Into Parents' Basement is on. I've been packing bit by bit while waiting to hear back from places/do my last interview. Now I guess it's time to actually start making calls and giving notice and reserving a POD and whatnot. Sigh.

In other news, I got an email from a friend that our panel was not accepted to the conference this fall. That's ok, as I was worried about how I was going to get off work (whatever work that may turn out to be) to go. Now I am thinking: do I apply for one of the open seminar-thingies? Do I bother to go? Or what? Hmm.

Once again, though a little later than last year, it is time to figure out what I am doing for the next year. Am I re-tooling? Should I try to make my job materials somehow more "marketable" by doing something with publications or the book?

This of course brings up the question: which job market?

Of course a retail job or whatever won't need anything on my cv. I had absolutely zero interest in my admin applications this spring (and I sent out a lot), so I think I am not a particularly viable candidate. (This is not really the time to break into administration, between the layoffs and large pool of unemployed experienced candidates.) I can do the nonacademic office-admin search, but again, this is a different sort of retooling.

I had a lot of interest in the post-MLA market this year, which I can't really pin on anything in particular that I did this year and not last year. Unless it means it took me a year or two to figure out how to create the right sort of app materials. Likewise I have had no luck converting phone interviews or flyouts into job offers, and I can't figure out anything in particular that deep-sixed my candidacy. (Side note: "fit" sucks.) I had interviews with a couple private high schools, a couple community colleges, and some teeny private liberal-arts colleges. I seem to look good as a generalist.

Thing is, I used my community college resume (no not cv) for all those positions, so trying to publish something would not help there. I didn't even list my dissertation or any publications on the resume. And that seemed to help. And I have never really garnered much interest from the research-oriented places, so would working on my publications more this summer help anything? I just don't know.

And will there even be any four-year market this fall? I believe this fall will be even worse in terms of job openings, not better. And I don't believe that the market will ever improve; we've had a very sick patient for 20-30 years now and this recession may be the shock that kills it off completely.

So then, what am I going to do during Operation Basement? Hmm. The idea of working on research is pleasant and pleasurable to me, but I don't know if that would help my job chances. Teaching actually in a community college would help for those cc/generalist positions, but summer schools have basically been closed due to the budget crisis. (My niece tells me that all the Bay Area community colleges have no language classes this summer. She can't get a class. Of course, she could have not failed the comp class she was taking during the school year and then she wouldn't have this problem. But failing/dropping classes does not inspire any anxiety within her as it does for me.) I could put in for fall adjunct work and then try to get a retail/coffee/office type job for summer. Hmm. That prospect does not exactly fill me with joy. Nor does regular office work.

I could do anything, I guess. Read the collected works of David Foster Wallace, write a novel, learn a language, travel the world, revise my book manuscript ---- I don't particularly feel like doing any of those. I don't particularly feel like doing anything at all. But I know I will be bored out of my gourd within a week of moving back home, and I will also feel guilty and crappy about not bringing in any money unless I have a Plan and am industriously working away at steps within said plan.

So what am I doing? Does anybody know?

Right now I'm going to put off making any decisions by packing a box. But at some point everything is going to be packed and I'm going to have to come back to the problem.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

ZOMG Why did no one tell me about The Kills!?!?!?

How did I get to this spot on Youtube? Don't ask, it's a long story and lots of serendipitous clicking. Long story longer, I just watched the latest Dead Weather vid and thought, "hey, is that Meg White back together with Jack White?" And a little more internet snooping showed me that Alison Mosshart is in the Dead Weather and this other band, The Kills. Cool sound!

I might or might not get tired of the very simple drum tracks and prefer a drummer. But the hazy, empty, lo-fi sounds remind me of Joy Division and old punk all swirled together while your makeup runs. And I love that Mosshart hawks and spits at the start of this track!

Get yerself some new punk! Listen here and I just may forgive you for not having told me about them sooner.