Friday, May 31, 2013

Recovering from jet lag gets worse every time

Ok, people, my body's inability to handle stress just keeps getting worse and worse. I hate to admit it, but I may be turning into my mother*. (yecch!) Thing is, my body does not do well with a cross-country flight, whether daytime or red-eye. It takes me days to recover. Ooof.

I have just finished up two --- no, wait, three? --- cross-country trips for interviews. Did I tell you about that one or just that other one? I can't even really keep track. But these are killing me! I have been back for a couple days now and still feel horrible and incapable of anything involving much movement or thought.

I know, I know, I should feel happy about interviews. Interviews, yay. But here we are going into a weekend, so I will have more waiting while knowing they will not call me to make an offer on a weekend, so all the nasty physical reactions will cross with the nasty mental stress reactions and make my life miserable.

I've said in the past that the panic attacks related to my food allergies are much worse than the actual food allergies (as proved by the times when I have had the full on fear of dying and that I am having anaphylactic shock *before* eating the potentially-contaminated food), and it is clear to me that these panic attacks are stress related, looking for some sort of physical cause, hence the food obsession, since I did this in a Burger King on the way back from an interview, after having eaten a fry. Sigh. Someday I'm gonna invest the time and money in a good therapist to try and undo this, but since the act of searching for a therapist and making calls about it *also* puts me into a panic attack, I am going to wait until my mind and body aren't in the fire-alarm mode before I consider it.

The trip out is usually ok, although I feel a slight bit of stress dealing with getting to the airport on time and making any connections. Then I have to pick up a fucking rental car, and then, ohgod, drive it ---- motherfuckers! Who designs these shitty little cars with everything automated the wrong way? I had to deal with a turn signal that wouldn't let me turn it off when changing lanes --- every time I tried to pop it back into "off" position it started blinking the arrows in *both* directions and then wouldn't turn anything off. Which of course means that I am swerving all around my lane while trying to deal with figuring out the damn mechanism, which is probably going against their intentions for it to be safe and "intuitive." Grumble grumble grumble.

Anyway, the day(s) of the travel are pretty fine, and the interview day is pretty fine, or at least I feel pretty fine, but probably in reality every little bit about this process is winding me tighter and tighter under the pressure, and I am just holding it together as long as I "have to," which, unfortunately for me, ends after the part where I am interviewing in front of strangers, and not after the part where I navigate the return travel trip.

My vision is going a little bit --- not enough to bother with glasses (I thought) but definitely driving into the sunset or twilight gloom is uncomfortable, and night driving has gotten worse (I probably *do* need something for this, now. will check when it is time to go to the eye dr's again). So the return, driving and navigating from a map while alone in the car, returning the rental car (must get rid of this huge source of stress!!!! Ahhh!!! Where the hell am I how did I get lost on the far side of the airport in this big city noooo!!!!!!) and then making it to and through several plane connections and lots of travel time in the air and all the physical stress the altitude and lack of sleep does to you --- it all combines to make me feel like I have a very bad hangover. Including the headache and the puking. The last time, I was recovering at my sister's house and so I did my puking there (sorry, sis! glad I didn't make too much of a mess!) but this time, I was hopping on the plane back too soon, so I did my puking in the air. God, that is another level of stress and misery I do not want while undergoing air travel. Why, why must my body do this to me? "You're almost home, just hold it together a little longer!" I kept telling myself, but alas, I do not listen to me.

In sum, I am at, what two? three? days back now and *still* feel like warmed-over crap. I still feel headachy and hungover. I have not felt up for anything besides sleep and sitting around doing mindless stuff. And I am not going to do anything besides those things until I feel more like a normal human being. I won't even go into all the weirdness of food that I had to deal with, but I have been eating absolutely unhealthy and fast-food heavy, off and on, the past few weeks, and I am sure that the shock of the switch from a mostly raw fruit and veggie diet to eating out all the time and back is not helping. Anyway, I am grumpy and feel like crap. And I still do not know what I am doing with my summer, or my life. Next I have to wait for about two weeks, and that, I am sure, will have its own stresses on me.

In the only small bit of good news, I discovered that I never deleted Plants vs. Zombies from my laptop, so I have been passing the time in a fog of computer gaming, and I expect that I will be wasting more of my time as my waiting continues. I have given myself permission not to think about anything at all until I feel like it (feel physically better, that is), so that is what I will do.

* I don't know if my mom had IBS or what (I think they never figured out what was wrong with her), but for about 10/15 years or so, she had terrible explosive diarrhea in public when she was stressed. I am sure this was terrible for her, but it was also horribly traumatic for me as a child being with her when she went through this. It was not something you could hide from everyone else in the room. I always said I never ever wanted to go through something like that, but that was before I knew what panic attacks/hysterics felt like. Now I am not so sure. Anyways, writing all that out like this made me feel better. Not well enough to start thinking about the future, but maybe better enough to eat a snack. I bought fresh cherries!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Fork in the road

Ok, ok, maybe not a road; it's a table.

I finally got up the urge to download and read my rental extension agreement and learned that, if I plan to move, I need to give my notice very soon. Almost now.

But when I most recently talked with my family, surprisingly, they were very unsympathetic with my idea that I move back and try for some "random" sort of nonacademic job and were very very worried about me trying to apply for jobs unemployed. They must believe the "it's easier to get a job when you have a job" mantra. Also, they are very unsympathetic to the cats. As people with severe allergies who have never had pets, they just don't get why I refuse to surrender my cats to a friend or a shelter, or just dump them on the side of the road and leave them (thanks dad!). I hasten to add that this is a completely unacceptable option for me and it is only at 3 am when the cats start wrestling each other on top of my slumbering head that I fantasize about leaving them on the side of the road somewhere. Taxidermy, I will also point out, is not an option. (dad again.)

Now, if I actually land this permanent job I interviewed for (and I think I did well, but who knows how one actually did?), everything would work out very simply --- as simply as moving cats and all my stuff across the country can be --- I give notice, pack everything up, move to a new apartment in a new town somewhere way over that way.   

But if I stick around here, (the other fork in the road?) I would like to move anyway. Here's where everything gets confused.

Local Kid Makes Good, one of the postdocs who I really like and who is a wonderful person, found a very nice apartment after she moved out of the slumlord place that refused to pay when she had the pipes break and back up raw sewage into her kitchen. Anyway, that's another story. Point is, her place is just as nice as mine, has slightly more square footage, and is about 50 bucks cheaper, and has an opening right now. Actually, they are raising my rent when I re-sign and demanding that I provide proof of renter's insurance, so it is 75 bucks cheaper plus the renter's ins.

Our evil plan was to get all of the postdocs who still hang out together into the same apartment complex and be able to just walk over and socialize. So I emailed the apt. ad to the Kickass Sparkly Postdoc and told hir to jump on it. Maybe I would get this job back home, maybe another apt. would open up in this place and I would join them later. Except.

Argh! Kickass Sparkly Postdoc is already renting from the same rental company, and they won't allow the move! Actually, they will, but they will keep all the rental deposit, consider it breaking the lease, charge a lease-breaking fee, and demand a new deposit for the new place. Fuck 'em. That means K.S.P. can't move until the end of August, I think. But I could move soon, except I might get a job offer, and what about the knife? I know it's not part of the fork, but there are all those other job apps I sent out that haven't contacted me yet, but could, right?

This is why I am shitty at planning stuff. Ooh, squirrel!

We haven't even talked about the original plan, which was to move back home and look for some sort of office job --- we drove by Evernote on the way to my sister's work! How cool would it be to work there? --- except if family isn't providing me with a cheap or free place to stay, this plan is not financially doable. And I don't think I could conduct a long-distance foot-in-the-door type job search; it takes a full day to fly cross country from here to there, so doing lots of informal informational interviews and the faster pace of nonacademic job searching means that I think I need to be right there and able to walk in and chat at a moment's notice.

I am so confused. Moving is definitely in the cards, but moving to exactly where I want to be is going to take considerable finagling.

Monday, May 13, 2013

...And I was rejected.

for the CA cc.  :(

I have one more interview and two more academic applications to send out ... and I have printed about 4 or 5 semic-academic-ish type jobs. I guess  I am going to start applying to them too?

Sigh. What am I going to do, people? What am I going to do?

This whole "move back into the basement" thing may become real and actual.

This is terrifying; I don't even know how to begin.

Sigh. *whimper*

Friday, May 10, 2013

What's up.

What is up? I actually have no clue.

No word back on the interview, which I had thought they said we'd hear back at the end of this week since my day was the last day of all ---- but then again, maybe they meant next week at the end of the week I'd hear back. Or maybe they are just behind on their schedule. No clue.

The semester is pretty much to bed, except for all those grade-complaint emails already in my inbox that I am ignoring. Now I have time to --- well, what the hell am I doing this summer? I still haven't figured out.

I need to prep for another interview trip. I signed up for Dame Eleanor's writing group and on Monday I am going to look at the R&R for Floyd. I'm going to ... start packing? I guess I can hold off at least until when I get back from the interview. But I promised that I would have an end date on the academic job search, and five years is definitely later than most people put in. The search committee looking for new postdocs got tons of applications this year for some reason, and 2010 was the oldest conferral date ... and they only shortlisted the newest of the newbies. If anybody's PhD is old and rusty and out of date, it is mine. I was saying how it was stupid of me to come back for a renewal year here, and it was, I didn't get anything out of it new or interesting professionally, so I know I need to be giving up and moving on.

I just didn't think ... it would actually have to happen, you know? This is not the way books end, in a pile of mush and unresolved drivel that doesn't actually go anywhere.

I'll need to sell most of my crappy furniture (sigh ... it's sad how I am attached to it) and probably my car, to make money to make it back to "home." My sister has cleaned out her spare room and I can crash there while looking for a new career, but she says absolutely no cats. I am not willing to sell or abandon or hand off my cats to anybody else so that will be a major sticking point. I might be able to get my niece to harbor that cats for me for a little while, at least.

I still haven't told my fellow postdocs about this yet. I just went out to dinner with one and he wanted to go home and work more on a book review instead of go out to the bar after dinner. It made me sad and like I should go home and be "working." But I don't plan on sticking around, what work could I be doing? The postdocs --- the ones left that I still talk to --- are scattering to various places to visit family and friends and do their research trips, so I might end up just sneaking out of here once I've made my plans. Alas. The department? For this amount of money, you are lucky to get two weeks' notice. Fuck you, you Right to Work State! You'll know I've quit when I don't show up to orientation. Bite me.

But what is up next? I really, really have no clue.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Can you keep a secret?

I just went out for a job interview. Thing is, I can't say anything about it because it is only an hour's drive from my parents', and if they were to know I did an interview *that close* and then didn't get it, they would keel over from a broken heart. If they hear that I was rejected yet again, this time somewhere close, it will be no biggie. But if they know I interviewed and then they have to wait on pins and needles for several weeks...? Way worse than just knowing I didn't get a job.

So I did the whole flying/driving all around/interviewing/freaking out/ going back to Postdoc City without telling anyone or announcing anything on my facebook page. The stress is killing me. And they are interviewing a shitton of people and there are like two more levels of interviewing before a job offer would come so this is still a really really long shot. (to say nothing of ... ick! possibly two more crosscountry flights for higher-level interviews? I don't even want to think about it.)

I really really want it, though. Sigh. I think I interviewed pretty well, but with those lockstep cc interview formats, who can tell? And how do they end up deciding when it gets down to 5 or 6 of the interviewees that they all really liked and who had good fits of CVs? If I only knew what separated the "getting an interview" from being "the" person and landing the job! That knowledge is worth zillions! I seem to be fairly competitive at this level of jobs, since I keep getting a few cc interviews every year... but how to "close"? (Eh, maybe I need brass balls? I'll go look on ebay.)

I also have *another* interview coming up, also at a cc, but this one is wayyyyy out there in BFE nowhere. I am hoping that this means it is a less desirable location ---- though it is a very beautiful location, particularly if you like outdoor recreation, and thus probably there is no advantage to the fact that it is remote. I will tell my family about this one, since they will be only regular-level happy  about it or even complaining that it is too far away. It is far enough away that I have already enlisted my sister in helping me figure out how to get there, and it is going to cost me quite a bit on top of a big fat expensive plane ticket. But all of that is worth it if it lands me a full-time job! Especially one in the same time zone as my family and theoretically visitable more frequently!

On the other hand, I say that every year, and every year I do about three of these plus a nice pricey MLA romp, and every year a full time job does not materialize. The "backlog" of "pricey but worth it" is piling up, for sure. If any grad students still exist in academe and are still reading my blog (and really, is anyone still reading my blog at all these days? Probably not.), if your advisors are giving you the "the job search is an expensive year but it will pay off!" please remember that you are very likely *not* looking at a single year of expensive job searching, just like your grad school life and its financial hardships are probably significantly better than the "gap years" you will have piecing together some work and probably moving around a lot until (or until if) you finally get a tenure-track job.

What advice do I have for grad students for how to deal with this job search knowledge? Absolutely none! You probably can't budget for multiple years of expensive job searching and poverty while a grad student any more than you can budget for one year! It is still, however, good knowledge to have, and maybe it will be good to think about when the temptation to splurge comes up. Or maybe you will know to start selling your plasma every few months even earlier in your grad school career, and put the cash aside for future expenses. I kid, I kid. Clearly part-time pot growing and sales is the superior sideline for cash-strapped grad students. You can skim a bit off the top for self-medicating all that anxiety.

In my final piece of secret news, I did an interview for a staff type academic job a while back but got rejected for it. Le sigh. It is the only staff job I applied for, I think ---- no, I threw in for a couple publishing jobs and they didn't even acknowledge my applications, but whatever ---- so maybe I should be more surprised that I got the phone interview than didn't get the job. I know less about how to pitch myself for those types of positions, but again, I would love to be a fly on the wall and know what puts a good candidate below *the* candidate? It could be fit, it could be connections/who you know --- or there could be something weak or offputting in my application or interview skills. Who knows? I wish I could get the inside info and some advice on how to interview better. On the other hand, just like with the cc jobs, I don't want to chuck it all and take a staff position just *anywhere,* and there haven't been many of those level of admin jobs popping up on the West Coast.

Ok then; I will soon have more time to post silly things and worry about my future career, as the semester is wrapping up soon here. Be prepared to see lots of whining! Whining and cat pictures. Perhaps cat pictures in the form of future-career quizzes, even! Ooh, I'll have to plan something fun around that theme...