Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Looking back on 2013

One year ago, I knew this was going to be a big year. I didn't explicitly write "give birth to a healthy baby" on my list of goals for 2013 out of some kind of superstition or because that's not really much in my control, but clearly that was the most monumental event of the year. Adele's birth in May was followed by about 7 minutes of bliss, then the most critical 2 hours of my life completely out of my hands when my uterus inverted and I lost ~3.5 liters of blood, and then several weeks of difficult recovery, re-hospitalization, and physical weakness.

Finish my dissertation.
YES! I did this. I defended successfully. Sending my dissertation to my committee was, at that point, the most satisfying and relieving thing I had ever done. It is topped only marginally by the first moment I felt my newborn daughter.

Submit two chapters for publication.
Ugh, no. Not even one. I have a chapter that has been nearly ready to submit since FEBRUARY. It probably needs only two or three days of my undivided attention. Between finishing my dissertation, recovering from birth, preparing a different project for a conference, applying for jobs, teaching in two places, and then moving, this just hasn't happened.

Get a job.
Not yet (being an adjunct this fall didn't count). I've applied for 18 jobs and had two phone interviews. The right thing will come along.

Present at a conference.
YES! Adele and I went to ESA with my mom in August. I had a great time and I'm so glad I went.

Update my webpage bi-monthly (and transition to my own domain name).
I did the domain name change, but not the bi-monthly updates. I updated 5 times, but not in a few months now, because with nothing submitted and no new job I haven't had much to update. It's due, though.

Exercise 4x per week.
So, this kinda went out the window. My definition of exercise changed radically during pregnancy. I injured myself by moving a heavy box, which shifted my pelvis. This made many daily tasks acutely painful. I started physical therapy and I did the exercises they gave me twice per day until Adele was born (very low intensity but they took about 20-30 minutes each time). After she was born, I had a hard time walking for several weeks, so I didn't get much exercise. I did some kegels. Around September (4 months post partum), I could finally walk consistently at my normal speed for the first time since January. I went back to PT, where I had a variety of exercises that I didn't do consistently at all. Now I'm on a new, low-intensity core-strengthening routine that I am trying to do every day. It's been a physically difficult year! I still intend to write in more detail about my recovery.

Do a race.
No, and I don't have plans to do one in the near future.

Go dancing at least 4 times.
YES! I managed to go dancing 4 times between August and November. I still have some lingering pelvic pain, so I need to be careful about what songs I dance to and who I dance with.

Improve dog's socialization and walking.
No, but as of last week she is living with 3 other dogs until we move into our own place, so that might help improve her social skills!

Do 5 more things on our Big City bucket list before we move.
??? I don't know if we did any more of them at all!

Schedule time for blogging.
No. I have so many things that I want to write about, and just haven't made the time to do it.

Refer to this list when I set my weekly goals.
No, but I'm not sure it would have changed things much if I did. I might have blogged more.

Add goals to this list as necessary-- in case I think of something else important.
I didn't think of anything important enough to add!

One year ago I wrote:
"I have no idea where we'll be at the end of this year. Maybe we'll be in Jon's hometown. Maybe we'll be in some small university town. Maybe we'll still be in Big City but getting ready to move."

Hometown it is!

May your 2013 end better than it began!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Goodbye Big City, Hello Hometown

It has been several weeks since I posted, and quite a lot has happened. Right around that time, we decided to move back to Jon's Hometown in December. I mentioned before that we were planning to move before Christmas, but I really hoped it would be with a job. Unfortunately, I haven't made the short list for a job since July. But Christmas was a good time to make the move. We went to his Hometown for Thanksgiving, where we made plans to move in temporarily with my mother-in-law and then into a house she rents out once the current tenants find a new place. As we were headed home, I had the realization that it was only 3 weeks from then until our planned move. Yikes!

After Thanksgiving, we went home to Big City, where I wrapped up the semester at both institutions, we had one last big party, and then we packed everything and loaded it onto a truck. Thankfully we had plenty of help, since I am still not 100% recovered from birth (7 months later!) and therefore didn't lift any heavy boxes or furniture.

It was hard to leave Big City. We lived in the same building all 6.5 years of grad school. During that time we got engaged, both my grandparents and my sister died, we got married, we got a dog, I spent more than a year in Ukenzagapia, we made some wonderful friends, we had a baby, and I finished a PhD. I got really emotional when I thought about moving, and I sobbed as I drove away. I cried again when I lost the signal of the local NPR station. And I cried as I rounded the bend in the road with a view of my new Hometown.

I left with Adele and the houseplants in our car the day before Jon so I that I could go to a family wedding. Then we met up and stored most of our belongings in my father-in-law's garage and moved the short-term necessities in with Jon's mom.

So here we are, back in the land of Jon's family and friends. We have some savings to help get us through, and Jon will find enough work to keep the lights on, so to speak. My job is to get a job. There are many people around to help take care of Adele when necessary. I've restricted my job search to this area, and I'm ok with that. There isn't a better place for us to be now.

Tomorrow I'm going to see how I did with my goals for 2013. At least I know I got the big ones!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Six months!

Six months! Adele is six months old today! In that time she has more than doubled her weight (7 pounds 10 ounces to 16 pounds 9 ounces), learned how to smile, laugh, babble, roll over, sit up unassisted, and reach for toys. She has tasted a few foods (sweet potatoes, pasta, bread, apple) but has gotten all of her calories from breast milk. It's pretty amazing that I have the ability to feed another human.

Motherhood got off to a rocky start, but I am thankful that I have gotten stronger faster than she has gotten bigger. I am glad I was able to return to work on my own schedule, so I could ease back into working full time. Teaching this semester has been way more demanding than I hoped and expected, but I have still had a fair amount of flexibility so that I have been able to bring her to school with me sometimes (getting help from friends there) on days when Jon can't watch her. It's frustrating when I can't get anything done because I can never get my hands free, but she's been a pretty easy baby overall. Here's hoping for an even better 6 months ahead!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

13,507 hours

By my estimation, it took about 13,507 hours of work to get my Ph.D. Six years. September 2007 until April 2013. By Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hour rule, that definitely makes me an expert in... getting a Ph.D.

But seriously, that's a ton of work. How did I get to this number? Since 2010, I've been keeping careful track of how much time I spend working using a program called Time Tracker. I have breakdowns for different tasks and I can export all of the data as a .csv so then I analyzed it in R. Honestly, I've been excited about doing this for months. I know, I know, sometimes I'm too nerdy for myself.

In 2010 I worked 2,373 hours. That's about 46 hours a week across all 52 weeks of the year. In 2011, I worked an insane 2,829 hours, which is about 54 hours per week. I was in the field for 6 months of 2011, including my most intense field season and my last field season, so I was hardly doing anything other than working during those times. In 2012, I returned to a much saner 2,239 hours (43 hours/week). For 2013, I only counted until the end of April. In those first four months, I worked 954 hours. That works out to an insane average of 56 hours per week. If anything, that's a bit low because the time I spent reading on my iPad before I fell asleep wasn't usually counted. That was the home stretch, and boy did it feel like running a marathon. Every day. Pregnant.

I only occasionally kept track of my working hours for the first 2.5 years of grad school, so I'm estimating that 2008 and 2009 were probably something like 2012 (not 2011 because it was my year of intense field work, and 2010 had a fair amount of field work too whereas 2008 and 2009 did not), so I used the data from 2012. For the fall of 2007, I used the data only from Sept-December 2012 as an estimate (634 hours). I started in August, but for simplicity I've excluded that month since I didn't start at the beginning and was just getting settled in.

I might not have worked quite as many hours in 2007-2009 as I did in 2012, but overall I think this is a good approximation. I taught 2007-2008 and took classes 2007-2009, and I applied for a ton of grants during that time. Keeping track of my working time for the last 3 (nearly 4!) years has helped keep me accountable and on task, and it also helps me feel justified when I'm done working, which is a graduate student conundrum that was wonderfully articulated over at GradHacker.

All these data mean I can calculate my hourly wage. I haven't yet, but it's probably going to be depressing. Stay tuned, because I'll write about that and show some pretty graphs of my work habits later this week.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Signed, sealed, delivered

My dissertation is revised, I paid the fees, I filled out the forms, got signatures on pieces of paper, and that is that. After hanging onto my dissertation to hang on to my student health insurance and paycheck, I'm officially graduating in December. This gig is up. I'm still looking for a job, but we're leaving Big City at Christmas no matter what.

It's exciting but a little scary and bittersweet. I'd rather not think about it too much right now.

For months now I've had some posts in mind that I'd like to get out. Tomorrow, I'll write about how long it took to get my PhD.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Missing deadlines

I generally pride myself on being very organized and deadline-aware. I usually have a good sense of when things are coming up and what needs to happen when to meet the deadline.

Since Adele was born, though, I feel like I've been missing deadlines left and right. I just realized that they changed the deadline by a month for something I was planning to apply for. That ship sailed. Ugh.

Something will work out, eventually. But it would be nice if it happened sooner rather than later!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

How do you people do it?

How do professors ever get any research done when they are teaching? I'm asking seriously.

Last week (Sunday to Saturday) I worked 49 hours. 35 hours of it was teaching, 14 of it was other stuff (e.g. looking for jobs, being a good lab and department citizen, email). 25 of those hours were for my adjunct position, which included grading about 35 lab reports. 10 hours were for being a TA. I had Adele (now 4 months old) with me at school Tuesday and Thursday (a friend babysat her while I taught). I worked at home with her (and Jon) on Friday.

I am feeling overwhelmed. I don't have nearly enough time to work on my own advancement. I need to get publications submitted and I need to find a job. Both of these things are feeling impossible. Jon said it best-- I basically have 4 jobs. Teaching at UBC, teaching at the other place, applying for jobs, and then continuing everything I've been working on for the last 6 years.

Part of me wants to just give up on my research aspirations and find a nice 9-5 job with some paid vacation and benefits.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Job lead

I've been corresponding with Dr. Evenbigger about being a postdoc with him-- a conversation that he initiated. But he's in Europe. There is so much to think about and so many unknowns, but this seems by far my most promising job prospect. It would only be for a year, but moving husband, dog, and baby to a new country where we don't speak the language is daunting. Although not as daunting as the job I interviewed for in April, since this at least requires no field work. With a breastfeeding baby and a still-recovering body, there is definitely no strenuous field work in my near future. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Back to school with #GRFPproblems

Since I don't have a real job or a postdoc yet, I'm still technically a graduate student and we're staying here for the fall. I am a teaching assistant again for the first time in years, and in addition I'm teaching a class with Sam at his university as an adjunct. I'm starting to worry about what I've gotten myself into!

For the past few years, I've had the great fortune to be supported by a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. My whole responsibility was to do my awesome science. I was my own boss. I worked hard, but I had relatively few times when other people regularly needed my attention. I had huge blocks of uninterrupted time. I've been really spoiled, I know.

This fall, I'll have about 80 students between the two jobs. I've scheduled nearly all of my teaching on Wednesdays and Thursdays in the hopes of having bigger chunks of time on the other days. In addition to my teaching responsibilities, I need to be applying for jobs & fellowships and trying to get my chapters published. I could fill a semester with those tasks alone.

And I have a baby. My husband will be the primary caregiver, but I'll still be doing more work from home than I otherwise would. And when he does get called to work (it's erratic), we'll pay a couple of graduate school friends to watch her either at home or at school. My time will be even more fractured by childcare.

I also still need to pay attention to healing. More than 3 months after childbirth, I still can't lift heavy things (i.e. baby in car seat) or walk at a normal person's pace for very long. I am back in physical therapy and I need to do major pelvic floor and core work to be able to resume the level of activity that I had up until mid-pregnancy. It is very important to me that I get back to 100% and I don't think it's just going to happen without trying.

I'm sort of worried that perhaps I've jumped in too far-- maybe I shouldn't have signed on as an adjunct, too, but I think my CV and I could really use the teaching experience. After years of not paying much attention to the school calendar because it didn't change my schedule much, I find myself anxious about the start of the semester and worried about how I'll manage everything I need and want to do. I'm trying to be smart and prioritize and figure out which things to let slide. Here's hoping I've got a job and am still sane at the end of the semester.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Nicest rejection ever

I didn't get the postdoc that I interviewed for last month, but I did get the nicest rejection correspondence ever. I was told my rank on the short list and who they hired. I don't think I could have done anything differently. They hired someone who already had some postdoc experience, and said they'd contact me if the person gets a permanent job before the position ends. I am disappointed because the job was awesome, but it is a relief to know we are in Big City for the fall.

I don't think I have any viable applications out there right now, but I do have a short list of things to apply for. I've had two interviews from about nine applications so that's encouraging. Time to do more applications!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

He's just not that into you (me)

I submitted a postdoc application last week. I didn't hear anything back. The guy is at ESA. I went to his talk. I emailed him again saying I want to be his postdoc and when my presentation is. He said he'd try to make it. I can tell he's just not that into me.

I'm pretty sure after seeing his talk that I've got a snowball's chance in hell of being his postdoc. Oh well. I just want him to know who I am. I'm trying to take the long view on this one. It worked out well last time.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Not a job, but an offer

I got invited to participate in a working group for my particular subdiscipline by one of the people who interviewed me for a postdoc in the spring. I didn't get the job, but this is a pretty good consolation prize. I am flattered that I made the list of invitees! There are some big intimidating names on there. I will do my best to rise to the occasion and run with the big dogs.

Fingers crossed for the other job I interviewed for last week. I could not have imagined this particular position, but it combines several of my different skills and experiences. I was told at the end of the phone interview, "I am deeply impressed by your qualifications, and even if you don't end up here, I look forward to seeing what you do for years to come." Those are some encouraging words, but we'll see what happens.

Thursday, July 25, 2013


I just got an email from Sam that has lengthy correspondence with Dr. Evenbigger, much of it about me! Very exciting. This guy has only read one of my papers and a poster, but he is eager to hear the results of one of my big unpublished dissertation projects. He has also proposed organizing a workshop and book with me and Sam, and ideas for collaboration on a project that could be a postdoc (though not in the immediate future). It's flattering and gives me lots to think about.

Tomorrow I have a phone interview for a postdoc I'm very excited about, and I was even given a list of questions in advance! How organized!

Monday, July 22, 2013

I Am A Scientist

Sometimes a good email can really pick you up. I hardly got anything done last week (other than feeding my baby) and was feeling overwhelmed and unmotivated. Early this morning I read the suggestion* to have a "feel good" email folder where you keep messages that make you do just that. Jon has suggested something like this before to help me fend off the Impostor Monster. Today I got two feelgood emails that motivated me to have a productive afternoon preparing for ESA.

First I got an email about scheduling a phone interview for a postdoc! I am "one of X highly qualified applicants." It feels good to make the shortlist. (I was not offered the other job I interviewed for, but it sounds like it was a difficult decision for them, and honestly it's for the best. Starting that job this fall would have been incredibly stressful and difficult considering my compromised health).

Then I got an email from someone on a scouting trip to do doctoral research in Nyota. She emailed Sam for advice, and Sam referred her to me! I suppose I'm something of an expert on how to be an outsider. Years ago I started a document with all kinds of notes about things I wish I'd known when I started research in Nyota, so it is rewarding to pass on that information. She also met one of my field assistants who immediately asked her if she knew me, and told her "she's great." Considering the sometimes difficult relationship with my field assistants, that is wonderful to hear.

This month I have also received some email requests for pdf of my first published dissertation chapter. Even better, someone said it "make my day" when they found the paper. I even skyped with that person who wanted my feedback on her project idea. The paper went through 4 or 5 journals and nearly 100 numbered document versions and just dragged on and on in review, but now it feels like it truly was worth it.

On days like this I can own it. I Am A Scientist.

*It was in this excellent post that describes one woman's liberating attitude towards and honest tale of being a tenure-track faculty member (at Harvard!).

Friday, July 19, 2013

Intimidating applications

I have an extreme K-selection strategy when it comes to applying for jobs-- I only select the jobs that I feel I have a fighting chance at, and I put a lot of time into my applications. I am realizing now that I have an easier time writing a cover letter and feel like less of an impostor when the job description is more specific. The positions hiring a postdoc that does "some kind of related research" are much more difficult for me than those with a clear description of the intended project. When its open-ended, I spend a long time researching the lab group and their publications, scrutinizing the collaborators, and generally feeling inadequate (like here and here).

A position was recently advertised near Jon's Hometown, which is where we would move anyways if I don't find a job by Christmas. The PI is someone who I intended to contact about postdoc opportunities; I learned of his research last year at ESA when I met his graduate student. It would be fabulous to work there and he is doing exciting research. But the more I read, the more worried I am about articulating the fit with my research. Are my questions big enough? I look at the coauthors on his pubs and there are tons of well-known biologists (mostly men). Am I good enough? Can I cut it?

Argh. This application is important and I need to be convincing. But first I have to convince myself.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Calamity

Warning: This is the story of the end of a birth gone wrong. If you don't want to read about frightening things that can happen during labor, please stop reading. If you want to read on, click through.

Part 1- The Pregnancy
Part 2- The Birth
Part 3- The Calamity (below)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Birth

Note: This is a birth story. It's not as graphic as it could be, but if these things weird you out, skip it. If not, read on.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Pregnancy

Tomorrow my little one turns 2 months old, so I'd better get these thoughts down before they leave me completely! At the beginning of my pregnancy, I thought I'd want to blog all the time about being pregnant. It turned out that that feeling went away after we started telling people (i.e. right at the time I could have started blogging about it). So for the curious, here's all 38 weeks summarized in one place.

As I've mentioned before, it made a lot of sense to try to have a baby before finishing grad school. My advisor was very supportive of his grad students having kids, and my student health insurance covers maternity 100% (I'm planning a post later about the bills for this baby). We waited until I was finished with field work because being pregnant or bringing a child to Ukenzagapia would have made it even more difficult. Then we waited several months more and tried to time it so the baby could be born in that sweet spot after my defense but before graduation. I went off the pill in June and started tracking my cycles using this book (HIGHLY recommended!). I was anxious that it might take us several months to get pregnant, but I got pregnant in September, which was the first month that I ovulated when Jon and I were in the same place (I was away at that time in both July and August).

I could tell (from charting my temperature) that I was pregnant several days before taking a pregnancy test. I also started having mild nausea almost immediately-- about 10 days after ovulation, around the time of implantation (which is also right after I did a triathlon!). Mostly the nausea didn't make me really want to throw up, it just make me feel gross and made my relationship with food desperate. Thankfully, a friend of mine (and reader of this blog!) mentioned that it's an EMPTY stomach that usually makes you feel sick. This means that when I was most hungry, NOTHING sounded appealing. When I felt the empty stomach nausea coming on, I tried to find the closest food that didn't sound gross. These foods for me were pretzels, tortilla chips, banana chips, and carrots. I needed to eat something little like that to calm my stomach before I could think about something like cooking dinner (which otherwise sounded disgusting and totally overwhelming). This made me diligent about packing snacks for myself if I was out and about. Thankfully, the nausea for me mostly went away after 5 or 6 weeks.

I saw a midwife for all of my prenatal care. As long as I was in the university hospital system, everything was covered. I didn't really have many options, but the one option I had ended up being a good one! Many people asked if we were planning a home birth when I mentioned seeing a midwife, but these midwives all attend at the hospital. I didn't have much interest in a home birth, and I felt like delivering with a midwife at a hospital was the best of both worlds for a low-risk pregnancy: the low-intervention philosophy of the midwives but all the specialized OBs and facilities in case something went wrong (which it did).

I intended to have an active, fit pregnancy. I rode my bike to school (at least occasionally) until about 5 months, and I stopped then mostly because of the weather. After that I walked or took the bus. I kept going to group fitness classes and swimming until I injured myself right around 5 months. I did exactly what they tell pregnant women not to do. Please, let this be a cautionary tale.

I was alone at the office on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (January 21). In a fit of office cleaning, I decided that a box of magazine left by some former grad student that had been in my office for YEARS just HAD to go. That day. And no one was around to help me. So I tried to be careful. I carefully moved the box from the floor onto my wheelie chair, pushed it down the hall, and then moved the box from the chair onto a table. Later that afternoon, I noticed a little bit of pain in my pubic bone. I went swimming later that afternoon and felt the pain a little when I kicked on the breast stroke, but didn't think too much of it. I knew my pelvis was supposed to be widening and I figured that's what I was feeling.

But after just a few days the pain was much worse. Walking started to hurt. Having to catch my balance suddenly. Dragging something with my foot. Getting dressed. Getting in and out of bed. All of these motions made my pubic bone hurt, and not a sufferable kind of hurt, but a stop-doing-that-immediately kind of hurt. It wasn't getting better, and I was quickly feeling extremely limited by the pain.

My instinct told me there was a way to make it better and that I didn't just have to wait it out for the next 4 months. I emailed a friend and colleague who had just had a baby a couple of months before and was still in physical therapy for severe post-partum pelvic girdle pain (PGP). I did some reading about it when she ended up back in the hospital (!), and it seemed like what was happening with me too. She told me to get help as soon as possible. I had to get a referral to physical therapy, and PT couldn't schedule me for almost 2 weeks after that which felt like an eternity to start treatment. So, I scheduled an appointment with a chiropractic school nearby, because they could see me the next day and it wasn't terribly expensive.

To make a long story short, my pelvis was out of alignment which caused the PGP. Best I can figure, when I moved that damn box, I braced it against my thigh, and the pressure indirectly exerted on my pelvis via my femur shifted it. Normally, the human pelvis is not so easily shifted, but the hormone relaxin loosens up those ligaments that normal hold everything in place. This is why they tell pregnant women to be careful with heavy objects and new exercises. It's not really about injuring the baby but injuring yourself. I could feel that the two halves of my pelvis were slightly uneven where they meet in the middle of my pubic bone.

I went to the chiropractor and physical therapist nearly every week for the rest of my pregnancy. Both did some adjustments, which definitely helped. After the first few weeks of treatment, my pain was more manageable. I had good days and bad days, but I had good days! The pain level seemed to change most radically overnight, so I talked extensively with the physical therapist about how to sleep. I got a memory foam pillow for between my legs. The PT gave me exercises to do in the morning and night, and I did them religiously. The only other exercise I was doing was a water fitness class, and even there I had to be careful and there were some moves I couldn't do without pain (so I didn't do them).

I had basically no nesting instinct. In fact, our place was so messy that I probably had an anti-nesting-dissertation-finishing instinct. The last 4 months of my pregnancy were also the last 4 months of my dissertation. I worked like crazy. I got up, did my exercises, went to school, worked on my dissertation, came home, worked on my dissertation, did my exercises again, and went to bed. On the weekends, I got up, did my exercises, worked on my dissertation, did my exercises again, and went to bed. I wrote much of my dissertation sitting in our guest bed. If I was struggling to stay awake at my desk, I took a nap on my office couch. Some days I had midwife, chiropractor, or physical therapy appointments or went to water fitness. Some evenings I hung out with friends, but nearly not as often as before.  I had hours upon hours of uninterrupted time (and I needed it!) to work on my dissertation, and I knew it would not be that way again any time soon. I was so motivated to finish before the baby was born.

There were so many things I put off until after my dissertation or defense! I just wouldn't let myself near the edge of the preparing-for-baby rabbit hole. I sent my dissertation to my committee 31 weeks 4 days into my pregnancy and defended at 34 weeks 4 days (babies are considered full term at 37 weeks and 'due' at 40 weeks). During those three weeks in between, I hosted a baby shower, had a baby shower, filed for a tax extension, went away for a long weekend, applied for and interviewed for a job, and prepared my defense seminar. I felt like I could really start thinking about being pregnant!

I never got to the point where I was done being pregnant and I thought I had at least another week. In the week before Adele was born, we went to a breastfeeding class, wrote a birth plan, bought a car seat, unpacked the zillions of hand me down baby clothes, bought nursing bras, and had a cleaning service clean the apartment. My water broke at 37 weeks 5 days and she was born about 28 hours later. But that's a post for another day.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Back in the saddle

Adele will be 8 weeks old on Thursday. Yesterday I submitted a job application-- the first new application since my defense. I'm almost caught up on my email backlog. I'm planning to go to my office 1 or 2 days this week. At home, I can work at my desk while bouncing her in her bouncer with my foot or wearing her (still getting used to that). I can tell I'm feeling better because I'm thinking about work again. I'm my own boss, and I'm choosing to get back to work which makes it less overwhelming because I can do it on my own schedule.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Looking up

Things have improved since my last post (which I think was uncharacteristically negative). My mom came back for a few days to help and I was able to catch up on many things while she was here which has left me feeling less overwhelmed. Jon's mom is coming next week which will be a big help, too. Adele has slept 3-4 hours at a time the last few nights so I'm reasonably well-rested. I can feel that I have more energy. Yesterday I took my first solo excursion with Adele in the car and I wasn't completely exhausted by it.

The midwife said I'm still not allowed to get in a pool, though. I had my followup with her yesterday, and she wants me to follow up again in 2 weeks since I had such a rough go and I'm still not healed. I hope that I get the ok on swimming then because I want to start my water fitness class again. It's about as gentle as it gets for exercise and I think it will feel nice.

In other news, we are mentally preparing to be in Big City for the fall (which means I'm going to start implementing the backup plan). If I don't find a job by late July, I'll hold on to my dissertation, remain a student, keep health insurance for me and Adele, and be a TA for the fall. Then if I still don't have a job come Christmas, we'll move to Jon's Hometown. I'll apply for jobs, but considering I've submitted exactly one application in the last two months (and that was a re-application), I'd say the odds are against me finding a job in the next month.

While my mom was here, we made some plans for August. She's going to accompany me to ESA and take care of Adele at the conference. It's amazing how much more expensive a conference gets when you can't really share a room and need to be close to the convention center. Jon was going to come along with me, but then a major work thing came up in the middle of that week. I know there will be other grandparents along as helpers- I've noticed them in previous years. I'm trying to remind myself that I won't be able to do as much at the conference as I usually do but I'm very much looking forward to it.

Monday, June 10, 2013


Pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding have kicked my ass. I had pelvic girdle pain for the last 4 months of pregnancy that limited my mobility (sometimes severely). After birth I had a uterine inversion and lost 3.5 liters of blood. Then I was readmitted to the hospital for 4 days with endomitritis. Now Adele and I both have thrush which makes breastfeeding painful (on and off for 2 weeks already). We're doing all sorts of things to fight it and I'm starting an elimination diet to try and squash it before it gets out of hand.

I watch cyclists and runners with envy. I haven't been able to take our dog for a walk since January. I still can't walk normally or with any speed at all. There are tons of things I didn't get done before Adele was born, nothing super important (maybe except for not yet submitted that damn chapter 2 for publication) but lots of things that are naggingly left undone (like a billion thank you notes). I don't have a job and only one application out there.

I want to have energy again. I want to be able to move and exercise. I want to get off the emotional rollercoaster. I don't want to be so completely overwhelmed. I can't wait to feel normal again and be able to do normal things normally.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Due date!

Today is the 40-week due date for our baby, but she decided to show up a couple of weeks early!

Adele Violet Rene
Born May 16, 2013
7 pounds 10 ounces

She is doing fabulously! Labor was steady, unmedicated, and uncomplicated... until the third stage. I'll write about her birth and The Calamity immediately following. After being discharged, I had to go back to the hospital for 4 more days because of infection. It's been a crazy couple of weeks, but thankfully Adele has been pretty low drama (I'm the one with all of the problems).

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Dr. Karina Anirak!

I passed! I think the revisions required for my dissertation are miraculously minor (although it's not 100% clear to me what they are yet). I did it. This crazy beast is 99.9999% done. I should be able to finish the revisions in the next few weeks, and then I'll hold on to my dissertation until I have a job. My committee has endorsed my backup plan of staying on as a TA in the fall if nothing else comes through.

One question that I think my readers can answer for me- when do I officially get to be called Dr.? Now that I've passed my defense? When I get my diploma?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Today's the big day. One hour public seminar and then 1-2 hours with my committee. At this point, I am not concerned about my committee and just concerned about giving a good presentation that people enjoy and understand. I am going to be so relieved when this is over.

Here goes the distillation of 6 years of work!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Hands off

Herb, my committee chair, is on sabbatical this semester. I've emailed him about my chapters, mostly to get his final approval on sending them out to the committee after Sam has already been over them. I haven't seen or had a conversation with Herb since December, and won't see him until the morning of my defense on Tuesday. Seemed like we should have some kind of meeting before my defense, so we just had a 5 minute phone conversation. Herb is a hands-off advisor indeed.

He said, "Well, it looks like a dissertation, it smells like a dissertation, so I think it's a dissertation." He doesn't think I'll have any problems. That's a relief.

For the last 3 days before my defense, I'm focusing on preparing the best presentation I can.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

My first postdoc interview

I had a Skype interview (with video) for the aforementioned postdoc. I told them I'm pregnant when they asked about my start date. As far as I could tell, they didn't bat an eye. They said they'd rather have the right person start later than a less-than-ideal candidate start sooner, so it's good I applied.

I am really, really excited about this project. I had a great time talking with them. I hope I get another interview! I still have many logistical questions, but it at least seems feasible and that there is some flexibility in terms of how the postdoc configures their responsibilities.

I have a few doubts about how I answered a couple of questions and wish I could go back and say more. I hate second-guessing myself on these things. But overall I feel good about it. I think they liked me and they seemed happy about my excitement for particular challenges of this project (e.g. data management).

Sounds like they have a couple more interviews to do and they might have a second round. Hopefully I'll hear something after my defense next week.

Monday, April 15, 2013

On the shortlist

When I submitted the most recent postdoc application, I thought to myself, if I don't make the shortlist, then I definitely want to see who does. And I've got a phone interview! Very, very exciting.

I have been agonizing about when and how to tell them I'm pregnant. After several conversations with different people, I decided that I am going to mention it during the interview when it seems appropriate and explain my plan for childcare. Then if they offer me the job, I have many more logistical questions that I will ask to decide whether or not to take the job. You can bet I'll be blogging more about this later. For now, I have to prep for this interview so I can knock their socks off.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Thoughts from the dissertation home stretch

In the last few weeks before submitting my dissertation, I needed every moment and as much energy as I could muster. Self-care was essential. I slept as long as my body needed (usually 7-8 hours) and napped if I was starting to nod off (this actually didn't happen much in those few weeks). I ate lots of chocolate or whatever sounded good and tried to eat regular meals. Still, I was fairly emotionally fragile and volatile (mostly I blame pregnancy for this). More than a few times, I overreacted to things people said or wrote to me, often when they were trying to help or at the very least weren't trying at all to upset me. So, I severely limited who I interacted with and how. I stayed at home or hid in my office. I didn't reply to emails. I ignored phone calls. This meant that there were plenty of things I wanted to post on Facebook or here on the blog, but didn't because I could not risk overreacting to something written in response. I also didn't want to be obnoxious. Instead, I kept a document where I jotted down things I wanted to share but didn't, which gives some indication of how the last 3 weeks and chapters played out. If you want to peruse the roller coaster of thoughts, read on.

Dissertation due date (DDD) minus 18

-I guess I'm supposed to be feeling like I'm wandering around in the fringes of what has been done and is known.
-You know you're at the edge when your Google search returns no results.

DDD minus 17
-Sometimes, you reinvent the wheel. But now I know how to build a wheel.
-Turns out it's a different kind of wheel.
-It's hard to ask for help.
- >75 hours of brain work in a week is far, far too much.

DDD minus 16
-Might have just made a MAJOR breakthrough!

DDD minus 15
-I'm trying embrace 'good enough' instead of striving for 'best'.

DDD minus 14
-Reference manager, you suck. Why are you so disagreeable? Why do you want to add extra citations where they don't belong?
-I don't know if I can do this.

DDD minus 13
-Small victories :-)
-That moment when I can't decide if I should stop a process in R because it's never going to finish, or if I just need to let it run a little longer.

DDD minus 12
-I mostly need to not interact with people right now, lest they say or write the wrong thing.
-Today it feels possible.
-I think the baby is trying to get a foot massage on the edge of my ribs.

DDD minus 11
-I think I can finish this chapter tonight. If I do, I will have written the vast majority of it, and re-done/done all of the analyses in one week. 

DDD minus 10
-Ran out of steam last night and went to sleep. I need my rest to keep up this pace for another 11 days. 
-I need to know when to stop tinkering and a figure is good enough.
-Seriously? Another undiscovered paper by this guy on the same topic? I thought I read just about everything!
-Why does writing involve so. much. reeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaddddddddding?
-*sobs* WTF, Papers2. CITATION_IS_EMPTY??? And then you stick wrong citations ALL OVER THE PLACE?! I want to love you but I HATE YOU!!!!
-Found the data for my last chapter. That's a start.

DDD minus 9
-Here I go on the last chapter. 9 days until the deadline!
-It could totally be worse- at least the data are all entered!
-I think I'm going to make it.

DDD minus 8
-And now the CITATION_IS_EMPTY problem is crashing Word. *headdesk* I think I'm about to go manual with my citations.
-This is why my autosave preferences are 2 minutes.
-At least there's no one around to hear me freaking out at my computer.
-2:40 pm- I've officially started writing my last chapter. The methods section. Brand new document.
-I am such a terribly impatient and selfish person right now. I really shouldn't be allowed to talk to people. Must. finish. Don't I have "8 days to do way too much work" written on my forehead?

DDD minus 7
-Fourth chapter sent to Sam! Fingers crossed. I think I can make it.
-This last project is lame. Where's the story? What a dumb project.

DDD minus 6
-I dreamt about how to analyze my data.
-I'm getting some results!
-I finally feel like I've got traction on this last chapter.
-Oh my God. I just realized why I've been hung up for the last hour. I couldn't use a function that worked last night. Turns out I essentially DELETED R's ABILITY TO SUM by assigning sum as a vector of other crap. I shouldn't be allow to do that.
-So much frustration over an extra comma. CURSES, COMMA!

DDD minus 5
-It's nice to hear Sam say, "this chapter should demonstrate to the committee your advancement in a number of big ways, so i think you will be super fine." What a relief! I should still be able to pass even if this last chapter sucks.
-Why couldn't I just have 4 chapters?
-Oh God I'm so close I can smell it. Except that I still only have the methods written for the last chapter. That's crazy, right?
-Today: results & part of discussion. Tomorrow: Intro & send it to a friend.
-Nevermind about that goal above. Still too thin; need more analyses :-( Today: hopefully get most of the analyses done.
-Oh bleepity bleeping bleepers. Just discovered some really glaring problems in the data for the chapter I thought I was done with. I think I need to redo all of the analyses and figures before sending it to the committee :-( Yikes.
-I *definitely* need to redo all of the analyses and figures… after I draft this other chapter.

DDD minus 4
-I hope the baby likes all of the chocolate I'm eating.
-Still not done with these data. The story sucks. Super lame.
-2:19 pm. Ok. I think I have my crude, rough draft figures nailed down. Five main figures. This is what I have to go with.
-3:31 pm. Skyped with a friend about presenting GLM results. Time to start writing this up.
-5:37 pm. Passed the 2000 word mark!
-6:40 pm. Uh oh. Gamma distribution doesn't like zeroes. Model isn't actually working! Gah!
-8:25 pm. 2100 words and figure captions written. Moving on to tables.
-11:09 pm. Discussion has some rough paragraphs and a rough outline. I'm calling it a night.

DDD minus 3
-Ok Saturday morning, let's do this discussion thing.
-I need to consciously remind myself not to be bitter and jealous of all of the people doing fun things right now. I'm so close. I chose to finish this now and not later. Oh God I want to be done...
-This last chapter suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucksssssssssss.
-Don't. panic.
-Hold it together. Hold yourself together. You can do this. Break it down, break it down, break it down.
-Remember: If this chapter is the only one that sucks, you won't fail.

DDD minus 2
-I've dreamt in other languages before, but never a programming language. This morning I was dreaming about data manipulation in R.
-Each of my last four chapters has required largely separate bodies of literature. This writing requires so. much. reading.
-HAHAHAHA! I'm glancing back at the review I started 5.5 years ago (and haven't touched in 2) because it might have some useful bits for this chapter. I wrote over 8500 words!!! There has to be something useful I can salvage from EIGHT THOUSAND WORDS and over 100 references cited.
-When I get cranky and blue, I need to remember that reading damnyouautocorrect can always make me laugh.
-These last few weeks and especially days are so mental.  I have to spend so much energy managing my unhelpful inner monologue.
-I am so ready to resume being a normal person instead of a crazy person. 
-I suppose this chapter could be worse. I kind of have a story (at least I have some statistical significance…)
-Crappy draft emailed.
-Sam says (less than 1.5 hours after I sent it) fix some small things and send to Herb. I'm cautiously relieved by this but I still know it's crap.
-Good news: Reanalysis of the other chapter without problematic data doesn't change much. Bad news: can't figure out how to remake my figure. Just keeping the old version instead.

DDD minus 1
-Today is Monday? I have lost most sense of what day of the week it is.
-Did not set one foot outside all weekend. I did open the door a few times.
-Time to tackle the changes from Sam and send this last thing to Herb.
-I get SO emotional when I think about being done with this. Gotta stay present, stay focused, stay here.
-11:45 am Abstract written!
-Eating ice cream while I compose this email to Herb about my last chapter.
-12:17 Last chapter sent to Herb. Fingers crossed.
-Walked to school and got to my office. Turns out I am totally exhausted.
-I think my brain and body are protesting the breakneck pace of the last month. It knows I'm getting close.
-Herb says SEND IT OUT! I am DOING IT! I AM GOING TO FINISH MY PRE-DEFENSE DISSERTATION TOMORROW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
-I think walking to and from school in the same day was too much. It hurts.

DDD minus 0
-6:53 pm SENT!

I am proud of myself for avoiding an emotional meltdown. There were a few days when I was on the brink, and I calmed myself down and got back to work. It wasn't easy, but I knew that it would be more exhausting if I let it happen, because crying is exhausting and doesn't get work done. It was such a relief to be able to cry after I hit 'send'! 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Postdoc prospects

I've applied for a handful of post-graduation employment opportunities but I've only got one (now two) that I haven't heard nay from. I just sent an application today for one on a project I've been eyeing for years now. The timing is amazing. I've met the PI. I fit the qualifications. I think my chances with this are better than anything else I've applied for so far. I really hope I make the shortlist!

I thought that I blogged about when I met the PI a few years ago but I could not find a post. I totally have a science crush on her. She's only a few years ahead of me and we have many similar lines on our CVs, except that she's like me x10. If I got a $2000 grant, she got $20,000. If I got interviewed once, she got interviewed 10 times. Anyways, she seems awesome and it's a project I'd love to be involved in. I have some concerns that this job might not be a great fit with an infant because of the field work required, but if I don't get it or can't take it, perhaps something else will be possible in the future.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Pre-defense dissertation complete!

I did it. I wrote my last two chapters in 2 weeks. I analyzed the data and wrote the last one in 8 days. I just sent the whole formatted shebang to my committee, 3 weeks before the defense. More than 200 pages, i to vitae. I cried after I sent it. In fact, I sobbed. I did it.

Turns out I'm exhausted. I've got plenty of half-formed blog entries in my head and I look forward to getting them out over the next few weeks as I resume something like a normal schedule and catching up on all the life things that I've been putting off for weeks and months to finish my dissertation by today.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Good enough?

I've spent most of the weekend trying to grasp the quirks of 4 different poorly-documented programs that only run on Windows/Linux and the literature surrounding them so that I can figure out what of those has been implemented into 3 or 4 different R packages so that I can appropriately finish some analyses. At this point, I'm probably going to have to settle for something imperfect but 'good enough'.

I have 3 chapters that look like chapters. One of those still probably needs a day of work, but I can afford no more than that. I have 16 days to produce the next two chapters before I send my dissertation to my committee. I'm counting on those needing a lot of revision after the defense, but I hope Herb will find them defensible. They just have to be good enough.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Things you do for your advisor

I made a huge email-skimming mistake on Sunday morning. In reply to an email thread about something else, Sam asked (I thought) if I could talk about two of my research projects on Friday morning. I thought he was scheduling a skype meeting so I said sure. I was kind of confused why he wanted to talk about one of them since it's finished, but whatever.

Then on Monday afternoon he replied with excitement saying something about how awesome his students are this semester, and mentioned another skype meeting we had to schedule. I didn't understand why his students were relevant or why he was so excited, but whatever.

Then today I got an email telling me where his class is on Friday, bring my adapter, blah blah blah "...after your presentation."

OMG. I finally get it.

I accidentally agreed to GIVE A TALK about my research, not TALK [with him] about my research. For an hour. Oops.

I am just going to throw something together from a seminar I gave last year, ESA, and my committee meeting in December. I cannot afford to spend a lot of time on this, but I also think it would be crappy of me to back out. I've talked about and thought about this stuff enough that I can wing it for some undergrads.

I'm not allowing myself to work on this presentation until I get a chapter draft sent to my committee. Writing comes first.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Selling yourself

I got an official rejection email from the cool postdoc in the same place as my sister-in-law, so at this point I only have one application out there unanswered. Time to put another iron in the fire.

Next on job application list: postdoc in Remote Foreign Country! *swoon*

I'm very excited about the opportunity. We still have friends there and it would just be awesome.  But I can't say I feel like my chances are very good (but honestly, are the odds ever going to feel good in this science economy?). It feels like every job application requires slightly different self-branding. This postdoc? It's related to the flash of inspiration I had a few weeks ago. So, yeah, I need to write an amazing application about my interest and potential for doing something I'm just getting my feet into. No, I take that back. I drove in head first. Pretty much by myself. (lifeguard, are you on duty?) I'm teaching myself how to swim.

It's intimidating. This lab collaborates with big names. In my background research I came across the lab twitter feed, which I want to follow (and I will) but I have to say I find it a little intimidating. I know that's silly- it's twitter and nobody cares but me. But I've revised my profile slightly to include more relevant keywords in case they look. It also makes me think more about the revisions I should do to my webpage to address my interest in this sub-discipline. If I even make it to the point where they look at my webpage.

I feel like I have to be a hotshot to have a chance at anything, but I don't feel nearly hot enough. I suppose unless you're a rising star these things take time, patience, and persistence. I guess I have that.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Four years ago

Four years ago today I was working on the final revisions to my prelim proposal and exchanging emails with a friend about wedding invitations. Then my sister died.

This day is hard. Her birthday is hard. She was only 21.

I am thankful that 3.5 years ago I found a wonderful counselor to help me with my grief. I am making time to remember my sister tonight, but today I have to work.

[I try to follow my own advice when someone I know experiences a loss.]

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Missing out

Right now there's a buzz about the twittersphere if you follow science-writer types because Science Online 2013 is happening. I tried to register, but alas, I didn't get a spot. It's probably just as well, considering that I have so much left to do on my dissertation, but it sure would have been fun!

But what I'm really bummed about is that there are at least three amazing workshops that I'd love to attend this summer that would be very helpful for my career. This summer. When I'll be breastfeeding a tiny infant. I'm pretty sure I'd try to go if I wasn't the food.

Oh well. Maybe another year.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Flash of insight

To put you in my frame of mind, I have three months until my defense and three chapters to analyze data for and write about.

All week I've been working on chapter 5, which is about the database. At my committee meeting in December I presented some very rough data explorations along with the general idea for what the chapter would be about. I did emphasize, however, that the database is a virtual gold mine of projects so the most important thing for me to do is pick one doable piece for my dissertation that will mark my interest in the field, then continue with this line of research post-PhD. I pointed out that there was a fairly major complication with my chapter idea and I wasn't sure how to adjust for it. No one had any suggestions. Chip didn't really like the idea I presented, and pointed out some holes in the theory it was based on. He suggested something else instead.

Unsure how to implement Chip's idea, I spent this week forging ahead with mine. I spent hours in R paring down the data. As the dataset shrunk and the complications became even more obvious, it became clear that my idea won't work. We don't have the data for it yet.

On Thursday night Jon and I talked about the dismal situation: I had no idea what to do with these data, but I had to figure something out quickly. He suggested a variation on Chip's idea that tackles the complication head-on. I didn't know what to do that wasn't completely descriptive.

On Friday I had a meeting with the database team and Sam. I told Sam that I didn't think my original idea was going to work, and I had no clue what I was going to do instead. Sam said that a strong conceptual hypothesis-testing paper would be great, but he said he doesn't care if I do something descriptive and Herb doesn't care either. I just need to do something with the database. It was liberating news.

So I mentioned some kind of lame ideas and we contemplated those. Meh. Sam asked about an approach used with this kind of data sometimes. I said that I'd thought about it, but I just didn't see how we could possibly do that with our data without some crazy, totally unrealistic assumptions...


...we did it at a totally different scale... And if we did it at that scale, then we could include far more of our data... It could work!

And so an idea was born while I was explaining why it wouldn't work.

I spent my Friday night finding the appropriate R packages and getting the data in the right format for a test run. I think I'm on to something big.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

More on jobs

Today I had an unexpected meeting with Sam and two fabulous things came out of it.

1) Sam asked if I'd be interested in a postdoc overseas. I said yes, so he's going to contact a collaborator of ours who he knows is writing a big grant and suggest he consider putting in a postdoc for me. I'm excited about this because I hear it's what advisors are supposed to do-- use their network to try and find positions for their students!

2) Sam also asked if I'd be interested in starting & running my own NGO. He had one for a while some years back when he thought he was going to have to make his own job and the need may be there again, but he really has no interest in running an NGO. He's interested in how it could support the work we (and especially he) do in Ukenzagapia. He thought I might be good at it. I think I could be.

Neither of these is a tangible job prospect, but they are opportunities I hadn't previously considered. Both of them would take substantial visioning and planning. I think at this point in my life I would still prefer the simplicity of landing in a well-defined postdoc, but these ideas are worth kicking around.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Done and undone

After more than a year in review and revision at the same journal, my first chapter, this damn manuscript, is undergoing yet another round of changes. It was reviewed, revised, reviewed again, revised again, then finally accepted with the instructions to "shorten it somewhat." So we shortened. Another committee member read it. We resubmitted the "final" version. I considered it in press.

Then we got an email saying that the editor made some changes that we need to approve. Well, the editor cut several hundred more words, including one entire component of the manuscript. The piece that got the axe was, we thought, the reason it ever got reviewed (let alone accepted) by this journal in the first place. It gave it context. I spent what feels like ages on that part. I meticulously detailed the methods in the supplemental materials. And poof! It's gone like a line-item veto.

Sam is appalled. He said he's never seen an editor make so many changes after a paper is accepted. Has anything like this happened to anyone else?

I don't think we can fight this-- I don't think it's worth it. I need this chapter truly done and published more than I need that section in the manuscript. We're going to make the changes and resubmit asap. But my dissertation will have the penultimate version that Sam and I both prefer.

Friday, January 4, 2013

How many job applications?

One of my economist friends who finished his PhD about 2 years ago said that he applied to 260 jobs or postdocs. So far, I've applied to 3. Surely I'm under and he's over, but what's a reasonable number? How many applications did you submit? I'd especially love to hear from newly minted PhDs.

This friend's advisor told him he should only be spending about 15 minutes per application customizing the cover letter. I just can't believe that's enough time. I suppose once you've applied to about 20 different jobs then you've got a cv/resume and research statement for almost anything, but still.

I don't want to spend a lot of time on an application for a job I would never take or one that I don't think I'm qualified for, but I feel like submitting a hasty application isn't worthwhile at all. What do you think?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Shut up, Impostor Syndrome!

I'm working on a postdoc application and getting terribly hung up on my research interests and cover letter. This is my first real postdoc application, so it's my first crack at a statement of research interests and an academic cover letter.

This job sounds great. It's a natural extension of my dissertation research, doesn't require traveling, is near some friends, and happens to be at the same institution as my sister-in-law and her family. Not only that, I just found out that she knows the person.

Recipe for awesome, right? But I'm worried that I am not qualified enough and so I'm having a hard time writing about my relevant experiences. I feel totally overwhelmed when I try to write about it, and wanting this application to be great is just making the writer's block worse.*

A few years ago I went to a talk where they used an analogy of passengers on the bus to talk about finishing your dissertation. It's kind of cheesy (and the link gets way more into it), but basically I'm the bus driver trying to drive to a postdoc, and I have to figure out how to deal with some obnoxious passengers like Impostor Syndrome who get on my bus. I could ignore them, or if they're really dangerous or disruptive, I can confront them.

So I'm driving along listening to Impostor Syndrome, who is saying things like:
What if you aren't good enough at math?
What if you aren't good enough at programming?
What if you don't publish anything?
What if you let them down and they regret hiring you?

Now that I've actually written these down, one thing becomes strikingly apparent. These are all fears about the job itself, not the application. I might be more afraid of being hired and doing a bad job than not being hired at all. I'm having trouble writing a convincing application because I am actually afraid I might not be good enough, in spite of many strengths I know I have. I need to refocus on the short-term and not get ahead of myself. I need to explain my qualifications and interests without succumbing to the nagging voices. Let's try this again.

Impostor Syndrome, you can shut up or get off the bus. You can't tell me how to get to this job.

*That and pregnancy. Oh my gosh, I am so emotional. This makes me feel like crying but I can't even explain why!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Looking forward to 2013

2013 is going to be a year to remember*.  I'm going to finish my dissertation, have a baby, find a job, and move. That sounds like quite enough! But, only one of those things is going to happen whether I plan it or not, and unfortunately it's not my dissertation. I've got some goal-setting to do.

Finish my dissertation. My defense is scheduled. My committee thinks I can do this. I have one chapter done. Now I just need to finish the other four... in the next four months.

Submit two chapters for publication. I'm trying to be realistic here. Ideally this would happen before I defend, but I'm not sure that's possible now. We'll see.

Get a job. I have lots of work to do on this front, too. I've applied to only 2 jobs so far. My backup plan to stay in Big City has some holes. I need to find a job.

Present at a conference. I really want to go to ESA with 2-month old baby and Jon, but he thinks I'm crazy. I'm planning to go ahead and submit an abstract so I have the option but we'll see what happens. If we can't go (and August is probably when we'll be moving, too), then I'd like to attend a different conference in the fall.

Update my webpage bi-monthly. I'm "on the market" so I should have a nice and up-to-date website. I should also transition to my own domain name at some point this year.

Exercise 4x per week. I know that there will be many weeks when this won't be possible, but it's important for me to keep going to the gym, even (especially?) when I'm stressed and pregnant. Prenatal yoga videos count, even short ones.

Do a race. Could be a short triathlon or even just a 5k. Something. Sometime in 2013. Probably after the baby is born.

Go dancing at least 4 times. This might be difficult. I think I might be able to go this month, but then I'll be too big and that will be awkward for dance partners. This might give me a good excuse to get out and do something after the baby is born, but then if we move somewhere with no dance scene this will be nearly impossible.

Improve dog's socialization and walking. She needs to be better about meeting new dogs, and we still need to work more on not pulling. These are both important and should happen before the baby is born.

Do 5 more things on our Big City bucket list before we move. We're not going to get to all of them.

Schedule time for blogging. I can use it as a reward for getting dissertation work done and it will hopefully result in more posts than the previous two years.

Refer to this list when I set my weekly goals. My weekly goal setting and daily task breakdown is going to be very important to finishing my dissertation and applying for jobs.

Add goals to this list as necessary-- in case I think of something else important.

I have no idea where we'll be at the end of this year. Maybe we'll be in Jon's hometown. Maybe we'll be in some small university town. Maybe we'll still be in Big City but getting ready to move. We haven't been in this position since 2007 when I was still waiting to hear from grad schools. It's exciting and daunting at the same time, since so many decisions remain up in the air until we have a destination. What kind of work will Jon be doing? What will our childcare arrangements be? Time will tell!

Happy New Year to all of my readers!

*The last really eventful year we had was 2009, but I hope that 2013 has less tragedy.