10 December 2009

09 December 2009

Biggest Challenge of 2009

I could say that the biggest challenge was 3 months of morning sickness. I could say that it was being pregnant for a full 40 weeks. Or dealing with a three year old.

But the biggest challenge of 2009 has been dealing with the hand I've been dealt. That hand, it seems, does not include a) a job as a professor or b) a new Camaro.

We decided to have another baby last year when it was clear I wouldn't be getting a job, and for the last year I thought I was doing quite a good job of getting over that fact and mourning the career that should have been.

And it really, really should have been. I have a great project, multiple publications, and teaching awards. In a real market, I should get interviews. I should get offers.

That, it seems is not to be.

There's still the outside chance that I'll creep in through the back door. That J will somehow wrangle me into something when he negotiates his offer.

It's just not the same, though. I've never wanted to ride on anyone's coattails. I've never wanted anything handed to me, and I've worked my ass off these last eight years to be good at what I do--good enough that I should be hire-able.

I'd make a damn good professor.

J has 6 interviews already this December, and with each call he gets I realize more and more that I didn't really mourn completely, that I didn't really finish dealing with this. I want to be excited for him--I am excited for him--but every time he gets another interview, my stomach sinks and I feel like curling up into a ball and crying.

Apparently, I am not as ok with the whole situation as I thought. Apparently, I was just distracted by morning sickness, 40 weeks of pregnancy, a dissertation defense, and an increasingly whiny 3- year-old.

Apparently, this is an on-going challenge. One that doesn't seem to have any end in sight.

The problem is that I'm a planner. I decide what I want; I figure out how to get it; I make a bunch of lists and a bunch of plans; I follow through. It's what I do. I'm really not good at dealing with failing.

The biggest challenge of 2009 is to re-envision my future and who I am. It's not been going so well the last month or so.

07 December 2009

Best Blog Find of 2009

I actually have two:

Awkward Family Photos


My Parents Were Awesome

One makes me laugh on a regular basis. One just makes me smile.

06 December 2009

Best Trip of 2009*

I've wanted to drive down Highway 1 for a while now, but something about doing it in a blue Mustang makes it even better.

Last December I had flights and hotels booked to my convention back in July or August.

I assumed I would get interviews (and we all know what happens when we assume). The interviews never happened, but the tickets were non-refundable. J's convention was the following weekend in the same city, so we turned what should have been a depressing week into one of the best trips of the year.

We started in San Francisco, and when a problem with the rental car company meant that we got to drive a Mustang for the price of a compact, we knew it was going to be a great trip.

We headed down to San Luis Opisbo, where my baby brother lives. We saw the Misson

We ate at the Madonna Inn and I ventured into the men's room to see their waterfall urinals:

We rented a boat and saw the sunset at Morrow Bay, we saw the Monarch Butterflies, we went to Paso Robles and went wine tasting. And X got to have a great time with Uncle D.

But it was still 2008.

We left Uncle D and kept driving down to LA- Little Man was not amused. (And Judy Garland had freakishly small feet.)

After 2 hours in LA traffic.....

We saw 2009 in here:

We spent two days in the Magic Kingdom seeing it through 2-year-old eyes. We rode the Tea-Cups and the Elephants, we saw the Haunted Mansion transformed into Jack Skellington's house, we watched it snow, on demand in Southern California.

And then we headed North once again, back to San Francisco for J's convention. Little Man and I saw the sights of the waterfront while J went to meetings and panels. I peed on a stick and we celebrated the results in a private booth in China Town followed by cappuccino and cannoli at The Steps of Rome.

I could have picked our June trip to Florida with my extended family; that was also a trip to remember.

The best trip of 2009, though, took us up and down the California coast. It was the trip that helped to heal the pain of not knowing where life was going and the trip that gave us something to look forward to. It was the last trip we took as a family of 3, because when we boarded the plane back to the prairie, we knew we would be 4. And that, it seemed, was a portent of all the good things that had to be coming.

*I know I should be posting on best workshop or conference, but this year I haven't been to any, so I'm going back to the Best Trip post.

04 December 2009

Best Book of 2009

I read. A lot.

Let me put this in perspective for you-- I saw a woman on one of the news shows who was being interviewed for doing a blog on reading a book-a-day, and I thought, "yeah, and??"

I've always read a lot. When I was younger, I'd start devouring books before I even got home from the library. I would stay up until 2 or 3 or 4 in the morning to finish a book if it was compelling enough.

It's really no surprise that I eventually gave up the notion of being a lawyer and decided to study literature for a living. Once I started college, books got harder-- Faulkner, Morrison, Joyce, Woolf, Heller, Pynchon. The weirder, the better. I reveled in the difficulty of crazy modernist and post-modernist works. I tried to go back to Grisham, and I couldn't. It just didn't seem worth my time.

Then I picked up Twilight (no-- that's not the book of the year) sometime in 2008. Then a friend recommended Outlander.* And, between the two of those series, I remembered why I liked reading. I had been doing it so long for my work, and I had been reading so many wonderful "important" things, that I forgot that reading could just be fun.

After the great job market collapse of 2008, all I wanted to read was a happy ending. I was tired of reading about "isn't it pretty to think so," and wanted to read that someone got what they wanted and deserved. So, I started devouring romance novels.

I've never been the romance novel type-- but for the last year, I couldn't get enough of them. I've read hundreds of them, literally. I was reading one during labor to distract myself. If I think about it too much, I realize it probably verges on either pathetic or obsessive, but I don't watch much TV. Or, at least that's how I excuse it.

So the best book of 2009? Heck if I know. I do know that all of those fabulous, unheralded romance writers kept me sane this year, as I was suffering through morning sickness, dealing with pregnancy, and mourning a career that's a non-starter.

I used to look down on Romance, as a genre. It seemed too fluffy and "girly." (Heaven forbid!) But now I see it for something more. The women who write romance, and who do it well are masters of style-- they may never make it into the annals of literary history, but they're my pick for this year.

*If you have not yet read this go directly to your local library or bookstore and commence reading. As in now. It's fabulous and you will thank me for it later.

Best of 2009

I found this fabulous idea via one of my favorite blogs-- It's a way to look back at a year I haven't really blogged about. 31 Topics to reflect on-- Stay Tuned!