Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Two days ago I finally updated my blog heading and changed the last part to say: "A Ph.D. student for almost 10 years now getting ready to finally get the degree and trying to figure out what to do next with her life now that her husband (who used to be a foreign student as well) finally got a job." (italics added) instead of: "A foreign student married to a postdoc (who used to be a foreign student)." Yeah, I guess that by saying that I jinxed it.
Of course I'm just kidding, but these are just two monumental coincidences whose ironic effect is not lost on me.
This is what I wrote yesterday at around 3:30 p.m but didn't post:
Wow... I don't even know how to write about this. K just called to tell me that there's an uproar today at "big pharma" because there was a virtual town hall meeting and they announced that 80 positions will be eliminated. There's a suspicion that the group in which he works might be summarily cut. And he's been there for only two months. Wow. His boss came to his office and told him to confirm whether the workshop he was going to attend in London next week is still taking place and whether the people he was planning to meet are still working on their projects. He won't hear from them until tomorrow though, since it's already night in the U.K. He might not be traveling after all. For all we know he might be out of a job soon as well. This was the biggest disadvantage of landing an industry job versus an academic one. The hiring process takes much longer in academia, but there's much more stability whereas in the industry they can hire and fire very quickly.
I was stunned, but immediately started thinking of what our options would be and what we could do with our lives. I felt a strange exhilaration -- I'm usually not afraid of new things and of moving on. BUT it is a pretty scary thought, isn't it? I'm a very practical person when it comes to these things so my only big worry is this white elephant of a house since it's the one sure thing we'd have to get rid of right away. Who would buy it? if only we had bought a fixer-upper already with the money to fix it then we'd work on it and it would be just like "flipping" a house...
I have butterflies in my stomach right now. Anyway, if it's meant to be it'll be much better if it is soon since we're not really attached to the house, the neighborhood, etc. It'll be challenging, but not the end of the world. If nothing happens this is just a stern reminder that we have to be ALWAYS ready because that's how it is with industry jobs.
~ ~ ~~
I was very anxious and stressed out last night and thought I wasn't going to sleep well, but thankfully I did. The phone rang at 10:26 am this morning and K told me that yes, the whole group had been cut worldwide. 30 people, including his boss and the boss's boss, both of whom had been working there for many years, were now without a job.
Good thing I had called my parents right after K talked to me yesterday because they were now prepared for the worse. K thought it was a bad idea, but it was good I did it -- I have to follow my instincts, I know. I had also mentioned it to my SIL on the phone last night, but she refused to believe me, she thought I could not have been serious and so she was very unpleasantly surprised today. My in-laws were speechless.
It's very surreal. And the worse problem is not really the house as I mentioned above, it's our visa situation. TWELVE whole years in this country and still uncertain of how to proceed. My visa is connected to the school, as soon as I graduate, it's done. I can get the one year permit to work, but I HAVE to find work. K can be under my visa, but only if I have work (he won't be able to work). The pressure's on. I went to look for job postings in the MLA's Job Information List and a few have already started reviewing applications, but most start in two weeks (Nov. 15). K can also apply for academic posts. We're planning to ask for help from our friends who work in construction to renovate the house for "flipping" at the lowest cost possible. K will have time to do the renovations and also watch the kid as I finish the dissertation since he'll be unemployed. It looks like he's going to keep earning and have the health care benefits until May. What we'll do in-between (if one of us gets a job) is uncertain. I want to live here until the last day of school for Kelvin (May 28).
Yeah, I know... so many things. But we know it's going to be all right. We always have the option of returning to Brazil. We even have a house to live there and people who would hire us right away. I feel full of energy, but K feels the contrary -- he's lost his motivation to do anything. Of course he's still in shock. OK, gotta go pick Kelvin in school and I'll be back later.
Good think we now won't feel that bad while watching Michael Moore's Sicko (which we missed on the big screen and is coming out on DVD in a week) since we won't have ties to the pharmaceutical industry anymore. I just added it to the top of my queue on Netflix! :)
I called them yesterday to talk about the issue I mentioned, but didn't name, above and I have to recant what I said yesterday about them being OK. My mom is really worried about my dad, she things he's really depressed and upset, but won't admit it. Yesterday was a particularly bad day because their lawyer went to the widow's wife to get some documents from her to get started in requesting that my dad's insurance pay her what she's supposed to receive. When he got there he was told that their lawyer had just left and that he'd have to deal with him from them on. So they're suing my parents and that will take forever and cost quite a bit which -- in her case -- may not be an advantage at all because she may end up with less than she could get from the insurance company, my dad, etc. because she'll have to pay the attorney's fees. Of course it'll still cost much less than here -- my parents know someone who spent the price of a new car to defend himself in a case like theirs. He's just upset that this same money could be raised and given to help the woman and her children, and not wasted on attorneys (he was willing to help her in every way possible). On the other hand, if it's all decided in the courts, my dad won't feel responsible for their family anymore once it's all said and done, regardless of the cost. I actually think it's better this way. It is sad that their lawyer will certainly take advantage of the fact that this widow is basically illiterate and very uneducated and that he's been opportunistic as lawyers can often be, but I don't think my dad should feel so frustrated about it. Like my mom said, maybe they would be feeling better today. They have to live one day at a time and yesterday was a very bad day, in her words. I just hope and pray that today doesn't become a very bad day for our family...
We had a busy weekend and didn't know it was going to be this way until Thursay night/Friday morning when we learned, respectively, that my in-laws were coming to sleep here on Sunday with K's youngest aunt and her husband (who were visiting the U.S. for the very first time for a week) and that my brother-in-law was coming as well with his family. Good thing that we didn't hear earlier so we had a more relaxed week and didn't work like crazy to achieve more renovation projects in the house (we even got to watch a film last week -- the Netflix DVD we'd had for two months). We only cleaned and organized well and I even attached the the "little things" to the doors upstairs (and looking at the photos in that post I realize that I do miss those cute white doors since we have plain and ugly matte wooden slab doors).
The visits were great, the only downside was the weather since Sunday was a very chilly day and it was quite cold at night (below 32 F/ O C -- we had frost). That didn't prevent Kelvin, Linton, and their older cousin from spending all afternoon playing outside and riding bikes and tricycles on the driveway. (Linton had a very bad night because he had a congested and runny nose, but I think this was a small price to pay).
When they left on Monday morning I was quite depressed by the empty house and reminded that this is how my mom feels every time we visit and leave, only we're going to be thousands of miles away, not only a few hundred ones like my in-laws. My mom is most happy when she has a full house, so she's always planning lunches and dinners with friends and family who come to visit, so I guess this is a family trait that was passed on to me and, particularly, to her grandson, Kelvin. Since he was very little he just loved when people came to visit us and he still does. He has some shy moments in the very beginning (he hides for a while from people he doesn't know), but he's always anxiously waiting for them to come and joyous for their presence. One of the things we're very happy with in this house is that it has enough room so we can invite all our friends to parties and dinners and can receive overnight guests much better since we have two spare bedrooms (even in the study there's room for a mattress on the floor) and a futon on the family room. Therefore, this quick visit from our family members was a great success! :) I hope they come back soon.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Note: the cover I included here is my own scanned copy of the book since all t he images I found online don't show the glittery silver of the words :) (and I don't even like sparkly stuff, but it looks so cool I couldn't show it to you).
I received my copy in the mail yesterday from Andi and I have to say it's always a thrill to see a book even before it's released in stores -- particularly this one which is such a great one! When I first checked the Amazon site today it was #44 in their rank, then, an hour later it was #41. A few minutes ago it was #30 and I hope it gets closer and closer to #1!!! I couldn't believe it when I saw that the boys book still remains among the 20 best sold at Amazon, at #15 (16 earlier today). Like Andi said in her note enclosed with the book, I'm definitely a big cheerleader for this book.
Here's what this week's Time magazine had to say about it, in the bottom of the Books section, it compared the Boys to the Girls book and I think the girl book does match up, but of course I'm completely biased! ;) (click on image for larger version):
I guess it's a good sign that the book was featured in Time even before its release.
Congratulations to Andi and Miriam and I hope to see them in person soon at one of the signings here in Philly!
My parents are doing OK. I cannot imagine how sad it must have been for my mom to have her birthday (which was on Sunday) take place right after this. Thankfully their friends (my brother's in-laws) took them out to eat some delicious fish in Piracicaba, the town where my brother used to live before he moved to China.
My mom told me that yesterday was their first "normal" day, when they returned to their pre-accident routine, at least in part. They went to their hydro-gymnastics class (my dad only moved gently in the water since he's still sore from the accident and he's going to have an MRI or CAT scan, I don't know exactly which, late this week to find out if he has a pinched vertebra or not), came back home, had a lighter lunch, and were very relieved that my dad's brother returned from a trip that unfortunately took place exactly during one of the hardest weeks of their lives (my dad says it only wasn't worse than the week in which my younger brother broke his leg when he was 1 year old, but that's another story).
My uncle (tio) Hugo (we pronounce it "0oogoh" in Portuguese), and whom Linton hilariously calls tio "OOvoh" (or "Uvo" -- "male" grape in Portuguese since uva, a feminine word, means grape) has been living temporarily with my parents while his apartment building is being built and getting ready for people to live in. This uncle who is a few years older than my dad has a sad story. His wife left him many years ago (almost 30 years) and he never remarried. He's also a pastor, but he worked in accounting and auditing for the church until he retired a couple of years ago. The irony of ironies is that you may remember that we built a small house in the back of our lot which is adjacent to my parents' house... so, in July our former tenant decided to leave and do you know who's renting the house now? My uncle's ex-wife! (sorry for the long digression, but I thought it was an interesting story).
Anyway, my uncle is a very level-headed, rational man (as opposed to his more emotional brother, my dad) and my mom kept wishing that he'd come back all of last week so he could help them deal with the whole situation since he's also quite knowledgeable about legislation and such things. Fortunately their friends came through for them as I knew they would since they're more like family than just mere friends.
Last night they met with the attorney who's going to deal with their situation, but I haven't talked to my mom since then. She left me an instant message on skype saying that they liked him and that he's getting specialized in cases of retired pastors like my dad or other school/church personnel who get involved in fatal accidents. Yeah, very sad, but roads in Brazil can be extremely dangerous and I don't know now, but traffic accidents used to be the leading cause of death in Brazil. Let's see what's going to happen since I don't really know how these things work in Brazil. This weekend a friend of ours told us that a similar thing happened to her sister who was driving on a highway when suddenly a cycling man crossed the road in front of her, she hit him and he died. There was a trial and she was acquitted since they concluded it wasn't her fault. My dad's situation is a bit different, but we'll see. One thing is certain, the judicial system in Brazil is extremely, painfully, slow and inefficient. :(
Monday, October 29, 2007
I answered the questions in all honesty and was delighted to find out that I "am" one of my favorite characters, the one I really identify with the most:
I hope you enjoy my daily postings starting Nov. 1st and don't get overly bored with me and my writing ;) .
Friday, October 26, 2007
You can get yours here.
To save it (they don't have this option) you can select "Get a wild desktop" and then save the image (that's what I did) or email it to yourself (you'll probably want to crop it before posting since it comes with a message -- I think this is what Scriv did since his background is yellow, just like the image in the email I got).
I'm a "Lun-pol-fly-tiger" (you can click on the image to see a the full version). Tigers are my favorite animals (I love felines in general), so I couldn't resist having the paws, legs, and tail and then, the Monarch butterfly wings matched! :) I think the polar bear ears are cute, and the luna moth antennae are charming, not to mention their super smelling powers. Roar!
Thursday, October 25, 2007
My parents are very shaken, but OK. My mom is actually worried right now with the man's 14 year old daughter who took FIVE of the really strong anti-depressant/sleeping-pills that a doctor had prescribed for her mother to take twice a day and that my parents had bought. My dad had been worried about the pills on account of the young children, but they ended up giving the box to the wife. Thankfully they went to visit the family this afternoon while the mother was out and the older daughter was acting strange and collapsed. The neighbor woman explained that she had taken the box from the girl's hand, or she might have taken the whole box and most probably killed herself! My mom feels just so terrible that they left those pills there. I just got off the phone with my parents and they were going to call to know if the daughter is OK. The children were on their way to the funeral home (things are done quickly in Brazil, people are buried within 24 hours of their death) when this happened, so my mom instructed their uncle (the man's brother, whose insurance paid for the funeral and other expenses) to stop at the emergency room first so the daughter could be seen by a doctor. I hope she's fine. I'll update as soon as I hear more.
My parents were out when the news about the man's death reached their home and it was their long time friend and neighbor -- my brother's father-in-law -- who took care of things until they came back. They had gone to have their car photographed and analyzed by the police department which is going to investigate the accident. My dad could have his driver's license confiscated for two years, and may have to pay a fine or indemnification to the family, but he won't know for a long time what will happen since any legal processes take a long time in Brazil. My only worry is that they were planning to come visit us in the Spring and I wonder if he can leave the country if there's a police investigation going on.
The unthinkable sometimes happens.
This is not comforting at all, but is all I can say right now.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Last Thursday the boys couldn't wait for grandma and grandpa (vovó [the last o sounds like "awe"] and vovô ["oh" without the "u" sound in the end]) to get here. They usually feel elated when daddy gets home from work, but not on that day. Kelvin said: "I'm not glad that daddy's home, I wanted grandma to be here!" Family is such a precious thing and the boys, particularly Kelvin, love to have family members visit us. I guess they've been used to having long visits from the maternal grandparents since they were born. Lately Kelvin has been saying that he wants to go to Brazil to see grandma, he really does miss them and it's hard to live so far away. Thankfully my in-laws are living in Massachusetts now and for a few more years. It was a really short visit (just one night and they left at 5 a.m. on Friday) and Kelvin kept saying he wanted them to stay longer, but it was great to have them see the house for the first time. It was also good motivation to work extra hard on the house last week! That's why we're taking a break this week, we even watched the Netflix movie we've had for almost 2 months (and I did not cancel it yet... let's see). OK, next I want to post some fall photos.
The police and an ambulance came and my parents took the man's nephew (who was riding with his uncle and whose bicycle was damaged, but who didn't get hurt because he threw himself on the grass by the road), his wife, and daughter to the hospital. The nephew was extremely hostile, blaming my dad and the daughter was angry too. Yesterday both were calmer. My parents are taking them to and from the hospital because otherwise they wouldn't be able to get there. The police won't do anything (I think it'll be reported and go on my dad's record so his insurance will go up or something) and my dad will be in trouble only if an individual attorney approaches the family seeing his chance to make money on them. So my dad is helping the family in every way because it'll be better to help them than spend money that will go to lawyers and may not really help them because the process will drag on and on. He's already planning what to do if the worst happens, like buying the wife and children a lot and helping them build a small house there.
Please keep Gilberto (the man's name), his family, and my parents in your prayers and thoughts.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
My parents live in a rural area in Brazil and they were driving home from a doctor's appointment last night when my dad accidentally ran over a cycling man less than a mile from their house. They (or an ambulance, I don't know details) immediately took the man to the hospital and my parents stayed there with his wife until 2:30 a.m. He suffered a from skull traumatism and underwent surgery, but he's in critical condition in the ICU. The man is 59 years old and is a carpenter. They're poor people and have three children to raise. My parents were/are in complete shock and my mom gave my dad a sleeping pill so he could sleep. Dad has a strong pain on his right side in his waist going around his back, they're taking him to the doctor. The car also suffered some damage, but they're not worried about those things, only about that man's health.
They're desolate, but praying earnestly that the man may recover. If you pray, please do since accidents happen, but inadvertently taking someone's life is probably one of the worse things that can happen to anyone. I'm worried about my dad too since nothing like this ever happened to him, he's an excellent and careful driver and I'm sure that it must have been quite dark on that road last night. What terrible news! I cannot even be genuinely thankful that nothing happened to my parents because I feel so bad and so worried about the man and his family. I'll give you more news as soon as I have any.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Last week I had my first peek of the job postings and today I spent sometime reading them and checking out other academic job search engines like the Chronicle Careers and the Higher Ed Jobs site. There are some positions (general ones -- mostly for English, composition & rhetoric) in three community colleges in the area, but I think I don't have a chance because that's NOT my specialty and they require only M.A.s so I'm over-qualified, besides being in the wrong area. The university not so far from me which has an opening that's in my area, but not my specialization is really a long shot. I emailed my committee members for advice and one of them responded right away that she thought it'd be a waste of time to apply. Sigh. Before getting her email I even started working on my CV, updating it and trying to change my research and teaching interests to fit the position.
I felt really discouraged, though, so I went outside in the still slightly warm air of the twilight and I started raking leaves. It was way too dark for photos, but I took a few anyway.
This is what the tree looked like a few days ago, the lawn was still green and leafless:And now the leaves are all on the ground, raked into big piles:
I like raking leaves, I really do (and it's the first time since we came to the U.S. that we have big trees in our yards and will need to do quite a bit of raking). And while I was doing it and thinking about this post I realized that a lot of the work that I did in the "insane" research parts of my dissertation is very much like raking leaves. Typing encyclopedia entries, one by one, over 12 thousand names and many more thousand dates. I'll tell you ALL about it next year after I defend the d__m thing. In fact, I can't wait to tell you, but I just don't want to do it until I'm officially done. You know what silly thoughts I'm entertaining even? Of telling people in my dept, particularly my committee, about my "double life" after I'm done. Even though we're far away, and I've written about them here on occasion, I do care about them and I wish they could come here and read my thoughts. I cannot bear this compartmentalization of my life any longer. I long for being ONE and not holding secrets from people.
But back to the leaves. I do feel at peace about all the work that I did in this dissertation. I just love to research, to do hard work that nobody has ever done before. I trust that someday I'll find some use to it. I just don't know what, when, where, or how, but I know I will. Maybe someone can pay me to metaphorically "rake leaves" for them and make connections, analyze the results, etc... It may lead somewhere. Or... maybe I can learn to become a better scholar, a better writer, yeah, that would be nice...
After we finished raking (my husband and sons helped me at the end) we came in, had dinner, spent some time together, and then I came to the computer and after sending some emails out (for committee members), I began to translate into Portuguese one of my two academic essays ever to be published and which will be published in Brasil as well because the authors I analyzed loved it and arranged for its publication. Isn't that awesome? Then I went and read this post by Dawn and was just blown away at how much I learned from her (I wrote a huge comment there). I know that my writing has many problems, but I can learn to identify them and write better.
I will soon start a new "series" of post, a new label titled "Issues" in which I will discuss various issues that I have, "superficial" things such as my hair or my skinniness, but deeper things too. I've been planning this for months now and I'll start with writing. The post is already written in my journal. It's this humongous thing that I wish I could learn how to do a "cut" thing in the post (a "read below the cut if you want" thing) for since it will be awfully long. I hope you'll want to read it. ;)
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Sandra asked: "Have you ever thought about museums or archives or literary manuscripts curating? " (I'd need an MLS to work at an academic library she explains, but private institutions might be OK just with my Ph.D.)
YES! I have indeed. I ADORE libraries and museums and I think I'd be really happy working as an archivist or a curator, but I really have no idea (apart from the MLS which I'll discuss next) what path to take to go this route, where to start, who to contact. At this point I am limited to whatever I'd be able to find in the Philly area (in any area for work).
Aliki also mentioned the MLS:
I have also considered going into library science and I've even researched it a bit and I was aware that I'd need to get an MLS (Masters in Library Science). However, I really don't know if I'm willing to spend the $ needed to get another degree, particularly not knowing if it would take me anywhere. I wouldn't mind the studying at all, on the contrary, I'd really enjoy it -- I would get another Ph.D. in a heartbeat if my stipend as a TA was decent and I had tuition waiver like I had at my institution. I actually always wanted to get into other areas, more specifically musicology, art history, and maybe history. If I had gone to college here I'd probably had had a double or triple major even...
Anyway, I have no idea how much an MLS would cost and if I did get one, I'd want to do the best one I could find in the area, which probably would cost even more than average. As you may recall, we're having serious budgetary issues at the moment and the need is for me to find a job and bring more $ in, not spend it (or "invest" it which is what one does when paying for a degree).
M asked: "Have you considered grant writing?"
And I must say I haven't. But I guess I can make the same per hour with my piano classes, except that I might spend more hours writing for grants and therefore earn more, not to mention that writing is more engaging to the mind than piano teaching :). My problem is the same as yours right now, M, I need to be working on my own writing, not other people's right now. But maybe in the future. Who would hire me, though? I have have no academic contacts whatsoever here.
Other options of alternative little gigs I have thought of since writing that post:
- Free-lance photography (I'd have to invest in a good course and some basic equipment) since it's something I already do for friends and family and I really love doing it.
- Playing the flute at weddings and stuff (for the Brazilian community folks around here)? For this one I'd have to start practice more and order CDs with good orchestral tracks. (Did I mention I had my mom bring me a new Yam*aha flute from Hong Kong? I have yet to pay her for it, though :(
"Adoption is out of question ?"
And the answer is quite simple -- it is not, BUT, there are many many "buts" about adoption that I won't have time or the energy to discuss at length here. In brief, I'd love to adopt a little Brazilian girl (as would my sister-in-law who also has two boys), BUT we fear that in our particular extended family there might be a huge resistance to grandkids that were not kin. We both would want our adopted girls to be fully part of the family, but that might not be really possible, so we may not be able to go this route.
Besides, adoption is the single topic I have learned the most since I started blogging. Dawn at This Woman's Work who has been blogging about her transracial open adoption for several years, Manuela (Thin Pink Line -- now under password), an infertile "ex" adoptee, and the birth-mom blogs that I've been reading (check my side bar) have just led me to understand many aspects of adoption that I'd never considered and now I feel quite afraid to embark on this journey. Knowledge can be power, but it also makes one much more vulnerable and apprehensive.
And about those suggestions of the pregnancy in the dream as symbolizing something else, I think it may as well be the case, but I do know in the level of my conscious mind, not only unconscious, that I do wish for a pregnancy and a baby. But... it probably won't happen, and I'm OK with it, but that's subject for another post, OK? Oh, and thanks RocketMom and Anjali for debunking my husband's point! :) I'll have him read your comments ASAP although I know he's not thrilled about it ;).
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
(and a warning again: this is a long post, full of links, or, in academic-speak, "references and citations," and lists)
After having already "decided" that yes, the more rational thing to do was to agree with my husband's opinion and to "be done," I have lately felt (again) that I do want another baby. K is adamantly against another child for numerous and extremely sound reasons (that I'll discuss later) and I have decided (really) that I am not going to go against his wishes. If for any reason he has a change of heart, however tiny, I'll hold on to that and we might go ahead, but as it stands, we are done :( . I know that this renders the whole discussion that follows moot, but I still want to go ahead and ponder why I feel this way as well as the pros and cons of such a "temptation."
Several events brought these long buried thoughts (I mentioned this desire for the first and last time two years ago, and then actually it seemed that it vanished for quite awhile after that) to the forefront, but nothing was stronger than a dream I had a week ago. I dreamed that I was pregnant and it was the precise moment when I felt the baby move inside me for the firs time. It felt just so real! Last night, a fleeting part of my dream was the fact that I was pregnant and my first worry was to try to verify if our health insurance would cover a midwife and a home birth.
These dreams got me thinking, wishing, and most importantly "feeling" on an almost physical level that I'd like to be pregnant -- all countering the many rational thoughts I've been trying to hammer into my brain for over two years now. The biggest impulse to my sudden desire, however was/is the fact that several of my blogging friends are expecting babies; not only that, but some of them even already have children the same age as mine (5 [going on 6] and 3) and are expecting a third. Here's a list (their names, except for RM, link to the post in which they announced the pregnancy):
- Articulate Dad and RocketMom at OFI/OFO and Exploring New Worlds, respectively (two sons, expecting a third)
Several other blogging friends whose children are more or less the same age as mine, are definitely not having another one, some examples include:
- Aliki (son 7, daughter 3) who wrote about "being done" here (my comment to her post is very telling, I'll cite it in full later); and..
- Caroline (two sons ages 5 and 2), who just compiled a handy list of things they're leaving behind with their youngest boy's babyhood, titled "What's Gone, What Remains".
Then, the last straw was that last week I found out that one of K's friends from high school who we visited in Florida last August and who also has two sons (4 and 2) is expecting A GIRL for later this year. And she's two years older than I. (her story is interesting, though, she used to work full time at an administrative position at a big company even after her oldest was born and during her second pregnancy, but she took a rash and quick decision to quit and become a SAHM after her youngest was born and wouldn't be happy at daycare [she had a really hard time adapting to the transition]. What's really interesting is this thing from her past that she shared with us last summer, this "strange" girl from my husband's class in high school -- they all went to a co-ed boarding academy together -- once "read" her hand and predicted that she'd find a great guy, get married, have two children and then something tragic would happen, so she spent all her life with this silly notion that she'd break the spell if she had a third child -- I'm sure that motivated her to go ahead). But anyway, what makes me really really jealous is that she is having a girl. You can check this heartfelt and loaded post for my position on this subject.
Aliki wrote that
It's a strange notion, this one of being done. Lately I've been hyper-aware of the fact that we are moving into another phase of our lives. There's something that happens when your child turns three and begins hurtling towards four. Three marks a type of demarcation line between toddlerhood and childhood and when it's crossed many of the aspects of babyhood are thrown off: diapers, baby talk perhaps; the rounded limbs of toddlerhood begin to straighten out and become more angular.And this is how I responded:
I kept reading as fast as I could and saying, don't make me cry, don't make me cry... but I almost did, the tears are stinging my eyes and I can't bear to re-read.And now, I want to wrap up this post (which is already getting waaaay too long) with two lists (with subdivisions) of the pros and cons of having a third baby. I just hope that maybe I can convince myself once and for all that, as we say in Portuguese, "One is not enough, two is good, three's too much [or a crowd]."
Three. yes, he just turned three, my "baby," and I totally know what you mean. The worse part is that I'm not totally sure whether I'm done or not. I'm afraid that another one might push me over the edge and I'd literally go "crazy." It's just too much work... I spent five years not being able to wear regular clothes (just today I wore a dress I had made in 1999 [by a seamstress in Brazil]for the first time since 2001) - it was either maternity or nursing clothes. I started wearing "regular" clothes at the end of last summer, after we night-weaned Linton and he didn't nurse as much during the day either.
If I knew I'd have a girl I'd do it for sure, but since I can't plan that, I think I'm done. I wish I weren't, but it's the most rational decision to make. :(
- Now that both are weaned, sleeping through the night, in their own bedroom, and ON THEIR OWN (since we moved we give them good night and leave the room, that's unbelievable!!! And it took us 5 and a half years to get to this point...), and Linton is half potty-trained (still poops on diaper or underwear, or whatever he's wearing), do we really want to start it all over again?
- Having to wear maternity clothes and then nursing clothes for many more years again...
- Having a third child is not environmentally good -- if we have only two, we're simply "replacing ourselves" in a way and not over-filling the earth. (Yeah, K came up with that one, and the next one).
- It'll be hard to send two to college and sending a third would be even tougher. And we haven't even started saving for Kelvin and Linton!
- The age difference would be huge between this new child and his brothers. Kelvin would be 6-7 years and Linton 4 or more. So, he/she would probably feel lonely and not really get to play and interact with his brothers very meaningfully. (This is how it was in my husband's family: K is 4 years older than K2 and almost 8 years older than K3 -- luckily for K3, K4 came along just one year later to keep him company. BUT I don't think I'd have a fourth baby, I'd just pressure my brothers-in-law and their wives to give him/her a cousin the same age ;)
(first, my "stupid, selfish, superfluous" reasons for having another baby):
- Fulfilling my dream to have a home-birth -- Jamie/Selkie (blog now gone) fully convinced me that a home birth is a life changing experience, as opposed to a hospital birth. I was already convinced, but reading her just made me wish to "try this at home," really (I know it could go wrong).
- Giving me the change to be a more fully "crunchy" and green parent in a way that I was not with my first two: wear baby in a sling a lot and use cloth diapers. (most other things I did do -- breastfeeding, co-sleeping).
More serious pros now:
- Fulfilling my desire for more children.
- The age difference might not be bad, really. Since my sons are older and easier to deal with, it might not be as stressful as having two closely spaced ones like it happened with Kelvin and Linton (they're 2 years and 3 months apart -- too close for my taste, but I didn't really plan it that way, it just happened). And the boys would really enjoy having a baby, or so they claim (they sometimes ask for one). I worry that they would still feel jealous, though.
A pro that I don't want to even think about because I think it's not fair for the child:
- Trying to have a girl. --> This one WOULD NOT be my main motivation if I went ahead and I'd want to do lots of serious thinking to make sure it was not. The only problem is that Kelvin has been saying for two years or more now (entirely without my prompting) that he wants to have a baby SISTER , but I've talked to him about this and he says it would be OK if he had a baby brother too.
So... I guess I'll stop now since I've been writing this post for two days now and it's already long enough. I hope that putting this all out there will steer me away from temptation and hopefully I won't have any more dreams about being pregnant -- that would certainly help!
Monday, October 15, 2007
Really. I know it's a very silly title, but I wonder about this "big question" every day, sometimes many times a day, all the time even. It's a very pathetic question to be asking oneself at 36 isn't it? Sometimes I blame it all on this endless Ph.D. that I started 9 years ago and while it's certainly to blame, it is not the whole picture. The fact that I decided to have children during grad school also has a lot to with this question and with where I'm at today. Another factor is my visa status.* I cannot just decide I want to go and work somewhere because I can't. Not until an employer gives me a work visa or I become a resident through my husband (this is a couple of years ahead into the future).
* On a student visa one can only work at the school one is getting the degree from. After getting the degree you can ask for a one year "practical training " work "permit" which is what I'm planning to get next year -- this has several drawbacks, though because if I get it I can't leave the country after I graduate to visit Brazil with the boys and I cannot leave the country for the whole year while I'm using the permit. That sounds like a nightmare to me because I just love to go to Brazil every year if I can, at least once. Oh, and there's an academic conference I'd really love to attend in Brazil next year in July. Besides, if I get the permit but don't get a job it'll be useless!!!
The academic job season is starting and all I want to do is bury my head in the sand and pretend it's not there. I looked at the postings in foreign literature today and there are even some (like TWO) positions here in the area -- one of them I have absolutely NO CHANCE of getting, since it's in the local Ivy League school where my husband did his postdoc work (lucky him! ;). I think I may apply, but I already know that it's going to be really really painful to send this one hopeless application. The other Ivy League one hour North also has a position (which they probably didn't fill from last year -- how discouraging is that?) in the general area of my Ph.D. (not in my expertise), but that one I won't even consider. Looking at academic job posting makes me quite anxious and nervous, but it's nothing like preparing for and applying to them.
Articulate Dad (who used to blog at Post Ph.D. Blues/Shades of Blue and now is at OFI/OFO) wrote some nice posts last year about how hard it is to send an application. It feels as if we're sending our whole life out in those pieces of paper and it's very hard to do it and to imagine that our life is just being thrown in the garbage with all those other CVs and cover letters that don't fit in. It's an extremely nerve-racking, humbling, and almost heartbreaking experience, at least for me. It makes me feel very very vulnerable. Just thinking about writing a cover letter makes me shiver. And don't get me wrong, I think I can write a good letter, but I'm just not confident about myself and academia, that's all. As I've written before (this post about last year's job search has several links to others) I just have many many issues with academia, some personal, others more about the "institution" itself.
First, I don't really know if I want to enter academia in the first place. I haven't been teaching for three years (four when next academic year comes around) and I haven't been on campus, so I'm really out of touch with it. I have a very rich, varied, probably excellent list of courses taught, so I certainly have experience (if not stellar student reviews -- and I do feel pretty bad about those), but to be honest, I never felt very confident about my teaching. I never felt I was an excellent teacher -- as an aside, should I really be writing this? What if a search committee finds the blog and this post? Do I really care, though? -- and I never felt like I really knew what I was doing. I mean, I planned my courses well, based on the "standard version" taught by the dept. professors, but adding my own spin, choosing books about Brazil, etc. I kind of enjoyed lecturing, but I preferred to lead discussions, after all I was a T.A. leading discussion sections for three years before I started teaching my own courses (in the next 3 years).
I love researching, that's for sure, even though I am lazy and I haven't been working on the dissertation like I should and it's taking my ages to finish. I really enjoy going to conferences, writing papers for publication, presenting my work, finding other people with the same interests, etc. I wonder how I could continue doing scholarship without being in an academic setting... I wonder what other kind of job I could do in which I could employ my interests and abilities as a researcher and my Ph.D. If I got a job at a community college or a small teaching institution or an adjunct position somewhere I would have to spend all my time teaching and grading and would not have time to research -- is that something I want to pursue at all? Adjunct positions don't pay well, that's another (sad) consideration.
The next problem, probably the biggest, is the institutions themselves... In order to be selected by a search committee one has to fit in, to know the ropes, to "sell oneself" well. I just feel absolutely rebellious about all that. I mean, I wish I could be myself and still find a job, but I have to fulfill the demands of a system that I don't understand well. There are "fashionable" areas and those change every few years. My husband, for example, was completely out of luck because his first area of expertise (from the Ph.D., not postdoc) is no longer "hot" now -- isn't that just outrageous? But that's how it works!! I know that the work I'm doing is extremely uncommon, probably unique even. Last year in my one and only interview one search committee member asked me with this funny face why has I chosen that topic for my dissertation -- it was clear that he thought it was pretty odd.
I don't want to write about this anymore, but I hope at least some other academic folks read this and sympathize with me.
Most of the time I feel like the Ph.D. was/is just a huge waste of time and money. If I'd gone back to Brazil as originally planned I'd be extremely useful there -- they really needed my experience abroad at the school that was sponsoring us. But that was not what we chose to do, we decided to stay here and now K (my husband) is moving away from academia. Maybe I should too, but what in the world could I do? I feel just profoundly sad to think that I'll take these ten years of my life and the work I developed in them and "bury" them into oblivion. It hurts, it makes me want to cry. On the other hand, I have no illusions whatsoever about academia. I don't think I can get a tenure track job. Everything conspires against me -- too long to get the Ph.D., no fashionable dissertation topic, obscure literature and language (Portuguese/ Brazilian lit) with no demand at all, no stellar student reviews. I do have some strengths -- good teaching experience, at least two people who will write GREAT letters of recommendation -- that's about it, though. Do I have what it takes? I don't really think so.
What else could I do?
- K's new salary is more than double the post-doc one (20% more than double in fact, counting his signing bonus)
- We should be able to have much more money to live now. [Wrong]
- Our new house cost almost twice as much the price we sold the old one for.
The new mortgage should be double the old one. [It is not]
Because we had some debt from building this house [nice slide show in post] in Brazil last year and buying a much needed second car we were only able to pay 5% down on this house, so... the morgage is more than TRIPLE the previous one.
We have almost the same money left over after the mortgage, taxes, and benefits (retirement plan, life and health insurance) are discounted. So, we have to keep on living on a tight budget... same old, same old. And it will be tough to renovate the house on said budget. That's one of the reasons why I "was" (still am sometimes) impatient the other day... This has some other ramifications I will discuss in coming posts.
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I shouldn't be "complaining" about money today, but this post had been planned in my mind a long time ago -- today I spent the day assembling two dressers that we bought at IKEA for our bedroom. We don't have much $ left, but we just couldn't live with the chaos anymore.
We're also removing the carpet in the bathrooms (they were carpeted because the original vinyl tiles underneath have asbestos in them :( ) and replacing it with cheap vinyl tiles so we can have semi-decent bathrooms until we can afford a full renovation (ceramic tile floors, replacing the ceramic tiles on the wall, new vanity, hopefully, a new tub as well, and glass doors on the stall baths).
All this sudden activity is because my parents-in-law are coming to spend the night and see the house on Thursday and most probably K2 (second BIL) and his family will come visit us during the weekend. I love to prepare for family visits even though it's a bit stressful trying to get all the planned things done. I've been taking photos of the renovation, I just hope to find some time to post them since there's just way too much stuff to do around here.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
One of the things that I'm delighted with in this house is the clothesline. Here's a photo of the first day I used it (9/19):In those first days until our drier was installed (it is now, but not yet on top of our front loading washer like we want because we can't find two of the little parts to secure them) I had no choice but hang my clothes outside, but I continue doing it because it is the best choice for the environment, for the clothes themselves, and it also saves us some money!
Hanging clothes brings me back to my childhood and the first year and a half after we were married in Brazil. I've always enjoyed doing the laundry and hanging it (after we were married I hanged it in the "laundry room" in the back part of our third floor apartment -- a long room in "behind" the kitchen with windows all around and with clotheslines hanging from one side to the other). Linton has also found out that it's lots of fun running against the longer items like sheets and blankets and he giggles as he does it. I used to do the same thing as a child, walking in between the hanging sheets and pretending they were tunnels and the like.
One big advantage over the drier is that I, compulsive categorizer that I am, can hang the clothes by type and by owner, so when I collect them later it's much easier to put them away!
I also love the smell of air dried clothes and I can finally smell the sweet smelling softener that I use. The only "downside" is minimal: the towels feel rougher and harder, but they also seem to dry better and, of course, if I want them softer I know I can put them in the drier for a few minutes to fluff them! Another photo from the same day, another angle (I turned the line around):
(I "hid" the underwear behind the bigger items on purpose, since I was going to take photos ;)
Last week, after putting away one huge box of my husband's clothes in the closet, I washed nine of his dress shirts, several of which I'd bought for him. It was a very pretty sight, those light colored and striped shirts blowing in the wind, but unfortunately I didn't take a photo :(
I'm taking a break from writing this post to hang clothes, OK? Maybe I'll post a photo of the latest load in the end...
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The only problem with our wind is that it may not be a harmless breeze, quite the contrary. On the very same day I hanged my first load of clothes to dry our very nice Brazilian realtor (a woman) forwarded a link to this blog to us. Jon Goodman is an investigative reporter who lives in this area and he is working hard to denounce the local air pollution by TCE a pollutant that can cause cancer and other harms such as birth defects. Reading some of his entries I felt very concerned and sad as I was hanging those clothes, thinking of the deadly poisons that may be in our air, blowing in that same wind that dries our clothes. I don't feel so bad about it now, but it made the task of hanging clothes on that day a bittersweet one.
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I want to post this before K gets home from the airport for lunch, so I won't add a photo of today's load -- most of it is dry by now (I hanged it around 11:30)! I haven't said anything about the weather lately, but it's been really hot in the Philadelphia area and I've been soaking up every minute of sun and warmth even though it does feel very weird for October... I miss the New England Fall very badly this time of year.
I'm glad he's coming back, though and I'm finishing a post with photos, maybe not the ones you wanted to see, but photos nonetheless ;) so I'll be back soon.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
4 Jobs I've had
-- Private English tutor to two teenage boys
-- English teacher for grades 2-4 of Elementary school and in a language school in Brazil
-- House cleaner in my first two years here in the U.S.
-- Teaching assistant (and "associate" -- with my own class) for 6 years
4 places I've lived
-- in France as a baby (until I was 18 months)
-- Philadelphia area now
4 favorite foods
-- Potatoes (home fries, baked with herbs and seasonings, in any way...)
-- Artichokes and dishes with artichoke in them (particularly Trader Joe's artichoke tortellini)
-- Brazilian pastel (like a Hispanic empanada, but much crispier, not soggy at all)
-- Argentine (or should it be Argentinean) alfajores -- "sandwiched" honey biscuit with dulce-de-leche filling and dipped in chocolate.
4 places I'd rather be
-- in Brazil with my friends and family
4 movies I can watch over and over
-- Cinema Paradiso
-- Jane Austen adaptations, particularly Persuasion and A&E/BBC Pride and Prejudice (not a movie, I know)
-- Back to the Future trilogy (my husband and his brothers are HUGE fans and I caught on)
-- The Sound of Music
4 TV shows I like to watch (I don't watch TV at all, but when I used to watch or in the brief periods we had cable I liked these):
-- Sex and the City (I only saw the whole last season after it had ended on Comcast On Demand)
-- TLC's A Baby Story (and sometimes A Wedding Story and others)
-- TLC's Trading Spaces
-- TLC's While You Were Out
4 websites I view daily
-- blogs in my blogroll
-- a Gateway desktop purchased in in 1998 (just like M) when we both started grad school (my mom has it now)
-- a Gateway laptop in 2003 (we sold it to our friend in Brazil)
-- another (cheap) Gateway desktop in 2004 -- we have this one, but nothing works (the CD/DVD drive, the card readers, it's a pain)
-- a Toshiba laptop
4 people to tag
I think most people in my blogroll have done this, but I tag my friend Keiko, who blogs in Portuguese.
Monday, October 08, 2007
I've been thinking and thinking and trying to figure out what's holding me back, but there's not one specific thing. It could be the endless "to-do" list and living in chaos, or the hard time adapting to a new house, new neighborhood, almost new life. I don't miss anything about the old one, but I still need to adapt.
I have also been holding back tons of planned posts, some even written down on paper in my journal. The posts about the award nominations, memes, original memes, etc. I haven't been keeping up with the blog reading as well and I feel bad about that. I kind of feel guilty about blogging and not working and I have been spending very little time online, which I guess is a good thing.
Besides... I have tons of things to do in every area of my life, but there's one priority, one thing that NEEDS to be done and can't be forgotten:
I have a dissertation to finish!!!
I'm really calm about it, too calm, in fact, because I'm confident I'll be able to do OK. Most of it is done and I just can't make it perfect and can't work on it forever.
So, I guess I'm going to start "the blogging that is to come" with some photos. Both old ones from the vacation in Brazil and more recent ones. OK?
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Patience -- that's what we'll need in the coming 2, 3? years... And unfortunately I'm a very impatient person :(
A week ago I was just getting so stressed out about the chaotic condition of the house that I was ready to burst! K was getting extremely stressed too and he told me in no uncertain terms that I needed to CALM! DOWN! And I finally realized that this was the best thing to do. Yeah... "to do" -- I don't even want to think about those words since our "To Do" list is a thousand miles long and only three items were completed so far, namely (1) painting the study ceiling (white!! What's up with painting the ceiling the same color as the walls or an ugly beige) and walls (a nice color called Parisian Taupe from this brand) ; (2) painting the window and door frames plus the baseboard heater white; and (3) replacing the outlets, outlet covers, and light switch with nice "modern" white ones (at least ours are not ugly wooden ones, Tracy, but we do have to replace all the outlets, though since most are dark brown or painted over). These things took us four days (with a weekend of break in between) -- not bad, really.
I'm canceling our Netflix subscription tonight (we've had the same DVD with us for over a month -- what a waste of money) since I know what we're going to be doing most nights for the incoming months. Painting ceilings, walls, door and window frames, removing wallpaper and borders, removing old flooring and carpets (from bathrooms! with asbestos laced ancient vinyl type tiles underneath! how fun! -- the ugly carpet in this room and the adjacent hallway and family room have the same tiles underneath that the upstairs bathrooms have), removing wood paneling from walls and attempting to install drywall (K will try to do it in the basement first), and some more painting thrown in for good measure. I'm not even going to post a full list of all that needs to be done for fear that the mere sight of it will just discourage me so fully that I'll be paralyzed and not do anything.
And then, after these relatively inexpensive but labor intensive things are done will come the big, expensive, messy things. Re-doing the whole kitchen and the bathrooms (we have friends who can install ceramic tiles everywhere for us, yay!). Putting new floors downstairs (hallway, family room and study). BUT the kitchen and bathrooms may have to wait a long time because there's the siding and the roof that may need to be done NOW. Plus some plumbing work. I guess I did what I said I wouldn't do and just made a list -- in prose form, though, not itemized as lists usually are...
I forgot to say that we sorely need furniture, particularly dressers for all the clothes in boxes and suitcases all over our room. And a new bed, bookcases and some sofas, plus a table and chairs for the kitchen, but we don't really have money to buy all those items now because the roof and siding are more important. I guess we'll just get the cheapest things we can find at IKEA.
OK, let's try to look at all this from the bright side. It does feels great to be in this almost finished room, apart from all the impatience before we started to work on it. It's all worth the effort and as we work we make the house feel really ours. I guess I need to take it one day at a time, one small project at a time.
Photos will be here soon! Promise. And more photos from Brazil since only TODAY I was able to get them into our computer. All right, I'll be back later.