Monday, December 10, 2007

Alternatives

This weekend K and I finally had some time to have a couple of long, fruitful conversations even though we got a bit tired as a result. On Friday night, after coming home from practicing with our singing group at 10 p.m. we talked until 2 a.m. A lot of it was about intellectual stuff, the things I learned last week and wrote in my dissertation and other ideas we're both excited about -- I just love these conversations! We haven't had time to communicate well in ages and I was flabbergasted (and oh, so relieved!) to find out that a decision that I'd been struggling with during the past two weeks was already a "fait accompli" (had been done, taken) -- to keep on helping at our church or not. K had already told the pastor weeks ago that we'd be "stepping down" due to our stressful and uncertain situation and I simply didn't know!! I got a kick, however, of how relieved and relaxed I felt all weekend -- as if a mighty weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

On Saturday we were talking on the car about our options and K realized that there would be another alternative for us to be able to keep the house if:
1) the hopeful jobs around here fell through and he had to go back to being a post doc;
2) he didn't pass or decided not to participate in the concurso (the Brazilian entry examination for a tenured university professor post) in Brazil and we decided to remain in the U.S.;
3) he didn't get an academic job offer starting in the fall and he went on to remain a postdoctoral researcher until the summer of 2009.

If I got a job and earned 40K or more we could probably keep the house. Of course we'd spend a lot on childcare for Linton (and maybe even for Kelvin if my hours didn't coincide with school hours), but we might be able to make it.

I'm just thinking again what I could possibly do and I felt so absolutely limited by a "stupid,"
basically useless Ph.D.!!!!! I could try to be a postdoc although in the humanities there's less funding for such things and I don't really know how it works, I could be an adjunct, but that wouldn't pay the amount we need, I could teach high school, couldn't I? (I was just looking at WWW Mama's blog and she was writing about her new job as a high school teacher).

Well... I hate to think of a job solely as a way of providing money for survival. I guess we academics get really spoiled in that respect. We spend so many years pursuing our own interests in the name of "advancing knowledge and/or science" that we come out of it with a warped sense of how "the real world" works. We become passionate and foolish idealists who only want to work with things we're passionate about (isn't that so, Articulate Dad? Good thing that your line of work has the prospect of becoming lucrative in the long run). In the end of the Ph.D. journey our painful endeavors don't mean much to anyone else and the only option we have to continue that journey is getting an academic job. HA!! Problem is that there's an acute shortage of those jobs -- the number of Ph.D.s has just inflated for many reasons and our degrees are rendered useless in the end because we cannot be absorbed back into academia, only as "indentured slaves" (aka adjuncts).

Very very sad, but very true as well. One's got to think of all the alternatives, though. Even if they seem merely mercenary (alliteration and assonance intended) and not idealistic at all.

7 comments:

Clo said...

Lilian, since you write so well, how about becoming a journalist? A reporter from a top Brazilian publication?

And, how do I relate to the need of time to have decent conversations with our man!!! the Belgianite and I are craving that so much...

Keeping my fingers crossed for both of you!!!

Juliet said...

It is nice to have the chance to have these deep conversations, isn't it?

I agree with the above poster on the journalism thing. You write so well! Of course, financial fulfillment in the creative arts is hard. I know from experience!

Anjali said...

I agree with the above post. You are a great writer. Can you do something related?

I'm currently reading A Free Life by Ha Jin. It's about a Chinese immigrant tortured by his uncertain citizen status and pursuit of academia. There are a lot of parallels with what you're going through! You should check it out.

Dawn said...

I wondered about the writing, too. It takes time to build up to 4k a month if you freelance and journalism, I hear tell, full-time doesn't pay all that well. But around here if you were interested in other corporate/marketing communications full-time work you could make that -- most pay around $30/hour to start. (Not worth it if you're freelancing but if it comes with benefits it's pretty good.)

RocketMom said...

Previous comment lost due to internet disconnectivity. grumble grumble.

I'm glad to hear that you finally got a chance to talk. That is so important. (Especially if you managed to talk about other subjects than your current situation!)

Regarding your options - it looks like you keep coming up with more, and I suspect that trend will continue. There is always a way.

Keiko said...

Ai Lilian...tanto em comum. Primeiro, quando eu vim pra cá eu jurei de pé junto que ia fazer menos coisas na igreja, ia fazer, mas menos...e agora estou atoladíssima, no último fim de semana tive que deixar o Zack com amigos no sábado e domingo para as cantatas de natal e fiquei com o maior peso na consciência, essa semana tem apresentação das crianças da escola sabatina e estamos traduzindo "Cristo é a Luz" pra páscoa...
Segundo, hoje mesmo uma das minhas colegas de trabalho (agora estou trabalhando 1 dia) perguntou: "Mas o que você vai fazer quando terminar seu doutorado?".E eu tive que falar a verdade: "Não tenho a menor idéia...", ô vida...
Mas terceiro, ainda bem que temos nossos maridinhos e filhotes, ao menos isso é certo.
beijinho,
Keiko

Aliki2006 said...

It's hard work, but you could try combining some things--doing some freelance journalistic writing, and some adjuncting? There are all kinds of web resources for freelancers...