Monday, May 4, 2009

Oh Hell

I just got off the phone with the director of my field of specialization at a national lab. He and I worked together on a field trip in 2005 and he REMEMBERS ME. Anyway, I had submitted an application for a position they had advertised and he was calling to follow-up. He left a message while I was in the back yard pulling weeds with Wesley, so once we came inside I loaded Wesley into the playpen and called him back. He asked how I'd been and I started to shriek "Great! I have two boys and they are wonderful and we love living in South" and on and on and NOT professional AT ALL before I caught myself and said "I'm doing well. I just finished my PhD and am starting to look for a job. How have you been?" in my friendly-yet-professional tone. To me, that is the hard part about juggling-- behaving appropriately in all situations and switching back and forth. Not that you have to totally change who you are, but I think we can all agree that there is a difference in tone between an email conversation with the director of the church's vacation Bible school, which is what I was doing this morning, and a phone call with the director of a national lab who is holding precious fellowship money in his hands just a-lookin' for someone to give it to.

So, pleasantries out of the way, we turned to the reason he was calling. Which was that they had decided to hire a numerical modeler instead of what I do (Boo!) but that he knew of a couple of post-doc opportunities that I could apply for (Yay!) and that I should start working on my application so I could let the director of the post-doc program at the national lab take a look and give me some pointers (Yay! Yay! Yay! Wait are you sure you called the right person because I am really not as bright as you seem to think I am.) I was getting really really excited on the phone (but, as I mentioned, not outwardly, which is no small feat for me as those who know me personally can attest). And then I said "Do you think any of these opportunities could be done remotely?" He said "No, you would have to be present here at the lab in [mid-Atlantic state near where my pal Michelle Obama lives]. Would that be a problem for you?"


"Well, my husband is unable to leave his job right now and we live in South." He said I should apply anyway and asked if I thought the whole not leaving the job sitch would change before the beginning of next year. Since technically that is after the date when we would have to hand over Charlie in exchange for all the moving expenses Ryan's company paid, I said "yes," however there is no date in the forseeable millenium that Ryan will want to leave his job so I guess the answer was really "no." We said goodbye and I sat at my kitchen table for a moment thinking about how cool it would be to get a post-doc at this particular national lab. I mean, what could be better than MORE GRAD SCHOOL, am I right? But it would be a real-live career move. I would be on track to be like all the professors I've always admired. I couldn't wait to call Ryan and tell him all about it.

And then I walked by a window to the back yard on my way to my desk to put my notebook back. I took in the painstakingly weeded grass, Charlie's swing set and baby tree that he has faithfully watered weekly since October, and my thriving tomato plants. And I felt SICK. I almost cried. This is my home. It was so hard to leave the old town, but I love it here now. I love our house and my gardens. We have wonderful friends on our street. My family lives nearby. I don't think I can leave.

Besides, where but the south can your kid stand outside in nothing but a t-shirt and Pullup watering the garden?


So now in addition to the larger choice about working or staying home, which is killing me, I apparently have some visceral connection to this particular house in this particular city that I was unaware of until this afternoon. Me and my stupid perspective.

And to think this morning my biggest dilemma was whether or not to match my shoes to my doctoral hood on Friday (which is orange) (I decided to go for it).


Alyssa said...

I think it's fabulous that you know what you want :) You'll find something that suits you AND be where you want!

AJU5's Mom said...

When I first met you (9 years ago almost), I would have never imagined I would be happy staying home. But, I love it. It is even better that I do get to work from home, but I bet I could give that up and still be just as happy these days! Just let the doors open that are to open (not that you shouldn't go searching for those doors of course)!

Anonymous said...

Doctoral hoods go well with flip flops too.

Almost-Dr. Kitty said...

Oh my gosh, I cannot tell you how much this speaks to me. I was talking to my husband just the other night the added anxiety I'm having about finishing the dissertation and getting a job because I don't want to leave HERE. I love where we live (even though I had never imagined that I would when we moved here). I'm happy...but I don't know how that's going to work with my career.

I have to keep believing that it is going to work itself out. Somehow.

Andrea said...

Michelle Obama?!?!?! What about your friend Godmother who (granted does not have such flawlessly toned arms) will not shoot at you when you come to her front door???

Something will work out, don't worry. If they really want you at Big National Lab, they will make it work where you can stay in South.

apathy lounge said...

So many good choices! I would give my left arm (I'm right handed...give me some slack) to have a Doctoral hood. To have earned one, I mean. You should be proud. Camp on that for a bit in the house that you love. Opportunity still has time to come knocking.

Sarah said...

LOL @ orange shoes-- awesome

My commencement address is like a love poem to my city-- I did not mean to fall in love with this place, but I did-- we did, and I think we'll be here forever. (even if I wind up working at the mall) You can't help where you fall in love with, right?

Rima said...

I really think that if you are patient, you will get what you want. You worked very hard to get where you are and you have great faith, that's something! Oh, and it seems you are pretty smart, too :)