My husband is making me do this.
There is zero use sugar-coating that. He’s got the proverbial gun to my head on this one, and worse, my nearest and dearest have rallied to support him. I hate it when that happens. They tell me starting this blog is good for me, like eating my spinach or listening to NPR.
So here goes nothing.
I am a fifth-year PhD candidate working on my degree in history (late medieval/early Renaissance Europe). I picked up my Master’s back in 2012, and while smarter minds with greater self-preservation skills would have stopped there, I decided to dog forward for the gold. Now I’m four chapters in, my Arbor-Misted liver is probably on the fritz, and I’m pretty convinced the light at the end of the tunnel is just a bug zapper.
Life would probably be a lot easier if I had the means to focus exclusively on my dissertation, like some of my peers, but that’s not a luxury Young Turks (the Rod Stewart variety, not the actual Ottoman Empire political movement) with ambitions actually have. Our insurance company keeps insisting that I pay our homeowners bill in US dollars, not smiles, IOUs on a post-it, or my firstborn, which is unfortunate since my graduate school stipend ran out last year. I worked in retail for a while to get by while the husband did a stint in law school, but those turned out to be terrible life choices for both of us, and we needed a change.
Now I work as a full-time instructor at a nearby public university which gives me the horror stories and tiny successes I’ll be filling this blog with. Being a young (and young-looking) female instructor has its challenges. I have been mistaken for a student more times than I can count, been asked out for a date in front of my class, and had to shut down budding rebellions before they break out the pitchforks. I usually teach between 275 and 300 students each semester, and balancing the demands of a full-time teaching position with the obligations to my PhD has not been easy.
Worse for my mental health, I feel Hermione-Granger-compelled to take on more responsibilities than I should because I’ve convinced myself being a proactive over-achiever matters and, whatever, I’ll sleep when I’m dead or, you know, have tenure. So it’s a life of committee meetings and the inability to say no, with a reward I’ll probably only get in teacher-heaven, certainly not on my paycheck.
In my free time (the sane use this for eating and sleeping), the husband and I are remodeling our Ghetto House to keep the walls standing and the squirrel that’s chewed its way to living in the attic satisfied. It’s a lot like Tool Time without hazard’s pay. I’ve hammered the 1x6s on the roof; he’s tiled and grouted the kitchen floor. We’re both responsible for the gaping hole in the sheetrock behind the fridge.
It’s not the glamorous life they advertise on graduate school brochures. You know, the ones with photos of students, looking deceptively eager to learn, smiling with their faculty mentors, who weirdly don’t have bags under their eyes or wrinkles on the suit jacket they’ve worn three days in a row.
I secretly write historical adventure fiction on the side to convince myself my career did turn out like Indiana Jones like I always wanted, and I ignore my Golden Retriever when she’s judging me for popping the cork before 5:00. (Hey, I’m a world traveler. It IS always 5:00 somewhere.)
So my friends have convinced me to start this blog. Maybe they’re tired of listening to me vent. But somewhere after rushing to teach with sawdust still in my hair from the house, having a student compare me to a porn star on a teaching evaluation, and religiously dodging both my dissertation advisor and messy workplace politics, I realized I have stories to tell that some people may find worth reading–maybe to avoid my mistakes or at least get a laugh from them.
This blog serves as some hard-learned life lessons about balancing academia with all the other vitals necessary for survival and happiness. Sure, names will be changed to protect the innocent, and much like The Simpsons and Springfield, I’ll never overtly reveal my actual affiliations. But I promise these experiences, the good and the bad, are all mine, for better or for worse.
On that note, cheers. Let’s get started.
In case you were curious, it’s 5:00…in Brazil.
Song of the Post: “Doctor Jones” by Aqua