Sunday, September 23, 2007

lusting after yarn

I am on the lookout for new yarn. Usually I only get yarn when I have something specific to make, but I haven't bought any in a while, and I'm kind of itching to get some. I went to a nearby LYS, and it is okay, but not awesome. Lots and lots of Cascade of all types. I had heard that this LYS carried Koigu, but no dice. Alas.

I keep checking out KnitPicks, but since I don't have any projects that I need to buy yarn to make, I can't really justify it. Also, damn, some of those KnitPicks colors are really unappealing. I have heard that Kelley (the owner) does all the colors, and she is a.... Summer? according to the Color Me Beautiful guide, so the colors are all those that appeal to Summers- greens, rusts, olives.... icky icky icky for me. Some lines are better than others, but if a line only has limited colors, there will most likely be only one or two that are appealing to me. There is usually a decent red, but other than that, not so good. Other than the colors, I love KnitPicks, though.

I live not too far from Webs now, so I am hoping to make a trip out there sometime. I don't know when- I have a decent enough stash, and it sounds like it's not worth it to make the trip out there unless you are serious about buying, so I might just stick to ordering online (although I've never ordered online from them).

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

New FO - baby booties

Finally, a new finished object! It's another pair of the baby booties from Knitting For Baby. I love this pattern. It's really easy, and you can get two pairs out of a skein of Koigu. It is so easy that it is worth doing, even if you're not sure your effort will be appreciated. I've been burned before; can you tell? However, I have also had friends who were so grateful for what I made them that I would happily knit for their children any time.

I used the new Cherry Tree Hill dyed Louet Gems yarn for this (I can't remember the colorway), and I have to say.... I like using the Koigu better. The yarn is thinner, so the booties are floppier (I stuffed them with kleenex to get them to stand up for the pictures). I think I would knit on size 2s instead of size 3s like the pattern calls for. I knit the booties in size 3s, but did the i-cord in size 2. Also, the colors are pretty, but I really just like the Koigu colorways better for baby gear. I think the Louet Gems would be great for actual socks, though.

I have enough yarn to do another pair of booties, though, so the next time someone has a little girl, they're going to be getting a pair of booties. These are for a work colleague of my husband's- his wife just had a baby a few weeks ago. I am going to use them to decorate the wrapped package of books we're giving them.


One of my favorite, must-check sites is Post Secret. In case you've been living under a rock, people create postcards with their secret written on it, send them to Frank (the Postsecret administrator), and he posts 20 of them every week. This week, instead of new secrets, Frank has posted a Postsecret movie.

I find this site very moving. The pain that some people are living with is just incredible, but many of them are living with love as well. Of course, some of them are just funny.

So to everyone who has ever shared a secret with Frank, thanks. We all have our secrets. Mine aren't especially salacious, but reading the secrets of others makes me feel less alone in the world.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


Today is the sixth anniversary of the death of my friend and his girlfriend. How can it have been so long? I didn't even realize it today until I saw the date.

For the first few years, maybe through the fourth anniversary, even, I was painfully aware of the anniversary coming up, and it brought everything back and made the grief seem fresh again. For the last couple of years, though, I was aware of the anniversary coming up, and sad about it, but the wound didn't reopen, and the actual day of, I didn't even realize it until late in the day.

My friend had just graduated from college with a degree in architecture a few months before he died. He worked for a local firm, and one of the last projects he worked on was featured in the AIA magazine, Architectural Record. It was a church called St. Peter's By The Sea in Gulfport, MS. I was going to link to their website, but discovered that the church was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. When I saw the pictures, I started sobbing, because the church looks exactly how I feel- still standing, but with the bottom knocked out completely. It makes me so sad to know that my friend's last project, that gave him professional recognition (he would have been so thrilled to see his name in Architectural Record), has been destroyed.

Here is the whole collection of pictures of the Katrina damage of St. Peter's By The Sea. They are rebuilding; the same firm is designing the new church; it is going to look very similar, but it won't be the church that my friend worked on.

To my friend, please know that I miss you, and I wish you were still here. Every day, I wish you were here.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - spoiler alert

So, like most of the English-speaking world, I was inside today reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Wow.

Before I go any further, I want to warn anyone who hasn't read the book yet to really, truly, stay away from spoilers. I really think that with this book, more than the others, not knowing what is going to happen makes the book that much more powerful on the initial read. I am going to try not to talk specific plot points, but even so, if you haven't read it but plan to, skip this post.

Although Harry has had to deal with death in all the previous books (even if it is just the specter of his missing parents hanging over him at all times), the theme of this book is coming to terms with death and loss. Harry has to make his peace with death- not just the prospect of his own death, but with the deaths of the many, many people he has lost. His parents. Sirius. Dumbledore. Many people cried at Dumbledore's death at the end of Half-Blood Prince, but I didn't. I did weep like a little girl at this one. I should have known that I was in for it when I choked up at the quotation at the very beginning of the book, before the story even starts. This book was so clearly written by someone who has experienced grief (J.K. Rowling has said that the deaths of her parents were what inspired her to make Harry an orphan); certain passages of it just spoke to me.

The other recurring theme in this book is that everyone good has a dark side, things that they have done that they aren't proud of, and even the "bad" characters may have some redeeming motivation or good qualities, no matter how well-hidden.

It was a terrific book. It went very quickly (although I am a fast reader anyway). I want to re-read it already.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Missing You

Last night I was really missing my friend who died. It will be SIX years in August.

When the accident happened, I really believed, for at least a second, that God had it in for me, because he took the person most dear to me in the whole world.

I knew intellectually that the world doesn't work like this, but really. It was tough.

I wish he was here. There have been times in the last few years when I have felt so alone in the world, in part because he is not here any more.

I still talk to him sometimes, when I need extra help. I consider him to be one of my angels who watches over me. He and my grandmother. I asked them both for help this week, to watch over me because I have been going through a tough time.

I still have not been to his grave. Part of this is because I never seem to get time, part of it is because I know it's just his body there, so so what?, and part of it is that I know I will break down in uncontrollable sobbing crying. I wish he was here so much. There are things I want to tell him that I know he would understand, and he would know how to make me feel better. We always felt better after talking to each other.

The first year was the toughest. I was like a crazy person. I thought I was totally sane, but I was making these insane rash decisions. One of those was good (getting engaged to DH), but the graduate school/quit job/move across the country was bad. Really bad. Worst. Decision. Ever. Less bad but still not good was the decision to move apartments. My therapist at the time, who had been through her own friend loss, was the only one to speak up against the graduate school decision as well as the inter-city move, but I didn't listen. Why didn't I listen? (because I wasn't thinking straight)

The second year was bad too, but that was because I had inflicted so much change upon myself. I quit my job, moved across the country, started a Ph.D. program. Incredible stress, and I didn't react well to it.

The third year I started feeling more like myself. I remember going to see the movie The Hours and being delighted that I enjoyed watching a depressing movie again. That was one of my favorite things to do, and something we would do together- go see a depressing art or foreign film together. I loved it.

So I am more or less, back to myself, existing in a new normal. But I still miss my old normal desperately at times.

Monday, May 07, 2007

knitting frantically

I am working hard to finish the I Do shrug from Knitty before I leave for a family wedding in Europe on Thursday. Ordinarily, I would say, "hey, a multihour plane ride, I can just finish it them," but apparently knitting needles are not allowed on European flights, and I do NOT want to risk it. Too bad that they're not allowed; I could really get some good sock knitting done!

I am praying that I do not run out of yarn; if I do, I will have to rip back and make the sleeves a little shorter. That would be okay, except for the time thing. Eek. I will definitely have to knit on the plane then, at least on the way over, which I hear you can usually swing.

I am actually going to get elite status with United this year because I have done so much travelling. Totally ridiculous. I am not a business traveler, nor have I gone on a real vacation. It's all seeing family, my husband's job market, plus moving across the country. Wow.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Work, work, work

I have been pretty busy lately, so haven't had time to update the blog. I am trying to finish up my interim papers so I can take my oral exams. UGH. I was hoping that I would be able to take them by the time we moved in early July, but that is not going to happen. I think I had a good shot at it, but then I didn't do any work for a month b/c we were so wrapped up in trying to decide where we wanted to go next year.

I am leaving this Thursday to go to Europe for almost a week, and won't have time to do any work then (I could take my laptop, but would also have to take the converter, etc. which is a huge huge pain). We are just so, so busy with things that are NOT school. My plan is now to take my orals by the end of the summer. I will probably have a big chunk of time then when I won't be able to work b/c of moving and getting settled, but really, I have to get going.

I mentioned several months ago that I've been using a dissertation coach, and I cannot say enough good things about it. I am using an online coaching message board, so it is affordable ($50/month) and it really helps me focus and work at least a little bit each day.

I am currently writing my third paper. I am chugging through. It is tough, but I know I can do it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

All Over But The Shoutin'

So we have made a decision. All that is left is to tell the recruiting chair of our chosen university. For the last 2 weeks, we have been "swithering" (this is a real word- my FIL used it to describe us, and then I looked it up in the Oxford English Dictionary) back and forth between the elite, prestigious department at a university in a dumpy, somewhat-isolated college town and the small but good department at a university in a big, exciting city. We actually had 3 other options, but in the end it came down to these two. The decision ended up coming down to my job. Elite, prestigious university couldn't come up with anything for me to do. This is a serious issue because there isn't that much going on in town except for the university, so to have a real, decently-paying job, I was facing a 45 minute to 1 hour commute one way every day, at the minimum. I am not willing to do this, especially when we have other options where I wouldn't have to do that.

So we have chosen the big city! Very exciting. I am a city girl at heart. I love the shopping, culture, vibrancy, and public transportation. Really. I love public transportation. Also, my SIL lives there, and it's within a day's drive of my husband's parents, and there are direct flights back to my hometown. Yay!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Decisions, decisions

DH and I are now in the final stages of making our decision. Wow, is it ever hard. We think we have it narrowed down to two choices, maybe. We go back and forth depending on what time of day it is.

It is incredibly stressful, and we should be thankful that he has 5 good offers, but instead feel really bratty because our decision is hard, and we're spending a lot of time trying to figure out where to go. Our two main contenders are a department that is top notch and high prestige but in a college town that won't be so great for my career, but has great housing costs. The other department is also very good, but risky (and somewhat lower prestige), is in a big city with lots of options for me, but expensive housing costs (somewhat subsidized by the university). Bad public schools in both places; excellent private schools that aren't so hard to get into in the college town. College town is 1+ hours away from major airports, the closest of which doesn't have a direct flight to my hometown. My sister-in-law lives in the big city, and we have another friend who will be moving there next year as well.

We don't know. We just don't know.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Coming out of the closet.... literally

There is an article in today's New York Times about the chapter of Delta Zeta sorority at DePauw University. The article details how, in an attempt to turn the negative image of the chapter around, the national sorority kicked out almost 2/3 of the members, which included every overweight girl and every minority. The representatives from national headquarters interviewed each member about her level of "commitment." The girls were encouraged to "look their best" for these interviews.

After the interviews, the national representatives chose a few of the existing girls, along with several beautiful, thin girls from the nearby Indiana U. chapter, to conduct a rush event. The rest of the girls had to stay upstairs. One of the girls, Kate Holloway, (whom the national folks seemed to ask to stay, although she withdrew on principle) decided that this was rubbish, and she wasn't going to take it. The article states:

“They had these unassuming freshman girls downstairs with these plastic women from Indiana University, and 25 of my sisters hiding upstairs,” she said. “It was so fake, so completely dehumanized. I said, ‘This calls for a little joke.’ ”

Ms. Holloway put on a wig and some John Lennon rose-colored glasses, burst through the front door during the recruitment event, and skipped around singing “Ooooh! Delta Zeta!” and other chants.

The face of one of the national representatives, she recalled, “was like I’d run over her puppy with my car.”

I love it. LOVE IT. It reminds me of a story concerning my sister, but all the parties in the DZ story are more brazen.

When my sister started college, I pushed really hard for her to rush and join a sorority. Although I had heard tons of horror stories about sororities, they didn't seem so bad at the Northeastern Ivy League school that I attended. I rushed (but didn't join one), and the girls in most of them seemed nice, I had a few friends in sororities, and these friends were nice, sensible girls. It was common knowledge that during the pledge period, pledges' GPAs usually went UP because there were so many mandated study hall hours (I realize now that the Greek system is also usually a good source of old tests and exams, which can help you study as well! I think this was less of a factor at my university than at others, since we had so many group projects and essay tests). Since my sister was going to the local commuter state school, I thought that a sorority would be good for her- it would encourage academic achievement (something she sorely needed), give her structure, and help her make nice friends.

My sister is a very pretty girl. Very pretty. Thin, beautiful, everything a sorority would want. Her high school GPA, however, left a lot to be desired. She made the minimum GPA required to rush, but most sororities screen on GPA somewhat. Their standing with the administration is based, at least in part, on the academic records of the members, so they want to bring in girls who have high GPAs in the first place. All the "popular" sororities cut her right away, which we expected.

She ended up joining the least popular sorority, the sorority with the worst reputation. By "worst reputation," I mean not that they were the superficial bitches who did coke (I actually got to the second round with this type of sorority at my school. I really liked them, but wondered what the fact that I did so well with them said about me? I dropped out of rush. I couldn't handle the label of being a member), but the unattractive, overweight, unpopular girls who had to practically beg to get girls to accept bids. My sister decided that she liked them anyway.

My sister's pledge year ended up being a turning point for her sorority. Apparently my sister wasn't the only pretty, gregarious, skinny, well-dressed girl from a good school that they accepted, and that pledge class started turning the tide for them. However, whenever one sorority starts clawing their way up the ranks, they inevitably push another one out of the way, plus images are hard to change. It is always rough going. My sister recalled stories of going through slideshows of the rushees' pictures when trying to decide who to invite back for the next round. Inevitably, someone would say, "We CANNOT let in any more fat girls! The ones we have are about to graduate!"

The sorority started doing "better"- they started winning inter-sorority contests like who had the best homecoming float, who won the "Miss Greek Week" title, etc. They were able to pair with more prestigious fraternities than before for mixers, homecoming parties, and other contests. As their status improved, the leaders also became bigger sticklers for rule obedience. My sister had been complaining about her sorority activities for a while. They sucked up so much time, they were not sympathetic to the fact that she was working, they weren't fun any more, etc. I encouraged her to stick with it, just to get alumna status at the end of it (you can go alumna after a certain amount of time, even if you haven't graduated yet). I thought then she could use their alumni networks and be involved in social activities. Who doesn't want another social outlet?

The turning point came at a rush party. In most sororities, the girls have rules about what they can and cannot wear to official functions (monthly business meetings, recruitment events, etc.) My sister and another girl made the mistake of wearing open-toed shoes, which was not allowed. The leaders insisted that my sister and this other girl hide in the closet during the rush event, because G-d forbid that rushees see their toes; it might scare them off, or they might think that the sorority wasn't sufficiently ladylike. Who wants to be part of a group that goes flashing their toe cleavage all over town? Imagine the damage to your reputation.

The other girl was in the closet crying, and my sister just told her, "We are not staying in this closet. They cannot make us stay in this closet." The other girl was freaking out, and my sister said, "Come on. We're going out." My sister knew that this was the middle of the rush party. What were they going to do? Yell "YOU GIRLS BETTER GET BACK IN THE CLOSET RIGHT NOW!" That would be a good way to convince people to join! My sister went out, mingled with the rushees like nothing was wrong, left that party, and never went back.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Final Offer

The final job offer came through this week. This makes five total. So, here's the lowdown:

  • 21 first round interviews
  • 12 flyouts
  • 5 offers

Of the 12 flyouts, he cancelled the final 2, which leaves 10. Of those 10, 1 told him that he was their first choice, but they knew that one of his other offers would win out (no contest), so they made an offer to another candidate. That leaves 9. 2 of those 9 made decided not to make any offers, one because of financial reasons, and one b/c they couldn't reach consensus. That leaves 7. Of those 7, 2 were flat out "no, we gave the offer to someone else who was in a different area."

5 out of 10 is a really great rate. Really, 5 out of 9, excluding the school that got its funding taken away. I don't think anyone else from his university has done as well. The other guy in his department who has four offers doesn't have quite as good of a spread, and he only got offers from places that hadn't seen DH. Anywhere that had to pick between him and DH at the flyout level picked DH. So there.

This 5th offer is from a department at a university that he has already gotten an offer from (another department), so it doesn't add a new geographic possibility. Good thing, too. It is getting too confusing!

Monday, February 19, 2007

A Not-As-Depressing Book on Working and Motherhood

I just finished reading a fascinating book called Kidding Ourselves by Rhona Mahony. I am surprised that I hadn't heard of this book until recently, given the relatively large number of depressing feminist tomes on working and motherhood that sit on my bookshelves. As it turns out, many of these books (which include Flux and The Price of Motherhood, to name a couple) actually cite Kidding Ourselves, which made it doubly surprising that I hadn't heard of it before, although I think I have figured out why. It is a fairly academic book that might not appeal to the masses in the way that the anecdotal Flux or the "written by Wall Street Journal Economic Reporter" Price of Motherhood might. It also deals with a topic that I don't think many women want to face- the prospect of househusbands. Mahony argues that until men do as much childwork and housework as women do (which will end up decreasing the total amount that women do), women will have a hard time getting ahead professionally. Much of her book details how women can negotiate with their husbands to have them take on more of the household tasks, not just in approach, but also how to strengthen your own position.

Unfortunately, much of the strengthening goes on long before you have children. Mahony argues that one of the best ways to improve your outcome in a negotiation is to improve your BATNA. BATNA stands for "best alternative to a negotiated agreement." How do BATNAs work? Say you want to buy a new car. You go to the dealership, and try to negotiate the price on a car. Your BATNA is what happens if you and the dealership can't agree on a price, and you end up walking away. If you don't have a car, your BATNA might be "don't take that job across town, but find a job closer to home, and I can ride the bus." That is a pretty bad BATNA. Being able to take that job across town might be worth a lot to you- more than the blue book value of the car. When you have a bad BATNA, you are more likely to do worse in a negotiation, because your reservation price (the most you are willing to pay) is going to be pretty high.

But if you can convince your parents to lend you their car for a while to get you to and from work, your BATNA then becomes "borrow Mom and Dad's car." This is a pretty good BATNA. It doesn't cost you anything. Maybe it's a 1992 Buick, and maybe they will only lend it to you for a couple of weeks, but it means that your reservation price goes down. You can still take that job across town, and you don't have to pay anything extra in the immediate future. You are willing to walk away at a lower price.

This is a really simplistic example, but you get the idea.

So women need to improve their BATNAs. Part of this BATNA is your employability, your ability to earn money. In other words, how dependent are you on your husband? More dependent = worse BATNA. Less dependent = better BATNA. Your education and qualifications largely determine your employability, your ability to earn the big bucks. Mahony isn't saying that women should leave their husbands if they don't help out, but your ability to exist on your own factors into how you and your husband approach this negotiation. She also suggests that having a better BATNA can prevent physical abuse. I am not so convinced on this point- I think it probably helps women get out faster, as I know at least one well-educated career woman who stayed in an abusive relationship for a little too long, but as for preventing it... I am not so sure. Anyway....

What earns the big bucks? In short, math and science. The more math and science that you take, the more options that are open to you. My husband and I found this out when hearing about my dad's experience getting his plumber's license at the age of 59. My dad is a smart guy (and a licensed contractor for 25 years), and has a bachelor's degree in civil engineering. He lacked confidence about his abilities to pass the test (supposedly it's hard) and get his plumber's license. He signed up for a prep class at the local community college halfway through the term. It turns out that he was outperforming the other guys in the class by leaps and bounds. Why? Because he knew geometry. He passed the test the first time. (go Dad!!!) My DH and I said that high schools should put up posters everywhere that says "If you don't take this math class, these careers will be cut off for you!" Who knew that if you didn't know geometry, you would have a hard time becoming a plumber???

So girls need to take more math and science in high school. Taking 4 years of math and at least 3 years of science in high school keeps potentially lucrative college majors open to you. This is the second part of increasing your BATNA- majoring in something that will help you get good-paying, gainful employment. Mahony is sympathetic to the liberal arts perspective (I get the feeling that this is her ideal, but she knows she lives in the real world), but one of the nicest things about this book, as compared to most of the other books on this topic that I have read, is that it is not just for upper-middle class women. This book is intended for women of all walks of life. It's not a pretty fact of life, but if you are scraping to put yourself through college, your time might be better spent majoring in economics, chemistry, or engineering, rather than something like English or philosophy. The first group of majors positions you for more lucrative employment than the second group. And more money = better BATNA.

Okay, check! I took 4 years of math in high school, 4 years of science, and majored in something eminently practical (and am pursuing a graduate degree that might be a waste of time in one sense, but will also make me more employable, at least in theory). Phew! At least that's one thing I didn't screw up.

To make that money, women also need to put themselves in positions where they keep making it, and not gear themselves for the flexible, part-time work that many women consider when picking a career (okay, I am at least a little guilty in this respect- most women I know are, even the well-educated ones).

Another part of the equation that is very, very important is picking the right person, a person who is willing to chip in and do his fair share, has a certain mindset about equality, etc. Mahony argues that women should be willing to marry down- marry men who make less, have flexible careers, men who will be in a position not to say no when you tell them that they need to do housework and help with the kids.

Here is where we part ways. I think that marrying down and having the flexible career matters less than marrying someone who is willing to help and is sympathetic to the values of equality. Mahony admits that she herself married laterally (she married a college professor), and she writes, which is a relatively flexible career, yet she has managed to work out a 50-50 agreement with her husband.

Everyone that I know who has married down has paid for it. Yeah, if your husband is in a law firm or a McKinsey consultant, he's not going to be doing the childcare, but I've seen too many guys in flexible, low-paying careers who don't pull their weight either. And then they get their egos all in a twist and pissed b/c the woman is the breadwinner. Guess what? Some of these guys are in these flexible, low-paying careers because they are lazy. A lazy guy is not going to do the work around the house no matter what. If I'm going to have to do all the housework on my own, I at least want to marry someone who brings in enough money to hire it out. I think the solution is to go for a happy medium- marry someone who is smart and ambitious but working in a maybe not-as-high-powered job as he could be (for instance, college professor instead of investment banker), but liberal-minded enough to not be squeamish about doing house and child work and nice enough to want to make his wife's life easier.

My parents are a good example of this. My mom stayed home until I was about 12. Since my dad was a licensed contractor who worked for himself starting when I was about 5, he had a relatively flexible schedule. Although I swear to you I can hardly remember my dad doing ANY housework (my mom is a perfectionist, so she just did it all), my perception is that he was quite involved with the day-to-day things that you have to do to raise kids. He insisted on helping bathe us as babies, would tell us bedtime stories, take us on outings so my mom could get a break (I remember one time, he took us fishing at a local pond, and I ended up catching a HUGE snapping turtle. Talk about freaky.), help us with science fair projects, etc. Probably my mom did do a lot more of the day-to-day nitty gritty, like making sure we ate, were dressed properly, did our hair, and did most of the laundry, but I really do remember my dad being very involved.

There is another twist to this story. My mom was agoraphobic, and didn't get treatment until I was about 12 (just before she started working part-time). This meant that my dad took care of lots of errands. He took us to school every morning (he was great, because he would drive fast and cut through parking lots on the corners, so we would get there quickly!), did a lot of the outside errands, and also he and I would go grocery shopping every Sunday morning. My mom would make the list, give us the coupons, and he and I would go. We would park our car in the middle of Kroger, split the list up, and divide and conquer. We were a very efficient team.

All of this happened, despite the fact that my mom had a pretty bad BATNA. She does have a college degree, but it was in French education, not something she really wanted to do. She was agoraphobic, and had stayed home for bunches of years. If she had asked my dad to do more (like make dinner once a week, etc.) he would have. The reasons why she didn't are mostly related to her own perfectionism (Mahony talks about this too- if you want your husbands to help you, you've got to lower your standards.).

So what did I take away from this reading? Most of all, marry a nice guy who wants to make you happy, and recognizes that this doesn't necessarily come in the form of jewelry (although I love bling, don't get me wrong), but often comes in the way of taking away the daily drudgery of dishes, cooking, and laundry.

Latest job market update

Wow. The job market has gone really well for us. I say "us" because I view my husband's success as my own success. He has four offers, one from a top 5 department, and 3 from well-respected departments in other areas of the universities. We expect another offer from a top 10 department this week.

We will be taking a tour of the top 3 schools and their respective geographic areas, two of which we both are pretty unfamiliar with. There are so many things to think about. Do we go with the swanky, old-money town? Or the ghetto-but-regentrifying town? Or the big city, with tons of people of my ethnicity and career opportunities (both academic and industry) galore? Where can we buy a house? How much house can we afford? What about schools?

In reality, the geographic concerns are relatively unimportant. All of the top 3 are located in places that I think would be acceptable. Now, if we visit a place, and I hate it, that would mean something. But right now, the most important thing is the academic environment that is most conducive to my husband's success. His advisor even took us both out to lunch, ostensibly to "strategize," but in reality, we just ended up talking about my family, his wife and kids, and all his former roommates/grade school friends who are in positions such as Chairman of the Fed, dean of the nation's best law school, top professors in similar fields, etc. He has his own opinion about where my husband would be happiest, and we take this opinion very seriously. I think he and my husband are a lot alike, so his recommendation holds weight with me.

His advisor is now on my good side, after getting off to a rocky start. The first time I met him, he insulted me. It was the summer after our first year, and my husband had rocked his exams. I mean, completely blew everyone away. His exams were at the beginning of the summer, and mine were at the end. He mentioned this to his advisor upon introducing us, and his advisor replied, "Well, there's no way she can do better than you!" He was trying to compliment my husband, but instead, insulted me. He apologized to my husband later that day, but I was the one who was insulted! Wasn't I the one who should have received the apology? Harumph.

He completely redeemed himself this summer, though, after my car broke down 90 miles from home, four days before our anniversary, when driving to my husband's university, where he was (approximately 400 miles away). I couldn't just leave the car (I did rent a car and drive back home), the repair shop had a hard time finding the part (it was a part that was still under warranty and shouldn't have broken). Our second anniversary was just days away, and it wasn't immediately clear that I would be able to make it there. We didn't really have the money for a plane ticket, and we were stressing out that we wouldn't be together on our anniversary. We weren't together on our first anniversary (he had a really important conference, I had my sister's wedding), and we were really angry that we might be apart again!!

My husband happened to have a meeting with his advisor that day, and when his advisor asked "How are you?" my husband launched into the whole story, leaving out the plane ticket money part. His response was, "That is terrible! You definitely need to be together on your anniversary! There is no excuse for that! How much is a plane ticket?" My husband replied $120, and his advisor just pulled out his wallet, and pulled out 6 $20 bills, handed them to my husband, and said, "Happy anniversary!" Since that day, his advisor is now on my good side. He is also really good to my husband, and is a terrific advisor, so that helps him too!

People keep asking me, "Where do YOU want to go?" Truthfully, if I were single, and just looking to move to a new place, I would pick the big city. Obviously. One of the strange things about marriage, though, is that my interests become almost indistinguishable from his interests. Almost. Not entirely, but if he does poorly, I end up suffering as well. We will have to move (rather than deciding to move, and moving to a similar or better university with a pay increase), he will be more unhappy and less pleasant at home, and he will have to work harder to accomplish the same amount. We will ultimately go wherever we think he will be most successful.

In the meantime, we are imagining that things like grocery stores and housing prices matter. Ooh, which place has a Wegman's? Which place has Trader Joe's? What about Whole Foods? Where do we live? How far is the commute? It's fun to pretend that these things will actually impact our decision. In reality, we feel very fortunate that we have any choice at all. It is not the normal outcome.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Go Colts!

I was delighted to watch Peyton Manning win his first Super Bowl today. I have 2-3 degrees of separation between the two of us (2 is possible, 3 is definite), not to mention the fact that we used the same cake lady for our wedding cakes, so I have been rooting for him since he was nominated for the Heisman Trophy (and lost... BOOOOO!). From all accounts, he is a decent, solid guy.

He has been ragged on a lot b/c he hasn't been able to get to the Super Bowl, but boy, did he do it this time. What a champ. And Phi Beta Kappa to boot.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Job market update

My husband is kicking ass on the job market. It is a huge relief. He has 11 (count 'em! 11!) flyouts, 10 of which are for really good schools. The 11th is also to a good school, but a troubled department within that good school that doesn't seem like it would be the best fit. He wasn't sure whether or not to take it.... even though he has 10 other great flyouts, he didn't feel like he is in the position of turning down flyouts, which I guess means that he would take an offer from them over going into industry, which I had thought wasn't the case.

I went with him to his big conference, to provide moral and practical support while he did 21 interviews in 2.5 days. Wow, did he ever need it.

What we did not expect:

1) He would sweat through his shirts by lunch time. We had planned to have an extra shirt for each day in case he spilled something on himself, but hadn't planned on undershirts. I had to go to Marshalls to buy more. I also had to take shirts to the cleaners, because some of the "extra" shirts weren't that nice.

2) the fashionable but still nice looking blue striped tie was TOO fashionable. Go conservative. One of his interviewers, whom he had interacted with previously, saw him after lunch in the new shirt (white) and different tie (red with traditional looking stripes) and said, "Oh! I'm glad you changed your tie." It didn't really matter that much, but it freaked us out.

3) He would throw up at least one meal a day, out of sheer nervousness. Huge drag and very demoralizing. We should have expected this, and kind of did, but we didn't expect how annoying this really was. Also not great for energy levels. However, apple juice and fruit seemed to be relatively successful when it came to keeping food down and energy up, at least temporarily.

4) How bad we would sleep. Not hugely surprising, but I really thought we'd sleep better than we did.

5) How stressful and exhausting it would be for ME, the spouse. I was doing a lot of running around and errands, etc., plus his performance affects the rest of our lives. Talk about stress for both of us.

6) How fast the flyouts would come. He had 3 by Saturday night, and he hadn't even finished his interviews yet. We were expecting Monday at the earliest.

He is getting them all done by the first week of February. Maybe we will have an offer by Valentine's day!