Tag Archives: career

Happy!

9 Apr

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There are a lot of things going really well for us right now (as well as continual drama), and I think it is important to remember the little happinesses that occur every day. So here’s some of the things that are really, really good around here:

N is learning at a rapid rate–every day is a new adventure with him! He’s learning new words and new things (like his alphabet) and he’s always curious!

I’m not teaching this quarter!!! And yet I’m being paid for it đŸ™‚ This is the great benefit of teaching a double load last quarter. My key task for the next 2 1/2 months is to collect data for my dissertation (an instructor focus group, student survey, student focus groups, follow-up individual interviews, and analyze the curricular materials and some essays from the course i’m studying). No biggie.

I really like my dissertation topic. It’s concrete yet connects to many of the important debates in my field right now. It’s easy to talk about and I think the things I’m studying and talking about are readily applicable to virtually all classrooms. This is a great thing for when I go on the job hunt (the “market”) this fall.

Can you believe it? I’m going on the market this fall?! I’ve had a lot of anxiety about it (Because of the lack of publications, lack of much on my resume for the past year or so while my personal life melted down) but after settling into a new pace (and getting some new things on my resume), I’m feeling excited about it. Which brings me to my next point…

In March I went to 2 conferences and it was a GREAT experience! The first I got a grant to attend, but didn’t have to present anything, so it was a stress-free way to learn about my field. It’s the main conference for what I do, so it was really wonderful to make connections across the field and prepare for next year when I really do need to be contributing. It was also fun to fly to Indianapolis and see a new city (not amazingly impressive, but what city is from the perspective of a conference hotel?).

One of the key things I learned is that I’m one of a few people who does what I do. In fact, one of the top research universities in the US was looking to hire someone just like me last year and couldn’t fill the spot (because they’re waiting for me, I’m sure). So now I have a target in mind and I’m already beginning to work on my job materials for this fall.

Sunshine and spring weather is here – we’ve had weather in the 60s and sunshine, which warms my soul. Today, N started “developmental preschool” which will include his speech therapy and also some special education which should help him get caught up on some of the skills where he’s a bit behind and work through some of the emotional stuff related to his dad. It was new to him so there were some rough moments with the new place and new expectations, but he had a blast playing in their indoor gym. He’s kind of a daredevil–when he first learned to go down the slide, he went head first. Well, today, he learned how to swing on a little trapeze and LOVED it!

We also went to the zoo today. I renewed my membership so we can go weekly while my schedule is open and flexible. I’ve quickly realized that its really difficult to entertain him all day for days on end. He’s SO energetic and he hasn’t even been napping well recently. We both do better if either a) he goes to preschool or b) we have a busy day of fun plans. So I really need to plan outings into our schedule. We need to enjoy this time because, fingers crossed, in just over a year I’ll have a full-time real job!

I’ve been cooking a lot again and I started running! I ran with N in the stroller on Sunday morning and it went ok – I can run 3-4 min straight before my heart rate goes up and I can’t exactly breathe. So I’d run, then walk, then run, then walk so that I can slowly build up my endurance. Although we walk a lot, it’s amazing the muscles you use if you run–my thighs were sore, my back was sore.. . . so hopefully this will help me burn more fat and tone my body more. It’s nice to build up my my physical strength. Tonight was a shorter run, but even short runs are important for building endurance đŸ™‚

So, many things to keep me busy and happy! After 6 months on our own, we are thriving đŸ™‚
And, now some pics from today:
Preschool

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Zoo!

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Celebrate!

4 Mar

I have a lot to celebrate this week – over the past week or so, I’ve gotten a lot of academic work done: I’ve finished my dissertation prospectus (research proposal), submitted proposal to a major theoretical conference in my field, completed an application for a TA-ship in a different–related–program for next year, and co-wrote a fellowship proposal with a faculty mentor.

Over the weekend, I got an email confirming that I have a spot teaching an annual month-long (very well paid) awesome course (that also happens to be the site of my dissertation research), and not only will I be teaching, I will be a lead instructor. Hooray! I’m finally being recognized for being capable and smart!

Today, I successfully “defended” my research proposal to my committee. It wasn’t so much a defense but a fun meeting with 4 of my favorite people/mentors talking about the academic work I will soon be undertaking. I’m left with new ideas to ponder (and the realization that now I have to actually DO the research. Ugh).

So I have a lot to celebrate! I’m on the brink of finally doing my dissertation research! I have a really exiting project that my mentors say is really offering something to the field! I’m getting my confidence back in my academic abilities and I’m really on a roll–connecting to a national conversation. And I love that my proposals are GOOD – not the half-assed crap I’ve put together in the past because I can’t get my act together (or I have life-drama intervening). It is so nice to be able to work and focus.

BUT

Despite the fact that I hit a major milestone today (over a year in the making!), I’m sad that I don’t really get to celebrate it. My family is happy for me, but they’re far away. N was so tired from a full day in preschool that he took a ‘nap’ at 6pm and hasn’t woken up. We went to the store, thinking I’d grab some treat or yummy food but nothing sounded good/was worth the money/calories. It was actually nice to acknowledge that I don’t need to celebrate with food, but it’s really sad to not be able to mark the occasion. Pop some bubbly, right? So that’s the slightly depressing take-away.

So, instead, I caught up on Ukraine drama, re-heated some yummy salmon & spaghetti squash, graded some papers, and soon I’ll curl up with my book on Stalin. But before I end the night wallowing in misery, some pictures of the fun we’ve been having over the past couple weeks:

IMG_9880 IMG_9891 IMG_9913 Valentine’s PartyIMG_9906 Cute kissing, umm, tropical animal. I forgot what it is, but it’s sure cute đŸ™‚IMG_9926 Teaching N the culinary delight of french fries in ice creamIMG_9963 IMG_9975 IMG_9992 IMG_0001 IMG_0011 IMG_0098

In the Silence

7 Feb

The past few weeks have been pretty dramatic around here… Not really by my choice, but by the ex doing his usual manipulation and preying on my good will. After returning from Montana over Christmas (which I still haven’t blogged! Gotta get on that!), the he wormed his way back in to my apartment/life by slowly staying longer, making excuses, and well, by being nice. I had a pretty sweet deal: he washed dishes, bought food, and watched N when I needed to run errands. He got to work in peace during the day where all his equipment was stored (and not have to haul it around) and occasionally sleep on my pink couch.

But, in very short order it became clear that he was back for good–pretty much moved in to the center of my living room with no plan to get out. Any money he had was blown on alcohol, cigarettes, gas for his f’ing car, clothing and fancy food products. Meanwhile I’m paying his car insurance, car loan, and putting a roof over his head? To make matters worse, he started to cycle back into the abusive behavior. First, the friends he was “staying” with decided to divorce so he appeared at my door one night at 3am ‘lost’ and feeling awkward. So thats how he got back in. Then he told stories of how crazy they are–impulsive plans, crazy parents, the wife wanting him, playing her off me, etc. and then when I told him he ended to start paying for his expenses (not to mention rent) he started the yelling. Honestly, I don’t remember what triggered it, but last a couple weeks ago I kicked him out.

That didn’t go well–he finally packed his things and was out by 8pm. I had a glorious evening by myself (I cleaned. Everything around him turns to shit, including my housekeeping, but that’s because he’s an inconsiderate slob AND he sucks up any peaceful time when I might actually be in the mood to clean). And then, at 1:30am he was back. This process continued for another week. He’d be nice, I’d kick him out, he’d be back. Finally, after one rough night when he was back to his old self (berating me for hours on end for perceived evils – like a chihuaha – yip! yip! yip!), I had enough. I got up the next morning and told him I wanted him to leave that afternoon, forever, so start packing. I went to campus for a meeting and ran into a friend/mentor and when she asked how I was doing, I cracked. I spilled everything.

She took one look at me, brought me back to her office and instructed me to get him out now. To get family housing on the line and have them help me. To contact my university’s police department to back me up if he doesn’t comply. So I cancelled my meetings and headed home. I told him to pack and he did. At that point, he didn’t know that I had backup, but he still went willingly. After he left, I talked with our community advisor and with the PD to explain the situation.

He was gone for almost a week, when, after a week of building up lies about how crappy his friend’s couch was, he decided to show up here again in the early morning. I guess he was crazy all night (bitching to the friend) and packed his things at 6am. She texted me to say he was coming, and he knocked right around 8am.

I ignored him and he went away. At 8:40, when he knew we’d be up and heading out for school, he knocked again and N immediately ran to the door. I had to let him in, but I immediately informed him that he couldn’t stay. He said he wanted to stay for a couple weeks. ‘Till he had some money. ‘Till he could get his own apartment. I said no. He beat on doors and yelled at me. N started throwing things. It was not good. Somehow I managed to get N dressed for school and out the door, while the ex followed us and helped put N in the car. When I drove away, the ex was standing next to his car and was on the phone.

I was shaken and mad, but I had a plan: that day I had a meeting with the victim’s advocate with the PD to discuss options, so I just had to get thru one class then I could deal with the situation. When I arrived at daycare, I saw that it was closed due to lack of heat in the cold building. Frustrated and out of options, I cancelled class and drove down to the PD to get this sorted out.

I was able to immediately meet with the victim’s advocate and we got an officer to head to my apartment to see if he was there. I figured he’d be in the parking lot, but come to find out, he was inside. Even though he doesn’t have a key, he unlocked the door as he followed us out. He had made himself right at home, bringing bags in and making himself tea.

The officer kicked him out and I had to go back, with the advocate, to check that he hadn’t stolen anything. I will forever hold the image in my mind of the man I married standing in the middle of the parking lot with two police cars and 4-5 cops surrounding him. I guess he was compliant. I didn’t talk with him. I confirmed that nothing was missing and left.

I haven’t seen him since.

After this incident, he seems to have gotten the message that I am serious: we are divorcing, I won’t put up with his treatment of me, and I am no longer supporting him. He has been banned from the family housing territory (as in if he shows up, he will be arrested). So far it seems like enough, but if he has even one misstep, I’ll get a domestic violence protection order through the courts.

We have had some correspondence via email and he has talked with N. Tomorrow we’re meeting him near his place (with a friend) so he can spend some time with N and wrap up some business details.

But back to the title of my post: In the silence…

Without him, things are silent. Even more silent than when he was abroad (because he still harassed me from there). In the peace and quiet, I am getting so much work done. I have almost completed my dissertation proposal and it is exciting work! I have hired a lawyer (well, legal intern via my student legal services) to represent me in the divorce. I’m making arrangements for N to start a preschool at his Early Intervention center (we think with everything going on, he could use more support for speech and development). I’m almost done filing taxes (the last time ever with his self-employed bullshit!). I have a proposal out for a fellowship. I have made travel plans for two conferences (Oregon! Indiana!) and am working on proposals for others. I am making my career happen and it feels good.

In the silence, I dream. I have always aimed high, always having a plan A, plan B, plan C. I have been incredibly fortunate in this life, but a lot of my fortune and adventure come back to the fact that I’m always reaching out and pursing opportunities. This bad marriage shut down my dreams, and it is really wonderful to get this part of me back. In the silence I can think. I can dream. I can take care of myself.

Peace and Quiet

31 Jan

Since December, life has been crazy. It’s been a combination of fun-crazy (Christmas in MT with the fam), busy-crazy (teaching 2 writing classes and doing dissertation stuff) and crazy-crazy (the ex.).

I don’t want to go into the play-by-play of it all, but I’m finally settling back into a calm, peaceful routine. I *think* I’ve worked everything out with the ex where he respects my space/boundaries while also being in N’s life. I have built enough structure into my classes so that when life gets a little crazy, I don’t look crazy and unorganized to my students (case in point – my fall teaching evals were some of my best yet and my life was falling apart). We’ve had a stomach bug roll through and a cold that is verging on bronchitis (for me), yet we’re still doing ok. Professionally, things are going really well. Really, really well. I feel like the end is in sight, even if it’s still a year and a half away, I can see how to reach graduation, job, etc. Boy, am I going to celebrate!

I also found out about legal services at my university where law students give legal advice for cheap, so I’m most likely going to go that route to actually get divorce filed. It’s hanging over this relationship where the ex still hangs on because nothing is official. . .yet I’m so done that I’ve actually been on a couple dates. Once it’s filed, I think he’ll finally ‘get’ it and I can truly start moving on.

I’ve been thinking a lot about moving on. It was fun to go on a couple dates (though both were duds). It was good to a) see that there are other fish in the sea b) see that I’m desirable and c) talk to other human beings, who aren’t toddlers or crazy. I also realized that I have a lot of stuff to work out before I go back out to date for real. The amount I talked about the ex was atrocious, so I need to learn to talk about myself and relationships without talking about him. I wear my heart far too much on my sleeve and I think I need to figure out boundaries. . . that is, I open up too much and then I’m a total bitch when I shut down. I need to learn how to equalize my openness and my emotions so that it’s not one or the other. Luckily, it’s pretty much pointless to date over the next year since I need to work overtime to finish my PhD, find an amazing job, and get the hell outta here and build a new, amazing life wherever it is that i’ll be working (Academia is so weird that way…). Once I know what that life will look like, I can think about finding someone else to share it with.

For now, more than anything, I am so thankful for peace and quiet. N thrives in routine and kind love. My academic work comes from calm thought. The ex and I are toxic together and it has been a really difficult process for him and me to get him out (both in September and more recently, after he returned back and figuring out where boundaries needed to be set). So for now, I am savoring the calm and hoping that this balance keeps.

December Update

21 Dec

IMG_8757On the drive

December has been a busy month so I’ve hardly had time to update. But if there’s anything I’ve learned from making N’s annual photo album, it is essential to keep this updated. So here’s a quick update before I blog some N & holiday updates.

The beginning of the month, I flew back home without my snuggle-bug. I ended up staying one week without him, wrapping up teaching, turning in my human subjects review board application for my dissertation research. It was lonely without him, but nice to get things done.

Also that week, the soon-to-be ex hubs flew back to the US. I have made it my mission to be neutral about the whole thing. He has citizenship and as long as he doesn’t bother me, he has every right to be here. He mad a friend online (a photographer we know from weddings) and she and her husband are letting him stay with them while he gets onto his feet. They picked him up at the airport and that evening, the 4 of us met for sushi. It was weird–he was trying to be super friendly (hugging me, cracking inside jokes, etc) but the husband pulled him aside later and told him to chill. I guess these friends have had their own problems so they are sympathetic to our situation. A couple days later, I told the photographer friend (the wife) about why we’re divorcing and she totally understood. It sounds like her mission is to try and help hubs out and allow our little family to make memories that are positive.

Since then, we have been texting and talking a bit as we finish wedding edits so I can leave the business while still making our clients happy. If he gets pissy, I dis-connect, and he IS making an effort to apologize when he is a jerk. I have made it clear to him (and anyone in the world who cares) that even if he is a perfect angel, the divorce is still happening. This past year has forced me to re-examine all that I want in a relationship, companionship, and in a future for myself and my son and he cannot provide that. It is scary to go out into the dating world again, but I will find someone who will truly be my partner–or I’ll be stronger on my own.

I drove back to my parents’ house on the 10th/11th. It took 2 days because of the weather. Since then, I’ve been grading, editing, wrapping presents, and hanging out. It is nice to have many people to watch and play with N. He is loved!

Of course, being home isn’t all roses and sunshine. I feel guilty when I don’t do enough–when I’m on my own, I do everything and when I’m here I do nothing (and my mom does it all). I’m trying to strike a balance and attempt to clean up after myself, cook dinner for the family, still go on little adventures with N, and generally help out where I can. I also don’t want to disrupt my mom’s way of doing things. and I can always do better.

My uncle also had a re-occurrence of brain cancer. Six years ago, they found a large brain tumor. It was the most aggressive kind and his was stage 4. They operated, did radiation and chemotherapy and he radically changed his diet. He went into remission, but maybe a year ago something showed up on scans. They did a cyberknife procedure to cut it out. Later scans still showed something and so they biopsied it and the cancer is definitely back. He’s had some mini-strokes ( I think — or seizures. I’m not sure). Earlier this week he had a new operation and he’s getting out of the hospital today. He’ll get chemotherapy this time (no radiation due to scar tissue) and he needs physical therapy to work out the problems from the mini-strokes. It’s scary – and strange for him to be going through this. My family’s not that close, but he’s definitely the closest relative. He’s a great guy and I am scared for his family. But all information and emotions are filtered through my dad (his brother) and I have never built an adult relationship with him or his family. There’s a distance with my cousins (his sons). . .even though one cousin has a son N’s age, there still just isn’t anything to talk about. So this is something that occupies my mind but I’m not sure what to think about it.

I’m very much looking forward to Christmas. My baby bro will be in town and we have our set Christmas Even and Christmas day traditions. I’m excited to give some good gifts this year and to have some quality time with my family (secure in the knowledge that there’s not going to be any drama or drunken craziness going on). A boring, traditional holiday is just my kind of holiday.

My bro will be staying for at least a few days after Christmas, so we’ll be able to get out and have some fun. I really want to go snowshoeing and maybe hiking (depending on how much snow we have!) and just enjoy my hometown the best I can.

I’m not chomping at the bit to see my old high school friends. After going to college and everyone going their separate ways, it’s hard to re-connect. I think there was a lot of silly judgement that occurred relating to everyone’s choices in our 20s and I’m just not dying to defend myself, talk about divorce, or small talk with people who don’t get my life. So far, I’ve run into 1 whole person around town.

So that’s the update. I’m going to try and post fun pics and N updates soon. I have some good ones đŸ™‚

Dream Job(s)

27 Apr

The last few months we’ve been talking a lot about what comes next. I’ve been in school for 5 years and we’ve been living in the US for 6. Hubs is getting citizenship soon (Interview on Wednesday!) and babe is getting older. . . we’re ready for a change.

A couple of opportunities have come up that have gotten me thinking about my dream job. I love to travel (nothing makes my soul soar like getting on an airplane…) and this is the longest stretch of my adult life that I haven’t been abroad. I’m ready to go somewhere new! I have a secret dream to join the foreign service, and there’s one way to bring my education and my secret dream together: State Department English Language Officer. They only take applications sometimes, and in February one of those calls for applications opened and I spent a weekend preparing my application. If there’s anything I learned from my time in the Peace Corps is that successful government workers need to have a high tolerance for bureaucracy, and just applying for the job took a lot of patience. I had to fill in two full applications with work history, education, etc: one for the federal jobs database and a second one for the state department. There were also several essays I had to prepare for the job posting which took a lot of reflection about my goals and strategizing how my experiences fit the job profile. I’m not sure how many people they hire for this specialist position (i.e. I don’t know if they only hire super experienced English language teachers or if they want to bring people in with some experience and give them training to then climb the ranks). If they’re looking to cultivate someone, I think I’d be an ideal candidate: I’ve already lived in 3 countries, including a year in Great Britain and over 2 years in Ukraine. I have a Masters, I’m a PhD candidate and with luck I’ll complete my dissertation in the next year or so. I’m young and adventurous yet tolerant of bureaucracy and excited to work in diplomacy. They closed the job posting last week and I passed the first qualifications test, so I have one set of fingers crossed that I’ll get an interview for that job.

Out of the blue a few days ago a Peace Corps friend emailed me about a different job. She’s a professor of Russian at a small liberal arts college and she is working with the Dean and President of the university to open an English Language Institute at the college. The are imagining that they would bring a cohort of 50 students to the college to study English for a year and then enter that college as freshmen (or potentially go elsewhere). She asked if I was interested in such a job. . . and if so, what kind of feedback I could give for the position. Just emailing with her got me excited about what such an English Language institute could be – what I’ve learned working at a big university with tons of international students and all the growing pains we’ve had. If I were to build a program from scratch, what would it look like? If I were to travel across the US to take a job on the East Coast, what would it take? What kind of status should the job hold. It was fun to think that through–and I emailed her a document with my thoughts and she forwarded it to the dean and he liked what I had to say. The position is still being formed and they’d need to go through a full job search, but I could definitely be a candidate for the job. So my other set of fingers is crossed that I get an offer for a great job as director of that program.

These two jobs are so different and yet they both utilize the experience I have been building. I see our family happy in both situations: small town in Pennsylvania, building a program, making friends, and raising a happy boy vs. living in various countries for 2-3 years each, travelling widely, doing language outreach, and raising a happy multicultural boy.  There are scary things about both jobs, but exciting things as well… and both jobs have calendars that could begin this fall. . .so I may not even be living here in a year. Scary and exciting to think about! It is strange to contrast those thoughts with the gardening we’ve been doing. . but that’s another thing Peace Corps taught me: a year or two is both a blink of the eye and long and important. Even if you’re only spending a year somewhere, it is important to put down roots (sometimes literally) in order to enjoy daily life. It is important to make the place you are living “home” however temporary that may be.