Sunday, August 17, 2008

Press release: Nora experiences angst; wrings hands

SEATTLE--Nora Bee, recent graduate of the University of Washington and author of the virtually unknown blog Whopping Cornbread, is surprised both that she is actually scheduled to start working soon and that she has not really stopped working on her last bunch of stuff yet.

"I arranged to have the summer off. But I'm learning that in academics that just means that I've had the luxury of not starting anything new," said Nora recently from her Seattle home. "Just writing a dissertation wasn't really enough. I also have to publish it, which happens on my own time. Like my adviser said, 'nobody reads dissertations.'"

Nora's baby's day care was also against her taking the summer off. They were concerned about her baby's "readjustment" re-entering after a long time off, so encouraged her to bring him in at least for a few hours here and there. So Nora has used those few hours here and there to attempt to publish her dissertation papers.

Nora's husband was supportive of her taking the summer off, but sort of forgot about it and figured she could manage her own time.

Nora has had difficulty adjusting to life after her recent graduation. "It is a total shock to the system. I thought getting this degree would give me more choices, more flexibility. And though the work is more interesting than if I didn't have the degree, there are far fewer jobs now that I have it and there is also an expectation that I move away from Seattle to follow a job." Nora and her family have already decided not to move away from Seattle for the next several years.

Nora is scheduled to return to part-time paid employment in September. She will then begin a full-time postdoctoral fellowship in January 2009. As the primary care giver of her 20-month-old son, she is reluctant at the prospect of full-time employment. "It sort of makes me want to throw up," she said. Her fellowship is scheduled to last two years.

Nora counts herself very lucky to have several female mentors with grown children who assure her that her postdoc will entail a lot of "freedom." She also negotiated for being able to "work from home" when she needs to. However, she is suspicious that the level of responsibility she will soon assume will take her away from her home, family, and slacking off time more than she can handle. "I'm scared that flexible is going to mean any 80 hours a week I want," she fretted.

"People always think that I am a hard worker and really motivated," she said. "Especially now. One friend said recently that she is sure that I am the type of person who hates being bored. Truth is, I'm really quite lazy. I do well with short spurts of work but I think I would do just fine without the stimulation of a high-powered career. I would cook, raise babies, write, read. Learn some photography. Be a good friend. Renew my campaign to marry into the British Royal Family."

Nora also reported that she is very excited that there is a transgender contestant on the upcoming season of her favorite TV show, America's Next Top Model.

25 comments:

JCK said...

Nora is experiencing much angst, indeed. JCK sending good thoughts and room to breathe and think -yet not overmuch.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Good luck Nora--I'm sure you'll work it out. It is surely true that life is not without compromise. Angsty is no fun.

smalltownmom said...

Good luck, Nora. (I love that picture!)

Mac and Cheese said...

I hear ya on the lazy issue. You seem to be more motivated than you think though, given the degree 'n such.

MamaBird said...

Holy smokes, those cheeks! Those eyes. Hear ya on the change a brewin and the angst. Hope your flexibility really exists!

Vanessa said...

Good luck with the transition. Change and growth is hard at the time.

Heidi said...

For the next five and three quarter years (approximately) you also get to worry that they made a mistake and will call you up one day to say they want their degree back. Then after that (I am still trying to determine how long this phase lasts), you'll realize that the caliber of student they now accept into your program means you're lucky you got in when you did! Nothing like a healthy self confidence to make you appreciate your job.

Claire B. said...

Great post, great photo. I especially like the "not moving away from Seattle anytime soon" part so I can actually meet you one day.

Best wishes and good throughts. Angst means you care and have your head on staight, imho.

Mrs. G. said...

I have so much faith and respect for you. Hey, you want to have coffee before school starts September 2nd? I'll come out your way. I miss your face. And I want to kiss Bubba's.

All Adither said...

I'm quite a slacker too. Also, I just noticed in your sidebar that you suffer fits of existential angst. I have that in my sidebar too and I think I might have inadvertently stolen it from you. Mind if I keep it?

Lisa Milton said...

Lisa feels angst at a crossroads too, looking at you and your degree and wishing she was more focused. Hats off to Nora and her determination and her flair for slackitude.

(I like me some downtime too.)

I'm certain Nora will find her way, carried along with the beautiful baby to smooth out the rough edges.

apathy lounge said...

What do I love more? The post or the picture?

Melanie said...

BOISE--Nora's friend Melanie wants to eat Nora's baby. Moreover, Melanie shares Nora's enthusiasm over the tranny. Like Nora, Melanie enjoys babies, trannies, and angsty career ambivalence.

White Hot Magik said...

This Nora often experiences agnst too. I think I stopped by from Dr. Cason's. My name is Nora as well.

Good luck figuring it all out I am sure you will. I hope the flexible time is just want you need it to be. I was lucky and my last job was exactly that.

togetherforgood said...

I fully understand angst and wringing of hands, although postdoctoral anything is kind of a hazy dim unreality to my sad little B.S. self.

It's going to work itself out! :)

Irene said...

Oh, how lovely Nora, to have all that brain power, yet to have all that desire to be just a plain old ordinary human being who does boring things like most of us do. You could be a very bright bulb in many dull lives. I hope you succeed at whatever you want most, not at what you think you are supposed to do. I am looking forward to the next installments of this story.

Minnesota Matron said...

Saint Paul. The Matron starts her first full-time career-oriented job while well into her forties. When asked how she felt about becoming a working mother, she lamented: "I wish I had started sooner!" True.

Good luck! I know how hard it is, though.

Melissa said...

I loved all of this. Well... not what your were going through, but the writing of it! And the picture... again... awesome!

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