Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Blogging Again

It has been a long time since I blogged. I've thought about it-- thought about things I might want to say, even new blog themes. But I haven't done anything.

Today I'm actually writing.

First of all, it's the end of the year. There are all these opportunities for introspection. Writing emails to friends asking for addresses so I can send a holiday card we exchange updates on major life changes. Here on the island our winter solstice long dance ritual/celebration is right around the corner. When that happens introspection is encouraged. And of course there are New Year's resolutions to make.

Yes, I'm back living in my hometown. I love it here, most of the time. It's a place I feel very comfortable in, and yet uncomfortable in. There are more assumptions about who I am and what I think-- people can base these assumptions on shared history, on knowing my family members, even on their idea of what my life has been like-- how I must feel having a Ph.D., or how I must feel to be back home, or how I surely must be itching to have a baby since I'm past 40 now.

Yet I hate it here, too. I feel trapped (physically and geographically by the ferry, by being in the corner of the entire country and financially by being mostly unemployed). Everyone here that I know (and many that I love) is busy. I'm not part of their daily life, their weekly life, their life of this decade. It's hard to break back in. And if there is one thing they know it is that I don't intend to stay. That in a few months or so I'll be gone, again. And K and I live in a tiny room, 13x17 feet. It has no running water. It has no table. It has minimal storage receptacles. My clothes are in my large suitcase plus a box for my outer garments. It's always a mess, no matter what I do.

Am I whining? When I first got back here I worried that I wouldn't be able to answer the well-intentioned questions about "what's next." I had people say really stupid things to me-- I know they didn't mean it badly, it's just that academia doesn't work the way they expect the world to work. For example someone told me to "volunteer at the UW-- once you've got your foot in the door, they'll be sure to hire you." Uhhh, you mean once I volunteer they'll know I'm a sucker and never hire me as long as I work for free... What do they think I'm going to do, volunteer to grade people's papers? Sweep the classroom? Make photocopies? Do they think that the UW would have me teach Korean Studies on a volunteer basis?  But of course they are just applying their experience of the world to my reality, and don't know that in academia such a thing cannot work out.

I --do-- volunteer in academia. It's called being an assistant editor for one journal, on the advisory board for another, writing anonymous reviews of articles, being the newsletter editor for an academic association, and so on. If I was at a school right now I'd probably be volunteering to sit on some board or other. I self-nominated for an academic leadership position in a professional academic society (too soon to know how that will turn out). That's academic volunteering.

So, yes. My life is also about the JOB HUNT. I hate the job hunt, but so does everyone, nothing new there. I have sent out around 20 applications so far this year and have another 8 or so that will be done soon. Wow. That's a lot. Yet many of these write back that they had "700 highly qualified applicants" and "regret to inform me..." So 28 seems like nothing. Because the odds are not in my favor. 700 applicants for a postdoc on Asia. 300 or so applicants for a tenure track position teaching about Korea. Don't ask me where I'd like to go, because I'm not in a position to be choosy. Perhaps -after- the first position I can be choosy. I hope so. But even then, it all depends on what positions are even available. The job hunt is depressing. I'd rather do anything else. Let me illustrate. This is what I did today:

1) worked on the job hunt for an hour
2) ran 3.3 miles (it was SUNNY!!!! for a couple hours)
3) rehearsed the women's dance for the solstice long dance
4) did the laundry
5) made a batch of sauerkraut (actually, technically I started the batch-- making takes weeks)
6) drank coffee and chatted with my dad
7) wasted time on FB
8) went to mom's to do dishes (not all of them, too many to carry at once)
9) flipped through a professional journal that just arrived
10) resurrected this blog
11) cooked dinner and made K's lunch for tomorrow
12) did the shopping
13) answered various emails

You see? I'd rather wash dishes than work on the job hunt.

That's all for now.


Rebecca said...

Wow, thanks! I love hearing about your life, all of it. I GET the love/hate thing about Lopez, too. You are more than welcome any time to come respite in the city, w/ or w/out K. I know it's expensive, so hitch a ride... We have comfy beds & plenty of food & brandy.
Big hugs...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. I enjoyed reading it a lot! I know exactly what you mean with academia and the job hunt. It tires me to hear people tell me: "why don't you apply to Berkeley (or whatever U.), even though they have not posted any ad?" or "where would you like to live next year?" or "don't worry, I am sure they'll keep you at VT if you do a good job" (it's a non-renewable leave replacement) or, worse: "All these years of study and now you're not sure to have a job next year??". Well, I'm not the only one on earth that got a PhD...

Anyway, I hope that, in the big picture of life, our individual lives will turn out very nice! Hang in there - once you have a TT, you might be longing for the days you are having now:)