Wednesday, January 26, 2011

On Making Changes

For the last two days I've been hiding in the house with Shira. She's been battling an evil cold and yesterday she was just too miserable to leave the house. Instead, she decided, she'd rather stay home and explore this box of toys:

Can you blame her?

She also spent some quality time with Hille, who was too busy hunting robins from the window to notice that Shira was within arm's reach from his tail. One day they'll be fast friends.

Today it was snow. Heaping piles of snow. Alyce's preschool was open and Matt, who thinks people take too many days off already--for silly things like pneumonia or national holidays--would never let a little blizzard keep him from the office. Me? I was happy to stay home another day with Shira, who was feeling much better today. I tried to tell her that all that extra sleep she's been getting at night (we've gone from waking eight times a night to twice!) is contributing to her brighter mood, but she just shook her head and went back to eating her sock. It's already clear, at eight months, that Shira has better things to do than pay any attention to my advice. Even though it's good advice, exceptional even. Nevertheless, we enjoyed another day at home.


Why am I not at my linguistics class? Because my plans, again, have changed. I'm fighting my natural instinct to feel ashamed and flaky over making more changes to my plans, and instead I am trying to accept that change isn't a bad thing. Just as I learned that I didn't have to finish my doctorate just because ten years ago I had said it was something I'd wanted to do, I am learning that new plans can be changed, too. Or, tweaked.

That's what we've been doing lately--tweaking. Trying to make plans for the future when you have no idea what city (or state) you'll be living in come September is tricky (that's me putting it in happy, sparkly terms). Matt's fellowship at the university is up this summer and he is currently looking for a new job. The reality of job-hunting as an academic is that your new job could be in another time zone. This is how we ended up in Delaware in two and half years ago, and this is how we'll probably leave it. But back to my point: last fall, when I first decided to pursue teaching instead of completing my dissertation, I moved forward with a plan to get my certification to teach in public schools. I thought this would open up the most doors for me. To do so I would need to take some English courses and apply to a graduate program in education that certifies would-be teachers who have previous degrees. Without certification I could only apply to some charter and private schools. It was exciting to make a decision and move forward, and this is how I wound up in Linguistics 101.

I think we moved forward with my plan a little quickly, motivated by excitement and a sense relief that I would no longer be slumped on the couch sobbing through a page of my dissertation research. But reality looks a bit different. In order to take all these classes we need child care for both kids (which is expensive) and would require a financial sacrifice over the next year that we really cannot afford. If following these particular paths were a part of my biggest hopes and dreams we would figure something out, but they are not. Matt and I sat down together and talked about this last week, and we asked ourselves what we really wanted from the next two years. First, a tenure-track job for my brilliant husband. Done and done (or, at least, I have all the confidence in the world that a department will scoop him up in no time). Second, we both want a third child. I know, I know, we'll be outnumbered by cats and children, but it's what we want. Not tomorrow, but in the next year or two.

Having made this clear to ourselves, we can make decisions accordingly. For myself, I still want to be a teacher, but I don't want to return to school (at this point) to make that happen. I will instead look for a place to teach this September, you know, once we know where we will be living. Watch out, children of Texas, you might have a Canadian amongst you soon! I'll get you spelling 'colour' in no time! So for now I am not going to continue in linguistics because it was a credit necessary for a very particular graduate program that I no longer need. I am still taking a course in American Literature in the coming term, because 1) I love reading, 2) it's free, thanks to Matt being faculty, and 3) my future students will only accept so much Margaret Atwood and Mordecai Richler for so long before they rise up and demand someone local.

Stay tuned for more changes. I don't want to overwhelm you all at once.

Anyone else making a big change?


  1. Well, it's not as big as your change...I'm not physically moving or getting a new job or having babies or anything. But I'm changing academic identities, from "medical scientist" to "medical education scholar." I'm winding down my lab research, I'll be starting an MEd in the fall, and I'm starting the groundwork to do an entirely different kind of scholarly research than what I was trained to do. A bit scary, but a lot exciting.

  2. Stacey, that sounds fantastic, and it like a pretty major change. I'd love to hear more details. Does this mean that you'll change actual jobs, or just change how you do your job?

    Exciting and slightly scary are good.

  3. The beauty is that I won't have to change actual jobs! I've known for quite some time that I wasn't cut out to be a superstar scientist, but I had to pretend I was long enough to clear the big hurdles (ie. tenure and promotion, which I got in 2009 and 2010, respectively) before I could drop the pretense. So I'm not applying for any more science grants, I'm going to get my current MSc student through her program, and transition gracefully into doing other kinds of research instead (yay academic freedom!).

    So for my MEd thesis I think I'm going to do some research about critical literacy in medical education. And I'm also doing starting to think about launching a piece of research about the health care needs of LGBT people living in rural and remote communities. Fun fun!!

    I think Matt should see if he can get a job at Laurentian and you can move to Sudbury!!!!