Saturday, April 30, 2011

Today is the first day of HELL YES

So, Dr. J got through his dissertation defense, and we are now spending a dreary Saturday NOT THINKING ABOUT DISSERTATIONS AT ALL.  Tonight he is making dinner.  We watched some TV.  We may go out to see some music, and then go to a party.  Maybe some of you out there understand how colossal this all is, and how completely normal it has been for these to be impossible scenarios.

(I promise to stop calling him Dr. J eventually, but I'm running with it for at least a week.)

I've been trying to pick his brain about how it feels to be post-defense, but he is as usual a cool cucumber.  I am visibly excited, and have to hold myself back from making lists of things I want to start doing again.  Oddly, going to bed at the same time was something I forgot used to be normal.  So that was awesome.  Though long hours away from home, staying up hours after me, never doing anything more than going out for dinner has been our normal for years, I'm glad to go back to the old normal.

I'm also glad I can stop trying to find meaning through PhD Comics.

Friday, April 29, 2011


Today is the day!  The day the madness ends, the day I breathe free, the day my spouse has been working towards for 26 years. Think a good thought, if you will.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


from a local twitter search

We've had crazy-pants rain for the past week, dangerous too.  I didn't take this picture, but it's exactly what the clouds looked like when I got out of my ASL class last night.  They looked like movie clouds.  A local search on twitter for "clouds" taught me these were mammatus ("breast") clouds.  They're super cute and look like boobs but are indicative of really bad weather, often tornadoes.

T-minus 2 days until J's dissertation defense.  He got sick this morning, and I'm sure it was nerves (vegetarians just don't get food poisoning).

Here's a terrible thought: our relationship has been really good, and I've been way calmer than usual since he began the downhill to graduation.  In other words, as he's gotten more stressed, I've had a reduction in mine.  I think it may have something to do with me feeling like I actually have more control in my life than him for once.  Even if it's not real control, the comparison makes it look like it.  That makes me feel bad, but since I'm feelin' so stable and great, I'll use it to make sure he's doing good, too.  I swear it is not schadenfreude.

Thursday and Friday I get to spend all day in a workshop for supervisors/managers.  I'm excited, because I like my job and would like it more if I was better at it.  I think my boss doesn't value this kind of training much, but I figure some is better than none.  I also get to leave an hour early on Friday. Score!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I have references!

I sent out 8 emails in the past week asking for permission to use different people as references, and 7 have replied back already (in the affirmative).  Luckily people at past jobs really remember me.  I feels good to take stock of who would say good things about you, because you have to remember good things you've done. And dangit, I have skills that match up with that job description, even if I don't have years of wisdom.

The application is due in a week, so I need to get on the ball with my cover letter.  I'm plumbing the depths of Ask a Manager for advice, but the hard part is making it sound believable (not overly dramatic), interesting and of course, well-written.  This is the first time my BA in English has made any difference, but I don't need to let my emphasis on Creative Writing bloat the letter with flowery language.  I should just write, write, write and have J tell me what sounds crazy, and I'll keep the rest.

Trailing, my ass!

But J! He is defending his dissertation on Friday! After that, he has about a week to make corrections and graduate.  I am absolutely not worried about this.  I'm not worried about him, either, because he seems cool as a cucumber.  I'm getting more and more excited about our life being more like it was a few years ago, when we had more time to do fun stuff!  It's impossible to go back in time, but a return of a less-stressed and always-working spouse is going to be heavenly.  When I think about how my conception of "having fun" has changed in the past few years, it is sad.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"Where the Red Delicious Rolls"

Back in the fall when I started sketching ideas for my little sculptures, the most complicated one was of a small hill topped with a pea trellis, and a little slope where the fallen peas were rolling.  At the bottom of the little path was a little cave going into the hill, with a soft light coming from it.  That's where the peas were going.  I made a lot of little mini pea-pods, with the peas about the size of the head on a glass pin.  I still haven't figured out how to make the trellises, or leaves that tiny.  What about an apple tree? I'm going to spend some time making prototypes before diving in, which will solve my problem of skillfully-made sculptures.  I've had modeling clay lying around forever, and I've had a ball working with it today.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Job available-- but am I?

A job I may be quite qualified came open this week.  It pays substantially more and would involve more projects and public relations, and is at my current institution.  Should I apply knowing there's a chance that J might get a job soon?

But haven't I been asking myself that for the past three years?  I have held myself back in my current job by riding my hopes on another person.  And now that it (J's job) may actually happen soon, there's this job. That I would be silly not to go for.

But once again, I will have to bite my tongue and let another opportunity  pass away.  Who knows when J will get a job?   He will be graduating mid-May, but so far we have no bites.  I say "we", but it's starting to grate on me*.  I don't have anything to do with this.  I am completely at the whim of someone else's career.

It's not a good time to be angry, but I am.  I am my own person and I am good at my job, but I am losing myself in his job search.  Even at work, now that my boss knows he's graduating, it is assumed that we're leaving and I'm being treated differently.  I HAVE NO CONTROL OVER THIS. This would have been easier if he wasn't a student, and I wouldn't have had to tell anyone what was happening.  But with working with faculty... they were going to find out.  Now I'm awash in uncertainty not only in my own mind, but coming from those around me.

So, how can I apply for this job and still feel honest?  I don't want to not try, and then six months down the road J still doesn't have a job.  A month ago that thought wouldn't' have even crossed my mind, but who are we kidding?  The economy sucks and no one has contacted him about any of his applications.  It doesn't matter how talented/skilled/educated you are right now.  We could be looking at a long, dark haul.

Can anyone understand why trying to get a new job, especially in the same institution, would be a bad idea right now?  Even if I got it, if we had to move less than a year later, I would be leaving a bad reputation at a place I would have been remembered fondly, if only I hadn't wasted their time.  Plus, it's probably gotten around that J is graduating, so they won't even consider me.  Who would?  I wouldn't.

It's an endless fucking cycle of self-effacement, obnoxious martyrdom and failure.  Failure before I can even try.  I am just so tired of waiting.

*J isn't grating on me. He is wonderful and supportive and working really hard.

"Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"

All photography was done by Chris Clanton, but the sass and cuteness is all mine.  I'll finally be delivering this hat to its rightful owner in a few days.

If anyone's interested, I do custom orders.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Dear Pacific Northwest

I am sorry if I gloated about our hot, Arkansan spring, or my sandals, or my lunch hour sunburn.  It is now 49 degrees Fahrenheit, with a brisk wind and overcast skies.  It is a deal at the Farmer's Market day, light on babies in SUV strollers (thank god).  Though tomorrow, it's sunny at 70 degrees.  I will enjoy this up-and-down but mostly fabulous weather while I can.  Which may be longer than we anticipated.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

A banner day!

So, things got crazy at work today, and I got to shine a bit.  Two VCRs broke (trust me, they are very important here) and I fixed them! And I got to practice my ASL with a patron!  So awesome.  Here's a shot of me involved in intense analog surgery:

That is me in a nutshell: pretty pink fingernails bringing the dead back to life.  All in a day's work.

Flowers and shit

Have you ever looked at a  purple dead-nettle flower* up close? They look like crazy mini orchids.  This was as good as my little point-n-shoot camera could do with its macro lens, but it's still pretty neat.

We got a little down at the beginning of the week.  Google was really good about doing things quickly, and J found out he didn't get the job the day after he interviewed.  It was a relief really, since he'd had to neglect his dissertation and other job applications while that broo-ha-ha was going on.  It was a really good experience, and he'll be so much more prepared for subsequent interviews.

As for me, I am trying not to make much out of it.  Yeah, I got pretty down for a few days, but that doesn't help anybody.  The no-control feeling came back and I was like a robot.  A badly-worded text from my mother made me start crying.  I have painted my nails pink and dedicated myself to finishing two sculptures for an upcoming art show (I have never been in an art show, so I am submitting them for approval).  I've also got Chris Clanton on board for taking some profesh photos of the cactus hat this weekend.

So, my first commission is done, and I may have a second on the line.  Another acquaintance wants me to make centerpieces for her wedding.  That sounds like something I would very much like to do, but she is still planning what her theme will be.

*I had to do some image searching, as I kept calling this a clover flower. 28 years and I never knew what this common little flower was called.  There's also the Henbit Dead-nettle, which looks almost the same except the leaves are stuck directly on the steam, so they look a little more lanky.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

One Interview Down

J looked utterly frazzled when I got home.  He had stuffed his brain for weeks, and now it had all spilled out.  He looked simultaneously at peace and completely nuts.

The interview went well, he knew he'd made mistakes but seemed pretty optimistic.  We should know something in the next week, but until then J's got to work on this dissertation and put in more applications.  I don't mean to keep saying this because I don't believe in him, but I really do believe that even getting this far is a real accomplishment.  Like really big.  Just like when I wrote that every rejection letter is at least a step forward, this is the same. Plus, Google is huge and everyone wants to work there.  If you've made it this far up the interview process, you're already a good fit, now it's culling applicants down to a manageable number.  If you get culled, you can rest assured it's just numbers or they didn't like your handshake.

As for me, I told my boss about J's graduation, which she definitely saw coming (she knew he was a PhD student when I interviewed).  Well, it's been four years since his Master's graduation, so here we are.  It was scary telling her, but Human Resources had my back and it was decided that not telling was a lie of omission. Why is it scary? Because it's pretty obvious that when he gets his big ol' degree, he's going to look for a big ol' job.  And, statistically speaking, there more jobs outside of Arkansas than in.  My boss immediately made that connection (or had been waiting to voice it) and I handled it gracefully.  Seriously, it is a weird situation when you're not the one who is looking for a job.  But I feel like telling her about his graduation is like handing in my [X]-week's notice for a job I'm not even applying for.  I am afraid I'll be treated like I've given my notice already, and in some offices that isn't a pleasant place to be.

This is one of those situations where not having control makes things rather sticky.  I told her last week, but so far things are good.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The first one is always the hardest

My man.
J has his technical interview with Google today. We both slept somewhat badly last night due to crazy wind outside and both of us getting a phone call between 3 and 4am.  I got up and made him coffee and made sure he woke up.  The call isn't until 2:30, but I am biting my nails til then.  I'm looking forward to coming home and finding a less stressed husband.  As for me, the weather seemed like a good omen this morning, window, cool and a little wet.  I am trying to remain as positive as I can.  No matter what comes of this, it's an accomplishment.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

How to make a cactus hat: Tutorial


So you think you can make a cactus?  I spent the last week making a cactus hat for someone who wanted to pay me for it ! This gives me endless joy.  I am very proud of myself for completing it so quickly, and now I can start on a new project that is more time-sensitive.  This is for Halloween, but I think it's fashionable any time of the year.  Step-by-step pictures after the jump: