The Love Bug

This post is dedicated to my husband, without whom I could be neither a PhD nor a mommy. In honor of the seven year anniversary of our office romance, I am posting a piece that I wrote for his amusement when we first started dating. The references are somewhat dated, but I think most of it still applies!

The Love Bug

It can happen to anyone at any time. Once it has, their life will never be the same. Love, also known as love sickness, elation, devotion, desire, or borderline insanity, is a global pandemic spanning throughout human history. The earliest poems about love date back 10 million years when pirates and ninjas ruled the world. Music, literature, and art have all been infected with the love bug. Scientists struggle to understand why. Continue reading

Homework! Oh, Homework!

It’s a necessary component of learning and teaching: homework. Oh, the dreaded word! The painful obligation! It must be the world’s leading cause of procrastination. Oh, that most delicious of clichéd doggy treats! The Jack Prelutsky poem sums up how most people feel about homework pretty succinctly.

But it isn’t just for students, is it? Continue reading

turning down ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunities

A ‘postdoc’ is basically the next step in academia after completing the “doc.” It is further training before you become a principal investigator. Finding a postdoctoral position or getting funding for one is no easy task. I will devote an entire post to finding a postdoc another time. Finding a great postdoc on the exact research you want to do is even harder, and, of course, you then have to get an offer. So once you have done all of that, why in the world would you pass it up? I can tell you my story, and hopefully there are some broader truths to be drawn from it or, at least, it may resonate with you.
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7 ways to manage when your spouse goes out of town

In general, feel very good about the routine that my husband and I have set up. We have divided responsibilities of the household and parenting so that we can both conquer our professional obligations. In fact, I will write a whole separate post on partnership and support systems to manage academic work and parenting. For now though, I want to address how I get by during those times that my husband’s job requires travel – for up to a week at a time. Suddenly becoming a single parent, even as temporary as it is, throws everything off kilter. In the past before my son came along, I would spend most of his time away sulking. My work productivity would go down even though technically I had more time without the distraction of a husband. You may have already guessed that things have changed since our son, Miles came along – which also coincided with the final year of my PhD. I no longer have the luxury of a good sulk. Instead I have come up with some creative strategies to keep life moving along, if only hopping on one foot!
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The high physical toll of intellectual work

Originally posted on Overstretchable:

Image from page 177 of %22A treatise on orthopedic surgery%22 (1910)

Image from p. 177 of A Treatise on orthopedic surgery (1910)

I’m back in the classroom this semester teaching a brand new course! That means I’ll be standing in front of my students during class, but every hour of class time represents several hours of prep time, most of it done sitting in a chair. So, I’ve been thinking a lot about how much it hurts to sit in a chair for such long periods. 

Several years ago, a grad school friend and I were comparing notes about the extent to which our bodies had fallen apart while in our respective programs – and that was before either of us had had a baby. It’s counterintuitive to think that sitting around all day, flipping pages in books, and typing papers, or performing any intensive desk work, could be so hard on a body, but it’s true. This 2011 NPR story, Sitting…

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Teaching toddlers the Montessori way

This year miles joined a Montessori toddler community. I am sure there are many parents familiar with Montessori principles and philosophy but my husband and I were not among them when he started. In general, we take a laissez-faire approach to parenting, which perhaps makes us more reactive than active parents. I like to think that despite our chronic procrastination when it comes to deciding how to parent won’t keep us (or Miles) from getting a passing grade in the end.

The toddler curriculum consists of “practical life.” I kind of get the concept. The children ‘work’ for most of the morning rather than playing. I’ve noticed that work and play indistinguishable for Miles right now, because everything is new and exciting. Even the most mundane task of pouring milk into his cereal is a delight. He gets starry eyed at the prospect of sweeping with his little broom. He literally wets himself in the joy of washing dishes. I know the novelty will pass. I think ‘practical life’ is about capitalizing on this and channeling all that curiosity toward skills that will serve children well later on in life…and if it serves me well right now, so much the better! Continue reading

When your graduate students have babies

When I became pregnant as graduate student, it was juicy gossip in our program, I’m sure of it. And there isn’t anything wrong with that. Graduate students and gossip – they go together like a horse and carriage. Congratulations were offered in the lunch room, hallways, and lots of questions about life plans, academic plans, etc. If there were mutterings that I would drop out, well, I never heard them. By that time I was closer to the end than the beginning – quitting was not an option. Thank goodness, my adviser agreed!

That is part of my story – my narrative of what it means to have a baby in graduate school. I hadn’t stopped to think about flipping this script to consider what it means to advise a graduate student having a baby. To that end, here is an article (sent to me by my adviser), called, “When your graduate students have babies,” by Leonard Cassuto at Fordham University. What an interesting window in the mind of an academic adviser! This article raises the question of whether advisoes should openly discuss the possibility from the start. I find the comments at the end as interesting as the article itself. Here is the link to the original article in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Continue reading