Mama PhD

Mama PhD

Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

February 26, 2013 - 8:40pm
Please, please, please just let us finance our two kids through college without too much debt.  I’m a biologist, by Zeus, not an economist, not an accountant, not a portfolio manager at an investment firm.  I seem to do fine spending money, but planning for enormous purchases such as college and retirement are way beyond my comfort (and frankly, my interest) level.  Way.
February 24, 2013 - 5:11pm
One element of musical improv that I (and many others) find challenging is rhyming. It is hard enough to express a strong emotion melodically, in regular rhythm, often switching off verses or even lines with a partner, without worrying about how to end the line with a rhyme that actually makes sense and is emotionally consonant with what has gone on before.
February 21, 2013 - 8:38pm
A professor in a course in Labor Economics in graduate school once described the workings of the national conference where job searches were held, outlining behavior that might be seen as illegal in many other contexts. For example, it was not uncommon at the time for schools that were hiring to get together before any interviews began to discuss what salaries would be offered that year to those hired at different ranks. He asked us to try to explain how such behavior could not be seen as collusive price setting behavior, and we were all at a loss for words.
February 20, 2013 - 8:00pm
Nearly half way through my first semester of college, I found myself trying to divine some cosmic answers about life from my bowl of cereal. Like a mystic scattering bones, I sifted my spoon through the peanut butter and chocolate flavors of the Reese’s Puffs, looking for some sort of fateful implication. Oh starchy balls of Red 40 and Yellow 5/6 dye, won’t you tell me what my future has in store? The cereal answered by becoming soggier.  Soon the rioting of my slightly malnourished stomach overcame my pending existential crisis.
February 18, 2013 - 8:30pm
If the liberal arts college really is Downton Abbey, as I somewhat facetiously suggested last week, then I think we’re in trouble. It’s been clear all season that despite paying some lip service to progressivism, the series’ ideological commitments are conservative: the preservation of the stately manor is the pre-eminent goal of the family and of the story.
February 17, 2013 - 5:28pm
Thanks to everyone who inquired, in the comments and in email, about the outcome of last week's audition, or wrote to express support. It meant a lot. It was fine. I apparently didn't get the job, since I haven't heard back, and that is fine, too.
February 14, 2013 - 8:53pm
As Labor Economics was one of my fields in graduate school, I always look at any hiring process with special interest. I therefore was intrigued at the new job opening I learned of Monday, with the news that our current Pope is resigning.
February 13, 2013 - 8:48pm
A colleague of mine from another college came back from a work/life balance seminar where the speaker focused on four different quadrants in which to divide work. Urgent, Important; Urgent, Unimportant; Not Urgent, Not Important; Not Urgent; Important. The speaker argued that too many people focus only on the first two areas, rightfully ignore the third, but also skip out on the fourth which may be the most important area to focus on. In actuality, my colleague was mocking the talk as yet another waste of his time.  For me, though, I was hungry for any new (to me, at least) outlook.  As the Chair of a large academic department at a small liberal arts college, an Associate Professor, and the mother of three young children (8, 6, and 4) juggling and prioritizing are a daily part of my life.
February 12, 2013 - 8:41pm
Another morning all home together.  As I begin this blog, it’s a holiday here in BC, the very first celebration of the newly created Family Day.  With this holiday, plus two professional development days for teachers, the short month of February is a very short month indeed for school children.  For many families the extra days off mean scrambles for childcare and fewer hours for those who depend on the time their children are in school to get work done.
February 11, 2013 - 9:58pm
This semester I find myself engaged in a television serial for the first time in a long time, and I think it’s no accident that it’s the same semester that I’m teaching Victorian literature again for the first time in a long time. The pleasures of the serial are well established, and the Victorian novel originated many of them: the multi-strand narrative with many characters, intertwining narratives of class mobility and courtship, love, death, and striving.

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