Wednesday, August 11, 2004


Groceries and the Single Professor

So, today is a grocery day of reckoning. I cannot put off going to the grocery store any longer or I will starve to death. Nevertheless, after I go to the grocery store I will face the challenge of cleaning out my refridgerator because any new groceries I buy will not fit in there with the sea of rotting vegetables and leftovers that have somehow migrated to the back corners of each shelf. Expired yogurts, condiments that I don't remember buying - this is what I face in my refridgerator. I make this confession because I hope that I am not the only adult person who can't manage to get the whole grocery thing right. If only I could buy just the right amount of food so that this did not happen. Not easy for one person. And yes, I realize it would make more sense to clean the fridge before shopping, but if I did that I would be tired and then I would just end up eating McDonald's or something, and that defeats the whole purpose of cleaning out the refridgerator.

Yes, so this is what I am spending my day so far thinking about: my inefficiency as a cook and a housekeeper. The problem is, I didn't get any work done yesterday afternoon/evening, so I am in a very desperate procrastination zone. Now, my reasons for not working yesterday are actually sort of good. One of my best friends from graduate school - I'll call her Stella - had a horrible conversation with this guy whom she had dated before, stopped speaking to for three years, and then started seeing again a couple of months ago. This guy is a total asshole, and I'm not sure which was worse for Stella, having him treat her like shit again or the fact that she knew what kind of asshole he was and let herself get sucked back in for a second time. Anyway, all of this then led to a wine-addled, long-distance discussion about the impossibility of finding true love and how tiring it is to keep getting bitch-slapped by these fuck-ups. At this point, Stella's phones - both the cell and the land-line - needed to be charged and so lack of power forced our conversation to end.

You know, the crazy thing to me is that Stella is one of the smartest people I know, a tenure-track asst. professor at a small liberal arts college. Not too shabby, you know? And I'm also in a tenure-track job, albeit at Regional Crap University, and I'm a pretty smart person, too, I hope. So why do we both make such ridiculous choices regarding our personal lives? I don't know about all of you, but I really believed that finishing the PhD and getting a job would make the other parts of life fall into place. That once I jumped through all of those hoops I wouldn't be so fucked up anymore and the personal life stuff would come together the way it seems to for non-academic people. Guess what? This is not at all what happened.

I got my job offer and my-serious-boyfriend-of-three-years-whom-I-thought-I-would-marry immediately left. Since moving to the new city and starting the job, I've gotten the whole "I'm not looking for a relationship" thing on at least 3 occasions(which is interesting, because it implies an assumption that I am, which, if that were true, would probably mean I wouldn't be with anybody as stupid as these guys are), 2 fictional pregancy scares (fictionalized by men under the age of 27, incidentally, and not by me), and then the usual horrible remarks that guys say not knowing they are utterly insulting (eg., "I have never been that drunk in my life," after sleeping with you for the first time, etc. and going on and on about how horrible he feels for being so out of control).

This is my post-graduate school world. And the post-graduate school worlds of my friends aren't much better. Divorces, depression, embarassing behavior. That's what one has to look forward to. But, because we're all so busy, once we're done with graduate school, acting "professionally," this is a deep dark secret that only our closest friends know about. People assume that their single, 30-something female professors either have "chosen" a life of the mind over a life of the body or they assume that they are really busy being glamourous and having dinner parties with intellectuals and that's why they haven't "settled down."

I know that's what I thought. I didn't think I'd have one of my female colleagues when I first moved here tell me that she decided to get a dog, finally, because she realized she would probably never get married, she didn't want to have a baby alone, but she wanted something to love. I didn't consider in a real way how intimidated many, many men are by the PhD, and how they try to cut you down because of it, or sometimes worse, how they try to impress upon you how great they are. (This is the only way I can explain the bizarre fascination with Steinbeck, incidentally.) I didn't figure that at the end of the misery that is graduate school and the job market that I would be as fucked up as ever and I'd still have a refridgerator full of rotten vegetables.

[I've decided to write about all of this because I've noticed some ABD-types reading/commenting on my blog and the blogs of others, and I remember being in that place where I was trying to find out what my life would be like when I was finally done. And, while I did get some good mentorship, none of my female mentors ever really discussed personal life stuff - it's just not collegial, you know? So, with my pseudonymity firmly in place, I figured I might as well just let it loose.]

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