Tuesday, March 28, 2006


I did not get the job I interviewed for so I am running away.

Maybe I will come back, maybe I will disappear into the Canadian landscape forever. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Coming Home!

Sara comes home this evening!

I have been tracking her progress back through a nifty site. She left just before I got up this morning! That is a lot of time on an airplane.

In between checking where Sara was and trying to imagine her sleeping or looking out of the window, I managed to finish the stupid Vancouver paper. It's not great, but it will have to do.

Before I get too self-congratulatory, I need to realize that the paper was only one of the many, many things that needed to get done this week (and didn't). And I do need to go teach tomorrow, and oh yes, I did assign a lot of reading. I am not quite sure when I am going to get to that.

This week has both flown by (when I think of all I wanted to get done) and crawled (when I think about how much I have missed Sara). Ah the relativity of time.

My hands hurt from typing. I think I will go get something to eat. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, March 25, 2006


I am still struggling with the paper for the conference in Vancouver next week, although I did make some progress today. I am talking about fat little Mexican kids in the US.


It makes me feel fat.

Well, back to work. Hmmfff... Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Interview Posted by Picasa

The interview came and went.

You never know how these things go.

Sometimes you think it went well, but you don't get the job. Other times you think it went poorly and you end up getting the position. So I cannot really sit here and second guess myself. I will wait and see.

I can't really think about it too much either. I have been struggling to write a paper for a conference next week.

Oh yes, I am going to a conference in Vancouver next week and I have to write a paper I am presenting. I was supposed to have it to the discussant last Friday. This paper is particularly difficult because all the material is new to me - in fact, I really don't have much of my own material.

That's kind of a problem.

It is probably why I am struggling with the actual writing part. I did make a little progress today, but I was hoping to have it done and to the discussant by tonight.

It is not going to happen.

Maybe tomorrow night. If all goes well, that is. I am going to gym in the morning, so maybe if I get the blood flowing, some of it will make it to my brain and kick start the thinking and focusing process.

I got a haircut today. I know, it makes a lot of sense getting it the day AFTER the interview, huh? Well, the apointment was already made when they called me for the interview. And who needs the stress of getting a haircut before the interview anyway (what if they screw up?).

So I have been reduced to writing about a haircut and writer's block. Great.

I think I will go read something light and think about all of this in the morning.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Another day, another rejection.

This one was from a place that I had a mini-interview at the anthropology meetings. I had thought it had gone well. I guess it didn't - not even a second look. Oh well.

The interview is tomorrow.

Suit is pressed and ready. Syllabi are printed and in my bag. I am focused.

That said, I am disappointed that it is only a one-year position. It's not what I really want, but at this point I really cannot be all that demanding. For all I know, they won't offer me the position anyway.

But I am determined to make a good impression nonetheless. Hence the suit. Many academics look awkward in a suit. However, I wear it well, if I do say so myself. I guess something good came out of my time in Italy. And I am a good teacher and scholar, damn it! I need to convey that tomorrow without sounding as arrogant as I do here.

Time for bed. We'll see how it goes.

Sunday, March 19, 2006


Posted by Picasa

It is strange thinking that Sara is half way through her Monday already. She had to get up early tomorrow morning (Monday at 4 am - although I am sure she did not know what time it was) to go to the Tsukiji Market (Tokyo's fish market). She probably had a great sushi breakfast - nothing beats jet-lag better.

I am getting by. It is strange not being in touch with Sara - wondering what she is doing at any given moment.

I have a lot to get done this week. Sara is gone and I am on Spring Break, so I should have more time and space. I have had mixed results this weekend - working in spurts, but having some long periods of unproductivity.

I did get out with the dogs and explored a park I had heard about that is not too far away. Only after visiting did I find out that it used to be a landfill. It is a nice park with some good views of the Charles River, the surrounding wetlands, and the Boston area. Standing with the dogs on the top of the hill (perhaps with tons of trash under my feet) with the cold wind whipping through my body looking off into the slumbering landscape waiting to burst into spring was a little surreal.

In other news -

Posted by Picasa

The phone rang!

After a week of emails and letters from places I applied and the ensuing self-doubt, the phone rang with the request for an interview.

It is at a school in Boston. It is not in my discipline and it is only a one year position. It is a confidence booster nonetheless.

The interview is Tuesday, so wish me luck!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Sara is Gone

She left this morning for Japan.

She will be away for ten days, but I already miss her. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 16, 2006

A picture is worth...

This is how I have been feeling lately.

Thanks, Zephyr, for putting it so eloquently! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

It has not been a good week so far.

Four rejections in two days it hard to stomach.

Harder still that they were from places I was more optimistic about:
  • My undergraduate college. I thought I might get a second look, maybe a phone interview, but no. I knew the answer was going to be no since I had not heard from them. Ironically the same day I got the letter from them, I also got a request for an alumni donation. My sister said that I should send the rejection letter in lieu of the donation.
  • A postdoctoral program that I seemed fairly well matched with. It is at a UC school and they tend to be very nepotistic with their postdoctoral programs. Still, not getting something I feel like I am very qualified for and match well with doesn't do much for my confidence.
  • I applied to a non-academic position just to mix things up a bit. Again I felt like I had the right qualifications and research interests (it is a research institution), but they sent me a no.
  • The other disheartening issue was that two of the four rejections came via email. At least when I got to the mailbox I prepare myself mentally, email catches you when you off guard and when you are trying to get something else done. It certainly ruined my evening last night.
I am discouraged and depressed. I wonder why I worked so hard to get to this point and why people fail to recognize that I would be a valuable addition to their institution.

Sara's hugs and affection are the only thing getting me through the disappointment.

While I generally dislike it when people put lyrics up, I do have the song Helicopter by Bloc Party running through my head, so here:


North to south
Running on
As if to say, as if to say
He doesn't like chocolate
He's born a liar, he'll die a liar
Some things will never be different

Stop being so American
There's a time and there's a place
So James Dean
So blue jeans
He's gonna save the world
He's gonna...

Are you hoping for a miracle?

Three out of five, three out of five (it's not enough)
Six out of ten
Better luck next time
Just like his Dad, just like his Dad (the same mistakes)
Some things will never be different
Hungry and dumb, hungry and dumb (so wait in line)
Queuing up for some more junk food
It's not my fault, it's not my fault (just this once)
They're getting so much younger

Why can't you be more European
Bastard child of guilt and shame
Bury your head in the sand
I'm thinking six, six, six
I'm thinking six

Are you hoping for a miracle?
It's not enough.

I wonder what my psychiatrist will say about that.

Friday, March 10, 2006

I went to the dentist this week. It had been about two years since my last visit, although I wrote on my form that I usually try to go in once a year. I was chided that I should really go in every six months and that some people need to go in every three months.

Then they looked at my teeth. "Oh my! You have great teeth! Hardly any build up! Your teeth are in better shape than people who come in every three months!"

Meanwhile in the room around me I kept hearing other patients get their scolding: "You really need to cut back on the soda...", "Stopping smoking will REALLY help your teeth...", "Have you ever heard of floss...?" And so on.

Yes, I do take care of my teeth - not as well as I should, I admit. Flossing occurs three or four times per week (unlike Sara who is the most emphatic flosser I have ever known). My mother had periodontal disease and she had major surgery on her gums. More recently the disease led her to need reconstructive surgery and dental implants. So, yeah, I have a motivation to be proactive in my oral health care.

Growing up my mother also gave us flouride supplements because the water in Mexico was not flourinated. There are many debates about the efficacy of flouride, but in the cases of my sister and mine it does not seem to have hurt.

Last, through some genetic twist of fate, I seem to have strong, plaque/tartar repelant teeth. I am not sure where it came from because the rest of my family seems to have had bad and crooked teeth.

So I have teeth going for me.

The same could not be said for things at the other end of the alimentary canal. I won't go into the details, but I have always seemed to have problems "down there" and this week one of those problems flared up. Yes, it is unpleasant. I hate getting to know where the phrase "pain in the ass" came from.

And then there is my brain. It started acting up again this week. I am not sure if it was a hicup or a larger issue. There has been a lot of stress and disappointment in my life recently, not to mention that I just seem to be off. I have been clumsier than usual, even falling down a couple times for no apparent reason. I seem to be pulling out of the funk today, but I am certainly not out of the woods yet.

The convenient thing about the recent episode is that I was pre-depressed (for my own convenience) when I received the rejection letter for the week. It was from a job I really did not think I had a shot at, so it is unlikely that I would have been that disappointed under "normal" circumstances. However, it barely even registered in my frame of mind.

Which brings me to the job search - as we approach the ides of March, it is growing less and less likely that I will be permanently employed in the Fall. The other day, Sara turned to me and asked, "What do you think is going to happen?" While I try not to think about these things, her question promted the two scenarios that I trully think will happen to pop into my mind.
  1. By some strange serendipitous way, one of us will find a job that we never even thought of or thought we could get.
  2. The worst case scenario - no jobs, mounting debt, and the ensuing existential crisis.
Option two is so frightening to me, I refuse to entertain it for too long in my mind. It seems like a distinct posibility in my mind, though.

So, as you might have been led to conclude by this post, I am looking forward to Spring Break which is one week away. On the "bad" side (bad for me, I am excited for her), Sara leaves for Japan in a week, so she won't be around. The dogs and I will just have to figure out a way to unwind on our own.

Somewhere I read that this weekend marks the beginning of the Aztec New Year. I am not sure if this is true or not.

But hey, I am ready for a change...so why not?

Monday, March 06, 2006

Despite my general gloominess (bad news, no news, cold weather, etc.) - this little piece brought me some desperately needed laughs (I had not laughed that much in quite some time).

Maybe it isn't so funny, but at the time I read it, it was just what I needed.

Thanks, Atlantic Monthly! Truth be told, I generally don't expect to get a laugh when I read your magazine. Perhaps that is why it made me laugh so much.

In any case, given the lack of good news from here, I thought I would share my smiles with you.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Daily Trials of a PhD in Search of Employment

The job search process for a PhD in anthropology is a test in patience, stress-management, and emotional control. The process is as follows:

From September through January you send out your applications - some send a few, I sent out a lot.

Then you wait.

And wait.

And wait.

The first couple of months are fine because generally nothing happens. At most you get a letter saying that they received your application and the usually include some form for human resources where you check off what social group (some call it race/ethnicity/heritage - I have much more to say about those boxes and categories, but that will come some other day) you belong to. You also tell them your gender (narrowly defined) and whether you are a Veteran.

Around mid-January trepedation begins to settle in and you begin to engage in a tense daily routine:

You check the mail. Somedays I am at home when the mail arrives. We have a thick iron mailbox with a flap that clangs very loudly when it is shut. So when I hear that clang, I meekly make my way to check it. What you don't want to see is a thin envelope from one of the institutions you applied to. The wording has subtle variations, but the message is always the same: Thank you for applying but we did not think you belong here.

Of course, I have a second mailbox to check - the one at work. Some of the thin letters make their way there. My mailbox at work is a small cubby along with many others. I can peek into the department office and see if there is something in it. Usually it is some notice about an event.

That is how the bad news arrives.

Good news usually comes to you via email or telephone.

So between 9 am and 8 pm (generally when offices are open across the country - closing at 5 on the west coast), I check with guarded hope that some good news will pop up in my inbox. The only news that has come to my inbox was a rejection email.

That upset me.

It is against the established informal rules! Plus the school, which will remain nameless (let me just say it is in a small town in CT and starts with a W), was too cheap to pay for a stamp to send me some bad news.

The last hope is coming home and finding the message light on the answering machine blinking. Usually it is not. Today it was, but it was just the dentist reminding me that I have an appointment next week.

And so it goes, day in and day out (Saturdays are only bad news days because the mail comes, but you know you won't get good news. Sundays are a day off when you gather yourself for the next week). Thin envelopes arriving at a rate of about two per week, no emails, and no calls. Hope fading with each passing day. You jump around from frustration to pessimism to apathy to anxiety to ...

Now you know. So be kind to the next under/unemployed (or soon to be) anthropology PhD you come across - chances are they have had a stressful and perhaps disappointing day.