Archive for January, 2011
an H-bomb quote

During this morning’s drive to “school”, while H. and I are having our usual light-hearted chat, I hear him chime in and say:

“I’m very important.”

Yes, bud. Yes you are.

13 hours

Monday is my “13-hours-away-from-home” day.  I leave in the morning, see the chiropractor (have I mentioned how amazing he is at adjusting my sinuses?), arrive at work, attempt to do work, get interrupted 25 times, get stood up by a student and end up missing my only opportunity for lunch, teach from 5:30-8:15PM, come home, cuddle with H, veg.  The only advantage to my crazy Monday schedule is that Rob gets some special time with Holden where they bake chocolate chip cookies and watch Thomas the Train videos until I come home.  It’s very sweet, really.

I got too busy today and didn’t have a chance to tell my boss that I am withdrawing my application for the position.  I will do it tomorrow.  I don’t look forward to it, because she’ll be disappointed, and I don’t want to disappoint her.  I also don’t want her to think that I don’t appreciate the tremendous opportunity that it’s been.  But I also don’t think that satisfying other people’s wishes is the best reason for me to stay there.  Having an awesome boss and co-workers is fantastic, but it’s not everything.

I do have ideas about the next step.  It’s going to be a long, risky process, but if I can pull it off, I will be impressed.  I am going to start my own business. It’s such a weird thing to write, say, or think, because it seems so antithetical to my academic persona.  Based around my research and analytical skills, and what I know about cognition, I am going to start a business where I conduct research on usability—essentially, I will examine factors that allow for the most efficient design of web sites.  The most closely related field to this is human factors psychology, which has as its foundation, much of the same training that I already have.  The difference is some of the research techniques (eyetracking, surveys, etc.) are ones that I would have to acquire.  But having gone through 4 years of graduate school, 4 years of a postdoctoral fellowship, and teaching countless coursework that is all way outside of my area of expertise, I am convinced that this is just another thing I can teach myself.  I have no desire to go back to school, and I know that this is something I can do without further formal credentialing or licensure.  Right now I am reading everything I can about usability—what I am finding is that the holes in my knowledge are primarily in the areas of graphic design and programming for the web.  If I can get myself at least a rudimentary understanding of these areas, I can fill in the gaps by consulting with those around me who know better (ahem, Rob).  I have some leads on community-based organizations that provide mentoring and training for future business owners, and assist with all aspects of business planning.  It seems daunting to take an idea and essentially turn nothing into something….but because I’ve seen some people do it (and quite successfully), I feel more confident that I can do it too.

I am starting the research for this transition now, but it will be slow-going because my overwhelming academic job will get in the way.  Classes are done at the end of April, so I really don’t have that long to go, until I am free to be a researcher again.  The irony is that I never would have stumbled upon the idea to do this, if I hadn’t taught Cognitive Psychology.  Boy, teaching that class has given me a lot of ideas about how I can leave teaching:)

I will be a researcher, in Vermont, and I don’t care if anyone thinks this is a fucking crazy idea.  It *is* a fucking crazy idea.  And I am doing it anyway.


Thanks for the input on my poll from last week.  I have made a decision about my job.  I have decided to withdraw my application for the position.  I will finish up my current contract, which ends in June.  After that, I am free to do whatever I want.

This decision has not come easily.  I have gone back and forth, many, many, times.  I have talked to many friends about this.  And ultimately, intuition has prevailed over logic.  Logically speaking, I should have come to the conclusion to keep my job.  We’re in a rough economy, and I should be grateful for the job I have.  I should also keep my job until I have another one lined up.  Etc. Etc.  Blah Blah Blah.

The reason I am not doing any of these sound and reasonable things is because:

1)  I feel like I am going to throw up every day before I teach.  This feeling has not gotten better in the 5 years that I have been teaching.

2) I found out from the Dean that the college will not support my development of a research program.  I could deal with the nausea associated with #1 above if I had the opportunity to do something I truly love, but there’s no sense in putting up with the teaching/nausea situation if I can’t do the research.

3) I have WAY too many conversations with parents of COLLEGE STUDENTS.  This should not happen. I also get lots of e-mails from entitled, snarky, and otherwise dim students, who detail at great length all of the ways that I am unfair and am ruining their lives.  I am not even remotely joking about this.

4) If you’ve ever taught before, you know that the prep is CONSTANT.  I work evenings, weekends, all day long during the week.  I feel like I never see Holden.  The first day of classes this semester, I was away from the house for 13 hours.  I just can’t do this anymore.  I worked constantly in grad school, and also worked quite a bit as a postdoc.  With a young, very active child, I can’t keep up with everything.  Holden doesn’t see enough of me, I don’t see enough of him, my house is a disaster area pretty much constantly, the house needs major renovation (and there is no time to do it), and I never have time for myself.  Ever.

So there it is.  My completely self-centered reason for withdrawing my job application is that I want my life to be easier.  It feels like a copout, but damn, it feels like the right thing to do.

A poll

Because I am curious what others think, I am starting a poll.  I would like to know whether:

1)  I should renew my teaching contract for next academic year (if not, this would mean I could be finished with my job in June).

2)  I should interview for my job next month and see whether the students get less crazy and the work load gets any easier to manage.  This would mean signing another 1-year contract for the 2011-2012 school year, if I get the job.

3)  I should interview for my job next month and renew my contract for the 2011-2012 school year, if I get job, while surreptitiously training myself for another job under the guise of introducing students to new, career-relevant material in my courses.  Once I have sufficiently trained myself (via teaching my students about this new area), I quit my academic job, and start my own consulting business.

4) Other

I need…

As I snuggled with H in his bed tonight (our daily going-to-bed ritual), he chattered away about “needing” a brother or sister.

“I need a baby,” he demanded.

“Oh, really?” I inquired.

“Oh yeah, but I have YOU mommy.”

“Well, thanks…I think.”

“I need a sister!” he demanded.

“But then you’d have to share our attention with your sister.  Are you sure you’d be OK with that?”

“Oh yeah….”

Thankfully after that, he changed the subject.  I felt like telling him that I need my son to start sleeping through the night (we’ve recently been reduced to bribing him with morning chocolate if he sleeps through the night).  Or, that I need my son to start taking naps again (he hasn’t taken a nap over an hour in length since he was 18 months old, and dropped naps completely by the age of two.)  And he has the nerve to ask for a brother or sister….

Kill me now….