Tuesday, August 04, 2009

And a pin drop was heard

We've all gotten those phone calls. The phone call from your cousin telling you your aunt has died. The phone call from your sister-in-law, telling you that the babies have come early and are in the NICU. The phone call from your mom, telling you that your sister was in an accident and you need to come home right now. The phone calls that change it all.

Rarely are you the person who initiates those phone calls.

Yesterday someone left me an innocuous sounding voice mail. Today I returned the phone call. And the voice on the other end started crying as soon as I told them who I was. I took the news stoically, I thought. I signed a contract, but you're not going to fulfill the terms? Okay. Thanks for calling. I hung up the phone. I opened my mouth to tell my husband, but the words just wouldn't come out.

I thought I had a job to get us through what time we had left here in Minneapolis. Now I don't. That phone call? It changed everything. For all of you who have asked, no, I guess I haven't officially dropped out of grad school. But guess what? I haven't written a word of my dissertation in over six months and I haven't exchanged email with any one in my department in way longer than that. I am wandering aimlessly through life without a career direction and it fucking sucks. It hurts my pride. It hurts my feelings. It just hurts.

We're misers with relatively little in the way of outgoing expenses and we have plenty in savings to make it through this hurdle. I will cobble together enough from my part-time jobs to pay the bills and eat in the style in which we are accustomed. We won't be doing any travel and I'll have to curb my impulse to buy everything at Baby Gap, but we'll get by.

This is temporary. I know. Please don't tell me that. I know it will get better. I am cautiously optimistic that people will want to hire me. The boy goes on the academic job market this year and I know he is an excellent candidate and he will do great. But this second? Right now? I hate this.

My life is fabulous in every way right now. Except for the job part.

Earlier this summer my husband told me that he didn't want grad school to ruin my emotional state. It is far too late for that. I am a failure. I am no good at what I want to be good at. I have failed and the residue of that failure haunts every fucking thing I do. Every resume I send out includes an explanation for the way too many years I spent to earn that failure. Every job interview includes a discussion about why I just couldn't make it work. I hate that I can't escape it. I hate that I am still connected, that I can't just sever the relationship, that my name is still listed as "leave of absence" instead of just taken off the list forever.

I love my husband. I love our life together. I love that soon I will have a cat sitting on my lap as I type these posts, no matter how temporary that cat will be in my life. I swear to you, despite the anger and frustration in this post, I am happy.

But I wish I could be happier.


  1. I wish I could explain to you right now exactly HOW MUCH I can relate to this post. So much so that I spent the latter half of today shaking in rage over my employment situation.

    Hang in there, and I'll be doing the same. We'll make it out the other side.

  2. I can relate to you too on this post. And I too am blessed with a supportive and loving spouse. Sorry to hear about the recent job disappointment, but you have many talents and you are a hard and reliable worker; a departmentschoolagencywhatever will be lucky to have you when they hire you.

  3. I'm so sorry. It sucks watching a dream die. It doesn't really matter if it is your dream or not, it just sucks.

    I'll say a prayer for your peace tonight.


  4. I'm so sorry NGS. I don't even know what to say except this: each time I've felt like I was watching a dream die (and there have been a few), I soon found something better entering my life to take its place. I wish the same thing for you.


  5. I've had two friends so far who were unable to finish their dissertations. It seemed so heartbreaking and hard each time. It's the death of a dream.

    I'm sorry about the job on top of everything else.


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