Friday, August 29, 2008

Sarah Palin

The more I think about it, the more this seems like a horrifically bad decision on Mccain's part. For someone who is 72 and whose skin cancer has reoccurred 4 times, this shows a remarkable lack of judgment. This move is so clearly pandering to disappointed Hillary supporters. But what if Mccain won office, died in office, and she became President? Dear Lord! She has NO foreign policy experience, although I bet she has a strong opinion of Iraq. She was a mayor of a city of 9000 residents for a few years, and a governor for two years. Say what you want about Obama's inexperience, but at least he picked a very experienced VP who can give him advice and definitely step up if something happens to Obama. Palin's experience, even in comparison with Obama's, is laughable. Having her step up as president would be a nightmare.

Speaking of things that are laughable, the Daily Kos is reporting that Palin's latest baby might not have been hers at all, but might have in fact been her teenage daughter's. Evidence? Everyone was shocked to find out she was (supposedly) pregnant at 7 months and she took a plane flight supposedly the day before she gave birth- and no one on the flight noticed she was pregnant either. At the same time, her 16 year old daughter mysteriously missed several months of school due to "mono." And Palin supposedly returned to work 3 days after giving birth- to a premie downs syndrome baby no less! I guess that's what happens when you are pro-life and pro-abstinence, and you refuse to teach your daughter about birth control- and then refuse to let her have an abortion. But oh noes! You must claim the baby as your own, because clearly having a baby at 16 is super shameful as evidence of how stupid your policies are, and should be hidden!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Interview with Abandoning Eden

Commenter Moshe emailed me a bunch of questions for a sociology project he is working on which looks at blog comments. So I figured I would repost my reply here. :)

Can you share with me your personal experiences with commenters on your blog? How do their backgrounds inform their comments?

I'm not sure what you mean by "personal experiences" Like personal experiences on the blog? The only thing that sticks out is Jacob Stein- that guy is insane! Around last thanksgiving he spent a whole bunch of time telling me how I'm going to go to hell, and how I must believe in god, otherwise "Who am I thanking on thanksgiving!!1!!!." Otherwise, I definitely feel an affinity to certain bloggers more so than others; people who are more similar to me, and who talk about personal experience rather than argue about the minutia of religion are commenters I like the most.

I don't know most of my commenters in real life, I do know a few in real life, and they tend to post a lot more regularly. I also don't know what commentors backgrounds are; there are only 3 regular commenters who I know in real life who post comments on my blog regularly. I think the commenters are mostly split- about half are fellow skeptics, maybe 1/4th are still orthodox jews and are coming to tell me I'm going to hell or something, and about 1/4th are people whose blogs I read and comment on, but have nothing to do with Judaism. Their comments are of course very different- most skeptics are very supportive, while the people who are still orthodox tend to be very critical of me and my relationship with my parents (understandably).

What subjects do people respond to in the highest volume? Are they antagonistic or do they listen intently to what you have to say and then offer constructive comments?

The most comments I have gotten have been on posts dealing with my parents, and especially posts where I cut and paste emails to or from my father. I'd say they are about split 70-30; 70% people being supportive, giving advice, being constructive. Roughly 30% are people telling me I'm going to hell, that I'm ruining my family, that I am a terrible person, etc. Also included in that 30% are a bunch of people who seem confused that I would go off the derech, and ask questions about why what I'm doing- usually with the intention of telling me how wrong I am. Once in a while I get a Jacob Stein type, who is completely insane and rants about how atheists all have a ton of abortions or something. :)

From your point of view, why do you talk about these subjects?

I started my blog shortly after my grandmother's funeral. During the funeral, my dad used around half the Eulogy to talk about how he has to honor his mother's memory by making sure his children were religious. He knew at the time that I had not been religious for years, and that I had been dating my then-boyfriend/now-fiance, who is not jewish for several months. I was pretty upset by this whole experience, especially since I had to change vacation plans and tickets to get to the funeral, which my fiance had really helped me out with, and I had spent a lot of the day before making sure my brothers were getting on planes and that the rabbi knew everyone's names, etc...basically I felt that I had done a lot more than my siblings and cousins to make sure the funeral and travel went smoothly, and I was really hurt when my dad turned around and used the Eulogy to try and shame me about not being religious.

When I got back home I went searching on the internet for some kind of former-religious-person's support group. I didn't find one, but what I did fine was Jewish Atheist's Blog. I spent almost an entire day reading his back entries and commenting on them. A few days later I decided that the best way I could find support, and also talk about jewish-related things that were bothering me, was to start a new blog.

Prior to starting this blog, I had (and still have) another blog over at, which I started in 2001. That blog has identifying information, and is not open to the public. I felt like for a while all my posts over there were bitching about my parents, and that I had a lot to say on the subject- and that I also wanted the blog to be public so that random people on the internet looking for someone like them (like I had been) could access it. Hence my blog began. :)

What goals do you seek to accomplish by maintaining this blog? Are they personal goals, or do you seek to promote change and understanding?

Well mostly I want a place where I can complain about the way my parents are reacting to my relationship and non-religiousness, talk about the ridiculousness of religion, and have a supportive group of people who will be sympathetic to what I am going through, and also who understand exactly what I'm going through. My fiance is very sympathetic of course, and has had similar experiences, but did not grow up orthodox jewish, so doesn't understand the minutia of religious insanity.

I was not anticipating that a lot of crazy orthodox fundementalists would come over to my blog and tell me I'm going to hell, but they don't really bother me (I usually just don't respond). I think I have achieved that community goal; many skeptic bloggers have told me they are starting blogs because of me, and I get comments all the time that say things like "I'm so happy to see there is someone else out there like me, my story is so similar to yours!" Those comments always make me smile, and I like to feel like I am helping people who were like me a few years back, or who are like me now, but don't have a sense of community with other skeptics that I have. I don't really want to change people who are religious (except maybe my parents and their reactions to me), and I don't have some mission to go changing a bunch of religious people into atheists. Rather, I want to establish and continue a community of former-orthodox-jews who have already become skeptical, and are looking for other people going through the same experiences. Kind of like footsteps, but online.

Why do you personally feel your family reacts to you the way they do (specifically your parents)?

Well, they live their entire lives based on certain premises- that the orthodox jewish religion is correct, that there is a god, that god cares that they do things the orthodox jewish way, etc. At least once every few minues they do something differently than most people because of these premises, whether it is my mom covering her hair, my dad wearing a kippa, eating certain food, praying at certain times, not doing certain things on certain days of the week, etc. My parents don't even really have non-orthodox friends that I know of, and all their lives are about judaism.

And then I go living my life under an entirely different paradigm; that I can do whatever I want, as long as it doesn't hurt other people, that there is no god, and that if there is a god, ze probably doesn't care what I'm doing on a day to day basis as long as I'm not hurting other people. That's my paradigm. And even though in my view my paradigm is perfectly normal and moral and ethical, just by living my life the way I want to I am directly challenging the foundation of all their actions. There's no way that they can accept that what I'm doing is correct, without accepting that the entire basis for the way they live their life is wrong. And that's a scary prospect. So of course they have to stick to their guns.

Apart from that, my dad is the child of holocaust survivors and my mom is the child of someone who faught for the US in world war 2. They both are very concerned about passing on jewish traditions and their way of life to their children, and feel that if they don't pass on their traditions they are a failure. I also think there is a very high amount of community pressure about religion. Me marrying someone not jewish is very embarrassing to them- in the town I grew up in, people talk in whispers about people going off the derech and marrying someone not jewish, and do not talk kindly about them. Unfortunately, even if it is not my parents fault (and I don't think it is), my parents will be blamed and looked down upon because of my actions. Which is sad.

Finally, when I was *just* not religious, they could comfort themselves by telling themselves that it was a teenage rebellious phase, and that I was going to grow out of it. But getting married has a kind of finality and permanency that *merely* not following religion for a time; I think at this point they are having to accept that I will never again be religious.

Why do you think you chose a different lifestyle?

Well, I think it's a combination of a few things-
The first is that I was always skeptical about the existance of god, and if there is a god, that judaism as a religion had it right. It seemed to me that every religion was claiming to be right, so what made Judaism more right than those other religions? I had a lot of questions as a child, and not a lot of answers; and the more questions I asked that there were no logical answers to, the more skeptical I became. I don't know if I ever really believed in god; I remember in first grade just moving my mouth during davening instead of actually davening, so the teacher wouldn't bother me about it. If I had actually believed in god, wouldn't I have actually prayed? Actually now that I think about it, there have been times I have prayed to someone- but it was never in an organized setting like the jewish community, and it was never using the words of davening. I instead used to pray by basically asking god for things I would need or things to go well in a certain situation. I think there was definitely a time period when I believed in god, but didn't believe in the jewish religion.

Ok so that was the first part. The second part is that I never really felt like I fit in with the jewish community. Part of that might have just been my personality, and that I was kind of a misfit of a child. Part was that I was pretty intelligent (I know that sounds super arrogant, but now that I'm almost done with a PhD at an Ivy League University I feel it is partially justified)- I remember getting made fun of a lot on the schoolbus for reading books when I was in 3rd or 4th grade. Maybe it was partially due to my skeptism; other orthodox jewish young women could sense that I wasn't really one of them, in that I didn't quite drink the koolaid to the extent they did. In any case, I never felt like I fit in to the jewish community.

There was one part of the jewish community I did fit into - there was a bunch of other kids at NCSY who were like the "bad kids." Most of them were actually kind of geeky in retrospect, and not 'bad' at all (but maybe they seemed bad to naive sheltered people?) And most of those "bad kids" ended up breaking the rules of religion. I think being in that community definitely made me feel more normal when I was breaking those same rules.

Another part was maybe that I didn't like people telling me what I could or couldn't do. As a woman, it seemed the only career options to me were to be a housewife, or to be a teacher. Nowadays there are a lot of young jewish women working in PT and OT and all that, but I don't think those jobs were really popular when I was in high school. Meanwhile, in my high school we were taught all about how to be a good housewife and mother. My dad also has pretty sexist views in general- for instance when I started grad school he kept telling me how I would never go on to be a professor or even finish my program, since my 'biological clock' would turn on and I would want to have kids. And then if I had kids, how could i also have a career? He didn't seem to think that was possible. In college, when I started learning about women's studies, and feminism, I started questioning my own experiences. It seemed to me that women in orthodox judaism were kept down, and were told they could only have certain types of jobs and lifecourses because of their gender. And being someone who didn't like people telling me what I could do, it really bothered that people were telling me I would act a certain way in the future because I happened to be born in one gender instead of the other. I think it was around then that I truly stopped following religion- up until then I kind of half-assidly kept kosher (like I didn't eat non kosher meat), even though I hadn't kept shabbas for years- during college I stopped keeping everything religions, and stopped keeping kosher and holidays, etc.

And here's a bonus question from an anonymous commenter: Did you stop following the religion because you stopped believing in G-d or did you stop believing in G-d because you stopped following the religion?

Ah, the chicken or the egg question. Well I think I stopped following the religion because I didn't believe that if there was a god, that god made that religion. And then once I stopped following the religion, I was able to critically examine my own notions of god, at which point I started feeling a little silly. It seems to me that god is a concept that is very comforting to people, and that religion definitely has a purpose, in that it helps organize society and people's morality. As Karl Marx said, "Religion is the Opiate of the People." So yeah, back to the god thing...once I began to really think about it, the concept of god seemed ridiculous to me. Like believing in invisible pink unicorns or flying spaghetti monsters. So yeah in sum, yes? :) I stopped following the religion because I stopped believe in the jewish conception of god, and then once I had stopped following the religion and examined many more conceptions of god (and in college i did go through a period where I studies a whole bunch of different religions), I gradually stopped believing in god entirely.

I was about to write that I think there is a possibility of god that no religion got right, but once I wrote it down I realized I don't believe in that at all. I believe in random chance, and that I better live this life the best possible way I can, cause I won't get another opportunity.

Monday, August 25, 2008

This weekend

was awesome! Completely cut off from internet, phone and television for 3 days meant that I found out Joe Biden was the VP nomination when one of the bands dedicated a song to him on Saturday night. We ended up camping in the vending area, with our good friends who were vending (the dude is an artist and was selling his paintings and prints; he's dating my very good friend and former roommate, who 2 months ago moved 5 hours away to live with him; before that she lived 2 blocks over).

Much catching up and good hanging out time was to be had. The music was great, and the stages had covered pavilions which were totally awesome in the heat of day. B came back with a terribly awful sunburn over all his face and knees and arms; this was after reassuring me repeatedly that he "Never burns, he only tans." Oy. I made liberal use of the sunscreen and managed to come home with only a lovely tan.

I also came home with new jewelry!

Two new glass pendants I bought myself (a clover and a terrapin) bringing me up to 5 glass pendants total (I think I'm starting a collection):

And B bought me an engagement ring! (that I picked out) It's amber with silver wire.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Well I'm off

To a music festival for the weekend. Judah, if you're reading this, you should totally come's only like an hour and a half drive from where you live, and it's the last fest I'll be at all summer.

Everyone else, feel free to continue debating how I should or should not write emails to my parents in my absence. And how they will or will not react to said emails. I don't think I even have to be around for those debates anyways. :)

Oh and on that note- my dad wrote back to that last email, and apologized for mentioning stuff about marriage, saying he didn't mean to hurt me, etc. So maybe, just possibly, I know how my parents react to things better than other people do? Even people who may know them in person, but don't REALLY know them that well? (since my parents always acted all weird and different in front of my friends anyways?)

Also: I mailed out 3 of 6 job applications yesterday. It cost me $20 just for 3 applications! (1 of which had a big heavy teaching portfolio, so cost like $11 for just that application). When I get back next week maybe I'll send out the other 3 so I don't have that hanging over my head anymore.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Contact re-established.

Well i never wrote back to that email a week or two ago, cause I was so pissed that my dad was telling me about weddings of people he barely knows that he is going to.

But then this morning he sent me another email asking if I had gotten the genetic tests back yet, so I figured it couldn't hurt.

Unfortunately I totally forgot to save a copy of the email, and my email account doesn't automatically save sent emails. But I'll try to recreate it from memory:

I don't have the BRCA1 mutation. B came with me to get the results, and they had us wait a very nerve-racking hour before they came in and told us everything is fine. The health insurance people said I would have to pay $285, but I haven't gotten a bill from the hospital yet

Otherwise stuff is going well. Me and B "redid" our bathroom this week by getting a new shower curtain, new bathroom rug, and one of those shower cleaner things they always have commercials for.
[NOTE: This thing is AWESOME and I love how clean my shower is right now, especially with a new mildew-free shower curtain!] Me and B are going to a music festival this weekend- after a year of refusing to go to any because he "hated camping" he went to one with me in June, and now wants to go to all the festivals I go to.

I'm going on the job market, [lots of stuff about job market- not going to recreate all that], I'm applying to [list of schools] this year on a limited job search, which are in areas me and B want to live- we are targeting new england and the northwest. I have another year of funding if I don't get a job this year, which I don't expect to, but might as well try for all those dream jobs. I had an interview for [school near parents] but me and B aren't exactly thrilled about the prospect of living in the [NYC area] because we want to buy a house once I get a job, and the housing market there is ridiculous.

Anyways hope you had fun at the weddings of all those people that you barely know. In the future, no need to tell me about weddings you are going to that aren't mine, as it makes me filled with rage (which is why I didn't write back to your previous email)

~Abandoning Eden

So I think I like how this email went. I managed to fill him in on important details of my life, while mentioning B in pretty much every paragraph, which I think makes clear that even though my parents refuse to mention B ever, I'm not going to stop and pretend he doesn't exist. Plus I got my snark in, in that last paragraph, and made clear that his mention of other people's weddings pissed me off. And before all you guys go jumping down my back about my snarkiness-first of all, my family communicates almost exclusively in snark anyways, and second of all, I'm freaking tired of always taking the high road when things are seriously pissing me off. I need my snarkiness once in a while!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

whats up internets

No one awake and posting before 7:30am on a Saturday morning? What's wrong with ya'll!!

Actually..what's wrong with me? I've gotten in this crazy habit of coming home from work around 6 or 7, eating dinner with B, turning on the tv and passing out on the couch, before briefly waking up and moving to my bed. This usually goes down between 8:30 and 9:30pm. What the hell? Then I wake up bright and early at 4 or 5 or 6 the next morning.

I actually kind of like being awake that early. B is alseep, as is the rest of the city. It's dark out but getting lighter, and I feel like I'm the only one in the universe. If I still smoked cigarettes, 5am would be a great time to sit on my porch and smoke one. I can spend hours playing around on the internets or reading a book on the porch or just hanging with my kitties, before I have to start showering and getting ready for work. Or before I start tinkering around with my work from home. Or before I get dressed and head off to the farmers market. Or the coffee shop. Or before I start doing nothing at all but sit on the couch with B, watching movies on demand. Depending on the day of the week.

Today I think I'm going to spend a few more minutes reading the news, and then work on job applications. I've expanded my search to 5 schools, including 1 ivy league school that I don't think I will get a job at, and if I do, I don't think I would want to work at. Who wants to work 90 hours a week until they get tenure, and always be under pressure to be publishing work in the top sociology journals OR ELSE? Not me! But they are looking to hire someone with exactly the subfield and interests that I have, so I figure I might as well throw my name in there.

Meanwhile the move yesterday went mostly great. All my stuff fit into my new office, with room to spare (I have a bookshelf and a filing drawer that are both mostly empty), and we managed to eat breakfast, move everything, unpack all the boxes and put everything away, set up my computer and clean my old office, in the hour and 45 minutes before our metered parking ran out.

B hurt himself though, before we even got to my office- we were sitting outside my building, eating breakfast, and when he got up he tripped over the wire that ties the chairs to the tables (most normal chairs don't have those wires! He's not often on my campus! How would he know!), fell over with the chair, and now has a crazy large and intense bruise on the side of his ass. All day long yesterday we kept checking it as it got darker and darker. It was disgustingly dark when I passed out at 8:30, and who knows how bad it will be today.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Too much

I always looked at people who were ABD and wondered how they spent so much time on research. They always seemed harried and running around from thing to thing. I didn't get it. They were done with classes, done with exams, most of them weren't teaching...what the heck were they spending all their time on?

Now I've become one of those people. I spend about 3 days a week working on my dissertation, one working on another ongoing research project, and one working on miscellaneous other things (right now: applying to jobs and revising my syllabus for next semester). And yet I never seem to get anything done. I remember last year taking every Friday off, and yet feeling like I was getting an insane amount of work done. And yet now, it's the freakin summer, I'm going into my office 5 days a week, and spending long hours there (I'll be here until at least 6 or 7 tonight), and then coming home and feeling guilty cause there's still more things I can be doing instead of watching the Olympics.

The whole summer went by so fast. I had four months off from any teaching work. What did I accomplish? I wrote and defended my dissertation proposal, and got a very good start on my dissertation research. I revised and resubmitted a paper to a journal. I revised and submitted an old paper to a different journal. I did a bunch of research for an ongoing project, but we still haven't gotten any final results, or written up anything. I submitted a proposal to a conference, and was accepted. I submitted a grant proposal that I still haven't heard back from. I wrote a cover letter template for job applications, but still need to write a research and teaching statement. I also need to start sending out applications, as deadlines are a month from now. I started working on revising my syllabus for next semester (at least I've revised the dates, but I still want to change some of the readings). Today I renewed my student ID, which expires after four years. The semester starts in less than 3 weeks.

I went to 3 music festivals and will go to a fourth next weekend. I went to the ASAs and had two job interviews, and nearly had a nervous breakdown. I spent a week in the midwest at B's parent's house. I got engaged, and booked a venue for the wedding, but haven't done much else. I went to a few concerts, but not nearly as many as I would have liked to. I walked to school and back almost every day of the week (2 miles round trip), and my legs still hurt at the end of every walk (when does that stop?).

And now the summer is nearly over. Back to school advertisements are everywhere. More and more undergraduates are on campus everyday. I haven't been swimming once. I spent far too little time outside. I spent almost no time in the park. I haven't spent much time with friends...but most of my friends don't live nearbye anymore. But I haven't traveled to see them either. I spent too much time watching tv. I spend too many nights going to sleep at 9pm, exhausted from a day spent re-coding variables on a more-confusing-than-necessary dataset.

I'm moving my office tomorrow. I spent some of today packing up all my stuff- it took 8 boxes to pack up 4 years worth of crap, that somehow all fit into my tiny cubicle and on 2 shelves of a shared bookcase. I went up to my newly vacated office, and rearranged furniture so that I'm closer to the window and a bit more isolated from my new officemate. Not totally isolated, but there's a tall filing cabinet between us. B is coming in tomorrow to help me move. I worry that all my stuff won't fit in the new office, even though I will have a filing cabinet twice the size and a bookcase of my very own. I'm no longer going to spend my days in a cubicle. I'm moving on up.

Monday, August 11, 2008


I do NOT have the BRCA1 mutation! I won the genetic lottery! HELLS YES!!!

Still angry

Coincidentally, after I wrote that post yesterday, my dad sent me an email for the first time since he sent me that one saying he won't be coming to my wedding (and since I sent back that other one saying he's still welcome to come, which he never wrote back to).

Not going to post the email here, but here's a summary: "Blah blah, your senile grandfather is moving up to our house from Florida and we are currently looking for an apartment for him; Blah blah we're going to a conference this week, and then we're going to Florida for a wedding; nothing about B; still no mention about B; oh by the way we're going to a wedding in Florida next week which I mentioned- remember that guy I was friends with who moved to Florida about 14 years ago? Well his son, who I haven't seen since he was around 10, is getting married, so I'm going to his son's wedding."

So great. The first communication in a month, no mention of B, and my dad tells me all about how he's going to be flying down to florida for a wedding of someone who he HASN'T SEEN SINCE HE WAS TEN YEARS OLD, a month after telling me he can't drive TWO FUCKING HOURS to attend my wedding because I didn't make the exact same decisions as him.

I can only conclude from this email that my dad is the biggest douchebag on the planet and is deliberately trying to taunt me, or he is so clueless that he doesn't even realize how hurtful reading that is for me.

Last night, after reading that email, I had a dream that I was moving into a new house with my family. One of my brothers got a beautiful room with huge stained glass windows. My other brother got a huge room, that was really like 3 rooms with the walls knocked down, combined into one huge room. Also he had a butler. For some reason a prof from my program had a room next to my brother's room.

I got a room in the building next door, dormitory style, shared with 7 other people. When I tried to ask my mother if I could move into the same house as the rest of the family, she refused to even talk to me.

Hmm, I wonder what that could mean.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Cancer Cancer Cancer Cancer

Tomorrow morning I find out about whether or not I have that genetic mutation that will pretty much assure I get cancer of some kind. Ok, not 100%, but with a 80% chance of breast cancer and a 45% chance of ovarian cancer (and an elevated chance of colon and pancreatic cancer), I'd probably get one of them. In case you're new here- my dad has this genetic mutation (BRCA1 mutation) and I have a 50% chance of having it too. I got tested about 6 weeks ago and find out the results tomorrow.

Meanwhile I have a moral dilemma. See, when I got tested, my dad (who insisted I get tested) told me he would pay for the gentic testing, which costs around $550 total. He immediately paid the $150 I had to pay a genetic counselor, and I put the rest on my health insurance.

Two days ago I got a notification from my health insurance saying that I would be responsible for up to $285 of the cost of the testing.

Now, on the one hand...My dad told me he would pay for this testing, and I underwent the testing under the assumption that he would pay for it.

On the other hand, My dad told me he would pay for this testing when I got the test, but between then and now (when I find out the results) I also got engaged. I haven't talked to my dad since I sent him that email about coming to my wedding. Or my mom. And I kinda would like to keep it that way. I've decided at this point that if they want a relationship with me, the ball is in their court re: contacting me. And they haven't.

On the other hand, since my dad paid that initial $150, arn't I ethically responsible to report to him the results of my genetic testing? I can just ask him for money when telling him the results.

On the other hand, my health is my own business, not his, I hate asking my dad for money (that $150 was the first time I asked for money since I left for graduate school almost four years ago), and I don't want to ask him for more money.

On the other hand, $285 is a LOT of money, especially when I don't have income this summer. That's like half my share of the rent. And if I have the genetic mutation, there's a whole bunch of co-pay's in my future for a yearly Breast MRI and yearly Mammogram. And inevitably ovary-removal surgery. And you know...treating cancer when I get it and stuff.

On the other hand, I spent almost that much money last weekend at the ASAs, and isn't my health more important than my career? I can afford it, but it would be money I could have spent on my wedding, on put in my savings to buy a house, or on mental-health related vacations. Or on stuff like rent and food. Since I"m pretty much living off of savings until the end of September.

So it seems I have arrived at this compromise in my head. If I don't have the genetic mutation, I will happily eat the cost of testing, and maybe send my dad a text message saying I don't have it. If I do have the genetic mutation, I will suck up my pride and ask for the money, cause it's going to be a long expensive journey afterwards. But maybe still text message him, cause I'm not quite at the point where I want to talk to him on the phone.

Although it's always possible I will change my mind when it comes to actually text messaging him, and decide $285 is worth it not to contact him.


Saturday, August 9, 2008

oh hells yeah!!

Dear Abandoning Eden,

It was a pleasure to meet you at ASA and I am so delighted that you will be applying for the Social Demography position. I agree that it is a great fit! Also, thank you for the manuscript. I'm looking forward to reading it and I'll keep my fingers crossed that it is accepted soon.

Finally -- I agree that I hope we keep in touch regardless of what happens with the job search!

All my best,

[Prof who interviewed me last weekend]

This in response to an email I sent her thanking her for meeting with me (and sending along a paper we had talked about during the interview that she asked for). Can I start dancing around my apartment now? I know I shouldn't be getting my hopes up so high, but it seems like this interviewer really really liked me....I also gave a ride to another prof from the department the night before my interview, and went out to dinner with another member of the search committee at a conference 3 years ago, and she knows me well enough to recognize me when we ran into each other at ASA. Also the prof who interviewed me told me to say hi to my dissertation chair as we were leaving the interview, so I'm guessing she knows my dissertation chair.

Now all that's left to do is send them a kick-ass application package I guess. Hells yeah!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Making amends 15 years later

Sage wedding dress? or wine? Not sure which I should get, and can't decided if this is more formal than I want our wedding to be...

check out this insane facebook message I got today!

Subject: a (very) late apology

Abandoning Eden,

I know this is long overdue. I just wanted to apologize for the times in elementary school when I gave you a hard time and probably hurt you.

I hope you can chalk it up to immaturity and insensitivity, and forgive me.
I'm sorry.

[girl I haven't seen in 15 years]

Honestly, I pretty much have no memory of anything that happened in elementry school, but if I had to make a list of people I'd like an email like this from, this girl would definitely not be on it. Maybe it was so traumatic I forgot it? Lol...I don't even know how to respond to this. A surprising number of my friends keep bringing up AA and the 12 steps when I tell them about this. But since this girl is married with a kid and lives in israel, I doubt it. Although who knows, really...

Anxiety dreams...

I used to get anxiety dreams around once a week, especially during my first few years of grad school. I had a few last night, and realized that I haven't really had one in at least a year. While that's pretty awesome, I'm not thrilled about the prospect of them coming back.

Last nights anxiety dreams: 1. I was all set to go to a radiohead concert (Tangent- In real life I have tickets to a Radiohead concert next week! Hells yes!), and I couldn't find the tickets, and then when I found the tickets I couldn't find B, and then when I found B we got taken hostage by terrorists or something so we had to escape to get to the concert. Then when we finally got there it was too late and the concert was over. My dad featured prominently in this dream, especially when I was trying to find B.

2. I was teaching a summer class (not true) and I got interrupted and lost my place in a book of lesson plans (I don't have a book of lesson plans, I just carry the lesson plan for that day, but whatever), and I couldn't for the life of me figure out what I was just in the middle of teaching, or find my place again. Then my students decided that since I had no idea what I was teaching, that meant they should critique me as a prof...and they kept saying things like I clearly don't know the material, I dress terribly, I'm too enthusiastic and they think that I'm insane...etc.

So back when I was having anxiety dreams like this at least once a week or more, I kept a pretty good dream journal in my other blog. And I started noticing some themes emerging, which have come out here. One theme is being prevented by outside sources from doing something I really need to do or really want to do (Ie radiohead concert). My dad usually always shows up in that dream, playing the roll of the person keeping me from doing what I want/need to do (Once I had a dream that I had to go rescue my cats from freezing to death, and my dad wouldn't give me a ride...stuff like that).

Another theme is giving a presentation of some sort and forgetting what I will say (ie dream #2). Some other stuff that has frequently shown up is my teeth falling out (classic freudian dream representing powerlessness), falling from high places, and being late to stuff (also in dream #1).

So there you have it internet, the things that give me anxiety. And anxiety dreams are always different from other types of dreams...they are always very clear and I can remember lots of details about them (unlike other dreams), they are always accompanied by a sense of anxiety, and I always have them when stressed out in a major way.

Things that are stressing me out right now:
1. Applying for professorship jobs and all the work involved with that (including writing cover letters, putting together teaching portfolios, writing up research and teaching statements, revising my CV for the upteenth time, and trying to come off in such a way that I rise above the 200 other people applying to each job I am applying to)

2. writing my dissertation- I have a year in which to write it. I have 2 months until I have to submit a fully written chapter to a conference that I have been accepted to. In those 2 months I also have to submit all my job applications, revise my syllabus for my class this semester, and I start teaching that class in less than a month (thankfully it's a class I've taught twice before though). I'm working on the data analysis part of my dissertation now, but it is slow going...and one of my advisers wants me to use this method (multi-state life tables) that I have no idea how to use, and every article I can find on it confuses the heck out of me. The other method I am using, I know a lot more about, but I want to read a book on it before starting that so that I am sure I am doing the method 100% correctly. I agreed to tutor another student on that method (event history analysis) in 2 weeks, and that is giving me motivation to learn more about it.

3. My officemate, and the stuff involved with changing offices. For the past two days we have not talked at all, just said Hi. While it is nice and peaceful, it is also tense and awkward at the same time. I haven't told her I am changing offices, and am hoping to quietly move while she is on vacation at the end of next week, so I don't have to deal with her. (Can't move till then anyways, cause the student in my new office hasn't moved out yet). But just seeing her every day, even though we are not talking (or maybe because of that) is stressed me out.

4. Wedding planning...we have booked a place, but have no plans for food or anything like that. And like a typical engaged couple, we've been fighting a bit over planning. Although the fights have been because neither of us really gives a shit about the food, and yet we feel obligated to provide it, and yet neither of us wants to plan things out, because we both don't give a shit. Last night I was basically like "Ok B if you don't plan the food stuff, then there will be no food, because I am already sick of planning stuff!" So we'll probably talk about that some more today...although compared to the last time I was engaged, when me and my ex fought pretty much every day, stuff with B is still going amazingly the point where I keep waiting of the other shoe to drop, and yet it seems there is no other shoe. We have had like a total of 4 fights since he moved in almost 4 months ago. 1 fight per month is a freakin amazing average I think. Especially because at least 3 of them have been really really stupid, and once we were both less tired/stressed out about other things, we realized how stupid they were.

5. I find out whether I have the BRCA1 mutation (as my dad does) on Monday.

6. I also didn't have a weekend this weekend cause I was at that conference, so I feel like I"ve been working every day for weeks with no break.

So my solution? Well I'm going to take the morning off from work (well, maybe I'll read up on a methodology book I have at home), go see Pineapple Express at noon with B (who has the day off), and then go into work around 2ish and work until 7 or 8 tonight. That way I don't feel guilty about not moving forward on my dissertation research cause I will do it later today, and I also will avoid seeing my officemate for most of the day, since she tends to come in early and leave around 4 or 5.

Yeah, now to go make a cup of tea and sit out on my porch and read my fascinating book, "Event history analysis with STATA"

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The good parts of my weekend

Well, Sunday was definitely the best day of the conference. For several reasons.

First of all, I wasn't staying at my officemate's mom's house anymore. The house I stayed was on beacon hill, which is a super rich part of Boston (where John Kerry lives). The house I was staying in was awesome- it was this big shambly 4 story mansion/townhouse. The living room had a wall full of books that all matched, and some huge portraits of people who presumably used to live in this house. The furniture was all really old and all the seat cushions had worn out spots from decades of people sitting on them. All the doors had latches instead of doorknobs. It was freakin awesome. If I ever have four million dollars, I would totally want a place just like that...lots of character, but not ostentatious.

In the morning I met up with a prof who does research similar to mine- I had met her at a previous conference and we made plans to meet up at this one, and talk about how our research projects are going. We had a whole convo about our research, and really hit it off in the process, and ended up talking about how we both suck at housework and our houses would be a mess if it weren't for our awesome partners.

I had two job interviews this weekend for professorship jobs I will be applying to. The academic job market is set up so that you have to apply to jobs a year in advance- so I will be applying now for jobs that start in September 2009. My first interview didn't go so well..the told told me about department politics and indicated that people in his department are kind of hostile towards people who do quantitative research- which I do. This department is the dream job I was talking about in some earlier blog post. I'm still going to apply, but I'm going to try to emphasize the non-quantitative research I have published.

The second interview was on Sunday, and that one went great! I got this interview through connections- A prof had sent around an email to a few profs asking if they had any students on the job market, and one of my committee members emailed her back about me, without even asking me! The school is on the east coast, in the NY tri-state area. I don't necessarily want to live there, as I would end up being within an hour or so drive from my parents house, which might be weird. I specifically was avoiding that area in my job search. But then my best friend reminded me that it wasn't the area that I hated, it was my life in that area. And that with B coming with me, and my parents not talking to me, I would have a completely different type of life there. Which is a good point.

So during the interview I first find out that the woman interviewing me had read a recent article of mine that came out in a journal, BEFORE she knew I was a job candidate for her school! Then it turns out that my masters thesis, which I'm in the process of getting published right now, is very similar to some research she is doing. So we ended up chatting about research for a while. The position sounds like a perfect fit for me (they are hiring specifically in my subfield, and want someone who can teach a class that I have previously TAed for), it's a great school, and they seem very interested in me. At the end she told me that I seemed like a good fit, and that she will be bringing up my name at application time. So that was awesome.

Then came the best part of the trip- Driving home. By myself. It was great. I stopped at a rest stop to get some gas, and found a lobster bear (it's a teddy bear in a lobster costume!), which I bought for B, because it was so ridiculous. When I was driving through jersey, I met up with one of my best friends/frequent commenter J and his friend for dinner, and ended up ranting about my officemate the whole time, which I felt kind of bad about. But it was awesome to see him, as we haven't hung out in a while. J lives about 2 blocks from my parents....I didn't call them to tell them I was 2 blocks away from them picking up J, and avoided driving past their house altogether. Apparently J's stepdad disapproves of me because he knows I am marrying someone not I was picking up J, his stepdad was right there and didn't even say hi, even though I haven't seen him in years and was at his house like every other weekend as a teenager. So that was lovely.

The best part of all though was getting home after 8 or 9 hours on the road and climbing into bed with an already-sleeping B, sometime around midnight. And lobster bear! Who is now the mascot of our house! :)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The secret life of jews (continued)

Over the weekend I attended the American Sociological Association conference. While there I ran into a somewhat-recent graduate of my program who now has a tenure track professorship job at Yeshiva University. She happens to be Jewish, but is clearly not religious to anyone who looks at her (For instance, she is married and wears a wedding ring, but does not cover her hair), and her name is not a very Jewish name either.

We got to catching up, I talked to her a bit about whats going on with my parents and B, etc.

And then she told me something very interesting. She said that on a somewhat frequent basis during the semester, a student will stay late after class, until all the other students have left, and start confessing things to her. Everything from being gay, to eating bacon last week and not feeling bad, to having sex with their girlfriends. As a clearly non-religious woman, and someone who teaches a pretty liberal subject, she has become the go-to person for people going off the derech. (Not that she put it in those words, since she was never 'on the derech' to begin with).

Now isn't that just fascinating?