succumbing to peer pressure

Friday, October 24, 2008

It's a beautiful thing

(unrelated, but, you know, about marriage, and I'm here for a wedding) Landed safely in DC (after two-hour flight delay) and actually enjoyed family dinner. Vaguely serious discussion about what I'll be when I grow up with the parents post-dinner was seriously aided by the quantities of wine consumed by all of us at dinner. Eh. Still not really getting what I want from them, but learning to let it affect me less.

Also, seeing my brother wearing a wedding band is pretty weird. Just saying.

And lastly, flat screen tv + big hotel bed + no alarm clock = happiness.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The socialist and the libertarians

A couple of my friends are libertarians. Men I like and respect and whose opinions are typically well thought out. I like discussing politics with them because we're all fairly calm, rational people, so despite our diametrically opposed positions, we usually have very interesting, fruitful conversations. But I am always left with this lingering feeling that at the base of their economic beliefs is an inherent mean-spiritedness. I know that's unfair, but bear with me. Perhaps this fundamental difference between us is more related to our current status in life than actual social/political beliefs. Both men I'm referring to are married with children, so when they think about redistributing wealth*, they're thinking about having less with which to provide for their families. Whereas I'm just thinking, well, that's less spending money for going out with my friends on the weekends. So perhaps when I 'grow up' I'll also feel differently about this idea of fairness.

But on the other hand, both men readily admit that fairness isn't something they're interested in - life is unfair, some people are dealt really crappy hands, and that's just the breaks. They are, in my opinion, sympathetic to the plight of others, but mostly unwilling to make personal sacrifices, on a large, general scale for potential strangers. Which just seems so small minded. Both men, if confronted with a friend in need of help, would help. With money, with time, with whatever was needed and they had to give. So why is it so impossible to overlay that framework on the general public? Why is it so easy to say that some people aren't going to have healthcare or be able to afford groceries or rent or heating, and that sucks, but that sucks for someone else, without realizing that at any moment you could be that someone else! And it's not that either man is particularly comfortable - both have struggled and worked hard to get where they are, so it's not like I view my current comfort and stability as fragile and they don't. In fact, I think it's because they've both worked so hard - they have this feeling that they and their families made it, so everyone else should too, and shut up and quit whining in the mean time. And I'm just not ok with that. I don't think I'll ever be ok that. I know it's exhausting to think about society in general and not just your little niche, but how can you not?

*actually, none of the three of us will be on the giving end of any wealth redistribution plan, considering all of our economic statuses. But people never seem to get that either. And all of us 'get stuff' from government plans - police forces, fire departments, roads, street lights, the postal service, public school, food and drug regulations, public hospitals, emergency assistance and clean-up for natural disasters, etc. etc. etc. A lot of that government provided stuff may not be great, or even adequate, but for a non-trivial swath of America it's all there is. And for the rest of us, it ain't like we're living in our own little sustainable corners where we provide everything we need and use in life. So shut the hell up about how you hate the 'welfare' state, because you're benefitting from it too.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Reality sets in

I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. I still don't know if I were offered both the non-profit job and the fellowship which I would choose. But I think I'm making progress. At least, I'm a little less moony-eyed over the whole thing, which is good timing, since going up there and swooning at everything probably wouldn't lead to my best decision making. I'd say I've mostly come to terms with the travel stuff. I've talked to a ton of friends who travel to similar cities, countries, villages, etc. and feel pretty reassured that I can, in fact, do this. So now my remaining red flag is primarily my potential boss and his lack of personal/professional boundaries. Part of me thinks this is why now is the perfect time for a job like this - coming straight out of grad school, where I certainly have zero personal/professional boundaries, and feel compelled to work all hours and all days, walking into a job that felt like that but with better pay would seem perfectly reasonable. The other part of me recognizes that a big part of my therapy work has been finding boundaries and learning to say no and learning to take care of myself. And while this job could be like one giant practice round on all my issues, it could also eat me alive. Having a boss I respect and admire, who is also guilting me in to running myself ragged (he already is and I don't even work for him!) is potentially a terrible combination for me. But then again, the work itself is why I went to public health school in the first place, so maybe having a less-than-ideal boss isn't a deal breaker.

I'm not going to talk myself into or out of any of these arguments tonight, but I feel like I have a pretty useful framework through which to view my visit next week. Ack! Next week! One week from right now all my talks and interviewing will be over!

Right. So I got all my flights in order, and Friday I fly to DC, spend Friday and Saturday doing wedding crap, Sunday I fly to San Diego, Monday morning give conference talk, Monday and Tuesday conference crap, Wednesday morning fly to San Francisco, Wednesday day give job talks and interview.

I decided this afternoon that I'm just going to stop stressing over how completely ridiculous that above schedule is. Because I can't do anything to change it. And I am inevitably going to feel harried and sleep deprived and like I haven't had enough time to properly prepare any of my talks, in my neurotic, control-freak way. And that's ok. Because it is what it is and adding meta-stress to that ain't going to help anything. Visualizing how that ridiculous schedule will wrap up with me curled up on a couch somewhere in northern CA babbling to my friends' 6 month old baby - that helps.

My advisor is funny

I've been reading up on a specific niche of statistics, in preparation for one of my job talks (on a requested topic not related to my dissertation). And my advisor suggested I also contact one of the big wigs in that niche, because he also does interesting social and political research, and see what kind of post doc research options he has. I said I didn't plan on becoming this specific kind of statistician and she looked over at me and said, "Megan. I didn't tell you to marry the guy! Just sleep with him!" (NOTE: she was using sex as a metaphor people. calm down.)

She's also been giving me some excellent advice for next week - your job is to make you happy. Your job is not to make his (potential boss) life easier. If you need time to think and decide, make him wait for a decision.

My friend is an author!

This is somewhat old news, but my copy of Voices arrived the other day! Huzzah!