nothing much to say: an update on my little life

I haven’t been saying much about my life here lately. I only recently realized that, and of course it made me think, hmm … why not?

In related news, I never know how to answer those go-to questions “How are you?” and “How are you guys doing?” any more. If I know the asker too well for “fine,” I tend to say something rather confusing like “On a day-to-day basis we’re doing really well–we’re healthy, and Noah and Simon are doing so well, and we have lots of fun together–but it’s also really hard.” Really hard not to have an income and to watch our very small savings turn to dust while trying to guess whether we’ll become eligible for any additional state support once our account and my unemployment benefits run out. Really hard to look for work, month after month, and not find any. Really hard not to be able to plan more than a couple months at a time, because whether or not a job crops up changes everything. Really, really hard to be both overqualified (PhDs, college teaching experience) and underqualified (precious little experience doing anything else, which is a big problem in a job market full of unemployed yet specifically-trained and experienced people in virtually every industry/field),* especially without a robust local network of people we know personally and are thus willing to go out on a limb for us. We keep running into the same wall no matter what area of employment we pursue, and it gets old. On the other hand, I love working on my book. We love homeschooling and being together. We aren’t freaking out, losing sleep, or devolving into stress-launched conflict and misery. “If we were independently wealthy,” I say, “we’d be golden. We could go on like this forever.”

Or, if I know the asker really well, I just say: “The same.” As in, we have been carrying on in this strangely suspended and in-between reality for about eight months now, and there’s nothing much to say about it. When will we move on, and what to? We don’t know.

Anyway, this is all to say that I still exist–even beyond book reviews and links!–and that we are okay. Just waiting and wondering, enjoying each other (because why not?), and carrying on. I promise that we are doing All the Things, considering all the options, applying for a wide range of jobs. We don’t need advice … but we could stand to have people wishing us luck.

* A little illustration of the over/underqualified conundrum: a while back, I had an informational interview with a hiring manager in an interesting field where I could easily have gotten work pre-2008. She told me, “I couldn’t hire someone anymore who doesn’t have a lot of experience. We no longer have the time to work with people like that,” the people “with potential” who used to look like very desirable hires to her. At the same time, she said she wouldn’t hire me for an entry-level (primarily administrative-assistant-type) position because they’re looking for someone “with a lot of energy, right out of college,” meaning not all old and used up like my decrepit-ass self: that I’m just not what she’s picturing when she advertises for those positions. (Yes, that is indeed age discrimination: well spotted!) Then she enthusiastically encouraged me to look for work in two other fields instead. Unfortunately, we’ve had basically this exact interaction with folks in those fields. Multiply this meeting by dozens, and you have Eric’s and my networking experience of the past year. Sounds fun, huh?

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  1. Posted 22 April 2013 at 4:04 PM | Permalink

    :-( It is such a tough economy right now. I wish I had contacts in your area to help you with networking, but I think I know all of one person there (besides you).

    Applying for jobs is just…the worst. The total worst. The most helpful thing I’ve heard in this situation is something my friend Zole said, which is that applying for jobs has a 100% failure rate until it has a 100% success rate. I tell myself that because the 100% failure part feels so, so discouraging, but it’s helpful to remember that it is by definition the way the job search works, and that all it takes is just one opportunity to switch to 100% success.

    So my sympathies on the frustrating part, and good thoughts for 100% success soon!

    • Molly
      Posted 23 April 2013 at 4:36 PM | Permalink

      Thank you! It’s sorta like dating–everything ends badly until it doesn’t … (and equally painful …), huh?

  2. RG
    Posted 22 April 2013 at 9:31 PM | Permalink

    I am married to a PhD – we were in limbo for a good long while, too. Does anyone give you trouble about having Simon at this time? I got a lot of crap for having my second kid while we were both unemployed. I wanted to tear people’s heads off – I had him because I was in my mid-thirties and without a whole lot of fertile time left, and screw you jerk for reminding me how much it sucks to be this OLD and also this POOR. I find that unless you have lived it, job-searching in the last year or two just cannot be described. It is impossible to know how it feels unless you’ve felt it. And people who haven’t faced the problems of the Great Recession (which his us juuuuuust exactly at the wrong time, i.e. both coming out of professional school into it) often give chirpy little comments like – just do what you love, and the money will follow! OR Some day you’ll look back on this time and smile, and think how wonderful it was to be poor together! I remember a friend and I once described it as “drowning in platitudes.” Ugh. I’m resisting the urge to give you a chirpy platitude myself, and instead I’ll just say: Solidarity. I feel you. I’m out of major trouble now, but it was a long time in the thick of it, and it ain’t easy. Bless you, and may the Job Gods sprinkle wonderful leads and interview mojo all over you both.

    • Molly
      Posted 23 April 2013 at 4:37 PM | Permalink

      Aw, you made both of us chuckle and smile. You get it! But yeah, it really bites. I’m glad you’re okay now.

  3. Posted 23 April 2013 at 12:14 PM | Permalink

    I’m thinking of you and Eric and Noah and Simon often, Molly, and I’m wishing you lots of luck. A shitload of luck, in fact.

    I’m royally pissed at the way that the job market is treating so many of my friends in the humanities with PhDs. I’m even more pissed off at the fact that something like an overqualified/underqualified conundrum exists at all.

    But mostly, I’m just wishing you that shitload of luck.

    • Molly
      Posted 23 April 2013 at 4:38 PM | Permalink

      Thanks, Kristen–the good wishes & righteous indignation are both much-appreciated.

  4. Dora
    Posted 23 April 2013 at 2:55 PM | Permalink

    Good luck! It’s funny cause my first thought about the potential employer looking for someone with “a lot of energy, straight out of college” was not so much that it was about age, and more that it was about looking for someone who is willing to put up with not so desirable work conditions, e.g. having way too much/things that aren’t remotely part of the job description demanded of them, very low pay, etc, and who doesn’t have the experience necessary to know what they should reasonably expect from a good employer. This is the perspective of a 24 year old who is only a couple years out of college…

    • Molly
      Posted 23 April 2013 at 4:33 PM | Permalink

      Yeah, I definitely think people make a lot of assumptions about what PhDs are willing to do (the very strange assumption that someone with this degree would be pissy about filing and copying and suchlike, for instance). I think it is about age in a lot of ways, but ways that are intertwined with other dynamics: in some cases, perhaps, I want to treat my assistant like crap, and I’d feel weird treating someone my age, with an advanced degree and two children, like crap.

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