Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Back, and feeling stuck (or musings on the two body problem)

So, I've made it back to PhDCity, at least in body if not in mind. Jetlag is still a challenge, despite great efforts of blood stream caffeine level boosting. In reading ScienceWoman's post on starting over on the new year's efforts, I got thinking about mine and how I'm doing. I've managed to cross a few things from the list, but those nagging ones just won't quit. I still haven't managed to hand over those reagents, and the situation is getting desperate. Why can't I just. let. go.?! I feel like I'm on the cusp of breaking free from this place and yet it still seems so far away... case in point, my applications. Now, deciding on the future is not to be taken too lightly. But I'm afraid that I've managed to think myself into non-activity on the matter. Sure, I got that job interview offer (more on that to come), but I haven't sent the other applications yet. I made small progress today in writing to MScSupervisor to touch base and check if MSS would be willing to serve as a reference for my applications (no response yet). I also spoke to SupportiveCommitteeMember who agreed to be a reference and took the time for a nice chat on the subject. SCM isn't from PhDCity and understands my desire to return to more familiar places and ways of life, but also encouraged me not to sell myself short and perhaps broaden my acceptable application locations. Which means more thinking, and more consideration, more list making and another delay for the applications. But there's a whole other important factor in my decisions for the impending move... Husband. Husband is a talented, one career step ahead of me research scientist. And it's a crap-a$$ time to be on the job market. Of the many applications submitted, a substantial number of target institutions are currently facing a hiring freeze. Whether this is a major factor, or there are others in play, we probably won't know. But the fact remains that he had offers for 2 interviews. The first didn't result in a job offer. The second is this week. What happens if this one works out? What happens if it doesn't? This two body problem is majorly stressing me out. Do I apply for the places *I* want to go? Do I at least consider whether this would be feasible for Husband? (Keep in mind, in at least some cases, Husband would have to find a job that would sponsor a working visa. He could live where I have a work visa, but couldn't work). In an ideal world, he would find a faculty position (or some job that makes him happy) and I would find a kickass postdoc position (or some other job that makes me happy) and it would be in an environment where we could be life-happy (which may or may not include a set of criteria like proximity to family/friends, language, political climate). But I think it's going to be a case of someone compromises and follows the other person. I don't *want* to be a trailing spouse, but I also have a major guilt complex about forcing Husband to be one. Can I just skip over the next few months so I can know what the future holds? Cause right now, the situation just makes me want to crawl back under the covers and hibernate till Spring...


  1. Ugh - I totally feel your pain right now. We'll be coming up to this situation in the summer. However, I care decidedly less about my career than him. So we've agreed that he'll start interviewing and, once we know what our options are, we'll chose some place that also has opportunities for me. I'll start looking for jobs when we know where we are going.

    I don't really know how we'd handle the situation if I was deeply into my career as him. We are both in science, but different fields - and where one place would be great for him, it wouldn't be for me (and visa versa). He's also one step ahead of me: he's finishing his post-doc and I'm finishing my PhD.

    So, what it comes down to is I have no idea what to tell you :P It's one of those situations that you don't know what to do until you're presented with choices - which means waiting. Man, I hate that!

    Good luck!

  2. I can SO relate. I'm about 6 months ahead of EGM and starting to look for post docs. I hate the idea of choosing a place and forcing him to follow. If I contemplate a lab, I have to spend time looking for potential opportunities for him. That's before even knowing if there are opportunities for me at a place! It's so stressful.

  3. See, that's part of it... we looked (kind of) for places that would work for both of us and he applied there, but didn't get any interviews... the place he is interviewing doesn't have so much for me, but I guess I could make do. I would rather compromise on my career than have a long distance marriage. So now what?! ugh. I hope it works out for you two! To be honest, sometimes I really wish he was all about the career and I could play the trailing spouse card, but now, if this position doesn't materialize for him it's going to be up to me to take the lead. At least one of us has to have a job!

  4. Okay, off topic, but here are your 5 questions for the interview meme (thanks for volunteering!):

    1. If you could no longer do "science", what would you do as a career and why?

    2. How did you meet Mr. Jenn, PhD?

    3. How are you doing on your general positive thinking resolution?

    4. Where has been your favorite place you have traveled and why?

    5. If you could give one piece of advice to a new graduate student, what would it be?

    Have fun!

  5. Thanks Mrs. Comet Hunter! I'll try to get around to the interview by the weekend... Husband just got back from his interview a few hours ago and I want to finish things up here in the lab so I can spend the rest of the hours he manages to stay awake with him :)

  6. Yikes! At least you know what your dealbreakers are (long distance marriage) so hopefully it will be easier when it comes down to decision time.

    I was worried about geography when looking for a postdoc (I just started a 2 year position, 3 hours away from my husband). The best advice I got was to not turn down a job you haven't been offered. Go for everything that you can and try not to worry too much about hypothetical decisions yet!

  7. That seems like pretty sound advice Albatross... I'll try to keep that in mind!

  8. I know just how you feel. And I've never figured out how to just calm the hell down. I suppose you could just keep in mind that everything will work out okay (it always does). You and your husband love each other and you will both undoubtedly do all that you can to find a workable situation. In the meantime, do some yoga and have a bath. :)

  9. Jenn, I feel your pain. Only, I'm the one who's farther ahead, but at the same time, I'm pretty sure I'm like MCH in that I (usually) care much less about my career (I have bouts of ambition that are soon cured).

    So I have to pick the job first, but he'll probably be the one with the higher-powered career. What to do? It's such a tough problem. Good luck.