Monday, November 27, 2006

hope for future ph.d.s

joseph sent this article to me this morning.

i enjoyed this piece, because the author addresses the following misconceptions about ph.d.s:

* Ph.D.s are unemployed and can't get jobs.
* Ph.D.s are chronically underpaid.
* There are far more Ph.D.s out there than faculty jobs for them.
* The Ph.D. degree is so specialized that you can't get any other kind of job.
* It costs a fortune to get a Ph.D.
* It takes forever to get a Ph.D.

i have to admit that i had resigned myself to the truth of some of these myths, telling myself that the degree was worth the underemployment risk because a) i love to teach, b) i enjoy my research, and c) i like the flexibility of a professor's schedule.

in fact, the biggest misconception that the author addresses is that ph.d.s are hard pressed to find a job. however, according to the article, it might be better to say that it is a challenge to find a job in the academy. there are other job prospects for ph.d.s in industry (e.g., consulting, nonprofit work, research) that, in fact, pay higher salaries than their university employer counterparts.

although i feel incredibly lucky to have my tenure track job, this article makes me feel as if it wouldn't have been the end of the world had i been forced to work outside of the academy. and just in case, in seven years, if i'm not granted tenure, maybe i'll end up with a pay raise. ;)


Monday, November 20, 2006

weekend frenzy

the san jose airport seems as if it has grown out of its allotted space.

the security lines are one long snake. the terminals are couched with mini-restaurants on one side and rows of grey seats on the other, providing only the most essential three foot space to maneuver carry on luggage to the appropriate terminal.

the afternoon sun shines blindingly through the terminal windows. the flight is delayed.

every year i go to this anthropology meeting, knowing that it is what i should do; it's a professional obligation. but i never feel as if anyone notices whether or not i'm there. thousands of anthropologists descend upon the conference city, the conference site. i would say that the presence of most people goes unnoticed, unless, of course, you are an academic superstar.

in recent years, i had been on the job market, which, let me say, made the anthropology meetings much less fun. as a job seeker i had to be on my best behavior and in my best clothes, trying seem intelligent and self-assured when i felt nothing of the sort.

this year was actually quite nice. in terms of professional development, i was able to spend some time with one of my favorite UC anthropologists. i admire his work (and his attitude toward academia) so much. it's still difficult for me to imagine that now we're actually friends/colleagues. i was invited to present on a really great panel this year. there were a couple of "superstars" on the panel (not me; clearly, i'm still a "junior scholar"), and so it was pretty well attended. it was exciting to be in the middle of such a panel. and it seemed that the audience was very engaged, asked a lot of interested/interesting questions.

the other nice aspect of the weekend was that i was able to spend some time with old friends. obviously, there was a good showing of texas anthropologists; the annual anthropology conference functions, in part, as a class/departmental reunion. also, because this year's conference was in the bay area, i was able to spend some time with a couple of old college friends and then the weekend with my sister and her new husband.

the fact that i was able to squeeze in some cumbia dancing inbetween all of that was like the cherry on top. ;)

at the san jose airport, i know that my weekend has come to an end.

southwest does its cattle call--members of groups A, B, C all file into whatever available seats they can find. i settle into an empty seat between two women. we don't attempt conversation. just spend the 45 minute flight reading and writing. before i know it we have started our descent into ontario.

i read somewhere once that the sunsets in heavily polluted areas are beautiful because of the way the pollution filters the waning light. i remember this tidbit of information as i look out the window and see a ribbon of burgundy at the hoizon, pumpkin shades of orange above that, pale yellows, and then the slightest hint of green before the blue of twilight.

the plane touches down y me persigno, grateful for my safe arrival.


Sunday, November 19, 2006

neither here nor there

this is interesting...

You're totally like 58% California!

Hmmm... you have some definite memories of this place... maybe you were born here but moved away as a child. Or you live in Fontana. Whatever. Come back someday!

How California are You?

i guess i'm more texan than californian?



i'm actually a little embarrassed that i didn't score higher on this test.

You are 80% REAL Texan!!

You're way more Texan than average. You're parents were probably from here too. We're glad to have you. You probably go to the border for Christmas shopping and are well versed in BBQ, Mexican Food and .. well thats pretty much it.

How Texan Are You?

my girlfriends, olga and laura, both scored more texan than i did! i'm not worthy of their tejana company. :(

and let's not mention it to my sixth generation texan boyfriend!


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

november falling

november is typically my favorite month. i enjoy the fall, even though i've always lived in places where autumn feels more like "summer light."

if i'm very honest, i think that i enjoy november because it's my birthday month. who doesn't enjoy their own personal holiday? even if it does mean another candle on the birthday cake (or, in my case, birthday torte).

but this year it's all gone by too quickly. i spent the days leading up to my birthday doing a "best of," whirlwind tour of austin with my friends while also writing a conference paper.

ten days later (today), i find myself preparing for another departure. same conference paper, different conference. this one in san jose.

i'll come back sunday and then fly to san jose AGAIN on wednesday so that i can spend thanksgiving with my family in northern california this year.

then the fall is over. and there will be two weeks left of classes, and, all of a sudden, my first quarter as a professor will have ended.

that was quick! just blink, and it's passed. kind of makes me nervous for the other things that might be passing me by!


Sunday, November 05, 2006

hiatus and a new home

the problem with taking a long blog hiatus is that, when it comes time to post again, you hardly know where to begin.

well. first things first. i moved to a new city. i now live in one of the less glamorous parts of california. sometimes, it's beautiful. the town is nestled on the cusp of the desert and the edge of the mountains; the landscape is much more striking than what i'd experienced in texas. but some days the smog is so thick, you can't even see the mountains. and you feel a little nervous that you are breathing the same brown air you see at the horizon. and then there are times that you feel like you might be sitting for days in traffic. but that's just southern california, i suppose.

second. i started a new job. sometime during the first or second week of the quarter, i was walking from my office to my class. i could hear the click clack of my heels on the floor; i had my lecture notes and my books in my over-the-shoulder black bag. the students around me--all young, dressed in slouchy clothes and flip flops--were filing into their buildings, their classrooms. and all of a sudden it hit me: i'm a professor!

i have those occasional surges of happiness when i realize that, after all these years of studying, i'm doing what i always wanted to do. there are also moments of anxiety when people talk to me about publications and university service and tenure. but mostly, i've been able to take the job in stride.

i miss my friends in austin. and i miss austin. but everyone assures me that i'm in an adjustment period. that it's just a matter of time before this feels like home, too.