Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Our Monkey Kitty

When we got Isabella last year she did some weird things that I've never seen another cat do. She would unravel whole toilet paper rolls onto the bathroom floor, she'd chase water droplets down the shower curtain (and in the process rip huge holes in it), and this:

What a weirdo!

I have a Confession…(Part 2)

…there are others things not working out here besides not liking my work and wanting to have a family instead of a career. This city, I swear, is sucking the life right out of me. Let me give you a few examples of why I’m not enjoying myself here:

- it’s a college town (need I say more?)
- if you’re 18 or >35 with young kids, there is plenty to do – you’re screwed otherwise
- most people that live here were born here
- there are no decent ballroom dance clubs
- they refuse to build off-ramps or decent merge lanes because they want the city to feel like a small town
- you’re not allowed to park on the street from 3am-6am for absolutely no good reason
- making a left turn in this city is on the verge of the impossible that I actually plan my routes to make as many right turns as I can
- people constantly drive 10 km/hr under the speed limit

Okay, most of these have to do with driving, and maybe I’m a tad sensitive to things like that, but there’s more: this is the first city that I’ve really had trouble making close friends in. Sure, there are people I talk to at work, but after over 3 years here I still haven’t made any meaningful relationships (besides the one with DH, of course).

I wonder if it’s me. Have I fundamentally changed as a person since I moved here? I don’t think I have. When I travel to other cities I can actually make connections with people quite quickly, even if I’m only there for 1 week! I have made better friends at week-long conferences than I have here in 3 years.

After talking to many others here (natives, newcomers and visitors), I’ve come to the conclusion that this city is snobby, cliquey, rude and self-involved. Entitlement runs rabid here. Everyone thinks they are the most important person in the room, on the road, or even on the sidewalk.

I am continually in awe about how rude people are here. I couldn’t even count the number of times I’ve been forced to walk on the street because a group of 2 or 3 people must walk beside each other on the sidewalk. Or all the students that sit in the hallway with their legs straight out in front of them, pretty much blocking the whole hallway; or the girls who talk on their cell phones while going to the bathroom.

This is not to say that everyone in this city is like this, but sadly the majority are. All I can say is that we have 15 more months before we move out of here, and I’m counting down every single day.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Are You Kidding Me, Leeza?

It's Sunday morning, and as we eat breakfast we listen to a local radio station that plays Leeza Gibbon's radio show. Today she is featuring a guest that is talking about diet secrets of the stars. Here are a few examples I heard in the short interview:

- don't drink diet Coke - apparently you're 2 times more likely to gain weight if you drink it. No, there was no evidence given.
- put cinnamon on your cereal or in your coffee instead of sugar - they say it regulates your blood sugar better, so stops those pesky cravings for sweets.
- if you're hungry, just have a breath mint or use one of those breath strips - it numbs your taste buds and that will hopefully subside those cravings.

Okay, these seem kind of reasonable, but then it kind of occurs to me that all of the suggestions are basically saying "try not to eat" and especially "don't eat what you're craving" - because heaven forbid we have a good relationship with food instead of feeling guilty for wanting one cookie.

They go on to say that all the "stars" they interviewed for their book fully admitted that it's a struggle every single day to keep their figure so they can appear on their TV shows, movies, and on the red carpet.

Does anyone else see anything wrong with this? Why are women all over the world struggling day in and day out to obtain some unrealistic body type? I have even heard women admitting they're scared to get pregnant because they don't want to gain weight!! Or, even worse, obsessing about how much they do gain while pregnant!! What is the world coming too?

For the last year or so I've been really trying to be healthy, but not nutty about things. I enjoy food - I love eating things like macaroni and cheese, cupcakes and nachos. But I also love asparagus, yogurt and fruit. I try to be active and eat what I want when I want, and it's worked for me. And you know what? I'm happier than I ever was when I was constantly "watching" what I ate. There's no reason why we can't have our cake and eat it too.

I really hope that this obsession with food and our bodies is a phase and will pass eventually. Until then, sorry Leeza, I'm not listening to your show any more.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I Have a Confession... (Part 1)

...I have been seeing a therapist for a few months now. Not because I'm crazy or depressed, but because ever since I moved to London I have generally been unhappy and confused. Mostly it's about my work, but it's also about my environment: the people around me and the city in general.

My last session with my therapist we started to talk about my work. I hate talking about my work. It makes me feel uncomfortable. I'm embarrassed that I don't L-O-V-E it, or even really like it, mostly because of all the time I've put into it.

Therapist: Why don't you like it?
Me: Because I'm not doing what I thought I would for my PhD project.
Therapist: Why?
Me: Because I didn't have the guts or the knowledge to tell my supervisor I wanted to do something else when I started. And when I finally did have both the guts and the knowledge, I was 3 years into my project and didn't want to start all over again.

After further discussion, she tells me I fall into the subjugation life trap. It's true. She gave me a book about common life traps, one chapter being on subjugation, and it fits me perfectly. I basically do what others want so that I "please" them - so they'll like me. If I do something that I want to do, I feel guilty and I think everyone thinks I'm being a bitch.

Now that I know how to recognize it, I see myself doing it everywhere in my life: I do more outreach stuff than I should, I let other people choose the restaurant we go to, I do favors for people that are just using me, I let my DH choose the excursion in Alaska even though I really wanted to do something else. Was I always like this?

Since that session I've been aware of what decisions I'm making and trying my best to do what I want. After all, I'm the one that has to live with my decisions, right? This is how I decided to change my name to DH's - because that's what I wanted, and the opinion of others (or what I thought their opinions were) just didn't matter anymore.

So, I had another session with my therapist yesterday, and we start talking about my subjugation and in what situations it comes up. I immediately think of work. She starts talking about careers and what I can do to figure out what directions I should take, and I'm just sitting there thinking "I don't care about any of this". She's quite intuitive:

Therapist: Why do you look so sad when we start talking about careers?
Me: Because I don't care!

And then I continue to blubber on for about 5 minutes about how I don't want to think about careers, how none of it matters to me right now, and how I feel like I should do this or that. After some silence:

Therapist: What do you see your life like after you finish your PhD?
Me: (after some thought) You know, when I'm driving to work or something and I see women walking with their babies in a stroller and the family dog, I think to myself "that's what I want the next stage in my life to be".
Therapist: That's the first time today you used the words "I want" instead of "I should".


Friday, October 17, 2008

Goodbye Single Me

Today I started the long and seemingly complicated process of changing my name to my husband's.

Let me tell you, I did not take the decision to change my name lightly. My thoughts went back and forth between "I want to change it for tradition, to be a cohesive family and because it's important to him" and "but what if I lose myself? I've been that person for 29 years, why should I change it now?".

Even up until last week I wasn't really sure what I was going to do. I was pretty sure I was just going to tack his name at the end of mine so I would have four names (my maiden name becoming a second middle name). I wanted to keep my name around for "professional" reasons. In other words, I didn't want people thinking I was changing my name (and therefore myself) for a MAN. So, in essence I was going to keep my name for the sake of others and how they see me, and not for me.

It's funny - I'm sure women in my parent's generation who didn't change their name were looked upon as strange. Now though, at least in my experience, people seemed surprised when I tell them I'm changing my name --- like this means I'm giving up myself to my husband, or that he's forcing me to do it. That is so far from the truth. I want to do it, and I don't feel I need to explain why.

At the DPS conference I had "hislastname" ("mylastname") on my nametag so that people would put two and two together and figure out I'm still the same person. That was the first time I started going by "hislastname", and I liked it.

Sure, it was weird, and it'll be a while before I'm used to it, but I like the fact that I'm his wife and I (personally) think sharing his name is a big part of it. An extra bonus? It makes it harder for those pesky ex-boyfriends to find me!

I feel that this is an entirely new era in my life, so why not start it with a new name? So, at the DMV today I changed my name to his and only his - not because I have to, but because I want too. So, with that we bid adieu to single me!

Monday, October 13, 2008

DPS 2008

I'm currently at the DPS (Division of Planetary Science) meeting in Ithaca, NY, and am feeling a wide range of things - excitement and motivation, guilt, and "who AM I??", all in sequential order. Let me explain.

The first day or two of a conference are very exciting and motivating. Everyone seems so excited about their work, you get ideas for your own project that you can't wait to implement when you get home, and all is just hunky-dory.

Then it happens - people start asking me what I want to do after I'm done my PhD (which will, fingers crossed, be next summer). I start to flounder - not really sure what to say. I try to make it sound like I'm open for anything, but it ends up coming out like I don't really care about my career.

The real answer is that I don't know because we will be moving to where my husband can find a job he likes. We both want this since we'd like to start a family soon and I'll be the one staying home with the kids. Plus, he's going into industry and only has a few options in his field.

So, why do I feel so guilty about this? Why can't I just say "I'm going to wait until we move and then look for a position" and not be wishy-washy about it? I know exactly why

1) I don't want people think I'm making a decision based on a MAN (even if he is my husband)
2) I feel like if I get offered a position (or even the glimpse of an offer) I should jump at the chance because who knows if anyone else would want me to work for them
3) I don't want to admit to people that I really DON'T know what I want to do after I'm done even if I COULD go anywhere. It's embarrassing in this field where everyone seems to base their life soley on their career --- the end all and be all.

This brings me to my last point. At the DPS Women's lunch today we were talking about presentation styles and how men are a certain way and women are another. In our area, I find women have to basically act like men to get respect. They have to talk like a man, act like a man, and dress like a man. But today we were talking about how we shouldn't have to do that. Which makes sense, until you try it and you end up looking like a woman (whatever that means).

So, the question is, do we as women turn ourselves into men to demand respect, or should we just keep plugging away at being ourselves and hope that it all works out in the end?