Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Not much has changed, but little by little I'm seeing some improvements, largely because of good people in my life.

Still no job, but over the last few days I've sent in a couple of applications for real jobs at real universities that would give me real paychecks. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I discovered these listings because of a lovely relative who told me where to look. I would never have found this site on my own.

A wonderful professor of mine from my MA has been helping me with my grant proposal and application (much more than he ought to feel remotely obligated to do). One component of the proposal that had been worrying me was the requirement of securing a letter of affiliation from a foreign institution. In the past, not all candidates have been sucessful in filling this requirement. Imagine: you send a letter to a professor or a librarian or an archivist or a research lab director whose name you've found on the institution's website, essentially a cold call, saying "I'm a student/graduate at University X, I'm writing a grant, you don't know me from Adam but is it okay for me to come invade your lab for a year in the unlikely event that the committee should award me the grant?" Now you understand why it can be sticky. However, if an applicant is lucky enough to know someone who has a connection to another someone at that institution, and the first someone is willing to organize an introduction and give a recommendation. . .well, it significantly simplifies the process. I happen to have such charmed luck, since my prof did his PhD at the university whose aid I am soliciting. He's already heard back from the friend we've asked to sponsor me, in the affirmative. Now I'm just waiting for the hard copy of the letter. With some auspicious aid, I've gotten over one of the biggest hurdles in this lengthy process.

Last week I had coffee with a friend who is a fantastically experienced creative writing instructor and editor, and over the course of our chat I shed some fears about writing fiction. There's a novel that's been rolling around in my head for several years now, and I haven't had the courage to really start it because it's such an important story to me, one that I believe has to be told, and I'm terrified of screwing it up. I love this story. It's a bit of folklore that has haunted me since childhood, and over the course of my life it keeps creeping back into my consciousness. I've come into an awareness of its universality. Writing it down and fleshing it out intimidates me. My friend told me to just write it, that passion for the story matters, and the rest will work out in the editng process. It's still slow going in these earlier stages, but I'm working it out mentally in ways that I hadn't been able to before, being blocked by fear. It may take a month or a year or ten to get this manuscript onto paper, but it will happen.

God bless these people. It's good to feel like I'm not going it alone.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Escribo, escribo

The two parts of my life that suck right now:

1. I am sending out résumés like mad and still have no job.

2. After a nice stint of around eight years free of them, I started have panic attacks again about a week ago. I've had two now, and I hate them. They're awful in their moment, but mostly I hate them because they're a sign that I'm cracking up and they make me feel like a wus that can't handle life. Luckily I have a mostly-full bottle of anti-anxiety sedatives that the good doctor prescribed for me last fall. I used only one pill the week of my comps, but I'm glad I kept the rest in the drawer.

Some other parts of my life that rock right now:

1. My husband (this is always, not just right now).

2. After an icky stint of writer's block, I've broken free and am writing again. A dear editor friend sent me a wonderful exercise for sketching a novel. It's proven useful. So, I'm writing that novel I've been joking about for a while, the one I swore I'd never really write. It's taking shape and my excitement about it is super-nerdy, even for me. I'm planning a couple of other novels when this one gets going. I still have to flesh out the plan for that non-fiction book, but it's finally coming together. Most importantly at present, my research proposals have moved beyond "ugly mess" to "workable".

3. The data collection stage of the current research project is up and running. I love my data.

4. I think I'm on track for my big intimidating scholarship/grant application. God bless the offices at CU that still help alums.

5. The seeds I planted ten days ago have finally sprouted.

So, I'm hopelessly unemployed, but I'm keeping busy.

Monday, June 1, 2009

poquito a poco, ¿progreso?

Still no job offers, but my CV looks lovely (thanks Aunt Tam!) and will be sent out in multiples to various intitutions of higher education this very afternoon. So, something is happening. Now, if only I could find something to tide us over for the rest of the summer. . .

I've spent the last half hour on the laughably named "servicio de cliente" line for our bank in Mexico, trying desperately to get a bank statement. The poor girl just couldn't get it into her head that we wanted it sent to the U.S., and that I can't just drive over to my local branch at the moment. She transferred me to an English speaker, and now my husband is dealing with her and seeming to have better luck. I love Mexico, but somedays I am exasperated by Mexico, even when I'm not there. It's similar to the relationship I have with the U.S., but one of the two is home, at least.

I realized something a few months ago that I never posted: if I take apart the name of our former residence, completely ignoring its true etymology, I come up with something like this: peñ-asco. Ha! Porque me da asco. Ay, el asco que me daba! I know, if you don't speak Spanish you don't get it, but it means something like, "Wow, but that rocky place sure is nauseating".

But I'm back in my nation of citizenship, jobless but without necessity of a work visa, and hopeful that something will come up shortly.

And a regretful(?) notice to Rocketgirl: don't hold your breath for us join you in your prospective Wisconsin anytime in the near future. Sorry.