RBOC

  • As I dig into old drafts for post ideas, I wonder, am I running out of ideas?
  • I guess a lot of my brain cycles are taken up with incipient fascism and there’s only so much I can talk about that without everyone getting depressed.  Plus my kids are older and their business is their business to a much greater extent.  Nobody wants to discuss teens or even pre-teens like they want to discuss toddlers.
  • I will say that my kids are really really neat.  Watching them grow up into their own people is so amazing.  It’s crazy that DC1 will be off to college in a year and we think zie is going to be ok on hir own.
  • That said, I am a little concerned about DC1 being able to actually feed hirself.  Everything else, no problem.  Choosing food and getting it eaten before low blood sugar sets in, maybe not as confident.  (This is something zie inherited from me, but I didn’t realize until I was married and DH pointed it out because his mom has the same problem if she doesn’t eat.  At least DC1 grew up knowing.)  Like I’ve said before, a college with full dining hall service would be ideal.
  • DC2 grew a full inch last month.  Now 4’9″.  Soon I will be the shortest person in the house except for the cat.
  • Maybe I’ve said all the things I had to say.  Like, I had 30-odd years to think up the things that got detailed long posts on the blog back when we started and now I’ve already written about them and don’t need to write about them again.  So that leaves little twitter-sized snippets.  But I don’t have twitter, so they end up on these RBOC.
  • I have been having a lot of headaches recently.  I am not a fan.  I don’t know if it’s pressure or menopause or not enough stretching my upper-back/neck after doing various exercises with dumbells (lateral lifts are hard!).  Or maybe I’m just not sleeping correctly.  Stretches, massages, hot baths, and just heat in general seem to help (also OTC painkillers, though sometimes it takes two kinds).  Also it not being overcast helps.
  • I’m definitely getting to the age where I can talk about my aches and pains ad infinitum.  I try not to in polite company though!
  • Exercise continues to be happening.  I think I feel more nimble and stronger?  It’s not as obvious as with DH who has been doing it for a year now.

On being rich (high income) again after a stint of unemployment

Prior to DH’s last unemployment spell, I was feeling uncomfortable about having so much income.  I felt guilt because I was one of the “haves” (I probably still feel this, and it’s probably a good thing for me!  So don’t talk me out of it with conservative talking points), but also I had this odd sense that I should be looking for things to spend money on.  Money felt meaningless and valueless and there was no reason NOT to just order that $80 bottle of olive oil, or two even, no reason not to put money on the nicest AirBNB available for the trip we never ended up taking etc.  The only thing keeping me from buying all the pens (and I did buy a lot) was the knowledge that they might dry up before getting used!

Then DH got unemployed for several months and we were living on just my income.  We lived comfortably, but mainly because we didn’t have any big expenditures due to luck (being between appliance breakdowns) and the pandemic returning all our travel moneys and preventing us from spending on any new travel or fancy camps or expensive daytrips to the city or even eating out much.  (I still bought pens.)  It sort of felt like we were back to normal, but with more masks, hand sanitizer, and stationery.

Now we’re back to making more money than we’ve ever made and more than I ever dreamed of and somehow money has meaning and I’m not just buying all the things. But also I’m not freaking out when our water heaters end up costing almost twice as much as they were supposed to.  It’s just money and we have money.  But also, when it cost $1K+ for DH and the kids to see family from the closest city airport this summer, we decided it was worth the extra 30 min drive to the closest airport to save $500.  Was that a good decision?  I don’t know!  I refuse to feel either guilty or superior about it.  It seemed like a reasonable tradeoff at the time– 30 min plus a small amount of gas and car depreciation to save $500.

Several of the extremely wealthy and high income (white male) economists I know are also pretty frugal.  They spend money when it’s worthwhile but they also take advantage of sales and bargain down in situations where you can bargain.  I’m not sure it’s rational to do that when your consulting rate is $500/hr, but, they seem to think it is.

I’m not sure what caused the change in me.  Maybe it was just time.  But also I think having experienced via his last unemployment spell the knowledge that this high income really isn’t forever.  DH’s current job is a start-up and it may end if it runs out of runway.  Maybe it’s the knowledge that DC1 will be starting college soon and we’ll have to cash flow some of it if zie ends up at one of hir top choices.  (If zie ends up at the state flagship I don’t know what will happen to all those savings– $228K as of this writing, down from a high of $275K(!)– but I’m sure we will figure something out.)

So what am I doing while we wait for another shoe to drop?  Mostly I’ve been putting regular money into the stock market– a little bit more than my take-home pay each month most (but not all) months in order to get down our precautionary savings to what we actually need as precautionary savings should DH suddenly lose his job at the beginning of an unpaid summer (or, alternatively, I rage quit).  We’re down to that number now, so there will be less funneling money into the markets next year.  Having that money put away also helps the feeling of being artificially middle-class.

We’re still living well, and we’re still in a situation where rising grocery costs just means we shift to buying more luxury goods (that suddenly cost the same as non-luxury products that used to be much less expensive) and we’re still able to not sweat unexpected costs or even stupid money mistakes.  But our money situation no longer feels quite so surreal or consumerist.

How are you feeling about your income vs. spending with rising prices and loosened pandemic restrictions?

Navel gazing on goals and midlife crises

It seems like everyone I read online is stepping back to focus on enjoying life and working less.

I’m not thrilled with my work right now and I’m not that interested in the projects I’m currently doing.  But I’m resisting this notion of purposefully cutting back.

The truth is, I like being busy.  I like accomplishing things.  I like *having accomplished* things.  I also like reading books and watching youtube videos and eating yummy food.  I like reading cookbooks, and if I don’t have much to do, cooking ranks as a hobby.  I think I enjoy the quiet life that I fit in around the edges of my job.  I love my little family to pieces– DH is my world, my kids are amazing, our cat is sweet and adorable.  Maybe not healthy, but they do bring me joy and make it extremely easy to practice daily mindfulness.  #blessed

The things I’m not currently delighted with (and could, indeed, be the subject of New Years resolutions or February challenges or just life goals in general) are 1. persistent work worries, 2. a feeling of fractured attention (ever since I got a cell phone 6 years ago… was it Trump or Twitter or both?), 3. a concern that I’m not doing enough activism, and 4. a general underlying feeling that I’m not particularly physically fit these days.  This last one seems both the easiest to address in terms of obvious actionable items but is also the one I care about the least. Though having problems with plantar fasciitis and injuring myself doing online yoga videos or calisthenics and so on have really shaken my underlying belief that I can, someday when I get around to it, just get back into shape.

The work worries are the biggest thing bothering me right now (besides things I can’t do as much about, *gestures at incipient fascism*).  Their two main things are 1.  I’m great at planning but am currently having difficulties with motivation which is kind of weird for me– in the past even if I’m not motivated to do one thing, I can productively procrastinate with how motivated that makes me to do other work.  #CatholicGuilt and 2.  Although I currently have two solid projects that are almost done (both literally need a week of work from a coauthor and a little pushing from me before getting sent out), I don’t have any big projects set up after that.  I have lots of little projects that me 6 years ago would never have even started because they’re so little, but they have student coauthors and grant funders and so on who deserve these smaller publications to be published.  Two of them are even currently R&R and just need to get DONE (the second R&R the student is working on, the first R&R the student has graduated, gotten a full time job, and had a baby so it’s all me.).  I know the path forward for these smaller projects and just need to get them out so I can start thinking big thoughts again and try to get back into the mindset of solid field journal paper in economics.  But I need space and time for that, and I think part of me is afraid of having that space and time in case I end up with nothing.  Which may be why I’m procrastinating on the smaller papers that need to get done.

And sometimes I wonder… I mean, I could just give it all up.  Give up my association memberships (including the new unexpected one), give up my identity as an economist, and I dunno, organize my house or something.  I find sorting things calming, so long as there’s a purpose to it and nobody unsorts it right away.  Then I could focus on stepping back and working less or something.  I mean, I really have nothing to step closer to.

I was brought up to believe that I should be productive, that I have gifts and I should be using those gifts to make the world a better place for other people.  I can do a LOT of that in my job– researching important topics with policy implications, mentoring students, mentoring junior faculty, teaching really well, removing students’ undeserved math phobia and building their (deserved) confidence, making sure that meetings are efficient and we actually move things forward based on best evidence (people who don’t remember meetings where this doesn’t happen don’t appreciate this last thing).  What if I were more selfish and just I dunno, spend the days cooking and reading novels?  (No gardening since I’m allergic to so many plants.)  Would I feel guilty?  Would I be unable to do it and end up throwing myself into volunteering and be miserable so doing?

Fractured attention– doomscrolling twitter is problematic.  I definitely feel more focused when I don’t start the day reading twitter.  But I can’t block it on my phone because of my stupid dual factor authentication software that I need for work.  Likewise I can’t just leave my phone elsewhere because of said software.  So although this seems like a simple thing to fix, it actually requires willpower.  I’m trying to think of if there is any device I could use for duo that doesn’t also have twitter… and … maybe my university has a usb fob that you can stick into some computers?  I don’t know if that works for the web-based things I need or just for logging into university computers, but I suppose I could try.  Looked it up– NOPE.  So, still need my phone.

Not doing enough activism.  Right now I’m not sure what I should be doing.  It was easier when other people were also doing activism.  It sounds like people are starting to get over being burned out, so this may be a place I can focus again.  I should make it clear– I do not enjoy doing activism.  This is something I hate doing.  It does not bring me joy.  But it is really important.  How best to do it right now, I don’t know.  But I do know it is really important and we are at a potential inflection point in the US and we cannot keep quiet or we may lose all the gains we’ve been fighting for for the past 50-100 years or more.  We need to protect our democracy and we need to protect vulnerable people.  The promise of the American Dream is in our hands.

And yeah, physical fitness.  Just needs time and probably money.  I should probably join co-Pilot like DH has and just do what the trainer says to do.  But I don’t wanna.  I do not want to.  So I will keep up with my desultory walking around and occasionally trying things until I hurt myself and give up.  I am being honest that this is not a priority.  And I’m sure there will be comments from people trying to talk me out of it (oh, but you will feel so much better in every other aspect of your life, oh all you need to do is X etc.), but all those will serve to do is vaguely irritate me.  I’m not a total lump.  My bloodwork numbers are fine.  I get my 10,000 steps in or whatever (though now while wearing slippers with arches instead of barefoot).  I will do whatever I do on physical fitness on my own timeframe.

So where does that leave me?  Still waiting for space, I think.  Still trying to find the perfect organizational system when really I know it’s not the organizing that’s the problem, it’s the willpower.  But I’ll get these papers in and coauthors will finish things, eventually.  And time will move forward.  And I’ve got some space this semester and even more next year.  I’ll be fine.

Here’s what Scalzi says about his New Years Planning:

2020 was the year a lot of things fell apart for me (and for everyone else, to be fair); 2021 was in many ways a year for me to rest and regroup; 2022 is hopefully the year I’ll start building some of the structures and practices that could carry on for me for the next several years.

Maybe that will be for me too… I just have to get some of these small projects out the door first.

Are you thinking of ramping up, cutting back, or reorganizing this year?

I am not ok

I have not dreaded a school year starting this much since grad school.  Or maybe even middle school.

My state government wants to kill my family and me and everyone else too in some kind of political power move.  It is unpleasant knowing that super villains are both real and in charge.  And most of the parents I know are too burned out to fight anymore.  (The irritating “liberal” White Doods, though, are still happy to tell us that everything is pointless and also anything we do is wrong.)

Last year’s thing with the associate dean really killed my desire to get up in front of a required core class, especially one where I have all the people who signed up late because it’s an 8am class and the later sections are full.  The previous year’s cheating scandal also still lingers.  And the year before the insane and potentially dangerous student who started threatening me because on the first day of class I asked him to move up a few rows (and my chair just sat there after forcing a meeting with him and listened to him accuse me of things until I left)– he did get moved to the online version of the class and went on to threaten other female faculty members and students in his other classes… nothing was done about him.

I don’t want to go into the office, and one of the reasons is because the anti-masker pro-gun faculty member who encouraged last year’s student to go to the associate dean now has an office directly next to mine.  And of course he goes in every day.  I assume he’s gotten vaccinated, but if he keeps up what he’s been doing (meeting with crazy right-wing students unmasked in his office and classroom) eventually he’ll probably get a breakthrough infection.  Who knows.  Maybe he’ll take horse dewormer and get super sick.  One can always hope.

I worry that I can’t protect my kids.  DC2 is homeschooling but DC1 or I could easily bring the virus home.  And probably zie would be ok.  But there’s also a chance zie wouldn’t. Or that there would be long-term consequences that affect hir entire life.  I will do a lot to protect my kids that I will not do to protect myself because they don’t have the power to make these decisions yet.

One of my colleagues quit this summer without another job lined up because he and his wife couldn’t stand living here anymore.  Last night I dreamed he got a last minute position at Delagar’s school where masks are required.

I wish I were taking this semester off as unpaid leave.  And indeed, if I get called into the associate dean’s office again this year, that’s what I’m going to do.  Take leave without pay for the rest of the semester.  The students can have the monotone adjunct for the rest of the semester while I do more job applications.

Maybe it won’t be as bad as I’m worrying.  But now that I think on it, this class has been wildly problematic for the last 3 years.  And this year I have nothing to protect me from the rabid Trump loving anti-masking anti-vaxxers like I did last year.  It’s not irrational to be dreading this semester.

But I do have an escape plan.  I can leave.  Heck, I could even quit my career at this point and Barista FI (though being an actual Barista sounds pretty awful).

In which I collect things

As recent readers are aware, I recently swapped out desks.  Doing so gave me a chance to sort through my top desk drawer.

Drawer packed full of pens

This doesn’t really give an idea of the sheer *depth* of pens. I cannot fit the loose pens in the back into one fistful. That is at least two fistfuls of pens, not counting the pens in the front or the ones in packaging.

It turns out that I have a lot of pens.  I mean a LOT.  Jetpens during the pandemic is definitely part of the problem.  Trying to find the perfect pen for Postcards to Voters (Pilot Multiball, btw), and also starting a paper planner on nice Moleskine paper, these also contributed.

Pens I actually use (mostly just the Clena and Pilot G2, but the rest are useful for occasional planner stuff).

But before pens, it was hand sanitizer.  And masks.  I have more of either than I will ever use (though I did manage to give away a lot of the excess masks– I hope fancy hand sanitizer will still work as a class prize Fall semester…).

Lots of hand sanitizer.

Remember the ‘tizer.

I think I just have a problem!

I was talking to my friend who has a candle problem and asked what I should collect now that I owned all the hand sanitizer in the world and certainly did not need any more pens (and I’m allergic to candles and a lot of kinds of makeup).  It turns out that at some point in my life I have collected almost everything she suggested.

Purses:  that stopped in college when I lost all my IDs by leaving my purse in a classroom.
Shoes: I have not collected these but I am super picky and have to try them on.
Cat Decor: I did this most of elementary/middle school.
Video games: DH collects these and has more than he will ever be able to play.
Jewelry: I stopped this in middle school after my sister destroyed all of my necklaces and I was sad.
Dolls: My sister collected these. I had two.  This was another thing of mine she occasionally destroyed.
Stuffed animals: DC2 collects these.
Nail Polish: I had my phase in middle school.
Fish: I cannot keep anything alive that does not tell me when it is hungry. See also plants.
Actual cats: See Cat Saga.
Socks: This one is tempting and I’ve sort of started doing it. The problem is that I don’t actually wear socks much– I’m either in tights or sandals most of the time. I rarely wear tennis shoes or hiking boots, which are my only shoes that actually accommodate socks.

It’s not about things, per-se, though it has been things during the pandemic to a much greater extent than usual.

I just like sets.  I like completing things.  I like trying things and trying them all.  I don’t actually need to own all the pens, but I wanted to try them out.  Libraries are great for this– I can try books and then only buy the ones I really liked and will read again.

We go through cookbooks systematically from start to finish. During the pandemic at the grocery story I will try one of every kind of a category. Like Fizzy water or chocolate with almonds or fancy ice creams. Sometimes I’ll just type in a word in the search like “pistachio” or “mango” and just get all the random stuff that comes up. Or like, “German” which is how I found my new favorite brand of muesli (that doesn’t come up when you look up Muesli because it’s spelled differently!).  I’ve tried most of the non-candy stuff at nuts.com (and pretty much all of the chocolate candy with nuts or fruit in it).

It is probably better to stick with gazingus pins that are edible or returnable.  To complete collections of experiences instead of things that clutter or drain the pocketbook.

I woke up with the certainty that I should start collecting cute paperclips.

In the mean time, the kids get to take fancy pens to school next Fall and I won’t be fussed if they lose them.

What do you collect?  Do you systematically go through anything?  Have these habits changed throughout the pandemic for you?

On teenagers’ role in the household

Wow, this draft was last touched in 2011.  I have a teenager now– I think I will finish this post using italics so you can see what has changed in the past 10 years now that I’m less ignorant!  I bet I know less!

Disclaimer:  we don’t have any yet.  Update:  We have one teenager and one almost-9 year old.

Often it is said that your teenagers need you more as a SAHP than they did as toddlers.  This was maybe a bit true last year– the transition from doing nothing academically in middle-school to all of a sudden having AP classes and homework in every class and being expected to know things that weren’t taught in middle-school was pretty traumatic for everyone.  There was also just a ton of hir needing to remember things.  Last year turning in English assignments (last period of the day) was the WORST, and zie kept making the exact same MLA citation mistake on every single paper and getting Cs because of it.  THE SAME MISTAKE.  But this year has been a lot better.  I don’t know if it’s getting more sleep, having everything set with deadlines electronically, the more flexibility that the pandemic has brought or what, but oddly having DC1 home 24/7 has been less stressful and less time for us than hir going to school.  (The same is not true for DC2!)  [Though to be fair, they have never needed me as a SAHP.  I guess technically DH is a SAHP right now, but looking for work and doing unemployment training stuff is kind of a part-time job, so…]

I sure hope that’s not true.

I hope my DC is mature enough at that point to make good decisions on hir own.  I hope I’m mature enough to trust DC to make those decisions, even if they end up becoming learning experiences.  For the most part DC1 is mature and makes good decisions.  Zie just needs to do some kind of extra-curricular and also there are some things zie can work on in terms of project management, but those aren’t bad decisions so much as small mistakes.

Working mom from generations of working moms…  This is still true– the point I wanted to make here was that I had friends/acquaintances whose moms were SAHM and who basically catered to their every whim and made sure they met deadlines and helped them with their art projects and science fair projects and so on.  I was expected to figure this stuff out myself– my mom had work, and school was my work.  So starting in 5th grade or so she stopped going through my back-pack and just expected me to get good grades, which I did.  (In 5th grade we also got school planners and they had to be signed every night– my mom ended up telling me just to forge her signature, which I did.  I still can!  She better not let me near her checkbooks!)

if my mom is to be believed, she cleaned the entire house and got her younger siblings to school every morning..  I never had to do anything like that, but I was expected to be responsible for myself. 

I wasn’t quite that much of a superwoman, but I started helping with hardcore chores by age 7 and was cooking dinner several nights a week by the time I was a teenager…  This is true!  I could cook many things by heart.  Oh hey, it looks like I say what I wanted to say here a couple sentences lower.  I just the patterns of my brain haven’t changed much in the past 10 years.

I was more helpful as a teen than as a younger kid.

This benefited me as well… by the time I was on my own I knew how to cook and grocery shop and do basic cleaning.  I’d been taught.  I had years of practice.  Just because I choose not to do many of these things now doesn’t mean I don’t know how.

As the kid gets older, zie waits on the parents rather than the other way around.  That’s how I was brought up.  I had kind of hoped for this, but alas, DC1 has to be cajoled to empty the dishwasher or make hir one meal a week etc.  The cajoling often takes both parents (zie only does it, with grumbling, when the SECOND parent, usually DH, says zie has to).  DC2 has been pretty helpful on the days that school assignments get done super early.  I think zie gets bored. 

Sure, I went through normal stages of teenage angst… and was treated with sympathetic but amused indulgence that it probably deserved.  DC1 had some rebel-ly angst last year, but sometime last year zie  found out that one of hir friends has a terrible homelife (zie was telling us this this year while in pandemic, not last year when it actually happened– zie hasn’t kept in touch with the kid, otherwise I’d have suggested zie bring the kid home sometimes) and that made hir grateful for us.  And then this year there’s just been no angst at all, which I attribute to being able to get up at 8 instead of 6.  Sleep is important!

I had friends who went through more abnormal stages of teenage angst.  Mostly coinciding with parents divorcing.  Some with SAHM (I’m not sure what I meant by this or who I was thinking about).  My mom bought a pregnancy test for a friend of mine…(huh, was her mom a SAHM?  I have lost that memory!)  Some angst caused by parents, abuse… (There’s a reason kids go away to boarding school…)  When we were residence assistants in graduate school we had a student who was an only child with a very overbearing mom… he was a stress case.  One nice thing about being busy with work is that it’s really hard to cause too much damage through overparenting– there just isn’t *time*!  I mean, maybe if you’re that law professor at Yale who is super messed up (apparently she hosted inappropriate parties this past year in exchange for clerkship recommendations and her husband is not supposed to be alone with law students and it sounds like there’s a lot going on besides the Tiger Mom stuff).  But most of us don’t have that kind of energy! 

So… I wonder how to end this.  Maybe just with a series of questions for Grumpy Nation.

Obligatory update:  A commenter reminded me that the mommy wars exist and I forgot to put a disclaimer #NotAllSAHP.  You do you, bro.  Empirical evidence says it DOESN’T MATTER (low SES kids do better in high quality preschool, bad preschools are worse than educated moms… and nothing else makes a lick of difference). That’s another nice thing about having a teenager instead of a toddler– all this stupid stuff people get angry about is years and years away.  I’ve completely forgotten all the stuff that the patriarchy forces women to fight about as if it matters instead of fighting a common enemy.  And I was just reminded the other day when a friend of mine mentioned a facebook war she was watching about whether or not it was ok to call your pets your children and yourself your pets’ mom.  Maybe now that Trump is out of office, we’re back to our own stupidities?  Guys, voter suppression is going on in a huge number of states.  Figure out what your state is doing and make phonecalls.  Also call your federal MOC and ask them to pass HR1.  

What do you think teenagers’ role in the household is?  Were you a help or a hindrance to your parents as a teenager?  If applicable:  Do your kids wait on you or the other way around?  What should they be doing?

Ask the grumpies: Have you ever had a conversation that permanently changed your life?

CG asks:

Have you ever had a conversation that changed your life permanently? How?

I’m sure that I have, and probably lots of them, but I’ve been coming up blank which is why this question has been put off so long.  I mean, I had a conversation once that made me realize that mortgage interest wasn’t the same as credit card interest which changed things… but did it really change things that much?  I feel really bad because this is such an interesting question and I am dying to read everyone else’s answer, but I’ve just been coming up blank.  I’ve had a couple of conversations with people that lead to quick publications, which is always nice, but I’m not sure how life-changing that is, just you know, marginally.

We’ve read books that have changed our lives.  But that’s not a conversation.  I’ve had conversations with people that they claim caused them to permanently change their lives.  Apparently an off-hand comment I made to a friend about how dating without the internet was just as risky as dating using an internet service led her to meet her future husband through a dating app.  Another friend credits my saying that she didn’t need to go into the family business if she didn’t want to and she should think about what she’s interested in as jump-starting her career, but I think she would have gotten there on her own anyway.  I’ve saved a few of my colleagues hundreds of thousands of retirement dollars by explaining that they need to use TIAA-Cref or Fidelity rather than the super expensive retirement place that sends people around to get them to sign up with their program.  They don’t realize that I’ve changed their lives permanently and probably won’t ever know or remember, but I did.  A colleague credits me for introducing her to early potty training which she says was life-changing (I don’t even remember doing this!  But there was a time when I was super into explaining it.)

What does it say about my massive ego that I remember when people tell me I’ve changed their lives with random conversations but I don’t remember other people changing mine?  Nothing good!  Also it’s weird that it’s always the off-handed comments that I barely remember that seem to spark people.  Life is so random!

Grumpy Nation, please answer CG’s question!  It’s so fascinating!

What’s your Jungian archetypal dream?

So lately the anxiety dreams I’ve been having have revolved around forgetting to wear a mask or being the only masked person around lots of unmasked people.  I assume this was not part of Jung’s collective unconscious categorization, and perhaps evidence (since I know I’m not the only person who has had this dream) that maybe folks having similar dreams isn’t that mystical.

But there are a lot of random bizarre dreams that people share.

My biggest one is where my teeth fall out.  Before the internet, I thought this was just a me thing.  But now I know I am not alone.  (See also:  a support page for people who hiccup when they eat carrots, which I also thought was just a weird me thing, though sadly it is no longer up.)

Another common anxiety dream is public nudity.  For me I always discover I’m in a trench coat or bathrobe with nothing underneath and I somehow have to make it back to safety without anyone realizing.

I don’t have the flying dream, though when I was a child I did– I used to jump off a piece of playground equipment and just fly and it would be like swimming.  As an adult I guess I’m just too heavy even in my dream world.

#2 put peeing here as one of hers.  Apparently it is a thing even though it’s not my thing and is thought to have something to do with physiological needs.

#2 also notes nightmares about teaching where she shows up and she’s not prepared or she has forgotten to bring the exam on exam day or she’s been signed up to teach a class but doesn’t figure it out until the last day.  Fortunately those seem to have stopped or at least slowed down since leaving academia.  Not sure if Jung had that on his list, but the reverse as a student is super common.

I know several people, including both of us, who have had a recurring nightmare that the phd was a mistake and we have to go back and redo graduate school.  Mine is even worse– I have to redo high school(!) in order to get my PhD back.

Those are our recurring dreams that we share with some subset of the human race (I notice now that with the exception of flying, and maybe peeing, they’re pretty much all anxiety dreams!)  What are yours?  Tell me I’m not alone in the teeth one.

Why I don’t want to list my pronouns

I’ve been thinking a lot the last couple of years about gender and sexuality.  I’ve been learning a lot more about other people and about myself too.

I’ve mentioned before that I only recently learned that demi-sexual is a thing, and is in fact, a thing that explains so much of my life (and why I will never ever be able to do modern-style dating if something terrible happens to DH).

I have *always* thought that gender was just a construct and an unfair one at that.  I have never understood the actual concept of people being male or people being female.  Male and female to me was always something that society assigned and assigned roles for based on my chromosomes and physical characteristics at birth.  I’ve never cared about my clothing being masculine or feminine, just that it be comfortable and appropriate for whatever venue I have to be in (I LOVED grunge in the 1990s, and my pandemic wardrobe is DH’s old t-shirts with workout shorts/pants). I have always figured I was female because it is much easier to be female than it is to be a trans man.  If DH was ok with it and I had a magic wand, I would totally switch sexes and reap the benefit of all that male privilege.

At some point, I realized that other people do identify as male or female and not because society has tricked them, because trans women exist.  In order to give up that male privilege, they must really truly identify with being female.  Thus it makes sense that some people truly identify with being male, even if their chromosomes are XX.  And there are likely XX-types who feel they must be women and XY-types who feel they must be men.  This is just one of those things that I don’t understand, much like the way my demi-sexuality makes it so I don’t understand instant sexual attraction.  But just because I don’t understand something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.  People are different and that’s ok.

After a lot of thought, I have decided of the types of genders listed out there, I am probably non-binary.  But I’m also the kind of non-binary that doesn’t have gender dysphoria (so I can’t even answer many of those “am I non-binary” online quiz questions). That is because I don’t understand the concept of gender at all (except as a construct of how society views me). I don’t care if people gender me male or female or non-binary or what have you.  People who are non-binary who really identify with not being male or female might have negative effects being mis-gendered as something they’re not.  Me, I don’t care.  It’s not that I need to come out because I’m fine with how other people gender me (other than the whole misogyny thing) because my view of gender is exactly that– how other people gender me.

Lots of people have started listing their preferred pronouns on their zoom profiles and email signatures.  The idea is that if CIS-gendered people (that’s people whose gender identity matches their chromosomes/sex characteristics) start doing this, it will seem more normal for trans and non-binary people.

The one part of my gender identity that seems real is that I do not want to label myself. I do not want to bring attention to my gender.  I don’t want to list she/her because I resent being treated in the way that women are treated.  I don’t want to put down he/him because people look at me and see a woman and that would cause cognitive dissonance and problems I don’t want to deal with, even though I would prefer to be treated as if I were male.  (I wish we were *all* treated like white men on the lowest difficulty setting and given the benefit of the doubt etc.)  I don’t want to put they/them because it doesn’t bother me to be referred to as she or he and I know it’s hard for people to get used to the they/them construct and I don’t want to be the person they practice on.  (Maybe that’s selfish?  But I don’t think I have to always sacrifice myself.  I’m already gendered as a woman by society.)  I don’t want to draw attention to myself or to have to explain this whole, “I don’t understand gender” thing.  Someone would likely try to explain it to me(!)

On a recent anonymous survey, we were given multiple choices for gender and I happily picked female and non-binary.  When I only get to pick one of male/female/other, I assume they mean “how do others view you” so I pick female.  I think this is different from the pronoun listing because with the pronoun listing it really feels like I am saying, “this is what I *prefer*” and it isn’t.  I would prefer people treat me (and everyone else) like a dude.  I would prefer there not be genders at all!  (But I understand that some people prefer gender, so as long as it isn’t hurting others, do what you will.)

If I were forced to do the pronoun thing, I would write: (whatever/whatever).  But I know that seems flip and not helpful for people who want to make their genders clear because it is part of their internal identity.  So I’m glad we’re not forced.  (Briefly considers an email sig with “pronouns:  it’s all good,” rejects it.)

And I think this is ok.  I’m not making fun of listing the pronouns.  I understand why they’re important, and I think it is great that CIS people are adding them to their profiles.  But I do not want to do it myself.  Not because I think they’re bad or wrong but because I really do not want to label myself with a gender.  I hope this absence doesn’t harm anyone or make me less of an ally, but there’s so little that I care about when it comes to gender that the fact that I do care about this one thing… well, I think I should listen to myself, especially since I’ve determined it isn’t coming from a place of internalized bigotry.  I don’t want to lie and say I prefer she/her when I in fact do not prefer it.  It turns out that I really do care that I don’t care.

Also, I love the comic strip, egscomics even though the beginning is immature and the storylines take years.  I think it’s neat how the author has played with gender identity and how different cast members have different levels of it.  Now I have the Ranma 1/2 season 1 theme stuck in my head.

Have you put pronouns on your stuff?  Why or why not?

Ask the grumpies: What do you want to do when you retire?

CG asks:

What do you want to do when you retire? My motivation for asking is I’m always interested in these people who retire at 40 or 50–they have a lot of time left if things go well and what kinds of things do they want to do or accomplish with their second act? This applies to people who plan to retire at a more traditional age as well.

#1 doesn’t really plan on retiring.  I don’t know what I would do.  I’m honestly not very good at being unproductive 100% of the time (I am very good at being unproductive on weekends) and I’m sure I would feel huge amounts of guilt if I weren’t doing something to make the world a better place.  Depending on the trajectory that the US ends up in, I would probably end up miserable trying to herd volunteer cats to fight the power.  The life of a professor in which I gently nudge students to think critically about their goals and how to achieve them while also removing their math phobia seems a lot better than that.  If the world was in a good place, I don’t know, probably go places to try eating new things, read more challenging novels than I do now, and watch youtube videos.  I’d probably also exercise more.  I would hopefully not waste too much time arguing with people who are wrong on the internet, but who knows.

#2 loves the idea of retirement and would read books, foster kittens, and travel to Italy to eat.  Also all the naps.