Thursday, December 12, 2019


I saw a post recently that the inane "Are you ready for the holidays?" is a question asked exclusively to women, assuming they bear the brunt of orchestrating a magic-filled and memorable holiday season for their (nuclear and extended!) family. Yes lets pile on more expectations! There isn't enough to be stressed out about with work and parenting and trying to stay sane and healthy!

Yes, I guess I am "ready" for the holidays. We did a little decorating, I got some presents for the kids online that have been delivered either here or to MIL's house, and we booked our travel (several months ago, actually). When we show up at MIL's house we can put up her little (fake, pre-lit) tree and wrap presents.

This weekend is B's birthday party---just a few friends, like he wanted. We made this super-simple---rented 2 lanes at bowling alley for 2 hours and bringing (per his request): Doritos (3 kinds!), donuts, pizza, and Sprite. I need to double check that we have plates/napkins/cups left-over from L's party---if not, we will get them at the same time we get the Dorito's and Sprite on Saturday AM. We will pick up 2 dozen fresh donuts, and order pizza. He didn't want party favors (they are babyish) or decorations (same).

His actual birthday is 2 weeks away---he asked for one gift (Harry Potter Yule Ball Lego set) that we ordered, and for pizza and chocolate cake (we will bake the cake and order the pizza). He also wanted to go see the new Star Wars movie on his birthday so we can make that happen.

The holidays are so chock-full of stress for me, because of (ugh) family stuff, and so much togetherness, and no time or space for myself---just surviving without having a freaking meltdown is really all I want this and every year.  Happy %*#$&* holidays. I can't wait until January 2nd.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

On the plus side

There is absolutely no way we can financially make it work. I've accepted that. I am still very happy I came out to see how different it can be in a less toxic but still highly regarded academic environment, and to get the incredible ego boost of knowing I had something valuable to offer. I gave a talk, which will go on my CV, and I also met some potential collaborators.

Basically, the answer I got (repeatedly) when I wondered how people made it work on our poorly-paid salaries was "marry rich". Too late for that and even if I wanted to find a sugar daddy I am well past my prime and doubt I'd be in demand (lol).

While work stress is problematic, living beyond our means is an even worse soul-sucking proposition. The day after the interview, after falling asleep perusing real estate, I woke up at 3 AM (as one does traveling 3 hours west) in an intense panic about how we would pay double our mortgage amount (and that's for renting a small apartment in a not-great area with a long commute) and could only breathe again when I remembered that I still have a job here and have no requirement to move anywhere.

G agrees, he likes our financial stability and the opportunity to work not-so-hard at a job he likes well enough for not that much money---so that he can spend his energy on hobbies and other interests as well as lots of time with the boys.

I'm looking out for other opportunities in other (less insane COL) areas, and will absolutely go interview if anything catches my interest. And I'm reveling in our ability to enjoy our lives, with lots of lots of extras, and still save and plan for the future.

Friday, December 6, 2019


I just completed a job interview. At a very different place, in a very very very (very) high COL area. I absolutely loved this job. I would/will take it (its not officially offered to me but I think my chances are good) if we can find a way to remotely afford to live here. I've been furiously looking at real estate websites for homes for sale or for rent in the school districts I was told were good (i.e. people with similar aged kids felt comfortable with their kids in public school for elementary/middle) and...yeah.

Given the salary (I don't have exact numbers but our specialty is not highly paid and the even if I negotiate it up a bit its still not...a lot), and the fact that G would not have a job necessarily when we move here, its just not feasible.

And I'm so sad, because everything about this job is absolutely what I want. Its academic but SO SO SO SO much less intense. I could have a good mix of clinical time with a a reasonable amount of space for teaching/research (and the opportunity to grow that should I wish) AND a lot of people working in similar areas to easily collaborate with (because doing it all on your own when you are also seeing a LOT of patients is hard/impossible). When I asked about the metrics for promotion I was basically told that there aren't hard and fast metrics and there is NO WAY I wouldn't have been promoted years ago. Whereas our institution can easily pull up the 50 publications (x% in high end journals), 5 talks/year, 100 teaching hours, blah blah blah and I am barely crossing the line to even be considered for promotion.

Anyways. My head was turned. I had the best sushi of MY LIFE, the weather cannot possible be beat (at least at this time of year), and the people and mentality were so much more my speed (passionate and enthusiastic let...laid back and fun, and focused on "balance") and going back to being on call next week and freezing my ass off is going to be rough.

Monday, December 2, 2019

The Schedule

I'm taking the advice of a commenter and staying a bit later today (the sitter doesn't have a hard cutoff and I'm sure she'll be glad of the $) just to...chill. I had a full day of patients, and was running around and talking and listening all day and I just need still.

I did a 5 minute meditation, wrote in my planner, did the crossword, and am writing here. I usually rush home the minute I'm done so I can walk the dog and start dinner and get to whatever chores I need to do but....they can wait 15-20 minutes.

I don't have clinic every single day---technically I have all Tuesdays and all but one Thursday a month for research/admin time BUT not when I'm on call (which has been one week/month and will be until April). AND literally every non-clinical Thursday since October and through December has been filled with...something. Jury duty, out of town meeting, talk, thanksgiving, etc... So its just Tuesdays that I can be in my office all day. EXCEPT, I've scheduled therapy on Tuesdays. And research subjects. And meetings. And sometimes I have to pick up the kids at 3. And and and and and suddenly I realize I haven't actually sat at my desk in my office for 2 weeks at a time!

So I've been working more on weekends, and I gotta say that a few hours on Sunday morning does WONDERS for feeling more on top of things and starting the week off right. Yesterday I knocked several work AND home tasks off the to-do list and it felt AMAZING.

I also need to work on carving out time during the week for focused work and silence.  I can't really change my work schedule much until the next academic year---but I need to be ruthless about keeping my Tuesdays and Thursdays as free as I can (though if I have things I need to do, I can ONLY do them when not in clinic so...its a conundrum). I am considering adding on a couple hours on Monday so I can have Friday afternoons free. When/if we finally find a long-term sitter, I can ask about one late day/week as well---I could go in late that day and stay late, so I have the morning to myself PLUS time to work.

And I need to get better about asking for and taking the opportunity for some quiet time on weekends as well. Even when we are super full of fun stuff, I could wake up early, or take an hour for a walk, just to have that break from the noise.

Lots of solutions to think about, and hopefully some time to actually think about them!

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Time to Think

Lately, life has felt like a never ending treadmill session---just going and going and going without a moment to pause, think, recalibrate. Part of this is the change on my work situation---full day clinic sessions leave zero time for planning and introspection---just see the next patient and the next and the next, trying to finish documentation, make phone calls, and put out other fires in between. If there is an unexpected break (because of patients not showing up, usually) I am still in a busy touchdown room with up to 10 other people and lots of conversations going on around me.

Then its straight home for a few hours of non-stop chatter from the kids (seriously they will. not. ever. stop talking and asking me questions and bickering and arguing) until 9 pm (or later) when they fall asleep stop getting out of bed and I zone out however I can* before going to bed myself. Weekends are similar---whether we are at home or away, there is constant interactions with G, the kids, their friends, our friends, family, etc... and often trying to fit in work these days, too.

I'm an introvert. I need some time to myself to recharge. And I've been SO reactive and quick to anger at the kids and...everyone really. I've found myself being much more negative about work and home life overall and I feel like EVERYTHING, even the supposedly fun things, are just a slog to get through before I can finally be alone and go to bed. Its not a great way to get through life, and I want to be more intentional and mindful about the things I do every day. Because the things I do everyday IS my life, and if it is truly all a dreaded slog then it needs to change!

I escaped to the basement today to work on a talk I am giving later this week (these talks sneak up on me, and I just don't have the space in my clinic-heavy workdays to do this kind of work (Even though its an integral part of my job description---more on that another day, or not). I'm taking a few extra minutes to make a to-do list for the week, plan out workouts and errands, and write here.

I realize that I need to build in a morning routine that involves thinking & planning, instead of trying to simply get another chapter read in my current book, or worse---scrolling social media and news---while I drink my coffee before heading to the basement for my quick workout/quick shower/race to work. Maybe also 10-15 minutes after a clinic day to retreat to my office to journal, and simply decompress. I have my 2020 planner and haven't even started it!

On the docket today: work on talk (amalgamation of two different talks I've given previously, with updated lit review and data), finalize invite/guest list for B's birthday party, re-write and post baby sitter ad on all possible sites (yes, this is still an ongoing saga), and make dinner casserole. G is taking the boys to a birthday party at the science museum and...I don't know or care what else they do I just can't be involved for a few hours.

December goal: phone-free morning routine, meditate 5 minutes/day (maybe will help with reactivity? I think it did when I was doing it regularly in the past but its been...months), journal after work or at night

*this is where the unhealthy habits often kick in---the wine, the chips, the scrolling. On the best days, I simply put myself to bed extra early so there is no time for that.