Signing out

This has been a pretty terrible summer.

Not in the sense that anything super tragic has happened, but it just hasn’t been great. I’ve been unemployed since May. And while the standard, unbelievably sexist line I have gotten is “it doesn’t matter! Your husband is going to be a lawyer! He has a job! You’re pregnant!” for our family, it does matter. I’ve been the primary breadwinner of late, so me being without work has meant us taking a financial hit. Despite helpful advice like, “just get a job!” I’m still out of work. This isn’t something we really foresaw – every career counselor I talked to assured me I was an excellent candidate for the jobs I was applying for, and we had planned on me moving to Helena in the spring and starting a job there. That’s not how it worked out. Then I swore to John I’d make money anyway, so I started nannying, and that job unexpectedly ended without enough time for me to get a new one before we moved.

Then last week I had a job interview.

Finally. It was something I was way overqualified for, basically the job I’ve been doing for the last year, minus about 90% of my responsibilities. It went terribly. The interviewer spent the majority of the time trying to get me to rescind my application because I was pregnant. (Which, yes, is illegal. But I kept getting the advice of “be honest,” and there’s not a lot you can do when you are being discriminated against). Probably realizing it was illegal for her to say, “you cannot have this job because you are pregnant,” she finally said, “well I can leave your name in for consideration if you want, but we are expecting lots of other applicants. Usually most people who apply for this job are retired.”  I left my name in for consideration mainly out of not wanting to give into her rudeness, and partially out of curiosity. I don’t think I would work for the company based on how I was treated regardless, though.

So we don’t have a lot of money right now.

Then there has been this week. This week (well, last Friday), I was told I either have whooping cough or bronchitis. The doctor didn’t run a test, saying that because I was pregnant she didn’t want to wait for results but start treatment immediately, just in case. Largely I feel okay, but hot, tired, and my chest burns. And of course there is the gut wrenching coughing, made extra uncomfortable by the fact that there is less room in my gut than normal. Every cough slams my uterus into my bladder, made extra tender by the fact that cough syrup’s main ingredient is citric acid – an irritating substance.

Whooping cough wouldn’t be a huge deal, if it wasn’t for the fact that my husband is taking the bar this week and we move this weekend. So at night I cough into my pillow, trying not to wake him so he can get a precious few hours of sleep, and by day I try to get my tired ass up to do something productive towards our move.

So over here, we’re poor, sick, unemployed, and stressed.

And of course, pregnant.

Which, of course, isn’t a cure-all. It’s not “who cares if you are unemployed and poor and sick? at least you’re pregnant!” because part of the reason I do care about being poor, unemployed, and sick is that I’m pregnant!

All this to say, blogging isn’t something I need in my life right now. I love writing, but the stress of “should I say this? Should I say that? Will this offend someone? Should I write more?” just isn’t something I need. Maybe I will resurrect this address one day, but I must say that I hate when bloggers just disappear, so I wanted to at least say good bye. My e-mail address will be the same so feel free to contact me.


I have received a lot of well-intentioned comments on my being diagnosed with interstitial cystitis over the past few years. Because it’s a rare and unknown disease, most people didn’t know what to say, and quite a few of the comments weren’t what I needed to hear in the place I was in at that moment. I don’t begrudge people for trying, but I thought it might help to share a few thoughts on things not to say to someone with a chronic illness.

1. I would die if I had to live like that.

No, you wouldn’t. This one I might hate the most, because to me it sounds a little like “your life isn’t worth living.” You would adjust and adapt, and it might suck, but you wouldn’t die. Chronic illnesses can require a lot of lifestyle adjustments, particularly for ones that aren’t currently curable or treatable by modern medicine.  Significantly changing your lifestyle is by no means fun, but it’s not deadly.

What to say instead: That sounds really hard. How are you adjusting?

2. Have you tried acupuncture, this doctor, this herb, standing on your head, sleeping more, seeing an astrologist, drinking dragon’s tooth tea? I have a friend of a friend who had something like that and they did this so you should too.

Unless you are a trained medical professional in that area, or you, your spouse, or child have had this disease – do not offer advice. Particularly if the disease is incurable/untreatable, because trust me, the person in question has already researched every legitimate and baloney treatment out there. There’s a pretty likely chance that the friend of a cousin of a friend you are talking about did not have the same condition anyway. Granted, this isn’t limited to well meaning friends/family/strangers – my urologist suggested I try a lemon juice cleanse. *Facepalm*

What to say instead: What are you doing to take care of yourself?
Or if you are really pretty sure you have some good advice/know someone who does: “Would you want me to ask my cousin who has the same condition for some advice?” or “I’ve heard a little about this if you want me to throw some things out there to try.” But don’t force it.

3. At least it’s not _________ (cancer, typically).

This is a big one. If you read any of this, read this one. DO NOT SAY TO SOMEONE “AT LEAST IT’S NOT….” Here’s why:

You probably don’t have a good understanding of what they are going through. With IC for example, the pain and influence on lifestyle has been rated to be on par with having cancer or being on kidney dialysis, two things which we know aren’t small potatoes. And here’s the thing, you don’t know where they are emotionally with their illness. In my darkest moments soon after getting diagnosed, I wished I had cancer. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful I don’t and am not trying to minimize the pain of those who do. But in my head, at that time, cancer was either a) treatable, or b) fatal. When I was in the height of pain, the thought of living with that pain for the next 60 years seemed unimaginable. When I first went to the doctor with what I thought was a stubborn bladder infection that might need an extra dose of antibiotics, coming out with a lifelong illness that would never be cured was not a good feeling. Going for a screening months later that ruled out cancer, sure – finding out I didn’t have cancer then was a relief.

Here’s the other thing: you can’t compare suffering.  Yes, some suffering is objectively worse than others. But when your heart is full of pain – it is full. It doesn’t matter to you that you would be able to stand more pain if something worse happened, your heart still just feels full. You wouldn’t tell a mother who lost a child at least she didn’t lose all her children. You wouldn’t tell someone who lost their house in a fire that at least they don’t live in a war torn country. Don’t try to compare suffering, ever, in any circumstance. You won’t make people feel grateful for what they have, you won’t shed a happy light on the situation, you will only make them feel guilty for feeling bad for themselves. And sometimes, it’s OK to feel sorry for yourself.

What to say instead: How did you react to the news? Were you disappointed or relieved?

4. That sucks. Hey! Did I tell you about the annoying thing my co-worker did the other day?

Pretending nothing wrong is annoying too. Someone you care about just went through a huge life changing diagnosis (or is trying to find a diagnosis for a difficult illness). Even if you don’t “get it,” offering a little (or no!) pity and then just moving on isn’t helpful either. When I was diagnosed with IC, it was like being hit with a mac truck (says someone who has never been hit by any vehicle). My life would not be the same. My husband’s life would not be the same. I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to hold a full time job, if I could have kids, if I could ever travel to all the far off destinations I dreamed of, if I could ever eat my favorite foods again, go a day without debilitating pain, go an hour without having to find a restroom, or even just live a normal life. It was a big.f-ing.deal. And so I told my close friends, who ranged from sympathetic, to confused, to a little uninterested. When I’m with people I don’t know well, I play it off like it’s an annoying allergy .”Oh yeah, I just can’t digest acid properly so no beer for me!” But the truth is, it’s way more than that. (And the diet much more serious than some fad diet!) So it can hurt when people just ignore it too.

What to say instead: Hey, I’m really sorry about that. Do you want to talk about it?

In conclusion

If your words are well intentioned, you won’t hurt people by them. But please, don’t try to minimize someone’s pain or to over dramatize it. It won’t make them feel better. Be there to listen and offer love and support.

I’m bored.

It’s been about 2 months since I’ve graduated. Since then there has been one official job rejection, one interview, and two “we should have something opening up soon and we’ll call you then” that I haven’t heard back from. It’s pretty discouraging and depressing, especially since we decided staying at home with a newborn is a priority and thus I’m not looking for any new full time positions. Even if it’s a choice I made, it doesn’t make me feel any less like a bump on a log.

When I was a kid and would say I was bored, my mom told me to go clean my room. I would reply that cleaning your room is boring too so that wouldn’t help the situation. Being an adult, I must say, my feelings haven’t changed. Cleaning is boring.

So what have I been doing lately? The week after graduation I took a week long intensive course to finish up my public health certification. John graduated. A few days after that, I started a nannying job that looked promising. It was only about 10 hours a week, but something was better than nothing! The kids were adorable and well-behaved. I really enjoyed it. A month later, though, the mom told me they had changed their mind about needing a nanny in July. I don’t think it was personal (though how can you ever really not think that?), because I’m sure they  would have communicated if there had been a problem. Unfortunately, I had planned on having the job through July, and mid-June I was unemployed anew.


I was doing a little research for a professor that I had ben working on since last fall. The grant money, unfortunately, was dried up. But I was willing to work for free because it was a chance at a publication. I finished my piece of the research a few weeks ago and turned it in. The last I heard was a “Got it, thanks.”

So still unemployed, now with nothing to do.

I took to Facebook, begging anyone to hire me to do anything legal that didn’t require (much) manual labor. I got a gig housesitting. Housesitting is awesome and terrible at the same time. The amount you get paid is largely less than the amount of work you do. I think the general expectation is that you’ll move into the house you are sitting for, but because the couple forgot to mention they had a cat, my husband can’t stay there (allergic). And we didn’t want to spend 10 days apart, especially as they forgot to give me the internet password. So instead I’m going over there 2-3 a times a day to feed and walk the dog, water the garden and grass, get the mail, etc.

On the other hand, we get to play house for a bit. A dog to walk, a nice deck to sit on, a kitchen to cook in that has amenities like space and a dishwasher. The washer and dryer doesn’t work, unfortunately.

That gig ends tomorrow. Which leaves me doubly, triply unemployed. Helpful suggestions like “just get a job” will be ignored.

We move in three weeks. Don’t tell John, because that means it’s less than 3 weeks until he takes the bar. There’s much I would typically be doing, and things I keep think I should be doing – but none seem practical. “Ooh, I’ll sew some curtains for the new place! But wait, I don’t know how big the windows are or what color rug will buy. Guess that should wait.” Or “I’ll start packing up the stuff in the office! Oh, no, John is still using that room to study.” I STRONGLY believe that mess is not conducive to studying effectively, so I don’t want John to be studying for the biggest test of his life (no pressure, hun) in the nightmare that is packing a 512 ft apartment.

So I’m just bored. Bored, depressed, and unproductive. The real problem is boredom begets boredom (that and we’re just about broke.)  So while I think of the the thousands of things I could do with a summer of freedom (travel! hang gliding! fabulous hiking!) it seems that virtually everything, with the exception of reading and surfing the internet require a) money, b) not being prego, or c) someone who is likewise unemployed and free during the daylight hours to do them with.

So internet, I’m in a funk. What would you do if you found yourself suddenly unemployed and free of obligations? And completely broke?*

*No, we’re not completely broke, just obviously trying to save every penny we can. So suggestions of “cheap” entertainment like “go to a matinee!” do not count.

I love summer.

I do. I know you look at me, and you think you are the kind of person that should not leave the house in the summer, and you are right. And being a nerd, the allure of the crisp air and sharp pencils of fall does have its allure. And spring after a long cold winter is indescribable. But summer holds its place in the front of my heart. I almost think that having summer as your favorite season is looked down upon – it’s not the most sophisticated season. It’s shorts and sandals, not long evening gowns and flutes of champagne to toast the new year. Call it uncouth, call it plebeian, I call it the best.

Summer is complete and total freedom. Freedom from school, freedom from the confines of blustering snow and scarves tied tight. You can leave the house outside without grabbing a coat, even at night. At least in Virginia, Montana still requires a sweatshirt most nights. It’s freedom to move, freedom to travel. In summer (well, by mid-summer) you don’t have to check the pass reports to see if the road is covered in snow. You just go. You can pick up and leave.

Life picks up and slows down and picks up simultaneously in summer. You can breathe deep. You can be free.

Today, enjoy being free. And remember those who aren’t. Happy fourth of July.

John and I were thrilled to hear the announcement of the Supreme Court’s decision on the American Care Act. Well, were thrilled to hear CNN’s retraction of their first statement that the individual mandate was overturned. First because of the implications for our country, second because it is in line with our faith beliefs, and third for how it has already benefited our family.

Studying public health over the past few years has made me realize how important some of the provisions of the act are. We spend the highest amount in the world on health care per capita. And if I remember correctly from my public health classes, we spend some 5% of that on preventative care. As we all know, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Literally – it costs far less to prevent diseases than to deal with them after they appear.

So a bill that focuses on prevention and expands health care to people who can’t afford it by increasing who is eligible for Medicaid? Of course I am for it. Public health and social justice meet. Let’s all celebrate! Academics of how improving the health of a nation benefits everyone aside, the Catholic Church teaches that health care is a human right:

In our Catholic tradition, health care is a basic human right. Access to health care should not depend on where a person works, how much a family earns, or where a person lives. USCCB

(Regardless of where you live – so even if you live in a state like Florida where your Governor wants to turn down federal money, his own taxpayers’ dollars,  you still deserve it).

So I was excited it passed. Even the individual mandate part. Would I have liked to see a different system, such as a public option? Yes, I would have. But what baffles my mind is why more people aren’t for it. It’s about personal responsibility and not passing on your burdens to others – the Republican mantra! And I agree – we should be responsible for ourselves when we can be. Lots of people without insurance do not pay their medical bills, which raises the cost of services on people who do pay to make up the difference. Ironically, the people who are hit hardest are those without insurance. Their bills are significantly higher than when you have insurance. But when everyone has it, everyone pays a fair amount. No screwing each other over allowed.

I digress. The point is – Obamacare has already saved us thousands of dollars. When we started grad school we were 24 and required to buy health insurance. (How come no one points out that public schools already mandate purchasing health insurance?? Socialism!) After the ACA went into effect, we could go back on our parents’ insurance. John did for two semesters, I did for one (my dad’s plan switched and wouldn’t cover anything out here. Little loophole we need to fix, otherwise its really only providing coverage for people living in 100 sq mile radius of their parents!). It didn’t cost my father-in-law a thing to add John, and for my parents, I believe it was much less than what an individual plan for me would have cost.

This saved us about $2400. That might be small potatoes for some families, but that’s about what we have spent out of pocket on my health care costs over the past two years. It’s about 1/6 of what I made as an RA this year. It’s another student loan saved. It’s affected our lives, and we have really appreciated it.

There’s more, of course.

I like that the health insurance companies can’t charge me more because I’m a woman (though this was already law in Montana!)

I like that breastfeeding support, including lactation counseling and breast pumps, are covered by insurance, since that is something we plan on doing. Along with a bunch of other prenatal/neonatal tests.

I like that an insurance company can’t turn me down because of my health problems. (Though I still wish they couldn’t refuse to cover them! But that’s something to work on in the future).

Romney’s plan (the new one, not the one that was the example for Obamacare) centered around making sure people could a) keep their health insurance plan, b) not be turned down for pre-existing conditions, c) give states power. I’m sorry, but a) I never have been so in love with a plan that I would be devastated when it switched. Not to mention no part of the law requires anyone to switch plan. Especially when employers can still switch your plan whenever they feel like it anyway. b) That’s already part of the law. c) As above, I believe people have the same rights no matter what state they live in.

I like this plan. It has helped save our family tons of money. It focuses on preventative care, is in line with principles of social justice, and benefits women. A plan that’s top priority is not switching health insurance plans doesn’t do anything for me. I’m happy with Obamacare. I want to see it improved, of course, but I don’t want to see it disappear.

How did you feel about the Supreme Court ruling?

Yesterday’s post was less than exciting, was it not? Let’s turn to the more important thing.


One baby, really. Don’t worry, we’ve seen the ultrasound. No twins here!

Let’s pretend I have lots of readers and was bombarded with e-mails and questions last night and decided I should just do a FAQ post. So really this is an (in)Frequently Asked Questions post, but that’s not as fun.


How far along are you? 

Interesting question. According to our ultrasound, I am 11 weeks and 4 days. If you go by my last menstrual period, however, I am 13 weeks 2 days. BIG difference! Early ultrasounds are far more accurate than late ones for dating (since baby size starts to be more determined by genetics than age), so it is probably closer to 11 weeks than 13. But I won’t be surprised if the baby is early, either!

When are you due?

For those of you that don’t like math, mid-January based on the 11 week estimate.

When did you find out?

This one I do get asked frequently. I’m not sure why. I found out when my period was late. But after a week of it being late, I still had a negative home pregnancy test. I went to the doctor to see what was up, and they gave me a blood test. It was “inconclusive.” So basically I was either having a miscarriage, or it was too early to detect pregnancy hormone levels. I was told to come back in 3 days. It was a very stressful 3 days (4 really, they were closed when I went on the 3rd day) and started off the pregnancy on a bit of a sour note. But everything’s OK now.

How are you feeling?

Pretty fine, actually. I was nauseous for a few weeks, nothing terrible – more akin to being motion sick than having food poisoning (which is what I expected). 80% of pregnant women have morning sickness, but only half actually vomit. So while this worried my mother a bit, it was really nothing to worry about. (Although then I caught some second hand worry and called the doctor. Everything was fine).

What they DON’T tell you about when it comes to the first trimester is the exhaustion. Everyone talks about morning sickness, but for me the exhaustion has been way worse. Days where I can’t hardly keep my eyes open and can barely move off the couch. Going to lay down at 9pm during my sister in law’s graduation party. It’s been crazy exhausting, and I’m really grateful it kicked in after graduation!

The most frustrating thing, however, has been a combination of hunger/insomnia. Every night, I am STARVING before I go to bed, and if I don’t binge, I’ll wake up every hour to eat. I’m like a newborn myself. I feel like I am living in a real life The Very Hungry Caterpillar. To give you an example, last night before bed I ate: two bananas, two greek yogurts, an apple, a granola bar, a slice of cheese, two spoonfuls of peanut butter, half of a ham and cheese sandwich, and half a glass of milk. (If anyone tells me to “eat more protein”, I will punch you, because that was more than half of my daily allowance!) I still woke up in the middle of the night to eat a yogurt before I could fall back asleep.  Some nights I will wake up and not be able to get full enough to go back to sleep for HOURS. If anyone has ideas on how to put a stop to this, please let me know! (And yes  I already talked to my doctor, who just told me to eat something with protein in it).

What are you having/are you going to find out?

A baby. Oh, you mean if its a boy or a girl? It’s too early to tell. (Though sex is decided at the moment of conception – crazy, huh?)

We’re pretty sure we aren’t gonna find out. I had figured I would, because it just seems like everyone does, but when we got pregnant, I didn’t really want to know. Today is the first day I had the least bit of curiosity about it. The only reason I would kind of want to know is we are more excited about one name than the other, and I don’t want us to get too excited about getting to use that name! We’ll be equally excited for either sex though.

Reasons for us not finding out, however, include:

1) Worried it’ll be wrong. My little sister was a boy in utero. Sure, it’s more rare now, but who wants to be the one who has to go home and repaint the nursery?

2) Don’t want a ton of gendered baby items. I have no problems with pink and blue, but if EVERYTHING is pink or blue, I’ll probably want to throw up a little bit. Plus, then we can re-use if we have a baby of the opposite sex in the future.

3) Completely selfishly, we’ve heard from multiple people you are more likely to get practical gifts or stuff off your registry if you don’t know the sex and if you do, you’re more likely to get clothes. Our baby can wear gunny sacks, but it’s gonna need a car seat! (I kid. I kid).

4) Finding out creeps me out a little. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED our ultrasound and seeing the little one was OK. But it seems so sci-fi to stick a wand on your belly and see a picture that can tell you the sex. Don’t know why, just find it weird. You shouldn’t be able to see through body parts. Unless I need to know the baby is OK, then it’s totally fine. Never said this was logical.

5) TOTALLY creeps me out when people call the baby by its name when it’s still baking. Again, no real reason why, but I don’t want it to happen!

6)The “it’s a boy!” or “it’s a girl!” moment seems so classic. I don’t think it’ll be surprising (see below), but it does seem exciting.

Reason that isn’t swaying me to find out:

1) I don’t care about the surprise. People say, “why ruin life’s greatest surprise?” Personally, I don’t think it’s gonna be that big of a surprise. Exciting? Yes. Surprise? No. I mean, it’s pretty much gonna be one or the other. I have a hard time picturing myself going, “holy cow! A girl? Are you serious? What are the chances of that?” or  “boy?? I never in a million years would have guessed!” And I think it would be equally surprising at the ultrasound.

What are you going to name it? 

We have some ideas, but they are staying under wraps and away from the ears of people who aren’t afraid to voice their opinions! We are taking suggestions, however, because it’s still fun to talk about.

Are you excited?

Beyond belief. Scared, worried, mindful that pregnancy is a miracle that doesn’t always result in holding a little baby in your arms, but thrilled that we have the opportunity to be parents.


I haven’t blogged for a long time. And mainly because everything I’ve wanted to write, everything I’ve had to say, needs to be told through this one lens. Which should be announced through a happier/cuter manner, but this is where I am today and how I’m gonna do it.

God willing and the creeks don’t rise, we’re gonna have a baby come January.

Let me back up now. Last time I wrote, it was about needing a job. Partially induced by the “OMG I’m pregnant we’re poor this baby is gonna need somewhere to sleep other than a dresser drawer!” But I also want a job. But John and I have made some choices in our marriage that means we’re gonna do things a little differently than the average people our age. It might come off as more “traditional,” but I hope that as you read you’ll see we made these choices because they were best for us, not because we wanted to fit into some patriarchal ideal of what a family should be.

First off, we got married young. Not had-to-get-our-parents-permission-to-sign-the-marriage-license young, or even MTV-would-want-to-make-a-reality-show young, but raise-a-few-eyebrows young. I was two weeks into my 24th year, and John was just a few months older. I’d been on my own for a few years (though full disclosure – my parents still pay my cellphone bill, mainly out of my mother’s fear that I’ll switch plans and then never call home. Don’t tell her Verizon is practically the only carrier in Montana. They also spotted a few plane tickets home, for primarily the same reason), and I wasn’t exactly moving out of my parents’ house into my husbands’.

We got married young not because we felt like we should, or to have sex, or to move in together (we had already lived together for a year in JVC), but because we were in love, we knew it was right, we weren’t old but were old enough to make this decision, and we wanted to. Had we met when we were 32 instead of 22, we would have gotten married then. Sure, some people thought we were crazy for getting married before finishing law/grad school, but in the long run, it made far more sense for us. Getting married at 24 is definitely not for everyone, but dating for 10 years wasn’t for us either.

The next big factor in this journey wasn’t a choice we made. I got sick. Being diagnosed with interstitial cystitis, a chronic bladder condition, wasn’t just an annoying matter of having to pee more often; it was life-changing. More problems piled on quickly after that (those I chose not to blog about, because believe it or not, they are more personal than my bladder!) and we spent most of our first year of marriage in doctors’ offices, researching treatments, reading books, and in physical therapy. It was stressful, hard, depressing, but we were happier than ever we had chose to get married.

Although IC itself has no effect on fertility, one of my extra problems, endometriosis, meant that we might not be able to have children, and other factors had potential indirect impacts on our ability to conceive. We had both always known we wanted to have kids. We felt it was our calling, that we were meant to parent and raise children. Again, not for everyone, but we knew it was for us. We had never planned on when we were going to have kids, and definitely didn’t plan on having them this early on, but when we realized it was something we badly wanted and weren’t sure was going to happen, we knew we didn’t want to wait 10 years to find out having biological children wasn’t a possibility.

So we went for it. And to our GREAT surprise, it worked.

Which means that we’re having a baby 7 months after I graduated with my MA and 5 months after we move, making the job search pretty difficult. We knew this was a possibility when we decided to have kids, but to be honest, we thought it was pretty remote. But more than that, we knew this was ultimately our priority. The timing means, however, that unless I have a job and am sitting at a desk in 2 weeks (not looking likely!) I won’t have a guaranteed maternity leave (with the state at least, where I am mainly looking. Not a lot of public health jobs in the private sector, let me tell ya). And if I do, it would be for 6 weeks. (You have to work somewhere for 12 months to qualify for the Family/Medical Leave Act where you can take a longer unpaid leave.) It must be my maternal instincts kicking in already, but the thought of leaving a 6 week old newborn at home/daycare isn’t something I can handle. (Not because I think it’s a “wrong” choice for anyone; I just know I couldn’t make it work.)

Since we made the decision that being home with a newborn is a priority, and time is ticking away, (and the economy sucks), finding a full-time job that I can take leave from before the baby comes is looking to be about zilch. Not because of my assumed pessimism, but because I have checked job postings every day for months and there’s nothing really out there that will work right now. I’m still waiting to hear back form jobs I’ve already applied for, but they aren’t looking too promising.

So the options I have left are to a) be a stay at home wife, and b) do part time/temporary work. While I’ve had some leads on some temp jobs (and even one interview!) they’re looking tough too. One goes from November-March, so that’s obviously out. The other starts a few weeks before my parents want to take a big family reunion trip. Because we couldn’t afford/didn’t have time to fly home this summer, and none of my family came to visit this year, it’s the only real chance to get together. It’s a bummer to have to turn down a potential job for it though.

So it looks like I’ll probably substitute teaching come fall. (Which does have a small potential to make more money than above temp job, if I work every day!). Does it upset my feminist heart that my husband will be the primary bread winner while I twiddle my thumbs doing part time work I’m overqualified for until the baby comes? Yes. But I chose to get married, I chose to go to school, I chose to move, I chose to have kids, and I chose to have them now. And this is the way it worked out. It’s not ideal, but we are thrilled that we have the chance to become parents.

It’s not a life for everyone. I’m sure there are people who will think I am an idiot and a disgrace to the feminist cause for not getting out there and using my degree before having kids. And there are others who will say (I know this because I’ve heard it!) “it doesn’t really matter; your husband has a job!”

It’s hard. I hate being unemployed. It’s embarrassing and frustrating, not to mention difficult financially. But I know it’s just a season. I am happy I finished my master’s before we had kids. I’m very excited that we are going to have a kid. And although the timing could be worse (I could have gone into labor during my defense!), it couldn’t be much worse.

But so what? I’d rather be a parent than an anthropologist/public health worker. And I can go back to work in a year or five. Sure it’ll mean starting a lot lower than I am qualified now, but it’s a sacrifice I chose to make. And while that doesn’t make things easier every single day, I know it’s the right decision in the long run. For us.

And we hope it will be the right decision for our little one too. You are loved. We are blessed.

I’m graduating in two days (although then I take another class so I really don’t finish until the 22nd. Boo). And I don’t have a job. For the first time, I’ll be standing in my cap and gown with no idea what I’m doing with my life.

Sure, my husband has a job, so I know we’ll be supported, where will live and all that jazz. But if we’re just looking at *me* and *my life,* I don’t know what I’m doing. And while the general chorus is “don’t worry, you’ll be fine!” if the tables were reversed and I had a job and the husband did not, let’s be honest, people wouldn’t be saying, “it doesn’t matter – your wife has a job!”

I want a job. I went to graduate school for two years not only to satisfy my intellectual curiosity, but to help me further a career in working with marginalized people of society, and particularly their health needs. If I don’t get a job immediately, it’s no biggie. I paid for graduate school myself, in cash, and helped support our little family while doing it. We aren’t out any dough. But still. Whenever that conversation turns from “congratulations!” to “what are you doing next?” I hate answering with “any suggestions?”

I’ve filled out four job applications, sent cold-call cover letters to four other places. I’ve gotten one call back with a “we will keep you in mind for a job we might have opening up.” I’ve polished my Linked-In profile. I check the school career center, Montana NonprofitI’ve passed my resume along to several family members, and had some networking opportunities, which have also mainly ended with “we’ll call you if the stars align and something opens up.” So it’s not completely dead ends, but no “when can you start?” either.

I don’t know at what point you start setting you sights lower, as several people have told me to do. To volunteer, to do Americorps (not again!), to take an hourly wage, entry-level job that only requires a high school diploma or equivalent. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not proud. I’m willing to work my way up, to do the grunt work, to earn my worth. The thing is – I’ve already done that. I’m experienced; I’m educated; I’m qualified.

I listened to this talk today:

It makes me wonder about the advice I’ve been getting. Don’t worry – your husband has a job. Take a job you’re vastly overqualified for. Sell your self short. Would we be telling that to a man? Probably not. And that’s why men succeed. The career world is already tough on women. Any job I apply for, they’ll see a woman in her mid-twenties, married, and think “is she going to have kids?” But we don’t think that with men. And you know what? Men have kids at exactly the same rate women do.

I’m frustrated. I’m frustrated that I’m already applying for jobs I’m over qualified for (not vastly overqualified, just as in they are looking for 1-2 years work experience and a BA and I have 3-4 and an MA) and I haven’t heard anything back. Not unusualy when it comes to state jobs I hear, but still, frustrating. I’m frustrated that I can’t even get a “no thanks, we’re not interested” from places I cold call. I’m frustrated that the job market where I live now is miniscule compared to where I came from. New jobs in the non-profit world are posted every few weeks, not every few days here. I’m frustrated the economy is terrible and that my generation is graduating into a significantly bad job market. And, yes, I still plan on voting for Obama because voting for a party that wants to defund the public sector, you know, pretty much the only people who do public health work, doesn’t make sense either. I know there are many people who have been looking for work much longer than me, but I am still frustrated.

I’m smart, I work hard, and I’m ready to get started.


Sometimes, you finish a year or two of JVC and you realize it wasn’t what you expected. The community didn’t turn in your best friends for life, and while you’re happy you got a husband out of it and all, you just thought it would be a little different.

Then you get a call and a text and a message to find out a man had died. A good man, one that you knew. Who lived next door to where the JV house used to be, years ago.

And you call your one housemate who lives in New York, even though you haven’t talked in, gosh has it been a year already. And you run across town to hug your other former housemate and friend. And you cry, and you talk, and you hug.

You wonder if anyone has told your husband’s aunt and uncle  (who live across the street from the couple), who met when she did JVC in the house next door. You wonder if you’ll see your professor at the funeral, who also used to be your landlord, and lives in the next-door house now.

And you realize that maybe its a pretty small town after all.

So then you talk, and you remember. You remember the man who had a harder life than you’ll ever know. A man who would always ask you how things were going at the shelter you worked at, start talking local politics with you, and was usually more up on everything than you were. You remember a man who had an apple tree with so many grafts on it, he had forgotten what kind of a tree it originally was.

You feel blessed to having known a saint during his time on this earth.

You remember the pie that he had baked that set on your counter when you first moved here. How you ate it for dinner late that night and breakfast the next morning before you found your way to a grocery store. You eat the sweet cherries and the cakey crust.

You put down your fork, and think to yourself – this is something big.

This is community.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a bit, you might remember that I’ve been doing this thing called “grad school. Totally forgot, right? Its okay, I sometimes do.

But not this week. This week I defend my thesis (on guard!). To be specific, tomorrow I defend. Tomorrow! I have been slaving away over this puppy for over a year. I took the entire summer off (well, plus working part time) last year to focus on the research. I have spent hundreds, hundreds! of hours researching, interviewing, transcribing, analyzing, compiling, writing, and editing. And it’s almost done.

Hurrah! Sing hallelujah!

I’m getting my degree in a field called Medical Anthropology. If you’re thinking “what’s that?” that’s cool, I think most people related to me have the same question. Anthropology is essentially the study of humans, or more specifically, that which separates us from non-human animals. There are four major sub-fields of anthropology: biological (studies evolution and the body itself. Think Jane Goodall and Bones the TV show); linguistics (language, something again, mostly unique to humans. Think Noam Chomsky); archaeology (that’s the one where you dig up stuff. Think, of course, Indiana Jones); and socio-cultural anthropology (everything else. The study of culture. Think….old white guy studying small tribes in the Amazon).

Cultural anthropology has come a long way since it’s admittedly, somewhat racist roots. (From “Discover the ways of the savages!” to “Preserve this culture before we kill them all off!” to “Hey, every group has a sub-culture. Let’s study white people too!” Medical anthropology, what I do, largely falls under the umbrella of cultural anthropology (though you will have people who argue it’s its own subfield. Overachievers).

Medical anthropology essentially studies diseases, health, and healing in a cultural context. While it does sound super-obscure, it is actually one of the most developed subfields of cultural anthropology. My particular branch of medical anthropology, (or at least what my research is on, I do work for a professor who does medical anthropology with a very different focus and population) focuses on the effects of social stratification on human health. Why are poorer people more likely to get sick and die? What has happened globally as underdeveloped “third-world” countries have shifted rapidly to a capitalist country? How are bio-medical fields and traditional medical practices combining? Why do people who live in inner cities have less access to health care? How do older beliefs of healing persist in rural areas? Those are the kinds of questions we ask. It’s a pretty fascinating field, really, especially realizing how complex health is. We tend to think of it in very black and white terms using our biomedical framework. But what about diseases that exist only in countries like America and aren’t found elsewhere? What about very real, very obvious diseases that occur only in India? Why doesn’t “understanding” what doctors say always result in action?

If you want to learn more about Medical Anthropology, I can’t recommend enough the book: Mountains Beyonds Mountains by Tracy Kidder. It profiles Paul Farmer, a MD and anthropologist, who starts a network of clinics in Haiti and other countries. (His partner, Jim Yong Kim – also an anthropologist, was just named head of the World Bank).

For my thesis, I looked at food insecurity in people who are homeless. It was very enlightening and exhausting research. And I’m happy to share with you the abstract below, in part because it’s arguably the most well-written part of it all, and in part because all 130 pages won’t fit in this blog post.

Another Day, Another Donut: Political Economy, Agency, and Food in a Montanan Homeless Shelter

Despite widespread undernutrition among the homeless, there has been little anthropological research on the experience of food insecurity in this population. Between 20 and 40 percent of the homeless population is undernourished and one third regularly miss meals (Gelberg 1995). This thesis addresses the significant problem of food insecurity in the homeless from a political economic perspective, analyzing how larger social structures influence the individual person. Fifteen residents at a shelter in Missoula, MT were interviewed about their dietary practices and experience of social service programs. The macro-social level influences the diet of the individual in two important ways: first, by creating the environment in which homelessness occurs, and second, by regulating the social measures which address food insecurity. These social measures which are designed primarily for the needs of the housed are insufficient to deal with the unique challenges of food insecurity. An inability to cook and store food limit how effectively homeless people can utilize these social programs. It is necessary for these programs to appropriately adjust their services for the homeless; however, to truly solve the problem of food insecurity, the reality of homelessness must end.

The defense is at noon tomorrow (MST) so if you want to send some prayers/good thoughts/rainbows/butterflies my way then, it would be appreciated!