Friday, January 25, 2008

Letters of Recommendation

I was interested to read on Female Science Professor this rant on letters of recommendation which hit home for me. I've been feeling guilty about all the crazy requests for letters I have to put in (as I commented on before). Now I'm starting to see things from the other side. I was asked to write one letter last year for a summer student, and this year I have an undergraduate doing research with me who asked me to write letters for several summer programs.

Now as I thought, most of the time was spent writing the initial letter, but then I spent some time for each place figuring out where to send it (he provided me with a very nice list of instructions), putting them in envelopes or sending the emails, and in one case filling in an online form of the kind FSP seems to hate so much! I'm not sure if this experience makes me worry more or less about asking for "one more" letter for my job search. But I am worried now that my novice letters for this very good student will impact his chances on getting the summer job he wants. I hope not!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Update on Perspective

A quick update - my friend did have her baby - a beautiful healthy boy. And the surgery seems to have gone well for my other friend's baby so that's one challenge met for them.

I'm freaking out about my upcoming interviews. I made a promise to myself that I would not get too stressed out, but that is a difficult one to keep. To top it off I have a daycare cold. Well... I suppose I never did think this would be easy!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A Bit of Perspective

I'm having one of those days today when I feel like I should be super productive, but instead I'm visiting the time sink that is Facebook (what evil person invented Scrabulous?) not to mention blogging.... I never used to have a problem with procrastination (or the killer bug of science careers), and on my return to work from baby land I was super productive - every minute away from little one was precious and was used well. Now being back at work has gotten more routine, and some procrastination has snuck back in. My guilt at procrastination is much larger now so my internal monologue is not being easy on me today. Anyway the point of this ramble is that I'm feeling down on myself, and life in general (lack of sleep not helping here). When I get in this mood I try to look for perspective, so I got thinking...

I got thinking about the simplicity of life with a newborn, especially a preterm newborn (little one was a 35 weeker) who is being kept at the hospital. Nothing else mattered for those few days. I got thinking about a pregnant friend who messaged me this morning that she thinks her water broke. I wonder if she's having her baby right now. I got thinking about another friend with a special needs baby who is having surgery today to insert a tube into his stomach. Surgery on a 3 month old... I got thinking about this BBC story about a 10 month old who died after a hot water tank burst and boiling water fell on her. My little one is 10 months old. When I think of something like this happening to her.... well I just can't think about it.

OK - so most of this didn't exactly cheer me up, but is certainly puts a bit of procrastination in perspective. How many spectra can a person look at in one day before they go crazy anyway.

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Fine Line

From a "Parenting" article: "there really is a Land of the Living Dead. It's populated by zombies whose children don't sleep". And that goes double for working parents I'm sure. Maybe it's the recent travel over the holiday season, teething or a developmental milestone, but little one is not sleeping well - and today not napping either. She's currently working on finding the most dangerous thing in the house to pull herself up on in order to find the most dangerous or irreplaceable thing to put in her mouth. The least helpful advice I got on this recent development is that it's due to the disturbance in routine cause by travel. It might be true, but I hope not -- we have two trips for her, and my first trip away from her coming this month. And one of the things that attracted me to Astronomy as a field was the travel... The most helpful advice - this will pass, and on astronomical timescales it's a very short phase indeed.

The trips are good news - I have two interviews for faculty jobs - a much higher success rate (for interviews at least) than I expected. It'd be nice to get some sleep too though...

And another positive thought - I have the flexibility to work when I like, and catch up later if I feel like a nap instead. I can also go to work without brushing my hair (and certainly with no make-up) and most astronomers would never notice! How do 9-5pm working Moms in the office environment manage at all...?

I guess we all walk a fine line between coping and exhaustion...