Category Archives: travel

ah, summer….

I haven’t blogged in over two months, and of course the reason is that I’ve been busy. It’s a common misperception that academics “take the summer off.” I can assure you that this is definitely *not* the case.  I’ve been in this line of work for a decade, and even my mom still thinks this a little bit (i.e., she’s bugging me about coming for a visit, but I don’t know how I’m going to make it fit in my schedule without having to pull all-nighters. This would be very, very bad…).

How I spent my summer “vacation”: I taught a summer class in May and June (and will post about an experience in this class soon), dealt with 3-4 Masters theses, took a few days’ off last week before the 4th of July, and have spent this week working on a paper and doing grant reviews. I’ll do the same tasks next week, and then will spend a few days in DC finishing the grant reviews. The week after that, Hubby and I go to Hubby’s home country for a week-long holiday (badly needed!). Once we return, there’s only a couple of weeks until the new semester begins. I’ve taught my two fall semester classes before, but one requires a bit of reprep, an assignment requires fairly substantial revision, etc. All of this work takes time.

It feels like summer is over before it’s really even begun. I’m trying not to think about this too much because it makes me feel sad and burned out. It also makes me feel like I haven’t accomplished anything (totally untrue, but still…). For example, I’d planned to get at least 2 papers out this summer, but now I think I’m going to have to forego at least one because I’m doing these grant reviews.

At least the weather is nice, and I get to enjoy it because I’m doing most of my work from home! If only the weather and summer could last just a couple weeks’ longer…

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three interviews in ten days

I made it through 3 interviews in 10-11 days. Here’s the breakdown: 5 days of interviews,3 days of interview-related travel, 1 day at work (cumulatively; in practice, 2 half-days at work), and 2 weekend days. In the meantime, I have prepared 1 section of a grant, and have come down with 1 head cold.

Last week’s Interview #3 was okay, albeit a bit bizarre. The schedule was less organized than my others (e.g., it didn’t mention whether I’d have breakfast with the faculty members who picked me up at the hotel or if I should eat on my own, etc.), and had longer meetings. There were some odd moments during the actual interview itself, and in two instances, people were downright rude (i.e., when the search committee ignored me for most of the dinner on the 2nd night; when one of the search committee members bemoaned all the extra search-related “obligations” in front me at the same dinner). A third happening was just strange (i.e., the department chair asking me if “anything had happened to make me less interested in the position” during my campus visit. Well, actually, the search committee ignoring me during dinner did make me less interested, but I couldn’t exactly say that, could I?). The big draw for this position is the big startup package. It’s huge, and I could do a lot with it. The expectations are about the same as at the other places I’ve interviewed, and the family leave policies are very generous. I just don’t know if I like the people enough to seek tenure there. We’ll see what happens in another 2-3 weeks.

I have another 1.5 day interview later this week, but fortunately I can drive to this one instead of messing around with flights! It’s only 1-2 hours away by car, in good driving conditions. With luck my ears will be unclogged and I will have ceased blowing my nose by that point.

One of my biggest concerns throughout this whole process has been managing my medication schedule. Most of the time it’s gone ok. Each day I’ve carried only the doses I need of my medication in a small, decorative pill case. The prescription bottle is buried deep in my suitcase, usually mixed in with my dirty laundry just in case anybody decides to snoop… I’ve carried a bottle of water so I won’ t have to find a drinking fountain. In this way, I’ve mostly been able to take my medication mostly on schedule. When there have been gaps, they have luckily been during times in which I haven’t needed to think or express myself too clearly. Having a big of a cold has helped, because it gives me a “cover” when I have taken my medication in front of people.

Another big concern has been thinking of questions to ask people, especially administrators such as provosts and deans. I’ve always found this difficult, especially since I get rattled when I’m not sure what types of questions are really appropriate to ask in these sorts of situations. Fortunately, I’ve found a list of example questions online. This has helped reduce my anxiety, so I can focus on getting the information I need during the interview.

In essence, I’m getting through this one day at a time. It’s taken some creativity and flexibility, but it seems to be working ok so far.

two interviews in one week

I did it — I made it through my week with two back-to-back interviews. I didn’t feel extremely tired before I went to bed and slept for 8 hours Friday night, but I woke up Saturday morning feeling pretty worn out. I guess that I made it through the last couple of days on adrenaline? I’m feeling better today (Sunday) but am still dreading tomorrow’s full day of work. Having MLK day off is just a joke!

So, to summarize the interviews… both were in similar departments at two state universities in the same state. The first interview was fine: the faculty were really, really nice, and the job has certain unique perks that aren’t offered elsewhere (sorry can’t be more specific; these perks are very ADD and “Dr. Addled” – friendly!). Unfortunately, I didn’t feel much of a connection with the department, faculty or students, and suspected that I’d have few if any options for collaborative research. Also, the teaching load was pretty high (3-3; 3 classes each semester). The second interview at the “better” university went much better in all respects, even if the “perks” aren’t built-in to the position: the faculty and students were fantastic, and the environment itself is very conducive to collaborative research. The faculty and students clearly want a new faculty member who can do strong research, but this person must be able to play well with others, so to speak. The teaching load is lower (a 2-2 load, which means I’d teach 2 classes each semester). Interestingly, the research expectations were the same at both institutions, and the salary at University #2 is much higher than at University #1. Faculty at uni #2 responded very favorably to my job talk, and the students seemed ready to help me pack my moving truck at the drop of a hat.

After just a few hours at Uni #2, I felt very comfortable there, and felt like I was “clicking” with the faculty and students. I even started to have fun, which is by no means univeral on interviews! This sense was strong enough that I felt I could safely disclose that I am married (something that freaks out some academics — come on, like my 6mm wedding band isn’t already a clue?!?). I hope this wasn’t a tactical error, but would be surprised if it makes a difference (e.g., all the current faculty are married, so why would it be a problem for me other than my saying so might make me look unprofessional?). As it happens, I later learned that the realtor had “outed” me to the department secretary, who then in turn “outed” me to the search chair. Grr… at least when I brough it up with the department chair, it was my choice! The secretary made a big deal about it right before my job talk, which was more annoying than anything else (i.e., “Is ‘Addled’ your married name? Oh, it’s not? Then what’s your husband’s name if it’s not ‘Addled’?”). Hu’s  behavior was way  more unprofessional than mine, to say the least!

Although I didn’t want to put myself into this position, I will probably be very, very upset if I don’t receive an offer from University #2. The truth is, I will be brokenhearted, because I don’t think the fit can be  better than this. I just hope that the search committee members feel the same way about me. At least I only have to wonder for 2-3 weeks, by which time all the candidates will have visited and the search committee will have had time to deliberate and extend an offer to their top choice.

how not to manage an early-morning flight

Last Friday I traveled for a friend’s wedding, which occurred in a rural location on Saturday afternoon.

My flight was scheduled to depart around 6.45 a.m.; in order to have time to park, get through the nightmarish security line, make my way to the gate, etc., I need to leave my house at 4.30. Unfortunately Friday morning was one of those times that I decided to turn off my alarm in my sleep. I rolled over and woke up at 4.59 a.m.

Somehow, by 6 a.m., I’d made it and was waiting in the looooooooooonnnnnnngggggg security line. All I can say is that the hour between 5 and 6 wasn’t pretty, and nor was I on Friday morning:

  • I left the house 15 minutes after I’d finally gotten up (had washed face, brushed teeth, put in contacts, and thrown last few items into the suitcase. No chance to say goodbye to the kitties, who were pretty freaked out by my frantic behavior!)
  • I drove 70 all the way to the airport, which is about 20 miles away. I kept my fingers crossed the entire time that I wouldn’t run out of gas.
  • I parked in a closer, more expensive lot than my normal economy lot. Had I not done this, I would not have made the flight.
  • I got stuck in lines at check-in and at security.
  • I ran all the way to my gate once I’d passed security. In my hubby’s words, “You’re not running late unless they’re paging you to your gate.” They were paging me and 4 other delayed passengers at the gate.

Naturally there was a witness to my embarassment; a co-worker from my lab was seated in the row behind me!

All my flights made it on time. I met a high school friend at the destination airport, and finally got to take a shower later that afternoon before the rehearsal dinner. The wedding itself was great, and I’m glad hubby and I decided to make the trip!

There is a moral to this story for ADDers, naturally. Here are some travel tips for ADDers who are challenged by early morning engagements:

  • Set 2 alarm clocks, or arrange a wake-up call. Lay out the clothes you plan to wear.
  • Don’t stay up late the night before, even if you’re not done preparing. Start preparations earlier rather than later.
  • Don’t put off preparations until the morning of departure. If nothing else, this is recipe for distraction!
  • Make sure the car has a full tank of gas. Get it filled the night before if it doesn’t.
  • It’s worth it to pay a premium to park close to the airport if you’re running late. A few extra bucks in parking is still less than a new ticket, or the hassle of missing flights!