Friday, December 6, 2013

The Big Day

As big days go, something is bound to go wrong. For me it was the drop of my eye cream jar into the bathroom sink (I had my deodorant upside down, but due to its round top, it slid down, pushing the eye cream out of the medicine cabinet), cracking out a large piece of the porcelain. The eye cream was not heavy but the 15 inch fall must have transformed it into a bullet. I starred at the cracked sink wondering if I should worry about it or just pretend it didn't happen until the next day. I had two major events in front of me, a special invited talk* and participation in a panel at the royal dramatic theater the same evening. I decided to go the middle way and post a picture on Facebook, as well as texting an acquaintance of mine who might know a plumber. Then I didn't worry more about it that day. In fact I managed to forget it completely until Zoe came home the day after and yelled "Oh No", when she saw it: "how can I brush my teeth now?". I reassured her that the kitchen sink was usable for that too. But this morning I told myself that if a cracked sink was the worst thing that was going to happen that day, it was okay.

And so my big day went well. I did a good talk, had lunch with a colleague and skipped out to get a manicure, something I have never done before in Sweden, because it cost a million here ($100 to be more exact), but I figured that I already needed to spend 2 millions on a new sink. This is the kind of logic my mom has taught me, it works well when I need to indulge myself to feel better, works less well at the end of the month. But in the end I felt like a million dollars too as I borrowed the actress' powder and hairspray in the dressing room. The panel discussion went well, I managed to voice some of my views on female researcher issues and the fact that there are much fewer female professors than female PhD students. I talked about male leadership culture (they listen to you but they interrupt you all the bloody time) and how male leaders sometimes have to "discover" female leadership candidates in order to promote them (I was myself "discovered" or suggested by a female colleague, my boss would never have thought about me on his own even though I was an easy choice). I talked about grade school gender culture and promoting research early on in school and university. In the end we all got a long-stemmed rose and we went home. I washed my face at the kitchen sink and texted the plumber acquaintance again. The sink did indeed turn out to be the worst part of my big day.

*This is sometimes code for something else. It might be the case here too.

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