Friday, September 26, 2014


Yesterday I realized that I need to keep a spare mascara in my office. And that, if I push the chair in a certain angle, people can't see me through the glass panel. As long as I sit on the floor.

I don't post many things about my very personal life because when divorced, one's love life turn from fairly public (marriage is a public institution) to messy and sensitive. You don't want to hurt anybody, I certainly don't. So of course I have tried my way through to someone new (and old) but so far failed miserably, partly because I'm in no way over my marriage. Partly because I tend to fall for guys who don't fall for me or think that life with me 'is too messy'. 

But this is not only about love. It's about work. I used to do a lot of research with Zoe's dad and although we didn't actually work well together (he is very dominating) I enjoyed most of our academic conversations (alongside of course all the other conversations). He is one of the smartest people I know and we could talk about our research area without end. We co-published quite a bit but always with one of us (mostly me, he had several other projects with different people) driving the process. When we split, these conversations were one of the things I missed the most and I still do. I have great intellectual conversations with other people but I don't have one person to turn to on a daily basis (btw, this is not uncommon, over the years I have observed my parents: My dad is a professor and he always discusses problems at work and research projects with my mom, and she provides a lot of support). I'm sure he misses me this way too.

But yesterday I realized that he has someone new. Someone has taken my place. In a large research meeting he chose to present a paper that he had just written with his new girlfriend. I'm not good at suppressing feelings so the sight of her name on a slide made me physically sick. I walked out of the room, threw up in the bathroom and sat crying on the floor of my office for an hour. My sweet colleague and friend came to see if I was okay and I managed to pull myself together for teaching in the afternoon. But today I'm bringing an extra mascara to keep in my office drawer. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Deadline season

It's deadline season in my little tight field, which means that the yearly deadline for submitting papers to the major conference is coming up very soon. Everyone I know are frantically working overtime to collect the last bits of data, running analyses on it and writing up contributing results. Contribution is of course key, if a paper does not contribute with something 'new', it will not be accepted to this top-notch conference with a 20% acceptance rate. I submit on average 2-3 papers here each year and publish almost half of those, actually putting me in a group with a better average than the conference itself, something I should be happy and proud of. And of course I am.

What I'm not proud of is the tendency I have to push paper writing (and sometimes analysis) to last minute, like many of my colleagues. Back pre-baby this just meant a week of 14 hour work days but with a child, this is more complicated; she needs to be fed, played with and put to bed. Yet, I still for some reason push work to last minute, imagining that I will be able to work after Zoe is in bed. Last year around this time I managed to finish a rough paper in a week exactly this way. I slept 5 hours per night and the morning after the deadline, I dropped Zoe of in daycare and went straight back home, sleeping until early afternoon. The paper got in. It had a contribution.

Tomorrow I get Zoe back after 5 days away; I woke up crying on Sunday because I missed her so much. I'll pick her up early and take her to a playground and we will get ice-cream. I'll let her help me make pizza (she loves her rolling pin) and we will watch Danish kids tv together before reading a few bedtime stories. I'll see what my paper looks like after she is asleep. Perhaps I won't have any energy to continue working on it but I don't care. I have her almost every day until the deadline and I'm very aware I might not come up with those key contributions my two papers still need. And so be it.

It was no news to me that women pay a huge career price for having children, but new studies surfaced online yesterday confirming this outside academia as well. They even controlled for hours worked and socioeconomic level. On the one hand this kind of knowledge gets me down, but on the other hand it gets me furious and makes me want to work harder to prove the stats wrong. But it's a catch 22. To get more done, more hours are needed. These hours are directly taken away from me spending time with Zoe because I already optimized most optimizable parts of my life. But I'm not willing to do that. It's not Zoe's fault that I have a major deadline. She misses her mom as much as I miss her and she hopes to spend time with me. And I can't help thinking that this is exactly how I'll end up being a perfect example of the statistics.