Friday, 5 August 2011

Surprises and Party Advice

Welcome to ‘The Chronicles of a Reluctant Housewife’ where I document my love/hate relationship with my current occupation.

It has been an interesting few weeks.  I apologize for my absence.  I haven’t been much of a housewife lately.  These 20 days of employment have turned into the most annoying research project that won’t end. 
The paid research has been illuminating, but perhaps not in the way the organizers had hoped.  By running all over the City and East End chasing down interviewees, I managed to chase down myself as well. 
That’s heavy, I know.  But what I mean is this: While I was running around being a professional, I really wanted to be home taking care of laundry and prepping dinner.  OK, maybe not totally.  I did really like getting dressed and navigating the city and hearing people’s stories.  I really liked that.  What I didn’t like is the guilt I felt that I didn’t have the energy to keep the house clean, organize dinner (we have been eating take-out like crazy) or go for a run (fit fail), and I haven’t baked anything in weeks!!!  This is self-inflicted guilt, but it is also a bit of sadness.  I really enjoyed those things.  (I also don’t like the slap-dash organization of the project, but that is another issue and this is not the place for it).
I know, I sound like every working woman in the world (it's a stretch, go with it).  It’s a perpetual problem, yes?
So while the work has made me a less reluctant housewife, it has also made me decide, without a doubt, that I will not be happy as an Academic.  This does not mean that I don’t want to teach and/or tell geography stories.  It means I think there is a better forum out there than the hallowed, sometimes, out-of-touch, halls of the ivory-tower Academy. 
But here’s the thing….
There’s always a thing.
I have three rather major academic projects to finish before I can move on and wave good-bye to Academia for the time being.  These projects are drawing out and the energy it takes to complete them is massive.  (I still harbour a strong desire to teach undergrad Geography on a part-time basis, or at a community college.  But that’s not going to happen right now, so I am putting it aside for awhile.  When I return to the Academy, I would like it to be as a well-worn, full-lifed, slightly eccentric, ‘older’ woman.  You know, one of those spunky ladies with a fab back story and a way of rolling with life.)  I’m attempting to power through!!
We are hoping to go on a fairly major holiday in September (when the Border Agency finally returns the passports they are holding for ransom).  I am trying to view it like I did the wedding/thesis deadline.  This holiday will be a clean break, hopefully.  If I can finish all this stuff before we head off, when we come back I can focus on my own stuff and leave the academic guilt behind.  I think the fact that I haven’t embraced the ‘Dr.’ title, even though I am now employed, albeit temporarily, as a ‘Doctor,’ may have been the first clue to my discomfort.  My newly minted colleagues have no qualms throwing the title around.  I just feel a fraud.  I feel more comfortable using the Mrs, than the Dr.  And that’s saying something!
Here’s an interesting tid-bit.  Remember when I was having fits trying to decide what to tell people I ‘do’ upon introduction?  I now thrown out ‘housewife’ without thinking.  However, after yesterday, I may have to rethink this action.  After my introduction, I was presented with the question, “Oh! How old are your children?”

Did you catch that?

Somehow, housewife immediately translated to Mom.  WHAT!!!  This followed a separate conversation about how it is not acceptable to just be a housewife.  Kids must be involved for it to be acceptable.  WHAT IS HAPPENING!!!  Let us enjoy each other for a bit! (Not that I am saying kids will keep us from enjoying each other.)
I countered with, “No kids.  Just Wife.”  Which was met with, “Oh………”

This obsession with titles is exhausting, yes?  I mean, how often does one’s job title reflect them?  I think I have said this before, but when meeting someone for the first time, or when thrown together at a dinner/cocktail/birthday/holiday/clothes swapping party, find other questions to ask than, “So? What do you do?”  And if you insist on continuing to ask this question, don’t be surprised when someone eventually answers, “I sacrifice my soul for 10-12 hours a day at a job I can barely tolerate or understand to fund my average, yet enjoyable lifestyle.” 
Because that really is the most honest, and possibly common, answer and a real conversation ender and party killer.  Find another question.

So, to more important things….

Where to go on holiday?  Where we will enjoy each other’s company as a young married couple.  No kid guilt required. Thankyouverymuch.
We are thinking two weeks.  We have floated the following ideas:
Mini-expedition to Morocco, Med cruise, mini-expedition to Columbia, resort in Mauritius, train through Italy, road trip through Britain.
Thoughts, suggestions, advice?  I think we are leaning toward the mini-expedition in Morocco and taking on a few days in a nice hotel at the end for a little extra relaxation.


  1. Mauritius, with an excursion (or even better, stay there most time) to its much more amazing neighbor Rodrigues.... the only two things I will say is that the island is surrounded (I mean encircled) by a coral reef, and Prince William has enjoyed the peace and stunning beauty of it years ago too....

  2. for a delightful hotel:

    for an impression put 'rodrigues island' into google images.... great little hiking tours besides the amaying beaches and they have really cool indian style public transport buses there...

    ok, back to my own academic things to be ticked of before Berlin ;)

  3. oh, one last thing: in distinction to Mauritius, which is crowded and the resorts are not very nice (shut of from the rest of the island etc), Rodrigues is empty of tourists, literally.

    (don't we love procrastionation)

  4. ...And that's why I'm afraid to use the housewife title. It seems that staying home with kids is acceptable (even vogue, in certain circles), but without kids is unheard of. I've switched to saying "I do some freelance work from home." The work may be spotty and unimpressive, but it makes me feel better than saying I'm unemployed.

    When I confessed to my mom recently that I actually enjoy many aspects of being a housewife (though yes, there are days that I would like another side focus), that we eat better, are more relaxed, save money, etc., but that I felt like a social pariah because I lacked the raising children part, she reminded me that my two great aunts were childless and never worked outside the home, and no one ever expected them to (and they were not wealthy women, either).

    It's weird that, for all the amazing good the feminist movement's done, there is now (unintended, I'm sure) pressure to NOT admit to enjoying homemaker-y type activities. The push to find fulfillment only in a Big Important Career, is now making me feel somehow inadequate or less-than... ironic.

    I hate the "And what do YOU do?" question. I was wondering if this was more of an American thing, but I guess not (I have heard that the French don't seem to focus on work-related cocktail talk as much, though). It's terrible, but I sometimes find myself basing possible job ideas on how they would sound to other people--surely a disastrous way to go about structuring your life... but I wonder how many of us do just that, if only we'd admit it??

    As for vacations (fun): all your options sound so glamorous! I would vote for Mauritius, but Morocco sounds amazing, too. It's crazy to me that it's *so easy* to get to all those places once you're in the UK.

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