Monday, October 27, 2008

The future.

The elephant in the room continues to be the future. Bicycle is applying to (as of this moment, another may be added) two grad schools -- UC Davis, and Vanderbilt University. I am also applying to UC Davis, for a Comparative Literature Ph.D.

The best-case scenario is that we both get into UC Davis, both get good funding, and drive off to California next August. (If Bicycle were to be accepted by both schools, he'd choose Davis.) At the risk of sounding like I don't support Bicycle all the way, I will say that it is quite possible that our worst-case scenarios are not the same. For him, the worst thing would be if he was not accepted to either school, and had to find a job somewhere here in Massachusetts, start paying off his loans from undergrad, and apply to some more schools next year. For me, that would mean maybe finishing my MLS in the fall, rather than this summer, which would be easier, and then looking for a library job; life goes on as planned.

My worst-case scenario is if Bicycle gets acepted only to Vanderbilt. The problem I have with this is that Vanderbilt is in Tennessee. Nashville, but still Tennessee. You know, the polar opposite of Massachusetts. I really like living in the land of gay marriage and universal health insurance.

I put it like this. There's a reasonable expectation that in ten months we'll still be together. But in ten months, if bicycle moves down to Tennessee, one of two things will happen -- I will go too, or I won't. If I don't go, that looks to me like the de facto end of our relationship. Nashville is a loooong way from Massachusetts or New York, which are the places I'd like be, and the amount of time it takes to complete a Ph.D. is also very long, say six years for the purpose of this conversation. Like hell we'd be able to maintain a relationship under those circumstances. If nothing else, the long time apart would mean that we'd be passing a good chunk of our lives in a way that had nothing to do with each other, and could be completely different people when we reunited, and basically have to start over.

The other option would be that I go too Tennessee, and start my library career. Like I said, I don't really want to go to Tennessee. It's true that Bicycle and I align politically, and therefore it's not exactly his idea of paradise either, but being a woman I would face extra burdens that he would not. Think reproductive justice, fair labor practices, and the general idea that I'm fully human. Now, I'm not saying that Massachusetts is perfect on all counts, because nowhere on this earth is free from the patriarchy, but the two simply don't compare. And Bicycle is under the impression that he'll almost never have to set foot outside the lab, and therefore can kind of ignore the rest of it. Aside from the fact that this is not what my life there would look like, I think the premise is completely false. I've expressed this, but he does not agree, obviously.

So, here we have an example of the two bodies problem. Going to UC Davis, even if I am working instead of learning, is a satisfying solution to it. The unfortunate problem with Bicycle even applying to Vanderbilt is that he did not even spare two thoughts for the problem.

I don't recall how it came up, but we really got into this last night. For 3.5 hours. There were tears. I don't understand how his mind never got to the point of having to think about how that would work out for our relationship. Which, by the way, blows my mind. I just can't understand not having thought about that. Because I've definately expressed my opposition to living in Tennessee before.

And it's not a problem that's going to go away for him. Whether or not we are wandering the country looking for jobs, or we split, either over Tennessee or at some other point, he will have other partners. And then the problem will still exist. Any other partners will either go the same place as he does, or not. If they go, they will go willingly or grudgingly. Now, being a good fellow, Bicycle, I don't think, would not want some silly woman following him around from job to job and lab to lab without a thought to her own career. So, then, she will wither not go with, or Bicycle will have to learn to compromise.

I tried to talk about compromise before, and we haven't had the most productive of conversations. Jill Ker Conway is a good example of making the two bodies problem work. She and her husband took turns. One would take a job and they'd go somewhere, spend several years at it, and then the other would get the chance to pick a place and profession, and they'd head off again. Sounds good to me. I don't know the particulars of the Conways' system, but in my version of it, it would be a two person consensus system. One would propose some options, and the other would opine as to which would be most favorable, and be able to veto those that would be completely unacceptable. Taking the other's opinions into account, and forgoing the completely unacceptable, the first would then seek out positions, et cetera. Or, the two would together draw up a list of possible places to go, and then apply for positions at them all, and go somewhere together -- or at least to two very close places.

But, Bicycle, he keeps getting stuck in being unable to answer much more to this than insisting that he'll have to go where the oportunities are. I insist on making one's own opportunities, and that neither of us need follow the exact course of going straight through grad school, then maybe some post-doc work, and then some adjunct positions, and finally getting on a tenure track somewhere. (After all, he could work comercially, and I will have a library degree; there are options.) It's just that all the things he comes up with, none of them involve him giving a single inch.

*sigh* I think we came to some conclusions, mostly that I might very well end up going to Tennessee if those are the cards that are dealt, contrary to some of my own best interests. We also concluded that Bicycle will look into applying to a third school -- I'm pushing for Cornell, but maybe the University of Arizona.

Of course, there's a good chance that this will all be moot. But it really irks me -- that he just doesn't think of these things. I don't want this to set a pattern that steam rolls my life at the feet of a man doing science. Here's really hoping that we are heading off to California next summer.

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