Helping Women Achieve in Academic Science

Posts tagged ‘travel for work’

Sabbatical Preparations – Panic Time

Sabbatical-1Some updates from the sabbatical planning. OK, “planning” is basically in the past. We are actively doing now.

Last week, I packed up two boxes that contained some basic toys and clothes that were appropriate for our new location (which has different weather from where we live and work). I checked that I could send some stuff ahead of time. My landlord there said he would keep it for me. If he hadn’t, I would have gotten a PO box at the post office, so I could send stuff to myself and have them hold it. I plan to send 6 boxes total, basically 1.5 for each member of the family.

I also arranged for someone to come by the house regularly while we are away, and found some online resources from “FancyPants” magazines about how to close up your summer house for the winter. Here is one I found useful (link). I will probably do some of these things, but not all right away. It turns out I have to come back for some stuff in the first month of being away, so the house won’t be abandoned for long.

This week was a big one. I actually went to our sabbatical spot. I was able to hook it onto a conference that was within a driving distance. I swung up for less than 2 days. I stopped by the house and said hi to the landlord. I walked to the elementary from the house to trace the route we will likely take every day. I turned in my pre-filled paperwork to register my oldest for school. Next, I went to the daycare my youngest will be attending to get a tour and sign him up. It was pretty sweet, and I can’t wait to hear what he thinks about the school, kids, and toys I saw there.

This trip got me really excited. It also made me think about new things including health care for my kids. My oldest is almost never sick, but the younger one is accident prone and has allergies. This made us check up on our insurance. It turns out they are affiliated with a network of providers in our sabbatical location. If they hadn’t been, I had two possibilities. Pay out of pocket and send receipts for 80% reimbursement from our insurance for using a provider out of network. Another option would have been to sign-up for supplemental insurance using “ObamaCare” so that we have in network coverage. I would have had to weigh the costs of each. It is much easier to use a provider in our extended network for our short time there, so that is what we will do.

The thing that was forgotten – the cars. Actually, it wasn’t forgotten, just more difficult than we thought. Our plan was to sell one car (our airport car that we don’t really use much) and to leave the main car and have it driven periodically. We were planning to rent a car in SabbaticalTown. But, now, I think we are going to ship the main car and leave the back-up car for periodic driving by our house checker. I think part of my visit back in January will be to orchestrate the car pick-up for cross-country transport. I feel bad that I didn’t get this together, but frankly, there is only so much I can do while actually still maintaining my job, too.

So, we are going. This is really happening. I am trying to be calm, but sometimes that anxious feeling of butterflies in my stomach still crop up. Is there anything else I am forgetting? Do I really want to know? I have time to course correct because I will be going back, so please comment or post if I am missing anything! To get an email every time I post, push the +Follow button.

Work Life Balance – Other Stuff

HairdoneThe age-old woman’s issue: work-life balance. First, this is clearly not a “woman’s issue,” yet it is still labeled as such. Men make these choices, too. BUT, it feels different. I feel like, when I say I am leaving early to do a family-related activity, it is frowned upon, and I often do not reveal why I am leaving early. But, my male colleagues often use personal excuses for leaving early or not showing up to work and they seem fine with using these explanations.

Second, we have discussed many of the big work-life issues on this blog. For example: When should you have kids (see these blog posts: flexibility, grad school, pre/post tenure, postdoc)?  Should you take a job when you don’t have one for your spouse (see our posts on two-body problems: problems, surprisenegotiations)?

This weekend, I was thinking about the little work-life issues. Many of these issues are not about kids or family at all. Many times they concern myself – my personal well-being and how I don’t do things for myself because I am prioritizing work and other life choices first. I was thinking about it because I have been trying to dye my hair for about 2 weeks. The process takes about an hour, and I did not seem be be able to find that hour until today.  Here are some of the other things I prioritized over my personal activity: hanging out with my kids, making a figure for a paper, working on a grant report, writing this blog… You get the idea. And these other things are more important than dying my hair, so I was making the right choices, but I also want and need to dye my hair, too.

I always find the personal stuff hard to schedule and hard to prioritize such as hair, eye, dentist, and doctor appointments, or going to HR to fill out non-essential, but helpful, paperwork. Unless I am actually sick, I never go get regular check-ups. I should, but it seems like a waste of time. I go to the eye doctor once every 2-3 years and only because my glasses have broken and are hanging off my face.  I try to schedule a lot of this stuff in the summer, but that is also when I am busting my butt to get my papers out and get research done and traveling to conferences, so it still isn’t ideal. Are others like this? Am I a weirdo because I don’t keep my life on track?

I would think that it was just me except I have also been thinking back to my advisors, and I remember weird stuff coming out of their mouths. For instance, I had a graduate advisor who once told me that it was annoying when students (me, I was the only student) went to conferences because they not only missed 4-5 days from the lab for the conference, but they always had to leave early to do laundry and pack. My advisor also used to not go to the bathroom and do a sort of pee-pee dance. Maybe my advisor also didn’t want to waste time evacuating her bladder. I also had a postdoc advisor who told lab members that they should schedule dentist appointments on the weekends. I don’t even know any dentists who are open on the weekends.

So, maybe I was “raised” to be this way. I do try to be careful around my students so that I do not affect them the way I have been. I don’t want them to not go to the doctor or dentist. I don’t want them to not urinate because they feel they are wasting time. And I want to stop feeling that way, so I continue to fake it in the hopes that some day I will not feel weird about taking the time I need to clean my clothes and pack before a conference. (I am sure my fellow conference attendees also prefer I wash my clothes before the conference).

So, what about you? Do you have weird tendencies to be self-depriving spurned by an internal feeling that you are not working hard enough and still need to prove yourself? I do, clearly. I should say this is better after getting tenure. The removal of the feeling that you are going to lose your job if you don’t work hard enough hasn’t stopped me from working hard on science, but it has allowed me the freedom to go to the dentist. But, these feelings are clearly ridiculous. I try to stop them and “act normal.”

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