Sunday, April 20, 2008

I don't do it all, so I don't have it all. Oh well.

Alternate title: public shaming, home office edition.

This is more like the secret shames that occur in the privacy of one's home office/living room. I really wish I had an office at school. This was one of my recommendations to Legal Theory Prof for making his school's VAP more attractive. And yet, can I just say, I'm glad that I don't have a job that requires immense amounts of face time, as if logging hours were the best measure of productivity. I am glad to be in a field where you can work from home, and have a flexible schedule.

But that's not to say I work from home particularly well (or at least, with dignity), or that I cope with the two worker-partnership thing all that well. I get exasperated during the crunch time, and no less exasperated when he has to work late too. When we are both working late, it's a lot of take out, which bugs me--although I don't know why. Damned persistence of gender stereotypes.

I'll start. Then it's your turn.

  • My socks are mismatched (one bright blue, one green with pink stripes) and I'm wearing men's pajama bottoms with my law school t-shirt, and it's 2:30 in the afternoon. I don't care. I'm reading about the second shift of work. Working on a Sunday makes you want to redefine what work means, or at least its uniform. Right now, I think that this is pretty awesome.
  • I eat ice cream straight out of the carton, and usually one of two flavors: Cherry Garcia and Vanilla Heath Bar Crunch.
  • I do maudlin things like make his picture my cellphone/desktop wallpaper when we're apart, and then change it back when I see him again so that he doesn't notice me being this schmaltzy. You know, after a whole week apart. I hate being "That Girl", but yet I am. But it does make my work a little happier to have a happy memory for my wallpaper.
  • I currently have four novels that I'm reading in various stages of completion. I do not anticipate finishing them any time soon.

  • I eat cold pasta. Also, pizza. Reheating is for soup and Chinese food. This is very weird, yes.
  • At this point, I have knitted a potholder, and I cannot give you a projected completion date for what will be a scarflet.
  • My bed has been unmade for five days, an all time record. I kind of hate this.

  • I cooked for the first time in half a week on Saturday (cumin-coriander encrusted pork chops and mashed yukon gold potatoes), and only because I was out of leftovers and getting sick of cereal. This is why I like to have people to cook for. Although I don't know why I am so lazy when cooking just for myself, when I know plenty of others who go all out to give themselves gourmet experiences. Somehow, in my head, dinner is something that's best shared with a loved one.
Clearly, the paper writing period/exam period does not suit my normally fastidious, stylish, foodieish, house holdiness part of myself. But eh, after reading so many books on gender divisions of housework and the time bind that is particularly virulent with female professionals, I am totally cool with relaxing some of my standards for trying to "do it all" and being the one about whom one would say "I don't know how she does it."

Well, obviously, left to my own devices, and in particularly time compressed periods of life, I don't do it all. No perfect house, career, family, consumerist habits. I should mention that the pajamas are from Old Navy and the socks are from Costco, and I have totally lost their partners in the Great Laundry Accident of 2007. TD has been away for a week, we don't have kids, and so right now, I don't have to have it all, and I don't want it all.

I'm pretty happy working on my own thing, and having a supportive (but also time crunched) partner, and being a schlubby grad student. I imagine, when I am in a position of some professional significance, I will want to strive for perfection in all areas of my life. Or maybe, I will just cut myself a break, and realize that working on a sunny Sunday is an achievement in itself, and so who cares that there's dishes in the sink or mismatched socks on my feet. And I would hope that I would value spending time with my partner and children more than I value the perfect Pottery Barned-out, immaculately kept home.

You can't have it all. But why would you want it all? That's a lot of stuff, man. Not only does my work argue for a different conception of "work," but I hope to one day write an article about how we should restructure our idea of family and household obligations--at least, to be less gendered. I have a hard time getting out of that (I feel bad when dinner is late or "off" because I was so busy trying to do work and cook at the same time the potatoes were undercooked), but I am starting to cut myself a break.