Wednesday, March 12, 2008

In Which Thora Touches Upon a Plethora of Topics and Thoroughly Covers None of Them

After having checked everyone else's blogs multiple times each to see if they've updated, I've decided that it's finally time I update myself. There are many things to talk about, which perhaps explains some of my reticence; I've known that if I actually sit and and start to type, I'll be here until next Tuesday. Which all means that I won't give proper due to any subject I'll write about, for which I apologize beforehand.

Since finding out about Ohio State we've been very glad to finally have our future settled, both career-wise and where we'll be living among other matters. In many ways it's actually been somewhat anti-climactic; we didn't have a large party, or go out to eat, or do anything to really mark the event. For one thing, we're saving our money for our vacation (which I shall go into in more detail later in this post), and for another, we didn't have anyone to celebrate with. But we did do ridiculous window shopping on the internet, which I guess counts. For one thing, we looked up one-of-a-kind jewelry on, where Avram found me a nice piece for a quarter of a million dollars. Then we looked at their caskets; we're going to go with the 18 guage steel ones, because quite frankly they're the cheapest, coming in at under a 1,000 apiece. I even looked at the funeral arrangement of flowers to match, and read the special instructions about ordering caskets, like making sure to let you know that if the Funeral Home says that they don't use outside caskets, they're lying, because they have to by law. Very interesting (and slightly morbid).

We've been doing some more productive planning as well (ok, I have. At least I like to think it's productive; many could see this as debatable). I dearly love to plan my life, and revise plans upon plans as of course things change. Once we decided to come to England, so for the past year, I haven't been able to plan the future almost at all because we didn't know much about the particulars of being here, and also since we would only be in England for nine months, it was (and is) really more of a sojourn than an actual move. So finally now I can think of the future, and plan our our apartment, budget, moving plans, etc.

We're going to move back in with Avram's parent's for the summer for about 2 1/2 months (from late June through very early September), and then plan on moving to Ohio in the beginning of September (around the 5th or so). School starts on the 24th, so that will give us about 2 1/2 weeks to settle in, and start the long process of becoming residents. Hopefully we'll be living on campus in Buckeye Village, so that we we don't need to go search for an apartment.
The apartments are townhouse style (for a two bedroom) so we won't have any neighbors above or below us, which will be nice. I'm also excited because although our last apartment was two bedroom, and technically the second bedroom was Lydia's, in reality it was the home of her changing table and crib, a library (or at least a room with a lot of bookshelves), and a storage room. This time the second bedroom will actually be a girls' room, for Lydia and Elisheva. I'm planning on decorating it Hunter Green and Pink, with cherry beds (crib and toddler bed).

There are provisions in the apartment for a washer and apartment sized dryer, so hopefully at some point we'll be able to purchase used versions of these. It'll be nice to not have to leave the house to do laundry, especially with two children. Also, we'll need to buy a lot of furniture (used, of course), being that we left most of it in Provo. When we got married and bought furniture, for the most part I didn't worry about the quality of it, or how much I liked it, because I knew that we would be moving in two years and leaving it behind anyway. This time we'll be in Columbus (although probably not the same apartment the whole time) for around six years, so I care a lot more about what we end up with.

We had some scary times before Avram received his fellowship. Like when I looked at potential career routes he could take outside of Academia. I like the Church as an employer, and so I looked at jobs that he was qualified for offered by the Church {meaning the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints}. Specifically, he was only truly qualified for a custodial job in Elko, Nevada making 21,000 a year. Pretty sobering. And even they required a year of custodial experience, which he had aquired while working at DT at BYU. Of course, they don't list Seminary positions, or anything to do with the CES, and that's where Avram is the most qualified, anyway. That's the real problem; Avram loves to teach, and is (in my opinion) naturally talented in teaching. But getting a Seminary full time job is less likely than getting into a doctoral degree with funding, so it's basically a non-option. I also looked up civilian jobs working for the government, and based on both searches, I've come to the conclusion that the belief that there are many jobs out there that on entry-level only require a Bachelors in any subject is false.

There were many jobs that only required a Bachelors - but none that were open to an Ancient Near Eastern Studies Major. In the Government search, I only found an $18,000 a year position, that didn't list requirements that Avram didn't have. Of course, if he had majored in something that is taught to high-schoolers or at a community college, both of those would be legitimate potential career paths that could be highly fulfilling. But what high schools have you heard of that offer Hebrew?

Now, I don't write these things to infer that Avram's degrees have been pointless. Not at all. I think that a textual, historical, social study of the the Bible can enrich a spiritual study, and that events that happened millenia ago do still influence today (just think of the upcoming holiday) (and no, I did not mean St. Patrick's day). I suppose what I am saying is exactly how limited Avram's professional prospects are, and how grim his job prospects would be outside of Academia.

Of course, now he has been accepted to a program, and will have funding for at least four years of it. But nevertheless, these thoughts continue to percolate in the back of my mind. For one thing, on the far side of the doctoral degree comes that "fun" stage of applying for Tenure Track positions, with a lack of ever obtaining one relegating us back to considering Elko, Nevada as a future place of employment. All I can do is trust in the Lord that this is the path that Avram's professional life should take, and that He will not abandon us six years from now, just as He has not abandoned us now.

Now, to the next part of my post. My parents are currently en-route to come and visit us. They will arrive tomorrow, and then the next day (Friday, March 15) we will be leaving for France. My Mom served her mission in Northern France/Belgium, and so we're going to visit two of her old areas, Lille and Dunkirk. Then, on Sunday night we drive to Paris for three days of wild sight-seeing. Currently up for tourism are the Rodan Museum, Napolean's Tomb, the Arc de' Triumph, the Louvre (of course; this is the heart of this side-trip), all the famous out-doors things like the Eiffel Tower, a river whose name escapes my memory at the moment (the Seine, perhaps?) and all the pretty buildings. Also we're going to indulge in (very cheap) good French food and pastries and just generally have an exciting time.

I don't speak a word of French, nor do I know the pronunciation rules, so I'll be completely dependent on my Mother and Avram (my Mom for the speaking; Avram only reads French. Which hey, is a lot more than I can do). Yesterday I had the opportunity to go with my visiting teaching companion, visiting teachee, and my companion's other companion and visiting teachee (besides having two sets of companions and visitees, she's also the Relief Society president, and just all-round wonderful, not to mention Japanese/Hawaiian/and now living in Britain for over half her life since she married a man from here. I love the internationality of my ward. Also, she combines the nicest aspects of all these cultures) to a French restaurant. It was the first French food I've ever had, and I was favourably inclined, but I did have to resort to point at the menu whilst ordering. And I thought that Fruits de Mer was some kind of fruit salad (It's fruits of the sea, or seafood).

This all reminds me of a huge faux pas I made while at dinner. We were discussing maternity clothes, because the sister sitting next to me is also pregnant and due in May. She asked me where I got most of my clothes from, and I told her that I brought them from America, that most were used (used clothing isn't really sold here), and such. Then I went on to tell her that the pants I was wearing at that very moment weren't even maternity at all, that they were just stretchy, so I could wear them anyway. Then the subject turned, and I didn't think anything more of it until a few minutes later this same sister said the word trousers, and it all came home to me.

In England, trousers are what people, both men and women, wear. Pants are underwear. Across the board. And although I had just been speaking to her, at that moment when I had made my comment, the whole table had happened to be listening. I suddenly understood why no one had really commented on my comment. I'm sure they were all thinking that was way too much information on my side. I then tried to explain my blunder, blushing furiously in the process, and then repeating myself again when another sister came back from using the toilet, she having missed my explanation, but not my blunder. Even thinking of it now, I wonder if people from neighboring tables heard me. Regardless, I'm not used to being thought of as the kind of person who discusses her foundational wardrobe at a restaurant table, especially with people she doesn't know too well. And in such a merry, almost proud manor (after all, at the time, I was thinking what a great thing that I had been able to wear a pair of pants that weren't maternity through my whole pregnancy here, when my wardrobe is already so limited).

Moving on....

My parents will be here for two weeks, so the second week we'll be doing some local sight-seeing, like Stratford upon Avon and Blenheim palace and London, but we'll also just sit around and talk, because I haven't seen them in over a year, and my mother is dying to see Lydia. Not me, of course. After all, I haven't changed that much since the last time that we met. But her darling grand-daughter certainly has. I don't mind. In fact, I kind of like the trump card of having a grandchild to pull for my parent's attention. Although almost all of my siblings have one or more of the same card. But they all work, because my Mother loves all of her grandchildren to distraction.

Regardless, I shall be absent from blogging and the Internet until next Thursday, so until then, Adieu.


  1. When I visited Napoleon's tomb, what, four years ago now?, my immediate thought (behind the manditory "My gosh, this man thought a lot of himself") was "I wish I could see Avram seeing this. He'd go nuts." I missed both of you so much when I went to France, so I'm glad you're finally getting to go and see all the stuff I wanted you to see. Two words of advice: 1. Don't smile at people; the French think it makes you look crazy unless there's something genuinely funny going on. and 2. Even if you only know three words of French, say them to everybody. Say "Bonjour, monsieur/madame" to anyone you meet, especially shopkeepers, and you will win a billion points for giving French an honest effort. I could give you a ton more advice (mostly stuff I wish I'd done in France,) but I will get down off my high horse and hope you have a great time.

  2. I love townhomes. I lived in one (Sparks II) and it felt so much more like a real home to me than other apartments. I think it's the staircase. Or maybe that the bedrooms aren't on the main floor. I'm jealous of you being able to decorate it, and being able to go see stuff in France! Have fun!

  3. also, one of my professors used the word "knickers" in an American way the other day (he was talking about those old-time pants that were worn with hose by the Founding Fathers). If he had been in England, he would have been very embarrassed! America's founding fathers did not wear women's panties!

  4. As it goes for the job hunt there are opportunities out there. Some government positions require only the equivalent of a doctorate in a field similar to the required field. Of course most of these are in the area of American and Native American studies.
    Also you may find luck with a Jewish Museum but then you've also hit a bit of a snag with the term ancient near eastern. I know they are looking for people to go and work in Iraq putting their museums back together but that would require knowledge of Arabic which you have but Avrams Hebrew wouldn't cut.
    Seminary jobs are almost impossible to get for the one reason that there is actually an undergraduate program as BYU that gets you a certificate of Seminary Teaching and they almost exclusively choose from that pool.(Charles was looking at going into Seminary teaching but didn't make the cut.
    Another thing I would recommend is to apply to places that you know you could do but may not have been trained in. Grant writing for instance can be a very good place to work and with Avrams writing skills he may be able to do that. Teaching is still and option in many states if he can pass the state examines(Not that hard) and then do a little more school(to do his teaching certificate but over all it's an option) i am sure though that Avram will find a good school to teach at and be the professor that we know he is.

  5. Thora, I'm insanely jealous that you are going to France and to all those amazing places. I had a lovely Art History teacher who does private tours in France and Rome, and one day I will hire him to take Todd and I to both.

    As far as your pants, we watch a lot of British comedy, so I started cracking up as soon as I knew where you were going. Hilariously, laugh out loud funny. Thanks for that.

  6. Thora -- We should celebrate you choosing a grad school! Are you doing anything in mid-April?

  7. I suppose it could have been worse - you could have brought up suspenders as well. They don't hold your trousers up in British English you know. Braces do that.

    Suspenders are for stockings.

  8. Works the other way, too. I had a high school teacher who wanted to compliment his date, who had cooked him dinner, so he told her what a homely woman he thought she was! (Homely means "good at homemaking" in England.)

  9. I posted this on an old thread...

    Hey, would you guys drop me an email? I think I met you at BYU (you were in my brother's ward), and I'm interested in the Oxford program. benspackman at geemail dot com (but do the gmail thing right.)