Tuesday, April 3, 2012

In Which my Wildest Fantasies are Spelled out

I'm sorry I had to do it, but I have enabled the annoying word verification - I was getting swamped in fake spam comments, which is really demoralizing to the morale, when I check my blog, and I have 10 comments, and most of them are spam.  I hate the word verifications, so we can all hate them together.  Because we'll all be real people, at least.

A lot has been on my plate of life lately (as apposed to my plates of food, which have been sadly lacking in vegetables).  As I'm sure you gathered, I am indeed pregnant, and am now four and a half months along.  Doesn't a pregnancy go by fast when you never post?  We're having the 20 week ultrasound in two days, and if I were a nicer person, I would have waited to post until then, so I could tell you all what we're having.  I am not a nice person, however, which means at the rate I post, you might find out before the baby's born, but don't hold your breath.   As you also may have gathered, this baby was a surprise.  And by surprise, I mean that I had a .3 % chance of getting pregnant, compliments of modern day birth control (IUD).  It's good to feel so special in the world.

Guinevere was a planned baby, and I worried the whole time about how I would ever manage three children, and sure enough, three was a difficult number for me for quite a while.  With this baby, despite the complete lack of mental preparation, I've had an almost Zen-like acceptance and peace.  I just know that four is going to be fine (hard, but fine), and Lydia is six now, and quite helpful, and everyone always says that four isn't any harder than three (right? right? If you know differently, bite your tongue).  Also, Avram and I had begun to discuss having another baby, so it's not as if we were done with having children.  I actually am liking a lot that this baby will be right in line with the others, two years apart.  I want to have 6 children, and I'd also like to go back to school and get a Master's degree when the youngest is preschool age.  So in order to get to that stage of life, the faster I have children, the faster it will come (assuming that we have no more surprise children, or that we don't have more than six, or basically assuming life doesn't intervene).

I'm inclined to think it's a boy, but I thought Guinevere was a boy, and there she is, as feminine as anything (if by feminine, you mean a biter, fighter, scrappy almost two year old, who thinks that 'No' is the pinnacle of the English language, followed closely in line by 'Mine!'). I admit, with three girls, we do want a boy, if only to know that we will indeed have one, but the thought of four girls is kind of darling - like a little flower garden of children, in their Sunday dresses.

Another area that has been full lately has been Avram's schooling.  He passed his comprehensive exams, sometimes also called candidacy exams, in December.  This means he's done with classes (which explains why he's sitting in on one class this quarter - he's just a glutton for learning.), and can begin the next stage of obtaining his doctorate.  For most of you, this is a fairly opaque process, so I'll explain out what this all means.  First he needs to decide on a Dissertation topic, which is like decided on what specific subject to write a book on.  Then he needs to write a Dissertation Proposal, which is a 15-25 page paper that summarizes the Dissertation (book), lists out any scholarship that relates to the subject, and how this dissertation will bring new knowledge to the field, address gaps of current scholarship, etc.  It is then approved by Avram's Dissertation committee, a group of 3-4 professors, and then at that point Avram may begin writing his actual Dissertation.

We had this grand plan of having Avram finish his comprehensives in December, have a subject in mind by the end of January, have written his proposal by the end of February, and achieve world peace by the end of March.  Instead, we had the surprise Christmas gift of a pregnancy (one of the specific things we were waiting for to have a baby was Avram to have his dissertation topic picked out), and then the January and February gift of lots of morning sickness.  So, Avram took over all the cooking, any household cleaning or laundry that occurred, plus most parenting.  Needless to say, our plans for the proposal timeline have changed a few times.  Now he has basically decided on a topic - the usage of animals in the Rabbinic corpus, and then somehow Myth ties in (the mythic use of animals?  The mytholo-ization of animals?).  But as he's discovering, being able to write a summary of your dissertation means having done most of the major research, so you know what you're actually going to say.  So the new and improved (although alas, minus world peace) timeline is that he will hand in his proposal by the end of May, and then have it approved so that he can begin writing this Summer, still in time for graduating next year.

Which brings us to this Summer.  Avram is teaching two freshman Book of Mormon classes this Summer at BYU.  We're excited for this for several reasons.
 1. We'll get paid!  More than we've ever been paid before!  And because he's also getting a relocation fellowship (I think they must count up the number of dependents you have, since there was no reason given for the surprise reward), we'll actually be able to maintain our two households, in Ohio and in Provo, without having to get a student loan.
 2. Avram will be applying to teach at BYU this fall, and this is a necessary first step in the religion department, because they like to see how you teach, and then you get to try out the department as well.
3. Have I mentioned we'd both like to end up at BYU  - so this is a good omen of awesomeness (although in my wildest fantasies [and you know you're old when your wildest fantasies involve job offers] we'd get a post doc somewhere really exciting, and hired at BYU at the same time, and be able to postpone the job at BYU so we could go globetrotting for a year first, but in reality, I'm not even sure the religion department does this sort of thing, and if we did get hired, we wouldn't feel so in demand we'd probably even suggest it, either).  I can see all sorts of good reasons to end up somewhere else first, but I am seduced by the thought of being able to buy a house, and maybe get chickens, and garden, and settle in, and if Avram got a job at BYU we'd be there for the long haul.  Yes, security, it's a beautiful thing.  In all reality, of course we'd be happy to get a job anywhere in the field.
 4. My family is mostly in Utah, so we can actually visit relatives without having a crazy family vacation be a part of it.

Speaking of applying to BYU, you have to have completed and defended your dissertation before they'll hire you, although you can apply while still finishing it.  So Avram also gets to spend this Summer madly writing, while I spend this Summer madly vacationing (three girls plus 7-9 months pregnant = vacationing).  Then the moment he's done teaching, we'll rush back here in our minivan, which we have yet to buy because we hate buying cars, but we really, really need, see earlier this post, so that I can have the baby.  I'm due August 24, two weeks after we return.  Luckily my Mom's coming out to help, because that's also the same week that Lydia will start first grade, and of course, Avram will still be madly writing.  Since he needs to be well (over half? three quarters?) into writing his dissertation when he applies to BYU, and other places for the matter, this fall.  Often there are preliminary interviews given at SBL, or the Society of Biblical Literature, which happens the week before Thanksgiving every year. It's the main conference in Avram's field that occurs every year. Last year it was at San Francisco, and Avram presented two papers in it for the first time.  I went with him, and told everyone that it was our second honeymoon.  And now we're (almost) having a second honeymoon baby.  Which means I won't be able to go with him to this year's meeting in Chicago, which is a shame, since I absolutely love conferences.  I really love attending all the sessions, and I even loved helping watch BYU's booth of bookness, since that meant I got to meet a lot of people. And I even got an included book bag, which I use every week as my church bag.  He'll also be presenting at this year's SBL, on the deification of Enoch in Rabbinic Literature.

 I know some of you are wondering why I said that there was a lot on my plate, and then proceeded to write endlessly about Avram's academic life.  I tell you, that is my life.  I edit all his papers (we spent the day and a half before the conference actually started when we were in San Francisco doing the final polishing and editing of his papers, only taking an afternoon out for sightseeing.  We really know how to live up a honeymoon).  It's a popular topic around our house, only next to our children, and most importantly, the seven years Avram has been in school in our marriage, of seven years, have been seven years of the whole family sacrificing, planning, hoping and dreaming (and being frugal), and I feel as integral to his Ph.d. as anything.

In Summation, I'm having a baby, but hopefully not on the trip back from Utah this Summer, where Avram will have taught at BYU, and Avram's writing a book that has to be done and finished in one year, so he can get hired somewhere, and make tons of money we'll use to buy chickens.