Wednesday, 27 April 2016

#MisCourage and telling the whole truth

It's all gone a bit quiet from me recently- not been on Twitter much, been rubbish at replying to emails, not been banging on about archaeology online, not done much writing since coming back from Ireland.

This could just be a natural reaction to the intensity of a Visiting Fellowship, a joyful time which was stuffed to the gunnels with work.

Sadly, that's not what the problem was. The problem was that last Friday I was diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy and have since been going through the process of my body disposing of this poor little misplaced bundle of cells. It's not been much fun. In fact, there was a point on Friday when it looked like I would be in surgery that afternoon. I can't say how thankful I am that this didn't happen and my body has dealt with it without intervention. I'm definitely one of the lucky ones.

I've read other brave posts from scholars writing about how their ongoing conditions have affected their work- what comes across most is their strength to carry on in spite of long term pain. I don't know quite how to explain my own sudden absence except in these brutally honest terms: I've had bigger things to worry about than Etruscans, publications, and even Twitter, like potentially losing a Fallopian tube and leaving my daughter overnight while she is still getting over being separated in Ireland.

Tommy's, a charity that supports families who suffer pregnancy loss and stillbirth, have started a campaign called #MisCourage that encourages people to share their experiences, start a conversation, acknowledge that this happens: it's not all happy endings and cute scan pictures. For some of us, what starts with a joyful little line on a stick ends with tears and tests and ultra towels.

I wanted to join in, to explain, to state what has happened in the last week. But I do feel afraid- is this appropriate, is this too much information, is this really ok for a blog that is deeply tied to my academic identity? But the two things go together- if you've been wondering where I've been, now you know. Is it better to be perceived as an oversharer or a flake?

I'm going with it's better to tell the truth.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Saying stupid stuff on the Internet

Recently I've had a couple of Twitter booboos.

The first one was not too bad, I thought someone was critiqueing someone else in a sarcastic way and tried to join is as I like this person and respect their work. They were being serious. I felt like an utter tool. Luckily this person is as kind and generous as they are a good scholar and was very magnanimous about my idiocy. I resolved not to go on Twitter in the early morning when extremely tired after a night of battling Silvia.

The second time, I had no such excuse. I'd been at work here at NUIG all day, my brain was fully in gear. But I just saw a single retweet and went off like a rocket, soaring into an interpretative universe all my own. It was an RT of someone live tweeting a paper on Roman breast pumps and (having been tortured by the damn things myself) I was instantly going off into a world of experiential archaeology, the significance of being able to effectively relieve your own engorgement pain (it is as bad as it sounds folks), the need for such relief if elite Roman women were giving their babies to wet nurses etc etc. Except that the objects in question weren't breast pumps at all, and that was the whole point of the paper. DOH!

I normally try to be quite careful about what I post online: after all, it's a reflection of me and I like to think that I'm as kind and thoughtful a human being on t'Internet as I try to be in life. When it's clear you've been an idiot, however, how can you respond?

In both cases, I've responded with apologies and corrections, tried to make myself the butt of the joke. I don't know if this is the right response. I'm still worried about both situations, about future possible idiocies. Maybe this is my David Clarke social media moment, Lucy's online archaeology's loss of innocence?

Anyway, let me know if you've got good ways to a) avoid being a fool online b) minimise the effects of that foolishness. Oh, and if you've seen me be an idiot online, tell me please.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

The researcher wants a wife...

The researcher wants a wife, the researcher wants a wife, ee ii the adio the researcher wants a wife.

Wife wanted. 1950s style preferred. Satisfaction its own reward, no stipend. You will need to take care of my child full time while I work, be prepared to pick up and move to a new city every 2-3 years for the next 10, keep on top of the lion's share of the housework, do any and all childcare in a strange place while I'm on fieldwork. You certainly won't have time for your own career as I will need all your time to support my own. Oh, and any kids will need to be 100% adaptable to my sudden disappearances and continual new houses and schools.

I'm in Galway, and for the next two weeks I do have a wife (of sorts) as my husband (keep up!) has taken precious annual leave to take care of our daughter while I enjoy the absolute luxury of space to time, think and write here on a Visiting Fellowship.

Our daughter, while coping brilliantly with being with Daddy in the daytime (and my parents for the previous week- thanks Mum and Dad) is clingy and sad at night, and wants to be with me almost continually, waking every two hours. I am, as a result, just a bit tired.

If I had a wife, she would be the primary carer and Silvie would be fine. I wouldn't have to make this wife take Annual Leave. Applying for a post-doc to come back here full time wouldn't be a source of worry and nervousness, it would be an exciting prospect as said wife would just get on with her homely tasks and settle the baby in for me.

Seeing as how no 1950s housewife/free of charge Mary Poppins figure is going to show up and sort this issue out, I'm going to have to keep on juggling, and enjoy the short term time for my own work.

Yet I can't help feeling that the structure of research careers: characterised by prestigious international fellowships, national relocations, and short term contracts, is inherently biased against people with families- men and women.

These posts are underwritten by other people doing the domestic labour - a kind of labour that has traditionally been highly gendered. But in the modern world, your spouse (male or female) is highly unlikely to be a full time domestic god(dess) who can just pack up their hoover and the nappies and move wherever you need to go next.

I don't know what the solution is, but I'm going with just applying for everything and hoping that things fall into place. But if you'd like to be my 1950s wife, get in touch.