Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Stress, Gah... (438 Days to Go)

This weekend was stressful in one of those overwhelming ways, you know when you feel as if the whole world is crumbling down on you but really it's only a few things.  For me it was two things.  The first is that I feel like everyone has some stress going on and it's getting directed at me.  Jeff's wrist is broken and he's in a near constant state of irritability, understandably.  His father is usually off and on stressed with the business and that usually gets directed at Jeff since they're business partners but this weekend it was on me because I had asked if Jeff and I could go visit my family for Easter weekend (so I can go visit my cousin's new baby!) but that would require Jeff taking a day or two away from the shop.  Plus, as spring approaches, we may need to take some time to look at venues as well.  Never mind the fact that he's been taking half days here and there to go to doctor's appointments and eventually for the surgery he needs on his wrist.  So essentially, I'm feeling kind of like a bad guy for wanting to have my fiance be a) involved in my life and b) involved in the wedding planning.

Count me double stressed when everyone keeps telling me to just plan the wedding by myself because Jeff doesn't care.  I don't like making big decisions without consulting someone else first.  That in and of itself is stressful to me.  The last thing I want to do is plan our wedding without consulting the other person whom this day is supposed to be about.  Because if it's left up to me, I'll pick a tiny venue to save a lot of bucks and tell him to figure out who in his family's not invited.  I can see that going over incredibly well--not.  Don't worry, I'm kidding--sort of.  But if he doesn't go with me, there isn't someone to ask the questions I forget to ask.  And he's such a critic (food in particular) that I don't want to be stressing out from now until next year about whether or not he's going to hate our wedding, or more specifically the caterer.  It's one thing for him to criticize dinner and say it's bland and then the next month when I make it again, it's got more oregano.  It's another thing when it's a once in a lifetime event and the caterer falls short of everyone's expectations.  I don't get a re-do the next month.

Top that off with dinner at my in-laws house the other night and having my eleven year old niece think my entire life revolves around dress shopping and cake tasting.  I wish.  Wouldn't it be great if one year of our lives could be dedicated to such fun, frivolous activities?  And better yet, if it wouldn't cost a fortune to do that and only that for a year.  And for dessert, my FMIL decided to tell me where I'm going wrong in looking for a new job.  Such as apparently I'm not looking hard enough if I'm not applying to Bayer, Fisher, etc.  I wish it were the late seventies when jobs were handed out willy-nilly.  Unfortunately, I can't mail in a resume for jobs that just aren't available.  Yes, those companies are hiring; they're just not hiring scientists.  They're hiring business majors to work in sales and customer service.

Which brings me around to the real underlying stress I'm having in trying to locate a more stable job for myself.  There simply aren't any in the Pittsburgh area that have much or anything to do with forensic science.  The closest forensic labs are Allegheny County and Westmoreland County.  Neither of which are hiring.  Trying to find a job in the private sector is turning out to be very tricky as well.  I'm over qualified thanks to my masters degree and under qualified thanks to my current job not giving me much in the way of experience to back up my degree and knowledge of biology, biochemistry, and analytical chemistry.  So it's starting to look more and more like I have to widen my search to outside the area which could very possibly mean my moving away for several years.  And after a few years, there's no guarantee that I'd be able to find a job and move back to the area.  Making it even more difficult: my fiance would not be able to move with me and in some cases refuses to even consider moving.  For instance, I could apply to be a state trooper, spend six months in training, and more likely than not be positioned in Philadelphia where I have to fulfill a minimum of three years before I can request a transfer to a state forensic lab.  Even if Jeff were free of the business he runs with his father, he swears he would never move to Philadelphia.  Granted, if I can hold out for two to three more years before heading in a more career related direction, he's willing to go just about anywhere (as long as it's not Philadelphia).

So what's a girl to do?  On one hand, I have my career which is going absolutely nowhere, except for down, down, down.  My current job is about as stable as a seesaw and most of coworkers are actually trying to help me brainstorm places to look for a new job.  The trouble with working in academia is that your paycheck comes from grants.  So, when the grants stop coming, so does the paycheck.  My lab group is dwindling right now because a bunch of grad students are finishing up their thesis and moving on.  When they move on, they take their grants with them and money was already a bit tight before.  That doesn't build a whole lot of confidence in the fact that my job may still exist by the time I go from Ms. to Mrs.  On the other hand I have my personal life which is for the first time in my twenty some years on an upswing.  That's not exactly something I want to put on hold right in the middle of planning a wedding.  I'm kind of stubborn and I don't want to put off our wedding or anything else that comes with married life.  I'm ready to settle down and buy a house and get out of our little three room apartment.  At some point, *gasp!*, I even want to have kids.  I can't do any of the above on my current salary and definitely can't do it if I'm unemployed.  I certainly don't like feeling as though I'm stuck having to choose one aspect of my life over the other with very little compromise.  I even recognize that I am my own biggest obstacle to finding a better job because I'm placing to much priority on my personal life.  But isn't that a terrible thing to say?  That my personal life goals are such a huge hindrance to my career goals.  I wish it was as simple as me quitting my current job and taking up waitressing instead.  I'd certainly be better off financially (an pretty terrible statement on the scientific community).  However, it'd be the same as career suicide and then I can really start to regret that pile of student loans that seems to be growing.

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