Misery and the holidays
Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019 - 11:06 am.

I woke up really sad today. Yesterday I found out that I didn't win the postdoc research grant I applied to in September, that application which stole a week of my life (that was the period I had to put it together between being awarded the PhD and the grant deadline). To be honest, I wasn't planning my life around that project, so I don't feel like I lost anything, but I also thought it was well done. It was simple, but done well enough to earn me the grant.

I'm sad because I'm thinking "I was not good enough. AGAIN". Not good enough in research, not good enough in fiction writing. Fair enough, there are people who are objectively better than me, in the sense that they check all the boxes of what judges are looking for in whatever intellectual product they are judging. But I'm tired of being rejected and seeing that my best efforts and my never-giving-up still make me a loser. I get it, world, I'm not good enough.

Wait, I do think I've lost some things by not winning the grant. First, the chance of a higher income, so sorely needed in this economy, and specially after our first months back from the UK. Andrew and I are "independent workers hired by the university", cheap intellectual labor for menial tasks. I've bled my savings -Andrew was busy paying off his student loans- to build our little home. Which has done wonders for our spirits, don't get me wrong! I just get fearful when I see we're spending more than we're earning, although I recognize I'm lucky that's my savings and not some bank's credit.

The second thing I lost, at least for a while, is the chance to do research on LGBTQ subjects. To study something that's meaningful to me. The research was about well-being in LGB university students (whether cis or trans) and coming out experiences. I was hoping I could do something important with this, on top of gaining expertise.

I still can present this research proposal to the university's internal grant scheme in January. It's less money and it's again reinforcing my position as "independent worker hired by the university", but there's nothing much else out there at the moment. People say you can start an academic career in this uni if you win this grant, but I'm not holding my breath. I might be running against Andrew here, too, but we're both OK with that. He's the one person I wouldn't mind losing a grant to (plus, it's still money for the household!).

The holiday break has started and then I'm traveling to my home country for the first two weeks of January. Afterwards, here's what I have going on: Working on my boss' research project, which is cool but not my thing, and though hopefully it won't be so mindnumbing as data collection is winding down. She'll pay me more, too, and she'll be my sponsor for the uni's research grant application. Maybe ask (ASK!) if I can supervise undergrad theses. And maybe try to get involved with LGBTQ organizations in the city.

Andrew applied for a very neat position in another university in the city. But the comment that always follow after mentioning such call for applicants it's "eh, they most likely have someone chosen already". You still try, he still submitted his application, but that's how things are here. Universities publicly announce the job position as a formality, but they've already shaken hands under the table with the chosen one.

I'm now looking at myself finishing the year without a meaningful, decent-paying job, and without one single step taken regarding adoption, thank you useless human dirtbag who calls herself social worker. I still might submit my manuscript to a cool publishing house before the year ends, but I can already picture them saying no after a hundred years of me waiting for an answer.

Other stuff this week:

Andrew's get-together with his high-school friends last Sunday was cancelled because his friend's dad passed away. That was terrible. We traveled to another city on Tuesday morning to attend the mass. Three parents of friends have passed away within two months. Christ.

Andrew and I got health insurance. I almost backed down. It's about 20% of my salary, on account of being a woman. I'm hoping the rate won't change as my salary goes up a bit next year (the insurance agent said it wouldn't). For Andrew it's much less, thankfully. We found some consolation in its coverage, and in the fact that it included dental...until Andrew's back tooth cracked this week and it turned out he needs full tooth and bone implant before insurace kicks off (who knows when that'll be, because we were supposed to go pay for it this week so it could start running IN FEBRUARY but we were told the paperwork wasn't ready).

Neat. Everything's fucking neat.

Some good news: On Tuesday we got most of our old stuff back, from the friends who kept them in storage for the four years of our PhD. Andrew said it was like a time capsule, and now it feels everything's falling into place home-wise. We have our bookcase and our books, with room for more. We're waiting for the suitcase with books I got in the UK, which other friends brought across the pond with them after we met them to go to Iceland earlier this year (that feels like a different lifetime now).

Andrew's brother death anniversary is on Monday, the 23rd. Then we'll travel to go see his parents and spend the night at their house, from the 24th to the 25th. I'm not crazy about the idea, but, you know, I think Andrew isn't either. He does have to be with them, though.

To me, christmas has simply lost its appeal. I have to work this holiday break, checking surveys and whatever. We didn't have money nor the mindset to get presents for each other nor for other people, so I get a little sad when friends give us presents. There's Andrew's brother's anniversary. There's heat, I hate that there's fucking heat in the Southern hemisphere in December. There's a sort of misery that consumes me.

Because I've been so down lately, Andrew made me pancakes this morning. Bless his big, good heart. If there's one nice thing to say about my life today is that I'm grateful for having him and the cats and the little home that's coming together in our apartment. This helps me fight back the tears.

So hey, happy holidays!

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