What does ‘Assistant Professor’ Mean? Beats the Everloving Shit Out of Me…

Today’s article on Vitae is about a total outlier phenomenon that is still really annoying: the “assistant professor” job listing that isn’t one. I would like this NOT to become a trend. Here’s a taste:

So can I play, too? Can we do the same thing with the higher ranks? Like, can we just advertise two-year, 5/5 contract jobs as “Eminent Scholars” now? Ooh, what about “tenure”? Can we just decide that the word “tenure” actually means, “to put in six years of service to the university, at which point the employee’s body will be donated to the medical school for experiments, dead or alive”?

Last-Minute SEXY Halloween Costumes

You’d think that Halloween falling on a Friday would preclude the “need” that has arisen in recent years for “Halloweek,” in which the actual All Hallow’s Eve is reserved for little kids (apparently being driven into the neighborhoods of rich assholes to beg for social services, because as we all know a Fun Sized Snickers is indeed an important social service), and the weekend before the big day is when all of the ragers occur.

You’d think that most frats and bars would recognize that Friday is, indeed, a weekend night, but you’d be wrong — last night, the 25th, was the big Douche Bag Conflagration in my neighborhood, in which all the douchey bars on Maryland and Euclid got together to make one big Douche-a-palooza costume bash. And given that this week has been unseasonably warm, last night was every sexy costumer’s dream. You didn’t even have to pre-game on Midori and Malibu to get “warm” enough to leave the house in your Sexy Princess Elsa getup. Spectacular.

Now, Halloween — actual Halloween, the kids’ version of Halloween — has long been my favorite holiday; when I was little I would spend the entire month of October concocting elaborate cardboard-box-and-spraypaint-based costumes (my best was definitely Max Headroom in 1988, though it resulted in what was already the fairly common occurrence of me being mistaken for a boy or mocked for looking like one), and for weeks upon weeks after the big night, my brother and I would spend a good hour after dinner turning our living room floor into a candy stock exchange (as a five year old he had yet to develop his superior finance acumen, and I would often weasel him out of seven Fun Size Milky Ways for a sole pack of LifeSavers, which for some reason were his weakness).

I am having a kid largely so that I have an excuse to go back to Disney World, and to celebrate real Halloween again. I already have some costumes planned out for next year, even though my killjoy mom thinks that dressing a baby up in a costume is not fair to the baby (to which I say, that kid keeping me up all night long and making me eat a goddamned STEAK to boost my iron levels is not fair to me; last night I ate a fucking steak for dinner, and while most of you might be like, “Wow, you’re lucky,” as someone who eats 98% vegan I did not find it particularly enjoyable, and would very much not like to do it again).

I realize, though, that for a lot of you repressed young adults out there, All Hallow’s Eve is your only chance to express the sexuality that is otherwise forbidden in whatever dumbass household you grew up in, to release the inhibitions whose roots are probably psychologically and socioculturally fascinating, but which you have no desire to explore in any way that doesn’t involve overconsumption of Goldschläger and a poor approximation of Traumnovelle (aka Eyes Wide Shut).

And you know, great. Who am I to crap all over your expression of sexuality, even if it is only for one night weekend entire goddamned week week a year?

I am all for the expression of sexuality in Halloween costumes — I just wish it didn’t have to be so sexist. So, as a public service announcement, here are some excellent ideas I have for last-minute sexy Halloween costumes, sure to make you the hit of your douchey block party, kegger, mild-mannered house gathering, or even trick-or-treat night with your kids (because you shouldn’t just take the rich people’s candy, you should scandalize them too).

1. Sexy Darth Vader. This works equally well for a man or a woman, though opinion is divided in my house (along predictable lines) as to which one is better. Vader mask, black bikini/speedo, light saber. The end!

2. Sexy Grandma. And no, not just a grandma — your actual grandma. In my case, this would involve carrying around a bottle of gin in one hand and a needlepoint in another, and then swearing at and criticizing everyone. My grandmother was kind of mean.

3. Sexy Food Processor. Just wear your underwear and a sash with the word Cuisinart (or a higher-end brand, if you’re a snob).

4. Sexy Bill DeBlasio.

There, you’re welcome! Now don’t say I never did anything for you, and go forth unto your week of stupid parties. I’ll be here to shoo the poor kids off my lawn.

Oh Don’t Mind Me, Just Chilling at 3am Eating a Sandwich

For the past week or two (my husband insists “it’s only been five days!” I insist it’s been for as long as I can remember), I have not slept much. A lot of people have joked at me that after the baby comes I’ll never sleep again — but these people are invariably individuals who themselves have never been pregnant, because pregnant people stop sleeping from about the fourth month on.

I guess it will be good to have had so much practice by the time the baby does emerge and start fucking things up from the outside. Anyway, usually it’s just the standard pregnancy bullshit: bad dreams, being unable to get comfortable due to both the logistics of having a big fat belly and being forced to sleep on one’s side, and thus endure excruciating hip pain all the live long day and night — the usual.

But for the past week (or two) I’ve been really ramping it up a notch, waking up at 1, 3 and then 5 (or just 3 and then staying awake) with full-blown panic attacks, like deep, body-shaking terror that can not and will not go away no matter what I do. This is not my first panic-attack rodeo — far from it; I’ve experienced anxiety for my whole adult life — so I have plenty of tricks in the arsenal, from progressive muscular relaxation to walking around to reading an unrelated book to just crying it out. None of this shit worked. Yesterday I hit the “something’s got to give” moment where I just didn’t feel like I could function anymore, knowing that the one thing I needed most was the one thing that would elude me at night, to be replaced with the world’s greatest feeling of believing very sincerely that you are about to die for two to four hours.

This felt physiological, as panic attacks sometimes are (well, they’re always physiological, but sometimes they have psychological triggers; these didn’t). There was nothing to trigger them. Yes, I have mild anxieties about healthy pregnancy, labor, delivery and parenthood, but I work very hard to talk them through and get to a good place about them on as many levels as possible, and I’ve made some excellent changes, such as not reading Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth before bed (turns out all the “empowering” natural birth stories cause nightmares), and not reading the Natural Pregnancy Handbook at all anymore, which basically amounts to “If you have any complications it’s because you fucked up as a person and ate too much sugar and the shrine to your baby you created wasn’t sincere enough, and the inner women’s wisdom of your body could tell.” All right, so, I’ve minimized the influence of both the woo-woo pregnancy books and the medical pregnancy books before bed, and although I do have some fears about this next stage of life, these anxiety attacks were different, because no matter what I did or said to myself I could not make them stop. (Also complicating matters is the fact that my debilitating hip joint pain — thanks ligaments! Kinda needed you for the next three months but go ahead and go AWOL now, it’s no problem, really! — prevents me from working out as much as I should be.)

Yesterday out of desperation I finally Googled “sleep aids safe for pregnancy,” and although doctors aren’t thrilled by it, pregnant women can take Benadryl off label for the drowsiness. It felt sort of better to know I had a worst-case scenario survival plan, but I also don’t want to hop this poor babby up on Benadryl if I don’t have to (that might change if we ever take an international flight before she turns five, JUST KIDDING, sort of), so with plenty of hours in the day I consulted both my Mayo Clinic book and my woo-woo spiritual midwifery texts, and both of them had the same advice: If you have sleep disturbances, eat.

Whu? It turns out that some sleep disturbances in pregnancy are the result of low blood sugar, something that my dad can tell you all about (all tween and teen angst moments, and quite a few adult angst moments, have been punctuated by him saying: “EAT SOMETHING and then we’ll talk about it”), and I can usually spot the signs in myself (not always soon enough to stop me from going into a Sugar Meltdown, which sounds like an excellent dessert but is really what my brother calls how I act if I haven’t eaten recently enough), so that is why it was odd to me that when I would wake up in the middle of the night, I wasn’t like “EVERYONE HATES ME I HATE EVERYTHING,” which is the usual sign that I need to eat.

In my pre-pregnancy waking life I have never had the onset of a blood sugar attack be me sitting bolt upright and going I AM GONNA DIE. So I was pretty skeptical, but at this point I would have tried anything. So last night/this morning, when I did my first bolt-upright wake at 0:42, I tottered to the kitchen and grabbed a handful of cashews. And I conked right the fuck back out. Then at 3:30 when it happened again (like, as they say, clockwork), this time with a worse pounding heart, I shuffled back in there and ate a honeycrisp apple. This time I didn’t conk right back out, but I also didn’t sit there in bed afraid in crippling terror; I was just kind of bored, and eventually, once again, I did drift back off. I woke up this morning with more or less whatever a third-trimester pregnant behemoth of an individual can call a “good night’s rest” and I cannot emphasize how amazing this feels.

Plus, even better, I got nothing on the agenda today save for pitching some new articles (and thus thinking of them, which I can do whilst sitting on ass watching Nashville, which is the current plan), so my big day’s agenda involves doing my various hip exercises, maxing, relaxing and chilling. [UPDATE: Never mind, I just got a radio request for this article. So, Seattleites, I'm going to be on KIRO this morning to talk about the 13th grade, hooray.]

So, any pregnant people out there with debilitating middle-of-the-night panic attacks: It might just be your body angrily demanding to eat, but for some reason expressing that in sheer, unadulterated terror. Go figure.

With Apologies and Smirks to 15-Year-Old Me

Oh, I wish I had a time machine. Yes, I’d kill Hitler, but then, the next thing I would do would be to go back and surprise my high-school-sophomore self.

First of all she’d be like OH MY GOD YOU GOT SO FAT, and I’d be like I’M PREGNANT, BITCH, and she’d be like DON’T CALL ME A BITCH, BITCH, THAT’S SEXIST, and I’d be like NICE TEVAS.

Then I would show her this article that I wrote about how I want her to attend an extra year of high school, and she’d break down into sobs and wonder why I hate her (and thus me, or I guess ex-me) so much. But then I’d tell her that someday very soon boys will actually start to notice her, and yes, she will someday grow boobs (although she will have to get knocked up to do so, and I will point at mine).

Anyway, in my continuing quest to convince the people of America that we should be more like Germans, this is an article about the potential virtues of an optional 13th grade (along with the actual virtues of an actual one being pilot-programmed in my home state of Oregon as we speak). A taste:

Don’t kill me, angst-ridden high schoolers—or parents eager to get them out of the house—but it’s worth considering making the 13th grade standard, not just for students on the vocational, technical, or community college track, but for the four-year-college-bounds as well. The fact is, many American students enter college woefully unprepared. But as our friends overseas demonstrate, the answer may be to prolong secondary education for everyone, or at least make that an option.

For you Oregonians of a Certain Age out there, the piece also contains a long-awaited national-media dig at the infamous Measure 5, otherwise known as the reason my good friend’s Rorbert Gilmore of a son (seriously, she won’t mind if I tell the entire Internet that he was taking 11th grade math as a 12-year-old 8th grader…will she?) isn’t allowed to take an extra math or science class even though he wants to (???) because they simply don’t have enough free seats for his butt in the school from which I mercifully graduated after four interminable years (JK, it wasn’t a bad place, just ugly).

Oh, I guess also 15-year-old me would be like WAIT YOU ARE AN ACTUAL JOURNALIST? And I’d be like SORT OF and then she’d be like WAIT, WHAT THE FUCK IS THE INTERNET?

You Can Call Angela Merkel Whatever You Want–Just Call When You Said You Would

Today in Slate, I delight in recent events in Milan, where Vladimir Putin was late to a meeting with Angela Merkel so she fucking bailed on him, because Angela Merkel is a goddamned baller.

Last week, when pocket-sized despot and notorious tiger-misplacer Vladimir Putin was late to a meeting with Merkel in Milan, she straight-up bailed on him, because Angela Merkel, not unlike the immaculate Berlin-to-Frankfurt InterCity Express, operates on a tight schedule.

The piece then digresses into a fun brief lesson on the wonders of German Pünktlickheit, including what the Deutsche Bahn fleet will be doing this Sunday at 3 a.m. (You’ll NEVER BELIEVE WHAT IT IS, so CLICK HERE! Ha.)