Tuesday, May 30, 2006

what, and why

I had hoped to have completed a last section of the lit review this weekend. I'm adding this because I discovered in one of my drafts of the proposal that I'd missed a key component.

Basically, I'm assessing the welfare policies of 1988 and 1996, but in order to assess the '88 policy, I need to go back to the policy in place prior to 1988, so that I have something to compare the '88 changes with. So I needed to go back and add that piece into the lit review as well.

I didn't get the piece written this weekend, but I did get some decent reading done that will help with that section.

Also, the friend who is helping me to get re-organized gave me a little 'assignment' intended to move my thinking back into the dissertation and why it's important. I'm going to include what I sent to her here.

Why is this dissertation important to me?

Well, the first reason, and the one I always joke about, is that if I don’t finish the dissertation, I won’t graduate, yet my student loans will come due. I’ll be paying for something I didn’t finish. And although I joke, it’s a very serious issue.

I want to teach full time, and to do that and make a livable salary, I need the completed Ph.D. In fact, even if I found something other than teaching, I’d need the Ph.D. to negotiate an appropriate salary.

I’m stuck floundering in my current – very boring and non-challenging – job, as I can’t start something new until I finish the dissertation. Trying to start a new job would be too time-consuming, and the additional pressure and pull away from the writing would only delay the final product even more. So if I want out of this job, I have to finish my writing.

It’s a personal goal for me: first the goal was to be the first to graduate high school in my immediate family; then it was to get the bachelor’s, then the master’s; now it’s to be the only one to really complete my education successfully in my family.

I want to be able to say ‘I did it.’

Why is this dissertation important to the public?

First, it’s always important to assess the effectiveness of social policies. How can we possibly know if we are doing what’s best for the people who will be affected by the policies, if we don’t evaluate the results of the policies?

We also need to know if smaller subgroups within the population are being unduly harmed by a particular policy. For example, among other goals, this dissertation seeks to replicate the findings of a particular study which found inequitable effects of welfare policy among African American and Hispanic women in terms of college attendance.

And, when advocates fight for policy changes, it’s vital that they have accurate, current research to support their points – which is where the importance of research like that of this dissertation comes in.

It’s been documented that a college education can be a conduit to moving out of poverty and into a livable wage. If our welfare policy disallows that college education, we’ve eliminated a path out of poverty for millions (and stacked the deck so that they will be hard-pressed to move out of the very welfare program that they are supposed to leave).

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

a mother's day conversation

I had to call the egg donor for mother's day. Here's a portion of our conversation:

Me: I love the city, when **** goes off to college, I plan on finding a roommate and moving into the city.
Her: Why not have me be your roommate, we could live together?
Me: (silence)
Her: Is that a no?
Me: (silence)
Her: Well we're both adults now, so it wouldn't be like it was when you were a kid, you know.
Me: Well, the problem with that is when I find someone I'm serious about and want to move in with them, it'll leave you in a too-expensive apartment without a roommate, in the big bad city that scares you so much. (an attempt to change the conversation without actually saying 'no' to her)
Her: Why would you want to do that?
Me: Do what?
Her: Get serious with someone.
Me: Why wouldn't I?
Her: Because then when you separate, it can be very horrible.
Me: So I shouldn't be with someone because we "might" separate? Yeah, that makes sense. And if there is a separation, why does it have to be horrible?
Her: Because that's just the way it is. And the legalities of ending the marriage are expensive.
Me: Whoa, who said I would get married? I won't get married, I'll live with them. I have no intention of getting legally married. Marriage has no meaning for me beyond a religious/legal ceremony.
Her: How can you do that, without marriage. Marriage means much more than just a religious ceremony. Marriage means commitment. (said by the woman who's been married three times)
Me: The legality of marriage has nothing at all to do with commitment. Have you seen the divorce rate statistics lately? People have better odds of staying together if they don't get married.
Her: Well, you still have the separation. And I've seen some non-married couples in very bitter separations.
Me: Back to the imminent separation again...so you think I should avoid any relationship just because of the potential for separation. Well I've got news for you -- I have no intention of living the rest of my life alone for fear of a relationship ending. And I plan to spend a good part of the rest of my life with someone. All I'm waiting for is **** to grow up and then it's my turn.

So, my recent suspicions were confirmed by the egg donor. She had hoped all along that when my youngest left the nest, she'd be moving in with me. Two old maids, sharing a place. And she would actually stoop so low as to try to talk me out of having a relationship to get what she wanted. As if I could live with her after everything she did to me when I was but a babe. It makes me shudder, makes me nauseous, to even think about it. What kind of dream world does she live in, anyway?

Sunday, May 07, 2006

sweet sixteen

Rugrat will be 16 on Tuesday. Yesterday, we did the budget-challenged version of a trip to the beauty salon -- SuperCuts. She wanted to cut some layers in her very long hair, around her face. She also wanted her eyebrows done.

I'd been putting off the eyebrow wax, as that was the last bit of her that wasn't quite grown up. The slightly bushy, slightly unruly eyebrows were the only thing that hadn't been makeup'd or gelled or styled within an inch of her life. So I could look at her face, see those brows, and know she was still my little girl.

But yesterday, after the brow wax and the hair style, she was my little girl no longer. As she walked to the front of the salon, I couldn't stop looking at her. The change was incredible. She already looked older than her age, but now...she's 16 going on 25.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

military recruiting -- a major fucking rant

I tried to stay neutral about military recruiting, especially given that we're smack in the middle of a war, and new recruit numbers are down and those ending their terms of service are not re-upping.

Even when I received a letter from rugrat's school saying that they would supply student data to the U.S. for military recruiting unless I contacted the school and asked them not to provide data on rugrat, I still tried to be understanding.

But today I have changed my attitude.

Today, at work, I received a faxed request for data from the U.S. Air Force recruiting services in another borough. It asks for enrollment numbers for this academic year, by race/ethnicity. However, instead of asking for an enrollment breakdown by ALL race/ethnicities, they have asked specifically for the enrollment numbers for ONLY TWO categories of race/ethnicity. I'll give you two fucking guesses what those two categories are -- really, take a guess.

How much more blatant can it get? Especially given that those two categories are already heavily overrepresented in the military ranks as it is -- the lower ranks, anyway.

Oh, and, if a clue is needed to those targeted categories -- well, my own rugrat is a member of one -- her boyfriend is a member of the other.