Day Zero: Life as I Envisioned It


This isn’t about a daydream I fabricated sitting in my desk in high school one day, tuning out of trig or chemistry. It’s not a fantastical account of great riches and an ultra-luxe apartment with a park view in the San Remo or the Dakota. It was a very real dream, and not only because when you’re pregnant, dreams are more vivid than shows on an LED TV (which I totally want, by the way—they’re way cooler than either the plasmas or the LCDs).

This is how it went: The Scientist was going to get a job at the university where he was working as a postdoc. A job as in a Real Job. The tenure-track kind, with a very decent salary (the university claims to be second-best paying in the country) and even better, a spousal hire (the university has a whole program devoted to Spousal/Partner Employment). The Scientist was even asked to participate in the writing of the Job description for the Job he was (obviously) going to get, for the Job being created for him. In the meantime, a pregnancy popped up and surprised and delighted me. Baby 3 was going to be, of course, my girl. My Chinese Gender Calendar predicted it. So did the Shettles Method—I got knocked up as early in my cycle as could be (although Shettles’ reputation surely took a turn with the publication of Middlesex—no?). And I had been skipping breakfast—well, intermittently—because a new study claimed that British women who skipped breakfast gave birth to more girls.

So, here was the vision: The Scientist and I would both have tenure-track positions at an R1 institution (or its Canadian equivalent, anyway) in a city where we had an abundance of amazing friends; we would hire a nanny (as so many of our Canadian friends do—thanks to the “Live-in Caregiver Program” sponsored by the Canadian government) who would take care of the children, clean the house, and prepare our meals; and we would live happily ever after. Fait accomplit.

For the moment, The Scientist was still a postdoc, and I was a full-time instructor on a year-to-year contract. We rented a big, charming, character house a short walk from the university—a house I wanted to buy as soon as the Real Job came into existence. We had not a live-in nanny, but not nothing. A woman (or rather, a sequence of women from the Philippines with zealously Christian names) came in twice a week to erode our giant mountains of laundry and magically make our piles of crap littering the house disappear (usually by sticking them in drawers or hiding them places we never did discover). We had our kids in excellent daycares (part-time for Cool J, so I could enjoy my days off with him) and the whole series of lessons (skating, swimming, music, and so on). We met, The Scientist and I, a couple of times a week, usually at a quaint restaurant by our house that looked like a trailer from the outside, but surprised you on the inside by being a small corner of Europe tucked into that “redneck and proud of it” Western Canadian city (the lattes are the best in the city; the pizzas truly gourmet; the scones little bites of heaven). And we were able to take a number of almost-glamorous vacations (like the one to France, where we stayed not at the Ritz, but nonetheless at a perfect vrbo that allowed us to feel as though we were a real French family who did what other French families did—go to the market, play in the dinky little urban park, join strangers in games of pick-up soccer/football) (that was also the trip, mon Dieu! which landed me with Baby MoFo, whom we called, at least in utero, “Paris”). We were able to enjoy our lives even as we were careful not to be too extravagant—Real Job hadn’t happened yet. Not that we had any doubt that it would. We were so sure that The Scientist turned down a doll of a job in Portland, OR (a doll of a city), and I didn’t bother going on the market at all.

Real Job didn’t happen.

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2 responses »

  1. “and magically make our piles of crap littering the house disappear (usually by sticking them in drawers or hiding them places we never did discover)” –Ditto…Sometimes help can only help so much.

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