Then I realized that if I wasn’t going to get tenure then I didn’t need to revise that hopeless article yet again. In fact, I gleefully realized, I never have to submit an article to a journal again if I don’t want to!
Letting go of all the time I’ve spent worrying, the time I’ve spent planning, and for a little while anyway, the time I’ve spent writing means that although I have lost my job, I have found some time.
One thing this found time will allow me to do is engage in big projects! First up, it is time to renovate the kitchen. When we first moved into our house I had a five month old baby (now Big Girl) and was starting my job as an Assistant Professor two weeks later. Since that time, we’ve done a lot of work on the house: removing cabinets built into the living room to hold an extensive record collection, excavating the fireplace and installing a gas unit, tiling a fireplace surround, painting, wallpapering, and mending. We also hired people to do some of the other work for us: replacing windows, installing insulation and refinishing the bathroom.
At the start of all this, the kitchen was one of the better rooms. Off the shelf granite and cabinets that were obviously installed just before the former owners put it on the market. Not what we would have chosen but perfectly acceptable. It had a dishwasher and my dad helped replace the electric range with a gas one. Nicest kitchen we had ever had! Seven years later though, the kitchen lags behind the rest of the house. Countless cooking and art projects had scarred the walls and that ugly builders’ off-white paint has started to look vaguely pink.
Turns out we don’t need to keep that ugly kitchen a single day longer!
As I’ve started working out the renovation plan I have also remembered something about myself. Before I got my job—back in grad school and before—I was always working on art projects. I painted each room. I built mirrors from old windows. I refinished our furniture. I painted and collaged chairs and folding tables. I recovered couches (using duct tape and safety pins the first few times) and I created art. While I haven’t completely given up that part of my life in the past bunch of years, I have certainly sequestered it into limited projects conducted in short bursts… and almost always with the kids
Now, I have the time to go back and do something I used to love: making our kitchen look fabulous with paint and creativity. And, I’m going to combine it with something else I love to do: teaching my kids practical skills, empowering them to try out new things, and helping them take on big projects so they know both the pride of success and how to fix things when we (temporarily) fail. (For some inspiration on that idea, check out K.J. Dell’Antonia’s blog post on Motherlode a few months back: http://nyti.ms/1L9inrq .)
My girls are 7 and 4. We have spent hours and hours coloring, painting, playing with clay, tie-dying and gluing. It is time to introduce them to stain, spray paint and the idea that an entire room can be a canvas.
First up, refinishing that old, battered kitchen table.