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Security, the job market and getting to the bottom of it

As a feminist who studies security there are so many ways I know that looking for a job is really about looking for so much more. Each application carries with it a possible future. Could it be here? Or maybe over there. 

Today I listened to an episode of Death, Sex and Money about a father in conversation with his daughter. Both on the job market. I heard the same tremor in the voice of that father as I had in mine. Five years ago my dad almost lost his job. Another steel mill acquired his company. My dad never finished his college degree and was in his 60's at the time of this acquisition so the possibility that he would lose his job was both real and terrifying. My father was a merit scholar but left college to take care of his mother after his father suddenly died. At the time of this possible job loss I'd just started a doctoral program and we'd reached an agreement that he would help me make it through by paying me $1,000 a month for two years after my three year stipend ran out so I could finish this program in five years. (We drew up a silly little contract too. I was serious!) Instead we were faced with the possibility that my dad would no longer be able to pay his own rent or feed his cat (who of course was my cat I left him with when I went to college).

He didn't lose his job. The uncertainty only lasted a few months, but he got to keep the job. For the next few years he faced ageism which he didn't call ageism as he continued to perform above and beyond in that job knowing he was replaceable, doing stupid things without resisting like going to meetings at 6 in the morning (to which he drove from his place an hour away getting up at 4 am). Were they phasing him out through hazing? Probably. He kept showing up, working every day of his life until the day he died, never really entertaining the idea of retirement. 

The money my dad earned while working in a cubicle for a steel mill for 15 years is a piece of why I'm able to stubbornly pursue this work that matters to my queer, feminist heart. But that podcast jolted me back into those phone calls when we knew it could've gone so differently.


So yes right on time I finished my doctoral program and in less than a week from going off to London for three months, PhD complete. If I could I'd be calling my dad to make jokes about how I'm spending time this summer at the same place where the The West Wing's President Bartlett got his MA and PhD. My dad burnt the entire series of The West Wing on to cd's for me when I went off to college. Yeah, he was the best. Sorkin is a misogynist, but that show still makes me feel good because my dad and I watched it together, including the night before he died. 


I'm walloped by emotions about my dad at the most random moments. Walking to a morning meeting at a coffee shop this week I tracked down the newly released song "The Bottom of It" by the Fruit Bats because I was craving a listen and then the waves of emotions hit. 

So happy that you've gotten to the bottom of it
The fears that were fettering you

I keep thinking about the lecture by Lauren Berlant at the Feminist Theory Workshop where she spoke about the inconvenience of desires."Any object of desire reminds us we are not sovereign" she told us. 

We want things just for ourselves in this life, and isn't that just the most inconvenient? Love, jobs, attention, a very certain future. How to be in this world while wanting all of it. I refuse to find out.


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