Yearly Update in Which I Ramble About Doctorates, Naked Mole Rats, and Penises as Counting Devices

I was just reading about how the colony of naked mole rats in DC have selected their new queen after an epic mole rat war (with five casualties). Whilst watching naked the live-feed mole rat cam (something you might want to very carefully google at work), I decided perhaps an update is in order.


I’m now 34 and a half, and it’s a week before Christmas. I need to get the tattoo touched up and I’m planning another. I got the Subaru; Her name is Belle because I’d open the garage to look at her and say, “Hello, my beautiful” every day after getting her. I had many other great name options, and I admit it gives me some anxiety that people like thing I’m team Twilight given the generic name of my ride. That said, my first new car makes me feel like a real adult way more than the whole getting married, buying a house, finishing degrees, and pricing insurance options ever supplied. Mortgage? Meh, just fancy rent. Doctorate? Eh, fancy master’s degree. LEASING A NEW CAR? LOOK AT ME FLY! I AM AN ADULT BIRD ON THE WING, FULL OF FREEDOM, SMELLING OF NEW CAR! NEW CAR BIRD! LET’S MOVE SOME SOD IN MY GLORIOUS ADULT-MAKING VECHICLE! But, also make sure we vacuum it out after, yeah?

The new house now feels like we’ve lived here forever. We spent a year renovating which really involved a whole bunch of sanding, painting, and moving the epic ton of giant river rocks from out backyard to our front yard. You want rocks moved? I’m your gal! (Only if I can get Pastry to drive the wheelbarrow through the gravel as that gets hard for my puny t-rex arms.) The wiener dog only occasionally eats poop, and the old gentleman lab has been having many a dog-dream of recent. He’s also on this super expensive heart medicine at this point and has more specialist doctors than I do, but he’s still doing great. Pastry had a job he hated, got laid off, and then was rehired by the same company. It was an emotional rollercoaster of a week which happened to take place whilst we were visiting family in Arkansas so there was lots of drinking on a lake within the job purgatory time, but it worked out great in the end.

I graduated with my doctorate last May and just got around to framing my diplomas. It’s weird having people refer to me as a doctor, and I only insist on it very occasionally, mostly when old white men always get the default title treatment. Students, the one group that I sincerely do not care what they call me as long as they are learning something, almost always call me Dr. Lastname – It’s my own academic field and institution that is really aggravating with the title. “Good evening all, I have the distinct pleasure of introducing Dr. Penis-Haver, Dr. Penis-Holder, Dr. TwigNBerries…and Pepina.” Uh, that’s DR. VAGINA FOR THE WIN, thank you. “Dr. Phallus and Pepina, how did you approach this research question?” “It’s Dr. Lastname if we are going with labels…” (confused look) “Oh.” I recently presented on my research at a national conference, during which a man asked me, “Well, surely Dr. Dick-Recipient did all the quantitative analysis?” Well, sexist asshole, given that I have hard time even counting my pin money for my lady-like endeavors such as tampon-hat-making plus the analysis would have definitely required counting on my fingers AND toes, I surely had to rely upon the male academic to analyze those number things. Afterall, with a penis, you can count up to 21 due to the extra appendage involved! I’m fairly certain I said something to the affect of “Though my collaborator for this project is a clinical psychologist, you might note that the measures for this study are within a different field, the field in which I have a doctoral degree. Also, as my name is on the study and I am presenting on the research, it might be best to assume that the analysis was, you know, done by the woman in front of you.” He then asked to see all my syllabi, literature reviews, measures etc. to help his own project. You keep waitin’ for that email, sugar pie.

Many years ago prior to meeting my Pastry, while I was working as part of a team on a large research grant for a renowned research center, I went on a date as single ladies are wont to do when they are finding new ways to procrastinate during their degree programs. It didn’t start out well – My phone was stolen out of my bag on campus and I didn’t know where I was going so I had to run to my office, find the location, plot a course, all without being able to contact said date. All in all, I was about 15 minutes late. Not the end of the world, but I hate being tardy. My date was waiting for me at the bar, drinking a beer. He was slightly annoyed but understood when I explained the careening around a major city. Said date, post-bachelor’s degree in journalism, had quit his job to start a webpage detailing hiking trails. He asked me what I did…I explained my current project as a researcher as well as some of the other research projects I had on the horizon. HE THEN TOLD ME I WAS WRONG AND SPENT 10 MINUTES TELLING ME WHAT RESEARCH IS. He mansplained qualitative research to a qualitative researcher. I, being the sass I am, told him that I was going to order dinner and he was welcome to leave so I could dine in peace. THEN HE STAYED. And, thus, a hiking enthusiast watched me eat a steak and drink a Manhattan as I ignored him. He offered to walk me to my car. I declined lest he want to explain anything else to me on the way there. I think about this date a lot whenever I do not get the title treatment or I get asked who helped me in my own research. And, I do not have any solutions beyond a steak, a Manhattan, and a pithy comeback. It also makes me truly and deeply love that Pastry has never done things (and has secretly become a staunch feminist in his old, centrist-yet-registered Republican ways).

So, in summary as this is not what I thought I’d be writing about for this yearly update, I want all lady researchers to channel their inner naked mole rat queen and their quest for world domination. You suppress those gendered explanations and take control of your complex system. Live extra long and prosper. And, if questioned, that’s Dr. Queen Mole Rat.





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