The blogger known as Isis the Scientist was born into the webosphere in 2008. Thirty years old and armed with a baby tucked under one arm and a pipette under the other, she was a scrappy new postdoc with a passion for saving the world and ending the patriarchy. She flawlessly strut around in amazing shoes, talking of herself in the third person. A lot has changed in more than a decade.
Mostly I’ve aged. Speaking of myself in the third person got old in the early 2010s and my shoes have been moderated by how far I walk to teach. I finished a postdoc, worked, and am now looking toward tenure. My kids aren’t babies anymore and my tits have long since lost their perky youthfulness. Nothing is on a 28-day cycle anymore. I’ve had open feuds with journal editors and senior faculty about how we treat under-represented people in the academy. I’ve been bold, and then scared, and then bold, and then scared. My blog was indexed to the Library of Congress. That makes me laugh. Two years of my meanderings are part of our nation’s permanent history. Right in there with the Constitution. Very few people, overall, have read either one.
I’ve been divorced and remarried. I’ve had a tumor resected from my stomach and have had to learn how to be a “normal person” again.
I’ve tried to write again in this process, and it never felt right. It didn’t feel right because I wasn’t ready to talk about how humbled I had been. I started in 2008 feeling like a new career woman who had it all figured out. I can tell you now, with the confidence of that 30 year old broad, I have nothing figured out. I only know the fight and, in a lot of ways, the fight has made me age. Each time I tried to resurrect Isis, I was humbled by how little I had figured out and how hard it was to admit that.
I came to the blogosphere in 2008 because I thought I had a lot of important things to say that the world needed to hear. Now I’m convinced that the louder people talk, the more full of shit they are.
And I have no idea what I’m doing.
There’s no handbook for being a wife, mother, and professor and navigating those two spheres. I chose to write under the pen name Isis the Scientist more than a decade ago because I had just been to Egypt and I loved the evolving story of her as the mother of all things. Controlling nature, saving her husband, raising her son. It’s harder than I ever expected.
Last week I took Little I (the oldest of my two biologically born children) for coffee after school. We have a routine. He has music rehearsal two days a week. On those days, we stop for coffee on the way and chat. When I started blogging, he was a baby. Now he’s a teenager and he has a lot of hilarious things to say. I like talking to him, but he’s walking his path in an era that is different than mine. Last week, he started telling me about a show that he’s watching on Netflix about some high school students. One of them feels tremendous pressure from his mother to be a successful athlete and puts his hand into a stack of weights to maim himself. I had to pull the car off the road and sob. I couldn’t handle the thought of a kid feeling such pressure from a parent that they turn to such a drastic solution. It made me realize how many things he has in his head and his heart that I don’t know about and I couldn’t bear the thought of a kid with that much weight on their shoulders. A couple of nights later, I fell asleep on the couch after work. When I woke up, my family was watching the first episode of The Pharmacist. I couldn’t handle it.
I’m so afraid that the heavens have given me these two perfect gifts to steward and I am going to irrevocably fuck them up.
When I realized I didn’t know what I was doing nearly as clearly as I thought, I retired Isis the Scientist. It seemed like the honest thing to do until I had things figured out. Since, I’ve learned more stuff about Isis. Maybe it doesn’t matter so much if the original iteration was flawed. Throughout history, her legend has been merged with those of other women deities to improve the legend. To relate to people of the times. To tell an old story through a modern lens. I’m better because I have been able to learn from the women around me and build their experience into my own. I’ve tried to learn from their struggles and triumphs and to celebrate their generosity with their stories. We still need women to tell their tales and offer their points of view.
So, I’m glad to be a Skepchick. I’ve been a fan of Rebecca Watson since I started. I think venues that bring women together to talk and engage are still needed. I need to figure out who I am now and where this path is taking me.
This is going to be the next chapter of my story. Welcome to the beginning of my crone years.