Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Eat, sleep, breath

Often I head off to sleep contemplating possible solutions to the problems I face in my research. Mornings, I frequently awake with these same thoughts on my mind. I mentioned this to RocketMom this morning. She replied "it sure beats waking up and thinking 'I really don't want to go to work today.'"

I think of the line from Tom Robbins' Even Cowgirls Get the Blues about calling in well to work: I won't be coming in again, ever. Not me. I'm doing my work. This is my choice. It's a challenge. It's fun. It feels so abundantly, wonderfully good to finally finally be getting paid for my mind, for my thoughts, for my ideas; to be trusted and respected. I can't say enough how good that feels. (Of course, it will feel a bit more real when I finally get that first income (around the middle or end of November. Meantime, it's scrimping, and biting my lip when I have to sell some investment that's 40% off for the year, because we simply need the cash to pay the bills). And it will feel so absolutely spectacular when I have in my hands those proofs of concept that show the success of my methods and techniques.

Would I have felt this way, had I gotten a professorship? Perhaps. I really can't say. Do any of you feel this way?

But it's not all clams and oysters. I worry about this nation and the world. I worry about the economy. Thankfully this six-month contract, even if I don't get the next stage funding, should keep us in the black for another year or two. I had made the explicit promise to myself and my wife that I'd have income before we ate through half of our non-retirement savings. With the precipitous fall of the markets this past month (even with a large chunk of our holdings in bonds and cash) we're perhaps 3 or 4 months away from that magical midpoint. With the contract, income should start flowing a couple months before we get there.

For the most part, I'm hoping to simply sit this wave out, and leave most of our investments untouched, hoping that in a year or two things will have stabilized. I have few illusions that they will come back to their lofty heights (even if those heights were already down six months ago. But they may recover some of this decline. I'll sell off only what we need for cash. No need to contribute further to the decline. But I anticipate keeping a large proportion of the income in conservative holdings, at least until I know about the second phase (likely around February or March).

I only hope that the U.S. electorate chooses a change in leadershp. For sure, Obama doesn't have all the answers. I fully expect some mis-steps. But I trust that he is smart enough to pick good advisors and to listen to their advice. Something George W. has proven incapable of doing, and which I fear the Maverick is constitutionally averse to, as his ridiculous choice in running mate reflects. Assuming Obama wins the election, that is but the beginning of the work ahead. It will be our task to help lead this nation back to sanity in all its affairs. I hope.

1 comment:

Lilian said...

I read the beginning of your post many times, but never finished it until today (sorry, busy times). I'm sorry to hear that you've lost part of your investments (as everyone who has them, I guess), but glad to know that you should soon have income flowing.

As for how you feel about work, K feels quite the same. He's thrilled about his work now that he went back to a postdoc, he looks forward to it every day, talks about it constantly and is just so happy to have quit. If only the commute weren't so long!! (1h30) He gets to spend just a couple of hours with the boys in the evening, at best :-(. I hope someday we can live close to his work again, but for now we can't move. Good thing we live five minutes from Kelvin's school (my work 3 days a week, as you may already know).