Happy New Year!

Just wanted to wish everyone  a happy New Year!  On New Year’s Eve we took Holden to the doctor (again) because he was up all night (I’m not exaggerating here), crying his eyes out.  Yes, he still has infections in both ears.  They decided to try a 5th antibiotic, and gave us a referral to the ENT so H can be evaluated for tubes.  His appointment with the specialist isn’t until the end of January, and the pediatrician’s office said that we could just come back in the interim to get more antibiotics for H.  The medicine is not getting rid of the infections, but he seems to be more comfortable while he is taking them.  Basically, the medications will buy us some time until he can be seen and get this taken care of once and for all.  I’m well aware that all of this coincides with the beginning of the class I am teaching this spring, and it’s going to be a total pain in the ass to deal with everything while also dealing with all of the whiny college students.  This year especially, I have zero tolerance for their antics, so if I get a tirade of e-mails from students complaining about their manufactured mental health problems, family issues, etc., I will just tell them to grow up or get the hell out of my class.

New Year’s Eve (after our doctor appointment errands) was low key.  We had snacks at home, put H to bed at 8PM, and settled into watching the last few episodes of Lost.  I didn’t even make it to 10:30PM after our total lack of sleep from the night before.  H slept better on New Year’s Eve, waking a few times during the night and then getting up for the day at 4:30AM.  Yes, that is an improvement, believe it or not.

New Year’s Day has been pretty good.  Once I finally had some strong coffee, I made a breakfast of egg nog french toast, pigs in blankets, and mimosas.  We then took H sledding at Mt. Philo.  He seemed to enjoy himself, except when the snow came up and sprayed him in the face.  We stayed at the mountain for an hour before we finally decided to come home and warm up.  It’s definitely time to get Holden some real winter boots.  I had been putting it off so that I could really get the sizing right and maximize the amount of time he could wear them.

As for my cryptic comment on my last post about Rob and I making some big decisions, here is the scoop:  We have decided to stay in Vermont.  We love living here and we are tired of moving.  I don’t want to uproot my family just so that I can be an academic slave.  It doesn’t make sense.  I told my boss about this at the end of last week, thinking that I would have to leave his lab and find something else (you can only be a postdoc for so long).  He extended me the offer to stay in his lab as long as I want.  He gave me freedom to write my own grants and pursue my own experiments.  He said there was nothing to stop me from advancing to a research assistant professor position from my current postdoctoral position.  This makes me feel pretty decent—that I am welcome to stay and that my contributions are valued.  It still doesn’t solve the immediate money problem though.  I would be paid on soft money entirely, and I would have to be successful at getting grant funding in order to get paid.  I am confident I can get grant funding, but I am not confident that I can get it soon.  Having a steady salary is still at least a year off.  As for working most weekends, I plan on delegating all of that work to the undergraduates.  I’ve paid my dues and there is really no reason I need to miss so much time with Holden.  It’s been frustrating and sad for me to have to go in to the lab during so many weekends and it absolutely must end.  I’m looking at going in a few weekends here at the beginning of January, but that is only because the students are still gone.  In the future, if a student can’t come in during the weekend, then I won’t come in either.  This is really a non-negotiable situation.  Rob and I have talked it over and we know what we want out of our life.  We know what we want for Holden, in particular, and I will be merciless in going after those things.  We feel settled and happy about these decisions—just because the vast majority of academic men can submit themselves to year after year of temporary living situations does not mean that we have to as well.  While all of this means I am giving up the prospect of ever running my own lab, it also means that I am giving up all the stress that goes along with it.  I don’t need New Year’s resolutions this year—all of the decisions that have evolved from our conversations in the past week are resolution enough for the past 7 years of indentured servitude that is the academic treadmill.  No more wondering where we are going to end up, no more wondering about whether I can get or keep a tenure-track job, no worrying about how Holden will adjust to those changes, no more fear of moving to a place that does not feel like home.

It’s time to start my life.

January 2nd, 2010 8:57 pm

what a weight! I’m glad it’s off your shoulders. Cheers to you!

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