Tag: work

Monthly update

Few updates on work and the house…

Still working

I’m still working at MSU. It was getting down to the wire with extending the grant, which would keep me working even to the point of my boss telling me “In the medium and short term, you are looking great. But in the immediate term, as in, if you show up tomorrow, will we pay you – that’s being sorted out.” It wasn’t the fact of having money or not, so much as, nearly all of their work is grant-based. The 5 year grant I was working on expired last Thursday, but there was money left in it that they got verbal approval to spend on having me work, but MSU bureaucracy needs official paperwork to handle the account, blah blah.

Also, they were told that a new 5 year was approved, but not the actual dollar amount, and again, until MSU accounting has an official document from the CDC, no money can move. There’s some wiggle room for the regular salaried employees since they are paid monthly, so it just needs to be sorted out by the end of June, but I’m biweekly hourly, so it got a little tight there. But I made sure to drop plentiful hints along the way, like in our big department meeting when I was showing off my work, I’d say things like, “Well, what I’m working on next if I am even here next week…” And finally even told my boss, I need to know or else I have to start getting my resume back out there…

So overall, they managed to wiggle around accounting budgets enough to keep me there for now, and today I had a meeting with my boss (which made me miss Ella’s eye appointment – oops!), about a proposal for another big project that would take up all of my time for several months, and about wanting to offer me a permanent position. The permanent position, of course, depends on getting final word on a series of grants, but it’s not so much of an IF but a WHEN the position would open up. Also, it’s a whole big political what not between my boss and the programming department (which he isn’t very fond of, and were the ones who didn’t want to hire me before). But if he focuses my job in a certain way, rather than another, I’d work for him rather than them, and since he hasn’t stopped praising the work I’ve done since I started showing him results, that would be a good thing. Hey, whatever gets me a paycheck. 🙂

Our Socialist Government Helping Us Again

As for the house, a while back the bank offered the possibility of an internal loan modification that was simply “Hey, pay your mortgage for 3 months, and then we’ll decide what we want to do… which might include anything between calling the loan up-to-date to foreclosing anyway, but at least we won’t do anything for 3 months.” Unfortunately, I was still thoroughly unemployed at the time, so we weren’t able to do that, and they wound up not doing anything for 3 months anyway.

Now that I am employed (and Diana is working at Meijer far more hours and reliably than she could get at Macy’s), I was contacting them about various loan modification options and was notified that we qualify to apply for the Big Settlement modification. Don’t know if you all heard in the news (I know Dad forwarded me an article about it), but several of the major banks did some… improper (some would say illegal) paperwork for foreclosures. Nothing too heinous, but still serious like electronically signing hundreds of documents at a time that are supposed to be individually checked for errors, etc. With a not insignificant number of people being foreclosed on through purely clerical/computer errors, many state attorney generals (and maybe even the US attorney general, I forget) started a class action lawsuit to fix it. In the settlement, the banks agreed to billions of dollars in restitution to homeowners. I think most did the usual class action settlements jokes of “each of the millions of our mortgagees get $30” or something. Bank of America (who manages our mortgage), decided that 200,000 homeowners would get major loan modifications (so fewer affected, but having a major impact).

We were notified that we qualify to apply for that. Not sure how many more qualify than will actually be able to get the modification, but considering I went from unemployed to employed (with Diana now working far more, and Alma teaching again in the Fall), we seem to be good candidates for “went through a bad patch but can afford their house now”. And even if not, there’s still internal modification at BoA’s discretion, modification through the legislation passed a couple years ago, modification through the state of Michigan, and so on. So it’s another layer of possible help, and we actually look much better on paper now than we did two months ago.

Tricky Transitions

So things are definitely looking up, but it’s also some tricky transitioning. So I am off unemployment, which is great, but the “you no longer qualify based on when you work rather than when you get your first paycheck” is a little tricky to handle, but I’ll just say we managed fine.

Other thing we have to keep a close eye on is that as we earn more, we qualify for less assistance. For example, if we earn $700 more a month, that might make us qualify for $500 less in food stamps (which is a debit card now and not stamps, but whatever). So, looking at purely the numbers, a $700 increase in income only gets us $200 better off. But those aren’t exact numbers, and it looks like it won’t be an issue of going backward and losing more benefits than our increase in income. They structured the system nicely to prevent that (after all, if people wind up getting less the more they work, there’s no financial incentive, just pride and paperwork).

The tricky one I still have to dig in to is health insurance. Diana is covered now through Meijer (which is good since she is our expensive one) ;), but the kids and I are state-covered. As our income goes up, the kids will stay qualified longer than I will, but hopefully when my income goes up higher it will be from a permanent MSU position which brings with it health insurance benefits, so that we can jump straight to that. Only tricky issue would be if we end up making more money without benefits, we could hit the gap of no longer qualifying for state insurance and having to pay for insurance out of pocket. We did that for a bit for Diana and I, but it was outrageously expensive and wound up not paying for a single thing due to pre-existing conditions and high deductibles. (To get political for a moment, there are some things that can be improved with “Obamacare”, but one thing it REALLY helps with is families in that situation – making too much to qualify for Medicaid but not having employer-paid insurance. In 2014, it fixes that problem very well, which saves money in the long run because people with insurance getting preventive care costs orders of magnitude less than uninsured people waiting until they need to be dragged to the emergency room. It really is MUCH cheaper to have people insured than not.)

So, as usual, it was waaay too long since the last update, and my “short” update, rambled on far longer than I wanted, so I hope people stuck with it. Otherwise, I’m sure we will be seeing you all soon and can chat in person.

Job – temporary, at least

Well, I temporarily have a job! Short version – I’m doing some programming full time (or as close to it as our schedules will allow) from Wednesday to the end of May. Hopefully it will continue beyond that or there is also another job that my chances are looking good for.

Longer version – in my wave of interviews recently (including having 4 interviews for 3 jobs in just over a week) – all of which were at MSU, the results are:

  • Programmer at Library – Interviewed – but after 2 weeks they decided no
  • Programmer at Vet School – 2 interviews so far, and looks pretty good, but we will see. Down to only a few candidates. They said the process can be slow, but hoping to update me by the end of this week or beginning of next after the finish their 2nd interviews.
  • Clinical Research Informatics Technician – This one needs some explaining (see below). 🙂 But summary – they cancelled the job posting.

The other jobs are “Information Technologist” or some such, but are basically computer web programmers much as I have done for years. The last one is more complicated. It was technically 2 jobs combined into 1 since they weren’t sure they had enough work for one person to do either full time. Well, after 3 rounds of interviews, they decided that it really was two jobs.

One job is somewhat computer programming, but more data management and report generating. But still, nothing that I haven’t handled before. The other job is more or less a sales position, selling their products to other universities and research groups. Basically, this group provides database and software work for clinical trials. When I was first hired at Radiology, I worked on that autism research project, and it was a joint effort between Radiology and this group.

In the end, they decided to make the “New business” portion of the job a 65% part time position and re-list it. As for the data management side (which I’m pretty sure I scored highly on), they are waiting to hear if a grant is approved to see if they can fund it.

In the interim, however, they have until the end of May to complete work on the latest round of that autism project, but they have a heck of a lot of work to get done before then. Since I showed up on their doorstep looking for work, they jumped at the chance and offered to pay me hourly at least until the end of May to help them wrap up everything that needs to be wrapped up before then. As long as my criminal background check came back ok (more worried about it getting done than coming back with my bank robbery charges showing) 😉 I should start Wednesday morning. Overall, it came together really fast.

No benefits, since it’s hourly, but the pay works out to be about what I made at Radiology before I left. Plus they want me up to 40 hours a week, so depending on how Diana’s and my schedules work out with getting Ella to and from school, I should get in plenty of work over the next several weeks.

Beyond that depends on the grant being approved and how much it is approved for. Hopefully, something full time works out – although they did hint that if they brought me on full time, it would be at a lower pay because of benefits which means I will be making less than I did at Radiology a year ago, but it still beats unemployment, and nothing is official yet anyway. Since it would be much cheaper to them, there is a greater chance of being able to stay on hourly, but that’s only an option if we get health insurance worked out.

Overall, however, I am hoping on the Vet School position. It’s is literally almost exactly what I did at Radiology, just with animals rather than people. They offer enough flexibility that if I want to finish up school,  I can. Plus, we haven’t talked numbers but they understand the interest in wanting to be paid more than what I made previously as reasonable (you know, that whole forward momentum in your career, not slipping backwards) and quite understandable. The interviews have gone well (including losing track of they questions with the Director when we started talking about our pets for 15 minutes). But we will see. There are other candidates who may be doing very well as well.

However, at least tomorrow, I have to get the kids off to school and then head off to my new office (actually shared offices since they are located in 2 buildings and I will have to do work at both). On top of Diana getting worked to the bone with 44 hours this week between Macy’s and setting up the new Meijer, at the absolute very least we will have a brief period of real income again. It will be nice if it lasts past that, but I’ll be sure to be happy with whatever we can get at this point.

And yet again, we see that it is impossible for me to write a short blog post. Gotta get info out more often. Sorry!

No Colorado this year

Anybody worried we would be moving away can relax. We will be in Michigan for now still. I’m not applying to Colorado this year. Few reasons for this:

1) I have been having doubts about whether we should try this year or wait, or even whether we should go out there at all. Figured applying would just open the possibility and even IF I was accepted, I could turn it down or maybe postpone enrollment or something. But the past week or two, I have been having even more doubts. We don’t talk about it a lot, but when we do talk to the kids, half of the time they are very excited & eager, and the other half they don’t want to leave their friends. So I don’t know.

2) I’m still not sure I’m good enough yet to be accepted anyway. Some stuff has worked out to make me look good (on paper at least) and others haven’t. Competition is pretty tight, and being unstandard probably wouldn’t do me any favors. If I wait another year, I could improve my chances But it is adding another year. If I take classes next year it gets closer to there being no point in looking anywhere else since I will be closer to done than not. But who knows?

3) The final straw however is a stupid one, but it is what it is and managed to tip the scales my doubts were already leaning on. I was supposed to take the GRE today but I lost my driver’s license. They need government issued photo ID. No temporary ones. No expired ones. No alternatives. And the Secretary of State can just give me a temporary paper one and an actual photo ID in the mail 2 or 3 weeks from now. (And it take ETS a couple weeks to report the scores as well, I believe, and decisions would probably start being made before then.)


So that’s that for now. I have several job leads, and I’m also rearranging my schedule to just have night classes since the MSU jobs, which are friendliest to taking classes, aren’t panning out and other places are hit and miss with that sort of thing. So hopefully one of those will turn into a real job and we can get things back on track.

Best to focus on that for now. Had thought Colorado this summer would be a good break and new start, but it’s low odds of being accepted anyway and an assistantship out there wouldn’t pay all the bills and debt. So better to just wait and work. Get things under control and then see what 2013 holds.

So you still have us here in Michigan (with this insane weather) for the indefinite future!

Latest house and job update

Quick update here:

  • Last job interview wound up going to someone else (much to the chagrin of the recruiter who had been spending months trying to find a good candidate but they wound up getting someone on their own).
  • Got another interview Friday at MSU, so I’m really hoping for that. Pay is probably a bit less than what I had been looking for, but benefits are much better and being that close would be perfect! So we will see. The job listing had all the signs of “we already have someone internal for the job, but we need to formally post it”, so I almost didn’t apply. But with how things are going, I’m taking every opportunity I can, even if it is remote. Plus it sounds like a great job I would love doing, so I’m crossing my fingers!
  • I’m not sure on the exact date, but technically I think this Friday I am officially unemployed. That’s not fun, BUT as long as it is temporary, it does open up even more assistance options. So I’m getting ready to fill out plenty of forms for all the government assistance we can get. About time the 1% supported US!
  • Diana is also applying around for some more part or full time work. So two of us hitting the job market increases our chances.
  • Had our “mediation meeting” today with the law firm handling our foreclosure and (via speakerphone) Bank of America. In these meetings a very small number are approved for loan modification, a small number a denied, and the vast majority are flagged “we need more documents”. We fell into the “need more documents” category. So, as much as knowing would be nice, right now our financials are such that I don’t see us being approved, so I’m all for any delay we can get.
  • The representative from the law firm today also has a Dec 9 birthday.
  • The other useful information was on the timeline should we be denied a loan modification. Nothing happens until after Jan 11. After that, according to Michigan law, they need to post in the local newspaper for 4 weeks about the possibility of our house being up for auction. Then there is the Sheriff Sale where our house goes to the highest bidder. That is almost assuredly the Bank just buying it themselves. Then we have 6 months (again by law) for redemption where we try to rework things out. Only after that, will the house be fully owned by the bank (or whoever) and we have like 30 days to vacate (or according to Michael Moore, we should squat and stick it to the banks!) Bottom line, we have until mid-August to work something out. If neither of us is working full time by that time, we have bigger problems than our house.

So that’s where it all stands. More wait and see, but right now that’s the best news until one of us gets hired somewhere.

But for now, I need to finish up writing my term papers, studying for my final exam (a test??? I don’t remember how to do this “test” thing), and get ready to start grading 50 term papers starting tomorrow morning. (Also, help get the house ready for Marable Christmas, submit to present at another conference, write a chapter for “Superman and Philosophy”, and complete my Colorado application.) Whee! Needless to say, I’m fine with delays on the house. I want to see my family sometime. 🙂

General update

Quick general update, although I still think only my family reads this and I saw most of them at Thanksgiving:

I have an interview on Thursday for a contract programming position. I’m excited about that for obvious reasons. I still have 3 applications in at MSU, which would be great because it’s closer. The interview this week is for the other side of Lansing, but still sounds like a great job. Also, MSU is more flexible with taking classes during the day, and I don’t know yet on this place I’m interviewing this week. But they know I am in school, and seem to be really eager and moving fast, which I am all for. So we’ll see.

Got our foreclosure meeting scheduled in a few weeks, so I am hoping I will have a job lined up before that. It would certainly help.

I did have a 4th application at MSU, but they selected a candidate the day after the posting closed. So it was probably an internal hire, but had to go through the process anyway. It happens.

In other fun news, the van blew a coolant leak. It happened this past summer when we were crazy busy with the county fair, so I just kept topping it off, and it suddenly stopped. So, being cheap, I left it. Lasted almost four months, so that’s good. I’m really hoping it will stop again at least for a few weeks, but it’s not looking likely. Ah well, I get paid in a couple days and we can see about getting it looked at unless I can find something to duct tape. 🙂

We are pretty close to moving Samantha down to the basement. She started scrubbing out that bathroom and was amazed to find a shower in it. I think she will be transitioning from the childhood “Do I have to take a shower?!” to the “I can’t wake up in the morning without a shower” mindset pretty soon now that she has her own bathroom and shower.

Not much else going on – I just saw that I hadn’t added anything in almost a month, and I can also trick myself into thinking that it is productive procrastination. Looking at the list of things I need to get done in the next few weeks for school/teaching, it’s pretty crazy. Several papers, my chapter in “Superman and Philosophy”, proposals for “Dungeons & Dragons and Philosophy”, a paper and an abstract for possible conference presentations, a computer science final exam, and a looming stack of term papers to grade. Plus talking to my professors about possibly leaving the program and asking them to write letters of recommendation, and fitting in the GRE. Fun times!

The Darker Side of being an Adjunct Professor (and other confusions)

(Sorry, I know this is a way crazy long information dump. If you – any of my family – wants, just give me a call, and I might be able to tell it shorter.) 🙂

I debated how to get this out, but for one thing I am better at writing this out than talking about it face to face or over the phone, and I debated a mass email or a locked blog post, but if it’s going to be talked about I might as well just put it out there (but I think only family reads this anyway). I was more inclined to just keep quiet about this until there was more definite information, but Diana told her family, and everyone getting together soon for cleaning means there’s a good chance everyone will know.

The Good

At the beginning of this year, as you all know, I left my programming job to teach and focus on my PhD classes. It has been extremely mixed. On the one hand, for the first time in over a decade, I actually enjoyed my job. It’s hard to quantify, but it was definitely a great thing. For one thing, I enjoy my time at Alma which is still a great college and campus, not to mention an abnormally high concentration of excellent students.

Plus I get to walk Ella to and from school, go to most of their conferences, parties, and some field trips, and get to help them all with their homework when they get home, and that has been absolutely wonderful. Spending every day home with Diana has also been great. Not only do we just love spending time together, but seeing her all day long rather than for a few hours in the evening has helped me better understand her Depression and ADD and the ups and downs even in a single day that I could never see before.

The Bad

On the down side, the pay for a part time visiting/adjunct professor is not much. Obviously, there’s the whole “part time” thing. Secondly, even it was full time, it is cheap teaching labor. Nothing against where I teach, because this is an issue across the entire country. Cuts in education mean professors are paid less. Trying to keep tuition low so that more students can afford an education mean professors are paid less. Balanced budgets and people getting an education are important goals, so I can’t necessarily fault that. But how colleges and universities keep their costs down is with a massive increase in cheap part-time teaching, like me. An unfortunately high number of grad students are just assistants during their studies and then after they graduate suffer through years of low paying adjunct teaching before getting a permanent position. I was lucky enough to start this process while still in grad school and gain experience that will help me get something permanent after graduation.

Also, one of the major downsides of being an adjunct/visiting professor beyond the pay is no stability. You do not know semester by semester what your employment will be. Although they want me at Alma next year, they will unfortunately not need me next semester. So I am back to looking for a full time programming job, even though it might mean I won’t be able to teach next year.

In my case beyond teaching not paying much, a lot of planned extra income has not worked out. For this Fall, I did have a second job lined up as a teaching assistant (it would have been insane time-wise grading papers for 150 students, but we would had have more money), but due to a misunderstanding, that fell through. I also had worked on the department website as a student employee, but updating the old site was a nightmare, and overall it was hard finding the time, so they finally worked something out with the College to start from scratch.

The summer was particularly painful because how my teaching was structured, it not only directly impacted my financial aid (cutting out $5000 from what I would have had), but also due to different payroll schedules, I should have had to go 6 weeks without any pay. Oh, but the HR department messed up the paperwork, so it was actually closer to 8 weeks without pay while they sorted it all out.

As most of my family knows, it got REAL ugly for a bit there, especially during the summer. With help from family, plasma donation, and eBay, we managed to get everything caught up except our mortgage payments. (In fact, even with the tighter budget, we are on track to have all non-mortgage/education debt paid off in 6-16 months – and the education debt is no-interest while in school, extremely low interest afterwards, and hopefully no longer necessary after next semester.) Considering my current monthly pay for teaching is only $300 more than the mortgage payment, it’s easy to see how it is hard to manage that even with Diana working part-time and getting financial aid money. This summer I talked with some very helpful people at Greenpath debt solutions and found out what options there are and what we might face. Since then, like I said, we got everything under control except our mortgage (but had managed to start making a couple payments again).

Two weeks ago we received notice that the bank is starting the foreclosure process.


Before anyone panics, this is just the start of a very long process. At Greenpath they have worked with a lot of people going through this, and here in Michigan the process is basically:

1)      They send the notice.

2)      Then we have 14 days to request a meeting to explore modification options.

3)      We request the meeting, and by state law, this puts a 90 day hold on the entire process. (Which we have done – so it’s on hold until at least mid-January)

4)      We fill out lots of paperwork and meet to see if there are modification options (more on those in a moment)

5)      If none of the options works out, then after the 90 days they can start the process again. This part is highly variable but works on the scale of months. According to Greenpath this is on average 6-8 months.

6)      If it actually does come to losing the house (and as you will see there are a lot of options before that), once the house is officially not ours, we have 30 days to move out.

So, realistically, we are looking at a year long process which will hopefully be resolved long before that year is up.


So what are our options? Since home foreclosure has been such a massive problem, thankfully the federal government has stepped in and funded a lot of options that are available to us that wouldn’t have been there 5 years ago (thank you Obama!).

From the mortgage company side there is:

1)      just getting the past due paid off – with next semester’s financial aid, a lot of eBay, and some luck, it might be possible

2)      federal money to help restructure the mortgage so that the past due is moved to the end of the mortgage so that we have 26 years to pay it off rather than 25

3)      federal money to help reduce the principle of the mortgage so that our monthly payments are lowered enough to pay

From the state of Michigan, again largely with federal funding (https://www.stepforwardmichigan.org/) there is:

4)      paying off some or all of the past due amount so that we can start fresh

5)      again reducing the principle so that the monthly payments are lowered

6)      temporarily paying part of our monthly payments to make it affordable

With all of the above, going back to a full time, well-paying job rather than teaching will massively help with getting approved.

And, from the many lawyers who now helpfully mail us solicitations, there is:

7)      Chapter 13 bankruptcy where our past due amount is restructured into monthly payments over the next 5 years (and not to be confused with Chapter 7 bankruptcy which is the nuclear option of wiping out all our debts but taking our “not so hot” credit rating and turning it into “credit rating? yeah, that’s funny”)

Those are the main options that will keep us in the house.

If we want to move (not our first choice, but more on that in a second), there is:

1)      selling the house (and we are in a great neighborhood and made a fair number of improvements and are 5 years into our mortgage, so there’s a chance even with home values dropping a lot that we could sell it for what we owe)

2)      short-selling the house with bank approval for less than we owe

3)      letting it foreclose (certainly our option of last resort, but I know former co-workers who have gone through it, and as difficult as it was, they say it’s a fresh start and they are better off for it)


Like I said, moving out of the house is certainly not our first choice. However, even before all of this, we have been discussing moving. My current PhD program is very good in one area of my interest, but utterly lacking in the other. Like “we don’t even have anyone to teach that” level of lacking. And, of course, that is the area I am most interested in. So we have talked about transferring to another PhD program for the past year or two with varying levels of seriousness.

That is a very tough choice. We all really like East Lansing. It’s a wonderful city, and doesn’t have much in the way of sprawl, so it’s easy to get out into rural open fields and forests quickly. The schools are awesome. The kids have lots of friends here. I joke that other than 5th & 6th grade, the kids can walk to school from preschool to PhD.

Plus, if I did transfer, odds are it would be out of state. So that means seeing family less often, which sucks.

But as much as we dislike those aspects, Diana and I have often talked about moving out of state, even some before I considered going back to school. For one thing, from our visits to Jennifer out in Colorado, we love it out there. Samantha was quite displeased when we told her we had to postpone Diana’s annual trip out there this Fall (and it was Samantha’s turn to tag along again this year) because of money and Jennifer taking a long trip of her own.

Pile on that Colorado University would be a perfect fit for my interests, and it’s hard not to think there’s some writing on the wall. I have actually talked with the department over there, and looking at transfer options, I had considered that *IF* we were to do it, I would complete a Masters here, and then transfer out for Fall 2013. But it is looking like it would actually be better to transfer for Fall 2012 because they have a maximum that they transfer (and typically transfer even less than that), so at a point credit-wise it becomes wasted time staying here. (I want to be clear that is just a waste concerning school credits – every class is useful information even if it doesn’t directly count towards graduation.)

However, it is VERY competitive. On average, only about 6% of applicants out of 250ish are accepted. If I could get in then my chances of getting a good teaching position after graduation are, honestly, substantially higher for my main area of interest. Even if I stay here, I think my chances are good of getting some sort of teaching position (especially if I can focus on my studies more than I have), but honestly, unless I want to ditch my main area of interest and just focus on my secondary, I certainly won’t have as much pick, and then we will definitely have to move to wherever will hire me.

We have talked with the kids about this for months, and they are feeling about the same as us – it would be sad to move away from family and friends, but it would also be exciting and wonderful to broaden our horizons and live someplace new, especially if it as amazing as Boulder.

So we are far from any kind of decision. I am at least to the point where I will actually be applying to Colorado (which means taking the GRE again sometime in the next couple months while all of this is going on). It may be that I’m in the 94% not accepted and then there’s not much decision. But IF I am accepted, then we will face the tough decision. Applying opens up an option, but doesn’t commit us to anything.


Sorry, I know this is way crazy long, and would probably be better in person, but it is a lot and I’m not sure I could get it all out in one sitting anyway. My usual way is to maybe break it up like how I mentioned at the birthdays that I am applying around for a full time programming job for January.

So, it has obviously been a stressful, topsy-turvy year so far. As I said in the beginning, it’s been wonderful, but also every day I know that I’m putting my family through a lot to follow my own interests. The pressure of tight budgets and 7 months without health insurance has made Diana’s depression worse.  (The lack of insurance is another major downside of part-time teaching, thankfully the kids are on state-funded insurance, and we are paying for private insurance now even though it hardly covers anything but it is there for any major catastrophe). Every time I tell the kids that we can’t afford something, I know it’s because of the choice I made.

I remind myself that if it works out, I will wind up with a better paying job with more advancement potential. With my past programming jobs, due to tough economic circumstances or state budget cuts the only raises I got beyond inflation were from being hired somewhere else which encourages me to keep jumping jobs every few years. Plus it’s a job that I actually enjoy, rather than one that I tolerate.

There are a lot of mixed feelings going on. Even if I don’t like full time programming, I am willing to do it to support my family. It’s melodramatic, but the episode of the Simpsons that still resonates with me is Homer remembering when he managed to quit his job at the nuclear power plant and work his dream job at a bowling alley. However, they became pregnant with Maggie, meaning they could no longer afford living on the lower income. So he had to beg Mr. Burns for his job back and we find out that Homer’s desk workstation faces a plaque Mr. Burns installed that says “Don’t forget: You’re here forever.” But Homer covered it with pictures of Maggie so it says “Do it for her.” I’m sure any parent that worked a job they hated can understand.

However, growing up, my parents would half-jokingly often tell us “Do as I say, not as I do.” I’m sure in many ways my parents made decisions to help support us rather than what they would have liked (not to mention the abhorrent story of a counselor telling my mom not go into science because women should just be teachers or nurses). For a while my dad even moved to another state for work. Thankfully I was young enough that only the memories of visiting him remain and not the memories of missing him. But how can I honestly tell the kids they can do anything they want when they grow up, but I am putting money and stability ahead of what I want. Another generation of “Do as I say, not as I do.”

I constantly try to be as good of a parent as they are for me, and many days even outright think “what would my parents do right now?” But I hope to be different from them in this case. It’s one thing to tell the kids what is possible, it’s entirely different to actually show them by example. So I can’t give up on school yet. Especially since, looking at the math, I won’t be done until my early 40’s. That leaves 20 something years for my career. Last week there was a lecture from one of the movers and shakers in the field I’m studying and he is almost 40 years into his career and still going strong. Obviously much can happen in that shorter amount of time, but I am starting this career very late, and it does take a lot of schooling to get into it. But looking at the math, it’s now or never. It’s not quite to the point of my age being counted too strongly against me in hiring for academics, but any longer and it will be. MSU is currently looking to make a major hire for their department, and one thing mentioned was that it’s hard to find a major person in the field who isn’t in their 50’s. And they would rather hire a younger no-name, than a big name that won’t stay long before retiring.


So it’s staying in school for now, but trying to get a full time job and juggle those two with actually still being part of my family. I’m afraid of how it will go since already I have trouble finding time to concentrate enough to read and write at the grad student level. But we will try to find a way to make it work.

If we can, things can be stable enough to clear up the mortgage situation and ease the stress on Diana (and me, as well, of course). I don’t know if we will stay here in East Lansing for years to come until the kids grow up and Diana and I grow old, or if we will move away next year or after I graduate or who knows. But hopefully we can get things stable enough so that we can decide rather than being forced into a choice.

I know this was a huge info dump, but once I open up about this, it all comes rambling out. I thought about breaking it up into smaller bits, but it’s also all connected and I’m not sure any piece can be fully understood without seeing the whole picture. Like I said, it’s easier to get this out in writing, but I am fine talking about it in person.

Big Change for 2011

Yikes. I did it. This morning I put in my notice for quitting work in January, and I let the Philosophy department know I accepted the instructorship. (They needed to know this week on the instructorship, and I had my performance review this morning at work, so it seemed best to get the decision done so everyone can plan accordingly.)

So, as of early January, for the first time in 13 years I will not be a full-time employee. Scary.

Continue reading “Big Change for 2011”