Tomorrow, I’m going to Montreal for the first time in eleven years. It seems that the staff of the International Space University were sufficiently impressed by my work last year in Strasbourg that they are inviting me back, with food, accommodations, and a stipend, to help edit their documents this year. I’m glad that they noticed my work, and I look forward to the trip.
However, there is one moment that I am dreading, and that is the moment at which I meet up with some of my old peers and they start asking me awkward questions. Questions such as: “What have you been doing for the last year?” And I confess, I have painfully little to tell them in reply.
The truth is that I have mostly been fumbling around unsuccessfully looking for employment while living in my parents’ house, working odd-jobs that are frankly far below my actual skill level, and taking courses in first year statistics so that I don’t have to start paying my student loans. There have been a few highlights, to be sure: getting published was certainly one of them, giving a talk at a physics symposium another. But by and large, I find myself in the same, “temporary” place that I have been since I left Strasbourg. I haven’t even unpacked my boxes from Grad School, out of hopeless optimism that it wouldn’t be too long before I could get a grown-up job* and win back my independence.
What the hell happened? When I came back last time, I felt sure of myself like never before. I was going to earn some money for a year and then enter into grad school to earn my PhD! But then finding a job, temporary or otherwise, proved more difficult than I ever anticipated, and I couldn’t find the right PhD program until about two weeks after it became too late to register. So here I am adrift in limbo.
But not for much longer.
Because there comes a point (and mine is the one year mark) where you just have to say “fuck it, this isn’t working,” and try taking a some ridiculous, stupid chance. So here’s the plan:
I’m going to go to Montreal. I’m going to impress the pants off of everyone, once again. I’ll leverage my contacts, and if I can score a job while I’m there–even if it necessitates my relocation to the USA or Europe–I will take it. If not, then no matter: I’m still not going to spend another year living in a state of perpetual teenagerhood. You see, I have registered for courses at the University where I obtained my Master’s Degree: a combination of things that I’ve always wanted to take, and things which are liable to bolster my employability. I am going to live off of student loans, freelancing, tutoring, and a TA position if I can get one, while I continue to look for work. The University in question is a lot closer to several major urban centres with high-tech industry than my present living situation, so frankly I think that my prospects will be much better. And then I will file grad school application on time for next year, and get back to the business of living my life.
*There have been a few times that I’ve been maddeningly near.