The last five years

Looking back, the last 5 years have, collectively, been rather overwhelming.

Five years ago, I was a big-mouthed 7th year graduate student. The biggest change in my recent life was getting a cat (first) and getting married (second).

Now, I'm the father of two (adorable) daughters. I have a minivan, a big house (plus mortgage) and a salary that is several times my grad salary (not necessarily saying that much...). I've got a PhD and am an assistant professor up for reappointment. I have six big-mouthed graduate students and four even bigger-mouthed post-docs. I've "graduated" one Masters student and an undergrad or three. I'd guess I've added almost half again to my stock of friends and acquaintances.

Very weird and fairly sudden transition!

Some thoughts:

Having kids is awesome. It's lots of work (especially for the primary caregiver, usually the mom) but a total riot of life and energy. One of the most amazing things to do with kids is to watch them sleep, which they do with the same total commitment that they give to everything else (...including throw tantrums).

Big houses with big backyards are surprisingly relaxing, if they're in reasonably good shape and require only upkeep maintenance.

Minivans? WAY AWESOME.

The job: Just like everyone else, professors get pulled between too many strong competing needs: the bureaucracy of science (running a lab, managing paperwork and money, doing reviews), teaching (billed as important but not seen as such), mentoring (fun and rewarding but a lot of work), and doing research (what we really want to do). The flip side of all that work is that we get to pick what we're going to work on, each day. It's worth it to me, but boy did it take a long time to get here - 15 years out of high school. It would really suck to take all that time to get here and find out that you didn't have a passion for research...

Actually, it's hard to overstate how fantastic the job is. Running a lab (or, more accurately, pointing it in some direction, feeding money into it, and seeing what happens) is as different from being a grad student or a postdoc as, umm, being a parent is from being single. Surprisingly fantastic good times amongst the hectic busy-ness, with a few rather miserable times (mostly paperwork). Hopefully it will get better once we actually publish some of the great stuff we have up our sleeves.

I'd love to be able to do more programming. My last in depth programming project led to an epic inbox disaster that I'm still working through, though.


Legacy Comments

Posted by Simon Jones on 2011-01-26 at 17:49.

I have just had my first kid and find them the best thing for stress.
They really mellow me out :-)

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