Now moving on. It was three and a half weeks ago that I wrote this and I think it is worth revisiting the topic. The main issue I want to address is: Have things changed? The honest answer is sort of. Despite Dean’s pleas of “please don’t worry about it until you get home!” I am feeling a little more sure of myself and a little less lost.
I think I’ve done a better job of fitting in than I was a few weeks ago. I’m more or less officially in the Friday lunch crowd. Seeing as though my income is nearly 100% disposable at this point I find great pleasure in the expensive restaurants we go to! I occasionally walk with the walking crowd in the afternoons. And I’ve finally exposed myself as the liberal cat-lover I am. (Side note: In academia pretty much all physicists are democrats. Not so in industry. Apparently things change when you hit the $100k/year mark. But I will not be swayed!) Most importantly, these days I see my role in this company more clearly.
Over the course of group meetings and conversations I’ve become acutely aware that there is a Ph.D. student scheduled to graduate at the same time as me and the group I’m in badly wants him to join. It is unlikely they would want us both to join the group and if they did, I would certainly be in this guy’s shadow. His dissertation is on the exact topic I’m working on now. It’s almost as if he was groomed to work for this group and I don’t think that’s a coincidence. When I learned of this, I was surprisingly relieved. That ruled out scenarios 1 and 3 on my list. And scenario 2 in which I speculated that finding a different job in the Minnesota branch of the company was unlikely may not even be correct. I have sat in on meetings with experimental groups who look like they are doing interesting stuff. Of course the groups working at the California branch are doing the most interesting work but that’s not surprising in the least. However California is absolutely not an option for us. Sorry, Cali friends but it’s just way too far from home. My biggest geographical constraint right now is we must be east of (or on) the Mississippi River.
So anyway, working for this company in this location may not be out of the question after all. I’ve had a very frank discussion about this with Dr. Hari, who thinks it would be a good idea to network with these other groups as long as it isn’t at the expense of my productivity. Since it is becoming more of an understanding that this is just a summer arrangement, I don’t anticipate anyone feeling used or deceived. (Dr. Hari, the king of puns, made it well known in this conversation that he doesn’t see me pursuing a career in modeling- not that I’m not pretty enough. Thanks.) Working here in an experimental role is definitely attractive right now.
Whether or not Dean and I want to move back here is totally up in the air and will be a very weighty decision. It is so easy to be seduced by Minnesota in the summer- the lakes, the endless daylight, the Twins. But we mustn’t forget the desolation and darkness that is winter. However, these past weeks have opened my eyes to the importance of being near family and loved ones. I never appreciated being able to just stop by my mom’s for a beer and the game, or vegging out with stepsis. I’ve arrived at the fact that I could be very happy 9-5 if I could have all those things. As you all know, it’s the climate we struggle with immensely. But who knows- landing a cushy corporate job even at the experimental level isn’t a trivial matter. There may be no decision at all.
The important thing today and tomorrow is that I’m content. Contentness makes the days go fast and makes me miss Deano just a tiny bit less.