I've been burning the midnight oil to try and get grading/errands/household stuff done before I leave for my scientific conference on Saturday. I had a poster due for a university-wide research symposium today. That was fun--rushing to gather data, lamenting that I didn't have that "one more experiment" to make data significant, trying to fit everything on the poster, realizing I have extra space on the poster, formatting text and figures over and over and over...
So yeah, all day today is that research symposium. Tomorrow is wrapping lab loose ends. Then Saturday, I am going to the Big Easy. Not as great as a nice, sunny beach, but also not Cleveland. I wish I had Tim & Sophie coming with me, and I wish I had time to sight-see, but neither is the case. Tim will have his hands full with Sophie, Macgyver, and J's pug. I did Sophie duty earlier this week while Tim was in crazy early every morning/working late at night for his project. I'm sure he'll be able to handle things while I am gone (and if he can't, that's the perk of having both sets of parents in town).
I've had a lot of little random moments in the past week or so that have struck me. For instance, yesterday there was a student seminar about teaching in undergraduate institutions. It really mirrored my experiences with teaching this past semester--things like enjoying the class but hating the grading. I didn't realize how tough it is to get teaching experience as a graduate student or post doc. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity that I did, even if it was stressful and low-paying. I'm not sure how much scientific research I want to do in the future, but I definitely would enjoy teaching again. Especially if it paid over minimum wage.
Tim and I also had a long money talk the other night. We had originally planned to take out a loan to build a nice deck this year. Then we had our credit card hacked, so we had to put a credit freeze on our accounts, which meant no loans. We eventually decided that it was for the best--in this economy, even a home equity loan can set us up for disaster if something changes in our monthly income. So, we decided to only spend what I made from teaching and what we got in our tax refund. This is a much smaller number, so we decided to do a simple chain link fence.
We got quotes for the fence last year, and we got a few more this year. The numbers are all basically the same. We were ready to pull the trigger on it up to a few days ago. Then, Tim and I started talking about life plans. Since we moved in summer 2007, our finances have been very different. The mortgage is now double what our old house was--this is more because our old house was way cheap. We are still within our means in our new house. At the same time our mortgage went up, we didn't lose the mortgage on our old house for 10 months. That was definitely unexpected and set us back. And we started daycare after Sophie was born. Overall, we were able to get by, but we weren't able to save the way we were in our old house.
We're starting to get back on track. Tim and I decided the other night that financial security was more important than a fence. We completely liquidated our savings since moving in 2007. We need to rebuild it. A fence would be great, and so would a deck, but knowing that we have living expenses saved in case one of us loses our job is even more important. It's not sexy, and it's certainly not fun, but it'll (hopefully) have me sleeping better at night.
I dream about taking a long vacation, or buying a plasma TV, or driving a car with less than 120,000 miles on it. While I know those things would make me happy in the short term, it doesn't help us. And really, it probably wouldn't make me happy in the short term. I'd just fixate on how much it cost and think about what else I could do with that money.
Anyway, so that decision is settled. If I somehow find another job to add to lab time, maybe we'll have enough saved in a year or two for that deck. We'll see.
Back to the research symposium. Time for more people to not come and look at my poster!