November 07, 2010

At the Crossroads

As some of you know I am at a decision point in my life.

My current job has gone to hell in a handbasket in more ways than I can count and all I can do right now is try to keep my own head above water and not get fired.  The administration is making what seem to be arbitrary decisions and striking out at vulnerable faculty and programs in the name of doing business better,  but the evidence (and I'll admit I am a bit biased) seems to point out the fact these decisions have been at best short-sighted, and at worst, disastrous.  Day by day it becomes clear that I can not count on having a job much longer, through no fault of my own.

So I have been looking around.

I July I applied for a local job, similar to what I am doing now, teaching the same kinds of classes, working with small groups of students, and being able to have a place where I can keep a small lab and give undergrads a chance to have some lab experience.  As a bonus, it would be a short "reverse" commute.  I didn't hear back right away, and I figured they didn't want me.  We'll call this Job #1.  They did eventually call me for a phone interview 'round about October 1, but I haven't heard from them since.

In August, I applied for another job, this one at a major research university in a VERY SMALL TOWN in another state.  Job #2 is a unique position, non-tenure track, but only because it focuses on teaching and student advising, rather than research.  I think it would be a great opportunity to use the skills and experiences that I have developed over the past 15 years to give students useful help as they navigate their college experience.  So I applied, despite the great potential for upheaval in my life.

Job #2 called me a week after the position solicitation closed and invited me to come for an interview.  Which I evidently nailed, because I am sitting in a hotel room in that same small town today.  Two weeks after my initial interview, they offered me the position, and after some back and forth, they invited BOTH of us up here for a weekend look-see.  We've been here since Friday afternoon, bumming around.  We've visited the campus, toured all of the neighborhoods, found the Co-Op in the next town over and even drove an hour out to the Costco.  Which we totally found by accident, although we were looking for it.

When I was here initially, they asked a realtor to drive me around town, and so I asked her to show us inside a few houses, so we could a real sense of what a house we would WANT to live in would cost, and how we would have to work it.  Because see, if we move here, we would have to rent out our house.  There's no way we could sell it, the market in LA being what it is, and so we needed to know what the numbers would be, and if we could afford to buy a house here, since rent and mortgage payments here are about the same.  Might as well get the benefit of the equity.  Not to mention that I'm not uprooting my life to live in a shack somewhere else when I have a house I love.

So we talked.  And gave her our list of needs, wants, and likes.  And of course, dammit, the first house we walked into we fell in love with.  It's quirky and has a huge yard and more storage space than we can fill right now, and of course, it would be long gone by the time we would be ready to move, should I decide to take the job.

And I stepped out on to the deck, and I saw my dogs running on the lawn, and a swingset and plenty of room for a garden, and all of the things  I would want in my life.  And I felt like I could be happy here.  Snow, small town and all.

It's a million years away from my life. But then again, there are so many things I want to change about my life.  I want to have time to focus on ME.  On getting me healthy again.  On my marriage, which is good, but won't stay that way if I just let it go.  On my puppies.  They need Mommy back.  I want to be able to go walking and work out and be able to cook dinner everynight without being bone-weary from a day from hell followed by a commute from hell.  I want to open my computer at night and not have to worry about discovering yet another pissing contest that I have to mop up.

And let's face it, I ain't getting any younger.... tick tick tick....

My biggest concerns are my husband and my family.  Who knows whether he can even FIND a job here?  There are fewer opportunities, even though most districts look for a science teacher more often than other disciplines.  And our families will be nearly impossible to reach, now.  Disappointing after reaching a detente with my inlaws and beginning to build a relationship with my nieces and nephew now that they're older. And of course my Mom and Dad aren't getting any younger, though they are both in reasonably good health now.

So many things are really positive: There's a heated, indoor therapy pool (!!!!) and an Arby's and a Wendy's and a DQ (none of which I have now).  Super Walmart just opened, and it is nicer than our current Target (at least this week) and you can even find a parking place.

Side item: the house we love faces the Walmart directly, though it is a few blocks away, and because both are on hills, you can see the Walmart from the kitchen window and vice versa.  Amusing as hell.

Traffic is a joke, though some people clearly don't know how to drive, and I shudder to think what most of these people would do with an LA freeway.

I am conflicted and I don't know what to do.  It's hard. Can I give up what has become comfortable and close to home for something entirely different, though not altogether bad? 

Alright y'all, weigh in.  I want to hear your thoughts....

Posted by caltechgirl at November 7, 2010 05:14 PM | TrackBack


Posted by: Jim at November 7, 2010 05:25 PM

I wouldn't dare advise you on such an important decision but I'll share what HASN'T worked in my life. I've always played it safe, always looked for the guarantee and at this point I look back on it and see that living that way was a mistake. I wish I had been more bold, more adventurous, taken more chances. I guess it's sort of a cliche but I wish I had taken the road less traveled at least once.

I wish you the VERY BEST what ever you decide!

Posted by: wickedmess at November 7, 2010 05:33 PM

Make the choices that work for YOU and your husband. Is it what you both want? And while being near family is important, what happens when they are gone? Will you be at a place, both in location and in spirit, that would be healthy if you stayed near them? And to be able to take care of someone else, you have to take care of you first. Otherwise, everybody's miserable.

Plus, it seems like you could be losing a job anyway, and be forced to make a decision quickly, instead of choosing what you want.

It's scary, yeah. But nothing is certain. Which would you rather do: let life happen TO you, or make life happen FOR you.

Posted by: Mrs. Who at November 7, 2010 05:36 PM

What Jim said. Take the job. I'm sure GMT can get a job too, and you need a place where you can rear your (as yet not yet) children. Preferably in a nice house with all that cool stuff in this house you're describing.

All the best, my dear CTG. I know you'll make the right decision.

Posted by: The Fifth String at November 7, 2010 05:39 PM

Thank you very much, everyone...

Posted by: GMT at November 7, 2010 05:42 PM

Praying for a good outcome. Wish I could help you more but this is the best I can do. Ruv Ya LOOONG time!!!

Posted by: Gene Cook at November 7, 2010 05:47 PM

I think I've only commented here once before, and that was over a year ago. So, even though I'm not a regular commenter, I'll go ahead and give an opinion too: take the job. :)

Posted by: Mike LaRoche at November 7, 2010 05:53 PM

Trying my best to separate what I want from what's going to make you happy, long term. You'd be giving up your fave doctor and lots of conveniences. It's farther to the nearest major airport (and they don't get much more major than LAX as far as trip/cost planning). On the other hand, you and GMT have always struck me as being at home wherever you're together. And I believe I said something to that effect in a toast a while back ;)

Plus, who wants to give up the opportunity to flip JB the bird on your way out of town with your tax dollars?

Posted by: ZTZCheese at November 7, 2010 05:56 PM

LOL! GMT's quote in response: "Fuck, yeah!"

Posted by: caltechgirl at November 7, 2010 05:58 PM

I think we (as human's) know what we want to do...deep down....we know which road to take.
I think you know, too.

Everyone is telling you to take the job. Is your initial reaction to that (your inner voice) agreeing with them? Or is it finding faults?

I just moved six months ago...from everyone I knew. Away from my elderly parents, my kids, friends, job. Everything.

It was the best damn thing I have done in a long time. I focused on ME. Yeah, I miss my family, but when do YOU count?

What do YOU want? And which road will get you there?

Posted by: Rave at November 7, 2010 06:03 PM

I'm not the poster boy for choosing happy over what seems like the right thing at the time (and usually turns out not to be)... but especially in the last few months, I've been reminded about the fact that life is short. At the end of it, I'd rather regret the things I didn't do in life, rather than those I did. So, given all you wrote, my vote is to take the job. Despite what you would be giving up to take it, it sounds like the gains far outweigh the losses. Good luck and (of course) let us know what you decide. I'm on board no matter what you decide to do.

Posted by: John Barentine at November 7, 2010 07:14 PM

Two years ago I took early retirement from a big corporate job to strike out on my own. It's not the same as your circumstance, since I didn't move, but my reasons might be similar.

I could see no possibility that the old job would ever return to the good times. I was certain it would get worse, and my friends who remained have confirmed I was right.

If you can't imagine your current work situation getting better, I recommend doing something new.

Best of luck,
Julie aka the irishlass

Posted by: Julie Gallaher at November 7, 2010 07:54 PM

Worst day in the country is better than the best day in the city. Take the job.

Posted by: Pierce Wetter at November 7, 2010 07:56 PM

My short answer: Listen to Jim. Take the job.

But seriously, I found myself in a similar situation last year and am currently working a job in another state. It's been a rocky road with some unexpected twists and turns, but I think it's finally smoothing out. But what I really look at is where I would likely be had I not taken this large, risky step: still unemployed, and possibly divorced due to the stress my unemployment was causing on my marriage. And perhaps this is what you should look at as well. Will staying in your current situation and maintaining the status quo mean that you'll be better off in the long run? Or is it likely to get worse and then you'll have missed your window of opportunity? From my viewpoint, the risks will be worth it if you take the job. But only you can see the full situation and make the decision.

Posted by: diamond dave at November 7, 2010 08:46 PM

good point, dave. But I think that's actually more apropos to my health than my marriage. Which is even more important.

Posted by: caltechgirl at November 7, 2010 09:01 PM

Oh no. I'm not about to say, "hey, take the job" and find out you end up hating everything about it. But I will point out that you currently worry about not having a job where you are, which is not a good thing. And you said you can see yourself living at place #2. In a way, you may have answered your own question. Change is hard. But knowing you, you will make the right decision, no matter what it is.

Posted by: Theresa at November 8, 2010 03:33 AM

If you feel like your current job is history, and you dread going to work everyday for whatever reasons, by all means...take the job. I've been to LA many times, and certainly would not want to live there. The Juju Woman and I lived in ATL for many years, and it just plain sucked. My circumstances are a little different, so when my company asked me if I would relocate to where we live now, I told 'em I'd crawl over broken glass to get out of ATL. You know where I live, 40,000 people. Stretch is known around town, people drive slow and wave, I even know the people who ring and sack my groceries on a first name basis. Same is true for the liquor store, gas station,,,etc. I can see stars at night, and moon shadows and moonshine, both city lights around here. We have four distinct seasons. I have a walking mailman who brings Stretch a biscuit every day. I really don't have to lock my house, and could go on and on. As you know, I'm equidistant from two larger cities, so if I can't find something I need or want here, it's not a long drive to either one of 'em.

If I were you, I'd go for it.

Posted by: Yabu at November 8, 2010 04:05 AM

Go. Get the great house and the interesting job. "What if" can kill a person. Mazel tov.

Posted by: LeeAnn at November 8, 2010 05:41 AM

I say take the leap.

Posted by: wRitErsbLock at November 8, 2010 06:32 AM

Go for it. Make yourself and your family happy. 'What if' is indeed a horrible thing and can keep you up at night.

Posted by: pam at November 8, 2010 07:13 AM

... Life and Home is where you are - wherever that may be.... the world is getting smaller every day in regards to visiting your folks... take the job and focus on your Husband and your Self....

.. just my two cents...

Posted by: Eric at November 8, 2010 07:23 AM

I'm with the others - go! GO!

I'm excited for you at the prospect.

Posted by: jen at November 8, 2010 08:05 AM

It sounds exciting! I'm living vicariously through you, thinking of the possibilities! And if you don't sell your house in CA, maybe someday you'll decide to return if things don't go the way you want in the new place... But it sounds like, maybe, once you get a taste of that someplace else, you might not want to go back. The world is your oyster...

Posted by: Marie at November 8, 2010 08:26 AM

sam i basically did the same thing years ago when i moved from redlands to a very small university town in oregon. the move is hard. missing your family is hard (holidays, birthdays and such). the lifestyle and culture of the pacific northwest is way different then sc. but sometimes, you need to change things around in your life - radically - to get back to you. just my 2 cents.

Posted by: kate at November 8, 2010 10:29 AM

I'm not a regular, just drop by occasionally. So I really don't know you or your situation. But it's always fun to speculate with limited data.

So FWIW my family and I moved from a big city to a small town. I wondered about the same career issues - a (perceived) step down, but less stress, more enjoyment, etc.

That was 10 years ago. There have been one or two minor regrets, transitory in nature. Every once in a while I get the "I could of been a contender" blues, but then I look out the window at the hills and see the kids and dogs playing in the yard, birds in the trees, Bambi and Thumper frolicking, etc.

I wouldn't trade this lifestyle for a prestigious job in a big city even if my salary was 2X, 3X, or more.

Best wishes whatever you decide.

Posted by: CenTexTim at November 8, 2010 04:35 PM

You forgot the biggest perk of all! I know you're conflicted as hell, girl. You know I think the world of you and GMT and I want you both to be happy.

But it would be totally awesome to be able to have dinner parties occasionally. . .

If anyone in the world could make the right decision at this kind of crossroad - IT IS YOU.

Love you guys,

Posted by: Margi at November 8, 2010 06:58 PM

P.S. All in all, the AWESOMENESS of rural living outweighs the suckitude of rural living. SRSLY.

Posted by: Margi at November 8, 2010 07:03 PM

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and Ió
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Posted by: Margi at November 8, 2010 07:07 PM

Sam, you know how you best arrive at major decisions. Me, I find that my big decisions usually work out for the best if I consider them as carefully as I can, sleep on it, and then follow my heart.

Posted by: Paul at November 10, 2010 03:47 AM

FWIW, I'd rather work for people who value me and what I bring to the table than for people who throw every possible obstacle they can find in my path just because they can. I moved halfway across the country for a new job and a new start back in 1989. Best thing that's ever happened to me.

I've been praying that the right decision will reveal itself when the time is right. Good luck.

Posted by: Omnibus Driver at November 14, 2010 07:20 PM

I'd go for it. but then I've never been a big fan of large cities anyway.

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