02 January 2007

The Future is Now

And I don't mean for Australian cricket, not this time.

This time I mean for me, as the arduous task of recovering begins, having fallen off the end of the academic conveyor belt when I submitted the final version of my PhD in mid-December. Christmas being Christmas (and bah humbug to it!) I've not really had the time or energy to think too much about jobs since the thesis was finally rid of. Nor have I had any significant "me" time, time in which to relax after the weight of getting it done has been lifted or to get my head straight and ready for the "real world" of work; my financial situation means I won't get that, at all.

I need an income and fast. It was the 1st of July 2005 when I last got paid - the final installment of my stipend - and in the 17 months since I have been living solely off what I'd saved in the meantime., which means now I'm very close to the line and out of any wiggle-room. It also means that I will have to find a way to write the two papers I think my Thesis will yield whilst working Temp jobs or other low-paid, short-term positions to balance the books. Why? Because I could not get them done in the two weeks before Christmas descended and, despite my objections, I was commandeered to help with the sundry chores that make up hosting Christmas.

I have never had to find a job before as I was always been following a clear path; a path which ended on December 12th. My current situation finds me needing to do three things at once: find an immediate source of income, apply for longer-term jobs and lastly (but not least) get two papers written so that I can enhance my chances of getting a desirable longer-term job.

All of this when I do not really know what I want to do - in the short or longer term. I owe it to myself to give research another try as the horror show in Bath was not representative of what life would be like in a decent size lab with other people about and a consistent output. I also like the idea - first posited to me by my external examiner during a lull in my viva voce - of branching out into science writing, although I have no idea how or where to go about such a move.

I am intrigued with the prospect though as I do love writing, which may be obvious from posts here of late. I guess my ideal "job-that-I-could-never-really-have" would probably be writing about cricket or music. Or both: Tim de Lisle, a former editor of Wisden, has my dream job and writes for Cricinfo.com and newspapers on cricket, and a Sunday paper as a music reviewer. I have no pedigree in either that goes any deeper than being a fan, although I was once asked if I was interested in writing music reviews; I (perhaps mistakenly) laughed the suggestion off as a joke - it was an unsolicited email from an unknown sender called "Lisa Simpson" that arrived after I had submitted a customer review of Beth Orton's third album, Daybreaker, on Amazon.co.uk.

Science, on the other hand... well, I have the papers to prove my credentials there, but nothing concrete to support my ability to write - short of one comment from an examiner and remarks from a few friends who have read what I post here. If only that were enough to glow in the context of a CV!

However it ends up, 2007 will be a year of changes; I just hope they'll be for the better.

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