Friday, January 29, 2016

Summarizing January

The last working day in January is over. It seems like just yesterday when people were posting new year resolutions on Facebook that they are not likely to honor. And now, just like that, January is over.

I spent half of January in Seattle, a city I consider my home (although I no longer live there). One day, I was taking a walk when I had this crazy idea of grabbing a fistful of Seattle soil and bringing it back with me to Germany. I did not. Seattle is the only place that has this kind of effect on me.

This year, I resolved to write more. So far, I have honored it. I have buried myself in work these days. I once watched a movie called The Human Stain. It has a powerful line that stayed with me. “Action is the enemy of thought.” I go crazy when I think about life, living mine by yearlong contracts, trying to desperately find a faculty position and not knowing when this postdoc spell would end. My friends who started graduate school with me, both in 2006 an 2010, mostly have faculty positions by now. And I am floundering, from one Skype interview to the next, unable to understand why I am not making it.

So I decided to drown myself in work. I unfollowed a bunch of people on FB to steer clear of their uninspiring lives, generally cut down on the time that I waste on FB, and started working more. This month, I submitted two papers as first author. I just finished working on another paper as secondary author. Wrote a little grant. Got another paper published this morning. Started a new project in Asia. Won a scholarship, a little pot of money that will partially fund my trip to Baltimore this spring. I even moved offices.

Eager to welcome February now, more as a workaholic and a recluse. We often assume this divide between work and play. I think that when you enjoy what you do for a living, work becomes play. It doesn’t seem like a chore anymore. Whenever I work on interesting papers, I stop needing the alarm clock to wake up, and I am usually at work by 8 am. It is only when I do something that does not interest me that life starts to drag on. Like I said, work becomes play when you enjoy work. And play becomes work as well. I will start my country hopping in Europe starting February. Traveling is relaxing and all, but it is hardly play for me. I do a thorough research about where to go, what to see, where and what to eat, and so on. Like I said, the divide between work and play is not so pronounced for me. My work is my play, and my play involves a lot of work.


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