Sunday, May 14, 2017

Well Timed Memes: 2000 Steve is Confused

The latest meme sweeping twitter involves asking oneself what the 2000 version of oneself find surprising about the opinions of 2017 self.  I came up with two, and they are kind of related.
In 2000, I was pretty desperate to leave Texas Tech (see below), but had not applied to anyplace north of the border.  I just didn't imagine myself moving to Canada nor Canadian schools looking to hire me.  In the summer of 2001, I got an email about a job at McGill, I applied in the fall, interviewed and got it.  Woot!  And then the bidding war commenced.  Ok, it didn't as McGill knew I would take a paycut to leave TTU and Lubbock (cocky bastards!), and TTU couldn't believe that I would not stay for the delights of cheap housing and such.  Despite various complications in the course of moving (importing a car with a loan on it, etc), we did not regret the move or the pay cut.

After several years and especially after the development of much conflict between myself and the Chair and the Fulls, I wanted out.  And I imagined, with one brief flirtation with Queens (well, it was pretty real except for their university cutting the position after I interviewed), that I would be moving south again.  Instead, I moved slightly west to Carleton and Ottawa and to the first place I moved to where I actually knew a bunch of people.  Indeed, Facebook reminded me that it was exactly five years ago that I voyaged to Ottawa to meet with friends and do some of the prep work for the move.

This move was easy, and I have been most happy since then.  I am definitely on the second half of my career, and I am quite ready to declare success and embrace my destiny.  We are now Canadian citizens, and have hard time figuring out how we could be better off in the US as retirees.  Ok, we could be warmer, but health care, retirement dollars and all the rest point to us sticking around.  So, I imagine (oops, my imagination keeps being wrong) that we will retire at Carleton in about two decades or so. We might move to some warmer spot in BC if we can find someplace affordable.  So, yeah, 2000 Steve, I do actually think we will be sticking around Canada for the long run
Again, in 2000, I was frustrated and didn't see my career working out that great. Sure, I knew I was likely to get tenure at TTU, but with that place in receivership and in a town in which I felt most alien, this did not seem to be a happy destiny especially after more than a few job interviews that came to naught.  Looking back now, and I realize:
  • Getting two years of temp teaching at UVM but not the tenure track position there probably saved my career.  I got to learn how to teach and enjoyed the students there muchly.  But the place was very flawed and publicly so after I left.  So, it was a good pit stop (much skiing) but not a final destination even if it felt more like where we grew up than anyplace else we have been.
  • Six (officially seven) years in Lubbock was great for my career--I got a lot of work done, got it placed well, and developed the record that got me the next job.  It was cheap to live so we could buy our first house, we could have our kid who took advantage of short commutes to the kid ER, and so on.  We made lifetime friend with our fellow POWs.  Oh, and I got to play frisbee again eventually.  
  • Ten years in Montreal was super-great for my career.  I had a lofty title and heaps of grant money that made some really cool projects possible including the career-altering work on NATO.  We loved the food, the heaps and heaps of ultimate, the skiing, the students, and the non-full colleagues. 
  • Being denied promotion to full was aggravating and angering, but it worked out--it led me to Carleton, to a great job, to work in a national capital (great for IR folks), to live in a great neighborhood in a big, nearly new house (that is now leaking a bit) and on and on.  
  • Oh, and to be on this path, I had to lose many job competitions.  Again, ego-bruising, but I am really happy with an endowed chair in a school focused on IR in a town with many friends and short commutes to frisbee. 
So, it was not a direct route, but I can definitely tell 2000 Steve that the bumps he experienced and the ones to come will keep on pushing him to better places and to much success.  Alas, no time traveler told me that in 2000 or else I might have whined less.  Ok, maybe not.

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