Checking in, a few months later

June 19, 2018

First, just in case: my previous blog post about movers was an April Fool’s Day prank. Stuff arrived late as hell, but everything made it to us intact.

So now I just have to ask myself if I made it intact… and I’m not sure of the answer.

People keep asking me how I like living in South Florida. The truth is, I barely know. In the 2-3 months that I’ve lived there, I’ve rarely spent more than a week without getting on a plane. And when I’m home, I’m mostly working ridiculous hours at my FIVE adjunct teaching jobs, not to mention my consulting work, to help keep us afloat while we wait for my full time job to start,

The truth is, I’m lonely. I’m so incredibly lonely. The only real friends I have down here that I see regularly are our next door neighbors, who are amazing but who can’t be all things to us. We clearly need to branch out and make new friends in the area.

I miss my New York friends. I try not to be sad that almost none of them have reached out, but I can’t help it… it feels like as soon as we left, most of them wrote us off. I suspect that if I didn’t make outreach efforts, we would never hear from almost anyone that we knew in NYC, and man, that’s a sobering thought. It’s hard not to feel abandoned.

Maybe it’s for the best. Maybe knowing that we want to move across the ocean in a short few years means that letting ties wither is a good thing. But damn, some of the absentee friends from NYC were an integral part of our lives, until we weren’t geographically convenient… and it’s tough to take that as anything except a demonstration that most people aren’t nearly as close to you as you’d like to think.

Tonight I got back to my hotel in Chicago, after a fun night out, but in a conflicted state. I was happy about my evening, but drunk, and alone (and worse: lonely). I was nostalgic for NYC (having ridden in a car driving past the Chicago skyline) and remembering how close I used to feel to several people in that city… and then grimly realizing how far I am, in every sense of the word, from most of those people.

In reality, I’m not okay. I’ve clung to a facade of okay for awhile now, but moments like this — when I’m by myself and drunk and lonely — serve to remind me just how alone I can feel from time to time. Sal does a remarkable job of showing me how loved I am, but when I’m by myself and staring forlornly at the ceiling, that sentiment is very far away. Everyone feels very far away.

Don’t worry, I’m not a danger to myself tonight. But damn, do I feel alone sometimes. Moving away from NYC seemed to draw clear attention to how transient many of my friendships were, in ways that are both unexpected and retrospectively obvious. As my life takes me from one home to the next, I realize just how fleeting many of those friends were, and I’m disappointed, and sad.

And I’m sleepy, so I should rest. But liquid/tired courage shouldn’t be disregarded, so I wanted to express this pent up disappointment. It feels like moving brought some unwanted clarity, and that makes me sad.

I miss my people, and the way that they made an apartment in Queens feel like home.

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Moving hell

April 1, 2018

The movers finally arrived yesterday, over three weeks (!!) after picking up our stuff. They’re gone now, and in their wake is a mess of epic proportions.

We would’ve been better off setting fire to everything we owned and starting over again.

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Counting down

February 26, 2018

There are still quite a few details that are being worked out about our upcoming move to West Palm Beach, but there are now two things that are set: our flight down there to get the new house ready to move into, and the schedule for movers to collect our things in NYC and hit the road.

I’m excited, and terrified, and I spent a fair bit of time this morning crying.

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Home, 2018 Edition

January 26, 2018

A few weeks ago I shared the news that we’d be leaving New York and moving to South Florida. Since then, we’ve been stalking real estate websites and quietly sneaking down to look at houses to rent… and we’ve found our new home.

Ladies and gentlemen, shit’s about to get real.

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GatorUptown, 2018 Edition

January 1, 2018

It’s a new year, and I’m excited (and relieved) to announce some big changes in 2018. I’m also, quite frankly, terrified.

I’ll start with the biggest change first: leaving New York.

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Finding myself under seven hats

November 3, 2017

I spent my entire post-MBA, pre-PhD career working for one employer, and in the course of those twelve years, became quite the “company man”. I built a large network of friends and colleagues, represented the company at countless external conferences, and even had a terrifying collection of company-branded swag. (At one point I was forbidden from bringing any more branded things into our home, under threat of divorce.)

So imagine how difficult it was for me to say goodbye to that company and set out on a new path about a year ago. The timing was right — I’d finished my Ph.D., and had just dealt with my father’s death and my own ensuing health struggles in the aftermath — and I was ready to have a fresh start, personally and professionally. When presented with the opportunity to do something different, I stepped into a world very different than my usual. I started working as a part-time consultant, helping new clients every few weeks, and began teaching as an adjunct faculty member at several universities. I was embracing the notion of the gig economy, where workers take short-term assignments with little job security but a lot more flexibility.

I’ve certainly enjoyed the flexibility: I love the idea that I can decide to take an impromptu trip overseas when a ridiculous airfare sale appears. I relish the freedom to decide that I’m going to attend a conference, because I want to, and I don’t need to ask anyone’s permission. And I confess, I’m a little smug that I almost never set an alarm clock to wake me up in the morning. (Working for yourself has its perks.)

This comes with its own challenges, of course. I’m struggling to remember the last day that I didn’t put in at least a couple of hours of work. With teaching multiple courses simultaneously from different universities, it’s tough to keep track of where I am in any given school’s academic calendar. And the consulting work has sometimes been feast-or-famine, where I’ll spent a month or two desperate for assignments and then find myself buried under several at once. Still, it feels like meaningful work, and I’m happy with the contributions that I’m making.

My daily work life

There’s a bigger concern, though, which has only recently started becoming apparent to me. I’m struggling with the notion that, professionally speaking, it’s tough to know who I am. After twelve years of firmly identifying with one employer, having seven of them currently (between teaching and two different Diversity & Inclusion organizations) is keeping my head spinning. Even the tiny logistical things like which email address to use and which business card to give out is difficult.

I’ve taken some steps to try to limit this. As I noted in my recent post Adjunct Paralysis, I’m now only actively teach at three universities (declining new assignments at the other two). I’ve had to regretfully tell one of my D&I organizations that I just don’t have the capacity to reliably get them the content that they are looking for. And I’m trying to build a stronger focus on the gigs that make the most sense for me, professionally and personally.

In a Harvard Business Review article published last week, the authors of “The Hardest Thing About Working in the Gig Economy? Forging a Cohesive Sense of Self” share a few practical tips for how to go about keeping your professional sanity in this kind of work structure. Some of their content doesn’t really apply to me — I don’t, for instance, struggle with discouraging feedback from people who don’t appreciate the independent contractor lifestyle. But their advice about focusing on each job individually until you feel strongly engaged, and then finding common threads between them, resonated strongly with me. (My LinkedIn profile header says it all: Diversity & Inclusion practitioner and educator.)

Ultimately, though, it’s their third piece of advice that really struck me: embrace having multiple professional identities. I focus on this not so much because I like it, but because I realized how strong a negative reaction I had to it. Sure, this is probably great advice for many people, but I recoiled at the notion, and that spoke volumes to me. Clearly, I have a strong need for affiliation, the desire to feel a sense of belonging with a an employer or a group. For my career, I’ve concluded that this means I really need to have a “primary” organizational affiliation, rather than a series of multiple scattered ones. At least, that’s what I feel that I need at this point.

I hope to have good news to share soon, about the potential of focusing my work attention on one employer. Yes, I hope to keep the occasional “side gig” of D&I consulting or dissertation coaching, but I see this as complementing, rather than contradicting, my professional identity. More on that in the coming weeks, hopefully.

For now, though, it’s time to get back to work… just as soon as I figure out which hat I’m picking up next.


Setbacks and alternatives

September 13, 2017

Almost four months since my last post… And it’s been a whirlwind. I’ve had several professional setbacks, making me question whether I’m likely to really have a viable future in the career path I chose. And I’ve come to question some of the fundamental things about my life here, considering some rather drastic changes.

So yeah, it’s been a busy few months.

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