So I’ve been having a crazy life as of late. What else is new? I am as human as the next person in the room. Of course, as I look around, I realize the only other living creature in the room is the dog.
So, the Really Big Thing(s)? Yeah, I decided to leave the Smithsonian. I have put in applications to a few positions and I am aware they have called at least one of my referrances. My supervisors and a few friends are aware. The official spin is that Dr. Jay and I need diversification. Our telescope is starting the 13th year of its 5 year mission. The hope is that this will last for 20-25 years. The reality is that I am burnt out.
We are lower on funds since NASA and science in general is losing money. The team that had 6 people on rotation when I started is down to 3-4. In a 7 week rotation we have 4 people covering 7 weeks. Our supervisor can’t take once every 4 weeks since he travels so much. That means I am on call at least once a month for a week and sometimes, twice. That’s a lot of overhead. I am tethered to my phone and computer those weeks. I have 9 am calls during the weekdays, at least 1 command load review, any instrument configuration assignments and checking the real time spacecraft information 3X a day for 7 days. In addition to this, any other projects must be covered. To be perfectly honest, I am fried. I can’t handle this anymore.
Add to this that my children are getting older. Luna is going to start skating more and more. Soleil wants to have someone home after school to assist her with the homework and just to give her time to relax alone with her thoughts instead of with the noise of other kids. I want to be there for them. Currently, we drive 20-60 minutes to work (depending on traffic) and the same back home. We have activities, sports, etc. What is the point if you can’t be there with your kids. Soleil is 9! That gives me 9 more years before she leaves the nest. That’s not a ton of time.
So,I’ve applied to jobs at a place near my house. I can’t go into what it is, but I can tell you it is an 8 minute drive from my house. I can take the bike path there. I could probably bike there in 15 minutes, maybe 20.
While following this path, I also thought, Damn, I wish I could just be a freelance astronomer. That got me thinking why I couldn’t. It actually has to do with the rules of Federally funded grants, but I found a way to do it. And suddenly, I realized that I wasn’t the only person who was in this situation. I was not the only person who wanted to do more astronomy, but couldn’t. I started a conversation with a West Coast institution (who will be knows as WCI until I can say more) and we are starting to work out a plan where I would match astronomers with small projects with freelance workers to do the projects. I would be running a mini-astro-temp agency. Of course, I would not be taking as large of a salary, but I could possibly be working at home on my own projects. Maybe I could even get some grants for myself.
So these are the two really big things in my life right now. The new temp-astro thing has/will take a lot of leg work that I still need to do. I have a ton of social networking to do, BUT I have a few big names out there who are interested! The other, well, if I can get a position from 7am-3pm, I can be mostly home in time for my girls. I can hope!
This is why I have been so quiet lately. I’ve been overwelmed, burnt out and trying to move forward on three fronts.
But I am 40 and now is the time to start living.