Thursday, March 27, 2008

Zippy's and Doctorates

So it's about 8:00 PM on Thursday and I'm sitting at Zippy's with my laptop and a draft of the never finished Korean apology paper.

You can't get much more local than Zippy's. Have I talked about it before? It's kind of like a Hawaiian Denny's or Perkins. It's cheap food and they even have "Napoleon's Bakery" which sells donuts and cakes and other little baked goodies. You can go to a Zippy's that's a full sit-down restaurant, a Zippy's that's just a walk to the counter and walk out deal, and a Zippy's that's in between. I'm currently at an in between one, where I walked to the counter to order and then I'm sitting at a table that's open to the air except for a roof.

What makes Zippy's local is the food of course. At this one, the primary thing to sell is the Zippy's style plate lunches. A plate lunch, all across Oahu, almost always comes with two scoops of rice and this Mac(aroni) salad that is made from the exact same recipe from restaurant to drive-inn to convenience store to food stand. And then with the rice and mac salad, you can get chicken katsu (fried in a local Japanese style), chili on spaghetti, loco moco (hamburger patty with gravy and an egg), or a chili frank, among other things. I ate the chili frank. They also have various types of saimin, a big bowl of cheap noodles with a little slice of fish cake, a couple pieces of char siu pork usually, and a few vegetables floating around. N generally dislikes Zippy's, but I'm more of a fan because I like both chili and saimin.

I came to Zippy's instead of fast food because I was headed to the office, but I have to pay a parking fee before 9:00. If I can delay until then and be productive, $3 saved. Score! So I'm supposed to be finishing up the revisions of the apology paper. We will see. It will be very nice to get this off the table and submitted to a journal soon. I really have absolutely no idea how it will be received. I think it's quite decent, but then I'm the co-author, so I would.

As I was waiting for my number to be called tonight, I noticed a Career Builder newspaper sitting next to me, and it really was tempting to open it and look around for something else. Finishing a doctorate... I don't know. It's not all that easy. One of my problems is that I've taken a rather independent path. I have classmates that are working quite clearly within the research paradigm of their advisors. As a friend said once, "which research is mine and which research is his, it's hard to keep clear." But I'm trying to follow a topic that no one else here is doing exactly. It hopefully will be rewarding in the end, but it does feel like a free-for-all sometimes, where you grope blindly forward. I often procrastinate when I don't quite know what I'm doing. So, it's tempting to look in CareerBuilder and find "a real job" again.

A job where I work for 8-9 hours and then go home, cook dinner, play with B, read a book, and fall asleep. I'm not terribly materialistic but when I pull up on my bike at day care next to the other dad's BMW, sometimes you wonder where you went wrong. I'm fairly intelligent. I'm not as efficient as I might be but I work harder than most people I know. So maybe I should send a resume in for that managment trainee or account specialist.

However, I used to be on that track. It would have taken a career shift of some sort to make big money, but through 8 years I had worked as far up as I could in my little division without becoming a manager. I brought in $50,000 a year and, while I'm not a big spender and would never have wasted money on a BMW, we did buy two little cars that we paid off quickly. And we didn't have a huge down payment on the home, but we had a mortgage on a home that we were paying with relative ease and slowly building principal. But I was also bored senselessly after about year 4. The job slowly devolved into a way to bring in money and my actual life existed after 5:00. So I left it to live in a one bedroom apartment and bring in an amazing $7500 the first year. So going back to CareerBuilder is likely not the right way for me to go.

Instead it's best if I close up this blog entry and get back to finishing this dang paper.


Robin S. said...

I know you already know this - just put your head down, push some more against the grain of what is considered 'normal' (and I really believe what is considered 'normal' is suck-ass boring, by the way), and finish the doctorate.

I did the other thing, the normal thing, for far too long, and there isn't a day that goes by that I'm not sorry about that.

pjd said...

when I pull up on my bike at day care next to the other dad's BMW, sometimes you wonder where you went wrong

I understand this. OK, so I actually am still involved in the 9-to-5, but I actually like my job and my company, so it's not so bad. But I think back to my days in the dot-com world and wonder how so many people got filthy rich while I basically muddled along. But then I realized that only a small percentage of the dot-commers actually got rich. The rest are trying to avoid foreclosure right now, I think, under the weight of the million-dollar houses they bought on low interest variable mortgages with low down payments. To them I say... neener neener neener.