Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I can't help.

I am sitting here at my computer. My wife is laying on the bed nearby watching tv. I think she's watching Sex in the City. Today, I turned in my PhD dissertation to my committee. I gotta admit, I'm a bit nervous. Tomorrow, my wife defends her master's thesis. We're both under noticeable stress. For all the stress, however, it seems to hold no water after my experience tonight.

I went out to have a beer to give my wife space. You know, I have a hard life . While out, I saw met this guy who had just been laid off. He must have been over fifty. I got the impression he was the sole bread earner in his family. It was all he could do to hold back his tears. I don't believe he is in as much trouble as he thinks, but right now must be the hardest time in his life. He's trying to explain to his wife, not knowing what tomorrow holds and wondering what he'll do in the future.

I wanted more than anything to be able to give this man a job. I obviously can't, but seeing him in his state, I couldn't help but want to be helpful. It's been easy for me to speak eloquently so far about how the economy will get better and that we're going through a needed adjustment. Me and my own, we've been fine - relatively. While I won't claim we aren't affected by the economy, my crowd tends to be doing well in good times or bad. I've been... from it all. Heck, I even got likely the best job I could hope for coming out of graduate school during the worst economic times of my own or my parents' lives.

It's another thing, though, to see the face of those who've lost their means in this economy. It brings it home. It makes me wonder what could be done. I had no answers for this man. All I could say is keep your chin up and fervantly work towards finding something new. It was a hallow response. It was a douchebag response. I could offer no comfort. The only meaningful thought I have is, this too shall pass.

Have you seen the effects of this recession? Has it been felt personally? Have you been laid off? How do you deal with it? Could you imagine any words of comfort? I know I am at a loss for words. Perhaps you have words that I should learn to understand.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

I am scared.

Once I was held up at gunpoint in New Orleans. Somehow, I simply gave the guy my wallet and managed to walk away. In Egypt, I was kidnapped and only released once I gave my money over. While these were trying moments for me, they do not compare to what I am willing facing in the near future.

On the thirtieth of June, 2009 at 3 pm, I will defend my dissetation against a committee of people who all are far smarter than I am. For the very first time in my life, I am scared. Failure alone does not scare me. For the longest time, I never worried about anything. Failure was not a problem.

For the first time in my life, I really did everything I could. I've given everything I could to this work. My thesis represents the very best of who I am. In a week and four days, I show the best that I could ever do. On Tuesday, the thirtieth of June, at 3 pm of 2009, I present and defend my thesis. Six years of my life has gone into this moment. I have made my life about it. I have sacrificed good jobs, a life most would kill for and often my own pride for this moment.

In 2003, with a degree in physics and computer science, I would have had the world in front of me. It would have been easy. Today, I face the worst economy in any of our lifetimes and my only fear is going in front of this commitee. This group is made of my friends. I have played dungeons and dragons with one member. I have spent hours with the others. My own advisor, I have given him beers he didn't know were possible. These all hold no water. I trust these people to give me no ground for these things. I would not ask a single one of them, all five dear friends to me, to give me any slack in what I am about to face.

These are the smartest people I have ever met. I want desperately to stand amongst them. I want desperately for them to give me the recognition of those who understand the difficult path I have faced. This is one of the only two things I ever wanted.

I wanted my wife to marry me. I wanted to know we would forever be together. In this I had certainty. The other thing I want, is to be allowed into the ranks of the academic - not just aiming for it, but accepted into it. I know, for me, this is pure irony. I am the iconoclast. I strive against the normal. Yet it is still what I desire. I desire to be so recognized. It is for me the proof of my professional quality. I want the title. I want to be allowed to be called doctor.

This goal is the second most important thing in my life. The first is my wife. I know absolutely that I am the luckiest man on the face of the Earth to have my wife, who will stand beside me no matter what happens. Still, I can only think of fulfilling this goal I have set for myself.

I only hope I can live up to the expectation I have set for myself.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Eine kleine humor.

It seems the world has a lot of information it wants me to see. I type my own name into google, and I get ads. Also, it seems I am a Correctional Supervisor in Ohio. I wonder when they stopped using the term prison warden. Evidently, I am the person to ask.

I sometimes like to read the spam in my email. So often, they ask, "is she really satisfied?" I tell you what, she'll be a lot less satisfied if I have talk about that to someone who sent me junk-mail. Also, it seems any idiot can get rich from home with nothing but a computer and a high-speed internet connection. We've must all be dumber than cow-patties then cause few of us are rich.

You ever wonder about people who smile too much? I mean, I like cheerful people just fine, I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about the people who seem to have a perma-smile - the kind that seems plastered on their face rather than chosen. I keep thinking those people want to sell me a swiffer. Really, I like my mop! Just stop smiling at me!

I went to the grocery store the other night. I walked straight past the bored check-out clerk, waving as I went. I walked straight to the beer isle, grabbed a six-pack and without losing a step went straight back to the check-out. The girl asked me if I had found everything I needed today. Some part of me so desperately wanted to say "No! I demand to know where the Russian cavier is!" I simply asked, "you're instructed to say that aren't you." I didn't put a question-mark on that because it wasn't really a question.

She chuckled.

The nicest person I came across yesterday was the clerk at a gas station. He sold me a coke. It so happens he was the only person I came across yesterday but he was quite nice.

Ok, ok, I'll buy the swiffer! Please, just please, stop smiling at me...

Being a graduate student is a lot like being an alcoholic. You drink a lot.

I spent the day driving a gaggle of good looking women around on a wine-tasting tour through the state. Many would not pity me for this. The thing was, they were all between tipsy and drunk and I was completely sober. If you don't see how this can be frustrating enough for a guy just assume you can get it by seeing my comment about being a graduate student.

I have this backpack I was given by a girl I knew in college. She had two and I needed one. Several years later we got married. Part of me wonders if she just wanted her backpack back.

Every girl in this country seems to look forward to the day someone puts a ring on her finger so she can make you miserable the first ten times she misplaces it...

...I think a soldering iron can fix this problem. Tell me if you know how this works out.

I think everyone should have two things they are truly great at. I have only one. It's physics and beer drinking.

What, the swiffer wasn't enough? Stop smiling at me!

Some people say life is short. They are technically incorrect. What they should be saying is that life is trivially compactified.

...I told you I am only truly good at physics and beer drinking.