Tuesday, April 10, 2012


What would I do if I came into a lot of money? Apparently, that question has been on many a blogger's mind lately (see here, and here, and here). It seems to stem from the whole lotto insanity, and I have obviously been living under a rock...

I used to think that, if I suddenly became rich, I would just keep doing what I am doing and maybe fund my own research. Now I think — sure, eventually... But hells no, not right away.

First, I would graduate all my current students, take a leave of absence from the university, and then focus on learning things again as opposed to managing other people and helping them learn. I want to perfect my German (my 3rd language) and pick up another couple of languages; Chinese and Spanish perhaps. I used to draw really well but haven’t done any drawing in ages. I used to read a lot but haven’t had the patience for anything longer than a blog post or a magazine article in a long time. I never have more than smidgens of time to devote to drawing or reading so I am restless and bored at the same time. So, if I had a shitload of money, I would hire a housekeeper and a cleaner and a live-in nanny for a few years and would try to get reacquainted with me and get some goddamn rest and try to regain the calm necessary for sitting still, and reading, and deep thought.

And I would exercise at least twice a day, amp my kickboxing efforts, and maybe take up a martial art. And I would kiss and hug my beautiful kids all the time and savor the time we have together before they grow up on me, instead of  fretting all the time about travel and grants and deadlines. And I would try to spend more quality time with my husband, maybe finally go somewhere without the kids. And I would finally get to spend some time with my parents overseas, whom I haven't seen in years; I would drag all of my kids with me there for the whole summer,  which I don't do now because the flights are so darn expensive and I cannot afford the tickets or to stay at a nice hotel anyway, and the thought of being out $7.5K for the tickets alone only to be cramped in tiny parental  apartments sans air-conditioning gives nightmares to my spoiled naturalized-American self.

And then, after a few years, when I get good and rested and bored, I would go back to being a faculty member. I would constantly buy out all my courses or become a self-funded permanent research staff instead -- all research, all the time, only working on the problems I care about, perhaps with a few postdocs...

Aaahh... That sounds heavenly.


Anonymous said...

and I wonder why I don't get excited about the idea of TT position. I am exactly living this life as a Research Assistant Professor in a well funded lab. Recently went to visit my country for one full month. Pay is bit lower but the headache is lower as well.

DJ said...

I might cut teaching substantially, but I wouldn't want to go to zero teaching. Research without teaching leads to isolation. Peer review and networking can only go so far in exposing you to areas outside of your specialty. Teaching forces you to confront the outside world and explain daily, or at least weekly, why your work matters to non-specialists. I've also had many cases where undergraduate students became research contacts later on.

There's also the matter of the students to consider. I like to think, at least, that I'm a better teacher than anyone that the university would get to replace me. Helping younger generations is a big reason why I got into academics in the first place. I wouldn't be here without the help that I got from my former mentors. Future students deserve the same from me.

Maybe if I really did win the lottery things would all change. But this is how I feel right now.