For Christmas Eve, my roommates are hosting a traditional Lithuanian feast in our terrible little cell of an apartment for some of my closest Japanese friends. It’s an intricate affair with twelve courses of traditional dishes that are prepared the same every year. Twelve because of the twelve pagan months in the old tradition, and because of the twelve apostles in the newer Christian tradition. It’s pretty solemn, with no music, just calm conversation, no alcohol (though I think that the new Lithuanian custom is to bend that little rule a bit). You need eggs to signify beginnings, apples because of Adam and Eve, fish because of Jesus… some other things, but I can’t remember them all just now.
On Christmas day, I hope to do something fun outside to enjoy the crisp air.
Lately I’ve been reflecting on continuing with performing arts versus returning to science. I am at a crossroads and if I decide to continue along the path I am on, I will hopefully end up as a producer and director of shows, arranging international tours and residencies and things like that. This is a long-time dream in many ways, but on the other hand, I have been missing science for the last year or so, and I worry that if I do not do something to maintain some sort of science knowledge, I will never be “let back into the club,” so to speak. I am feeling like if I do not steer myself back towards science soon, I will miss the boat completely, and a return to science has always been an option for me – timing is always such a tricky issue, though.
It is frustrating because I love both worlds, but I cannot pursue both at the level that I really want to which means that trying both will actually hurt my chances at either.
So I guess 2006 will be a real test for me. I will be directing two shows and hopefully managing their tours from Taiwan to Hong Kong, Japan, and Canada with The Rocker, and hopefully producing and performing in a new one-man one-act show to shop around for my own tours in Europe and the USA. But at the same time, I’m starting to apply to jobs in science, specifically biological, astronomical, and geological/planetary science-related research positions. The plan is to apply for an astronomical data specialist at the Gemini Observatory at Mauna Kea. It involves almost exclusively acting as a local consultant for visiting astronomers in dealing with the Gemini database and aiding with processing and handling of image files in IRAF… reading the job description brought me right back to my undergraduate years. I’m also applying for a job that involves nothing but observing Near Earth Asteroids night after night after night… once again, thesis work memories come flooding back.
As I go along, I’m going to need to evaluate what I am getting in terms of experience, happiness, and money from my two possible paths, and eventually I need to make a decision.
Politics is coming into the picture because I have realized that the two things I like about this life I have right now is the travel, the flexibility (well, both kinds, I guess), and the person-to-person contact… I like trying to make people sign up to do things they never thought of doing before to make the world a better place… or, if nothing else, help me eat better in the short-short-short term.
The education imperative
I DO know that I need to be well on my way to a higher education degree by the time I am 35… this is a very important life goal for me, as I feel that I owe it to my family and to myself to put some closure to my academic life. So as I see it, the next 3-5 years, no matter what I am doing, must be with an eye on that goal. A degree in biology, physics, planetary science, business, political science… I really don’t know. I am interested in all these fields equally. I still have a lot of thinking and living and deciding to do.