I’m starting this blog as a daily (or near daily) log of my attempts to realize a dream I’ve had for a while, one that involves being financially independent to work on my own projects in my own time.
About a year ago I finished a PhD in mathematics, specifically in a field of mathematical biology relating to organisms’ response to climate change. I love math, and I love biology, and I want to work on issues relating to climate change. I want to continue my research, and to work on the questions I think are most important or most interesting.
I also fucking hate jobs. It took me forever to complete my PhD, as I was in and out of academia throughout my degrees. I’d get fed up with academic life and leave, be reminded that corporate life was worse, and return to start the cycle again.
I don’t think that a life of employment is a terrible life—I can just envision a better one. It seems to me that all the scientific and technological advancements we’ve made as a species should have made it easier for us to subsist. We should be living better lives with less effort. And that’s true for a select few (the ultra wealthy). For most of us, real wages have fallen (increases having not kept pace with inflation). And that’s some bullshit.
So I’m wondering if I can find a way to live a better life, and one that is more self-directed. And I plan on documenting my thoughts and actions here.
I’ve been teaching full time at universities for the last year. Right now I’m teaching at SUNY New Paltz in New York state. It’s a one year appointment for 50k. I began this Fall semester with about 10k in high-interest credit card debt, and about another 10k owed to family. A combination of graduate school and alcoholism contributed to this debt (75 days sober today). I’ve paid down about ½ of the credit card debt in the last few (sober) months. I also have about 110k worth of student debt, which is currently on deferment (an agreement entered into before I started this job). So that’s where I’m at financially. I’ll be applying for teaching and/or research gigs for the next few years at least, hopefully transitioning to part-time paid work soon, if I can figure out a way to stop paying rent.
I don’t like mortgages because I explicitly don’t want a permanent job, and I like to move around. Also it seems absurd that you can make payments for years, then falter, and the bank gets to keep everything you’ve paid in plus the property. They should sell the property to recoup the rest of what they were owed (including the interest that would be incurred had the debt been paid off in the time frame originally agreed), and you should get back the rest. But no. So fuck that.
I’m hoping to own a used pickup truck and a “tiny house on wheels” inside a year or two. Paying off this debt is my first project, and taking care of the housing questions is my second.