Saturday, April 11, 2009

On the Other Hand...

In my last post, I wrote about trying to figure out when to apply for a sabbatical. Originally, I said that I was going to wait until Da Man and I moved to a bigger place even though we aren't sure when that will happen. Since this might be the last move we ever make, we have a very specific list of demands, and we aren't moving until they are all met. But then I started thinking, and that always creates trouble.

Seriously, I was thinking much along the lines of what Susan commented to that post. Why not grab the opportunity when I can? Yes, there's a financial considerations because the year-long one comes with a paycut down to 60%. But I then thought, quite obviously, of spending the next year living on 80% of my salary, banking 20% so that, if the sabbatical works out, I've got enough to raise it to 80%, which I would already have been living on. And I've got to become more conscious of my spending.

We are true GA-DINKs (gay, double-income, no kids). We've spent the last few years getting our bills to a place where we can pay them without a lot of stress or thought. It's true that things can change in this economy, but things have been looking good for us, and I'm really grateful for that. I should be able to bank 20% each month if I watch what I spend at Amazon and out to eat and all that. Yes, the bills get paid. Yes, I don't go wild with the credit card. But I'm not that conscious of a spender after that.

I feel like I need to make the conscious choice about when I'm applying so that I can make other choices about next year, too. For example, I now think I will not be going to any conferences next year. There were a couple I was thinking about, but there are none that are pivotal to my professional development right now. And even with my professional development money, conferences cost a fair amount out-of-pocket. I'll be thinking about other things like that, too.

I know someone else who has a sabbatical who has comfortably taken the attitude that it will all work out and that hir family and kids will all be fine. But I did want to talk to Da Man about it and make sure he's on board, and it would really stress me out if I didn't have some kind of general plan to follow. I'm not a seat-of-my-pants kinds of guy, in case you haven't noticed. And if the sabbatical doesn't work out, then I've got more in savings for when we apply for the next mortgage and/or for the move itself.

This may all sound like a lot of silly mental hoopla. It's a sabbatical, so go for it! But the anal-retentive Virgo needs some structure. And then I can get excited. My project will build on the work I've been doing on Wojnarowicz, and it's fun to develop those ideas and make those plans.

So let's go for it.


  1. Hey, it's better to plan ahead than do what I did with my first sabbatical and end up thousands in debt even though we thought we'd covered all the bases. My second sabbatical, I took six months just so we wouldn't take the economic hit (we were SITKA at that point -- single income, two kids & all!).

    Next time around I'm still not sure what I'll do -- what I do know is when I take my sabbatical is a subject of deep concern for my department as we juggle teaching responsibilities in an age of no sabbatical replacements. So make sure that your department's on board after you've figured out your plan with Da Man and plan to enjoy a fruitful sabbatical.

  2. My department basically consists of one other person who will be up for sabbatical the year after I am. We'll have to write letters of support for each other. And there are sabbatical replacements when it comes to teaching, and we are told that issues about teaching and administrative will not be considered when it comes to sabbatical applications. I wonder if that's true! :)

  3. This sounds like a good plan, Nels--it sets you up for spending on the bigger place, too (since bigger places are invariably money pits--all moves lead to Lowes or Home Depot, in my experience). You've got a lot of ideas percolating right now, and seems like a sabbatical would be valuable in the next year or two as you position yourself for this next phase of your career.