Well, I'm back from Connecticut. The trip gave me a lot to think about. Not the least of the issues raised for my consideration were, "How do you like Tennessee?" and "How do you like your job?" The true answers to both questions would express ambivalence.
And if that's the case, then the next question is, "Shouldn't you do something about that?" Yes, of course I should. If I am not enthusiastic about my job or the place I live, well, these are things that can be changed. But what would I change -- and how would I do it? And, of course, The Wife is involved in making those decisions, as well.
The Wife is anxious to start having things that are truly ours, and I agree. Since my parents own The Estate at Louisville, it isn't really our house. So we're thinking pretty seriously about finding the money to buy a place, even if it is a step down in terms of quality of life from our current situation. (Should we later have a need/desire/ability to relocate, we can always sell whatever we buy and since we'll be tinkering with the house and adding value to it along the way, hopefully we would do so at a profit. Other people do that.)
There's also the issue of a second vehicle. Still don't have one, still need one. That means paying for it and we haven't got the scratch handy to get anything halfway decent. The Hunk-O-Junk is on its last legs, so there is some pressure to get this done.
Another big issue is The Wife's ongoing education. I would much rather she got her undergraduate degree from UT than the online college, since the prestige difference between the two is great and that affects her career marketability and earning potential. She is also interested in pursuing an MBA, an ambition I wholeheartedly support. At UT, that would mean nineteen months of full-time graduate school (and that's an accelerated program). She supported me during my period of unemployment so I kind of owe her, and I'm more than happy to support her should she get in to the B-School at UT. It's an investment in her future. But it's looking like two years of full-time school for her if this happens, and in the short run that means I cannot allow anything to disrupt cash flow into our new family. If I can start ringing the bell on some of my cases, that could help financially as well in terms of bonuses, but there's no guarantees there so I'll have to plan on not getting any.
In the long run (meaning more than two years from now), it would mean I would have a law license in two states and the ability to easily get one in a third, and my wife would have an MBA, which would make us a high earning potential couple with no kids and some equity built up in a house that hopefully will have appreciated in value during our ownership of it. That's a pretty sweet spot to end up in, and it would permit us to relocate to pretty much anywhere we chose after selling the house we buy here.
So until then, I'm kind of resigned to just go to work, put in my time, deal with Tennessee's peculiarities, enjoy the low cost of living here, and go a job I'm not really all that in love with. It just doesn't seem like we'll be able to get out of here until after The Wife gets her MBA, which would be in early 2008, with all of these items on the agenda. There's plenty of politics and drama to be had at work, but for myself, I'll just work the files and see what happens. I'll also keep one foot out the door since the Great Man can be volatile in his temperament (largely depending on the financial status of the firm at any given moment) and the whole point of being ambivalent about a job is the ability to switch it painlessly -- assuming the switch is possible without significant cash flow disruption.
I'm also more enthused to have a healthier lifestyle. I packed four days' worth of salad lunches last evening and ate one today. I ate the salad for lunch and nibbled on the cheese, nuts, and fruit all afternoon long (except during my client meeting, of course). I found that I was quite full all day long even as the day came to a close. There was the additional benefit of not having to pay for food at a restaurant, so it saved some money. Later tonight, yardwork obligations permitting, I'll put in some elliptical trainer time -- even if it's only ten minutes a night, that's still ten minutes' worth of exercise.
Next week, I have an online class starting, which is good; it gives me something else to occupy my mind. (The extra money won't hurt, either; we can plow my online college paychecks towards house or vehicle payments.) I don't think I'll relate the existence of the blog to my students, at least until the class is nearly over. While I'm anxious to increase the blog's readership, students may spend too much time focusing on my random thoughts and opinions in an effort to please me and not enough time doing their classwork, which is what I want them to be doing.