Friday, January 16, 2009


I've been telling colleagues and anyone who will listen that, until about the middle of November, I was really angry that the faculty at our university hadn't gotten the raises we had been promised. We're talking anywhere from 4-6.5% a year.

Then, the news started coming in of canceled searches and pay cuts at other universities, and of course the horrific news from people outside academia who six months ago had good jobs and some economic security, and are now worrying about keeping their homes and feeding their families. And I realized that the biggest economic sacrifice I was making was switching from twice-daily lattes to making coffee at home, and shopping for groceries at the local chain store instead of Organic, inc. I still pay my bills on time. I eat well, and even eat out once or twice a week. I am healthy, and if I ever become unhealthy, I have a darned decent medical plan, mostly paid for by my employer. I even got a professional massage today, courtesy of a very thoughtful Christmas gift.

The same goes for my personal life. Whatever my own crises are, they are small compared to the news that one friend's serious illness is now dire, and another friend is getting divorced.

I'm only sorry that it seems to take other people's misfortune to make me really appreciate what I have: good friends, meaningful work, decent health, intelligent mind, loving (if sometimes bizzare) family, and a youth just misspent enough to have accumulated some good stories along with the inevitable small scars -- in short, a better life than most people get a shot at.