I am in a good headspace today! New meds? Funny, but no. It’s a constellation of causes. First, it has been long known that three square meals a day is indicated for overall good health. A typical daily trio of victuals for me is: B: A nicely seasoned two-egg scramble atop a slice of cheese barely melted on a toasted baguette, with a side of mixed fruit and an Americano. L: Gyro – store-bought lamb & beef pan seared to crispness, topped with red onion, cucumber and tomato, with a generous spread of Tzatziki; paired with a black cherry flavored drink. D: Tonkatsu! Pan-fried, panko-covered pork cutlets pounded thin, topped with a generous drizzle of homemade tonkatsu sauce, served over white rice with a side of fresh cabbage and Japanese-style cucumber and onion


Questions? Yes, the woman in the back row, you have a question for our blogger? “Yes, I’d like to know, does he prepare each of these meals himself, or does he have help?” Oh goodness no, mam. I don’t ordinarily make my own meals. Each of these were carefully prepared by Happy Wife, who, regular readers of this blog will know, would say she does so out of love for me. She is warmed when I am warmed. Now, we did share the Tonkatsu for dinner the other night; she enjoys her own meals. But notwithstanding certain exceptions (e.g. grilling, the occasional risotto, fried rice) she does the lion’s share of meal preparation, meal planning, and provisioning, too. Although it bears mention that I am the long-running barista in the house. By that I don’t mean to suggest there is an even division of labor in our home in this regard. I am fully aware she has and continues to do the heavy lifting, and humbly grateful for my status as the well-fed beneficiary of this imbalance. 🤗

Another factor shaping my headspace – I re-ordered my priorities. In other words, I ended my professional life. Since returning to Alaska nearly fifteen years ago now – where has the time gone! – I’ve had a number of salaried roles, academic and commercial. I recently resigned the last remaining one. Truth be told I’d been quietly quitting this one for, oh, I don’t know, maybe two or three years now. Bye-bye niggling responsibilities.

By the way, interesting innit, this concept: Quiet Quitting. Have you heard of it? Supposedly, as many as half of working Americans are quiet quitters – so-called employees who do just enough to get by. I’m of two minds about this. If I were an employer, surely I would like it that my employees went above and beyond what I expect from them at work, rather than doing just enough to get by. In the aggregate, such an employer would clearly get more bang for the buck, be more productive, competitive, whatever – on net it would increase the company’s value. But isn’t that a subtle form of employee exploitation? If, qua employee, I do more work or better work than what I am contractually obligated to do (to earn my salary and benefits), then I expect an increase. And I should want that increase retroactive to when it was acknowledged I began going above and beyond. Not a year or more later when the attaboys are doled out at the annual performance review (APR). That’s not the way incentives work! You (employer) pay me more salary (and/or benefits), first, then I’ll start doing more. This is the way it works when you onboard with a company, you negotiate the highest salary you can for the quantity and quality of work your employer expects you will do. Now, fast forward a few years. What’s the incentive for this employee to go above and beyond? To compete with fellow employees for more salary which might be doled out at APR time? Again, that’s not the way incentives (pay) work. Pay increases should not be fluffy rabbits, workers are not greyhounds. Never mind that employers don’t want to encourage competition among employees in the first place. No, they want cooperation, employees working toward the common goal, rah rah rah. Most employees in your typical company are on to this, they are right to be cynical toward these company mission statements. I’m suspicious Quiet Quitting is a derogatory label invented by employers to disparage workers who do no more than what they are paid to do. Thus naive to what the real problem is – the expectation by employers that their employees should do more for the same.

I don’t want to seem ungrateful for forty-five years of opportunity. I’ve learned from and worked with some very talented people. And all over the country. I really am grateful for this sum of experience. In fact, that might be a fitting epitaph to my academic and professional lives, which often have been indivisible. But unless you’re a whiz-bang high-schooler who knows right out of the gate precisely how you want to make your mark in this world, expect a lot of fits and starts early on as you get your goals on step with your passions. Wait, you never possessed passions? Then you may be like me, innately curious about many (sciency) things yet wary of imperfect outcomes in your pursuits. Too skeptical of your accomplishments. Made all the worse if you’re not especially good at setting goals. In this case, others along the arc of your working life inevitably will tell you what outcomes to work toward, set your goals for you, and judge your success meeting them. Pro Tip: In the ideal, those are all things you want to do for yourself. But whether you make your way through life by your own light or largely depend on the guidance of others, either way, eventually you gotta pay the bills. Life is about tradeoffs.

Alas, that part is behind me now. Overall grateful as I said, but at the same it feels as though a mental fog has lifted. Nothing but unfettered headspaces ahead. I hope. 🙏