liv: cup of tea with text from HHGttG (teeeeea)
[personal profile] liv
There's a meme where someone assigns you an age, and you answer some questions about what you were doing at that age. I got it from [livejournal.com profile] bugshaw who asked me about age 24.

My birthday is right at the end of the calendar year, so I was 24 pretty much exactly for the year of 2003. 2003 was probably the least memorable year of my life, in many ways. I was right in the middle of a PhD, which meant it was neither a great exciting novelty nor a terrible panic of trying to finish. It's the year I joined LJ, but I hadn't yet started doing the end-of-year summaries. When I summarized 2003 when people were reflecting on the first decade of the millennium, I said:
I swapped commuting to Oxford for commuting to London where my bf lived, and Sheffield where Screwy was going through rehab. Though pseudomonas was in Edinburgh, so I was able to see quite a bit of him. lethargic_man and I did manage to take advantage of the long distance thing by meeting in random cities in the middle and doing some tourism. I also travelled to the US twice: California in January for a post-breakup visit with darcydodo where we cried a lot, but made sure of staying friends in the long term. Then in September for hatam_soferet's wedding and my first taste of New York. lethargic_man introduced me to rysmiel and we got on extremely well, both via correspondence and LJ and when rysmiel happened to be visiting Scotland.

My PhD fell apart a little bit; I lost my sense of focus, and had what could have been a major paper scooped, and got into an emotionally awkward situation with my co-supervisor. The university pastoral services and my overall boss between them were very good at sorting things out, but I've been plagued by the procrastination beast ever since.
I lived in: A dear little student flat in Dundee. By the standards of middle-class aspirations it wasn't much, an ex-council place in a not terribly salubrious area of town. By the standards of someone who'd been bouncing between student bedsits and living with my parents every couple of months for four years, it was a palace. I loved being able to stay in one place and start accumulating possessions, especially books but also including furniture; much of what I acquired while living in Dundee I'm still using. I loved being able to paint the walls in colours of my choice, yellows and turquoises which my mother disapproved of because they were too intense, but it was so nice not to be surrounded by the bland creams and magnolias of institutional living. One of the reasons I'm hoping to end up in Scotland if devolution happens is that in Scotland, an ex-council flat in a dodgy area of town is first of all solidly constructed from stone and well insulated and comfortable, and secondly I knew all my neighbours and everybody looked out for eachother, and I felt totally safe – the worst thing that happened was that a kleptomaniac snatched my wallet once.

I drove: Nope, I didn't drive and I didn't even think about driving. I lived in a university town with reasonably good even if not absolutely ideal public transport. I was within walking distance of my workplace at the hospital and of the town centre including the rail station. The only place I visited regularly that was awkward was St Andrews, across the river but very isolated from Dundee, for Jewish society events. I was in a long-distance relationship and I spent a lot of my time and discretionary money travelling to visit my boyfriend, but I don't think a car would really have helped with that. I doubt I would have been willing to drive from Dundee to London anyway, and I quite enjoyed our habit of spending weekends in randomly chosen cities that happened to be accessible by train starting from opposite ends of the country! I was a lot richer because I didn't have the fixed commitment of a car to pour money into, and a lot fitter for walking whenever the bus let me down.

I was in a relationship with: [personal profile] lethargic_man. It was a good relationship, it made me happy. We discovered a lot of new books and visited all kinds of interesting places together. We wrote a lot of emails, really a lot. At the same time, I was basically living like a bachelor; we saw eachother about once a month and the rest of the time I really enjoyed being able to come and go at my own pleasure without having to consult anyone else. And [personal profile] lethargic_man is one of the least emotionally needy people I've ever met, I never felt I was struggling under a burden of emotional "wifework" in that relationship.

I feared: Not much, I think. I hadn't started to seriously worry that I wouldn't get through my PhD, though I took it pretty hard when this paper was published, pretty much scooping my most significant result. By the time I turned 24 I was pretty confident my brother was going to live, though he was still in hospital and it was hard for any of us to imagine what his future was going to be like once discharged.

I worked at: Ninewells Hospital. Being a PhD student is a weird limbo state between being a student and having a job. I was expected to turn up on time every day and do work I was getting paid to do, but officially I was being trained rather than actually doing, and I didn't really have an employer as such. When I was 24 I spent pretty much all my weekday time in a lab, doing lots of cell and molecular biology.

I was also volunteering as a lay leader at the local synagogue, leading services, organizing events and activities, and teaching the kids, and also representing the community to interfaith and civic groups. I really didn't know what I was doing when I took on this role, but I learned a whole lot doing it.

I wanted to be: A biologist! Even at the lowest points of my PhD I never seriously abandoned the idea of carrying on with academic research.

My life at is still very much recognizable from where I was 10 years ago. I was already friends with many of the people who are important in my life now, though I hadn't met [personal profile] jack, [personal profile] angelofthenorth or [personal profile] hadassah. I have not exactly the career I imagined for myself, but something fairly close. I'm constantly using the skills I was learning and developing aged 24. And here I am still filling in memes, ok, on DW not LJ, but more or less the same difference...

I live in: A two-bed semi in a fairly leafy bit of Stoke-on-Trent. It's almost bigger than I need, though having plenty of storage space for books is always good! I haven't got round to painting the walls not-magnolia, but I do have lots of artwork that people gave us as wedding presents. I like this region of the country, I don't really like the town. I spend most of my weekends away from home, often in Cambridge or London but also pretty much anywhere that isn't Stoke.

I drive Still no. Public transport here isn't as good as it was in Dundee, and the town centres easily accessible to me are a bit lacking. I'm still spending most of my discretionary income on travelling across country because of a long-distance relationship. I'm kind of almost at the break-even point where actually driving might be cheaper and easier than taking the train to Cambridge as often as I do, but I'm still kinda reluctant to commit to learning and then taking on the expense and responsibility of a car.

There's a version of my medium-term future where [personal profile] jack gets a job somewhere like south Manchester, and obviously it would be totally unfair to expect him to do all the commuting, so we'd probably have to end up living in one of the villages halfway between here and Manchester. This really only works if I learn to drive though. I mean, in some ways I would much rather live in a city than in a village (however cute and pretty), and to me having a two-adult household running two cars is profligate almost to the point of being immoral. But on the other hand, living with my husband would be nice. Of course this is all totally speculative, and may never happen, and I may well be able to continue depending on public transport and shanks pony for all my adult life.

I'm in a relationship with: I'm married to [personal profile] jack. We've been together 5 years and married for one, and we are still ridiculously soppy and coupley and all that. We have integrated extremely well into eachother's social circles (which had some degree of overlap anyway, that's how we met). And we really do feel like part of eachothers' families. We manage the long distance thing with phone chats and IM more than email, and see eachother every couple of weeks though not entirely regularly. I still have some of the advantages of bachelor living, but not quite to the extent I did at 24.

I fear: Mainly political stuff. Climate change and / or the collapse of civilization a bit. I'm afraid we'll become as economically non-viable as a place like Greece. I'm afraid that the NHS will be reshaped and degraded to the point where I have to plan my whole life around making sure I have access to healthcare and may even lose access. I'm afraid that the propaganda against disabled people and immigrants will get worse to the point of actual state-encouraged mass murder. On a personal level I seem to have picked up an irrational terror of someone breaking into my house while I'm asleep, I don't know why, but I have intrusive thoughts about that sometimes.

I work at: Keele University. I'm a lecturer in bioscience, which means that 50% of my job is teaching basic science to first and second year undergrad medical students, and 50% of my job is running a very small cancer research group. Very small in that it currently consists of a single PhD student and has an annual turnover of a few 10s of thousands of pounds. I spend a fair proportion of my day doing admin, certainly more than I could have imagined aged 24, but most of it is interesting and varied, and I really like my colleagues and the academic community I'm part of. I'm still a volunteer lay leader in a Jewish community fairly similar to the one I was working with in Dundee.

I want to be: I would actually like to be a more successful or higher profile academic than I currently am, but I would also be happy if I continue at this sort of level for the rest of my career. I can also see myself moving more towards the education side and away from direct research, but I want to manage that transition carefully and I would really prefer not to give up research altogether.

I also want to continue to get fitter and stronger. This wasn't really a factor when I was 24, but now I'm pretty committed to regular exercise. It's still boring, I'd still rather use the time for more stimulating stuff, but I am definitely enjoying being fit, and it's amazingly good for my asthma.

If you would like an age, do comment! If you don't give me any indication of how old you are now, I might unintentionally suggest an age you haven't reached yet, but you're welcome to answer for how you imagine your life might be at that age if you want to. You totally don't have to tell me your age if you don't want to, though; giving me an upper bound is fine to avoid this problem.
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Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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