What the hell happened? Part 1

I’m nearing the end of my time as a professor and I’m down to less than three weeks before I board a flight to start my new (old) job. I’m sure a lot of people are wondering exactly what went wrong this year. The story goes deeper/further back than that.

Sometime in the late 90s, I decided that college professor was the job for me. I took a rocky path to get there, but eventually earned my PhD in the field, and… couldn’t find a job. I was kind of unemployable in Cincinnati (where I was living at the time). Industry wasn’t really an option in Cincinnati, and while I had a teaching job at the time, it was 9 month contracts, and I was eventually going to be time-limited out of that position.

So, we jumped. We went out into the unknown, and tried something new on. Very early on, during my days at Amazon.com, I had this feeling that I didn’t belong there, that academics was surely the place for me. But I stick it out because because I needed to explore that career path and for lack of a better option. Seriously, there aren’t many people who want to hire someone with a Ph.D. in computer science for software engineering jobs.

There was always this nagging feel of “I got a PhD, why am I not using it to work in academics?” It was almost if I was letting my degree down, and not living up to my training.

Flash forward a few years, and I was finally able to make peace with not having a career in academics. And then, I had an opportunity to switch to a career in academics. For us, it wasn’t even a choice. Being where we were in life was always sort of a consolation prize. Even though there were several red flags, we took the job, moved all our stuff and jump in face first to a different life.

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The problem – this different life didn’t fit. It didn’t fit in anyway. Just like I used to feel that I didn’t belong in industry, I now felt like I didn’t belong in academics. Only this time, the feeling was much stronger, more more immediate, and much more screaming “you must do something about this!” My new job was not good for me, and not good for my family. The increased working hours, increased stress, and less time with my family, all added up to a big negative that needed to be dealt with.

This year has been devastating to me, my immediate family, and my extended family. We can only hope that this turns out to be the worst thing that happens in our lifetimes. And we faced a series of difficult choices. Stick out what isn’t working, try to find something and salvage the wreckage, or go back to what was working. We chose to go back to what was working.

It took me until the age of 35 to figure out what I wanted to do when I grow up. Unfortunately this discovery had to come in the form of huge life lessons and undue strain on the relationships in our lives. Now I know, and I can move forward knowing that it is a path we chose.

I don’t know if these costs will ever be “worth it.” We have huge piece of mind in knowing that we tried something. We have huge piece of mind knowing that the life we will be living going forward is not a consolation prize, but a choice to do the best we can in the world every day.

One thing for sure – it is time to move on. This life isn’t working, and it is time for one that works.

Just a little bit of insight into what went wrong. We have more to share, but all in good time.

Big Changes Ahead

And I mean big.

Today, we are excited to announce many things, but all of them stemming from the first announcement. I have accepted a new job, and this new job is going to cause us to make another 2000 mile, cross country move. If you know me, you know that my dream has been to work in academics, as a professor. I’ve been working on this dream for 15 years now. I took some detours, and I freely admit that I made some wrong turns along the way.

As proof (?) that hard work and persistence pays off, I have accepted the position of Associate Professor Educator of Computer Science and Informatics at the University of Cincinnati. Yes, that’s right, we’re moving back to Cincinnati. I am extremely lucky to be able to return to my hometown to teach and just as lucky to be able to return to the university that I earned my PhD from.

My new position is exciting for several reasons. Primarily, it’s the “educator” tag on the end of my title. My primary role at the University will be to teach. Teaching is what I love to do, and teaching computer science and software engineering is what can only be described as my dream job. School starts August 26th and I’ll be on campus starting on August 15th to get things ready and settle into my new role. For the truly curious, I’ll be teaching engineering models I, and computer science II this fall.

I’m very sad to be leaving my current position at Google. I mean, why would anyone ever leave Google? The only reason I can think of is to teach!

We are also sad to be leaving Seattle. Seattle has been our home for the last 5 and a half years. Seattle is an absolutely wonderful city, and if you’ve never been here your next vacation should be to the pacific northwest (July or August recommended). This city will always be a special place for us, and I’m sure that our son, Elliott will be proud to say that he’s from Seattle when he gets a little bit older. In particular I will miss being surrounded by the natural beauty of the area, water and mountains wherever you go. This area is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Also, the whole family (yes, Cortny too) will be bringing our 12th man jerseys with us, Go Seahawks!

In a lot of ways, Cincinnati is home, at least for me. I grew up in a suburb outside the city, moved into the city for college and worked downtown for a number of years. I spent the first 28 years of my life in Cincinnati, and I’m happy that our son will grow up where I did and more importantly that he (and any future children, no that’s not part of this announcement) will grow up around their extended family. I would say that Elliott will have his first skyline shortly after we move back, but of course he’s already had some.

Now, for some exciting details. We are already under contract to sell our house in Seattle and to buy one in Cincinnati. Both transactions close a little later this month, and we hope that everything continues to go smoothly in this department (remember, always work with a Realtor). In Cincinnati, we will be living in Anderson Township, not far from the intersection of Beechmont and Five Mile Rd. We think we’ve found an awesome house, and look forward to hosting our friends and families for random get togethers and pool parties. For the curious, pictures are available here: http://www.amybsells.com/your-new-home/?buyer&listingid=RamblingHills

The movers are scheduled to pick up all our belongings in Seattle on July 29 and we’ll be sleeping on an air mattress until August 1st. That evening, we’ll be piling into the MINI Cooper and driving across the country Griswold style (moose out front should have told you). We’re planning on a 4 1/2 day trip, covering 2,400 miles by road with planned stops at Mt. Rushmore, Wall Drug (because I haven’t yet dug Wall Drug), and Antique Archaeology in Iowa.

To all our friends in Seattle. We’ll miss you, and if you want to get together before we leave, the clock is ticking!

To our friends and family in Cincinnati, we’ll see you soon.

To my future students, I apologize in advance for making you learn Erlang.

Tulip Festival

If you’ve never heard of the Skagit Value Tulip Festival, you should. If you live in the Seattle area, you should go even. The amazing amount of flowers is only overshadowed by the natural beauty of the flowers themselves. Row upon row of tulips in full bloom. Nature is cool.

Elliott had a good time too 🙂 We let him run loose. And of course, he found a mud puddle. I’m sure that we’ve got many years of cleaning mud off of his shows/clothes ahead of us.

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The last four months have been pretty amazing. We’ve gone from this:

Elliott At 1 day old Elliott At 4 months old

Our first son, Elliott is now 4 months old. The initial draft of this blog post is just under 4 months old.

Luck for me, Elliott’s mom has been keeping track of things on her blog. And you can read all about his arrival too. His arrival via c-section was a strange combination of awesome and terrifying. We walked into the surgery room together, as two, and rolled out together as 3. The baby is actually born fairly early in the procedure. He came out, and quickly let out his first cry. One of the nurses brought him over to a table where he was cleaned up, I “cut the cord” which is more symbolic in this instance as it as already been cut pretty close by the doctor. After a quick weigh in and a height measurement, he was placed into my arms. I spent the next 30 minutes holding him close to Cortny and just soaking in those first few moments.

Things have gone by so fast since then. He has gained 10 pounds and grown about 6 inches in height. We’ve been really lucky, he is a really easy going baby. He’s generally slept through the night since he was about two months old. He’s flown round trip across the country twice and met the extended family. Every day is a new adventure.

So far being a dad is pretty amazing. We’ve reached that stage where Elliott is becoming more interactive, and starting to play with toys. It’s all fun 🙂