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I've been quiet, I realize.

Things have been hectic, between the conference and visiting with family, such that I have had little mental free space.

But! I got to have drinks with annikusrex last night at the Stumbling Monk, where she beat us handily at Scrabble, despite a lack of practice.

The topic casting a shadow over other things at the moment is plans and future employment. I can only see about six months into the future at the moment, a future that will involve moving to a new town (Lincoln, NE) where I know very few people. At the conference I just attended, I had a series of ever-so-brief encounters with several different key figures who all made the conference worthwhile. One of those encounters happened on the final afternoon of the conference, in a symposium entitled, "How cool is entomology?" which I figured would kind of be entomology-lite but also a chance to reflect on the exciting and meaningful things that draw different kinds of people into entomology (it was, and I'm glad I went). One of the speakers is a faculty member in the department at Lincoln, and in a quick chat about my pending move she offered to forward on my contact information to her rather large research group to help me track down accommodations. Something of a small gesture, but a meaningful one. It also made me reflect on how long it took me to meet any women faculty in the research group in Texas (answer: too long).

Hard to know what sort of place I'll move into in Nebraska. I think my intention will be to establish a relatively simple/minimal living arrangement so it's easy to go between work, home, and the grocery store. Walkability would be luxurious.

I'm still in the story-gathering phase of things, to some extent, too. One of the only other female Attine-ologists was at this conference, too, and I had only a brief five-minute window to chat with her about specifics within our heavily male-dominated and hierarchical sub-sub-subdiscipline. Once again, she was helpful and encouraging.

Comparisons aren't always helpful, though. I encountered a saying the other day: "Never compare your inside with someone else's outside." I don't know my exact vision at the moment, in full detail, but I retain a sense of vision and purpose as I seek out what's next. It's more than just a successful career; it's how I address the question of "What is the good life?" Its shape is yet being revealed to me.

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