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2007-04-28 5:53 p.m.


So, my superiors at the translation company are not particularly happy about my decision to go to graduate school. The plan right now is to continue doing some work for them on a relatively limited basis. While they haven't come outright and asked me not to go, some of the things they've said have definitely been designed to get me to think about the prospect of "what if I just didn't go to grad school and became a full-time technical translator instead?"

It has its advantages. I can live wherever I want. I can make a fair living without doing a whole lot of work, or I can make a good living doing a lot of work. The beauty part is that it's up to me. That is pretty cool.

What would I do? I might stay in Japan longer with WTF, assuming I could get a new visa. (Or I could pull the trick where I just come in and out on a new tourist visa every three months, but that's a little risky.) It's strange to think about doing that, because for the first time in my life I would have no future plans. Just work, get money, live. There's a certain freedom in that, really. Like the future is suddenly wide open, and yet there's only today to live for.

If I wasn't dating WTF… I think I'd move to France. I'd study karate and perfect my French, and just generally be continental. That would be very cool… Thinking about that prospect is a little intoxicating, actually.

Hmm. The fact of the matter is, recently I've been feeling like an idyllic period in my life is about to come to a close.

(As I wrote this, I heard a Japanese man speaking outside. He sounded just like Elmer Fudd. Except in Japanese. It was amazing.)

"So why the hell are you going to grad school, then?" I can hear you (and my translation company) asking. Well...

One is an issue of job security. There is a great demand for capable Japanese to English technical translators right now, and they get paid pretty well. But that might not always be the case. In the coming decades, the Japanese and/or the English speaking worlds could possibly start to lose their places as the top dogs in the technical world, which would put a damper on this particular field. Machine translation could also develop to the point that highly paid translators become obsolete. Alternatively, in an oil crash or other such scenario, demand for technical translators would likely bust through the floor, and if the internet wasn't there any longer it would make the whole job much more difficult to do. In all of these scenarios, however, I expect there to be job stability for a PhD molecular biologist, especially one who is researching biological energy production, like I hope to.

Perhaps more importantly, a topic like biological energy production is something I can imagine being very passionate about, something I can see myself devoting my life to, a calling, a way to really make a difference, etc. Patent translation, on the other hand, would just be that thing I do to get money so I can do the things I really want to do. It's not like I have a passionate love for patents. In fact, I tend to think that the entire patent industry is as often as not a parasite on technological progress rather than a facilitator of it, but that's topic for another day.

So, we'll give graduate school a go. Do the five years, and get a piece of paper I can wave in people's faces to make them to call me "doctor." And decide at that point which path is really the one I want to take.

Now for something completely different. You know the romantic/teen movie trope, where the girl wears baggy clothes and big glasses, and has her hair tied up with no make-up, and you're supposed to think she's unattractive, and then later she takes off the glasses, lets down her hair, puts on a stylish dress with good make-up, and then you're supposed to be surprised at the amazing transformation? Well, WTF is the best living example of that I've ever seen. Much of the time she wears huge glasses and looks like a library mouse (which, incidentally, I do not find unattractive, quite the opposite, in fact), but when she decides to step out, she can make herself absolutely gorgeous. It's pretty cool, like a little bit of teen-movie magic in my life.

my eyes are covered by my unborn kids,