Friday night dinner was typical; neighbors were invited at the last minute; we sat on the back patio, and everyone came with something from their fridge: fresh strawberries, asparagus, chimichurri sauce. I cooked a big hunk of salmon and put out a salad. Don brought good wine. All of our kids were away so we talked with more than the usual swearing. We zoomed in and out—the neighborhood early-birds, guns (a big topic in Santa Monica these days), Syria, three new schools next year for three neighbor kids: middle school, high school, and law school. Then our neighbor in D (we actually do refer to each other by our condo-unit) and I walked the dogs. C and D went off to play cards, and I snoozed while my husband and our friend Don talked about baseball and RAND.
This past year, our department had its 8-year review, and the two external members of the visiting committee suggested I take sabbatical time, my first after 11 years. It had never seemed important to do this, with teaching being the fun part, a still-growing lab, and a family tied-down at work and school. But as soon as I finish grading those final exams, I will be on sabbatical for the next academic year. I am looking forward to carving out lots of space in my life for science, papers, proposals, relationships, and self-care. I have eight papers and three proposals to write. I have a summer sublet in New York City, plus my parents’ places upstate. My research group ducks are in order—content and productive. We have lots of summer synchrotron time. Let the adventures continue!