JBB's Final Thoughts S01E18: What Will Matter To Me When I'm 80

Season 1 Episode 18: What Will Matter To Me When I'm 80: What Will Matter To Me When I'm 80. Thoughts on this next chapter... job search, PhD and more.


  • image by Joe Bustillos
  • music: Got What I Want - 22K by Smart Sound Music

Transcript: Joe Bustillos, here. Sorry about the lack of podcasts, and you may also notice that we’ve gone audio podcast only (more on that in the future). As of tonight I'm now eighty-nine days into this "next chapter" of my life. When I was let go at the end of October I was given six-weeks severance plus two-weeks vacation time that I hadn't taken. All of this translates into the realization that the money ran out about three-weeks ago. Yeah, this shit is getting very real.

It's been one hell of a roller-coaster, but mostly it feels like I'm racing towards the bottom and it's taking so long to get there that I have no real way to measure time or how concerned I should be about things. Two things that have really helped me over the weeks have been my friendship and interaction with Holly and my relationship with Maggie. Somewhat akin to the support I got when I was recovering from my illness, I have no idea how I'd be doing if it wasn't for the constant support I've been getting from these two friends. Touching base with family and friends when I went back to California for the Christmas holiday was also a much needed reset and rethink of things. And the local group of skeptics is a great source for allowing me to refocus on things beyond my concern for paying bills and looking for work. It really helps to have friends to talk to. Surprise, no one makes it without the help of others. I learned that one when I was ill, I guess I'm getting another dose of this again.

So this past week I arranged to get more funding from the 401K my previous employer had set up for me. That way I can delay selling my blood or defaulting on all of my lovely debt. Damn. Just when I thought that I was going to get ahead of things thanks to now having a roommate paying rent on one of the bedrooms the whole damn system got kicked aside. Ain't life grand.

So, twelve-weeks into this adventure and I'm still not sure what the best course of action should be. I've filed for unemployment, deferred two of my three student loans and spent days and days on LinkedIn looking for and applying for mostly teaching related jobs. I spent the first couple weeks putting together a resume website. For the last six-years I've created and presented Masters' level courses fully on the Internet, I should know something about creating an online presence (thank you very much).

After the initial crush of being told that "my services were no longer needed" (bastards), the next emotional gut punch was looking for jobs and realizing just how special my former job had been and that there was a huge possibility that I would have to leave Central Florida to find the right position, given my experiences and expertise. I don't think that I'd been seeing Maggie for even a whole month when the lay-off happened. Even with that little time together, I wasn't willing to say, "oh well" and just walk away from our relationship. It's a huge complication, but it also has helped me continue to work day after day, examining what it is that I'm supposed to do with this supposed ”opportunity."

Last month I applied for nine positions with Apple, only a couple that were local. Having not heard from them, I recently rechecked and only three of the positions were still open and all three are based in Cupertino. A couple days ago I looked into teaching jobs at a local university, UCF, after they touted that they had 200-positions to fill for next Fall. Alas, most of the positions were either outside of my areas of expertise or were "Ph.D.s only" positions. Yeah, time for a reality check here.

The 401K money is only going to last so long. Twenty-four applications have been submitted, I've done one virtual interview and had two informal call-backs. It's difficult to know which direction to go in next. I know that it's important to not sacrifice long term goals because of short term needs, but knowing how to balance all of this is maddening.

After seeing the local Apple positions dry up I needed to get out of the house and think. Earlier Maggie had offered the suggestion that maybe I should take this time to restart and finish my doctoral studies. Holly wondered if that was really going to get me where I wanted to be (and how the hell was I going to pay for this or even pay the damn bills that I already have?). Too many things to think about...

I came upon this notion, should I be fortunate enough to have another twenty-plus-years to add to my existence. I thought:

When I’m 80-years old what is it that I will be pissed off about not having done and what will I hold on to most dearly as defining my short stay here? What are the things that I haven't done that would suck if they remained undone when I reflect back on my life? Is the Ph.D. really that important, or is it part of a larger mission of my life?

Thinking about my recent history, I have been on an exhausting journey that lasted six-years and left little time or energy for anything else and required my every waking minute to do the best I could possibly do. When I was let go I was more than a little bothered that I hadn't spent the last year or so writing the book(s) I'd been thinking about and planning to do, but there had been no time or energy for that. And I would have stayed at my post for as long as I could. Hell, I lost use of my legs and independence and with the huge help of my friends, I stayed at my post and never took leave of my responsibilities. So, I've been diverted from that path... How will I spend these next years? Looking back, what will be most important to me?

To be continued...