five months unasked for ‘free time’- suggestions?

It looks like the job I thought I was starting in September 2009 is actually not going to start until January 2010, or maybe March.

[Edit later: actually very late March; so basically nine months from end of bar exam to start of job. Additionally, I am definitely not assuming that the job will actually be there in nine months, so more long-term suggestions/offers/etc. are also welcome.]

I’m definitely not whining here, or asking for sympathy. I’m very conscious that I’m waaaay better off than a lot of folks- I sincerely wish good luck in finding what comes next to all those who really get laid off today and tomorrow. The economy really is bad, so I understand why the firm did it, and lots of people have it much worse off than me, so I’m grateful for where I am.

Because of the stipend, Krissa’s job, and because I’ve got some money put away, I’ve got some flexibility, and this might be the last time in a long time I’ve got five or more months that I can use outside the traditional regimen of a job. So I’m looking for advice from friends on what to do. There are some obvious options, but I’d like to make sure we investigate everything we can.

Some current options I have on the table, from most conservative to least:

  • most conservative: We stay in NYC (though moving to a smaller place), Krissa stays in her job as long as makes sense, I work at some pro bono task- presumably SFLC but other worthy causes are welcome to make themselves known :)
  • I work a full year at some sort of pro bono firm on a stipend from my firm, if that is an option- not clear yet.1
  • we move someplace cheap where we live on our savings, but isn’t pure vacation because we have some purpose that will be useful later in life- for example Costa Rica (Krissa learns Spanish, I polish mine) or maybe some place where she can learn more about small-scale farming (WWOOF?) or I can learn more about technology use in education or the developing world?
  • least conservative: we say ‘screw it’, pack our beloved Eagle Creek backpacks, find cheap around the world tickets, and hit the road for five months.

So I’m wondering if my (creative, insane, what have you) friends have any better ideas with what I can do with my time. Got an idea? email me, put it in the comments, whatever.

  1. This is less conservative because of a common presumption that despite making this an option, the firm will look on this as a sign of lack of gumption/interest/etc. Partners who wish to reassure me that this is not the case know where to find me. :) []

27 thoughts on “five months unasked for ‘free time’- suggestions?”

  1. Or you could assume that the five-month delay could become permanent and you get an alternative job. That’s what I’d do and, hey, I’d hire you!

  2. So the one thing I did when I had a number of months free was do an Outward Bound two month expedition where we hiked, white water rafted and rock climbed through three states. There were perhaps five days where we were in anything you could even remotely call a town or city. It is sort of nice leaving technology behind and finding out if you have the metal to deal with people and life in general when everything is boiled down to the basics – where leadership and people skills are the only skills worth anything.

  3. Too bad about the “least conservative” thing, because I guess that rules out putting on backpacks but *not* going around the world and rather staying in-country; you can spend five months backpacking on the Appalachian Trail and do it for under $3000 without much effort (cheapest vacation evar?). The September start would throw you off the traditional scheduling for most of the long-distance backpacking trips I know about anyway, so perhaps that’s for the best.

    In any case long stretches of free time are an amazing thing, worth more than any high-paying job because they’re usually so impossible to get without quitting a job, so I’d say take advantage of it to do something that’s impossible while holding down a job.

  4. I would order them from pretty much least selfish and short term oriented to most selfish and long term oriented. (Selfish is not a bad thing.) You have them pretty much in the same order.

    The last option, going traveling, whether you stay in the country or go somewhere foreign, is a kind of experience i highly recommend that you do once in your life. If you’ve done it, then i would look at a more creative and possibly productive option. Brushing up on your Spanish could be very important, and the experiences you gain those months will probably be invaluable to your career. If you’ve never been around the world like that, then i would just go for it.

  5. Thanks for the kinds words, everyone. FWIW, IM and email are running about 5-3 in favor of travel, with the three being (1) get a university gig to write (2) start a startup (3) go to b-school in Sevilla. Further suggestions welcome!

  6. Well, there’s this article from yesterday’s Globe about how a former lawyer now makes a dubious living selling furniture.

    A friend of mine from college went to law school; last I heard, he was tending bar. Then again, last I heard, his bar application had been rejected, so it may not be entirely voluntary.

    Hopefully you’ll have better luck.

  7. Mark: you’re uplifting as usual. :)
    Jeff and J5: Appalachian Trail/Outward Bound would be awesome, by the way. Thanks for pushing me to think in that direction.

    An IM correspondent points at but suggests using a sailboat instead. This would be excellent if I knew how to sail. Or didn’t find the open ocean incredibly dull. :)

  8. All your options can result in pretty exciting and fulfilling experiences. Here is a website of my friends who have been travelling the world for the past three years: Perhaps you’ll find some of their stories useful or inspirational if you go the world-traveller route :).

  9. Your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend five glorious months in Melbourne! (No, not the one in fucking Florida.)

  10. 1) Create a facebook account
    2) Create a twitter account
    3) Refresh your Rss
    4) Read your RSS feeds
    5) Read friends status on facebook
    6) Browse random pictures of nearly friends on facebook
    7) Read friends status on twitter
    8) Go to 3)

    Yep, with this loop, you can spend as much as you want, from a few hours (not less) to your whole life.

  11. i have a friend WWOOFing in NZ at the moment; i can put you in touch if you’d like to talk with someone about it. i think she’s generally enjoying it, but there are places you should avoid if you can (one particular story comes to mind about a vegan cafe in a city where many people were staying for months and making the noobs do all the shit work)

  12. I hereby pressure you to do a startup, work a crazy weird job/travel/volunteer (GeekCorps?), or otherwise generally do some multi-month project that you would otherwise put off for decades. I myself am editing a CC-licensed scifi anthology, traveling, and looking at opportunities outside NYC.

    1. At this point I have very strong reasons to believe that a plan B will be needed in ’10, so I’ll definitely be looking into and strongly considering more ‘serious’ alternatives that lead me away from the firm altogether.

  13. Jon: would love to pick your brain about writing and publishing after class on Tuesday, actually- if I don’t say something, remind me.

  14. No surprise but my vote is for the travel* for a bit and then decide which or if Plan B will make you happy. There are plenty of choices for Plan B – to find what will make you both happiest so if you can afford to take the time to get there, take the time.

    *FWIW there are some good deals right now on round the world tickets.

  15. Travel or stay put in some TROPICAL ZONE and read and write. Once you start working you can’t stop. And you can write and publish a lot as well but in the comfort of being near a beach zone.

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