Botched Launch and Return

Summer 2015 I decided to set a lofty (but I believed and still believe completely attainable) goal of doing something big. I settled on become a Nuclear Fusion scientist. With the big lag metric being obtaining a PhD and some smaller lead metrics being completing self-education classes.

I remember now that it all started one night while on an overnight duty watch with Pablo, and I was actually working on the uniform store website during that same period. Pablo showed me his lightning deals and we talked about various other endeavors and experiences–he’s an ambitious fellow and hopefully is off and running his own business thing(s) right now.

But anyway I literally stumbled upon ( the MIT OCW website, and specifically the Nuclear Science course faculty. It didn’t take long before I wanted to take every course available and become a Nuclear Fusion scientist and save the world’s energy woes, become a well-respected scientist, and make millions. Da!

I looked into it, and some long held desires to be smarter and more advanced in maths and physics combined with this find of a wealth of courses to take, hit the activation energy, and led to a series of actions that you can read about on the Zlotu physics timeline.

Zoom ahead to early 2016 when I picked up a new job title, and completely lost my focus following the first semester of studying–not saying the new job was to blame, it’s certainly my own lack of perseverance in the matter, but it surely didn’t help–possibly more on that later. I continued with a couple of experiments for a bit, but ultimately I let myself get swept up and completely consumed with running around trying to manage my subordinates, peers, and superiors…but not my physics… I still have to go back and more thoroughly analyze the situation for myself, and for others to learn from. But summarizing the effect: by the end of 2016 I had changed the path from desiring to quickly enroll in a Phyics PhD program to desiring an escape from my work organization in the form of a traveling/vagabonding/workaway experience. There was more to the desire…including become fluent in a foreign language, having some motivation to build a project, and to automate income to allow for indefinite travel.

Ok, so fair enough, so I traded in my desire to bed down and become a research physicist for a desire to go on an undefined trip, for an undefined period of time, to a vaguely defined place. Hopefully settling somewhere or in a few places following the vagabonding method and having the time to start a blog, learn the local language and customs, meet interesting, talented people, etc. Fueled by coffee, I couldn’t have been more stoked in the daydreaming stage of enacting this desire.

Zooming ahead again, by Jan of 2017 I was ready to quit my organization and had plans to launch to somewhere in Europe.

-Then, prior to launch, two things happened:

-My mother called a couple months before leaving, and wanted me to visit or to do some joint trip–to South America, I think. I had very little desire to travel to SA, so I thought hey, why don’t you join me on a trip to Iceland to kick off my travels. Great, we worked it all out.

-An old mentor/former boss (kind of) from my previous work, yes from the same overall organization that I had just left, called and said in effect, “Hey we’ve got this grand opportunity, come work with us on this project we just got a bunch of funding for. It’s very interesting, high visibility, great for the world, etc etc etc. It will be a ton of work, long hours, but only a year or so.” …And it just so happened to be in a field that I had as number three ‘most important to me’ on my resume profile page. So I said heck yeah! But. Problem. This call came 4 days before departing for my travels and the job started ONE MONTH into my travels. The factors that led me to it were the field that it related to, and I guess just the thought of having an actual income for just a year longer, because I sure wasn’t going to be generating much money (right away) as a vagabond.

Well I went into the traveling with a hybrid–but in the completely worst way–approach to traveling (at least for this trip). Sort of a low-energy, be-there-for-a-while and chill out and smell the flowers and talk to the locals mentality, but with a high-energy, fast-paced see everything flight and tour schedule. So the brain of a vagabonder, but the schedule of a two-weeks-of-vacation-per-year traveler. I ended up spending a ton of money, got sick, made no long term contacts, and returned in a hurry. I did see some cool stuff, spoke some Russian, German, and French. And Serbian actually. But overall I felt like an out of place, regular tourist shelling out excess cash to the travel industry.

And now I’m back here, about 60 days in to the new job. I’ve already gone through two major existential highs and “fucks this” lows in the past 60 days. I’m stabilizing out right now on a low simmer of: “this is good work, it will amount to something big, and if you stick with it and apply yourself, you could really go somewhere in this field/industry” paired with “working in a cubicled office, under very non-merit based pay and advancement strictures, for 12-16 hours per day, may only perpetuate this kind of lifestyle.”

Let’s look at the bennies and the neggies of continuing vs. changing:


Chance to show what you got to high ups No Time for Deep/Creative/Self Work
Chance to do Paid Travel Short, Stressful Trips
Gain Travel Miles At the Expense of Working Here
Living in a decent place / bike commute 12-Hour Cubicle Days
Chance to do Paid Travel Wearing uncomfortable uniform
Will support your advancement Toxic Boss
Chance to get back into the Org on good terms (FA job?) Will be a lot of the same old shit.


Freedom of Expression and Work No one to sponsor you (yet)
Chance to freely travel Paid on your own
Chance to expand as large as you can At your own will, could get distracted
Live in a wonderous place May not be as rosy
Where whatever I want, eat, drink, say At your own peril
No boss, but can identify mentors Gotta keep self-motivated
New, unexplored world No stability, and very little chance of the FA/going back.

Other considerations:
-Generating an (automated) Income