Opportunity Knocks and then Forces its Way in
My parents were very low pressure in their expectations. “Whatever you want to do with your life is fine with us,” they told me. They only thing they insisted upon was school. School is good. I must finish school. School would create opportunities. More school is better. Finish school, and you can do what you want.
I finished quickly, skipping 6th grade and graduating high school a semester early. At the age of 16, I went to St. John’s college in Santa Fe (a great books liberal arts college). I dropped out after two weeks. But there was never any doubt I would be back at school. I took evening classes at the community college. Within half a year I went there full time. And then back to university to get my bachelor’s degree. I took three years off to teach English in China. But by then, I could not imagine any options for the future other than school. There was no question that my future included a PhD.
I was angry and miserable my first years in grad school. But the isolation of dissertation research and writing was good for me, and cut the edge off that anger (it has the opposite effect on most people). So, after 22 years of school (24 if we include nursery school; and 26 if we include teaching English in a Chinese college) I went back to school. I got a job in a university. I found teaching painful (now I find it tolerable). I worked 60-70 hours a week preparing class, researching and writing. And now, looking back at those 15 lost years since graduation, here I am at Claustrodemonic U. where every year looks the same.
My dad dreamed of being a professor. But he did not have my work ethic and organization, and barely finished his MA. My mom never thought of herself as a professor, but she loved the idea of being married to one. I’ve lived out their dreams. Time to live my life. . . . . Maybe that is the message of my bike accident (I’ve been biking since elementary school as well).