Have you missed me? I’ve been absent from the blog the past few days because I went out of town for an 18th Century Studies conference. I’m pretty sure there’s nothing geekier than an 18th Century Studies conference, except maybe a 17th Century Studies conference. I’m not an 18th Century Studies expert, or even a student in the field really, but I took a class on 18th Century Women Writers last term and had the final paper I wrote (on the political critique in Aphra Behn’s late 1600s play The Rover) accepted to this conference. I figured at the very least, presenting a paper at an academic conference could be a nice addition to my resume should I ever take the plunge and go from non-degree grad student to real grad student. In fact, for most of the weekend, I had to tell people, when asked about my program, that I’m a fake grad student, not a real MA candidate. By the end of the weekend, I had pretty much realized that becoming a real grad student is probably inevitable.
See, I got a BA in English and Political Science and then had no idea what I wanted to do with myself. This was actually somewhat convenient, as Jon had finished med school and we had to move to wherever he matched for residency– not leaving me many options even if I had been sure of a graduate program I was interested in pursuing. And often times, I’ve told Jon how jealous I am of his surety that he wants to be a doctor. He’s known since at least college that he wanted, more than anything to be a doctor. Meanwhile, I’ve waffled about what I want to be when I grow up pretty much since 8th grade Career Orientation class. Whenever I whine about my lack of a life plan, Jon first suggests that I hire a life coach and then says something along the lines of, “You love literature. You’re just going to eventually have to get a PhD and teach. You know that’s what you really like more than anything.”
And he’s pretty much right. I mean, I’m taking classes just for fun. I look forward to reading great works of literature, to analyzing them in class, to having spirited conversations about them, to writing papers and receiving feedback on my work. The highlight of my week is getting to go talk about books for a couple of hours. And, if I may be immodest for a moment, I’m pretty good at it too. When one of my professors found out, at the end of the term, that I’m not a “real” graduate student, she said, “But you’re so good at it!”
Of course, my inclination toward more school is still complicated by the fact that I’m married to an MD who’s not quite through with his education. In a few months we’re moving back to Arkansas (my home state, where both of us got our educations) for him to begin a 3 year fellowship in pediatric emergency medicine. While Little Rock has the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, they do not have an MA program in English Lit. We’d only be about a 45 minute drive from Conway, home of the University of Central Arkansas, which has a pretty good MA program, and the commute would be less than what I drove my senior year of undergrad. However, thanks to living in SC for 3 years, I’d have to pay nearly twice as much as an out of state student if I wanted to start in the fall, which I’m pretty much unwilling to do considering I lived in Arkansas for 21 years before we left. Add to that the fact that I had kinda been thinking about having a baby during those 3 years, since we’d be close to all of my family (a perk because I’m not sure how much longer my grandparents will be around, and I’d love for them to know at least one of my kids, and since Jon just turned 30 and we don’t want him to be “that old dad” by waiting for too terribly long), and I’ve got a quandry on my hands. Maybe I should just wait until Jon is completely done with all of his training. Then we’d have the luxury of him making a full peds ER salary and I could probably afford tuition and childcare and go to grad school full time.
Either way, I’m pretty sure I know what I want to be when I grow up. Then I could keep reading books, keep going to conferences, keep sitting on panels trying to keep a straight face while some other scholar presents “Delving into the Muff: A Freudian Exploration of Sophia’s Handwarmer in Fielding’s Tom Jones,” keep fielding hostile questions from PhDs who resemble Con Air Nic Cage and have issues with my paper. I think it sounds like a good plan, whenever I enact it.