I do love Tig Notaro. And I love Cameron Esposito. The two of them together are almost too much for me. If you don't have the time to listen to the whole episode, be sure to listen starting around 45 minutes in. Tig, like me, is "inching up on 50" and shares that she knows what she ""put in to get" what she has, even though it didn't happen the way she thought it would.
If you've been reading or know me, you know that the last year was a departure for me from my past life. Specifically, I quit teaching and am finally able to focus on projects I've put off for years. 2018 saw my first fully realized novel that got the attention and time it deserved from me. And even though what I'm doing now has been the plan since at least 2009 when Dani started medical school, I still needed a year plus to finally stop worrying the sky was going to fall.
It didn't. And, I realize that while I have resources that lots of people who want to leave academia don't (I was in a full-time position when I left, I took my pension money with me, I'm married to a fabulous MD who likes that I'm not angry at the world all of the time who can pick up the expenses, and we have been carefully planning for retirement at some point. Add to that the fact we sold our KC house and made a year's worth of salary for me pre tax), I still think it's important that folks who really want to be doing something else consider ways they might make that something else happen.
Back in 2004, I did something similar. I left a job that I could have stayed in (at 75% of FT) and sold, donated, or threw out anything I couldn't fit in my 2004 Honda Civic. And my friend Stacy was with me on the ride to Little Rock, so not only was there no space in the passenger side front seat, but my cat Callie was in the carrier in the backseat. We developed a mantra--"what's the worst that could happen?" And once I faced whatever it was I imagined would be the worst thing, I decided I could handle that thing and did what I wanted to do.
Did I wake up a week or so later to the sounds of my own sobbing in full-blown anxiety attack? Why, yes, I did.
I didn't realize it at the time, but that 2004 move was so instrumental in me being able to leave my job in 2016. I'd hustled before to piece together work and managed to work my way up to a full-time remote spot from working for an online writing center that had my sister's Texas address as mine. They couldn't hire people in Arkansas back then for some reason, but they could Texas folks. I was making $12/hour living in Stacy's guest room. Over time, I added more work until at some points I was teaching eight classes at a time (I don't recommend this).
A great example of how teaching online took over my life: The night of our wedding, I was up until three in the morning, grading and posting so I could ensure I had a whole day and evening that I could be offline the next day.
Another great example: On the first day of walking the Dingle Way with Renee, I had my MacBook Air in my pack. On the boggy half marathon slog. I was worried it would get damaged or stolen if I sent it with my luggage. By the end of the day I realized that I didn't really care anymore. That if something happened to it, I would figure out a solution. Or I wouldn't. But actually being present for the experience I was there to have was more important than my virtual self.
I'm not going to chronicle the many trips interrupted by student emails, grading, posting. There were many. For some twelve years, I was basically online every day throughout the day for a good 16+ hours a day tending to students, junior faculty, and administration. My own projects and what actually made me bearable to be around got shoved to the back burner.
And, then there's the demands of medical school and residency on the non-training spouse/significant other (and their other family and friends, too).
So, a good fourteen months in to this chapter, I am beginning to acknowledge what I put in to get here.