Building of the oriental institute in chicago.Image via WikipediaWhen I moved to Chicago for graduate school almost exactly 9 years ago, I thought I'd be leaving with a PhD and heading off to a junior professorship or a post-doc position.  I had wanted to come here to study Egyptology from about age 8 onward.  (Yes, I was a very nerdy child.  Shocking.)  I moved here alone - Tom was finishing his MA coursework in Mississippi and I adopted Oreo after I'd been in the city a few weeks.  I knew absolutely no one.  I was still pretty shy and awkward.  I think I spent a good portion of the first year wondering when they would figure out I wasn't nearly smart enough to be here and send me packing.

Fate intervened and so instead of the PhD and a job I'm leaving with my MA, my cane, a bunch of medication, and a pile of medical records.  And eleventy-zillion books.  I survived my first adviser melting down and leaving (and having to play a part in that by being honest about what was happening and not wanting to see it continue), giving up my first dissertation idea, spinning my wheels for a year or so getting ready for comps but having no idea what to do for a dissertation, finding a new topic, having an awesome job, going through the field season from hell, plagiarism, family issues, my health slowly declining, and then finally collapsing physically and mentally and never quite getting back to "normal."

I regret a bit not writing the dissertation, but not so much that I would jump at the chance to do so now.  I'm still not convinced the trade-off in stress would be worth it.
But I am also leaving with a wonderful husband, a much-loved dog, and some wonderful friendships and memories.  And some truly hilarious stories.  And a few horrifying ones.

This is truly weird.  I haven't been out of academia in 11 years.  o.O It will be very interesting to be mostly out of academia if only for a little while.  And to be somewhere where very few people knew me before I got so sick.

I'm hoping maybe this will make it easier for me to make a fresh start and really, really work on creating and crafting in a way that might turn into a business.  I'll have a better chance at adjunct positions too in a place that isn't super-saturated with colleges and universities.

It's still really strange to realize that I won't be within a short bus trip to one of the best research libraries in the US.  Or to a glorious museum collection from Egypt and Sudan and the ancient Middle East.  That we'll be somewhere we can see most of the stars and the sky isn't orange at night when it's cloudy.  No more parallel parking.  Air conditioning nearly everywhere.  Being back in a "car culture" instead of a "walking/biking/public transit culture."

In a week or so, I'll be off for my next big adventure.  And this time Tom and Oreo will be there from the start.  One of my best friends lives right where we'll be moving (and we will in fact be staying with her while we find our own place).  I think that will make it much better.  I'm older, possibly crabbier, and maybe slightly wiser.  I'm no longer frantically evaluating everything I do and say in fear one wrong step could be career ending.  I no longer think 16 or 18 or 20 hour days are normal or justified. I am less inclined to tolerate bullying directed at me or others. I've learned to knit and crochet and sew and spin.  I meditate.  I do yoga.  I have an even wider group of friends both "real" and "online."
I still can't believe it's been almost 9 years since I showed up late for my very first class (misjudged the time to walk) and wound up sitting in a window frame (there were no seats left) frantically taking notes on Middle Egyptian and hoping I wouldn't fall out of the window.


Cajame said...

How live evolves, so differently to what we have planned! A lovely post - and a new era in your life. Enjoy.
You never know what the future may hold.

Anonymous said...

Here's to the new life, and the new adventure! (and to central air conditioning!)