I suppose now's as good a time as any to announce it, especially since I've started dealing with the practicalities: I'm going back to grad school. Different school, totally different field. As much as I enjoyed Rhetoric and Composition, studying writing and parsing language, even if I went back and finished my thesis, I would essentially just be qualified to teach community college or lower-level university courses. Not that that is any less valuable than teaching super-advanced literary theory, but I don't think any kind of classroom teaching is what I want to do right now. Maybe someday, but not now. I also need to move out of my own hometown for a variety of sanity-related reasons.
So in the fall I'll be moving to northern Florida and starting my master's in criminal justice, because why the hell not. Criminology is something I've always been interested in, and there are careers that don't involve being a cop or a parole officer. I struggled a lot with going back to school, because I'm wary of this unshakeable belief that I have that More Education Will Fix Everything. School is what I know; I'm good at it. So I suspected my motives. And of course I'm scared that it's going to turn out the same way it did last time -- though this school is smaller and I've already spoken very frankly with the faculty about my concerns ("If you were my thesis advisor, would you disappear for long periods of time without telling anyone in the department where you were?"). They seemed very enthusiastic about having me, which is always nice.
Additionally, I have the option of not doing a thesis, though I think by the time I got through the coursework, I'd be better prepared to write one and have much better support in place. During my undergrad work, I had little to no collaboration with my professors. I don't know if that had to do with the academic culture of the school or the nature of the study of philosophy, which is inherently solitary. But I didn't realize that, to write the kind of thesis I was trying to write, I needed to work much more interactively with my advisor than I did -- I was trying to figure everything out by myself, because that's what I've always done and that's what I thought I was supposed to do. I also didn't have the training in quantitative sociological research to get the data I was trying to get.
I'll get that training in this program, and I may go on to do research (though that would probably involve going on to a doctorate, which would almost certainly mean I'd need to write a master's thesis). I'm also looking at working with victim advocacy or crime prevention groups, particularly in the area of violence against women. I'm hoping the coursework will help point me toward the right non-profit or even government agencies. That was another problem I had the first go-round: I started the Rhet/Comp program with no career goals in mind. I just thought the coursework was interesting, and they gave me a good fellowship and a job at the writing center, so I went with it.
I'm still trying to see the last five years of my life as a learning experience and not simply an enormous, costly mistake. I am not always successful at this. But I am fortunate enough to have the means to start over, hopefully a LOT wiser this time. The work itself is not what I'm worried about -- like I said, school is what I'm good at. It's what comes after that scares me, and sometimes I think I'm just delaying the inevitable. My first and only full-time job was an utter disaster that had me coming home, going straight to bed, and sobbing at least three days out of the week (okay, there were other things going on, too, but the job didn't help). Intellectually, I know not ALL full-time jobs are like that... but the law firm set a terrible precedent.
But I need a fresh start in more ways than one, and if this doesn't work out, well, I'll just try something else. I've spent nearly every day since I ran away from that thesis convinced that my life was over, that I was already an irreparable failure before the age of thirty, and I'm still trying to dig myself out of that particular mental hole. With any luck, going back to getting A's will help boost my confidence, I'll meet some new people in my classes (most of which will be face-to-face -- another mistake I made before, as many of the Rhet/Comp classes were only offered online), and I'll find a job where I can use my powers for good, rather than for evil. Hell, maybe I'll even get a career out of this; one never knows.
Okay, enough of that Life Plan shit. Some books for you.
Day 24: A book you wish more people would read – Impossible Things, Connie Willis
Anything by Connie Willis, really. This one’s actually a collection of short stories, beautifully written and exploring the more human aspects of science fiction (or are we supposed to call it “speculative fiction” now?). It’s not “hard” sci-fi, which some people use as an insult, but fuck them. This was probably the first sci-fi I’d read that was written by a woman and it was unlike any I’d ever read before.
A tomboy who’s desperately trying to be independent, yet please her father at the same time. Fortunately, my dad is nothing (well, almost nothing – he was raised Southern Baptist) like Nathan Price, but I was always the sibling closest to my dad, the one he treated a little bit like a boy, mostly since he only had brothers growing up but also because I do think he wanted a boy. Pretty sure he’s over that by now, though, since my sister and I were, like, the goodiest goody-two-shoes ever.
Anyway, Leah is smart and driven and tries very, very hard to follow the rules for a long time… until she starts to question who made the rules in the first place. I identify with that quite a bit, and though I don’t see my future turning out like hers, there are bits of it that I aspire to. I love the way her voice matures throughout the novel, and how she remains dignified and makes some sense out of some truly senseless situations. She’s not as wickedly subversive as Adah, but neither am I, really. I’m a pretty straight arrow… if you ignore the whole writing-gay-porn bit. ;o)