I’ve been forced to clean out my office by painters that unloaded my ridiculously “organized” bookshelves. This is a good thing. It’s very slow going, but I think it’s probably time to throw away the first draft of my dissertation, the one my adored advisor required that I print out so she could make handwritten comments on it (Educational Technology, anyone?). Although, truth be told, I set it in the corner to think about a little longer. This is emotional stuff. Some days I think I’m okay staying home with the boys and doing some adjunct work and writing on the side. But then, I sort through old recommendation letters, notebooks full of ideas and books I never finished and I feel like all the potential I had on graduation day in 2011 has slowly been lost and stuffed away in a messy little room with a beautiful arched window. This was the place where I was going to write my first book, grade papers and projects and Skype with colleagues in other parts of the state. Instead, it’s a chilly room with piles of medical bills stacked on the desk, Christmas wrapping paper hanging out of the closet and a basket full of cards from my 30th birthday and graduation celebration in the corner. And it’s not just staying home with the boys that makes me feel this way. It’s really the last two years of rejection. I found jobs, even jobs that I liked, but I wasn’t able to get that tenure-track holy grail that, as a PhD, you hope to get. Yes, I know part of the problem is that I was limiting my search to Cincinnati and yes, I know that those rejections were their loss (or not), but at times, it still feels like I did all that hard work and then got stuck. A case of academic arrested development. And then my cousin Beth reminds me that because of my PhD and because I don’t “have” to work, I have possibilities. I could legitimately create that nonprofit I’ve been brewing in the back of my mind for a couple of years. I could still write. And that excites me. But I’m still torn. The other day in my office, digging through emotional scraps of paper, I came across a pile of pictures that my mom found in her attic and gave me sometime during the newborn haze. At the time, I set them aside, not able to process anything but my babies’ needs in the present moment. This time I picked up the pictures and looked closely at this one:
Cute, yes? It’s my 6th birthday and that amazing cake, I’m sure, was made by my awesome Grandma Richards. But that’s not what made me pause. On my arm, in marker and in my Dad’s handwriting, is written BUGSI. With an I. Like this blog! People, this is kind of amazing. I know my blog is spelled with two I’s, but I only did that because the domain bugsy.com (the obvious spelling) was taken. But, my dad spelled bugsi with an i. My dad, the whole reason I named this blog after my old nickname. I decided to take it as his way of telling me to get back to blogging and to remember that there was (and still is) somebody who believed that I could do anything, even when I didn’t. My dad wouldn’t allow me to believe that I wasn’t smart enough or good enough for anything. And because of that, I felt like I could do anything. So, I’ll figure it out, Dad. Whether I get the job I want in academia or middle school or I start a nonprofit or write a book, I’ll figure it out. Because I’m good enough and I’m smart enough and I believe in myself because of the way you always believed in me.