April 21, 2008

Cruel Indeed!

Growing up in Vancouver, I never understood the whole thing about April being the cruelest month. Now, on the other hand, I get it. You see, in Halifax, where I live, we won't see tulips and daffodils until May, or leaves on the trees until June. In Vancouver, however, where I would like to live....The constraints on your location and the near-impossibility of 'lateral movement' are among the great cruelties of an academic career. After over a decade of resistance, I have faced the fact that in order to move 'home' I would need to change professions (or, somehow, belatedly, become a different kind of academic--a more 'successful' one, by some measures). It's frustrating, of course, to be less employable in my chosen field after 12 years of experience than I was when still ABD, but that's the way this game is played. I've gone through most of the stages of grief over this and moved a long way towards acceptance--but spring sure makes me homesick. Is the job worth it? Sometimes. But the likelihood of being separated from your family and your history is one of the aspects of this career that I emphasize most strongly when advising prospective graduate students, not least because I never really thought much about it until, in many ways, it was too late.

(Photo credits: RDS)


Gayla said...

Aw, I'm sorry you're feeling homesick.

I ended up not going into academia, largely because I wanted a family and I didn't want a career that might necessitate moving a few kids across the country every couple of years. So now I'm an actuary (!), and it's a good job and I think it was the right choice for me, but I still think wistfully about research and books and the Ph.D. I always expected to get and never did.

Rohan Maitzen said...


Sounds as if you made the right decision--and were a bit more self-conscious about it than I was--though I went to graduate school at a time when there was lots of talk about rising demand for new appointments and so on, so it's not altogether my own naivete that misled me!