The Perils of Marie

I haven’t posted in over a week, in part because I have been SUPER busy, with work, more work, and school, including two Anatomy & Physiology exams (lecture and a lab practicum) in the same week. It turns out, one cannot master the entire muscular system in a single study session that begins at 4:30 AM. I still don’t know my extensor hallucis brevis from a hole in the leg*, but I knew enough to eke out a B on the test. I am proud of that.

I am also proud to have been featured as an editor’s pick on WordPress Discover, which indeed resulted in many new readers discovering this blog. Your visits have been duly noted, your follows are most welcome, and your feedback has been truly humbling. Thank you for joining me here. 🙂

As a college professor in the humanities, my job requires constant creative output, yet at the same time scholars maintain an icy nonchalance about their work. It is considered gauche to crave public attention, and we are not supposed to need positive feedback (let alone compensation) for most of what we produce. Indeed, I have published an entire book, into which I poured my heart and soul, and it generated less attention in several years than this blog has gotten in a single week. (Unfortunately, I can’t tell you about my book, because I have to write this blog anonymously, lest I incur the enmity of my peers. Academia is a little like a cult and a lot like a gang. If I get jumped out, I want it to be my choice!) According to the culture of academia, I should be nonplussed by your interest in my writing. But I’m not! I appreciate and value your visits to this space and the time you have taken to read my words. And the kind words you have written about me, my family’s situation, and my writing have lifted my spirits like a warm spring day. I am grateful.

On the other hand, positive feedback is a little scary, especially in this format. My new audience of readers is free to come and go at will, unfettered by the hassle of climbing over other people to make their escape from the theater. There is no post-purchase regret to guilt you into reading through to the end, nor is there a teacher demanding a cogent analysis of the contents. If I don’t entertain you, you’ll drop me like a dull elective class. And I will watch the bar graphs that track my views diminish like a glass being drained from the bottom. Hence, the other reason I haven’t written recently: I don’t want to disappoint my new readers.

I’ve thought it over, though, and I’ve decided, “Screw that.” The project of the blog remains: This is a space for me to figure stuff out. Hard stuff, like:

  • Do I want to quit my job and blow up my successful academic career like, well, everything in a Michael Bay movie?
  • rotj-death-star
    How do you know when it’s time to get out?

    If I do flee from academia, like a rebel pilot fleeing the exploding Death Star, where do I land? What do I do for a living? How do I finally get a dishwasher for my kitchen?

  • If I stay in academia, how do I make teaching and research meaningful again?
  • In my personal life, how do I nurture my family through my parents’ final years?
  • How do I meet a nice man who wants to have adult wrestling time in addition to, not instead of, taking me to dinner?
  • If my life stories are so interesting to other people, why am I so bored?
  • And, most urgently, what will make me happy?

If I wrote this blog like I’ve lived much of my life, I would remain paralyzed by indecision over what would irritate a bunch of strangers least. Or, as I put it in a plaintive Facebook post during a low ebb last year, ” ‘I don’t want to let you down’ has been the operating principle of my life, but I’ve never actually said it to myself.”

That’s not where I’m at anymore, at least not all the time.

I am going to keep writing. And I am going to keep writing for me, because that’s all I know how to do. I can promise honesty. I can promise stories. They won’t always be interesting, but they will be interesting often enough. That’s just how life is.

Perilsofpauline
Oh my! How ever will she get out of this one?!

Though, my mother used to say that my life is like “The Perils of Pauline”–a cliffhanger at every turn. My dad used to say I was a shit magnet. In fact, he said it again last night. Sigh.

As I look back on the last 30 or so years, I do seem to have had a lot of drama.

That’s ok! I don’t mind being compared to Pauline. Whether you’re talking about the original 1914 silent serials, the 1933 serial remakes, or the 1947 film that charmed my mother as a little girl, Pauline is always a plucky, adventurous single woman whose dire straits are the natural consequence of trying to lead an interesting life. She survives dangling from a hot air balloon, being tied up in a burning house, being tied to railroad tracks, and hanging from a cliff–always just long enough for her beau to rescue her.

I can relate, except for that last part. I am usually the one who gets me into trouble, but I am always the one who gets me out. This blog, like the undergraduate courses I’ve been taking, is the present manifestation of that process: a bobby pin to pick the lock, if you will, or a shard of glass to cut the rope. That buzzsaw has gotten awfully close, and it may yet cause me a few split ends, but I am getting out of this sawmill one way or another!

Because I don’t want to let me down.

Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 8.23.43 PM
Pauline and I share an affinity for curly hair, a strong lip, and new experiences. 

 

* Speaking of a hole in the leg, remind me to tell you about my one-legged criminal boyfriend sometime. He was (and looked) so much older than me that he pretended to have lost his leg in Vietnam! In fact, his best friend shot him on a drunken hunting trip. It strained their relationship, sure, but they were good by the time I met them. In fact, my boyfriend was impersonating the best friend–something about arrest warrants–when we met. The one-legged criminal was the first of two men I have dated who claimed to be someone else. Like I said, stories…

 

 

 

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3 thoughts on “The Perils of Marie

  1. I am always fascinated by how people with an obvious talent can neglect it for years, Susan Boyle style.
    OK, maybe not Susan Boyle, I just looked her up, looks like she had been trying for years.
    You are a gifted writer. Have you accepted writing as your savior or do you still believe you are just “freakishly good with words”?
    My bet is, you can be a university professor or a nurse, but to be happy, to survive your parents’ decline, and to deal with your loneliness, you’ll have to write.
    I binge-read all your posts the first time I came across your blog, which makes me an expert, and I think writing is your answer.
    So what that the first book didn’t generate much buzz? screw the new dishwasher ( for the moment, anyways). Write another book and keep on with the blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Often said in the pilot house on a Great Lakes freighter when the captain left to retire to their stateroom, “Stay the course. ” Stay the course is all I’ve got. As we age, our options really do diminish. Had I stayed the course earlier in life I imagine I would be less lost and not broke.

    I am new to the blogging world. My purpose is to entertain, maybe even teach and hopefully compel for good. Your blog encourages me to move along with mine. I know why you enjoy it: its fun, its freeing and its flying.

    Thank you. You encourage me to write, finally.

    -Janet Radtke Stockton
    shortytellsastoryblog.wordpress.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Stay the course” or drift into the unknown, where “thar be monsters.” That really captures the dilemma. I still want to believe that we always have choices, but sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. I hope the writing brings you some peace!

      Like

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