I am a tenured associate professor in the humanities at a well known public university in the United States–by every measure, a successful human being. I have job security, an impressive record of publication, the respect of my peers, and a hefty mortgage. But I have been unhappy at my work for a few years now, so I am finally doing something about it: secretly going back to school as an undergraduate, possibly to earn a second Bachelor’s, possibly to become the world’s oldest student nurse, and definitely to feel like I have value and choices.
I also write about struggles with depression and my weight, my mother’s dementia, being single in midlife, and my adventures in online dating–factors, all, as I sort out what the next twenty years of my story are going to be about!
The title of this blog is derived from the Tom Waits song, “Whistle Down the Wind.” It’s about a person stuck in the small town where they grew up, wanting badly to move on but frozen with fear. The song’s touchstones–familiarity, fear, loss, and hope–resonate powerfully with me at this moment in my life. I knew there was something deeply wrong when this line brought me to my knees:
“I can’t stay here, and I’m scared to leave.”
As the song’s protagonist explains, “I’ve yelled and I’ve cursed / If I stay here I’ll rust / I’m stuck like a shipwreck / Out here in the dust.”
Yeah, me too.
The intersection of Mercy and Grand, presumably at the edge of some desolate little town, is as far as he gets. I am there now, hoping to go further.