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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

26

#26. I dropped out of graduate school when I was twenty-six.

Which is a hell of a lot better than being kicked out of grad school. That’s from experience, folks.

Actually, my second stint in the world of higher (better, faster, more!) education was thoroughly enjoyable. My classmates were cool, I worked in some really interesting labs, and I had enough experience (or savvy about bullshitting) to get through most of the coursework without much problem at all. I remember the year I was there as one big fun party, more or less. I was doing well, learning computer skills on the side, and I was living with and engaged to a gorgeous, wonderful girl. (And yes, that’s just one girl. What does this look like, a Three’s Company episode?)

Of course, maybe I’m romanticizing just a tad. I’m sure there were some dark times in there. I probably picked up a bad grade or two, or struggled with some personal issue, or was asked to take out the garbage. But honestly, I don’t remember any of that. I remember Friday parties in our conference room, and weekend cookouts at Bill’s, and sitting in the office, bullshitting with Bill and John and Kendra and Carrie and the rest of the gang. I studied when I had to, and got enough lab work done to get by, but I was finding out that doing research really wasn’t my thing. And so, I was enjoying myself.

It’s funny how you can make the most out of a situation when you just don’t give a damn, any more. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. I didn’t have a nasty attitude toward the work, or the people. It’s not their fault I desperately wanted to be doing something else. And the work was important — I didn’t disrespect the people there, or the research they were doing. Some of it was truly amazing.

But, it wasn’t for me. And I hit a sort of groove with it. I knew just how much needed to be done to keep the wheels turning, and that’s what I did. That kind of thing would have eventually come back to bite me in the ass, of course — it always seems to — but I knew that the hammer wouldn’t come down before the end of the first year. And as it happened, I was able to line up a job in a new line of work, starting that July. So all I had to do was keep my nose clean, show up with the occasional assignment finished, and coast on down the road. It’s probably one of the best years of my life, now that I look back on it.

I think everyone should have a similar experience, at least once. Everyone should get the chance to work somewhere for a while where they really can’t get in trouble, as long as they’re reasonable about things. I think that can be a very empowering situation. Sure, some people can get lazy in that role. This is America, after all. But for a lot of people, I think it would be liberating. Some people would throw themselves into the work anyway, seeing just how well they could do it. Others, like me, would find something outside the work that’s challenging and rewarding, and quite possibly decide to switch careers (as I did).

And yes, others would come in two days a week and sleep on the job. Yeah, you’re right — it would never work. The lazy bozo fucks would screw it up for the rest of us, and then nobody would get the benefit. I guess it’s best to just luck into these situations, rather than mandate them for everyone. Plus, that way, they’ll seem more special when they do happen. Or something. I’m not sure this thread is making any damned sense. Eh.

Anyway, I’m glad for that year of grad school. I left the program for greener pastures, of course, but a part of me was sad to go. (On the other hand, another part of me knew it was only a matter of time before they wanted to see real results. And that part trumped the ‘wish I could stay‘ part. Quite handily, as it happened.) It was nice to leave on my own terms, though, instead of being shown the door and asked to turn over my keys. So I’m happy I went back to school, and just as pleased that I dropped out when I decided it wasn’t for me. Things have worked out pretty damned well since then, so I think I made the right choice. Now if I can just keep my next boss from wanting to see ‘real results’, I can really have some fun!

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