Free at last, free at last…

…thank God Almighty, I’m free at last. And I don’t mean free from my students. Rather, I mean free from being one, at least for a while.

After months of introspection and weeks of careful thought, last night I decided to withdraw from my doctoral program. I have spoken to family (although not all of them yet) and a few close friends (not all yet), and so far, none have labeled me a quitter or a failure. So far, so good.

Thing is, I will be 50 years old in August. In the hopefully 20-some years I have left, I want to live a good part of my life away from this box. Sure, there’s a downside:

  • I’ve spent a lot of money on coursework.
  • I failed to achieve a goal I set out to accomplish. That does bother me.
  • I’m afraid I have disappointed people who thought better of me.

But fiends, I gotta tell ya. The upside wins.

  • First, and most importantly: I will not have to spend the next 3-6 months studying every day and every night, followed by up to 2 more years of grinding out research for the dissertation, during which time my grandsons will be growing up without me.
  • I have learned gobs in the classes I’ve taken, and much of it is stuff I actually use.
  • My masters degree is not in music. But the one I will earn from BU upon successful completion of a curriculum project will be. Therefore, I’ll end up with two masters: one in curriculum & instruction, and the other in music. Not sucky by any stretch.
  • If I want to continue the DMA, I will drive to Cleveland in the summers. If I want to.
  • I am happy teaching high school. And since my district does not give a pay raise for a PhD, I’m at the top of the food chain on the salary schedule for my experience. In other words, I can’t make any more money on grad school work.
  • And speaking of money: I’d likely take at least a $10,000 annual pay cut in the event I would be hired full time in this economy at a nearby university.
  • With the exception of rehearsals for our shows every year, my evenings and weekends will be free. What will THAT be like? Lawd. I’ve no clue. But I will enjoy finding out.
  • I can spend lots of time with family and friends. I can also actually do some gardening in the summers, and travel a little if I want to.

So, I’m thinking, is there a downside? Probably. And admittedly, I do worry about people being disappointed in me. But like some friends and family have told me, the people who matter will understand. Those who don’t…well, you can’t stop what people think and say. As a textbook insecure artist, I need to wrap my reptilian brain around that fact; embrace it. I’m trying, believe it.

At any rate, the most important thing is that a) I feel really good about this decision, and b) my family and friends are very supportive so far.

I’m off to Columbus today with Mavis, Hannah and little Justin. Is that great or what?

Fink out (of the woods).

13 thoughts on “Free at last, free at last…

  1. PKPudlin

    He he he… after your email last night I thought “I’ll bet I know what the next RtB blog entry will be titled.” and I was right!! Maybe I’m physic…..

    Have more fun today than is legal.

    Your fiend, always-

    1. Rat Fink Post author

      I did have fun today, girlfriend! Thanks for your reply last night, and for your encouragement and support. You are top-drawer, Miss Fizzik.


  2. Suzanne

    Hey girl! A HUGE thumbs up, both left and right thumbs, on your decision. I am VERY proud of you for all that you do and your decision to enjoy life is, IMVHO, probably one of the best ones you’ve made. I think two Master’s beats one doctorate anyway :) I for one am looking forward to hearing about your escapades with Thriller and grandbabies as you enjoy being free at last, free at last! Enjoy!!!

    1. Rat Fink Post author

      Thanks Suz — I appreciate the support, friend! Today was the first full day of the last 3 years that I have not thought about tests, dissertations, residencies, pressure…it was fantastic!


  3. Greg

    I’m sure it was a tough decision for you to make but also sure it’s a MAJOR relief off your mind. I went that route too when deciding if a Master’s was in the cards for me. While it does “up” the pay scale, I decided that I’d be doing the same job with the same rotten schedule and dealing with the same problems I had with the administration in trying to make my program better. It didn’t happen with my Bachelor’s plus and I was sure it wouldn’t happen with a Master’s either and I was proved correct. The last 8 years I was in the trenches weren’t pleasant and despite the cajoling I tried to do, I couldn’t get the program to a better level so I was on my own throughout that time. I think you made the right decision!

    1. Rat Fink Post author

      Thanks, Gregor. You’re right — you have to weigh the cost not only in time, but in money and intangible things. Thanks for the vote of confidence. I feel great for the first time in a long time.

  4. BoomR

    Hey luv…did you get my text messages??? I just wanted to let you know that I LUUUVVV YEEWWWW!!! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for the yummie & super-special b’day goodies that arrived today!!

    Now…which drink shall I mix for myself tonight??? :-)

    B to the oomR

    1. Rat Fink Post author

      Yes my darling, I certainly did!! I was knee-deep in Justin when I got it. You are welcome my friend, and I’m so glad you liked everything. I hope the pilsner arrived unbroken – did it? If not, it was insured so I can replace it.

      Happy birthday TODAY, OomR B! How’s 50 feel???

      1. BoomR

        It did!! It did arrive safely!! And while I’m not really a beer drinker, I’ve vowed to mix a drink from each & every page from the book – and sip it from your lovely gift!! :-)

        …and as for the 5-0? It…. um…. wait….

        What was it you asked me again?


  5. Ross

    whats crackin RF, ross here from perfectworld, USA. Congratulations, this clearly was not an ‘easy’ decision to make. i’ll bet a quick survey of past blog entries would expose stressed and generally unhappy image patterns in your writing whenever you mentioned the work.

    And now for a sexist comment: “I’m afraid I will have disappointed people who thought better of me.” Dude, RF, that’s such a ‘chick thing’ to say! allow me to quote from 20th century physicist Richard Feynman, Nobel laureate for work in quantum electrodynamics, following his passing on a job at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study: “They must have expected me to be wonderful to offer me a job like this, and I wasn’t wonderful, and therefore I realized a new principle, which was that I’m not responsible for what other people think I am able to do; I don’t have to be good because they think I’m going to be good.” This helped him relax, not stress out. Result? he predicts the unpredictable behavior of elementary particles and confounds Einstein. Why? because he was enjoying the work he DID do, not worrying about the dubious work he wasn’t doing. Again, congrats on this tough decision.

    1. Rat Fink Post author

      Ross, you primate — where have you been??

      A “chick thing”…you are funny. And the quote/analogy/example you gave happens to be right on; so appropriate. Thank you. Now that the pressure is off, maybe I can concentrate more on doing some good things instead of worrying all the time.

      Chick thing, chick thing….**scratching head**….aren’t boys ever insecure or worried that they might disappoint someone — especially their children? Hmmm. Nah. You’re right.

      Have a great weekend my friend!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.