Friday, February 27, 2015

Seizing What You Want

Perhaps more than other people, I understand with stark perception the reality of powerlessness; my life has been defined, to a significant degree, by major traumas that were beyond my control. But because I've had the experience of falling under shattering blows and then devising ways to recover from them, I also understand, more than other people, the power a person can wield if he chooses to.  And what's funny is that often those who have been most victimized show the greatest facility for utilizing the resources available to them, however scarce those resources might be. Engineering a total reconstruction, after all, requires one to summon a bit of creativity.

At two distinct points in my life, total collapse was imposed upon me from outside forces and I was obliged to figure a plan for building myself back up. On both occasions, catastrophic bottoming-out (which in the most recent instance resulted in my actual death) was immediately followed by roaring recoveries whose achievements far surpassed what had gone before the crises. We can do extraordinary things if we decide to.

To that end, I've been busy. I've been busy knocking the hell out of some graduate-level writing assignments, busy fulfilling student-teaching requirements, busy learning Russian vocabulary and arranging Russian language lessons to commence this summer, busy enjoying a flowering social life in this new community, and busy losing--as of this morning--eighteen pounds. I never forget what they did, but the people who hurt me have a way of feeling very far away these days. I suppose it's because I'm on my way.

That way has become a lot clearer in the last couple of months. I nixed the option of getting my second master's degree in the history of the Southern U.S., opting instead to pursue either Russian studies or Russian history, the job market depending. I'll not be doing that right away, mind you; I'm living at home while I obtain my first master's degree in secondary social studies education, and though my mother is a very pleasant woman to reside with I don't much favor the notion of imposing upon her until I'm thirty-two. I'll obtain my current degree in about a year's time (May 2016) and will then commence teaching at the high school level, obtaining my second master's degree while working. This path has a couple of advantages. For one thing, it will allow me to stand on my own feet financially and manage what is sure to be a demanding work-load in my own home and by my own rules. For another, it will provide me the time to acquire Russian language skills, which are a prerequisite to the program I wish to pursue. In my first year of teaching, when I'm adjusting to a new career and locale, I won't bother with any master's work, but I will be sure to take intensive Russian language courses for which I'll build the foundation starting this summer. My goal, then, is to begin the second master's program in three to five years, no later, ideally, than my second year of teaching.

And then what?

As I mentioned in an earlier post, analyst jobs are quite lucrative and securing one would amply reward my study. Were I to encounter difficulty on that front, I'd still have teaching, and I'd also have a master's degree in Russian history. Don't tell any Defense Department contractors, but I'd honestly do that just for the fun of it, so even the possibility of a rewarding career in the field is more than enough motivation. The eventual goal, quite a ways down the road, is to, either after serving as an analyst for a number of years or after teaching for a while, obtain my PhD in the subject and teach it at the university level. And I am so damn excited about this.

Every time I crack open my Russian language workbook or attend Russian history lecture, I'm having a total blast. It's funny how fate works, isn't it? I've loved Russia since I was perhaps twelve or thirteen years old, then drifted away from it for a while in my undergrad years only to return to the topic and make it the centerpiece of my career.

"If you love Russia, stick with Russia," one of my wiser professors told me earlier this semester. "I've had a deep interest in geography since I was a boy, and it led me to a wonderful career. Stick with Russia."

When God hands you a jewel, wear it proudly.

In the meantime, I have to go. I stayed after school today to catch a talk on the mid-18th century crisis of the British Empire in North America, and it's starting in about twenty minutes. After that, it's back to my house and a slumber party with Pie. She's eleven now, by the way, and with our mother headed out of town it's going to be just the two of us tonight. We're going out for sushi and then I'm going to bribe her into watching a Disney classic or two.

I'd like all of you to know that I'm not going anywhere. I'm not able to write as frequently as I did before--grad school will do that--but I am and always have been in it for the long haul. I've so valued the experiences I've had here in the last seven years. I hope you have, too.