May 11, 2012

Graduation Day

A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.
-George Bernard Shaw

As you all know, I've been struggling with my next step after college. Do I go to New Orleans, where I can teach at an inner city school and have a major change of venue? Or do I go to the coast of Maine, where I can teach at a small school and take advantage of the relative calm? I've been trying to decide ever since my graduation was put in question by a failed Spanish exam. I thought I had made up my mind, but it seems I still had doubts. Finally, last week, I made a small wager with myself: The first state to ask for an interview would win me. The reality is that every wager we make is only against ourselves, and I figured that this was a way to make a decision without actually making it. I realize that this is a kind of cop out and dangerously similar to a passive existence but, because I could not make the choice, I needed something else to make it for me. 

Today was graduation at UMass Amherst. In keeping with the anonymity both vehicle dwellers and bloggers are entitled to, I've never volunteered where I was at school (for obvious reasons), but now that I'm done I can't see the harm. At 28 years old and only having been here for two years I didn't see the point in walking. For me this wasn't so much the end of something as a logical next step on the road to... wherever it is I'm trying to get. Unfortunately the fact that I was not at the ceremony meant that I was out in the world as hundreds of families tried to get as close to the memorial stadium as possible. I had to pull over three times after my car began to smoke. Even after adding extra coolant the poor thing still had trouble and finally I gave up. I planned to catch some of the commencement speech, but instead I cranked the radio and headed out of town.

I  drove all the way to West Brookfield, about 40 minutes east, and stopped at one of my favorite sites. As I've grown older I've developed some concrete opinions about certain things. I like Hermen Hesse's Demien more than Stienbeck's Mice and Men, Moose Tracks ice cream is better than Rocky Road, and sculptures are the most soulful expression through  artistic medium. The fact that I like one doesn't mean that I don't enjoy the other, just that I don't connect with it in the same way. Today, as my classmates were throwing the caps in the air and cheering their deliverance from college, I was standing in West Brookfield with this fountain. It's on the village green and seems completely out of place in the small town, but it's lovely and gave me a much better send off than I could have had in Amherst.

When I got up the courage to head back to campus I had a an email from a private special needs school in Maine. They want to interview me on Tuesday, which is pretty inconvenient considering I'm heading that direction tomorrow night and back down to Mass on Sunday evening. With the car smoking I would rather not tax her more than necessary, but I may need to. So Maine wins, I'll let teachNOLA know on Monday that I will not be there for orientation. The school is Maine has already asked how soon I can start, which I see as a good sign.

Thanks everyone, for all the advice. Keep it coming: this decision is bound to be followed by many more. 


  1. Congratulations on this ending and beginning.

  2. Wait till after you get the job & sign the contract to let NOL know your not coming.

  3. If you help your students learn life's lessons as well as you have learned them they will be fortunate indeed.

    "I never understood what life was about until I started living it." Eric Hochzeller

  4. Good luck in Maine. I'm sure that either choice will take you on a learning experience. It's all good. A book I recently read has a whole chapter on "how to make a no-lose decision". You should get this book for one of your 20 books to read. It's got alot of valuable information in it just for you. Here is a link to one at amazon just incase.

  5. You must read more Steinbeck, especially "Tortilla Flat" it's right up our Alley, (or Walmart Parking Lot). It really taught me about the up and downside of home ownership, and our fascination with keeping a roof over our heads....


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