Monday, September 27, 2010

a long time coming

As faithful followers of this blog will note, an indecently long interval has passed since last I posted. That's life. I neither offer excuse nor beg forgiveness.

Tonight, however, I'm inspired to write (at least a short little blurb), if for no other reason, to draw your attention to the change in the above description of this blot. Where the subheading used to refer to yours truly as an "intermittently disillusioned pathology resident," or some such bunk, I've now assumed a new identity. Yes, I am a hopelessly chronic case of academic addiction.

Of course I have a fairly good idea of where to lay the blame for this intellectual dependency. Don't quote me on the (pseudo)science here, but my impression is that people who are denied a certain substance or experience throughout enough of their formative years, are more likely to develop unhealthy attachments to such vices later in life.

I was home-schooled for the first eleven years of my education, so whereas most people develop a healthy balance of respect, disdain, appreciation and general apathy for formal education by the time they get through college, once I started taking classes at the local community college at age 18, I was hooked. A hopeless junkie for life. And like any addict, I rode the crest of an initial wave of academic ecstasy (top of all of my classes, prize pupil of all of my instructors) and thought that it would last forever. Neurotransmitters become exhausted, receptors become saturated, and all junkies must ultimately crash. I managed to graduate from college with a decent GPA, but that was in no way due to my last two quarters. And by the time I'd finished my last class, I was more than ready to (as PGW would so eloquently put it) part brass rags with the whole academic mess and just settle down to work for a while.

That "while" lasted just over a year, after which I found myself studying for an MPH in International Health and Development at Tulane's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. The thrill of that first big hit after a respectable piece of abstinence put me over the edge and I took the big step down the path into darkness: I applied to medical schools.

Eight years later, I've finished my medical training (four years for the MD and another four of pathology residency), and what do I do? Do I call it quits for good, get a job, and contribute to this blessed capitalist abomination in which I live? Nope... the "dark passenger" was too strong (as the eponymous hero of another of my guilty vices, the Showtime series Dexter might say).

I have fallen into the epitome of academic intellectually masturbatory depravity: the PhD! This time I'll focus on Environmental and Occupational Health (after four years of diagnosing death and disease, I'd really like to get involved in the preventative end of things).

So... am I full of guilt and self-loathing? Am I writhing in an agony of ecstatic despair for my hopeless condition?

Well... classes start the day after tomorrow, and actually, I'm pretty damned happy about whole thing. (AAaaahhhh... the sweet rush of that first taste... a stronger cut... a new, exotic flavor... my next fix).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this! You helped me feel better about my own tendency to feel the latent undertow and siren song of the intellectual life. I always think about going back for a PhD. Hope the funding for higher education survives for another decade or two while I make up my mind.

"Dark passenger." Guess I have to watch Dexter.