This is the first September in as long as I care to remember that I’m not returning to school, whether as a student or a teacher or both (besides a few years ago, when I was on a medical leave of absence, but that hardly counts).
Granted, the primary reason that I’m not among the ranks of students in their first weeks back in the classroom this time around is that I’ve now graduated, as I was pleasantly reminded last night when the waiter at my favourite sushi restaurant greeted me, as he often does, with “Hey, Dr. K!” (you know you’re a regular when…). Still, the question as to how I would handle this non-transition has been in the back of my mind for a while. I’m not, after all, exactly known for enjoying/tolerating change of any kind, including that of the positive variety. I can now, however, report that I’ve been embracing my current state, even if the idea that September hasn’t brought any real alterations to my routine becomes a little strange if I think about it for too long. Which is why I keep suppressing the thought with ice cream and shiitake rolls.
The most problematic aspect of this issue, really, isn’t that I don’t have a good excuse to take advantage of back-to-school pen sales, though that’s rather tragic: it’s that I’m currently existing in a weird state of limbo as I wait for my surgery. As I’ve written before, it doesn’t make sense for me to look for a full-time “career” job with my procedure fast approaching, nor am I sure that doing so would be great for me, health-wise, considering how many seizures I’ve been having; I need flexibility until I find a better, longer-term solution to my neurological woes, which this surgery will, with any luck, provide. I’m lucky to be in a financial position that allows me to take on freelance work that I find interesting/that keeps me (relatively) stimulated but not overly busy during this in-between time without experiencing any external pressure to overextend myself in order to make ends meet. Indeed, if anything, my husband pesters me to do less than I am (it’s one of the things we bicker about the most; I’d say I have a keeper).
So, as I see friends who’re still PhDing return to the classroom, and as the academic year enters full tilt, I’ll continue to prepare myself for what’s to come for me, watching from the sidelines and reminding myself, when I feel twinges of nostalgia and/or sadness, that I’ve worked hard to get where I am and that I need to fight hard for what I want, need, and deserve—a seizure-free future in which I can make work and life decisions that don’t require me to take epilepsy-related concerns into account.