Tuesday, August 04, 2020


I got this idea from Dame Eleanor, here, where she looked back over her decades.

Six decades ago, my parents brought me home from the hospital in a large city, to their suburban house on Hamilton Lane.  My Mom purposefully chose to go up to the City to give birth, so that I could tell people where I was from, and everyone would know what that meant.  I don't remember the house on Hamilton Lane, since we moved from there before I was three, though I've driven by it as an adult.  I'm told it looks very different now, with a second story added on.

Five decades ago, I was having summer between my grammar school and my middle school, and rather dreading being with "big kids" in the middle school.  Middle school was a more miserable school experience than grammar school, for sure, but I was eager to start learning oboe, which I'd wanted to learn earlier, but they'd made me start on clarinet.  (This turned out to be a problem, since I basically had to try to teach myself oboe in middle band standing outside the band room until I could play a bit, with none of the basic help that everyone got in the fifth grade beginning band classes, while all the other kids who'd played for a year worked on stuff together.  I didn't know, for example, that you were supposed to start in the middle of the instrument's range, and tried to start with the lowest note on the fingering chart.  That's the B-flat below the staff, on oboe, and not an easy note to play.)  I lived in the house I still think of as home even though no one I know lives there now.

Four decades ago, I was an undergraduate, studying Zoology, and trying to figure out where my life would go.  I spent way more time than I should have playing D&D with friends, but those friends are still friends.  I was lots less "outdoorsy" than most zoology students, though I desperately wanted to be.  It just wasn't something that really interested anyone else in my family.

Three decades ago, I had recently started a PhD program moving from one part of my home state to another.  I was thoroughly intimidated by the educational backgrounds and brilliance of my fellow grad students and working desperately hard to catch up despite having studied already in an MA program at a regional university.  But I was very lucky to have connected with a wonderful mentor and some kind and friendly other graduate students.  I was living in a really big city (instead of a suburb or quite small city) for the first time, and taking a while to figure it out. 

Two decades ago, I had recently moved to the great North Woods, into my very first house, a two bedroom GI Bill starter house in a neighborhood of GI Bill starter houses.  I used to call it the neighborhood of dead presidents and heroes of WWII.  I lived with a big, lovely Lab who took me on walks every day, and would have been happy to take me on two or three walks a day.  My Dad had died about a year before, just before I moved to the great North Woods, and that, with the move to a new place and my Mom needing to talk for a long time pretty much every day made for a hard couple of years.  I was a fairly new assistant professor, at a fairly new job, trying to figure all the things out at my still fairly new job.  I'd moved from my first tenure track job, and was very happy to have moved.

One decade ago, I was living where I live, having earned tenure where I still work.  I was in better shape than I am now, physically, though maybe not emotionally.  My dog had died and I'd started biking and doing a little bit of camping, and gotten back into birding a bit (which I'd learned a bit in college as an undergrad).  I'd started making biking friends, and that has been wonderful.

And now: I like to say I'm one cat away from "crazy cat lady."  (No, I don't have a cat.)  I'm much happier now, and would have to say that since high school, my life has gotten mostly happier with each passing year and experience.  I'm the brand new chair of my department, experiencing a steep learning curve, and looking forward to trying to do a good job and then retiring.  I like my friends, and feel valued and supported in my community.  The Covid and "safer at home stuff" has made my Mom once again much more needy, and she wants to talk pretty much every day.  I still need to work on my patience.  My house is a home, and fixed up and painted in ways that made me happy.  I enjoy the spaces and like being here.


  1. This was very interesting! And a great idea. I may do my own version!

  2. I enjoyed your version! Thanks for picking up the idea.