So I went to the library at the local university the other evening to get a book that wasn’t available at either of the local public libraries. I went after 5 p. m. so I could park in a lot and not have to pay (like in the Visitors Parking Garage) and not get a ticket, since school is out and most of the lots are mostly empty.
It didn’t take me long to get the book. I knew what floor it was on and had the call number written down because I had looked it up on line a few weeks ago. And I wasn’t parked that far from the library so didn’t have to walk clear across campus in the scorching heat. Everything was fine, until I got hit with this huge wall of nostalgia. It nearly flattened me. I practically moaned out loud.
I blew it. I blew it so bad. I blew it in so many ways I can’t even begin to enumerate.
I love being on a campus, would love a reason to spend every day working there, walking around all the different buildings, soaking up all the scholoarly vibes. I should have gone back to graduate school. Got a doctorate. Become a professor. Or something. Anything for the chance to work and spend my days on a college campus.
Anyway — the book. Just a Geek, by Wil Wheaton. I’d seen it on his blog and got curious enough to go looking for it. It took me all of about eight hours to read, although some of the blog excerpts I’d already read, so could skim through those at warp nine.
Oh. Yeah. That Wil Wheaton. Who played Wesley Crusher on Star Trek The Next Generation — a geeky kid played by (apparently) an authentically geeky kid who grew into a geeky adult and wrote a book about it all. I found it highly entertaining, engaging, and something I could relate to… almost too much.
Wil had a demon he named “Prove To Everyone That Quitting Star Trek Wasn’t A Mistake,” and as I got to know the two of them through the pages of his book, I noticed someone I’d been ignoring for years, sitting a little behind me, drumming her fingers — “I Never Should Have Left The Zoo.” Oh, brother.
When I first started working at the Fort Worth Zoo I walked around thinking all day, “Pinch me. Make sure I’m not dreaming. Make sure I’m awake, because I don’t want to miss a single nanosecond of this.” And I returned to that theme frequently for the entire three years eight months I worked there. So why did I leave? Along with the considerable philosophical differences I had with a few co-workers and with the individuals who ran the place, I had a plan to finish my Master’s degree and rule the world. I was going to be a SCIENTIST!
The assistant director of the zoo laughed at me when he heard me say that. Laughed. At me.
I, of course, had no idea that getting a Master’s degree wouldn’t make me a scientist. In fact, a Master’s degree doesn’t really make you qualified for a lot of better jobs than a Bachelor’s degree does. It just makes you overqualified for a lot more.
So it might be a little like what Wil Wheaton went through trying to find acting jobs in the post Star Trek phase. Having a hard time finding a good fit as a “journeyman” as opposed to an “apprentice,” but not quite to the level of “master” (which for me would be that PhD)where you can write your own ticket, as it were. But-oh-well.
I did have to kind of laugh at Wil when he said in the book how scary it was to contemplate a complete career redirect in his mid twenties! I changed career paths at thirty, and again at forty, and now in my fifties I’m still not sure I’m grown up enough to decide what I want to do with my life! But to Wil Wheaton, if he should read this — I really enjoyed your book, think you should keep writing, hope you keep getting acting jobs because you enjoy that, and I plan to watch you on Leverage this week. Dude.