What I’ve been up to and where I’m going now

Two of Shakespeare's historical plays, and an archaeological trowel
It’s all history

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I was born for social distancing. For quite a while, I was happily and voraciously consuming all the online streamed theatre I could get, and could easily have continued.

Over the course of a few weeks, I saw One Man Two Guvnors, Jane Eyre, Hamlet, Treasure Island, Frankenstein (twice), Twelfth Night, Macbeth, The Merry Wives of Windsor, and most recently, Hamilton. I also saw my first opera, Die Walkure, which led to Siegfried, The Niebelungenlied, Macbeth, and Falstaff.

But then, except for Hamilton, I kind of stopped watching theatre. Something happened.

I had something of an epiphany: I don’t think I want an academic career in literature or history. I came to this realization after talking to several people who are adjunct English professors and learning that none of them are really happy with their jobs. In fact, considering their stories plus the stories of people who left academia, I don’t think I want an academic career, period.

Well, that changes everything. Have I shared what my fantasy was before this? It was to get my Master’s in something to do with Shakespeare, then teach Shakespeare part-time at various local community colleges. Talking to people who’d experienced the reality burst that bubble (I’d have ended up teaching freshman reading and writing, if I got a class at all).

Outside of academia, there’s little employment in these parts for a Shakespearean scholar or Medievalist. That is to say, none at all.

Sooooo, what to do, what to do.

Well, I’ve always been fascinated by the past, and the ways people addressed problems of survival – that’s the facet of Shakespearean drama that interests me the most. I’ve always been interested in archaeology and the people who came before us. I’m a huge fan of the British TV series Time Team. And, I’ve always loved finding stuff in or on the ground. I’m even a budding metal detectorist.

Metal detecting gear bag
Lost objects and their stories interest me

It hit me that I could be perfectly happy scraping dirt off dirt (to quote Detectorists), or making a map (I’ve done some cave surveying), or cataloging finds, or researching archives, or washing up in a lab. In other words, the entry-level jobs in archaeology.

They sound a lot more interesting than the entry-level jobs as an adjunct English professor.

I learned that City College has one of the nation’s few certificate programs in practical Archaeology, designed to train field technicians to work under the supervision of actual archaeologists. It’s kind of to archaeology what a course in being an electrician is to being an electrical engineer. A trade school. And, potentially, a start.

So, this is what’s been taking all my time lately. Summer school!

Anthropology textbooks
The human story is always interesting, whether the storyteller is a modern researcher or Geoffrey Chaucer

The Cultural Anthropology class is required for the certificate. The Biological Anthro course, I just wanted to take. One is a 16-week class compressed into eight weeks, the other is a 16-week class compressed into five weeks. If one class is moving twice as fast as normal, and the other is moving three times as fast, that means I’m carrying a coursework equivalent to five classes, or full-time.

That leaves little time for watching theatre videos. And besides, right now I’m getting more excited watching videos about primates and hominin evolution, and Time Team.

If the stars align and I get the classes I need, I could complete the certificate program by the end of next year, so it’s a lot quicker than getting a Master’s. It’s also thousands of dollars cheaper. And, upon completion the college has connections with area employers, so potentially I could be working in my field of study as early as next year. Wow! Can you see why I’m excited about this?

I need to get back to schoolwork (I have a paper and a research project to work on, and I want to get a jump on the chapter readings), so I’ll stop here.

Except for one additional thought. It may be that an interest in anthropology was what powered my long-term interest and success in advertising. And, my realization of the human cost of that endeavor was what made me reject it.

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