Reading, Research, and Retirement

I love reading.  I hate research.  I wish I could retire.

My English teachers always told me to start with a plan, so the above three sentences are my plan.  But as usual, let me elaborate.

I didn’t always love reading.  I have funny eyes–not Seinfeld funny have you, but one is lazy, the other is an overachiever and after a day of contacts I blink a lot and squint.  Real funny.  But as a kid, before I knew I had problems with my eyes, I struck out every at bat in baseball and read really slowly.  I remember our class reading My Side of the Mountain in 4th grade.  I fell behind.  I didn’t understand how everybody around me could read so fast and answer the questions before I was even halfway done with the assignment.  (Now that I’m a teacher, I realize that most of the kids scanned and wrote down partial answers just to be done with it.  But, surprise, I digress.)  I got glasses that year, and my over-achieving eye lense got fogged and I looked, well, special.  But it helped and by the time I got to college I had fallen in love with literature, the power of the story, and the depth of the poem.  Which leads me forward in this love-hate relationship of reading.

I confess that I lied to you at the beginning of this post.  I don’t feel guilty.  I actually like research.  I like learning new things.  Would I read much nonfiction if it weren’t for my grad school assignments?  Probably not, but once I’m in the process of learning it’s pretty cool.  What stinks is writing it all down in a nice little formal paper to show Professor so-and-so that I learned something.  Some people are really good at this (like my brother).  But, for the creative mind, writing a research paper is as worthwhile as a drywaller measuring a 4×8 piece of drywall.  I know, I know.  The world is a better place because of all the research (and regurgitation) that goes on, but it is also better because of the creative literature we’ve produced.  I hear my mother choking right now, as she doesn’t enjoy the literary side of things as much as I do.

Which is why I need to retire.  My father-in-law has this great job of running a pastors’ retreat in Wisconsin.  Go Buckeyes (I know it’s the Badgers people, I’m making a statement here).  But this job affords him the time to read a vast amount of books and articles that make the read-o-phyte drool.  But alas, a baby is brewing, the swamp cooler (I hear they call them evaporative coolers now) takes electricity and the house isn’t solar powered, and I like to eat.  My IRA is a block of concrete in the pond of the global market and we don’t have that much set aside for retirement yet anyways.  C’mon, I’ve had a career for 5 years now…in teaching!  Okay, retirement is a pipe dream for me and my generation, so I’ll let that dream go.

What I won’t let go is trying to juggle everything so that I can still read–to myself and my kids–and write and publish.  I’ll leave the big research to those who dig it.  And to leave you with a moan-and-groan pun, I must retire and go to class.

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