Wednesday, December 30, 2015

365 True Things: 276/Ambition

Committee members:
Charlotte Crabtree,
School of Education (1925–2006);
J. Nicholas Entrikin,
Department of Geography (b. 1947);
Daniel B. Kaye,
Department of Psychology;
Christopher L. ("Kit") Salter,
Department of Geography;
Norman J. W. Thrower,
Department of Geography (b. 1919)
I have never had ambition.

That said, I've accomplished a few things.

But mainly by default. Because I'm active and curious and like learning and doing stuff. Not because I was striving for something in particular.

Truth be told, the main reason I ever got a PhD is that my friends Tom and Michele told me they were betting I wouldn't finish. That got me going.

(It no doubt also helped that I grew up thinking everybody got a PhD. Unless you were a mom. But that caveat didn't apply to me, even potentially.)

For the dissertation, I was interested in what I looked into (textbook maps), but I'm sure my research made not a whit of difference in the world. I expect that textbook maps are just as lame now as they were twenty-eight years ago.

So I guess my interest in the subject, and in talking to teachers and to students, was what kept me going. Not the PhD per se. Because goodness knows, I haven't used it.

So yeah: that, I think, is a good thing. I was interested. It wasn't "about" ambition.

Even in my "career choice" (freelancing gadabout), ambition has not played a role. (Nor has money. Thank goodness David found gainful employment.)

But yet . . . all that said: I have achieved things that some people sweat bullets to get. So . . . why don't I value my accomplishments more?

That might be fodder for another post. Or, more likely, for a (personal) journal entry.

You don't think I'm divulging everything here, do you?


Two things: I am surprised to find nothing on the Web about two of my committee members, especially Kit Salter, who was a dynamo. And I wonder about my committee chair, Dr. Thrower—a sweet, sweet man. I feel guilty, as his last doctoral student, for having dropped out of his life. Maybe I should write him?

And . . . I really should not even have the PhD because I did not in fact pass two foreign language exams: I only passed one (German: a perfect score). That said, I took, and passed with flying As, classes in Hebrew, Arabic, Japanese, and Dutch—so I am grateful that the department secretary told me to just shut up about the second exam. I would've passed it, no problem.  (This is the first time I have ever confessed this particular transgression in public. Yes, I am an impostor. And no, I'm not.)


  1. some impostor! hahaha ... tremendous respect for you - took me ridiculous amount of time just to finish my Bachelors and would still love to go on and get a Masters just for fun...

  2. "the department secretary told me to just shut up" the weighted power of the clerical staff. only fools ignore this. I'm with smack on this one. I'm really impressed at the perfect score in German.. knock it over map girl!!