I’ve spent the better part of 10 years trying to figure out what I’ve wanted to do next. Skydiving? Climbing some obscure mountain? Going into space? All things I’d considered before deciding that I’d stay home with my wee germ factories and write; two events that I’d not foreseen coming. I knew this wasn’t going to be one of those THIS IS MY DREEEAMMM kind of things for me.

Initially, I wrote because I had no one to talk to and with a husband who (then) considered a sixty hour work week to be “a slow week,” which meant I was pretty lonesome. Kids, especially challenging tots like my Alex, who demanded that I hold him every second of his first year of life, don’t exactly allow you the freedom to go out and make! new! friends! nearly the same way you can when they’re older.

When I discovered that I did, in fact, like to write more than clinical research studies, I finally felt like I’d found that missing piece; I’d discovered what comes next, which was both intensely liberating and oddly arousing. Writing, though, especially on Teh Internetz, I knew was going to be something that lacked staying power, and while I love what I do more than I love butter, I’ve known for a long time that I had to find something more; something that truly completed me (and not in the stupid fucking Jerry What’s His Name movie).

For many moons, I thought it would be a book – I had agents, a proposal, and a wealth of unpublished essays I’d easily compile into a book (and have) – until the great crash of Aught Eight happened and the publishing industry became more shaky about publishing new authors than a Chihuahua at the vet.

I’d toyed with the idea of self-publishing for upwards of five seconds before dismissing it as something I’d never be proud of. I mean, sure, I could beg my Pranksters to help me promote my book, but honestly self-promotion like that makes my vagina hurt – and not in a “climbing ropes in gym class” way. Self-publishing is a good fit for some, I know this, but not me.

So I dropped the idea of finishing the book like a hot potato and founded Band Back Together instead. That, too, I knew wasn’t a forever thing for me. Sure, the site will always be there, but I knew then that I wanted, well, more from my life.

Since I’ve moved out, I’ve been struck both by an incredible case of The Lurgy and some pretty heavy shit to go through. Having to reinvent your whole life at 32 isn’t quite as easy as it sounds, no matter how necessary it may be (and it is). As I’ve sat on the couch, watching endless episodes of shitballs television, trying to work up the motivation to do things like “pee” or “brush my teeth,” I’ve been dipping my toes into the murky depths of my mind, trying, once again, to figure out what happens next.

As someone smarter than me once said, “if you don’t like the end of this chapter, it’s not the end.”

And it’s not.

Rather than dwell on the past, thinking on all of the ways I suck at life, the decision I’d been waiting for smacked me upside the head in the middle of a Law and Order: Don’t You Dare Bitch About Your Life.

It was time to go back to school.

Whaaaaa? I can hear you all asking the computer, wondering if the meds aren’t working properly AGAIN.

Let’s step into the wayback machine, Pranksters.

Many, many years ago, I lived in this very same apartment complex with my then-boyfriend as an act of both teenage rebellion and an inability to see what came next. I’d like to paint you a rosy picture of those days, but that’s like putting lipstick on a pig. Lost doesn’t begin to describe how I felt and try as I did, I couldn’t see a way out. I was working at the time, at a diner known for making things like “Macaroni Cheeseburgers” and milkshakes, getting miserably low tips because the cooks “hadn’t done the hashbrowns right” or other such nonsense. I took less than zero pride in my job or, to be fair, my life.

My then-boyfriend once remarked snarkily – after I’d fallen the eleventy-niner time that week in the ice cream cooler at work and was making love to a heating pad – “Wow, I make just as much as you do and I get to sit at a desk all day!” He laughed, meanly, and had my back not been on fire, I’d have popped out his eyeballs with an iced tea spoon. Instead, I sighed, waiting, once again, to see what came next.


He’s what came next.

I discovered I was pregnant shortly after Christmas of 2000 at the not-so-scandalous age of twenty, moved home, and popped his enormous melon out of my poor girly bits. The path then was clear: fuck becoming a doctor and get a degree that allowed me to make more than 10 bucks an hour going through fecal samples (I was halfway toward my BS in Biology/Chemistry). I took another waitressing job, this time, one that I loved, and met Dave halfway through nursing school. We married shortly after I graduated and Ben turned four.

Okay, I said to myself, this is what comes next…

…until that old itch started back up again – I couldn’t stay at home with my kids without going insane, I loved to write, but it’s nearly impossible to make a living doing so and, quite frankly, it was time to figure out what I wanted to happen with my life now. I could sit and wallow, feeling sorry for myself, immensely sad about the way everything ended, or I could make a change and do something for me. Something that made me proud of myself. Something that would open doors where windows had been firmly bolted.

It was time to dust a dream I’d so carefully packed into a box 10 years prior and make it happen. It was up to me this time and I was going to do what I had to do to move on with my life.

It’s time to get my PhD in one of the hard sciences – micro, virology, immunology, forensics, genetics. I don’t know which one I’ll go for. Not yet. But I will.

It’s time – really time – to start over. Only this time, it’s going to be for me.

And for the first time in as long as I can remember, I can hardly wait to see what happens next.

41 thoughts on “What Comes Next

  1. Holy moly, Aunt Becky! The hard sciences are, like, hard. I am way impressed with you, even more than I was already. You go, girl! Personally, I love forensics, and sometimes I wish I’d focused on it. And you’d be all ready to hang out & shop talk with Dexter, which would be really, really cool. On the other hand, if you went with genetics, maybe you could take a look at some of my cousins and see if you could explain a few things? (I lean towards the ‘too many cousins marrying each other a few generations back’, but you never know.)

    Can we go ahead and start calling you Dr. Aunt Becky?

  2. No matter what anyone else says, because this decision has you so excited, it is the right one. So happy for you that you found out what’s going to happen next. Can’t wait to hear more about it!

  3. I can’t even tell you how happy in the no-no square this makes me! You can do this, I know it. Also, I vote for forensics because WHOA cool!

    Love you hard and I’m sooooooo proud you are thinking of YOU!

  4. EXCELLENT CHOICE! Welcome to the upgrade to Goddess. I was waiting for you to come to this realization (honest, no shit). Some people will say to you in a stupid voice, “But Becky, you are 32 years old. It will take 5 – 7 maybe 10 years to accomplish your goals.” Well, how old are you going to be in 5 – 7 – 10 years? The real question is “With or without your goal?”

    What an awesome message to your kids and to all the pranksters who are just waiting for a sign on “what to do next.”

    Don’t want to be a Debbie downer about the amount of time to be invested but I have a Ph.D. I just hope we don’t lose you to your “real work.” I’d sure miss you. I’m so proud of you “little sister.” – you fucking ROCK.
    P.S. I was 42 when I had to make my change or die.

  5. Awesome. I just saw this interview with Madeline Albright about how she became motherfucking Secretary of State AFTER she raised her kids, AFTER her divorce. Anything is possible when you want it for you, and you are going to rock this.

  6. HELL YEAH! You go girl, and we will cheer you on! So glad you’ve found where your nose should point and it’s high time you did something for you. I will do a celebratory happy dance for your next step!!

  7. You go Aunt Becky! The hard sciences phds open so many doors… figure out what makes you hot n’ bothered and chase it!

  8. I read your blog regularly but rarely comment, so the fact that I’m speaking up now means you’ve really written something above and beyond your usual top notch posts.

    School is a great path to take. A game changer.

    I’m pulling for you, Aunt Becky.

  9. I am so proud of you/excited for you/inspired by you that I can’t sleep! You are gonna do great things, AB (more great things) in the next 10 years, I just know it. I will be so, so very sad if you have to leave us, but I realize that if, in the progression of your life, you need to move on, it will be for the best. Love you!

  10. That’s pretty awesome. (Not surprising since you’re pretty awesome.) If you ever need to complain or vent about grad school, I’m your girl. If you want any help with anything grad school related, let me know. After all, I just went through the whole PhD thing (Biomedical sciences FTW!) and would love to be able to pay it forward. 🙂

  11. I am so where you are in your life right now. At 36 I’ve decided to write, while going to school, and raising five children. Psychology is my major. I started out as a paramedic when I was much younger, but then went a little crazy, quit my job, and worked as a lounge singer on a cruise ship for three years. I finally settled down and got married 8 years ago and started having children back to back. My husband is an Iraqi war vet. (PTSD Disabled) There’s nothing physically wrong with him. I wish he would work 60 hours a week. Hell, I wish he’d go back to Iraq. I just wanted to say that I understand. Having to reinvent yourself is challenging, but I am finding it fun too. I’ll keep following you and see it goes. I could always use a little inspiration. 🙂

  12. Yes!! Do it!! I thought about going back to university myself, but what I originally started to study (social sciences) doesn’t really do it for me anymore so until I find that subject that really fires me up, i’m stuck at the procrastination stage…

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