The story I tell myself

At the age of 29, I am about ready to graduate from the 23rd grade. I never meant to get into Academia – it was never a part of the plan.

The plan? I’ve really never had a plan. Yet here I am about to get a PhD in, literally, planning.

I suppose that story starts with a rebellious boy in the suburbs of Ohio, riding his bike further and further afield, taking the rare bus just to revel perversely in the very impracticality of it. I was exposed early to the ugly side of “car culture”, something which left some tangible marks on my body and my mind. I moved to “the big city”: Cincinnati! and quite by accident ended up in the college of Design, Art, Architecture, and, oh yeah, planning, I guess.

Well, as it turns out, there are no planning jobs in Cincinnati – we were never meant to stay there once we finished even if it hadn’t been for the recession. I spent a year after graduation hawking my various skills to anyone who would listen, variously making maps, analyzing data, but also sewing and making clothes and doing alterations for people. I’d taken up sewing a few years before to better manage the gap between my taste in clothing, my budget, and my awkwardly tall body.

Around this time I started a blog about transit, which I can now see was also just as much about my own anxieties and frustrations, projected onto the struggles of an underfunded and misguided transit agency. I was slamming their mismanagement with data and design, doing something I would shortly learn could be called Transport Geography by certain academics.

The week I learned I could get paid to do this in grad school was the same week I applied. All too soon, two years was up and I had to walk away with my new piece of paper. Being, as I’ve said, the type to not make plans, I wanted to keep doing this thing which was working for me, even though it necessitated another move to “the big city”: Toronto this time.

Now four years later, the time is up again and decisions are to be made. Psychologically, the plates have shifted. I’ve gone from being too big for my boots to being handed a huge pair that I know will never fit, will cause damage to my feet.

This is where the story trails off, leaving the reader and I unsatisfied.