The other day I popped into Whole Foods to get some guacamole (their guac is really good), and in the checkout line I noticed the cashier had written "Dr." in front of her name on her name tag. "Dr. ___?" I asked. "Yeah," she sighed, "I have a PhD." I pressed further: "What subject?" and she sourly named an area of biology that is probably hard to find a job in. By then I had paid and someone was waiting in line behind me, so the conversation was over.
I wonder why she seemed so unhappy. Maybe she simply was having a bad day. Maybe she doesn't like chatty customers. My guess, though, is that she resents having earned her doctorate and the best job she can find is working as a cashier at Whole Foods. I wanted to tell her that in my own small way, I can relate. I know what it's like to finish a doctorate, only to find yourself out of the field with an occupation with low (or no) pay and stifling tedium. (Not that we're alone, mind you. Half the cab drivers in this town have PhDs.)
I hate to say it, but lately I feel close to giving up entirely. I had to force myself to sit down and practice this afternoon. Once I got started, I enjoyed it, but it took giving myself a little talking-to. I'm just not in that groove these days. It's frustrating that family life constantly interrupts what little work I can find. I don't miss being a student, but I've been yearning for that feeling of being surrounded by other musicians and being stimulated by their energy and ideas. Every year that goes by since Anya was born, I feel like I lose a little bit more of that. I also feel like it doesn't even matter.