Sunday, November 8, 2009

meanwhile, in an alternate universe

Apologies for the delays in posting. Honeymooning and getting married has a way of eating up daylight hours - and sadly - that eats into blogging. But we're back. Or at least, I'm back. Pri has been tending tirelessly to our audience for the entire duration. Thanks, Pri!

I was always somewhat comforted by the sci fi concept of alternate realities. The idea of our universe forking at every major decision point and 2 copies extending forward comforted me. It was like a choose your own adventure novel in which every possible outcome was pursued. Those books caused my husband (gah!) great trauma as a child, but for me, they were comforting, since you could always discover "what if... "

We went on honeymoon to Greece, where we saw all manner of antiquities, from Minoan in Crete to Byzantine in Mystra (which, contrary to wikipedia, is quite a bit higher in elevation than 49 feet.) In the middle came the classical greek period which brought with it glorious theaters, the current incarnation of the acropolis (well, more or less) and Olympia. It was an extraordinary period, and one I fell in love with at 14 when I was first introduced to the Platonic dialogues and ancient Greece. For the past 16 years, I've wanted to go, and B was kind enough to indulge my destination. Of course, in exchange for the opportunity to make a video of himself running into the original olympic stadium (link to be posted soon.) 

One of the little luxuries of the trip was a personal guided tour of the acropolis by a real-life archeologist. She was the friend of a friend of a friend, and through this friend network (Shout Out - A & A) we met up with a few other archeologists of all sorts and ages (from metallurgy to byzantine) for dinner as well as Halloween festivities. This is where we meet the fork.

Had I been less pragmatic in my studies (computer science = pragmatic, while I did love it) and more indulgent of my philosophical tendencies, I am certain I would have been a classics major. I expect I would have had less archeological leanings and focused more on philosophy or anthropology, but my target would have been classical Greece. That would have led me down the PhD pathway, which would have, optimistically, dumped me into a professorial position a few years ago - not unlike the ladies we met in Greece, or my friend J.  

So, meeting a truly lovely group of people, albeit remarkably Australian in heritage, who had made that choice was fascinating. Their lives were so different from my own in many, meaningless tangible ways (one gets accustomed to the lifestyle afforded to a young software executive), but they had such passion for their work. I couldn't help but wonder whether I would have been better off pursuing my dream. Maybe it wasn't too late?

And then I realized... 

a) The idea of a PhD scares me. 
b) I don't think I would have enjoyed living in Athens
c) A big part of the commeraderie of people all immersed in the same type of work would be lost if I were not living in Athens
d) Being a lone classicist in a remote-to-Athens location, like teaching in Ohio, would sort of suck, since no one would get my hellenic/hellenistic jokes
e) I don't think I could teach undergrads about Socrates and the agora every year without sampling hemlock eventually (ha! get it? no? eh.. bah!)

But, I loved playing with the what-if, and meeting these brilliant researchers. Thank you, ladies, for pursuing your dream full time. The fruits of your labor are appreciated, even by those of us who just read Greek history in airports on the way to meetings.

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