Alert readers may have noticed that my brief biography at the top left has changed slightly to acknowledge the fact that I retired from the university. My last day was December 31st. I have had a long and varied career at many institutions before I spent the last 27 years at Case Western Reserve University and they were wonderful ones. The students we get here are just wonderful and teaching them was a joy and I have fond memories of many of them.
One of the best things about my job at the teaching center has been that it gave me the opportunity to meet and work with faculty and staff from every area of the university. It has brought me into contact with people who do fascinating work in so many academic disciplines and this environment was perfect for an intellectual dilettante like me who enjoys learning about all manner of things. It is such a luxury to have people who can provide authoritative information about the most esoteric of topics and who so freely shared their time and knowledge. What is also truly remarkable has been the extremely high levels of friendliness and collegiality that I have experienced from practically everyone, and the strong support I received from the university administration.
Given the fact that working at CWRU has been so enriching and enjoyable, the question arises as to why on Earth I would I choose to walk away from what has to be seen (and I have described to others) as a dream job. The answer is quite simple. The attraction of staying on was very strong but there was the competing pull of wanting the luxury of writing full-time. The latter pull kept getting stronger until I finally felt that I could not resist it any longer.
Adding to that was the fact that at some point, one should leave and make room for younger people with greater energy and new ideas to take over. I read a long time ago that we baby boomers never want to leave the stage. We want to act as if we are ageless and keep on going forever, squeezing out the next generation, justifying our action by inventing catchy little slogans as we go along, like “50 is the new 40”, “60 is the new 50”, “70 is the new 60”, and so on. Unfortunately, many people have to keep working because they have no choice. They really need the money and one should not force them out. But for me whose wants and needs are few and can afford to retire, there was no compelling reason to continue and the desire to write full time was a good reason to exit the stage.
So it is with some regret that I leave a place that has been so good to me. But I do so with eager anticipation of the next phase of my life, as I write the books and articles that I feel I still have in me and are screaming to get out, whether the literary world wants them or not.