Rev. Dr. Mom created an interesting meme, looking at her life through snapshots of Leap Days through the years. So here's my version of this:
Feb. 29, 2004: Four years ago, I was in my third year at St. Martyr's. I had settled into a fairly regular and quite bearable unhappiness by this point and was fully prepared to maintain this level of unhappiness for the rest of my career. This scares me now. On a happier note, D. and I had had a church blessing the fall before, followed by a Canadian marriage ceremony on our honeymoon a week later.
Feb. 29, 2000: Eight years ago, I had finished my Ph.D. the summer before and was still hanging around Grad School as a post-doctoral lecturer, which was actually a really good gig but which felt like institutionalized failure to me. In fact, I was so ungrateful and generally freaked out about life and melodramatic about my career that I actually used the terminology "institutionalized failure." Right around this time I took the dramatic step of turning down a tenure-track job offer, even though I had no other job in sight. It was just so clear to me that I would fairly quickly sink into depression and perhaps alcoholism if I went to this school; this would have helped me fit right into the department, but I didn't think that was a good trade-off. Lovely, lovely Grad School did give me another year of lectureship, and for that I was very grateful even in the midst of my personal melodrama.
Feb. 29, 1996: Twelve years ago, I was in Grad School, working as a Teaching Assistant (probably for some American lit for non-majors lecture, which was my bread and butter), and preparing for my second round of oral exams, this one defending my dissertation prospectus. That would happen successfully later in the spring. I was very, very single and alternated between being upset and being fine with this state. This was right about the time that I returned to church for the first time in years; I didn't admit to anyone for months and months that I was doing this.
Feb. 29, 1992: I had only a last few months to go in my M.A. program, which had been Incredibly Un-Fun the whole damn time. It was clear to me by this point that I had no interest in an academic career, since grad school was clearly tedious and pointless beyond anything imaginable, and I really wasn't sure what I was going to do next. (Clearly my lovely Grad School was NOT the same school where I got my tedious M.A.) I was in a long-distance relationship with a woman living in a far-away state; this was my first relationship with a woman, and in hindsight I had clearly made the classic mistake of equating sex with everlasting love. Sadly, I didn't figure this out for quite a while. We live and learn.
Feb. 29, 1988: This was my junior year in college, and by gum, this was a good semester! The previous term had been really rocky in terms of grades, and I'd come home for winter break and done some serious soul-searching about why I was in college, why I wasn't doing well there, and how I could get my act together and make the next year and a half count for something. And I came back in a blaze of glory and was a kick-ass student for my last three terms, such that professors would sometimes pull me aside and ask, "Where have you been all this time?" I'd been dating a guy for over a year at that point in my first Serious Relationship, and we were rock-solid and were clearly going to be together forever. Which is to say, we dated for eight more months before he dumped me for a blonde freshman; I had some relationship issues after that.
Feb. 29, 1984: This was my junior year in high school; I was News Editor of the high school newspaper, rockin' my way through Latin class, and trying desperately to fit in socially while being absolutely convinced that I never would. Yeah, that sounds about right for high school. My English teacher was on a one-quarter leave to recover from brain surgery, to have a brain tumor removed, which freaked out my entire class; he would die a few years later when the tumor returned. My class all chipped in to buy him a copy of Whitman's Leaves of Grass, which we knew he loved, and we all signed the fly-leaf for him.
Feb. 29, 1980: I was in seventh grade, and my parents had separated about six weeks before. I was probably in a tailspin just about now. This is apparently when I started biting my nails, a habit that would continue unabated until mid-grad school, when I chipped a tooth doing so! Apparently I have very strong fingernails. Not uncoincidentally, seventh grade is also when I became a fabulous student; clearly the opportunity to have something under my control was not to be missed.
Feb. 29, 1976: I was in third grade and was in my first year in the public school Gifted and Talented program, where I was as much as a misfit as I had been in the regular public school program. A sad little childhood in some ways.
Feb. 29, 1972: I was not quite four years old. Who knows what was going on with me that year?
And who knows what will be going on with me on Feb. 29, 2012?