Posted by: unlikelygrad | September 12, 2010

always stretching

As a child, I decided early on that when I got old I wanted to be like my Great Uncle S. Lately I’ve been deciding that I want to be like my parents, too.

Theoretically speaking, my parents both retired 6 years ago. At least, that was when they quit their jobs and moved away from the area in which I grew up, when my dad started pulling his pension. What have they done since then?

My dad spent four years as a research associate at an overseas university. He got four significant papers from this research. During this time, my mom published the novel she’d started working on years before and started writing another one.

Next, they tried “settling down” in their retirement home. But they both got bored. Dad kept up his computational research on the side and started attending seminars at the local Well-Known State University. Mom tried tutoring and getting involved in various clubs. But this was not enough to keep either of them happy.

This school year they are overseas again, in China, as visiting lecturers at a university. Mom is affiliated with the English department–she teaches reading comprehension, composition, and public speaking (in English, for translators-in-training). She is teaching 6(!!!!!) classes.

Dad has signed on with the chemistry department: at their request, he’s teaching inorganic chemistry. Note that he’s an organic chemist who hasn’t seen inorganic since grad school (before I was born). But this didn’t faze him: last summer, when I visited, he spent most of the time poring over inorganic textbooks, working problems. It reminded me of the way I was just two years earlier, trying to relearn chemistry I hadn’t used for years.

Mom and Dad have a visa good for one year. I wonder if they’ll renew at the end of the year? Somehow I doubt they’ll ever be happy sitting on their duffs or even just enjoying themselves. They like trying new things, always stretching themselves to their limits in new ways.

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