05 December 2008

The Doctors

Another trip to the doctor's today. It seems that everywhere I go, I'm around doctors.

Of course, today I went to a "real" doctor for some testing. I say "real" in homage to something Jimmy, the owner/bartender of a place I used to frequent back in the day, used to say, "If he can't take our yer appendix, he ain't a doktuh."

The "real" doctor is part of the practice at Callen-Lorde, where my regular doctor practices. Today I went to be tested for STDs as well as Hepatitis A, B and C. I'm negative for HIV/AIDS and STDs. (That's because I'm such a goood girl!;-) Just ask Dominick. ) They'll know about Hep when they get the lab results. And I'll have to go for those same tests again as the date for my surgery grows nearer.

More testing. You'd think I was in school or something.

OK, so I am. Except this time I'm on the other end of the classroom. Karma is funny that way. I was once a student who dreaded, or was bored by, most of my teachers and profs. And now I'm that same object of fear and disdain--for some students, anyway.

I also think now of how, as a student, and throughout my life as a man, I dated women who were, with two exceptions, older than I was. And now I'm the older woman.

Does that mean that if I'm a patient for long enough, or if I'm a bad enough patient, I'll become a doctor, too? Of course that's a joke; I realized long ago that I don't have the temprament or aptitude for such things, or even for all the science courses I'd have to take.

These days, when I'm not around MDs, I'm around the other kind of doctor: the kind who can't take out your appendix. Of course, I'm talking about PhDs. The professors and administrators in question have earned them in all kinds of subjects: from English all the way to specialties of which I'm not aware.

And then there are the "Ed" doctorates. They've earned Doctorates in Education, which are called EdD's rather than PhD's. How they're different, I don't know. But I know this: No one is more adamant about being called "Doctor" than an Ed Doctorate.

At one time, I thought about going for a PhD. I went so far as to retake the GRE and to send out applications. Every one of them resulted in a rejection. I haven't subjected myself to that process again because, well, I only wanted the PhD for career reasons. At this point in my life, I don't think it will matter: If you want to become one of those professors who become monuments on campus, you have to start when you're young.

Plus, my two now-former friends are both PhDs. Each of them met my transition with a lot of verbiage that was both puerile and opaque, as so much of academic discourse is. And then they decided they didn't want me as a friend anymore. One has a PhD in Gender Studies (actually, Comparative Literature with a specialty in that area), the other's degree is in clinical psychology. So, as you can imagine, I'm not as impressed by such credentials as I once was.

Maybe that's all part of my karma, too. When I was young, I flaunted my reading and education--what little I had--totally convinced that I knew more than everyone else. Of course I do, but these days I don't say it out loud! And I also believed--as I still believe, in some way--that people become teachers and professors because they've failed at other things. I used to think there was nothing more pathetic than someone who grew up wanting to spend the rest of his or her life in school buildings.

Well, guess what? I'm teaching because I've never been able to sustain a living as a writer, and even when I accomplished other tasks in other jobs I've had, I never felt like I was successful. And I still don't feel that I'm a particularly good teacher, and I know I'm not meant to be a scholar. I mean, I'm having a hard enough time filling in the blanks for the course I'm scheduled to teach next semester: the one for which I was stupid enough to write a proposal.

I guess there are some tasks you have to leave to doctors. And I'm not one.

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