Thursday, February 25, 2010

Light bulb scientists

To say that we are anxious to hear back about grad school would be an understatement. Already having been turned down by two schools, we are always at the edge of our seats almost biting our fingernails while we wait for news from the remaining four. It comes up in conversation every night.

Another nightly discussion: back up plans.

Right now our back up plan is to find some sort of job somewhere. Kind of sketchy for a “plan,” but it will do. We’ve been looking into several possibilities but mostly are hoping Andrew gets accepted into a program somewhere. Neither of us takes rejection very well and I’ve found, for myself, that if I have other plans that I’m looking into that rejection feels better—less like a bucket of cold water being dumped on your head and more like “oh, that’s okay ‘cuz this new plan was my favourite, anyway.”

Last night I suggested that Andrew could apply to teach at a foreign school, like Cairo American CollegeAsia Pacific International School…or Shanghai American School…or somewhere. There are a lot of schools out there.

At the mention of China Andrew said, “That has nothing to do with the Middle East.”

“It doesn’t have to,” I said, “You could teach history or Arabic or math. At this point, you could do anything. You could be a…”

Like a two-year-old I then trailed off and searched around the room for inspiration.

“…light bulb scientist…”

“I’m not a scientist.”

“You’re a social scientist,” I suggested with a smile.

“That doesn’t have anything to do with light bulbs. Or China.”

“It doesn’t have to. Dr. Kholousy taught at a university in Japan—which doesn’t have to do with the Middle East…but needs people to teach about the Middle East. See?”

“Are you saying she had a light bulb moment?”

“I’m saying she created a job niche for herself to fill. We can do the same thing.”

“What does that have to do with light bulbs?”

“Nothing. I was just trying to think of an occupation and nothing was coming. You could be a tongue ring designer or a sandwich putter together or…”

“Wait, light bulb scientist was just a random job title you came up with?”

“Yes. There is a light bulb right behind your head.”

“Oh. Wow.” Andrew said.


“I was going way too deep with the whole light bulb thing. I thought it was some old Canadian saying or something and was trying to figure out what it meant. I basically had two theories.”

The first was that I meant he’d suddenly get a brilliant insight to the course his life was supposed to take. The second was that I meant he shouldn’t pigeonhole himself into any particular trade—like how, say, Thomas Edison* did by inventing the light bulb because we all know what a flop that was. No one uses those things anymore.

We had a pretty good laugh about that. I wonder how much of my randomness he passes off as Canadianisms.

“Weird. She always leaves an inch of water in her glass after dinner. Must be a Canadian thing.”

“Did she just lick her dinner plate? Must be a Canadian thing.”

“Huh. She just said ‘making hay while the sun shines.’ Must be a Canadian thing.”

“She drools. Must be a Canadian thing.”

He must think Canadians are really weird.

* But who, really, invented the light bulb? Edison? Swan? Woodward? Davy? Coolidge? It seems to me that the light bulb was a longtime coming. Edison “developed” the idea of a light bulb, sure, but saying he “invented” it is a little too generous, in my opinion. Another one of those American myths we’re taught in grade school. And Andrew totally could be a light bulb scientist. Light bulbs only last, what, 1500 hours? That could totally be improved upon.


  1. I hope you find the right path for your family soon, be it grade school or a job. I know how hard it is not nowing where you are going to be next.

  2. I hope you all hear from a great grad school just waiting to let Andrew in. And I hope you hear soon. I hate being in limbo, so last spring was really long while we waited to hear if mark had a job somewhere. We both hope that we can teach internationally after our kids are grown up or if they want to go to while they are still in school. Good luck!

  3. Very funny story. Thanks Nancy. And, I guess we are a bit weird sometimes, eh? Best wishes with your future plans!

  4. AHAHAHA. I'll have to keep that in mind with your brother. He often says things that make me wonder. (Though until now I've never thought, must be because he's Canadian.) *applauds Andrew's genius* ;)