Yeah, yeah, I know. Most important election in our nation’s history, and where have I been the last few weeks? Largely absent from the blogosphere.

I’m a bad blogger. No cookie for me.

Well, that’s changing, but first, I guess I owe you all an explanation, my dear non-existent readers.

As some of you may know, I decided this summer to take the fall semester off from my doctoral program, so I could decide if I was really on the right track. See, I wasn’t really happy doing the research I was supposed to be doing, and I had a major case of writer’s block with respect to any academic writing.

Funny thing was, I could write stuff for the blog and creative stuff on the side. So it wasn’t writer’s block in the traditional sense. I just couldn’t write papers for my classes, or things for my assistantship (basically a part-time job that got me tuition waivers and health benefits in addition to a modest stipend). I would stare at the computer for hours, feeling paralyzed. The words I could force out did not flow well, and paragraphs were not connecting with each other. It was a real mess, and not at all the norm for me.

I figured this was my subconscious trying to tell me something.

So I packed up most of my stuff and put it into storage, and put the rest into a U-Haul trailer and hauled it all to my brother’s house in Colorado Springs, where I’ve been living in the basement guest bedroom and trying to figure out what to do with my life.

And while I’ve been doing that, I’ve been getting back in touch with my creative side, which has been largely stifled (aside from this blog) for the last twenty years or so as I tried out various “safe” traditional career paths.

Years ago, at the end of high school, I could have gone one of two ways. College, or art school. I had done a lot of drawing and painting as I was growing up, particularly in junior high and high school, and I was actually pretty good. And I really enjoyed it.

But everyone kept telling me how hard it was to make a living as an artist. I would be much better off if I pursued a more traditional career path. I could always paint on the weekends, right?

Plus, I was (and still am) squeamish about the idea of attaching dollar signs to my art. I want my art to be the stuff I want to create, not something that someone else wants me to draw or paint for some specific commercial purpose.

So I tried the safe route. And it just about killed my spirit completely.

But all that’s changing now. I have decided to hell with traditional career paths. To hell with academia. To hell with collecting any more graduate degrees.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been sort of setting up some workspace and acquiring various art supplies. I’m taking a couple of classes at a local art school to refresh my memory for various painting techniques that I’ve forgotten about over the years.

And I’ve been painting. And drawing. And writing.

And it feels wonderful.

It’s also a little scary. I will be working without a net for a while, as I try to put together art and writing portfolios.

On the art side, I’m doing this without any art school degree, and hoping that someone will think my art is good enough to sell. I don’t want to even contact anyone until I have enough pieces that I am satisfied with to show to someone in the art business, and that’s going to take a bit of time.

I’m more confident on the writing side – I have, after all, made my living with words for many years. Still, it will be a while before I have anything outside of this blog ready for publication.

I’m not kidding myself – it’s going to take a lot of work and a fair amount of time. I’ll probably have to describe myself as an artist/writer/barista for a while, because student loans are going to start coming due soon, and I’ll need some form of income.

But at least I finally feel like I’m on the right track.

So last Friday, I contacted my advisor at my doctoral program, and told him I wouldn’t be returning to Redstatesville to complete my degree. And I called my boss at my assistantship, and thanked him for all his support as I worked on the doctoral degree, and told him I wouldn’t be returning.

I feel free.

All of this does raise one question with respect to the blog, of course.

Oh, I plan to keep writing things for it, especially for the next two weeks and probably at least for the remainder of Bush’s term in office. (Remember him? Our alleged president? Seems like you hardly hear anything about him these days, huh?)

But my whole reason for blogging under the name jane doe has now gone away.

When I started the blog, I adopted the pseudonym because my boss at the assistantship expressed concern that if I blogged under my real name, it would limit the projects he could have me work on. We did some work for local politicians in Redstatesville – from both parties – but he feared that clients might Google me to find out about me if I were working on projects for them, and if a Google search would lead them to my blog they might be offended.

And thus, I became jane doe.

At the time, I said that if my circumstances changed, I would go ahead and out myself. After all, I think a person should stand up for what he or she believes in and be willing to sign his or her name to it.

But here’s the thing: I’m kind of enjoying being jane doe.

First of all, it’s kind of cool having a pseudo-secret identity.

Plus, I kind of feel that being jane doe is what started me on the right path to where I am going with my life now. Under my real name, I wrote a bunch of stuffy academic articles and book chapters that will no doubt be forgotten amid the sea stuffy academic writing from other people living and working in the ivory tower. Hell, under my real name, I was a freaking attorney for seven years.

But as jane doe, I’ve written this blog for nearly two years now, and have finally figured out what I want to do in life.

So I’m kind of thinking of hanging on to the pseudonym, and seeing where it takes me.

I will have to ponder this for a few days, I suppose.

Any thoughts or suggestions, my dear non-existent readers?

jane doe