I'm going to admit a couple of things here. I try not to talk about them, because I don't want to offend people, and I don't want people to think I'm shallow. But they're true.
First off, I have a university inferiority complex.
I went to a state college close to home after high school. Deep down, I really wanted to go to UCLA, but I wanted to take care of people I felt needed me more (they didn't really, but it took me decades to figure that out). So I didn't apply anywhere but the local school.
Later I stumbled into a master's in education program at the same state college back in the 90's, without any forethought or plan. It turned out to be a useful degree, but I still felt that ache to be academically competitive.
When I decided to go back to school recently, for the LAST time, I knew I needed to go somewhere not easy to get into. Somewhere people had to work hard to get over the threshold. And the University of California at Berkeley was just a hop skip and jump from me, top-rated in public health, and, let's face it, has some pretty cool university mojo going on.
When I got IN to Cal, I was pleased, but I didn't have the pinch-me moment until today. I needed to go on campus to deal with some administrative stuff. While I was there, I got my student ID (my STUDENT EYE DEE! I'm, like, 107 years old, and I have a student ID!) and wandered around campus while I waited for a friend who needed a ride.
I got to hear the bells in the campanile, have a latte at a very cool grad student cafe, buy a Berkeley t-shirt, scope out the cheap lunch spots near my midday classes this fall. I even got my photo taken by a nice child, er, undergrad - that's me and Pappy Waldorf, famous football coach. I got to see public art and artistic architecture. I got to sit and listen to Strawberry Creek burble.
And it came to me that this is my new life. Mine. Then I got all goose bumpy.
Then I picked up my friend, Rose, and dropped her off at the home of a woman neither of us knew, several miles from campus, where she will wait for another friend. The woman asked us to come in and listen to some music she and a friend were playing, and we did (which, as you'll see, was very unlike both of us), and got to talking.
Rose and I were talking about a favorite theme, how we really don't like people much, even though people seem to think that we are the kind of people who are outgoing and bubbly. This is the second confession: I am not a nice person who loves everyone. I am a curmudgeon with a pleasant smile.
But our hostess said, oh! You should meet my friend Allan. He hates people, too.
Rose and I agreed that we'd probably like Allan. And the hostess said, he's a statistician! and Rose and I laughed and laughed and then explained that I was in Berkeley because I was starting a master's program in biostatistics, which I'd already described to Rose as the most people-hating profession except maybe executioner. Allan turns out to be one of my future professors. And then the kind hostess offered to hook me up with neighbors and friends and all manner of other people-hating nice people who are local and in public health data analysis.
Which struck me as pleasantly ironic.