Chez Shaffner

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Roasted Turnips and a Pervasive Sense of Underachievement.

Classes began two weeks ago at Harvard, my alma mater and current pass-through employer (my current consulting gig is there). Sometime last week there materialized a red newspaper box at one end of the crosswalk I navigate every morning between eight and eight-thirty. The Harvard Crimson, producing another batch of future featured columnists and eventual editors-in-chief of reputable glossies. Available for the unbeatable price of $0.00, and perfectly positioned for me to read while crossing the Square. (Reading while navigating heavy foot traffic: I highly endorse this sport). Today I share with you two trivial observations from my week’s readership.

Two days ago I was appalled--no hint of hyberbole here; my jaw actually dropped open for at least ten seconds--to find the dinner menu featuring, as one of its five items, roasted turnips. I remember mocking some menu items in my day. I mean, “bell-ringing beef?” Mmm. But roasted turnips? Wonder if they track any statistics on how many pounds of a given item they present vs. how many pounds end up in the dumpster?

Which brings me to today’s announcement that three MacArthur Genius Grants (that’s $500,000 for your information) went to Harvard alums. Cool. And not terribly surprising. But here’s what blew me away: two of the winners graduated from the college at the end of my freshman year. That pegs them at…young. So I dive into a few days of quiet wallowing in the reality of my underachievement. Used to happen once each year, but it’s starting to occur more frequently--at least once every four months. Makes me stop to rethink so many decisions over the years. Should I have found a way to suppress my distaste for biology and pursued a cure for cancer? Or studied econometrics and cured third-world poverty? Or devoted two years to teaching ESL? Why haven’t I started my own company? And on and on...

I suppose it’s healthy…inspires me to bang away 10% harder at the keyboard. Unfortunately I’m spending that 10% on this blog and my six loving readers instead of writing the Great American Novel. Speaking of which… I’d better get back to work--got a new chapter to write!

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