Back To School — An Introduction

After the end of my old blog, The Mrs. decreed that before her health got too bad, she wanted to fulfill her lifelong dream and go live in France for a few years. Of course, our finances would not allow us to do that — Paris is obscenely expensive in terms of apartment rental, not to mention all the other stuff — so she came up with a Grand Plan.

“You’ll just have to work there to support us.”

“Doing what?”

“Teach. At an American school or something.” (Grand Plans, by definition, are somewhat vague on details.)

“But I can’t get a teaching job without a university degree.”

“So get one.”

Therefore at age 55, it was back to school for Kim, with (in the Bard’s words): “shining morning face, creeping like a snail unwillingly to school”. One and a half years at community college to get the “core” courses (what I thought would have been covered in high school, silly me), followed by one and a half years to get my B.A. (I took on a per-semester course load which would have made John Milton weep, and took every summer class I could).

Anyway, to make a very long story not quite so long, at age 58 I graduated summa cum laude from University of North Texas with a B.A. (History, Modern Western Europe emphasis).

During my last semester at UNT I started looking at American schools first in Paris, then elsewhere in France as a backup. (I speak both French and German more or less fluently, but The Mrs. didn’t like the idea of living in Germany even though it would have been a lot easier to find a gig at a U.S. military base.)

Then Connie’s health went over a cliff. First, her back collapsed completely, necessitating several spinal operations which didn’t help, but reduced her height from 6’1″ to 5’11”. Mobility was going to be an issue, so a ground-floor apartment in Paris was going to be the only option.

And then came cancer: Stage 4 ovarian, with a 95% mortality rate. At that point, a move out of the country was clearly impossible.

I’m not going to dwell on the latter, for reasons I’m sure you understand. What I am going to talk about, in the months that follow, are my experiences at an institute of hire learning [sic] and my encounters with academia. If you think of me as that “Connecticut Yankee in the Court of King Arthur”, only with a very bad attitude, you won’t be far wrong.

Oh, and lest anyone’s still curious about my finances and the need for a GoFundMe appeal, allow me to add just two words: student loans. The tuition at Collin College was paid in cash; the tuition at UNT was not.


  1. Welcome back, old friend! The blogosphere suffered from your absence but the love of your life benefitted from your love, devotion and humor to the nth degree. As it should be! I hope sharing your grief with us will lighten your burden. And congratulations on the degree!

  2. “I hope sharing your grief with us will lighten your burden.”

    Polly, you have NO idea how much it does. Thank you, and everyone else too.

  3. Wow, a humanities degree during the second decade of the new millenium for Kim DuToit. As someone with experience working in academia I am frankly surprised your head didn’t explode before you got the piece of paper in hand. ;-p

    Seriously, I know the value derived from working towards the paper, and that it’s not all asshats (even if asshats are currently in the majority). Looking forward to reading about your experiences.

    1. Norma, I ignored the bullshit as often as I could, and just kept my head down and worked like a slave. (By the way, one professor admitted to me after finals that she always looked at me after making an observation during her lectures, and winced if she saw me laughing to myself because that meant I thought she was talking shit. Only once did she ask me what was so funny, and I demolished her entire thesis in about two minutes. She never did THAT again.)

  4. I’m so glad to see you back on the ‘net, but doubly sad to hear the reason.

    And I too look forward to reading your take on college/university in the 2010s.

  5. Kim,

    My condolences on your loss. I hope the rest of your family is well.

    Glad that you are blogging again.

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