“So do you remember–” my mom said over Christmas; a sentence that usually doesn’t end well. “Do you remember when you applied to Carnegie Mellon [where I did my undergrad], you had to write some kind of essay about why you wanted to go there?”
I shifted around on the couch, my dad’s cat grumbling in my lap. “A personal statement, it’s called,” I said, impatient. “Yeah. I remember.”
My mom shook her head, leaning out of her recliner. “No, remember? You asked us to read it, what you wrote.” She waved her hand at my dad, burrowed into the couch next to me. “And we made some suggestions about some changes you could make. And you said–do you remember what you said?”
Dad tapped my wrist, squeezed, his eyes focused the iPad in his lap. Mom didn’t wait for an answer.
“You said,” she chirped, “that that’s who you were, what you wrote, and if they didn’t want you, the real you, then you didn’t want to go there.”
“Oh,” I said, nodding at the past wisdom of a younger me. “No. I didn’t remember. But that sounds right.”
My mom bobbed her head, pleased. “That’s how you still work, huh?”
I watched my dad scroll for a minute, the glow of my online CV reflected in his glasses as he read the details of my academic life for the first time. “Yeah,” I said. “I guess so.”
Now what’s funny about this is that my attitude on that front hasn’t changed; when it comes to my academic life, at least, I still operate on the “take it or leave it” principle, in part because hey, I write about porn, Christian women, and fanfic. I can’t hide that on my CV; hell, that stuff IS my CV. Nor would I want to. But it does mean that anybody that considers hiring me is going have to get past (or be entranced by?) my unconventional research interests.
As a kind friend once put it, if anyone hires me, it will be because of what I do, not in spite of it.
And then there’s the whole “I write porn/romance/erotica about beautiful, fictional men” thing, too.