Yesterday was my dear friend Stephanie's first blogiversary, or rather that of her blog, humanities researcher.
And looking at the date on it, I realised with a jolt that it's ten years today since I made the decision to resign from the very 'ancient and ramshackle' department she describes, and did so, three days later. At the time, it was more to do with feeling ancient and ramshackle myself, and knowing that I had to put a bomb under my life sharpish, or something very bad would happen.
Resigning from a tenured academic job was and no doubt still is practically unheard of, so everyone thought I had gone mad, and universities do not, alas, give you a package when you are a reasonably productive 44-year-old woman, ie someone they would rather keep than lose, so I cut myself loose with only my own savings and what was accessible of my super.
Looking back, I'm astonished that over those ten years I have somehow continued to scramble a living (usually well less than half of what I'd earned as an academic) out of freelance writing and teaching and have not at any point been absolutely obliged to get a Real Job -- though at one point I did lose my nerve and apply for one, which I didn't get. Fortunately this brought me to my senses.
It has not been an easy ten years, and some of it has been terrifying. But a year or two ago I read an article which listed -- though who knows where people get these stats from -- the top ten things that people most want to do before they die. At the top of the list: 'Be my own boss.'
I read the other day that Melbourne University, in its shift to the US model, plans to get rid of a quarter of its Arts Faculty staff. Had one stayed on another ten years, one could no doubt have got a great deal of money out of Melbourne University in exchange for one's quiet departure, and I hope a lot of my friends and former colleagues do exactly that. But there's no amount of money that I would swap for the decade that finished today.