Pure & a PhD

Pure & a PhD

15 March 2012

Pure by Julianna Baggott

I’m reading Pure by Julianna Baggott. 104 pages in and WOW! I have a dream of doing a PhD in disability in SFF literature, and Pure is the kind of book to inspire me to hold on to that dream. Has anyone else read it? I have an ARC but I’ve been holding on to it for a while now, I believe it was published last month. NO SPOILERS PLEASE.

For those who would like to say ‘overachiever’ to the PhD dream, I give you the one fingered salute. People like me usually drop out before completing high school. 😛 I remember my mother and a friend of hers sitting in the kitchen downing a cask of wine discussing Germaine Greer when I was in primary school. They talked about how a woman had to work twice as hard to get nearly as far as a man in this man’s world. I knew then that I would have to work harder than any *normal* woman to achieve anything. I was in primary school and I absorbed this as fact without anyone actually lecturing me.

If I’m going to be completely honest, I failed ‘high school’. I finished grade 10 with decent grades, then moved back in with my mother. My grades promptly plummeted in year 11, barely passing 3 subjects and then I failed year 12. I left school and had a baby. Later I returned to complete year 12. The year I completed year 12 I had a 1.5 year old baby who turned 2 mid-year. I was hit by a bus and a week later broke my foot – all before the end of first semester. I still successfully completed year 12. (I wasn’t living with Mum anymore, huge advantage!) Several years later I started external studies to earn a Bachelor and then later a Master degree. All of this knowing what was expected of me: my very first school was the Bruce Hamilton Sight Saving School for the Visually Handicapped. I started grade one when I was 3 years old. The reason for this was that no disability access was on offer in high schools and I was expected to fail high school once I left the supportive environment of this primary school. The theory was to start me really young so I could fail a few years at high school before being too old to finish. Ironically my parents were busy making each others’ lives hell, so they took me out of that school aged 5 – I lost all disability access and support aged 5 and did not receive any more support until I was in high school, when I was given a telescope to read the blackboard and a magnifying glass to read small print.

It’s hardly surprising that I lean towards advocacy and over-achievement, A PhD in disability in SFF literature melds both objectives: advocacy in that my thesis would point to strengths, weaknesses and goals for future development. Over-achievement in that, deep down in my heart, I won’t feel I’ve measured up to my own standards of success until I get that poofy hat.

Note: Thanks very much for the supportive comments and likes in response to this post on DMF and my personal facebook pages; very much appreciated, very encouraging.

Previously published in Dark Matter issue 9.