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    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

Connecting Outside the Ivory Tower
March 28, 2010 - 7:33pm

I take a singing class on Monday nights. This is joyful recreation for me, as well as a nostalgic experience -- I studied acting, singing, and movement at this theater school in my youth, before I was seduced into graduate school by the prospect of regular meals and the possibility of aging gracefully.

There are a number of gifted performers in my class, but two women have stood out for me. Beth has a beautiful, clear, near-operatic soprano voice and the movements of a dancer. Antonietta has a rich, dark alto and an engaging stage presence. Both seem to derive the same excitement from singing, and from the class in general, as I do, and I had assumed, both from the quality of their singing and from their enthusiasm, that they were professional performers.

Several weeks ago, Beth and I started walking to the subway together after class, and then emailing between classes. I learned that she is, indeed, a pro, and has been performing since childhood. She's also a TV newscaster, which I probably would have known if I didn't live in another dimension. She is now pursuing a Ph.D. in criminal justice, with an emphasis on women's issues, though she'd prefer to keep singing, dancing, and acting.

Antonietta disabused me quickly of my illusion that she was a singer by mentioning, early on, her nervousness about performing in front of the class. I still thought she might be like me, an ex-performer getting her feet wet again, but no, she told me, she's a doctoral-level occupational therapist who uses music in her work.

The class focuses mostly on solo singing, but people occasionally work together, and the three of us recently decided to try a trio. We've been group-emailing, first about song choices and then about dissertation topics, procrastination techniques, career choices vs. aspirations, and so much else. What are the odds, we've asked each other, that the class would attract three Ph.Ds? I'm so glad we found each other. We're having a blast. We're working on "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy."

We've decided to call our group The Doctors.


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