Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star Child

A post about being dysfunctional, cut so those of you who don’t really care don’t have to read it.

The job in Florida turned out to be a twilight zone episode. I did get a weirdness vibe from the conflict between the faculty and the provost there, and I wondered at the time if wisdom would dictate taking that job, but I managed to talk myself into the positives. Well, it turned out not to matter, because the search was scratched. All three candidates were turned down, and essentially, this after at least I was told about their urgent need for an administrator. The faculty didn’t like the candidates, the interim provost suggested. I know the fault was not with me. I rocked that interview. That situation down there, that’s broken.

So, I am best shut of it. And to count my blessings: still got a good job, still got a spouse who told me last night I was sensational (good with adjectives, my spouse), got a lot of people at work who realized it was going to be uncool to not have me around, so they’re glad I’m staying, and there’s my friends, who are just happy to have me around.

Of course, I am disappointed. More to the point, I wanted some success. For those of you who have been watching this show since season one, you know that I am from a dysfunctional family and I am the star child, the child that goes out and proves myself and formerly my family to the world. I often have that under control, but you know what? Even though my life is a tapestry of success (PhD, great job, great spouse, good friends, talented writer), I just wanted to have something new and shiny. I wanted some strangers to give me a shiny medal, to let me win, to make me feel of value.

That’s the psychological disadvantage, right there. I should feel of value intrinsically, regardless of what anyone thinks of me, and generally, with help, counseling, and support, I can pull this off. But you know, the constant no of writing is getting really, really old. We want to go to Florida anyway, and I feel like I’ve hit the blue ceiling at Kirkwood. It was nice to feel newly minted and get that approval from others, that I might be special. Clearly, I’m not getting that in writing, but now, as a professor, I do really shine. I shine in writing too, but no one really gives a damn about that.

So, I was looking for some outside approval, to the extent that I was considering taking a job that may have been a downgrade in my happiness situation. Of course, I had parameters. We never talked about salary, but I would have been the one turning it down if the pay hadn’t been high enough to manage two households. And they had to work with me regarding apartments and moving and such. But it didn’t matter. I didn’t get what I was looking for.

There is some enormous relief. I was not looking forward to moving and getting set up by January 4th or even January 11th. I get to live with my husband, instead of several states away. But now, there is disappointment.

I wanted to feel special for a while. In reality, it doesn’t matter that much. With us star kids, special lasts about 15 minutes anyway, and turns into tasks or the next thing right after. But it would have been good to have been that person for a minute or two. And that’s my struggle. You all like me and think I am awesome. I try not to measure myself in accomplishment and I fail sometimes.

So, right now I am disappointed and coming back from that. I’m thinking about whether it’s worth my while to keep hitting my head against the writing wall, and trying to find some other way to satisfy my artistic need that isn’t so reliant upon approval, which is my hang up. Maybe I just need to do my art and put it out there and not care about agents and publishers and all that. Maybe that’s what’s healthiest for me. Even now, part of me wants you to tell me that I will get picked up. I shouldn’t give a damn.

Did I mention that some of us are starting a podcast? Because gods, something like that that, with no strings attached to anything, sounded so refreshing.


It’s a grim day. This is also the day of finals for my two classes. I will probably fail the majority of my grammar class today, and I have at least two students turning in their writing assignments who had no idea what was due today for their portfolio. It is my semester of the most ill-prepared students ever, and that makes me very, very sad.

Bryon has his appointment with the gastroenterologist. We’ll see if he’s improved, and we’ll make our spring break appointment for his stomach mapping.

Now that I’ve taken a moment to disgorge that, I hope I will feel better. Alas, it is natural to feel sad. So, let’s ride that sadness and move forward.

Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

2 thoughts on “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star Child”

  1. It makes me sad that someone as accomplished and awesome as you is feeling this way! For whatever small amount it is worth, I believe in you!

  2. Thanks, Miranda. I appreciate what you said.

    Remember that I know it’s all illusory, and that I have a psychological problem. You don’t get out of a past like mine unscathed. At least it’s not a more serious aberration of my personality.

    I hope you have some very good news to share with us soon.

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