Like a lot of professors, I went straight from undergrad to grad school to the academy. But before I did, I took a gap year that lasted 12 years. My first career was as a clown, performing in circuses, cabarets, and festivals across the United States and Europe. I spent a few years trying to establish myself as a cartoonist, running my own graphic design studio and working for a small town newspaper. When I finally started college, at 29, I longed for educational experiences, like spending a summer in a Benedictine monastery.