My mom taught me to read at a young age in western North Carolina, so I skipped the first grade. The next eleven years were not very exciting: I became interested in music in the fifth grade (the same year the Beatles came to America), but then we moved to a school without a music program when I was in the eighth grade.
After high school I attended the University of North Carolina, where I got a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dramatic Art. Having nothing better to do after graduation, I stayed on and got an MFA in acting from UNC. I met my wife in drama school, and we went to New York City to try the acting thing.
Acting didn’t make us quickly rich and famous, and it became apparent that we wouldn’t have much time together if we continued as actors. Since Barbara is, in fact, the Love Of My Life, we decided to shift gears. In 1981 we moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where I was going to make it big in music.
Well, I didn’t make it big in music, but I had a day job at Vanderbilt University, where I started sitting in on German courses. My brilliant younger brother Howard the Nerd had studied some German at UNC-Chapel Hill, and I had always found that very cool. One thing led to another, and in 1992 I earned a PhD in German from Vanderbilt.
As Dr. Dave I moved my family once again, this time to Washington, DC, the Capital of Obfuscation and Acronym. I took a tenure-line assistant professor job at American University (known then as The American University, and rather pompously abbreviated as TAU–no kidding!). I was on track to be a German Wunderkind at TAU. But the year I was reviewed for tenure, a long-absent full professor decided to come back to Washington and teach again. Pffft. That was it for my higher-education career. (Schadenfreude in October 2005: the university president whose regime ousted me was himself ousted. Ah well…)
Desperate for a job, in 1999 I searched and finally landed a job teaching high-school German in the Loudoun County, Virginia, public schools. This turned out to be a great thing, since I love teaching teenagers and now have a job that is more respected in the community than being a “liberal college-professor type.”
Oh. Somewhere along the way, in the mid-1990s, I developed an intense interest in performance magic. In addition to teaching and podcasting, I am also a professional magician, specializing in “close-up conjuring for elegant events.” In 2004, readers of a local magazine voted me “Best Bar/Bat Mitzvah Entertainer.”
I still play music sometimes, and I live with the Love Of My Life in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC. (Our daughter is in college and our son’s writing and performing music around the country and in New York.) In fact, Barbara is now an official Word Nerd!
Life is good.
Email me directly: Dave Shepherd’s email
Check out my blog: Dave’s Midlife Blog
Read about my fellow Word Nerds: