I’ve often found myself saying (to myself and others) that you should never make decisions when you are feeling terrible, but instead when you are feeling your best. Because in the end, every job, every relationship, and every life is going to have its low points, where you can’t imagine doing this forever or even imagine being happy doing it at all.

This is not to say that decisions shouldn’t ever  be made in low points; sometimes you need to hit rock-bottom to reevaluate your life. But in certain cases, like with your career, I try not to rule out a path just because it seems difficult or at times undesirable.

For example, since I just finished my Master’s thesis, I sometimes cannot imagine taking a project like this on again, to continue in school anymore. I look at all the research and feedback and time spent, and it exhausts me. But no matter how annoying and just plain frustrating the work can seem, it never outshines the exhilaration I feel upon completing a paper.

And I wonder, will I find that exhilaration in the business world? Is it confined to school? Perhaps this is the world’s way of telling me that this is what I’m supposed to do.

So I ask, should I make life-changes based on how amazing it feels to succeed in school? Should I commit more of life to this pursuit? Or should I go out into another career, and see if I can find the same kind of satisfaction? Will I let my desire for financial gain and a real “career” lead me away from academia? Or can I be in both worlds?

I can’t say yet. All I know is that I don’t want to let my worn-out sick-of-school feeling I have now dictate what the rest of my life will be like.

I’ll play it by ear.

And it’s an optimistic tune.

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Prepare for some schadenfreude.

Do you often feel that life’s annoyances come at you like holidays, grouped together in an intensive manner to cause the greatest distress?

If you don’t, maybe I need to come live with you.

So let me paint you a picture:

My cat has fleas.

She lives indoors.

HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN?

Sigh.

As I proceeded to purchase $52 of flea spray and shampoo, it occurred to me that if raising children is anything like raising cats, I may not be cut out for it.

And as I vacuumed every surface in the house, using attachments to get in every corner, I gathered the rugs and pillows to take to the washing machine.

And as I put a load of rugs into said machine, it died.

Unexpectedly.

Mysteriously.

Tragically.

Apparently even though you can wash small rugs in a machine for 3 years, it can suddenly decide it likes you no longer, and will quit like a stripper dancing for a guy who forgot his wallet.

And to add insult to injury, I don’t even own the machine, so now Grandma calls out a repairman. I ask my dad if I should pay for the $150-ish repair and he replies that it’s ok, she thinks I’m broke anyway.

Well that’s nice.

So now I have a pile of wet rugs, about 5 loads of unwashed laundry that will very likely have to be taken to the Laundromat, and a slightly bruised ego.

And tonight I get to – wait for it – give the cat a bath.

Did I also mention my thesis revisions are due in three days?

Admit it: so you wish you were me right now.

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I’m going to get a bit personal today folks, because, well it’s Valentines Day, and I CAN.

Yesterday the boyfriend (M) and I were heading over to a friend’s house for a Sunday barbecue. While sitting in the passenger seat examining myself in the flip-down mirror, the ever familiar thought that 99% of women frequently have (damn you Giseles) popped into my head: Ugh.

And of course, being a woman I often wonder if the thoughts I have about myself are all in my head, if the breakout I see under the makeup is actually visible, if the frizz on the back of my head is a hallucaintion.  This prompts me to ask M, “Do I look gross?”

– Now, let’s be honest, if a man has any semblance of a brain he will answer “Of course not!” quickly – but not too quickly, lest he appear false and lying. And this M did; he replied “No, you look good!” And then he paused and said, in a well-natured tone, “You complete me.”

He said it with a smile, almost in the way you might say something silly and exaggerated, like “you are the most spectacular quarterback in the world!” (me to him on that one), but there was something behind the laugh that made me think that there might be a grain of truth there.

And let me also say I had, not five minutes ago, declared that he “was the most annoying man on the planet.” But in this  moment in the car, I had the feeling that maybe it was true, not in the cloying-and-annoying-co-dependent-relationship way, but in an actual partnership sort of way. The I’ve-hitched-my-wagon-to-yours-because-I-want-to kind of way.

So maybe Valentine’s Day is an excuse for companies to sell massive amounts of candy, flowers, and the like, but before you dismiss the whole day, think that maybe, behind all that commercialism, there is genuine thought or emotion. That maybe when you’re buying candy for your significant other because society “forces you,” you choose their favorite kind.

And even if the thought ends up being from you to yourself, to quote Martha Stewart, “Its’ a good thing.”

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Well folks, grad school is almost over. Completed first draft of thesis over the break, and I’m down to the wire. Paperwork filed.

Is this the end?

Will I go back?

Do I need a 12-step program to wean me off school?

Maybe.

 

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Did I just tag “graduation?” Shit. YES I DID.

Society has interesting names for people who decide they want to do the same thing forever. Some positive, some not. We have “terminal bachelors” (aka George Clooney) and also “old maids” (aka librarians, sadly). We have “eternal optimists” and “eternal pessimists,” “career politicians” and those who will “go down with the ship.”

But what about the eternal student?

There are positive versions of this, of course: my grandfather was a member of a Life-long Learning program, and he had earned more credits in his lifetime than anyone in the history of the University. He had studied in some way at colleges all over, and out of, the country. But he also held regular jobs at the same time, so maybe we can’t exactly put him in this category. But should we?

While browsing around, I came across this interesting article titled “How to become an eternal student,” (source) in which the author poses theories about the different types of students:

“Most often when one refers to an eternal student the automatic assumption is that of the Truly Dedicated Eternal Student. This is often a student who has chosen random and rather bizarre course work. You most often find these students among Classical Studies or History students. The reason is simple. No one cares about those majors except the people in them. Who really needs to major in Sanskrit anymore? It’s a five thousand year old dead language. So students of these types of majors can always find something old to study and claim the need to study that fully before they move into “the real world”.”

And this is where I really started to chuckle:

“These students can always find something else to study because the stuff has been around so darn long. Since no one cares about these studies anymore these students are free to hide is the sunlight-deprived coroners of dusty libraries and remain free from responsibility. The major difficulty in being a truly Dedicated Eternal Student is to lie convincingly enough so that the parents, friends, the university, and financial supporters all believe that the student needs to remain ensconced in their studies.”

And I cannot deny that there is some truth in this. As a medievalist, and a student of Latin, there is a definite scorn from some people out there – the beauty of it being that the scornful ones usually don’t have a clue about such topics, so you can project an atmosphere of learned intelligence that tells them to back the f*&# off.

And then we come to the next type:

“The Multiple Degrees Eternal Student is a nefarious schemer. This student is the only eternal student to ever actually earn a degree. And not only do they earn one degree, but they earn several. The primary goal of this type of student is to have more letters after their name than in their name. They will earn a BA and a BS and an MA, MS, MPH, JD, MBA, MD, PhD, DrPH, and on and on and on. In some ways this Eternal Student is the most talented and most conniving of all Eternal Students.

Not only must they posses the intelligence and talent for earning these many degrees but they must convince others that they actually need these degrees. The danger, however, in being a Multiple Degrees eternal student is that, unlike other eternal students, these individuals have actually completed acceptable levels of education. At some point their financial support will revolt due to the immense financial burden these multiple degrees impose and the student is generally told to go ahead and utilize their degrees. The best counterattack to this type of difficulty is to be educated out of any possible job and so, after a brief interval, return to higher education.”

Hmmm, this is dangerously close to the conversation I’ve been having with myself lately, upon nearing the completion of my current degree. Something along the lines of, “maybe I should go to law school…” And let us not deny that along with the ability to bullshit in prose that comes with an English degree is the ability to bullshit others into thinking  that all the money spend on said degree is well-spent, and that you would be wise to spend more. Nefarious scheming, indeed.

The article closes with this piece of wisdom:

“The privilege of Eternal Student-dom is not to be taken lightly. At no other point in your life is it a) acceptable that you not know what you are doing b) normal for people to give you excessive amounts of money and c) expected that you will do dumb things.”

Now my question is, is this article serious in it’s admiration of students, or is it mocking their very existence? I can’t help but wonder if eternal students were ever respected culturally, or always viewed as some sort of self-fulfilling characacher.

There is a tendency to believe that school is not “the real world.” But what is the alternative; “the imaginary world?” Sound more fun, in my opinion. What does the “real world” offer you? Whatever it is, we need Prozac and Ambien to deal with it.

If I can make a living out of living in the “imaginary world,” you can bet that’s where I’ll be. And it seems to me that most people worth knowing will be there too.


New blog-look, what do we think?

It’s not a new year yet, but I feel the need for a change. And since I can’t bring myself to change my actual life, changing something is a small consolation.

The truth is, I’m unsure of what to do with my life. Or rather, there are several possibilities of what that might be, but they remain only possibilities. About 3 years ago right before choosing a grad school I found myself in a period of uncertainty, and I’m going to just say it: it leaves much to be desired. Literally.

I know it’s completely clique in this day and age to ask for something as simple and leading as a sign, but…. sometimes it’s all I can think of.

 

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard

  Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;

Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear’d,

  Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:

Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave 

  Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;

    Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,

Though winning near the goal—yet, do not grieve;

    She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss

 

It reminds me of this Keats poem; is it better to remain in a frozen state, stuck right before the moment of fulfillment, when everything is possible, nothing denied? I wonder.

When pumpkins start appearing on porch steps….

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…it’s almost Halloween!

The lovely time when culture encourages us to over-consume sugary-sweets, carve the heck out of pumpkins, cover our houses in fake spider webs, and roam the streets dressed up like crazies. But it’s so much more than that…

tumblr_lal1e2O3Iv1qzahuvo1_500.png  Maybe it’s because my birthday is right before the 31st, but I’ve always had a soft spot for the day. I plan my costume all year – this week I even got an idea for next year’s costume while shopping for this year’s.

But really, Halloween is a celebration of the my favorite season, full of caramel apples and hot cider. It rings of old-America, with all our graveyards, Edgar Allen Poes, witch trials, haunted houses, Pagan rituals, and vaguely-Puritanical beliefs.

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And let’s not forget Harry Potter….

But you know what might be one of the best things about Halloween?

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It’s the last holiday before the “Holidays” begin. The last hurrah before the gift-buying, turkey-baking, tinsel-throwing madness. You don’t have to visit your long-lost relatives, or worry about what to get your annoying brother for Christmas, or shovel snow out of the driveway.

You may, however, dress up like a complete tramp by adding “sexy” to any normal costume (sexy Chewbacca, anyone?), mix candy corn with alcoholic beverages, wear some form of animal ears/antennae to work, or watch It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown for the 10th time.

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Revel in the season, folks, and soak up all the lovely Orange

(…before the explosion of Red and Green.)