14 March, 2014


astonishing how quickly a person gets used to a frenetic pace, to constant demands, to an almost utter lack of free time. grad school, as i've often complained, has been an intellectual disappointment in many ways. even though i've been ridiculously happy here, i really wish there'd been more of a challenge, beyond the self-imposed ones, and the ones that came from working with some awesome self-motivated people. well, in the last several months that wish has come true, and, as such things are wont to do, it came true with a vengeance.

my final project course is being taught by a new professor, still full of vim and vinegar and robust expectations nourished upon the fertile soil of ivy league schools. we disappoint him, but still he pushes us. he pushes us past the point of breaking, and we do not break; he pushes us past our abilities and we miraculously find hidden stores within ourselves; he pushes us past the limits of time and we manage to get things done and often early. we are almost done, feeling done with learning, and find ourselves, in the space of the last several months having learned so much new information and skills that they rival the first semester. i am exhausted. i am spent. i am tired of staying at school till 10pm every night, clickety-clacketing at the keyboard, creating graphics that just 2 months ago would have seemed impossible, making peace with programmes that used to bring me nightmares: i'm just tired.

 but i am also excited to finish with a bang and not the whimper afforded by the other two classes in this semester, classes whose presence registers only as an annoyance and time stolen from the final project which consumes us. aside from shiny new computer and graphic skills, we are also being pushed intellectually, discovering new ways of seeing, thinking, planning. despite a stress-induced blow-out a week ago (two weeks? three? who knows anymore?!) where i told him a few choice words and he responded by calling us lazy incompetent bureaucratic paper pushers (the first two words were implied; the last three painfully explicit), things are moving along and we have made peace with each other. i like him a lot - he can be pompous, does not deign to listen to opinions contrary to his own very well, he can sometimes bludgeon with the strength of his convictions, but i just really like the man, and a big part of this is the feeling of being given my degree not on a silver platter, wrapped in gratuitous A's, but earning it after a long hard slog through a battlefield.

we are ⅔ of the way through the course, and have a rather important presentation today, following which will come a weekend without an assignment. having spent the last (insert reasonable number here, i no longer have any idea) weekends armpit-deep in project work, this feels like an unprecedented and unhoped for luxury. crusty juggler asked if i wanted to go on a shopping trip - for once (having bailed on dinner plans weekend after weekend), i might, i just might be able to do it. what joy!

one last thing to note, though, is that in light of the way this semester has played out, the thought of spending 6 weeks in poland and then nepal feels far less like a dream vacation than a sentence. i am going to plead for leniency with my dad - maybe we can postpone nepal to another year (cannot postpone poland - one does not postpone a trip to see a 93-year old woman) and instead do something easy. something that does not add to the stress that has turned by gut into a gigantic mess (hello IBS! how nice to be finally diagnosed!).

at any rate, this is my life, for better or worse. i do miss you. hang in there. i think i might be back at some point.


Tom said...

A brilliant post, because it helps to shine a piercing light on the experiencing of worthwhile achievement. It reminds me of my way back when..... But enough of that.

It is strange that sense of something being drawn out of one like an unexpected flower, rather than being implanted into one, like a plant into foreign soil.

It has been a roller-coaster ride for you, and the rest at the end will be welcome and much deserved. I rather liked the 'having a few choice words with him.....' Not only is that unashamedly you, but he also responded positively, and apparently without rancour or resentment.

Finally, it would seem to be a good idea to avoid the trip to Everest as it appears that all visitors to the base camp must now return carrying 8kg of rubbish to help clear the site. [Well you can carry just so much baggage in one lifetime. :) ]

polish chick said...

well, tom, you made my day with the 8kg garbage. it's only fair! i'd make the assholes carry more, and yes, i include myself in that company!

as for the lack of rancour or resentment, that part came later, AFTER he insulted us as a group.

Zhoen said...

I remember finishing school and losing all sense of time and pace. Took a long while to settle.