Wow, I really haven’t updated in far too long, but if you had followed me around in real time with a camera, internets….well, frankly it would have been a mix of sadness, giggles, exhaustion, medication, occasionally irrational outbursts, and usually ending up at laughing again. That’s something at least.
To use a great line from “The Princess Bride”: “Let me explain…no, there is too much. Let me sum up!” here is where we are at, the royal “we” being the lab students, my team, or even me since I’ve started thinking royally. This is a long one, but it’s been a long time!
We were supposed to give our powerpoint presentation early in the week; we had an unexpected delay; we ended up having an extra full week to tweak, fiddle with, receive comments about, and generally drive ourselves insane over the powerpoint presentation; we went last (LAST!); we turned right around and are now preparing the written report that gets handed in on the first day back from spring break.
In case I haven’t mentioned this part yet? Right now? Is Spring Break.
Never has maintaining a sense of humor been more important. I’ve not always been successful. At some point of trying to edit slides and consolidate, and get a rhythm going in my part of of the presentation, I pretty much melted down about the entire situation, and had to excuse myself to the ladies room for a good cry. (Funny, I excused myself from the room but now I’m just announcing it to the internet. Ah, egos are charming, right?)
Some random thoughts, moments, and notions as we FINALLY approach the conclusion of this round:
1) Every graduate program has one of these required elements, held up as an Amazing Experience Which Makes Us Different. They do have some distinctions, but at the end of the day simply put, what you’ll be doing is a big project, which will exhaust you, test your patience, and trigger enormous stresses. That is why regardless of where you enroll for your graduate degree, I seriously advise you to come up with something to help calm yourself when you need it, and to think about ways to take care of yourself. When you’re too busy to use those healthy tactics, at least you can daydream about doing them.
2) Never underestimate the healing powers of rice pudding.
3) In terms of #1, knowing that no matter where you are, you’d have some version of this to get through, you’ll come up with, or your teammates will come up with, at least 5 reasons why the way that these projects are structured is inherently wrong, bad, and a completely awful way to spend your time. I’d only share this: during my first MA I was one of those people, about master’s projects and orals, and who remembers what else, but I was definitely not shy about airing my opinion. This time I find I’m much more selfishly interested in when I might sleep again. Both are valid ways to be graduate students, but one of them has me less upset. Experience is AWESOME. My former grad school profs would be doing spittakes if they saw me these days, all “AHH, ok, let’s get through this” rather than suggesting a restructuring of–well, EVERYTHING. It doesn’t mean I don’t have opinions, comments, or things I’d suggest about how to refine this process–I think I’m just a little jaded about How Grad School Works. Part of that is that grad students and professors become pains to each other. In the words of Sean Penn, “I am well aware of how difficult I make it for people to appreciate me.”
4) Whole Foods has a really tasty hot food bar and I became really fond of the tofu mixed with quinoa salad. At some point towards the end of this half I became too busy to actually grocery shop, cook, or clean up. So finding any kind of sort of healthy food during the day was really critical. Other days,, Chipotle’s bean burrito bowl did the trick.
5) If you’re working full time during lab, there may be some awkwardness on all fronts–your employer will surely notice your fatigued and preoccupied state, your teammates will worry that you will become a shameless freeloading slacker, and you will vacillate between pride at not collapsing and fear that you are not doing anyone any good anywhere. I still haven’t figured out how to sit with this, so instead have volunteered to do as much in both places as I could, and try not to feel too guilty. (My friends who are working moms have inspired me a GREAT deal on this front.) You are not Gumby.
6) I really want to finish this round up, but I’m really going to miss my team. If you’re going to spend so many hours together, being around people who can work together and even laugh a little is so preferable, and I feel lucky that way.
I’m off to meet with my team again (aka my second family) and get this report into better shape. Hopefully, if all goes well, I’ll be finished and free this Friday. I am getting a massage, and having a really tasty cocktail somewhere or other. It is going to rock.
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