Posts tagged ‘grad school’

Coutdown to Baybeez, Part 45

The giant paper is going to the school office this Tuesday, and I will be presenting the esoteric business to an apathetic audience of professors and fellow students the week after next. THE END IS NEAR!

The job situation is another fucked-up ball of wax entirely – I have zero job security or prospects for a stable permanent job, or even a longish contract. I wouldn’t care so much if I were 23 and just out of school, but it sucks donkey balls at 30. That’s what I get for undertaking a career change at 27 I guess, but I don’t regret a thing, except maybe not going back to school a few years earlier.

The consensus at home is that we are not going to wait to TTC until I have a job I can take mat leave from. Not waiting for that kind of job might mean giving up a lot more than mat leave – the chance to go part-time while kids are young, for example. All the good stuff you get if you are actually a permanent employee and in the union. On the one hand it seems stupid not to hold out for that situation, which I bet I could get if I waited long enough. Babies benefit from parental leave. I don’t want to put a 12-week-old in daycare. On the other hand, it could be years and years from now when I finally get made permanent, and maybe we wouldn’t even be able to have kids then, and those kids would never know their grandparents.

So fuck it. I think we’re just going to go for it. We are pretty lucky in the sense that Z pulls in pretty good money at his job, and if I need to be unemployed for awhile, or even if he needs to work part time for awhile, we could manage it. And if I really can’t stand to go back to contract work a few weeks or months post-partum, we’ll just figure something else out, like moving to a town where there would be a job for me.

The one thing I do still think we should wait for is a wedding, or at least having a wedding date set and soon approaching. (Why didn’t we have a wedding last spring? Oh yeah, grad school + starting a new job took up all my brain cells.) A few folks have mentioned to me that this smacks of caring too much what others think – who am I trying to impress? – but I still kind of think it’s important for me. I don’t want anyone, least of all my kids suspecting that they weren’t wanted, and that we only got married as a shotgun wedding. Is that an insane thing to worry about? Maybe.

So we’ll get hitched in the spring, and start TTC – god I don’t know, sometime around then. Z is not feeling so patient, and is just waiting for the word from me, which makes me feel like a bit of a meanie. Sometime after the wedding date is announced, anyways, and such that there’s no chance of being visibly pregnant in wedding pictures. Because I am shallow and care what people think.

But first, finding some damn lawyers for a prenup. Which makes me feel dirty, but that’s another story.

Second, telling my parents we have a date. Before they go on vacation in November. Don’t wanna stir up shit with them.

This being-a-grown-up business is fucking complicated.

No more teachers, no more books…

Little blog which nobody reads, I apologize for having ignored you for 5 months there.  It turns out that having a full-time job and writing a thesis take up approximately 110% of a sane person’s waking hours. And I’m not even sane. So I had to solemnly give up blogging here until the damn thing was done.

Last week, I convinced my boss to let me take a long weekend, and at about 1am this Monday night, I emailed my advisor a 96-page PDF for his comments. If it’s all fine with him (he’s still reading it!) and with its “second reader”, I will be presenting it next month, and graduating this fall.

That will be utterly amazing!

Coming soon –  a list of things I want to do with my newfound spare time…

Every beginning is some other beginning’s end

Would you believe I got the motherfucking job?!! I’m officially employed from the week after next until the end of 2010. Hello real world + thesis project!

For years, I’ve lucked or negotiated my way into day jobs that were less than full time, so I had time to teach music (and attend classes, and other stuff!) on the side. But this time negotiation wasn’t feasible, so for the first time since 2003, I’ll be at a desk from 9 to 5, 5 days a week. Good for me, I’m sure, and I really hope to get the damn graduating project done during evenings and weekends, sooner rather than later.

The schedule means that music teaching has to go. Happily, my mentor and friend who runs the music studio found a fantastic replacement for me almost immediately. I spent a heartbreaking hour calling up all my students, some of whom I’ve taught for years, and telling them I was leaving them in good hands.

All in all, music teaching has been an amazing experience. Music students aren’t personal buddies, but they’re not colleagues either. Teaching has been a chance to build relationships with people of all ages and walks of life and help them realize their dream of playing an instrument. I really admire all of those folks, especially the adults, for taking time out of their busy lives to follow their bliss.

A few days ago, on my last day of teaching, I was in charge of closing up the studio at the end of the night. One of the other teachers was herding all the students out the door, saying “It’s hotel/motel time, follks! You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here!” Into my head crept the little pop song that one of my old roommates used to love: “Every beginning is some other beginning’s end.”

So that’s where I am. To seize this beginning, I had to let some other stuff go. But this is totally the path I want to be on.

Back in the Academic Salt Mines

Hoo boy, did school ever start up again and bury me beneath a pile of reading. If all goes well (and I get a topic sorted out SOON for my final project) this will be the last September of this degree.

I spent last week out of town spending my university’s teeny little travel stipend (and more) attending the national conference of my field’s professional association. That was a good experience, overall, and I am simultaneously excited and paranoid about the future.

As I fretted to Z last night, it really seems that these professional ladies tend to have their kids later in life, and to work for five or so years first. Those early years are so critical for getting established, learning the ropes, getting some responsibility. In some ways it makes me want to rethink the plan to have kids as soon as reasonable upon getting a job. On the other hand, Z is turning 35 this year, I am turning 30 in the spring, and my parents are in their 70s.

The next year or two, especially once this sweet and stressful little limbo of school is over, is going to be so very interesting. I wish I had a psychic or guru of some kind to help me decide what is most important in all the precious considerations I will have to balance. My career, the value my work (hopefully) will bring to others, our unborn kid/s, Z and his desire not to move to anywhere other than our three preferred locations for my work, my aging parents and their desire to get as much of my attention as possible, and locally.

Mind, body, spirit

When I was in about Grade 4, I had this photocopied Social Studies textbook about the First Nations people of the prairies. I wish I still had it today so that I could check it out and assess its cultural sensitivity, because it shaped my understanding of prairie First Nations cultures big-time. For all I knew at the time, it could have been a racist piece of crap like some of the other textbooks my elementary school came up with. (For example! The one showing cultural stereotypes and nationality names! There was a Frenchman with a stripey shirt and a beret, and my mom was horrified to see the “Chinaman” with a pointy straw hat.)

But I digress. The First Nations Social Studies textbook had all this stuff about spirituality and gender roles that completely blew my 10-year-old mind. It said that braids of sweetgrass were a reminder of the three threads that make up a person – mind, body and spirit. The more I think about that metaphor, the  more helpful it seems.

I’ve remembered that lesson in the last year or so when it’s become apparent that these weird fluttering heart episodes I have had for years are in fact anxiety attacks. They have been getting more debilitating since the start of grad school, and it’s been a learning experience to recognize the physical symptoms and to know that they are caused by the inseparability of body and mind.

Yesterday, as part of a summer class, I got to be a middle-class tourist in the city’s cheapest housing, some of which has been recently taken over by the provincial government. These hundred-year-old hotels were built to accommodate seasonal resource workers, and mostly haven’t been fixed up or cleaned for decades. Depending on where they sit on some governmental list for renovations, they provide either basic housing or completely inhumane shitholes that no human being should be asked to live in.

I propped myself up on the dirty, smelly floor in this awful little room down a twisting, uneven hallway trying to reconcile mind and body while the social housing worker explained that homeless people spend years on waiting lists waiting for a place like this. Most of these people have mental health issues. Many of them probably suffer from anxiety, and I bet a lot of folks over the years who have no other place to go have had panic attacks in that little room.

My body betrays me when I get stressed out and upset, but I don’t want to turn away from responsibilities and truths that upset me just because 0f that fragile interconnection. It’s a pain in the ass. The useful aspect is that I can’t pretend not to be affected either.

Mind, body, spirit.

Geeking out in grad school

Damn, but I am enjoying myself in grad school. Well, most of the time anyways, like when no giant assignments are due the next day, and when I’m not busy feeling inadequate.

So many of my classmates are absurdly smart and ambitious, and many plan to go straight back for a law degree or a second masters’ upon finishing this one. They inspire me with their confidence, enthusiasm and intelligence. I suppose that more school is not outside the realm of possibility for me either, but I do look forward to spending at least a few years doing real work out in the world after graduating. That and starting a family, but you already knew that.

I have no regrets about the six years following my undergrad that I spent answering office telephones by day and touring small remote islands with obscure bands on the side. That said, had I any idea then how satisfying grad school could be, I would have made the leap years ago.