a grad school turning point

Well, it’s been a week. Two since the new semester started, and I’m just starting to feel like I’ve got my feet beneath me. The last two weeks have been frustrating, and for the last week I’ve been sick (I’m a very worthless sick person / I don’t handle it particularly well at all / it’s a fault), and the last two days culminated in a kind of a mini turning point for me in all things LIFE.

On Wednesday, I went to ballet. The class actually began on Monday, but as I was still avoiding the general public for their own benefit, I didn’t go. But on Wednesday I dragged my not-so-sick-anymore butt to the gym, climbed three flights of stairs to the ballet room, and pirouette’d* into an hour of ballet.  I have never done ballet in my life, and I’m doing this because I’ve always wanted to. And I really suck. And it’s the most fun I’ve had doing something in years. I learned the 5 basic positions, I learned a bunch of French words I’ll never remember, and I learned that you have to sew the elastic into ballet slippers. Yeah, they don’t come pre-sewn. You’ve gotta do it yourself. Which is actually a task for Bf this weekend because he can sew and I can’t (though, I’m not entirely sure he wants me telling the internet at large that).

Also on Wednesday, I took said Bf out on a date because we haven’t been on one in months**. We went to dinner at a local BBQ joint and then we went to the local, I guess, “fun center” to play glow-in-the-dark putt putt (which I won) and arcade games (he won skee-ball and I won the free throw game). He picked out a magnetic dartboard with our tickets and I got a Chinese finger-trap because I’ve never had one before. It was absolutely everything I wanted it to be. It’s three days later and still really fun to mess around with.

Thursday was both the climax of the frustrating news and my getting my feet back on the ground. Because when I found out that everything about graduate school and work and the world was about to get a whole lot more hectic, and that I was going to be juggling a lot more responsibility, I just set it all aside to spend some quality time with people I really love. Which I needed to do to get back in the right frame of mind.  I remembered on Thursday night that there is a time for everything, and there was nothing I could do to make my world less crazy and there was nothing I could start working on (effectively) that night. So, Bf made me a delicious, comforting meal and we spent a few hours just being in the same room, not distracted by work or school. Then I met up with A for coffee (her) and tea (me), where we talked and laughed until after midnight, at which point we both realized we had things to do in the morning.

The thing is, I was originally so frustrated because I’m now spending my Saturday morning working. And I was frustrated because it could have been avoided with better communication, and less politicking, and a thousand other things that just happen because of department bureaucracy and emotions. But really, so what? I don’t dislike what I do, and the project that I now get to dedicate my Saturday morning to is, sure, a little tedious, but also important. I’m feeling overwhelmed because I’ve gotten involved in something that’s a lot more than I thought I signed up for, but again, so what? That’s my misjudgment, and now I’m pretty excited that the leader on this thing thought I could handle what I’m going to be doing. Even if does mean that I, a little suddenly, have to get a lot of ducks in a row in a matter of days.

What I’m learning most from graduate school is that those group projects I always got stuck in through high school and college actually did have a pretty meaningful lesson. A large part of what I’m doing this semester relies on collaboration and group dynamics, and that’s tough. It’s frustrating that I can’t control other people, and yet I still want to control the outcome. Because it’s my grade and my reputation on the line, which means that I’ve got to start picking up my own slack and stop reacting off my emotions, and starting working with my skills.

I realize this has now become a bit preachy, but it’s not at you, it’s at me. It’s a, well, frustrating realization that the only person really frustrating me is me. So, here’s going into a working weekend with high hopes that it will be both productive and good. I’ve got both work and play scheduled in, and if I can carry that balance through next week, I think I can stay sane. I’ve got a pretty big surprise coming up next weekend, but I can’t talk about it until the following Monday, so you may a special post about that.

* I actually haven’t learned how to do a pirouette yet, so that’s an exaggeration.
** The thing about 5 years together is that “dates” become “the usual plans”.



  1. bailey! i’m loving your blog. your post on the writer’s retreat was really great — it’s cool you made time to do that. also, i am digging this “distraction no. 99” blog, too. i’m commenting on all your previous entries in this box. also, i totally understand the need to represent yourself to the best that you can, especially when it comes to a field that you love/respect. glad your saturday was productive!

    • laura! i’m very happy that you like my blog, and that you left me a comment saying so. i know people read my blog because there’s a stats page for that, but no one comments hardly at all, so i never know if i’m coming across rambly or not.
      the “distraction no. 99” blog is basically what gets me through life. nova ren is a really amazing human being, and if you want to read her book, i’d be more than happy to lend it to you. it’s a magical realism ya. it’s my favorite ya of 2011. super good. (i can also lend you those anna & lola books if you want to read them, too.)

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