Stepping back

For whatever reason, I was in a funk recently. During that funk, I was eating horribly. I was eating too much candy and fast food and not enough actual food. Thankfully I realized I was in a funk and decided to start making some changes.

First step, reducing my sugar intake. Right now, that means cutting out pop/soda, candy, and other mostly processed sugar items. I’m still allowing myself things like green tea from Wendy’s, my bottled raspberry tea, sugar crystals in my tea at home – which I’m trying to get back into the habit of drinking instead of the raspberry – and foods with naturally occurring sugars, like fruit. I don’t want to cut out all sugar, but I figure consuming stuff that is basically just sugar isn’t the greatest idea on many levels. I’ve been mostly successful, with only one intentional indulgence because I couldn’t get the thing off my mind.

The next step is going to be a reduction in fried foods. I’ve actually been kind of working on it, but it’s been more out of a desire to spend less money than intentionally not eating them. It also helps that Wendy’s grilled chicken has improved, or I’ve gotten used to it. Either way, I’m back to preferring that when I stop by. I had really developed a taste for Homestyle, which is not the best thing in the world to be eating more than once a week. I’m hoping that by easing myself into this, I’ll be able to build some lasting habits that will help me fight the funk.

Getting things taken care of around here will help too. But I have to remember to stay focused so I can get my school work and unpacking done. Hopefully eating better will help with that. It sure can’t hurt.

Advertisements

How am I going to do this?

Last Thursday night, we dropped off the keys to the first place we have been able to call home. The place we have been living in for almost 8 years. He slipped the envelope with the keys in the slot at the rental office, got back in my car filled with the last of our things, and we drove off for the last time. It was a bittersweet moment. I’m getting a little teary thinking about it. We left our first home. We headed to our new home.

Since I finished my master’s degree, we decided that we cannot keep only seeing each other on the weekends. But he’s still working in Columbus and all of my business is in BG. So we found a new place in between. It’s bigger than the last place – 3 bedrooms instead of 2, and 1000 square feet instead of 700 – and it has vaulted ceilings in the living room, dining room, and kitchen. It is on the third floor, which is taking some getting used to. Although moving helped with that. But we don’t have to worry about upstairs neighbors, and heat does rise.

It’s been nice so far. I’ve been here for over a month now as we slowly brought things up. It’s allowed me to not only be closer to school and get used to the drive, but it’s given me time to get my room/office set up and functioning so I can actually get work done at home. It felt like things had been for the past two years: on my own during the week, home on the weekends. It also allowed me to get things unpacked as I could, keeping things somewhat organized so we can find things later.

It was really useful when we moved the furniture in. We put the couch, TV stand, and TV in the living room no problem. We were able to actually sit down in the living room! We had dinner while watching Leverage. Or at least I watched as much as I could while eating and then came in here to get work done. One of those things I had to adjust to, not being alone anymore.

Honestly, that, not the stacks of boxes everywhere, is what has taken the most adjustment. Not being alone anymore. I’ve become used to being able to make what I want for dinner when I am hungry. I’ve become used to being alone and having no interruptions – aside from my phone. I’ve become used to being the only one here during the week.

It doesn’t help that there’s so much to unpack, go through, decide what’s being kept and what’s getting tossed, and finding somewhere to put things. Unfortunately in the last frenzied week of moving, the living room became the dumping ground for everything that we didn’t already have a space for. Now I make dinner and we retreat to our desks, because they’re the only place where each of us can sit down and have a flat surface to put things on.

During all of this I still have to teach class three days a week, take class three days a week, hold my office hours, drive 2.5 hours a day, and get reading done for class. Why did I think we could move while I was taking/teaching class? Why didn’t we just wait until Spring Break to get the move actually done, giving us 2 months to get everything packed and ready to go in a couple of trips in a truck? It would have allowed us to get everything properly packed and labeled. It would have allowed us to properly go through everything and only move what was being kept. It would have let me keep going to class last week.

If I can just get through the rest of this week and next week, I’ve got all of Spring Break. All of Spring Break to get caught up on my reading. All of Spring Break to get my students’ assignment graded. All of Spring Break to start going through the boxes of stuff. All of Spring Break to get things put away or thrown out. All of Spring Break to recover. But I have to get there first.

How am I going to do this?

 

Stressed the F out!

This has been an intense semester. I thought it would have gotten better by now. Nope. It’s worse.

The semester started out with the stress of not knowing if I would be continuing in the program and the stress of passing the comprehensive exam so I can graduate with my master’s degree. The exam was at the end of September, so that’s when the stress switched from preparing for it to whether I answered the questions to the graders’ satisfaction. Last month I found out that I had finally passed!

I was so stress free for a week or so. I finally passed! I’m finally graduating! I’m going to be a full-time PhD student in the Spring! But then the stress began to creep in again. I need to find a job for the Spring that will work with my class schedule and not cost me much more in gas every day. We need to find somewhere to live that’s closer to campus but not far from here so he can keep working. We need to agree on where we’re moving to and when. We need to get things packed.

Then, of course, class. That’s been the underlying stress of the semester. It’s not like it’s an overly hard class. It’s a theory class for all ACS graduate students, masters and PhD students alike. But I can barely find/make the time to study like I should. I started to wonder why, then I remember last school year.

Last year, I had a studio apartment to myself in BG that had only what I really needed. I used the dining table they provided as my desk. I brought my TV, Roku, and some DVDs and player. I had my former desk, now coffee table. I brought my Sumo beanbag chair so I’d have somewhere to sit other than my mattress and “desk chair”. I was teaching three days a week. Teaching a class I had already taught alone and had a good idea of what I was doing. I had office hours once a week. I was able to keep my schedule flexible enough that I could get my studying done for all my classes with no problem. Then I’d go home on the weekends. Both hubby and I would be off of our respective work and could spend time together.

Now, I’m home with all my stuff, all our stuff, all his stuff. I’m home with cable and all the channels that come with it. I’m home where my room is so full of my stuff, I don’t have a lot of space to have different places to sit, away from the computer, when I need it. I’m home sharing the space with my hubby 24/7. I’m home with a part-time job that lets me study while I’m there and there’s nothing else I need to be doing. But that’s the trick, there needs to be nothing else. There needs to be no residents who need my attention for whatever reason. And, of course, that drains me on a different level, so when I get home, I veg out in front of the TV and get nothing done. Then I have to time getting dinner ready so it’s done but not cold so we can eat together before he heads off to work.

I only have one real day off every week – Tuesday – because I have class on Thursdays – involving 4 total hours in the car – and I have Church on Sundays. Tuesdays are the only day in the week that I can sleep in and don’t have to worry about it affecting anything. And of course, if there’s a movie we both want to see, somehow Tuesday mornings are the only time that works for him.

Like yesterday. We went to see Thor: Ragnarok, finally, at 9:30am. I remembered at 2:30am that we were going to see the movie and checked with him when we were going. Of course 9:30am was the only time that worked for him. Which means I got up at 8:30, 6 hours after heading to bed, got dressed, and got another half-hour of sleep. I made stopping by Starbucks part of the plan so I could get a London Fog Latte so I would have a chance of making through the movie. I knew I would be that tired and I was. Thankfully it did its job. On the way out to the car I could feel it wearing off – which is why I bring tea with me to class on Thursdays. I crashed when we got home and spent a good chunk of the afternoon trying to wake up, eventually giving up and taking a nap, again.

It’s not that I don’t love my hubby – I do, so very much – or that I didn’t want to see Thor without him – I didn’t. I just wanted to get some sleep and be able to spend proper time getting my reading done for class. It’s just hard adjusting to this new dynamic. For both of us. Being married and in grad school is not easy. I’m just finding this out now. I hope that we can get things figured out over break and I can start this next part on solid footing. I’m tired of scrambling to get both feet steady.

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

More wisdom from The Dude.

Row, row, row your boat,
gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily.
Life is but a dream.

Imagine that you’re rowing down a stream and you’re trying to figure out how to do it. Do I row with the right oar and then with the left, or is it the other way around? What does my shoulder do, what does my arm do? It’s like Joe, the centipede with a hundred legs, trying to figure out which leg to more first.
…He can’t get anywhere, just like the person in the rowboat. And while he’s hung up with all those questions, the stream is pulling him on and on. So you want to row, row, row your boat – gently. Don’t make a whole to-do it. Don’t get down on yourself because you’re not an expert rower; don’t start reading too many books in order to do it right. Just row, row, row your boat gently down the stream.
– Bernie Glassman, The Dude and the Zen Master, p. 21-22

I was worried that I was doing that and I had screwed things up again. Because when I get stressed or anxious, especially when I have to take an essay-based exam, my mind goes into overdrive and I go off in directions that don’t matter. I’m flailing trying to move my boat forward when all I’m doing is staying in place.

In the book, they continue talking about boats and streams and other bodies of water. We’re always rowing to reach a shore. But there is never going to be the shore.

But if you are going somewhere else, let me say this much: At least change the boat and the oars. Say I get to the other side, what do I do? Well, I got here thanks to this beautiful boat with the set of oars, so I’ll just hold on to them and carry them wherever I go. Isn’t that weird? Now I’ve got the burden of carrying around whatever got me here. Instead I get rid of it, and I’m free. Time passes and now I want to get to the next shore. I’ll probably need a new kind of boat and different oars, because maybe now the other shore is on the other side of the ocean and that requires a whole other mode of transportation.
– Bernie Glassman, The Dude and the Zen Master, p. 38

I was trying to get out of the one boat to the shore so I could get into the next boat. Instead I had one foot in two boats and was trying to keep both by the same shore.

Now I am fully in the next boat. It’s a different boat because I’ve got a different body of water to cross. It’s going to take longer. It’s going to require changes in life to get to that other shore. But, with my husband’s help and support, I know I can get there. And this time, I’m going to get to spend at least a little time on the shore before getting into the next boat. Even if it’s just a weekend, I’m going to enjoy that shore. But for now…

Panic and Stress

My life is a mess right now. Or at least that’s how it feels. I’ve got a job that really doesn’t pay the bills, but I’m somehow making a paycheck stretch. I still don’t know if I’m graduating in December with my master’s degree, which means I don’t know if I’m going to still be in the Ph.D. program in the spring.

I’ve been watching Better Things on Hulu. It’s a great show. I just watched episode 5 where the oldest daughter is worrying about her future at age 16. Sam points out to her that even if you just have a job and get by, you’ll be fine. You don’t have to actually have your shit together to look like you have your shit together.

I needed to hear that.

I needed to hear that just finding a job that doesn’t drain the energy out of me on every level isn’t a bad thing. I needed to hear that I can still do what I want with my life without the degree to “back it up”. I can be an independent scholar and work at Barnes and Noble. I can write about Doctor Who and Bitch Planet and Hamilton without Ph.D. after my name. As much as I do want to teach, I don’t have to teach.

I feel so much better. I have been stressed and in a fog lately. I had a great weekend at the Midwest Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association (MPCA) Conference last weekend. But somehow, after getting back, this week has been a mess. But I feel so much better. Allowing myself to think that everything will be fine no matter what. I feel so much better.

Tea Joy!

With all the problems going on in the world, I feel like adding some joy to it. Recently, I put in an order to resupply and add to my tea stock.

In there are two types of tea cookies, Irish Breakfast tea, a free filter for my water pitcher, a free sample pouch of Earl Grey Lavender – which I try to gather to delay needing to actually buy more, more Amber Sugar Crystals, and new tins!

I love Adagio’s storage tins. I love the colors. I love how they function. Until the shipment arrived, the blues – Earl Greys – were a tin higher than the others. When I decided to get the Irish Breakfast tea, I realized I needed another red tin – my Breakfast teas – but you can’t buy just one. You have to order a 3-pack. So I ordered my third set of the variety pack – red for the Irish Breakfast, green got my all-green Far Out blend, and yellow is empty because I don’t have a straight black that needs a tin. There really is a method to my madness. 😀

Then there is the wonderful Amber Sugar Crystals. I was down to this:

Now I have this, again:

There really is a simple joy in having so many delicious teas to choose from. Sometimes I just sit there and look at my teas. Also, by using my former desk/coffee table as my tea table, I have to sit calmly on the floor. It turns making tea into a conscious pause in my day. A wonderful, sometimes zen-like pause in my day. It’s been meditative at times. The other day I sat and watched tea and pieces rise and fall in the water as it brewed. I reached a meditative state for a few seconds. It was really cool.

I guess the point of this whole thing was to share some joy in these times of stress. We need to remember to take joy in the small things and take care of yourself. Between hurricanes, earthquakes, politics, and whatever is going on in your life, it’s easy to get burned out. Take time to watch a show or movie, read a book or magazine or comic or blog, listen to music, make some tea or coffee. Do something to take a break from everything. Self care is important! Do it!

Walking on Water

Today at Mass, Father’s homily struck a chord with me. The Gospel reading was Jesus walking on water and Peter doubting and starting to sink. He talked about how we have all walked on water at some time in our lives. A time when we feel called to do something but we have a sinking feeling, we aren’t sure if we can do it.

Tomorrow I start Graduate Student Orientation, again. But this time it’s for me starting my Ph. D. Starting my Ph. D. while I study up so I can complete my Master’s and graduate in December so I can continue with my Ph. D. This is one of my walking on water times. I know that this is the right thing for me. But I’m worried that I’ll get in my own way and won’t pass the comprehensive exams so I can graduate with my Master’s degree. I’ve passed two of the three parts before, I know I can do it again.

But a little part of me keeps popping up and messing with that faith. Thankfully, it’s getting less frequent. I’m still worried that it will pop up at the worst time – during the exam – and I will start to sink. I know that if I put the work in, study, and have faith in myself, I will walk through those exams and finally be able to move forward with my studies.

At least this week is simply about getting to know my cohort, the faculty I don’t already know, and get a good solid start to the semester and my Ph. D. And I am really looking forward to it!

I’m going to be honest

My life is sucking right now. I’m pretty much broke. I’m trying to get some progress done on my thesis, but all I keep coming up with are more questions. Of the three books I brought with me for the weekend, I’ve been able to find information useful to my thesis in two. Those two I was only looking at a chapter in each. The third book is proving to be not nearly as useful as I was hoping it would be, which is frustrating!

I’m stressed and I can’t muster the energy to do anything to possibly get rid of it. I’ve basically been watching Netflix or TV all weekend. Today I watched Gettysburg and then switched back to The West Wing. I’ve been trying to find new info for my thesis, but all that happens is I think of another thing for possibly writing about Hamilton. A show I am not going to get to see with the cast that is currently there.

I know the most important thing is seeing the show in the theater with other people. But I really, really wanted to see it before Lin and anyone else leaves.

Sorry about this ramble, but I felt like sharing this with everyone. Things should be improving soon. Hopefully so will my posts. For now, enjoy this:

ETA: It helped me feel better. I highly suggest this if you’re feeling down!

It’s complicated

Graduate school is both harder than and just as hard as I thought it would be. The work for class is about as hard as I thought it would be. In fact, I’m enjoying being in class more than I thought I would.

It’s the time outside of class work that is harder than I thought it would be. Granted, I have made some amazing friends that are making it easier, but they can only do so much. I can’t think of another way to put this, so I’ll put it bluntly: I am an introvert who has lived with the same person for the past 10 years. That is not an easy thing to live with.

As an introvert, I need a place where I can recharge. A place where I can get away from everything and recharge. I don’t really have that right now. During the week I spend most of my days on campus, either at class or in my office. I’ve got all of my tea in the office, along with all the supplies I own to make said tea. Once I either get exhausted or hungry or notice the time, or any combination of the above, I head back to the apartment and go to bed. There’s not much else I do there. It’s a place for me to store stuff that doesn’t fit in the office.

The weekends are usually spent going somewhere. Usually back home to the hubby. That’s when I get a chance to recharge. But I can’t completely relax and kick back because there are things that need to be done on the weekends. I need to get my stuff put away so it’s not taking over the living room while I’m not there. We have to get groceries to at least get through the weekend so we’re not living on fast food. I’ve spent the whole week away, we want to spend time together. And then there’s any work I need to get done before Monday.

And none of this is anyone’s fault. I had to scramble to find somewhere to live, and I got lucky with the roommates I ended up with. I am very grateful for them. But, at the same time, I am really looking forward to having a place of my own next year. A place where it’s all my space. A place where I can close the door to the apartment, change into pyjamas and TARDIS robe and K-9 slippers, brew up a pot of tea, and relax on the couch if I need to. Somewhere that has enough space for me to have a desk with a chair that will allow me to get work done without having to worry about my legs going to sleep. Somewhere where I have a kitchen all to myself!

I think that’s probably another thing that’s really messing with me. Again, after 10 years of having a kitchen of my own, having to share is really weird. Also, since I have a kitchen already, I can’t go out and buy a whole bunch of new supplies. But, with a kitchen of my own, I’ll feel better about bringing stuff from home to use in it so I can cook instead of relying on fast food. I know this fast food dominated diet is not helping things. But, again, it’s not anyone’s fault.

I guess I’m just looking forward to the next school year. I’m going to have an apartment all to myself. I’m going to have a different desk with plenty of shelf space for my numerous books (anyone surprised I have more books than space for them?). Then again, it’s going to be stressful since I’ll be working on my thesis in earnest and teaching and taking classes. But, who knows, maybe having the apartment will help. Maybe having somewhere that can be a sanctuary away from the chaos of the world will help me to deal with everything better.

I guess we’ll find out.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you. I know that was a long post, but I just needed to get that out. And, to those who are a part of my day-to-day life, thanks for putting up with this stressed, introverted, graduate student.