Searching for Work-Life-School Balance

Life has been crazy lately. Last week the second year of my PhD began. So did my new job as a Graduate Assistant at the Writing Center. And it was also DragonCon and CPAC. Now that things have settled down, I’m realizing how much of a mess these past two weeks have been with everything going on.

There is a reason why I do not work on Fridays. Twice a week I have work for 6 hours, tutoring for 2 hours, and a total of at least 2.5 hours in the car. The other two days I have work, tutoring, and class until 9pm. And the 2.5 hours in the car. I am on campus for between 8 and 11 hours four days a week, not including any extra time I can find to do work for myself. This is the first day I’ve had off in the past two weeks. I was going to go into work today to make up for not being there Tuesday because we didn’t get home until 30 min before I should have been at work.

But when I woke up today, I couldn’t do it.

I just needed the time to recover and to start working on what I need to have done for class on Monday. I need time to drink tea. I need time to eat a huge bowl of salad. I need time to get my office/room cleaned up and organized. I need time to get caught up on the dishes. I need time to unpack from DragonCon. I need time to work on getting the apartment in order. I need time to write this. I need time to work on finding a work/life/school balance.

I’m hoping that by getting things sorted this weekend I’ll be able to move forward in a balanced manner. But taking the time to recognize that I can’t push myself and that I need that time is the first step. You can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself.

This semester…

If I can get through this semester, I can get through my Ph.D. I knew that living 2 hours away from campus and going up for class would be hard, but I didn’t think it would be this hard.

Honestly the thing that is the hardest is having to leave immediately after class on Thursdays and drive straight to work. That is really starting to take a toll on me. Drive 2 hours, be in class for 3 hours, drive 2.5 hours, work 2.5 hours. Unfortunately there is no one who can work on Thursdays. I would be tempted to try and get them to find someone if this was going to be a thing past this semester. I have no plans to still be working there next semester. I am going to be taking 3 classes in the Spring, which is not going to allow for working 4 evenings a week and Saturdays 2.5 hours away from campus.

Work is keeping me not only from seeing my cohort outside of class and socializing and getting to know them better. It’s keeping me from all sorts of things on campus that would probably be useful and informative. There are talks about what you can do with your Ph. D. outside of academia. There are colloquium series. There is the easy access to the library, instead of having to wait and pick up 10 books at once and remembering to bring them back before they’re due when I’m on campus.

Thankfully, right now I’m listening to The West Wing Weekly while also doing another rewatch of the series. I’m watching season 3, but listening to season 1. Probably when I get to the end of season 4, I’ll go back and watch the episodes I’ve recently listened to. It’s helping me stay sane. Well, that and Hamilton.

But first, I have to graduate with my M.A. at the end of this semester. Thankfully, I am confident that I can pass the comprehensive exam this time and get it done so I can continue to move forward in my Ph. D.

Down the Winding Road

With everything that’s happened recently, I’ve been reflecting on where I’ve been since I’m not exactly sure where I’m going.

When I started at Ohio State, I was a Computer Science Engineering student. I was a Computer Science Engineering student who was working for the Marching Band. I had gone to a Women in Engineering event over the summer for incoming freshmen. I was going to the Society of Women Engineers meetings. By the end of my first quarter, I was looking for a new major. I hadn’t passed my math class. A math class that is offered only in the fall. Engineering takes five years. I wasn’t in the mood to be there for six.

When my mom read the description for Speech and Hearing Science, something about it appealed to me. The idea of helping others to speak clearly again was appealing. I went from Speech Therapy to Audiology and back to Speech. But that was no big deal because you don’t specialize as an undergraduate. That’s what graduate school is for. When I settled on Speech, I decided I wanted to work with kids. I figured I’d work at a children’s hospital since school therapists have to focus on clear communication instead of speech since there aren’t enough to be able to do more in-depth work with students.

Eventually my dream job was to be a speech therapist out at the Ohio School for the Deaf. I loved my ASL classes and I knew I’d be working with kids. That’s why I eventually went to Columbus State Community College so I could get an Associate’s in Interpreting. I figured if I didn’t become an interpreter to help me pay for grad school and then supplement my therapist income, the skills would help me be a better candidate for speech therapist at OSD.

After a year in the interpreting program, I realized that my love of the Deaf Community and Culture and sign language just wouldn’t work with the goals of a speech therapist at times. I decided, with support of friends and family, to change to Linguistics for my graduate school focus. I thought that by doing research and teaching I would be able to bring more knowledge and understanding of Deaf Culture to the hearing world.

Then things changed again at the end of May. From the beginning, my mom didn’t like the thought of me going into Linguistics with a heavy focus on sign languages, especially ASL. She was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get a job in the field after I was done getting my master’s degree and Ph. D. One night I was visiting and she told me about two options she thought I should look into. One was becoming a librarian. I love to read and I love books, so I can see why she would think that. But that’s exactly why I shouldn’t become one; I love to read. I worked at a library when I was in high school. I got fired because I kept reading the books instead of putting them away. Then she told me about Popular Culture, and the rest is history!

I’m putting all of this out there because I know there are others out there struggling to figure out what they want to do. You are not alone! I will be 32 in a couple of weeks and I will be starting graduate school a few weeks after that. In a field that is not even remotely related to what my bachelor’s degree is in. After I’m done with this master’s degree, I’m planning to spend another two years getting another master’s degree. When I’m done with that one, I’m planning to start a career. I’ll be 36-years-old and just starting a career. But it is going to be a career that I’m not going to be in any rush to retire from.

You need to move at the rate that works for you. Don’t gauge your life by what other people have done. I admit, I do get kinda depressed at the thought that my ASL III teacher who is at least 2 years younger than me was working on a Ph. D before deciding he needed to get some real-world experience before continuing his education. But if I had gotten into graduate school any time before this, I wouldn’t be starting in Popular Culture in a little over a month. If I had gone from undergraduate to graduate, I would be an unhappy speech therapist who can kind of sign.

Don’t give up. You’ll find your place. Just keep looking!


For the past month, we have been without cable or internet. We still don’t know why. There was an outage and our service never came back. After a month of TWC not doing what they needed to do to get it fixed, we switched to another company and we got hooked up today! We have cable and internet again!

My life is so crazy right now. Working only at Jo-Ann’s is not quite enough of a paycheck, but there’s no point in getting a second job if I’m going to have to quit it at the end of August to start grad school. I feel like I’m holding my breath and I can’t let it out until BG lets me know about the fall. I’m hoping the fact that the department finally got everything recently and I haven’t heard from them is a good thing. It would be kinda short notice, but I would love to finally get my academic career moving again. Also I’m looking forward to getting into Popular Culture. It is going to be great!

If I don’t get in, then I get the ball rolling for next year and start looking for a new job. I need a full-time job if I want to have any chance of getting my debt under control. Right now I’m just getting minimum payments made every month. But that doesn’t leave much left over to play with. It’s really getting on my nerves.

But maybe that’s because I haven’t had the internet and television to distract me from obsessing over my budget for the past month. Yay for the return of the distraction!

Lost and Found

I have been lost on so many levels this year. But I think I have found my way again.

For a while I would go to work, go to class, and that’s it. When I was home, I would do nothing else. My eating habits got sloppy, relying a lot on fast food. I didn’t go to church. I didn’t do much. I sat on the couch and watched TV.

I don’t know why. I wish I knew why. I can only theorize that a mild depression is what was going on. I wasn’t working much and my bills were starting to take their toll.

But recently things have been improving. I’ve been getting more hours at work. I went to church last week. We got the taxes done.

Then, yesterday, I got home from work, grabbed the one piece of mail and went inside. The whole way inside I was convincing myself it was not what I thought it was, because I didn’t want to get my hopes up. After leaving my old job, I received information saying that I had some money in the 401K that I could either roll over into a new one or have them send me a check. Since I was working for Lyft at the time, I went for the check option. That was in October. I had given up on getting the check. Which is why opening the envelope to find the check was so exciting. I left to go deposit it before remembering I needed to sign it!

That check has lifted a huge weight from my shoulders. I don’t have to worry about the bills as much, which means the stress is slowly going away. Just writing this post is helping, too.

Today I realized that I need to overhaul my eating habits to get back on track. I’ve been mindlessly eating. Something strikes my fancy, so I go grab it and munch away. The biggest hurdle to that is work. Sometimes I have to go directly from class to work, which means I need to eat on the way. I am having a hard time finding something that I can easily eat that is also a healthy choice. That’s where the fast food has mostly been coming in. I guess I’ll just have to do some experimenting. Hopefully at least some of those experiments will be posted here.

Life = Sledgehammer

At least it feels that way. Lately I have been so busy with so many things that I want to share with all of you but I haven’t had time to do it. So I’m going to quickly run over everything and go into details in their own post. Also it’ll help me remember what I wanted to write about.

I am continuing to make progress through The Dresden Files. I’m up to Proven Guilty although I do have a short story I need to read quick before moving on. It really is cool going though all of it again. But seeing as I’m reading everything except the short stories on my Kindle (the Paperwhite makes reading before falling asleep so much more convenient!), I was really starting to jones for a book.

Thankfully I had picked one up. I had stopped in a Barnes & Noble to use the restroom quickly when I saw a book that I had heard about on NPR (I think) and really wanted to read it. Quiet: The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain is an amazing and, for me, freeing read. I have probably mentioned it before, but I am an introvert. My hubby is an introvert. Many on my dad’s side of the family are introverts. But America is the land of the free and home of the extrovert. It is hard living as an introvert in an extroverted nation, but Quiet helps me to realize that it’s not a bad thing. I’m barely a quarter of the way into it and I love it! There will be a very thorough post, or two, about this wonderful book!

Ever since taking a basic photography class at school, I’ve been getting more and more into photography. I’ve always enjoyed it, but that class inspired me to start investing more into it. Recently I’ve invested a little bit more. I bought a 35mm lens and a couple of ND8 filters, one for the 35mm and one for the lens that came with the camera. I think that 35mm lens is going to change how I take pictures in a wonderful way.

This is a complex one. First, while I am working on The Dude’s on the Grid sweater, I’ve also been inspired to get the supplies for a couple of baby blankets. Friends of ours recently had a baby and I wanted to do something for them. Then I remembered that my sister requested I make a Gryffindor-color striped baby blanket for her future nursery. No need for it yet, but I thought “Why not find the pattern now and use it for our friend’s blanket?” So I found a great blanket pattern, and ordered some great purple yarns and needles from KnitPicks. Hopefully I’ll be able to get started on it soon.

Second, I have a new job. I’m working at Jo-Ann’s. It’s really stressful suddenly working an almost 40-hour-a-week job where I’m on my feet for most of that time after working at a desk job for over five years. I’m slowly starting to get used to it again. But add school to it and I’m having a hard time finding a good balance that includes time for myself. I’m really hoping that writing here will give me some of that me-time again.

Fall has inspired me to start cooking again. Between cranberries and squash and Brussels sprouts and asparagus, my fridge is full of food waiting to be cooked. As things happen, pics are posted to Instagram. Hopefully there will be posts here to talk about the wonderful photos I’m slowly filling up my Instagram with.

Okay. Now I think I’m going to meander toward bed. I’ve rambled for long enough.

Wash away my worries

Lately I’ve been in a funk that I have not been able to shake. I can’t focus in class. I don’t want to do my homework. I don’t want to clean up. I can’t get to sleep. It’s been so annoying and frustrating.

Then I took a shower.

Has that ever happened to you? You are just having a horrible day or week, and then you take a shower and it all melts away.

Granted, today wasn’t my typical shower. Just after I turned on the water, I lit the candle in my oil warmer and loaded it with lavender oil. The oil was released into the air, aided by the steam, and really helped me to relax.

After my shower I went shopping for professional clothes so I have something I like to wear during tests and grabbed lunch. Then I dropped off my new outfits (6 shirts, 4 pants, 2 jeans, 1 capri for $65! I love Goodwill!) at home and got to work. I took the evening in stride. I didn’t stress over the slowness of the night. I still have tomorrow and Saturday and, if necessary, Sunday.

It’s amazing what a difference a shower can make.

Mission Accomplished!

I have managed to find a part time source of income!

Lyft logo
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Lyft is a neat little app. People, like myself, offer their time and car to give you a ride. You do have to pay, but it’s more personal than a taxi and probably cheaper. It’s also all over the country, so no matter where you are there’s a Lyft driver nearby. Probably.

Anyway. This afternoon I finally decided to go for it and go for my first drive. I ended up driving three wonderful people around town. It was an amazing first day. For someone who is really awkward around people they don’t know and is horrible at small talk, it went really well. I’ve learned I just need to welcome them, do a little ice breaking, and let them guide what type of conversation happens, if any.

Hopefully tomorrow, Saturday, and Sunday will be just as good as, if not better than, today. I’m hoping I’ll get a lot of riders to make up for the fact that next week I can’t work Saturday since I’ll be off signing and camping! Unless my ‘tip jar’ is suddenly overflowing.

One small step for me…

One giant leap for my life!

Today I handed in my letter of resignation at work. Wow, that still feels weird to think about. It’s the first time I’ve ever left a job in this way. I like it.

Anyway, my last day here will be the Friday before Memorial Day. Why this change in careers at this point? Well, I’m looking at things like this: I didn’t get into grad school, so I’m going to focus on my Associate’s instead. That means having a job with a more flexible schedule that will allow me to take day classes.

For the past two years I’ve only taken night classes, with a couple online classes sprinkled in there. But now I’m getting to the point where I’m going to start repeating instructors. By taking day classes, I’ll get to work with more people, and I’ll have different teachers. Which means new experiences and opinions. It may be frustrating at times, but it will be good for me to see how other people do certain tasks.

Possibly the best thing out of all of this? All of my classes are on Mondays and Wednesdays! Class just twice a week! Granted it starts at 8am with Intermediate Interpreting, but I’m already used to being at work at 8am. Also, as an interpreter, I may have assignments that require me to be ready to go that early.

Despite all of that, I still feel like this is the right thing for me right now. I have faith that I’ll have at least one job by then, and the experience will be very beneficial.

Busy does not begin…

Life lately has been overwhelming at times. Trying to juggle a 40-hour work week on top of taking three classes in the evening in a demanding program has been tough. Luckily I have managed to figure things out and no longer feel like I’m struggling to keep my head above water.

First, I did some thinking and realized that, at least right now, becoming an interpreter is not for me. When I think about going to grad school and becoming a speech therapist, I get excited. I’m looking forward to it. I want it to happen. When I think about becoming an interpreter, I get worried and stressed and have a total lack of confidence. I almost dread it. You really shouldn’t dread a future career. So I have decided to finish out this semester, take the last two classes I need to get the Deaf Studies Certificate next semester, and just take other classes needed for the interpreter degree outside of the interpreting department. That way I’m staying busy, getting my GPA higher for grad school applications, and keeping my options open if I decide down the line to pick up where I left off and become an interpreter.

Second, I reread The Abide Guide. Dudeism just helps me to deal with the chaos that is this world. It has reminded me that simply saying “Fuck it” when you are frustrated really helps. The frustration dissipates and you feel so much better. It also inspired me to rearrange my room, again. But this time I think I have it in a configuration that will be easier to keep organized. I’ll take some pics and post them when I’ve got it completely finished. There are still a few things to put on the walls and bring back in from the living room. I’ve got a computer area, a reading area, and plenty of space for people to come and hang out. And there’s still enough floor space for the air mattress if we have someone over for a visit! It just feels better. It is really important to have a space that you can call your own. Now mine is also a personal retreat. 🙂