The Student Life


It officially began today.

I sat down with my course readers and syllabi.

I outlined the reading that needed to be done before I head to the retreat in Petaluma–two weeks from today.

TWO!

Holy Mother of God.

Not to take this all so god damn seriously, but wow, how did the time go by so fast?

Don’t I have any summer vacation left?

I do, I think.

But I don’t believe it’s going to be the going out-of-town camping trip that I had discussed with my friend.

Where for art thou, friend?

I forget that people need space and that no response, well, it is a response, so keep the focus tight, like on me, and what can I do today, just today for self-care.

What indeed.

Well.

As it turns out, and I had forgotten, it’s been a few years since I’ve been in school, oh, like um, 13 I think, that having something to do in regards to my academic career has a direct and distinct correlation to how clean my space is.

Like hey.

Look at that.

My place is sparkling.

I striped the bed, laundered the sheets, did a load of laundry, scrubbed the toilet and bathroom sink, scrubbed the stove top, fuck, I even wiped out the fridge, dusted the bookshelves, swept, vacuumed, and swiffer’ed the floors (yeah, I know Swiffer is not a verb, but what else do you call that thing?).

My place is shiny and bright.

I mean, let’s be frank, it’s not like it was a disaster zone, but you know, dusty and in need of a sweep, but once I got going I knew I was in it and might as well do the whole shebang.

It’s a  way to distract myself from what is in front of me.

Stacks.

And stacks.

And.

Stacks of reading.

I also hopped in the shower, ate nice meals, two of which were outside on the back porch, the fog blew off and the sun made an appearance today.

Which was both heartening and upsetting as I really wanted to be outside doing something other than reading my graduate school readers, but, hey, I ate outside and my stewed chicken in tomato sauce with garlic and onions and yellow peppers over turmeric spiced brown rice and perfect ripe avocado, well, it was a delight to eat al fresco and sit in the sun.

Contemplating the reading to come.

But.

Before that.

Two ladies came through to do the deal and then a phone call check in with my person who suggested that I focus on my self-care and having fun rather than worry about my friend.

Although I got to have my sad feelings I didn’t let the day slip by being morose, I kept turning the focus back on what was in front of me.

And when there was nothing else to clean and lunch had been had and I even snuck in a half hour of sitting in the sun with a W magazine and a quick flip through the latest Vanity Fair, I came to the conclusion.

It was time.

I don’t foresee doing a lot of pleasure reading for a while, so I’m glad I gave myself to do so yesterday and really enjoy the hell out of the books I read and the excerpt of the book I read from a friend who has been working on a collection of shorts that is really going to be a fantastic novel and I’m going to say, “I knew him when,” and “I read that before you did,” and “I always knew he was a great writer, you should read his holiday letters.”

Which you should.

They are marvels of Midwestern Americana with a kind of wry wit that is at time dark, but always lovingly painted and I find myself transported to the scene at their home when ever I get them.

Which is the point of good writing–being transported to the picture that the writer wants you to see.

He does it.

Really good.

Anyway.

I’m not going to get that kind of reading for a while.

I may give myself a set half hour or so once in a while to have that pleasure reading, but I can see that I have a lot of work ahead of me.

It is going to be a long, arduous, committed and continual moving through material, processing it, understanding it, writing about it.

Fuck.

I mean.

I have papers due before I go to Burning Man.

BEFORE!

I just about peed my pants when I saw that on one of the syllabi.

And not just a paper, multiply papers.

I mean, I will have submitted work on readings I have done before actually going through the orientation at the school.

Good gravy man.

As much as I wish I was camping along the North Rim of The Grand Canyon, I am actually grateful that my employers changed up their vacation plans and I ended up having to work tomorrow and Tuesday.

It meant cancelling  a trip I was very much looking forward to, but it got my ass down to the Copy Central shop to pick up my readers and get going on the work.

I read 50 pages today for my Human Development class.

It took me three hours.

Fuck.

Three hours.

I can read more than a page a minute, that means 60 pages in an hour.

Then I realized a couple of things–one, this ain’t no pleasure reading, this is serious reading and though the concepts are not completely foreign, they are dense; next, I’m reading to retain, not to enjoy, which meant going back over a few things and re-reading them to make sure I understood what I was reading, plus underlining, highlighting, and taking pertinent notes in the margins of the reader.

Lastly, and not to be taken lightly, I realized the 50 pages were actually closer to 100 pages.

The reader is larger than a book, thus the pages often had two pages of a text or article printed on each page.

Reading one page was in essence reading two.

So that makes my speed of reading a little better, 100 pages in three hours is a much better ratio and caused me to feel some relief.

And.

I finished the assigned reading for the retreat, in the reader (I still have the first three chapters of an accompanying text-book to read as well, but it hasn’t been delivered to the house yet) for my class on Human Development.

I have time.

In fact, I think I may be able to actually read all the required reading twice.

I’ve got some highlighters to invest in and some time to set aside, but I can see it happening.

I also knew to take some care and take a break, to eat dinner while not reading, to sit out in the late afternoon sun and enjoy my meal.

Then I finished that last hour of reading and went for a walk down on the beach to catch the sunset before coming back here to blog.

I will strike a balance, the work will get done.

And how grateful am I to know so well.

Easy does it.

One day at a time.

First things, first.

And breathe.

Don’t forget to breathe.

It’s all going to be alright.

It already is.

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