The downside to the quarter system is immediately evident to anyone who wants to do research or survive grad classes (on either side of the table). The upside is that you feel you are starting anew every few months, a plus for the socially ADD. That new-eraser smell of a new start all around! Fresh new student faces and new class topics! (I had the quarter system as an undergrad and it was fine ---- sometimes I felt I was just getting over my shyness to really talk to my classmates after class when --- whhsssst! --- a new quarter whirled up and I never saw those classmates again ---- but for the most part it was just about right. You didn’t get bored, and if the class or teacher sucked, you just leaned back and waited it out for a bit.) I tend to think of these new starts as like new years, and since I never keep my New Year’s Resolutions for more than a few weeks anyway, I try to take the time to rededicate myself to them and rejuvenate myself. So, with that, I will brainstorm a few areas to work on during the upcoming spring whirl.
1. Write on the diss. every day. This is obvious, as not being finished is my biggest barrier to any sort of progress on my life. I’m usually pretty good at plugging away steadily, but I’m researching and planning a new chapter right now, so I need to make sure I don’t procrastinate endlessly by reading books and also that I don’t make impossible daily goals that interfere with my survival (see below). I’m not going to make any page/hour goals here, just promise that teaching won’t prevent me from putting in regular daily work.
2. Wear skirts. I love clothes and makeup but hate the daily effort. I may be modest and reserved, but if nudism were at all an option I’m sure I’d overcome any lingering embarrassment for the ease of just get-up-and-go without dealing with matching things and prepping and making an effort to look professional, or at least cute. I’ve made the case before that, if we in the academy really profess to be living the life of the mind, we should all wear monk’s robes ---- preferably something softer and fuzzier than hair shirts. See? Loose, comfortable, just add sandals and a rope belt and you’re good to go!
Anyway, when I work at it I can be not just decently dressed, but fresh and sparkling or even, dare I say, snazzy, all the way until 8th week, when the shit hits the fan (you can see the sartorial standards slide for everyone starting then, not just me). When I don’t consciously make an effort, I start out at week-8 quality and degenerate into borderline homeless-looking.
3. Keep up the sunscreen. Ever since finding a Disturbing Splotch and being told to keep an eye on it by a dermatologist, I have actually been quite good at wearing sunscreen and various
4. Exercise. Sadly, I have kept this resolution successfully in the distant past, but did not work out once all of the past quarter. (I’m not counting taking nice little walks.) I need to get back in the swing of things and force myself not only to work out, but to do it regularly. My schedule is conducive to workouts this time so there is some hope. The exercise would also help drop the weight I think I put on over break --- my dad’s scale seems untrustworthy. It didn’t change all week, but considering my dad is the king of middlebrow food and insisted we go out to: Applebee’s, a Chili’s, two different ok deep-dish pizza chains, and Best Mexican Restaurant in the world, a hole in the wall place near my parents’ house that we have loved since coming to California --- I am dubious that I have maintained my weight.
5. Social life --- what’s that? This may surprise you, but this one is the most important and most difficult for me of all. It really should be number 1, but I didn’t want to confuse you. I hereby resolve to go out and socialize, in a social setting, not at my house and not on the phone, with people, at least once a week. Ideally this will be with new and different people than just my dissertation buddy, who is wonderful in every way but we already spend a lot of time together. My Achilles heel --- besides being a bit shy and also cantankerous, which keeps people at their distance --- is that I tend to “punish” myself for a seeming lack of dissertation progress by cutting off the social world. Strange but true, and I wonder if this is at all common. Not only do I not allow myself contact with the outside world on days when I get nothing done, but I ratchet up my goals if the diss work is going well ---- Two paragraphs written! Whoo-hoo! …Two? Only two? You suck, you work so slow! You should have written 10 pages today! Get back to work! And forget about seeing anybody tomorrow --- no talking to a living soul unless you get 20 pages done the next day! … Then I get depressed and isolated, not talking to anyone or going out of the house because I have been “bad.” I start procrastinating more and more and getting less and less done, finally just shutting down and curling up into a ball under the covers. I need to avoid this, and need to remind myself that some socializing will keep me happy and going along as I work. Granted, I can use chatting with people to suck up my available work time like nobody’s business. But I know I need the rejuvenation ---- and chatting with grad students for 20 minutes in the mailroom doesn’t really work to rejuvenate me. So, fun and excitement, here I come!
6. Use a cup, stupid! This last little one is easy. I’ve lived in CA long enough to be a recycling little tree-hugger, and I try to not get bags for purchases or other wasteful things. And further, I’ve brought coffee or tea to school in a thermos or mug for years! But, insidiously, I have fallen into a bad habit of buying coffee at school or the coffee shop right near school. (Latte and a bagel …. mmmm!) I don’t know where my travel mug went, and my beautiful thermos leaks if you put it on its side and try to smuggle it into the library. I’ve been putting off hunting down a travel mug that will hold up to my James Bond-esque smuggler lifestyle, and in the process wasted paper like crazy. But I have new mugs from my budget-breaking Target trip and it should be an easy thing to start carting them around again.
So, ta-da! A shiny new me! With clothes, even! Whaddaya think? Too many resolutions, not enough? Anybody else do this, or have I definitively proven how strange I am?