Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Wrapping paper is one of my favorite parts of the holidays...

The further along I get in grad school, the more I feel like I need breaks, and the less it seems like I'm really allowed to take them.

In my last meeting with my advisor, she strongly encouraged me to do some of the prep work for my prelim "before the holiday." I thought this sounded great, but failed to consider that I would be writing 4 final papers during that time (a total of approximately 70 pages of text and some absolutely pain-staking tables for my stats paper) and dealing with a level of burn-out I hadn't encountered since studying for boards. Suffice it to say I did not get much done before my exams were finished (exams used loosely here, only to mean important assignments that happen at the end of the term). This left only my "break" between December 19 and January 7 in which to complete this preparation. It¿s been a little rough.

Immediately following my exams, I entered what I somewhat-less-than-fondly call the post-exam ADD period. It's during this 1.5-2 days in which I feel a more sincere form of empathy than I'd ever thought possible with individuals who suffer from ADD and ADHD, as well as potentially those who suffer from coming down from highly addictive drugs, from manic episodes, and from insomnia. During this time, I cognitively acknowledge that I need a break from school work, but am unable to actually relax. I am fidgety (much more so than usual), unable to focus on anything, and often end up compulsively cleaning the kitchen, doing the dishes, and purchasing groceries. (Note that these last three items often rise to the top of the compulsive to do list because I have not done them since exams began 3-4 weeks earlier.) In addition to running around my apartment like some kind of hamster on a wheel, I am unable to sleep, cry periodically, and am generally horrible to be around. This is not the time for accomplishing great things. It is the time for accomplishing all of the small things that have accumulated around the apartment for the last month.

As the post-exam horror begins to fade, I can usually negotiate a peaceful time of quiet accomplishment - getting a little reading done, sleeping more than usual, knitting, but also doing some work. Not so this year. I have been unable to sleep through the night since I started trying to sleep during the night (after exams ended) and as a result am sleeping sporadically during the day (napping, if you will). Though these naps provide much needed rest, they are also profoundly disorienting, as I'm unable to restrict myself to the not-long-enough-to-be-disorienting-but-long-enough-to-be-restful 20 minute siesta. Instead, I find myself sleeping for 2 hours between 8am and 10am and wholly thrown off for the rest of the day. You see, one of my rules for break is that when Alicia gets home from work, I chat with her, and watch movies, and knit, and have fun, since (in theory) I have done some work during the day and deserve to enjoy part of my break. I have been pulling off the evening schedule pretty well (and will share some movies I have seen this break later), but not so much the getting work done during the day. I have been sucked into blogs, stared out the window, stretched out on the couch with the dog, and continued to clean the apartment, as well as doing ~50 paltry pages of reading over the last few weeks. This is unsettling to me, and even as I try to convince myself that I really just need a break, it's hard for me to buy. What I really need is to find a balance between assuaging my deep-seated fear that I will fail my prelim at the end of this term and releasing all of the tension from last semester. Also finding funding and health insurance for next summer¿ To top things off my yoga teacher is out of town and the sub last week was like a pilates/synchronized-swimming/aerobics instructor. Welcome to the holidaze...

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Walter and Alicia in the back seat on the way home from Walter's foster family.

We've welcomed a lovely new member of our family into our home. His name is Walter and he is a 2-3 year old Boston Terrier. We adopted him from the Midwest Boston Terrier Rescue on Sunday and have been having fun with him since then. He's quite a bright little dog, and we've had a pretty easy time getting him used to our house.

So far, one of the most exciting aspects of dog ownership (apart from the joy of carrying a little baggie of dog poop in your coat pocket, of course) is that he somehow learned to do this army crawl-type move. He does it when he's stretching in the mornings, or when he's trying to be very good (and thus stay laying down) and also get toward something (like his ball). It hilarious... He stretches his back legs out completely behind him and moves forward with his front legs. At some point we'll catch it on video and post it for everyone to enjoy.

Time to go for a walk!

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Apologies for the long gap between posts. I should be writing a paper right now, so this is short...

We are finally adopting a dog... It is an exciting process, and we're most of the way toward adopting Walter. We have our home visit tonight (I know, it seems crazy, but they want these rescue dogs in good homes), and then I think we should get to adopt him. I still don't know when we'll pick him up (assuming the home visit goes well). Keep your fingers crossed for us!