Thursday, May 21, 2009

So. Much. To. Do.

So, last night I went to dinner with BES, Mentor Colleague, and the Fantastic Parents of BES. It was such a nice evening, and such a nice way to finish off BES's time as an undergraduate. We talked a lot about how she got to this point, about her grad school aspirations, about the tough job market but also about the value of going to grad school, which was really sort of nice. I'm so used to playing the heavy about grad school - so used to talking about the ways in which it is risky and brutal - and it was nice (as I basked in the glow of Mentor Colleague's utterly good and positive vibes) to talk about how grad school was great for me. Looking back, the best part of graduate school was what now seems like the unbelievable amounts of time that were set aside where I was just supposed to be thinking deeply. Now, sure, that produces a certain kind of pressure, too, and at the time I didn't see it as this total luxury. But when I compare my intellectual life now to my intellectual life then, what I miss most are those large blocks of time. I miss thinking about ideas as valuable in and of themselves, as opposed to calculating how much time a particular project will take, how I can fit a particular project into a schedule that doesn't easily accommodate unstructured deep thinking. So yes, the job market sucks, and yes, grad school isn't like some idyllic time where one skips through fields of wildflowers or something without a care in the world, but if I can think of one thing that was totally positive about it, it was that. It's the reason I'm glad I did it. That's an experience that distinguishes grad school as a worthwhile enterprise, warts and all.

But now back to my regularly scheduled whining. I've procrastinated massively, and so now I have to clean like a maniac in preparation for A.'s arrival tomorrow. Certain things that were on the list to do (defrosting and scrubbing the refrigerator) have been eliminated from the list because now there just isn't time. Other things I'm planning to half-ass. Ah well. I'll end up with a basically tidy and clean house by the end of it, although I will have some projects to keep me busy in the coming weeks. I feel like that's fine. The weather for A.'s visit looks like it will be superb for all of our activities, and I'm tremendously excited to have this weekend of girl time with her. And then next week, I'll work on my article for that collection, get ready for summer teaching, and I've got tentative plans to go see a play with E. All in all, this final couple of weekends and week before summer teaching promise to be very relaxing and productive all at the same time. Huzzah! But today, the time for procrastinating about cleaning has long since passed. Sigh.


Shane in Utah said...

I would second your comments about grad school, and add that another valuable aspect of the experience for me was the intellectual community. I imagine it's not like this everywhere, but my cohort (at least the ones that survived after the second year) became very close, and we formed reading groups, and qualifying exam study groups, and gave each other mock job interviews, and so on. Faculty life is a lot more atomized, I've found--I rarely talk to my colleagues about their research in any depth, for example. So yeah, I kind of miss that community, but I'm also glad to be done with all the hoop-jumping that goes with grad school and untenured asst prof status.

I liked your comment over at Dean Dad's place this morning, btw.

Psycgirl said...

As a house guest I would never judge you for not defrosting the fridge and I'm a stranger, so I think A will accept it :)

Rokeya said...

"Looking back, the best part of graduate school was what now seems like the unbelievable amounts of time that were set aside where I was just supposed to be thinking deeply...what I miss most are those large blocks of time."

I envy your grad program.