And then, a little over a month ago, I graduated.
I should poll my colleagues and see if anyone else feels as thoroughly disoriented as I do now that it's all over.
There was such a flurry of activity leading up to graduation that it was all I could do to hang on tight, work as hard as I could and try not to overlook any details.
There was the finishing of the thesis, a copy of which had to be mailed off to my second reader who had retired to Southern California; then I had to get approvals, track down lots of signatures, write a dedication page, get a copy to the department for binding, etc.
There was an awards ceremony, at which I found out I did not win the Patricia O. McConkey Award for Outstanding Thesis of the Year. Even though I knew the nomination was a huge honor, I was still a bit sad and disappointed after the ceremony.
Major highlight of that day was that my son, his girlfriend and my precious granddaughter spent the whole day.
And then, graduation itself: exciting, heady, a little overwhelming.
I was very much aware that this was the last time I would get to experience this particular company, my fellow grad students. Never before has my life contained such a bounty of intelligent company and trusted colleagues. I wonder if it ever will again...
So I tried to savor the moments, there at the ceremony, the laughter, the shared excitement, the sense of belonging.
And then, a dozen friends scattered to the four winds, to teaching jobs in New Mexico, Virginia, the Bay Area, to PhD programs in Texas, to summer vacations in Gold Country, Oregon, Monterrey.
And here I still am.
And then came the job hunt, not to mention dozens of existential questions about what I even really want to do. Teach? After completely surrendering my life, heart and soul to grad school for three years, I am hesitant about surrendering those things again--a surrender that teaching as a career seems to demand.
But after flailing around for awhile, alternating bouts of extreme lazy self-indulgence with bouts of existential angst, I finally started a new job last week--- in marketing.
I was trying to think outside the box, trying to find a job for which my particular skill set would be of value (former journalist with an advanced degree in persuasive writing). But also something that would allow me to work just while at work, then be able to claim my off hours for my own.
Once I figure out the business and the market, that is . . .
It's a telecommunications company, so there is a steep learning curve for me. After a training Friday, I had to go home and take a nap because my brain hurt. A textbook my boss put on my desk Monday morning is called Wireless LANs: Implementing Interoperable Networks. Yikes!
Finding my Footing
Anyway, I've spent the last month feeling a little disoriented--in life, at home, at work, spiritually, emotionally, materially.
Who was I before life became so complicated? Before I got married, before my kids grew into teenagers, before I became a grandmother, before my son's accident, before I got a divorce, and before college and especially graduate school made me set aside all my personal interests in order just to survive?
So for a month now, I've been going on dates and having romantic adventures. I've been yard sale-ing, cooking, playing guitar, painting, flying kites, hiking, bicycling, picnicking, drinking cocktails and sunbathing. I've even begun to read for pleasure.
I think of a quote from my little niece's website:
"On my good days, I believe in love, laughter, and the goodness of people. On my cynical days, hedonism is always a nice alternative." --EmilyI like that.