Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Polaris & Pan

I think grad school was my mooring for the last three years; amongst all the life-altering events (divorce, for one), grad school was a constant, like the Northern Star, keeping me oriented.

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.

The Flurry
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.
Then there was a totally fun barbecue at my place to congratulate and thank my colleagues and celebrate ahead of time with friends and family.
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.

The Floundering
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?

Fun
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." --Emily
I like that.

11 comments:

kymk said...

Hedonism sounds like a righteous alternative to pure cynocism.

Indie said...

I think so! :-)

steviewren said...

Congrats on your graduation.

Your granddaughter is a cutie pie.

I understand your ambivalence and angst about leaving school behind and moving into the next phase of your life.

The new job sounds like it will be interesting.

Your extracurricular activities and new beginnings sound exciting.

Good luck with it all.

Anonymous said...

"Who was I before life became so complicated?"

Indeed. I was asking myself a similar question just today.

Everyone advises us to Be Ourselves. But just who are we?

I think I know who I started out to be. A little boy with a heart full of love, who learned to hide that love away. Tenderness was weakness and invited attack, so I played a part, as an actor does. But the play continued far too long and I have played that part too long as well.

Now it's hard to remember who I used to be. Yet my heart aches to be, finally, free.

I asked my best friend what I should do. She thinks I'm doing well. She says it might help to see a counselor who can help me reach my goal of finally finding my way back to who I started out being.

My heart is already lighter thinking that I may be able to shed this camoflage coat that has protected me from attack from without and from knowledge of myself.

The poet said "The child is father to the man." I think that applies.

Thanks for continuing to share your journey with us through your blog, Indie. My thoughts are often with you.

Anonymous said...

hi, wow, you've gone through a lot!

g'luck with whatever path you choose next...

p m

Indie said...

Thanks, Stevie.

Anonymous, I am reading The Magician's Assistant by Ann Patchett right now, and it has me thinking of you and exactly that aspect that you are describing. I wish you all the nest in rediscovering yourself!!

And thanks for reading my blog :-)

PM, thanks!

Anonymous said...

Dear K, Thank you! Your blog has helped me keep in contact with you, and I am glad.

Each of your blog entries (and especially your replies to comments of mine) has been appreciated.

I view your comments, once you figured out who "Anonymous" was, as special tokens of our continuing friendship.

RK

Anonymous said...

Dear K, you wrote "Anonymous, I am reading The Magician's Assistant by Ann Patchett right now, and it has me thinking of you and exactly that aspect that you are describing. I wish you all the nest in rediscovering yourself!!

And thanks for reading my blog :-)"

Well, now you've done it! I need to go out and get a copy of The Magician's Assistant by Ann Patchett right away!

Keep blogging! I love each thing you share. If you'd like a cup of coffee and a danish sometime, tell me the time and place, I'll meet you there and the goodies are on me!

RK

Anonymous said...

Weeks pass. No reply to invitation for coffee and Danish. Long face in my mirror. Message received and accepted. rk

Indie said...

Not sure how you jumped to that conclusion. After reading "Gambling," it surely must be clear that I'm scrambling insanely to try to work as many hours as possible at two jobs to get the needs of my family met while having no transportation for almost two weeks.

Anonymous said...

You have such energy and optimism, I've been assuming you had solved your short-term transportation and financial problems. I am so sorry I made that mistake!

Not hearing from you, I got anxious, and when I get anxious, I'm apt to do nutty things to try to avoid being hurt. I'm more sensitive than I look. Possibly stupider, too.

You are smiling by now, I hope.

Good luck with everything.

You are surrounded by people who love you. Please take comfort in that.