Every day I run into someone old (today, my old internship adviser) or meet someone new (yesterday, a friend’s roommate) and we get to talking, and inevitably, someone asks, “How’s your semester going?,” and then reliably, I make the following joke (if you can call it that): “Well, I’m only a month into at least five years, but I’d say grad school is great.” And I mean it. Graduate school is great so far. In true dog-like fashion, I love that graduate school allows me to meet new people, share my ideas, and not worry, as I sometimes did in undergrad, about appearing too enthusiastic about certain material. And in true cat-like fashion, I love that graduate school requires solitude, early mornings, and a top-down view (from a refrigerator perhaps) of many arguments.
But today is the first day of fall. And what a first day it is–61 degrees and cloudy. But it also means my joke is wearing out. Fall semester has entered its rightful season and I’m still waiting for my graduate school story to run parallel with the traditional graduate school narrative. When will I be able to complain of sequential late-nights of useless reading, scrubby desperate undergraduates, and ruthless advisers? True privilege, right? Complaining about having nothing to complain about. But still, I’m waiting for graduate school to overtake me, and now that fall is here (with a breeze and a light rain too!) I worry that it never will. Right now, I accept the blessing that I can keep up (excel even) and think ahead in my classes. My most pressing challenge, it seems, is finding a new joke to give when someone asks “How’s your semester going?” or perhaps, the unthinkable, I should practice saying, “It’s really good, thanks. How’s yours going?”
Discoveries on Long Walks
It’s perhaps obvious to mention (but necessary to start off a list), but so many great things have happened in the last month, some related to school, others not: I’ve made good friends outside my department. I’ve made good friends inside my department. I’ve read books that have changed the way I view certain issues. I’ve socialized with old professors (re: former glorious idols). I swam in the ocean. I’ve been introduced to the bizarre and fascinating world of policy-making. I’ve cut back on snide quilt (or barbecue, or blues music)-related jokes. I watched Eli get a tattoo. I picked orange cosmos. I met Senator Hagan. I swept the house and did the dishes. I played with the neighbor’s dog. I saw Willie Nelson and Neil Young. I fell asleep standing up seeing Real Estate. I applied for a grant. I applied for an award. I ate shrimp and grits. I had coffee with strangers. I helped students with their readings. I watched every episode of The Roosevelts. I took long walks and normal-length runs. Eli and I had a granola-making contest and I lost. I sat at Weaver Street, ate a croissant, and did my daily writing, like I did four years ago (and three, and two, and one). How we spend our days is how we spend our lives, right? I like my days, I like my life, I like graduate school. I hope it remains as simple as that.