Sunday, October 17, 2010
Falling through the Fall
So here we are, more than half finished with the month of October and it finally feels like Fall. My summer vegetable plants are on their last and final fruits. My sweaters have taken over the closet again. Flip flops are still acceptable but starting to lose preference to my sneakers. It's a lovely sixty degrees here this morning, and I am going to try my first run with no shoes at all.
Yesterday I ran my first short run (in the Vibram 5-fingers) since my injury, and while my foot felt fine after 15 minutes, my knee did not, so I am starting slow and steady until I can get my mileage back. I read up on the form barefoot runners should take and it requires spreading your weight as evenly over your whole foot as possible (rather than concentrating your weight mostly on the ball of your foot like I thought), and apparently the best way to avoid injury is to have no shoe protection at all so that you can feel right away if your form is incorrect. Two weeks off and I am completely out of shape, but I am determined to give this another shot. It looks like I will have to step up the yoga practice, however, to strengthen the muscles around my knee.
My time lately has mostly been filled up with research, reading, blogging for school and working (which really means researching). The life of an academic can be really sedentary unless you make a conscious effort to be active, and so I try pretty hard to fit in the activities that are important to me. Unfortunately some things always fall by the wayside. I can never seem to get everything read in time for class, so I read as much as I can and recognize that this will all be over soon. These days I cannot wait for the day when I have a job that pays a salary and I do not have to take my work home with me.
I have really enjoyed being a student for all these years and I feel as though I could keep learning for the rest of my life and still not find out everything I want to know, but while I intend to do that, I think it will be on my own terms. I am ready to put my knowledge and enthusiasm into a job, wherever someone might hire me, and throw in the academic towel for a while. There is only so much time one can spend learning about how to work before you want to just do it already. I have shelves filled with books I've read, but even more shelves filled with books I bought to read because I was really interested in the topic or the author, and I've never had the free time. Instead I fill my time writing about topics I've been assigned, and often reading about laws I'll never have to work with.
I think my studies have been more than incredibly valuable and I am grateful for the opportunities I've been given to learn-- even for the loans that allowed me to afford this education, but I am slowly beginning to burn out. Unfortunately I still need to write three articles of publishable quality by the end of the semester and take one of the most difficult law exams I've undertaken yet (federal court law is ridiculous), so it is not a good time to burn out. Instead of giving in to the desire to go back to my blissful summer of working a dead end job and reading all the novels I've always wanted to read in my hammock, I am instead just pushing forward gently through this academic madness and trying to avoid panicking.
I have switched my yoga class schedule to extremely early in the morning (6 am) so that I can be sure to get it in, and it makes my day run more calmly when I know I've already accomplished that. I have committed to focusing only on work and building relationships with my coworkers while I am there, instead of thinking intensely about all the schoolwork I have to do when I get home. I have made plans with my best friend once a week and I try to stick to them no matter how much work I have to do, and sectioned off a date night with my wonderfully understanding boyfriend, no matter what other invitations come up.
I have also reduced a considerable amount of stress by saving money and attempting to live more simply, both because I am preparing to move and need to save up more, and because it is less stressful not to constantly wonder where your money is going. I am terrible about constantly buying new outfits depending on my mood, wanting to try every restaurant in the the Washington metro area and buying books I don't have time to read. I have figured out how to save money on parking, take the bus, and shop at the farmer's market where food is all there is to buy (I end up buying processed cookies, chips, snack bars, extra shampoo and face products etc. at every other store-- Whole Foods is the worst for me). I feel positively about where my money goes too, as I know local farmers are people I support and when I hop on the bus that's one more car that's off the road.
One way or another this semester will go by, like all the others have, and I'll look back and have no idea how it all got done. I hope that a year from now I am working somewhere I want to stay for a while, whether it be at an organization in this city, one across the country, or one across the world. My peace corps application is slowly getting finished, along with my Presidential Management Fellowship application, which if I make it all the way through would put me in government work for two years at least. I honestly don't care where I end up, I am just ready for this very long academic road to come to an end. Wish me luck!