As you probably know if you're reading this, I've been worried about this upcoming semester. I'm taking 13 credits instead of the recommended 9...I took 12 last semester and it about wiped me out. Luckily I have a few good cheerleaders and some great knitting friends, all of whom kept me positive and excited about what I'm doing. So why the push? Sharon, my dissertation chair, agreed that I could work long-distance, which means that I can move back East in May. Why do I want to do that? Neal, the dogs, my parents. Trees. Green. Water. Sarey and Cae. Proximity to NYC, Cher, Boscobel, my Mercy pals, my NY bookgroup. Pizza. Fluff. Whoopie Pies. The ocean. No particular order there, just the people and things I miss.
In order to do that, though, I need to have all of my coursework done, only dissertation hours left. And, as you may have guessed, that is the reason for the impending insanity. I will have one more course to do in the fall, but one of my professors has agreed to do a long-distance independent study with me.
To top this off, I will need to sell my townhouse (it's super cute, great location in the North Valley, let me know if you're interested...) and get packed to move by mid-May. Neal will tell you what bad shape I was in for the move out here. Oh, he'll regale you with details about that, but he does exaggerate a little (such as when he's telling me how naughty my Maddie girl has been). I want to do a better job with the move this time. There's less emotional baggage to carry in this move...the last time around, I was leaving the first place I'd owned (ok, so the bank owned most of it), the place in which my marriage came apart, but where I still managed to find peace of sorts. The place where Neal and I first fell in love. Odd, that, to have a relationship crumble, and a new one grow, all in the same place, in the same year, but now I'm rambling.
I'm pretty certain that the only way I can make it through until mid-May without hysterical meltdowns that result in Rachel offering to pray for me and Randall offering the advice to go have a drink is to be disciplined and to take care of myself.
To that end...I've created a little chart on which I've filled in the hours of my week (there are 168, which I discovered last semester mid-breakdown) that are obligated in a firm way. Next I started plugging in things that I want to do to take care of myself--daily yoga in the morning, jumproping at night, morning pages, Knitters not Quitters and ABQSnB every week, zone out to Sex and the City. But I also need to do a good job with things like keeping the house orderly (chaos begets chaos, I truly believe) and eating healthy food. I existed on pasta with olive oil, salt and pepper a lot last semester, and that's not good in so many ways. My poor deprived taste buds! Anyone have good vegetarian make-ahead recipes? I'll be getting home late three days a week and will need quick heat-up meals...but part of my 168 will be spent cooking on Sundays.
Speaking of Sundays, another way I'm going to treat myself right is to commit to a little project, what I'm going to call "Short Story Sundays". I came to this from reading (haven't finished yet) Jane Smiley's Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel and from writing my morning pages, which by the way, changed my life a few years ago (the morning pages, not Smiley's book. C'mon, it was just published!). So here's what I'm going to do: each Sunday I will read a short story--either one recommended to me, one I'm reading with my students, a New Yorker story, whatever strikes me. I will spend time thinking about what I think works or doesn't work in the story, and I will try to figure out how the writer wielded craft in order to make me envious or disgusted, or whatever I am after reading the story. Then I will write a blog entry that will provide a link to the story or the collection in which it's found, a synopsis of the story, and my thoughts on it.
We need to read more short stories is one of the reasons I want to do this project. There are so many out there, though, so maybe this will help someone to figure out what story to read. I want to understand writing better is another reason. I'm curious is the final reason.
So, stay tuned for Short Story Sundays. And if you have story suggestions, let me know. And if I seem to have gone over the cliff, at least you'll understand that it is the damn 13 credits, that's all. I'll be ok come June!