The Scamp and the Gratitude Challenge: Week 43

Today is a good day to focus on gratitude. I’ve been feeling very overwhelmed the last week or so. I’m trying to balance work and school with a social life, trying not to miss my family, and trying to sort out my world view. While I have the world view just about sorted, the rest of it is still up in the air.

That is not the reason that I choose to focus on gratitude right now. Today there was a stabbing at UC Merced. I do not know much of what happened other than several students were attacked, and the campus police shot and killed the man responsible. I My heart hurts for the people there, and I am incredibly saddened that a place that I felt so safe at has been violated in such a way. I owe a lot to UCM. They offered me a killer financial aid package that allowed me to gradate just about debt free, and being at a new school afforded me opportunities that not many people get to enjoy. It was at UCM that I discovered my love for writing, and discussing literature. I went Australia and got my first real taste of wanderlust while I was there.

I fell in love the for the first time at UCM.

It just so happens that Week 43 is about a mentor or teacher that I am grateful for. That is an easy one. There are two people that I am grateful for, and both happen to come from UCM. The first one is a plucky writer and poet by the name of Jared Stanley. Besides being a really cool guy, he was also one of the people that really encouraged my creative writing. He got me to write ridiculous poems that were complete shit, gave me books to read, and led me to one of my favorite poets, Gertrude Stein.  That nonsensical poetry has gotten me through a lot of rough moments, and has led me to a lot of wonderful people.

The other person that I am grateful for is a literature professor by the name of Jan Goggans. Jan is by far one of the coolest people I have ever met. She specializes in American literature, and was taught the first literature class I ever took. She encouraged discussion, challenged me to think about what I was reading, and helped me become a much better reader and writer. The last time I saw her she told me that she loved every minute of watching me grow as an academic, a writer, and a lover of literature. She wrote me a glowing letter of recommendation for grad school, and encouraged me to pursue a PhD.

Now, I living in the only place I have ever felt at home, and am surrounded by good literature, amazing people, and the chance to see the world. I’m still two weeks behind on the gratitude challenge, but I am having a hard time focusing, so I will come back to my gratitude when I’ve had a proper night’s sleep, and a chance to recharge.

The Scamp is a Shitty Juggler

I’m tired.

Not the tired of going to bed too late and getting up too early. Not the tired of a good long workout, or the completion of a paper. No, this is the bone deep, weary tired of having too many balls in the air at one time.  It is the tired of someone who has every second of the day scheduled. I’m juggling two jobs (one of which I really like, and one that pays my bills), school, homework, and a paltry attempt at a social life. I’m not doing very well at any of. I’m distracted at work, distracted in class, and haven’t put in nearly enough effort into my homework or relationships. I have a student loan to sort out, and have yet to pay my tuition or register for next semester. I still do not have insurance. Lately the only thing that I am doing well is sleeping and putting off work.

The end of the semester cannot come soon enough. I have one final separating me from the completion of my first semester of the doctoral program. I’m not sure if I have learned a lot, and the final next week will certainly answer that question, but I am happy to be standing near the finish line.

I did not do nearly enough writing while I was in Scotland, and have yet to do any since I have been home. The trip was a good recharge, but coming home and then jumping right back in to school and work has left me with a cold (well, that could have come from the boy, who has been sick for a couple of weeks). The boy told me that I tend to be fatalistic about my disease, and while I don’t agree, he asked me what would happen if I spent one day not thinking about how tired I was, or how much pain I was in. In theory, that would be great. I would love it if I could find a way to shut off that part of my brain. I have decided that I will try that while I am tied up in study groups this weekend preparing for the final.


Today though, I am just going to take some meds, go to bed early, and hope that I wake up tomorrow a little less tired.

The Scamp on a Sunday

I always know it is Sunday because I wake up feeling remorseful.

Today was no exception. I got an email from my supervisor with the last two annotated chapters of my thesis, and even before I made it out of bed I was trying to think of things to do that would keep me from having to sit down and look at the edits.  I did my part of the house cleaning, spent way too much time dicking around the internet and chatted with a couple of the lads from Scotland.

When  I finally focused on the edits, they weren’t that bad for the most part. The problem that I am having is that in every place my supervisor asks me to explain something further, or link my research to the massive amount of literature I read, I just can’t do it. I’ve been staring at the paper for the last four months, and can no longer see how I can improve it, and can no longer think of clever things to say about the books and their representation of culture. Truth is, I read a massive amount of literature, but I never really made a concrete plan on how I was going to use it in my analysis. My methods were not in line with any one philosophy. My research mainly consisted of pointing out the flaws in one story and highlighting the positive features in another……not really groundbreaking (and thank sweet baby Jesus is doesn’t have to be). I never had that light bulb moment where I could connect an old white guy’s theory to my motivation for the research (mostly because my motivation for the project was the fact that I could do it all from my desk and I didn’t have to interact with people).

Tomorrow I am going to try and finish the last of the edits and get myself in the mindset of a meeting with my supervisor. I was grossly under prepared for the last meeting, and I am not going to make that mistake again. If I am lucky, maybe she will just tell me what to write and I can stop stressing about having to finish the entire paper in just under 6 days.

Might be time for a nap.