Saturday, May 22, 2010

Better coupons than I get in MY paper...

The three hardest questions to answer at family parties while in graduate school:

Well-meaning person: So, what classes are you taking?

The honest grad student answer (at least in the sciences) is sorry, I don't really take many classes, or infact, any, after my second year. In any case the majority of my time is spent working in the lab and teaching, which is why I get "paid" to "go to school."

Well-meaning person: Is your plan to become a professor after this?

The honest grad student answer: After this, I expect that I'll never want to see an undergrad again.

Well-meaning person: So, when do you graduate?

The honest grad student answer: Walks away, bitterly weeping.

Monday, May 10, 2010

...and as a humorous followup to my last post...

This is one of the infamous graduate student comics. Click to enjoy.

It's easy; All you need is love.

Every romantic comedy, prime-time drama, and teen novel seem to have the same conclusion. The message is meant to be down to earth, fulfilling, and insightful, revealing some inner truth. Everyone knows that the lesson to the story is that as human beings, we need more than just posessions. We shouldn't let our monotenous duties at work or preoccupations with "rising through the ranks" and "climbing the ladder" monopolize our lives. Silly yuppies. Silly fashionists, computer geeks, and millionares. All we ever really need is love! Love is the answer.

Or is it?

What about those times that we don't have a romantic relationship in our lives? What about when we're looking for one? What do we do then? Every romcom urges us to "give love another chance" and get over ourselves, so that we can envelop our lives in a new relationship. But is that really the answer?

I've been single for over six months now, and if I'd listened to that advice I'd never have made it this far.

At first I didn't know where to turn. Losing such an absorbing part of my life was disorienting. But every day I had to come into work. It was a schedule, a routine. That was one goal that still existed in my life. I could lie and say that I threw myself into my work. I didn't. I was listless and didn't throw myself into anything besides being miserable. But eventually the misery subsided and the thing that was there when the sun began to rise was work.

My work is frustrating. It's stressful and can be unrewarding. Positive outcomes are not always proportional to the input of time and effort. However it was something that I could work at. I spent time and got things done. They didn't always work, but sometimes they did, and no matter what the outcome, I knew it was all dependent on me. I was in control, for better or for worse. And eventually, after time passed, my hard work was rewarded. As my mood improved, my social life emerged from hibernation, little by little. At work, a little bit of success spurred me on and in the past few months I've not only immersed myself in my work, but also in improving my career, and myself. Chalk it up to Fairfield and "educating the whole person." I'm not just pipetting and writing and correcting. I'm going to conferences, meeting people, making connections, and getting involved in my department and beyond.

Love is a wonderful thing. But do we really have to make it the ONLY thing? Do I really have to feel bad about myself because I've decided to turn my focus elsewhere while I wait for it to come to me? I can tell you I'm more grounded than I have been in a while. I'm not writing love off. I put my social hours in. I pick out flirty outfits. I talk to guys in the bar. But at the end of yet another night when I haven't met Mr. Right, I can face getting up in the morning because I know I have something else.

The Beatles

Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love.
There's nothing you can do that can't be done.
Nothing you can sing that can't be sung.
Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game
It's easy.
There's nothing you can make that can't be made.
No one you can save that can't be saved.
Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you
in time - It's easy.

All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love, love is all you need.
Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love.
All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love, love is all you need.
There's nothing you can know that isn't known.
Nothing you can see that isn't shown.
Nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be.
It's easy.
All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love, love is all you need.
All you need is love (all together now)
All you need is love (everybody)
All you need is love, love, love is all you need.