Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Semester's end brain dump

The academic semester has ended. I somehow thought that the pace of things would calm down once classes were over. I feel as busy as ever. Partly it is general holiday time hectic, but it is also the pressure to start cranking out the lab work, now that I have "more time". I find it hard to explain to people out side the university that, unlike in undergrad, I am not actually "off" now that classes are over. I am beginning to understand (although not yet agree with) the advice I have received multiple times - that classes are just a waste of time and get in the way of all your work.

I am not complaining. The fact that I have lots of lab work to do is good. I am getting more comfortable with molecular biology techniques. Now I just need to work some PCR voodoo and start getting some results! I also need to figure out if I will have time to volunteer in a local classroom again next semester. I should clarify... by "figure out if I have time" what I mean is decide whether or not to make time. I am beginning to realize that "when I have time" will never happen, and postponing things until then is pointless. I am the most productive when I decide that things have to happen now, even if there isn't really enough time for all of them. I think that part of being successful in academia (and certainly many other careers as well) is knowing that you are able to do more than you think you have time for.

All of this makes me feel guilty of course for not prioritizing family and friends at this time of year. It has always been my favorite time of year because I get Thanksgiving, My Birthday,Christmas, and New Year's Eve all in succession.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it is all about family for me. When I was younger and the world was blacker and whiter Thanksgiving represented hypocrisy and white oppression/extermination of native peoples. However, I have come back to truly loving it at its face value... a time to think about how lucky we are, and be with the ones we love, and cook! Cooking is huge in my family, and making thanksgiving dinner with my mom, and recently brother is something I look forward to all year.

The reasons for loving my birthday are obvious... its all about me! While I am feeling a bit of the "OMG I'm almost 30 where has my life run off to", mostly I am excited for a party, a visit from my boyfriend, and more friends and family time.

Christmas, (for me a secular holiday), is like a combination of Thanksgiving and my birthday... good food, family, and of course presents (giving and receiving). It is always a whirlwind, but (at the risk of corny-induced eye rolling) it is the time of year when I feel the most loved, and I when I think the most about how much I love my friends and family.

New Year's Eve is sometimes exciting, some times dramatic, some times disappointing, but always spent with friends. This year I will be spending it with some friends I no longer see regularly, and I am particularly excited about that.

Since classes ended, I have become absorbed in a time consuming, but very fun project that I have a feeling is going to become a hobby. I am making a Christmas/birthday present for a friend, and since they occasionally read this blog, I don't want to spill the beans as to what the project is quite yet!

This year I am feeling the holiday spirit quite a lot for two reasons. One, I have a particularly festive lab-mate who has been playing Christmas carols, baking cookies for the lab, and wearing cute cheesy holiday earrings and somehow pulling it off in a totally endearing way. Second, I am back in the Northeast, and it is cold! Winter never really felt like winter to me when I was living in Texas.

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