Friday, November 12, 2010

The Crunch Begins...

It's that time of year again, folks! The time of the semester when the grad student disengages from the world at large and morphs into a self-loathing, frantic mess. A creature only designated to be "human" by virtue of his/her shape, buried under a pile of yet-to-be-read research, unfinished papers, ungraded composition assignments, and the pressures of the long-neglected social life.

And I have a fairly light semester.

For me, the paradoxical thing about "the crunch" is how much I've come to enjoy, even rely on it. For two or three entire weeks at the end of each semester, I run on pure adrenaline as I finish every project that has lingered in limbo for most of the semester. (Some are "finished" better than others, but it always gets done.) I read. I write. I grade. I sleep (occasionally). And then I do it all again the next day. This is not to say that the frenzy is the same as it was when I started graduate school. Sadly, this thirty-and-some-months-year-old no longer has the stamina for even the occasional "all-nighter," so I've become infinitely more adept at spreading the work over the bulk of the semester.

The lighter side of "the crunch," however, is the feeling one gets when it's all over and done with. The relief. The utter joy. The looming sensation that in just a few short weeks it will all begin again, but for now, your time is yours. I bake. I nap. I take hot baths. I read books just for "funsies" and retain absolutely nothing of their content or larger themes -- because I don't have to. It's glorious.

Here's to "the crunch," and I'll see you again on the other side of it.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Loverboy Was Wrong -- I'll Be Working ON the Weekend. Oh, and the Week, Too...

Screw you, Loverboy. The life of the grad student rarely involves working for the mythical weekend when life is your oyster and you can paint the town red and other such cliches.

It means working through the week in the vain hope that you will have less to work on during said weekend.

I just printed off ten-thousand pages (OK -- closer t0 150) of reading for my Monday night Shakespearean Fetishes course. This is, of course, in addition to the fact that I will also be reading another Shakespearean play before Monday, and somehow attempting to tackle the stack of student papers I just recieved from a bleary-eyed 101 class this morning, as well as reading and commenting on a colleague's paper before Friday's colloquium. (Note to self -- do not overindulge at post-colloquium "Night of Proper Drinking," lest all of Saturday be lost to general unpleasantness.)