Whew, made it! The first week hasn’t been quite as bad as I expected, and I got the pleasant surprise of finding out that two of my classes will be done with by the end of March. By April 1st I’ll be burdened with 2 less classes and 3 less units. Whoooo!

Speaking of school, I have a confession. I am absolutely horrible at brown bagging. Especially as a semester wears on, I start to phone it in more and more, picking up overpriced – and often grossly unhealthy – food at school because I also bought dinner the night before, leaving no leftovers, and rushed out the door in the morning, not allowing any time to make something new. I’m trying to work on that this semester so I’m snapping pictures of my lunches and posting them, not because I think they’re all that unique or you’re all that interested, but just as a way to hold myself accountable.

Monday – Bean burrito, roasted cauliflower, chocolate chip cookies.

Tuesday – Saltines and graham crackers. (I wasn’t actually on campus through lunch time, so I just brought snacks. Unfortunately I was running late in the morning and didn’t get breakfast, so I ended up buying supplemental food at school.)

Wednesday – Chipotle turkey wrap, fritos, and a candy bar; leftovers from school lunch and an impulse buy from grocery shopping.

Thursday – Broccoli and rice, roasted cauliflower, chicken chow mein, and a hefty hunk of french bread. Both lunch AND dinner! It feels strange to ponder what I want for dinner when I’ve only just eaten breakfast. 12 hour school days are not my friend.


Day 1

Yesterday marked Day 1 of Week 1 of a new semester of school. I was pretty much in denial right up until I got on the bus, as if at the last minute I’d get a call from Chico State telling me there’d been a mistake, that I was all set to go into the credential program and could take this semester off, and of course that the check for my refunded tuition was in the mail.

The normal good feelings I get of a new start for the semester aren’t here this time, but it’s not horrible. In the afternoon, my best friend in my program was trying to convince me to take a class with her on Fridays, and, forgetting to censor myself (which is doubly unfortunate since this was also in front of our adviser), I quipped that I didn’t want to ruin my Friday with school. I have plenty of valid reasons for wanting to keep my Friday clean, but because I wasn’t thinking, of course I chose the one that summed them all up but also sounded the most rude. I really need to remember my audience better.

I am really looking forward to my art class this semester, since we get to actually do a lot of projects rather than just hear about them. I’m not particularly good at art, especially the 2D ones (painting, drawing, etc) but even if they aren’t masterpieces I still like creating them and find the process relaxing and rejuvenating. I could tell this was going to be a good class when the professor tried to gently explain that, having taught in our program for several years, she’s discovered that we not only have special gifts and talents but also special needs, and has adjusted the course accordingly. Most of the class looked confused, but I spotted a couple other people angling their heads down to try to hide their knowing smirks.

That’s about it for now. Yesterday was a long day of school and work and I’m feeling pretty tired, I’ve had to rewrite a few of these sentences because when I reread them I realized that they were completely incoherent. I get back in plenty of time for the meal tonight, so maybe I’ll find some time for some sleep then (since I have to get up even earlier tomorrow). There’s still several messes from youth group and candle making that I need to clean up at some point, and I’m realizing that even though I never had an amazing handle on balancing work, school, meals, cleaning, and taking care of myself, over the course of break I’ve forgotten how to do it at all. Time for some re-learning!

Diagnosis: Senioritis

I really don’t miss this. At all. For most of this week I’ve been dreading this semester more than any other one before it; I’ve got a nasty case of senioritis. Which makes sense, since up until last semester this would have been my last undergrad semester, though I’ve now tacked on another year for special ed goodness and playing some credit catch up. In the long run, I’m glad I’m doing it – I really do want to teach special ed, and this keeps me from having to take huge course loads during my credential program while also giving me much better job possibilities.

But looking at three more semesters before I’m anywhere close to being out of here is just kinda depressing. I love Chico State, but I’m definitely ready to be done here.

Today is my “Chico day” where I combine all of my errands into one trip. Since I knew I’d be visiting a friend at 5 I came down at about 12:45. I had some social services stuff to take care of, and I assumed it would be similar to the DMV where you end up waiting for ages. No joke, I was in and out in 20 minutes.

Which isn’t a bad thing, except that now, at 4, I’m really bored. I knitted up more of Lucy’s birthday gift (then realized that I was missing part of the pattern and couldn’t finish the part I was working on), had some leftovers from our meal last night for lunch (of the distinctly non-stinky variety), and perused some texbooks and syllabi that I brought along because I might as well get a start on them. Except that those reminded me of how much I don’t want to be here next week.

And now I’m killing time until I head up to Forest Ranch to do a fitting for an old Neighborhood friend – did I mention that fitting is for a duct tape outfit? I think this is why I enjoyed this winter break so much, because I had the freedom to decide at pretty much any point in the day that I wanted to try something new and sit down and do it – right then – instead of imagining it, sticking it on some to do list, and being too busy and forgetting about it. Sure, I worked over break, but the majority of my time was my own to volunteer around town, invest in relationships, and do creative work. I’m going to miss that.

A good reminder

Below is an exchange I had with a friend from high school this evening, part of a larger conversation as we were catching up. Re-reading it, I’m pretty happy with it as a summing up of my feelings toward my present situation. It’s good for me to have moments like this, when I’ve been succumbing to stress and started to feel kind of sorry for myself, to remember that I’m incredibly blessed and have far more than what I need. These moments always put a smile on my face =)

(Edited a bit from original conversation, because there are a few of these things that I don’t need to broadcast across the internet…)

Me: At this point I’m pretty much living paycheck to paycheck. Any extra consistent expense would mean a huge difference to me financially.

Friend: Yeah. So how come you’re so hard-up? Can’t you take out a loan?

Me: I’m doing my best not to. At some point I’ll almost undoubtedly need to take out loans, but I’m putting that off as long as I can. I think watching my parents battle debt all my life makes me queasy about having any sort of debt. Plus, I’m not a very responsible spender; sure, I don’t go out buying huge things or anything, it’s mostly just the small stuff that I let add up too much. Having a large chunk of money in an account gives me too much temptation to spend needlessly. Mostly I just have to really hope nothing horrific happens.

Friend: Yeah, but you know, there’s programs for loan forgiveness for California teachers.

Me: I’m becoming less and less sure that I’ll stay in CA the more I talk to people who are actually looking for teaching jobs right now. The special ed credential I’ll be getting should help with that, but there’s nothing close to the job security that got sold to me before.

All that to say, and I realize now that all that up there sounds super depressing, but I’m actually…happy. I don’t mind this lifestyle. I’m starting to make more of my own stuff, especially food wise, get more creative with purchases, I can’t slack off on work, and I value what I do have much more than before.

I’d much, much prefer to live like this right now than bank on some really vague things that are looking less and less hopeful. I’d rather experience this now and enjoy it, as I am, than have a huge meltdown when my loans come due and I’m still unemployed. Besides, at least right now we’re all in the same poor/creative/frugal college kid boat =P

Why Hello, 2010

I think it’s something inherent in us that craves a new start, a fresh slate. New Year’s Resolutions are like a chance to do-over a year except…not really, because the stream of time is flowing irrevocably forward, and there’s no way to paddle against it.

As a student, I have the luck of getting several fresh starts throughout the year, rather than just the first of January – each new semester and, since I usually get a substantial break between each, even between semesters all seem like fresh starts or new seasons (granted, my current break is six weeks, which is a rather short “season”, but I think you get what I mean). Granted, as mentioned earlier it’s never quite a do-over, since I’ll never get to re-do that linguistics class that I hated and avoided going to at all costs (not that I would WANT to re-do that), or have a second shot at that painting whose border I half-assed and thus only got a B on, or take another shot at that god-awful presentation I had to make in front of the course-link that I was just joining as well as a rather snarky relative.

Yet the first few weeks of a semester, or even a break, all tend to follow the some formulaic pattern to such an extent that it feels almost like I am getting a “re-do”, and I promise myself that I’ll break the bad habits that brought me down last semester – or to be more honest, for the last 5 semesters. Because then, without fail, I fall back into the bad habits and get stressed out and run into all of the other baggage that I promised myself I’d avoid.

With the new year coming on, I’ve read some of the influx of blog posts about productivity and goal setting. What I noticed after awhile was that a) I already knew a lot of what was being said from previous blog browsing, b) there seem to be an endless myriad of systems and techniques, many of which don’t seem to sync well with each other, and c) as catchy as the titles for some of these are (like Getting Things Done) most of the emphasis is on planning and organizing.

I’ve come to a realization that I probably should have noticed earlier: I can plan, organize, outline, mind-map, color-coordinate, schedule and categorize to my heart’s content, but at a certain point – and I would argue that for me, that point comes fairly quickly – I just need to go ahead and actually do it. I think I’ve fallen into the trap of feeling a greater than necessary sense of accomplishment for planning out how I’m going to do something, forgetting that scheduling it out isn’t actually doing it.

So for all of the resolution advice and goal-planning ideas that I’ve perused in the last several days, the piece of advice I think that will be the hardest for me to swallow, challenging to implement, and impossible to ignore is, plainly and simply:

Do the work.