I should be doing work-work, but right now I can’t wrap my head around it, so I’m going to write here for a few minutes.

I had a long, good, helpful conversation with a friend last night that really helped me to examine a lot of my questions, struggles and frustrations with the program. She told me about her own experience being heavily courted for the program, and how it immediately wasn’t what she expected or wanted. She’s now in the dissertation proposal phase, and feels it’s really too late to turn back, but encouraged me to deeply consider my options both here and elsewhere, and not be overly swayed by other people’s ambitions or goals or plans for my own career.

Every hour that I spend in class leaves me feeling more frustrated, angry, and confused about why I’m here. I am, as my friend said, learning more about my interests by doing my job than I am (or would be) from sitting in classes where I’m told how other people think my job should be done. I’ve had a fundamentally awesome working experience since joining the program in 2005; my experience in my courses has been much more mixed. Some classes have piqued my interests, and others have left me wanting to bang my head on a wall. When I first weighed my options – PhD or professional job – I was sold on the idea that if I went straight into a job, I would miss out on the opportunity to do interesting research and to continue to learn. That has not been the case – though I do know that my job situation is somewhat exceptional.

In all honesty, I feel like I’d be better able to do my job if I weren’t trying to pursue this degree. I’d be able to be a better partner if I wasn’t stressed out all the time about classes. I’d be better able to take care of my body if I didn’t come home from work completely drained with a pile of reading ahead of me. I remember calling my mom at about this time last year and crying with frustration because my body was manifesting a bunch of stress-related problems – and she said that I might just have to make the choice between getting a PhD and being healthy.

I don’t know what I’ll end up doing in the weeks and months to come, but I’m thinking long and hard about all of this. Last night’s conversation left me in a place where I think I’m comfortable with whatever I decide. There are a lot of things that make this decision difficult, but most of them aren’t related to the program or the degree at all, and those are things I need to keep in mind as I weigh my options. Thank you for your patience, friends.

So the big news of the day – or, rather, the big news of five days ago, except I was too busy to find out – is that my house sold. Unfortunately it sold at foreclosure, not through a realtor, but the point is that it is gone. This is such a blessing for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that despite the discrepancy (mostly interest and fees) between the payoff amount and the sale amount, the bank doesn’t intend to pursue this debt. My credit is pretty messed up, but the good news is that it can only get better from this point. I have a lot to be thankful for.

Today was the first day of class for me, and I’m hoping this will be a better semester. I certainly hope so, at least. In my introduction in one of my classes, I laid out pretty much all of my insecurities, explaining that I wasn’t sure that I’m in the right place, but I’m trying to learn what I can to apply back to the work I’m really passionate about. I said that I’ve thought about quitting more times that I’d actually like to admit – and the professor was unfazed. So, I’ve got that going for me.

Between bouts of stressing out, I had a couple of nice conversations with friends, and I spent the evening on the couch with a beer and Julie and Julia, which I enjoyed. SB and I had a quiet weekend, but this week we’re back to opposite schedules, with him working late and then reading later, and me up early for work. I hope we can work out a schedule for the semester that will allow time for work and exercise and homework and meals and that will put us in bed at the same time on occasion. We’ve been living together for the better part of six months, and I’m afraid I’m terribly spoiled.

Capricorn girls

In the last seven days, the following people I know have celebrated birthdays: Tim, me, Martin, Agnes, Laurie, and Greg. There have been multiple birthday dinners and phone calls from family and intriguing packages in the mail. I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had much time to attend to any of the above – but thank you all for your thoughts and wishes! Also, happy birthday to Hannah, Karla, and Paul, all of whom celebrate next week.

Cottoning on

So I get up this morning, bleary-eyed from a night of tapas and wine and friends, still miserably congested from the cold that’s had me in its clutches for almost a week, and I stumble to my computer, intent on my morning blogcrawl while I monitor the cats’ morning attempts to eat each others’ food. I have to finish my seminar paper today, a feat that will probably take all day, but shouldn’t be all that difficult, as I have several hundred pages of reading under my belt – probably close to 1,000, if I factor in the things I’ve re-read – lots of notes, and a genuine interest in the subject. I stumble over to Londonist by way of my Bloglines, and what do I see?

This Day In London’s History
1759: The British Museum in Bloomsbury opens its doors to the public for the first time.

Some may feel that the British Museum these days is little more than a massive boast, bragging about how many cool things the British Empire has stolen from the rest of the world. But regardless of whether this criticism is fair or not, it’s hard to deny that the museum is still one of the world’s greatest museums of human history and culture.

In 1753 Sir Hans Sloane’s large collection of books, manuscripts and natural history specimens from around the world was combined with libraries assembled by Sir Robert Cotton (the “Cottonian Library”) and the Earls of Oxford (the “Harleian Library”). A few years later they were joined by the “Royal Library”, and the British Museum was founded in Bloomsbury’s Montagu House, opening its doors on 15th January 1759.

Oh Cotton, you’re everywhere. And you apparently had a fossilized fish. What relevance that fish has to anything, I don’t know, but it sure comes up a lot.

SB just made portobello lasagna from The Barefoot Contessa at Home. Mmm. We had a salad and a nice Malbec – the latter of which was a Christmas present from Sarah. A nice dinner at the end of a long, quiet, mostly productive day. In a little bit, SB will be going to a friend’s beach party, while I’ll stay home, take a bath, and read more about my good buddy Robert Cotton.

Tomorrow I’ll spend all day working on my seminar paper again, which despite the hassle and the extension and the total hatred I have for the class, I’ve really enjoyed researching. I’m hoping to be at a good stopping-point by early evening, when I’m going to go have tapas with friends to celebrate my birthday, as well as the birthday of my good friend Laurie.

Monday’s a holiday, and I imagine I’ll spend most of it working on the paper, relaxing, getting a crown, and maybe going to a movie. Tuesday is my actual birthday, but I’ll be so busy from 9-9 that I probably won’t have time to even think about it. That’s fine. I don’t have to be a fairy princess every year.

Oh, and we’re definitely going to Boston for spring break. Yay!