I have for a few weeks, now, been taking time to breathe. Finally. I had a regular spiritual practice at other times in my life, and have been doing some daily meditation. I'm grateful to have found material to work with that feels true to me (here, if you're interested). It makes sense to me to be aware of, and consciously try to work with, my own energy, and what's not to love about pagan earth-based spiritual traditions? The turning of the wheel of the year is palpable sometimes, and I like acknowledging that: hello, to the sun and the water and the earth and the wind, and here we all are. Breathing is important. Sitting quietly now and then is important.
It has been a long while (again!) since I last posted. In that time, I thoroughly crashed academically and notice(d) that the PhD program was a struggle that was breaking me; I withdrew from it a few months ago. So much of my attention went into the whole idea of doing a PhD that it's taking me a while to figure out "what next"; I am fortunate in that I don't have to know the answer to that immediately. I do still find molecular structure to be fascinating and beautiful; we shall see what arises from this particular iteration of phoenix-hood, I suppose.
I continue to be thankful for the people in my life, past and present. Today would be my wedding anniversary had S lived. I am grateful for the whole journey, including finding love again (to echo the assured prediction of a friend from some while back). There is so much I have gained in strength from the generosity of other people. I can still feel; I am not broken; and that feels like a gift.
Hello again! Wee hours in the middle of Anime Boston, here, and life continues to hurtle along just barely within my grasp. Academics: nearly under control. Ditto emotional life, ditto balance, etc. etc. et friggin' cetera. I'm a little annoyed with myself for missing the Dr. Who thing that was broadcast tonight, but this is, in fact, not a very big problem to have, is it?
The personal life has shifted: no longer with one of the men, which is best for us both, and very much with the other one, which is also a very, very good thing. It keeps expanding and extending and other "ex-" words that mean life becoming more than it was before. I don't mean to be cryptic, but I also try to protect the privacy of the people I love, so alas, not much detail to be had, here. It is a non-monogamous relationship, as mine are/have been for a little while, now. It's also sane, nourishing, joyous, occasionally frustrating, and intense; to some extent we are in uncharted territory with each other.
Haven't made much progress on the socks I've been working on, but that's okay.
I'm presenting at a conference on gifted education, mostly because the organizer is a good friend. It should be interesting, hopefully for the audience and not just me. Next weekend! Better finish my prep for it, eh?
Oh, yeah - I got an honorable mention on the NSF fellowship. Not tattoo-worthy, not this year, anyway, but we shall see what happens next year when I reapply. In the meantime, whoo hoo!
Way too many things have been happening, and continue to happen, and I'm in a constant state of triage with a lot of it, to borrow the encapsulation used by K. D continues to be a force for happiness in my life, my family...is having a lot of Stuff happening (mainly of the not good variety), academic life continues to be extraordinarily challenging and I wonder if I'm having some kind of brain damage when I can't remember things. Like what the symptoms of Huntington's disease even *are*.
And it is less and less often that I take a few minutes to breathe, and think. So hi, thoughts! And hello, anyone reading this! It is already April 2, and time keeps passing, with too little to show for it, it seems some days; other days, it feels like a huge amount of things have happened that somehow mark change and growth and (oh please) greater wisdom.
The winter went crashing along, with epic levels of snow and huge stress and multiple crises and so much insanity that I didn't send holiday greetings to anyone at all, which feels weird. It is now rather late to do that, don't you think? Um, happy winter, everyone. I'm not sure how, exactly, I got to April without a total meltdown...oh, wait, that did kind of happen. Right.
I know I sound not-okay, but I am. I'm bemused, reasonably peaceful, pretty happy overall and in particular. And I have a lot of work to do, surprise surprise (when do I *not* have a lot of work to do?), some of which isn't very tangible. Like finding better balance in my life - yes, still trying. I am beginning to suspect that finding balance means something a bit different from what I think it does, and that it is more a journey than a destination.
Welcome, spring, and the awakening of the earth and the trees and us all. Peace.
Yes, I should be studying for quals. Or sleeping. Or something. But I'm not.
A lot continues to happen, and the time stretches and bends. It feels like the semester just started, and like I've been doing this forever. I can barely remember what it felt like to know nothing about how to work the electrophysiology rig I use. It seems flat out impossible that barely 4 months have passed since D & I started this thing we're in, and beyond weird to think that I first met H about a year ago. The work has felt like one long week, or two at most. I love it, and it's wonderful, but I really am looking forward to post-exams (hopefully I'll have done well enough that I don't have to re-take anything). The relationships have their own textures, and yes, I am stretched rather thin, which I knew would be the case. But one cannot know how one will feel until the time passes and here we are.
So here we are. Life is still out of balance, but getting ever so slightly better. I think. I hope. I have a potential theatre project percolating in my head; I have also submitted my NSF (National Science Foundation) (and if I get the grant, I will probably get a tattoo of their logo) grant proposal - that project is also pretty nifty, and there's another project I should be starting the real work on quite soon. I still marvel at being able to do stuff. It amazes me, after all the controls and rigidly structured lab courses and jumping through endless hoops to get into grad school, that now I can just... do stuff.
Went to Cincinnati. Went to San Diego. Am not going anyplace this winter. Want to escape at some point, though, and don't think I've built in the time to do it.
Road trip to WEBS in order, methinks; even if no one actually buys any yarn, this would still be a good thing.
Warm dry thoughts to all. Back to my endless pile of journal articles and book chapters and attempting however futilely to connect everything in my head.
I keep telling myself, hey this whole scheduling thing is going to settle down any minute now. Still waiting for that to happen, which is not helped by having no time sense whatsoever. It is, after all, Labor Day weekend, which throws off all kinds of things - good problems to have in this category: too many cookouts to try and go to.
Not so good problem, of course, is the death of afriend. Memorial service was today, visiting hours yesterday, and I desperately needed to not hold it together all the time. And I didn't. I bugged Mary Kate's husband to make sure he ate and drank and slept - "and did you do that TODAY??" - but what I did not have made for a rather long list: anything useful to do, the capacity to organize anything, presence of mind, energy. I decided that was okay, though; I am not indispensable and am certainly not the center of everyone else's life, and sometimes, when it is all one can manage, it is enough to just show up. The two thoughtful men who've come to mean a lot to me both helped, by being present at different times for me to cry on and hold onto.
Mary Kate was adamant about maintaining her privacy and her dignity, and I was both afraid to intrude and unable to offer much help anyway. I was not terribly close to her generally, except for the intense, joyous period of time when we worked on "The Tempest" together, and one particular conversation that I now believe was our goodbye. She'd said, who can I tell about this really cool laser surgery technique they're going to use on the tumors that have metastasized to my brain? Oh, Liz will appreciate this! And she was right; I did. It was a really cool technique. It was also the most terrible news imaginable, which she also knew I would appreciate. When oncologists diagnose melanoma, the whole focus of treatment is to avoid ... metastasis to brain tissue. And that, she was telling me, was what had already happened. I said, yeah that is really really cool, and ... oh my god Mary Kate. And I looked at her, and she looked at me, and we held onto each other for a good long time.
I am fiercely grateful that she held on and stayed alive for as long as she did, angry that science could not, in the end, move fast enough to save her, sad and stunned and oddly distanced. This is not the grief I've known; it is an echo, with the melody of Mary Kate's voice and the color of her beautiful red hair, and the caring, capable hands that raised strong, brilliant children and made things grow and knitted and clapped in time to music that sometimes only existed because she made it. I will miss her keen insight, her intentionality, her directness and compassion and mischief.
We drank a "last dram" to her memory today. Morgan (thank the gods for people who can think of and do these things, because I surely couldn't) brought sheets of music so that those of us who wanted to sing the toast, could.
So I'd better get going on my coursework, and do my bit to push the edges of what we know a little further out. Every now and then, that edge's movement pulls a human being out of the part where things are dark and unknown, and into a place where we have some idea of what to do. I have journal articles to read, books to peruse. I'm grateful for the chance to make this journey, and for the company I have on it - and you know who you are.
Well, it's been quite a while. The show opened, ran, and closed, selling out both weekends - which was awesome! Grad school stuff starts this week, and I'm not really ready, but it'll still happen. I am excited and scared and... happy.
Relationship stuff has been interesting. Still seeing the same guy, which is really lovely, and seeing another one too, who I met doing the show, also really lovely. It sounds complicated, but feels quite simple. It also feels nurturing and joyous and good. They're two very different men.
So it's the calm before the storm, here. I can see a path forward, and it feels like a good one.
So it's been just over a month, again. In that time, I have:
- graduated from Harvard at last (Bachelor of Liberal Arts, field of study Biology, cum laude) - which involved finishing coursework, for which I got really good grades, hurray (this seems miraculous, but I suppose I'm pretty good at neuroscience after all) - and then I had a big party - (and yes, still seeing the same guy)(and nobody else)(so far)(and that's fine)
And about a zillion other things. Like continuing to get out and play with my friends sometimes, and do some knitting, and at least think about art-making, and remember how to do those things, and oh, yes, relax. In between being distracted by science and family and life generally.
Speaking of which, life generally is good. I met some really interesting women at my son's sword-fighting class last week, and had some neat conversations, and then saw an old friend I haven't seen in ages. Tae kwon do continues to be fun.
Graduation week was a blur of grand spectacle. First there was a reception with the administration of the school, then there was a banquet, then a flurry of activity getting ready for graduation itself. Graduation day started with a catered breakfast at 7 a.m., then everybody lined up and continued to do that for a good long while. It was far too early, and I had far too little coffee, but what we were in was a procession and assembly of all 16,000 people getting degrees of any kind - that's the grand spectacle part. Huge crowd, and speeches, and honorary degrees. By the time David Souter spoke, I was too tired to focus, so I'm glad there's video online. The weather was wonderful.
Interleaved with graduation festivities were two birthdays! My wonderful oldest and youngest children are now officially a bit older.
There's a two-man team struggling to install a dishwasher right now in the creaking old kitchen here. They're pretty funny together. (Done! I have shiny new functioning dishwasher!)
It's been a strange week--intensely non-intense, if that makes any sense. Last week felt like it lasted several weeks, and like it must have been several weeks ago. (I can not fathom finals finishing barely 3 weeks ago, or the end of my time as a Harvard student - all that's just so crazy I don't even have receptors for it) This week has been disjointed in other ways, partly from my ever-distorted sense of time and partly the stuff happening during that time. (The Celtics are in the finals of the NBA playoffs - yay! World Cup starts soon!) I'm running into the inevitable frustration of having no time. Still. It's maddening. What time I have, I have no sense of, and I keep running out of it. The pockets where I have time fail to match up with where I need free time to be, and I now also have the exquisite irony of being in the right place but wrong time at least once a week, too.
Hm. That sounded cryptic. What I mean is that I have scheduled stuff near people I like, when they aren't there, and they have stuff near me when I'm not there. And then there are times when the timing is precisely such that yet another person and I miss each other by minutes. Lather, rinse, repeat: recipe for gnashing of teeth.
Pro: I have a full life. Con: Maybe a little too full. I don't want to let go of any of it, but if I continue to be clueless, relationships I care about will vanish from sheer inattention. I keep wanting to add more, too: playing guitar, and singing, and going on vacation, and planning adventures with various friends, and so on. I deleted "maybe I'm trying to make up for losses," because I think something else is going on, really. I feel like where I'm standing is solid ground, rather than a bottomless pool where I exhaust myself just treading water, and I have a minute (or two) to catch my breath and look around and notice a lot of amazing things that I have the capacity to lean over and maybe take a step (or two) toward.