Roads / Diverge

I don’t know who took this picture. But I love this street sign art in front of the Madison Children’s Museum. I particularly love the signs that say “Roads / Diverge”, and “Should I Stay / Or should I go”.

What a wonderful thinking piece…and a reminder to me today that the more things change, the more they stay the same. I have said this before, but something that has become abundantly clear to me this summer is that many, many things in life evolve. But at the core? they don’t change.

For me, this is most evident in relationships.

No matter how much I say I wanted to move away from my parents and my childhood home, I still love them more than anything, and love spending time with them. Except for a few brief adolescent angsty years, that hasn’t changed.

I still think my brother is hilarious and love spending time with him – granted, not ALL of my time, but we have so much in common and really do enjoy each others’ company.

(Side note: I also realized that my nerdlike tendencies are definitely genetic, as my parents, brother, and I worked nonstop on crossword puzzles while we were on vacation this summer…)

My sister in law still drives me crazy. Interspersed with episodes of really enjoying her company.

Old friendships may evolve, but at the core? that love, that history, that persistence over time supports continuing, changing relationships.

and for my marriage… I am having the same daunting thoughts I had a year ago. I thought the other night about the idea of “circling back” to the same concerns, the same thoughts, the same challenges. And I realized that yes, the more things change – or even, the more I say I will try to change them- the more they stay the same. Sweeping concerns and questions under the rug just doesn’t work. They’ll creep out eventually.

One more constant for me? The academic year. Every year in August I get so excited for the start of another year. For the students to be back on campus. To get things started! and every year I am overwhelmed by all I have to do in a short period of time.  No matter how many times I teach a class, I still need to update it. I still need to set up lectures. I still need to think about these things. And I love it. I love the rhythm of it, the frantic energy, and then finally getting to the first day of class and realizing it’s all going to be okay.

I love constancy… but I also love change within those persistent elements and relationships of life. What will come next? Who knows… I guess it’s time to see where the roads diverge and lead…

Things I know

Well, really, this should be titled “things I know about myself”. Because honestly, I make no claim that I know lots of stuff. But I do know me… at least, the me that I am right now. And on that note, here’s what I know:

  • If given the chance (it’s safe, the light isn’t going to change for a long time, I want to get where I am going…), I will always, always jaywalk. You can take the girl out of West Philly but you can’t take away her impressive jaywalking abilities. 
  • I am a morning person. But I worked straight night shifts for years and actually loved it. In “real life”, I love the morning because so few people are up and around. It was the same on night shift in the ICU. That’s when the docs tried to sleep, and so did the parents. Nurses had autonomy that we simply didn’t have during the day when so many other people around making decisions. 
  • I get up ridiculously early. As in, it’s kind of embarrassing and I’m not going to share the exact time. But I have done this for years. I get 6.5+ hours of sleep a night, which is perfect for me. (Not for you! but for me, yes) And what I don’t get is that it’s perfectly acceptable to sleep from midnight to 6 am, but shift that a few hours earlier? and people think you’re the weirdest person to ever walk the face of the earth. 
  • I love to read. And this summer I have been in a bit of a rut, reading fluff. I’m starting to add a few non-fluff books back in and I’m reminded of why I actually like them. I think my brain just needed a break, to be honest. 
  • I love what I do, but right now I have the most education and experience I have ever had, I am working the most I ever have (and I do love it) and I am making less money than I did when I had my entry-level degree and was working shift work. I can’t say this is the smallest salary I’ve ever earned (I had fellowships in graduate school that put me – if I had been single – just above the poverty line… fortunately the health insurance was fantastic…). 
  • I love to travel, but prepping for travel seriously stresses me out. As does worrying about what will happen en route or when I get there. But when I do get there, and everything is fine? I love it. But I also love my routine. Balance, I guess. And fortunately I don’t get the opportunity to travel that much. 😉 
OK, enough for today. But six things about me that I know are true. Oh! One more – inspired by the dozens of cupcakes left over from our “welcome back” picnic yesterday. 
  • I really hate forced social interactions (see “welcome back” picnic). I like my coworkers but I don’t want to be forced to interact with them in a situation that never feels normal. So I skipped out, for the third year. Now to see if anyone says anything… 
Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom. ~Aristotle

Left turns and changing direction…

Life is nothing but moments, and every moment is nothing but another culmination of the universe’s incalculable ripples. Out where we can’t see, they’re crossing and merging, bringing toward us new forms and experiences that are almost perfectly unpredictable. ~ David Cain,

So the Universe (or whatever’s out there) has been sending me this message loud and clear recently. 
I am where I am because of a series of events. Some I was able to influence – taking a particular job, or choosing a PhD program, for example. But others – many, many others – were not under my control. As much as I like to think I can influence what other people do and say, I really can’t. And what those other people do and say will – and does – affect my life in ways big and small. 

I am where I am because I choose to be here. But my life is oh so different from how I thought it would end up. So very, very different. 

This has really been in the forefront of my mind recently regarding my personal relationships and especially my marriage. I am not going to get into the gory details, but it’s not what I thought it would be at this point in my life. I’m not sure it is what I want it to be. I’m not sure it’s the best relationship for who I am now. I know that it was the best many years ago when we got married. But the people we are now and the people we were then have evolved and changed in so many ways over the years. And in the process, I am just not sure that we’ve grown in the same direction. 

I cannot believe I am even thinking this. I thought marriage was forever. I knew it was not – that reality often bumped up against fantasy and the bright glow of a newer relationship. But I did not think this would happen to me. 

I don’t know what will happen, but the uncertainty and the constant questioning and the circular thinking my (overactive) brain engages in is tiring. I know I’ll have to address it soon, but not yet. Not just yet. I’m not sure I want to throw that stone in the pond, to generate ripples that will affect not only my life but the lives of many others I love. 

But to think and write about it helps. To process and ponder and think about what life would be like if… and to know that even as I think about that, my projections are going to wholly inaccurate because I cannot predict what other ripples and choices will intersect with mine to shift – yet again – this life that I live. 

What a Monday post. Whew. Onward. Upward. 

So… let’s try that again…

Second verse, same as the first?

Sigh. Yesterday went completely off the rails. Unproductive, not satisfying in any way (personal, professional, practical, etc.), and just one of those days. A Jonah day, if you will. I was definitely swallowed by the whale yesterday.

It started out okay, but then I didn’t feel 100%, wasn’t hungry (sooo not like me) and had a continuation  of my annoying and frustrating evening before. I made an error over a month ago – sent an email to the wrong person – and didn’t find out until yesterday that I did so. I didn’t get the “big” stuff done on my to do list but spent time on the unsatisfying and frustrating things. I dropped a can of seltzer and it exploded on me. I dripped tea down my front. Blah blah blah – you get the point.

So, trying again today. Because…

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The slippery slope…

I can feel it happening already. Every academic year, I get pulled into work (work that I really and truly love) and wind up working all week + most of the weekend. And every year, I resolve that I will set aside one day (or, really, let’s be real here – most of one day) to disconnect. And every year, I break that resolution.
It started yesterday with a (wonderful) meeting with my fabulous new project assistant, a student who has rocked an independent study with me this summer. As I reviewed the projects I have in process, the goals I have for the year, I realized that, well, it’s a lot. It’s always a lot. I am a much better person when I am busy, not bored.

But. But. But.

I think – I hope? – I am learning that a bit of time away, even part of a day, is a necessary rest for my brain and body. That it makes me more productive in the long run, that it helps me refocus and actually do my job better. I know this is a hot topic these days, so if anyone is reading this, you’re probably thinking, well, duh.

But I’m a slow learner, at least on this topic. So I’m trying to figure out a way to force myself to succeed.

I’m working on learning about my not-so-new home state – beyond where I live my life. So I’m finding places that are 1-2 hours away that I have wanted to explore, but… I’ve been waiting for something? I don’t even know what. I’m starting my list today – nothing like accountability! – and I plan to try to check off at least one a month, hopefully two. The other weekends? Well, I plan to get out in the local community and find places that are “mine”. Not just Target (because let’s get real, Target is everyone’s place these days… plus it’s literally across the street) and not the grocery store or gym or other mundane everyday places. No, I’m talking about a weekend coffeeshop where I can get a treat. Or a restaurant that becomes an “old” favorite.

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Here’s hoping that having a plan to unplug and restart a bit will help me actually achieve all of those lofty goals…that this year is different, in a good way.