May 25, 2011

new place

It's been an incredibly tumultuous semester. Intense classwork, labwork and prepartion for my (currently ongoing!) qualifying exams, intense new exercise program, caring for a sick friend, preparing for our wedding, family visits, moving to a new apartment, a new volunteer job, health challenges... Every time it seemed like I was going to get a break and some sleep, something new came along.

Things feel like they're settling down a bit, which is almost entirely a good thing. The semester is over, and I have only one 6-week class left to take as a graduate student. The new apartment is so much nicer than our old one. Unexpectedly, something ephemeral about the layout and ambiance of the new place has made playing violin and piano exponentially more attractive, and there's been a lot more music in the air. Harriet loves all the nice new windows, and has practically taken up residence in the front bay window, where her nose is inches away from a huge rhododendron bush that is crawling with bumblebees. Our tiny new container garden is planted and we may be overwatering it out of excitement. All the really important stuff for the wedding is all set. And half of my qualifying exam is done!

It's the other half of the qualifying exam that is going to dominate the next few weeks, punctuated by TWO out-of-state trips to attend friends' weddings. Studying for the qualifying exam requires a lot of discipline. The list of topics I may be questioned about is massive, and I have 7 completely full composition books of notes from the last 2 years that I am reading through. It's tiresome. It's really not surprising, given my tendency to over-organize, that I'm trying to devise some kind of "daily schedule", full of healthy things such as arising early, exercising before breakfast, mandatory reading and artistic betterment, and hours of studying without a computer to distract me. I have a history of such grand plans. They appeal to me so much - wouldn't it be nice to wake up at dawn, exercise and meditate when it's nice and quiet, eat breakfast in the garden, study in a relaxed, yet focused way for many hours, leaving time enough at the end of the day for a nice walk, a nice dinner, and minimal housework?

I'm never sure if I'm chasing after a pipe dream or not, and I know I tend towards wanting everything to be all set, just right, just so, picturesque and so on, before I really dig in and get started. But on the other hand, these are healthy habits I envision for myself! And even more pointedly, I know they make me happier and more relaxed. Why I don't choose them 100% of the time is both baffling and a testament to the enormous difficulty of changing habits. It's an awful feeling to want to get things done, but find yourself glued to banal news articles. It's terrible to want to exercise, but to feel groggy, stiff and out of sorts. And worst of all, it's terrible to feel like you can either be productive, or be relaxed. No, I want both.

I guess I'll keep chasing after my perfectly productive, perfectly relaxed routine. Because honestly, there's more than enough time in a day to get things done in a relaxed way. I think the problem is that often, the things that I think will relax me (oh, I just have to read this one more pointless thing before starting work... I really need a break in which to play solitaire... etc.) don't relax me at all. And the things that are truly relaxing seem, at first, to require more effort. I don't know why it's so non-intuitive. It's not that there's no place to listening to my own feelings and doing what the moment suggests - it's just really hard to tell when I'm fooling myself.

Wake up: 5:30
Exercise: 5:50-7:20 (sometimes done by 6:50)
Breakfast, Shower, Dress: 7:20-8:00
Work: 8:00-11:30
Lunch (and if home, housekeeping): 11:30-12:30
Work: 12:30-4:00
Music/art/reading/hanging out with Brian: 4:00-5:30
Dinner/necessary tasks/tea/meditation: 5:30-9:00

new plan

I've decided to start using this blog for more prosaic purposes. I find I often get "blogger's block" because I can't think of anything interesting enough to say - and I'm done with that. Instead, I'm going to try to write short, frequent and possibly pointless entries just for the sake of getting things written down. Maybe I'll just write my to-do list. Who knows.