Friday, November 13, 2015

The Grad School Time Bubble

I loved reading the Harry Potter books when I was a kid. So, I don't know why it came as a surprise to me that I am loving the fantasy fiction world.

Two summers ago when I was driving to Canada and back, I decided that I needed a good long series of books to listen to on my lone journey across the vast western United States. I have crossed paths with a number of nerdy friends in my life, and it seemed as if each had told me to read this series called ... something with time in the title. The circle of time? Or something like that. Oh yeah, the Wheel of Time. I had never even had desire to read them because there are 14 books and they have cover art that looks like this:

and they range from 650 to 1000 pages each. You can see why it was a really hard sell for all my nerds. I was desperate with a summer of more than 60 hours of driving a head of me, I needed something to sustain the trek with me. So, I gave bought the first book and committed myself to probably the longest relationship of my life (if you don't count the characters on Grey's Anatomy).

Now, a year and a half later I have finished the whole series plus a few others. Abashedly, I will list them below:

Wheel of Time series 1-14 (462 hours)
Ruby Red series 1-3 by Kerstin Gier (31 hours)
The Lunar Chronicles 1-3 by Marissa Meyer (44 hours *Not including the latest release this week, I haven't listened to)
Dragonlance Chronicles 1-3 by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman (52 Hours)
Mistborn Series 1-5 by Brandon Sanderson (105 hours)
Elantris by Brandon Sanderson (27 hours)
Starlight Archive series 1-2 by Brandon Sanderson (94 hours)
The Belgariad series by David Eddings (10 hours **I've only listened to the first one)
______________________Grand total = 825 _________________

In my defense, I listen to them at 1.5x speed so I only literally listened to 550 hours. And over an 18 month period is only 30 hours a month. I feel like this admission is on the verge of impressive but leaning more toward embarrassing.

All of this is a long segway into a perfect analogy I discovered today.

So, in the Mistborn books, there are these people who are born with the ability to transform the metals inside their bodies in order to do super human things. They call it burning a metal. One of the metals that can be burned is called Cadmium, which would produce a time bubble around the person burning the metal. Inside the bubble, time would appear to be moving normally but time has slowed so those outside the bubble are moving so fast it's a blur.

I have decided that grad school is like a time bubble. While you're in it life is this weird slow motion but still normal life and everyone in your life is outside the bubble just moving at these warp speeds achieving all these amazing things.

Because being in college for 10 years really messes with a person's psyche. Living on ramen, ddp, doing homework, and never knowing what your schedule will be semester to semester does not lend to feeling like an adult.

My hope is that when I get done with school and get an adult job, the time bubble will go away and maybe I'll even end up at my dream job.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Papa Smurf..As He is Called in my Phone

Earlier this week, I woke up to the sound of lawn equipment outside my bedroom window. My thoughts instantly went to my dad. For my entire life my dad has done the lawn. He loves the bit of yard they have and takes pride in cultivating it.

While my dad is a public school teacher, he also does lawns on the side. In fact, for my childhood he had his own lawn business "Green Akers" before he went back to school to become a teacher. This has had an effect on me and my life in so many ways.

I know this is nerdy, but bear with me...I have been studying a theory called attachment theory quite a bit this semester. The gist of it assumes that the way a baby's  primary caregiver attends to them will ultimately lead the child to develop an understanding of self and others within interpersonal relationships. The child could end up secure, avoidant, or ambivalent and this attachment style could follow the child into future romantic relationships. While doing all this research I would try and remember pieces about my childhood and my "caregiver." As it turns out, my dad is in most of my early memories. My mom worked early and since my dad was an self employed, he would get us up and ready in the morning.

I have memories of him splashing (probably sprinkling) water on my face when I would refuse to get up in the morning. I can see like it was yesterday, him sitting at the table with us eating cereal, making a Donald Duck sneeze which projected his rolly chair across the kitchen. I remember going with him to the store when my sister was sick to get pedialyte and then watched as he rocked her to sleep. And how on Thursdays, he would pick me and my brothers up from elementary school so we wouldn't have to take the bus home but my first grade brain mixed up Thursday for Tuesday and I ended up waiting for hours for him but I knew he'd come. I loved it when he'd let me go with him when he was running an errand so we could just talk. I have so many memories of him taking care of me, and love him so much for it.

Soon, after first grade my dad got his teaching degree and started teaching full time. He is an amazing teacher and can understand 2nd graders (and most children for that matter) on a level I'll never know. He was teaching school full time, doing lawns on the side, helping to rise 4 children, and then he decided to get a masters degree while continuing to do all those things. I don't know how he did it. When I was getting my masters I didn't have a family or even a job outside of working for the school.

My dad also taught us how to work and he taught his daughters how to become strong women who could do any thing they put their minds to. I was really bad (and still am) at doing yard work, but whenever I need or wanted some extra money, he always lets me go do lawns with him. So, not only did we see him work hard but he let us learn how to work for the things we want and have.

Oh, and we love to travel together. As an adult there are tons of adventures we've gone on. He went to Idaho to help me find a place to live when I thought I was going to go to school there. We spent 10 days in Australia and New Zealand. We went to Chicago and saw a Cubs vs Diamondbacks game at Wrigley field. We went to Disney World, and he went on the Hollywood tower of terror with me (even though he'd had neck surgery earlier that year). He went to New York with a me and my brother and a group of teenagers. He drove cross country with me when I worked in Virginia. I went with just him and my mom to Disney land a few years ago. And most recently, I dragged him to Tucson to help me move into my new house.

All of this to say, that I love my dad. When I lived with my parents it would drive me crazy to wake up to the lawnmower, blower, or line trimmer at some wretchedly early hour of the morning. But now, anytime I hear lawn equipment it makes me smile and think of my loving dad and all he has done for me.