Thursday, April 9, 2015

This Feels Like a Dream, but I Might Also Be Typing While Sleeping

My view for most of the last... long time. My disgustingly filthy computer and too many carbs/sugar to keep me entertained. Repeat times a million.

Last night, after a month of work, I finished the final two rough drafts of my action research thesis paper. I submitted it and crawled into bed knowing full well that the next day I could have a boomerang of edits and work sent right back, but I chose not to indulge in worrying about that- and by chose I mean I passed out as soon as my head hit the pillow and I didn’t have the luxury of worrying about anything.

This morning I woke up to find a message from my professor, saying it just needed a final run through and it looks great. I had to read it three times before the reality of what I was seeing sank in- I have, for all intents and purposes, finished grad school. I have to stitch everything together into one document with formatting, it needs to be given a cover page and a table of contents (because y’all, this thing is damned long and it’s definitely necessary), and I have to make an appendix as well as an abstract, but that is nothing, actually the definition of nothing, in comparison to what I’ve already done so they barely even register as work in relation to the WORK I’ve been doing.  Still, I didn’t feel finished. I just felt tired.

Today I went to the central post office to mail off my study closure form, paying about $40 for the privilege of knowing that it will get where it needs to be stateside. When I walked out of the post office into the bright hot air, I was too concerned with getting back to work in time to water fight with my kids for the Lao New Year to think about any kind of closure, form or mental. 

Closure apparently costs about $40 and you can find it in an envelope in Laos.

I headed back to work mostly just happy that the post office errand went smoothly- I think my over the top Pi Mai Lao get-up was a hit, and my shorts were already soaked, which was probably entertaining. The water fight was everything I could have hoped for, and I spent the next few hours playing, dancing, and water throwing with my kids. A view from the top:

Happy New Year indeed

At the end of the day, thoroughly drenched and hot, I changed into dry clothes and wrapped up the details of my research presentation for tomorrow- the last big requirement of the assignment.

As I drove out of school to head home, I realized that I wasn’t anxiously counting down how many minutes I had to get to my after school tutoring job, or estimating how many hours I would need to write after that, or figuring out how early I would need to wake up the next day to use the internet when no one else was so it was actually fast enough to download articles. I stopped and got things I needed on the way without subtracting it from work time and then adding it to my sleep deficit, or figuring up how long I would need to nap on the floor at work the next day. 

This is my king sized bed, and it is glorious, and I never felt like I had enough time in it.

This is not a king sized bed. This is the only corner of my classroom where I can sleep during lunch break without anyone seeing me from the window. That lump? It's my backpack/pillow. My friend sent me that blanket and I keep it at work and it is awesome, but it definitely doesn't make the tiles feel like a mattress. 

I got home after work today and took a long, cold shower, sprawled out on the tiles in the dark, feeling the water slide over my eyelids, not a care in the world. I ended up wrapped in a towel on my bed, right under the breeze of the A.C., and there I remained for an hour. The last time I did that, it was a defiant act, an irrevocable middle finger to the amount of work I needed to do- I felt like I was snatching back something I needed, but I knew I couldn’t hold onto it for long (and I didn’t). Today I didn’t feel like I was stealing from someone to do it, or struggling with panicky guilt and anxiety about deadlines. I just stayed wrapped up in my towel on my own damn bed in the early afternoon because I could and no one was telling me I couldn’t.

I wouldn’t trade my education degree for anything. It gave me a career I love, it made me an excellent educator, and it has given me the life I have now. My education degree was worth it, and I am so glad I did it. But just as much, I am so glad it is over. Much of that has nothing to do with grad school- it’s just that it was a persistent, demanding obligation I’ve had to do while at the same time the last four years of my life have been the hardest of my life, most certainly, on every level. I sometimes can’t believe all that’s happened. I wish a lot of it hadn’t happened. 

This morning, when I saw that the rough draft was accepted, I entertained grand notions of coming home, doing all the final formatting tasks of my paper, and submitting it tonight. Instead I just stayed in bed for another two hours. It’s not even 9:00 p.m. yet and I am going to sleep. I feel like all the relentless driving I’ve done for the past semester has finally caught up with me, and logic is telling me there is no reason why I can’t go to bed now. So that’s what I’m going to do. And I don’t have to do work before work tomorrow, or do work on my lunch break tomorrow, or do work after work tomorrow. I am so completely exhausted and so happy to be finished. 

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