Why I never take Chlor-Trimeton

Spoiler alert: It has nothing to do with Chlor-Trimeton.

TW: Abuse, false accusations

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I never liked the happy Christmas songs

It snowed on the end of town I work in Thursday night, so when I got over there Friday morning, the roads were wet and there was a very thin layer of snow still on the grass and parking lot. It’s now warmed up into the 50s-60s, so my tiny fleeting glimpse of winter didn’t last. But for a brief moment Friday morning, it looked and felt like winter.

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Spoons are oddly meaningful in my world lately.

I’m a spoonie, which means I have a chronic illness. This term comes from Spoon Theory, which is the idea that people with disabilities and/or chronic illnesses have to measure their lives carefully so as not to overtax themselves. It’s a sort of energy conservation. I know I have a very finite amount of energy, and so I think very carefully about how I choose to spend it. And sometimes, you just run out of spoons.

But spoons have other meanings, too.

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The Master…undermined.

It turns out that I’m still a PhD candidate. After a long talk with my advisor, I decided to stay with it, as they addressed some of the concerns I had, and…quite frankly, made me realize that I’m not half bad at this. My advisor was fairly candid with my about my performance, and it was all quite positive.

I’m still feeling highly motivated to write, so I figure having limited time to focus on my own writing may make me more productive. In the past few weeks it has, since I’ve had to divide my time up so carefully. I’ve managed to stay on top of assignments and punch out more than 5,000 words, so that’s something.

Meanwhile in PhD-land, I’ve been reading a lot about something called Arts-Based Research after having taken a class on it, and I’m intrigued. It’s an interesting marriage of arts and research that can potentially make knowledge more widely accessible. I’ve always faulted academia for being too insulated, so it’s a relief to be in a program that doesn’t see itself as developing the next generation of Keepers of the Ivory Tower.

Having a job environment that isn’t saturated in elitism and hatred masked as sarcasm is helping immensely as well. Once again, it reiterates to me that who you surround yourself with matters; if you spend 40 hours a week with people who are tiresomely full of themselves and always ready with a biting, negative quip, it’s going to pull you down. And what really chafes is that humans have the uncanny ability to normalize to really shitty situations, so often we find ourselves plugging along and tolerating it.

So here we are – new job, new outlook, same program, maybe a bit more invigoration? Ask me again at the end of the academic year.


The Master

I’ve decided to take a step back and complete a Master’s rather than a PhD. This is something I thought about long and hard, and really took time to come to the decision. My chronic illness is a factor in that decision, but the biggest factor was writing.

I want my time back so that I can write. A Master’s is really all I need; it’ll open the doors to the types of jobs I want. A PhD isn’t necessarily all that helpful, considering I don’t want to go into academia.

Getting away from writing as much because of grad school made me realize that I was using grad school as an excuse to put writing aside. Not because I don’t enjoy it, but because I have this unfortunate aversion to success – anything good happening triggers my anxiety, and that’s one trigger I’ve never learned how to turn off. Success in any area makes me feel like fate is going to bitch-slap me with some sort of failure to keep balance in the force. Success also means that people have expectations of you, and I don’t much care for that, either.

What a weird place to be, and how different from a lot of writers – while most of them dread rejection, I dread the idea that I could actually be successful. Failure wouldn’t bother me, because the act of writing is so cathartic that I’m happy doing it for the sake of doing it – which is yet another reason why I often fail to submit anything.

This all came together this summer, when I had no classes for three solid months. It made me realize that I do actually want to focus on the writing, and that the PhD thing isn’t that important.

So I’m going to wrap up this Master’s, and see where I’m at career-wise at that point. I have no 5 or 10 year plan; I just sort of go where life takes me. I’ve always been that way with jobs, though I suppose I should start to focus myself a little bit more. I’m in that mid-career stage and now is the time to start cultivating the skills that will get me into an even higher pay grade.

But the writing needs to happen, and I’m pushing myself to submit something within the next year.