‘I’m Sorry, I’m Busy’: A Chaotic Schedule and Added Stress of Those Who Don’t Understand

Published December 13, 2014 by harleyquinnly

I am not writing this blog to sound pretentious or as a ‘look at me! I’m so important because I’m so busy!’ I am writing it because I have been under an immense amount of stress from grad school requirements but additional stress has been added by ‘friends’ that do not understand the work it takes and why I am unavailable for long periods of time. I constantly tell them ‘thank you, but I have to work on my paper’ and send them pictures of the piles of papers/books taking over my house, and yet every time I have a due date, I am bombarded with guilt trip text messages (“you could make time if you wanted to”) or people that flat out refuse to speak to me. I am tired, and tired of it. So here is a look at my typical week’s schedule. This is why I am unavailable and why someday I’ll be called doctor.

(Side note: I am eternally grateful for the wonderful friends I have that understand my schedule, never complain at me, and appreciate when I am able to see them. Thank you.)

This is literally my home office. And I'm normally a super clean person.

This is literally my home office. And I’m normally a super clean person.

I will gladly acknowledge that it is not the easiest to be my friend. I have to check out for weeks at a time when due dates come up. I am not always available for a hangout. Sometimes I have to go months without seeing people. I could remember to check up on people more often. But I do not deserve the added stress just because I am an extremely busy person.

Just one pile of books.

Just one pile of books.

The Schedule

Weekdays: 

8 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Work

Yes, I am a full time student and I have a full time job. I don’t choose to have this life, it was what I was dealt. I am financially unable to only attend school without working and I happen to like food and shelter. I am also unwilling to take out tens of thousands of dollars of student loans I will never be able pay off. There are next to no jobs for history Ph.D.s and those that do exist often do not pay enough to survive on, much less added loan payments. Excuse me for being financially responsible. (I am not throwing shade at those who have students. You do what you have to do. I’m meaning the unnecessary ones).

6 to 7:30 p.m.: Workout then Dinner

The commute home takes me an hour due to traffic, idiocy, and a lack of infrastructure for growing populations. I workout for half an hour (just because I’m busy doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be healthy). I make dinner quickly and watch whatever is on tv at the time, usually a rerun of “The Big Bang Theory.”

I love Sheldon. And feel like a villain the more I'm in school.

I love Sheldon. And feel like a villain the more I’m in school.

7:30 to ~11 p.m. Schoolwork

I spend every evening of every single workday working on schoolwork. This month I have large essays due that require a lot of incorporated reading. I literally do not leave my ‘command center’ I’ve set up on my kitchen table every. single. evening. Therefore, I do not have time to do anything else.

My "command center" on my kitchen table. I live here.

My “command center” on my kitchen table. I live here.

Me in my favorite recliner.

Me in my favorite recliner.

My One Free Day

I usually allow myself one evening a week for free time. Think about if you were working from 8 a.m. until ~10 p.m. without a break. What would you feel like doing on your rare break? Sometimes I get free movie tickets and go see a movie with a friend/date. Other times I just want to veg out on my couch with my non-judgmental friend, Netflix. I apologize for not instantly running to you for your social needs. Also, with only one night out a week, I can only see so many people in that limited amount of time.

Weekends

Hey, it’s the weekend so I have all this free time, right? Nope. Because I work during the weekday, weekends are the only time I get to get work done for long spans of time. When I have papers due, these are the days that I write them.

9 to 10 a.m. Breakfast and Wake Up Time

I usually let myself sleep in until 9 a.m. This is catch-up sleep for me. I get up, make my eggs and tea, and relax for an hour on my couch. I am human and need a little relax time interspersed.

10 to 10:30 a.m. Shower

After breakfast, I shower. Unless I have to see something or do something outside my house, I don’t do hair or makeup and stay in yoga pants.

10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. or sometimes until 4 a.m.

I work on schoolwork the entire day, taking about an hour for lunch and dinner. I sometimes stay up until 4 a.m. because I have a due date and it’s okay if I’m completely sleep-deprived at home rather than at work. These are full days working on schoolwork. I understand people don’t get that I have so much of a workload I have to work this long on weekend. I do.

My dinners usually look like this.

My dinners usually look like this.

So, in conclusion, I have taken time out of my study schedule to detail my schedule. Hopefully it inspires further understanding but I’ve done all I can do. This is my life, please understand or at least respect it.

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Why Am I Doing This? A Dangerous Question During Exam Time for Graduate Students

Published August 17, 2014 by harleyquinnly

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I am a Ph.D. student in History. I am having an existential crisis. This can apply to people in any type of situation when it gets tough and makes you ask yourself, ‘Why am I doing this?’ Sometimes you don’t have an answer. 

To earn a Ph.D. in history at my university, you must take so many semesters/credit hours of coursework, earning a grade no lower than a B. That is not enough to prove your worth, however. You must take three, six hour long exams over three days, known as comprehensive exams (comps). The three exams are your general field (US history), secondary field (American West), and a minor field (Public History). 

Why are these so daunting? For me personally, I am not good at tests. Sure, I know the information inside and out but when I am handed an exam I can’t even remember what name to put at the top of the page. I will do reviews, projects, or write you a frickin’ book but don’t give me a test. In addition, I am aware that the exam can ask anything that happened in the United States from 1492 until the 1980s. That’s roughly five hundred years of stuff. And you must know what every historian has written about each era as well. 

scream

Yes, I’m aware it’s a form of academic hazing. It’s weeding out the lesser, supposed to be humbling, etc. As if taking (and acing) history courses for about ten years isn’t good enough. And humbling? What about surviving the professors that routinely made your colleagues cry and whose classes required multiple all-nighters (not from procrastination either). 

What I’m getting at, besides being whiney, is today after I found out I must also submit a dissertation proposal during the exact same time as I’m supposed to be studying (and getting signatures from my committee is like herding cats). I made the mistake of asking myself, “Why am I doing this to myself? Why am I even getting my Ph.D.?”

exist crisis

Most people go to graduate school to get degrees required for higher jobs. I went for my Ph.D. because I had just gone through a divorce, wanted to avoid a personal life, and only knew of adulthood through the lens of a college student. I genuinely love the classroom and reading, any academic pursuit really. If I had unlimited scholarships I would be happy doing nothing but being a perpetual student. 

But then there’s real life. The place where I had to quit my dream job I went to graduate school for in the first place because it didn’t pay enough for me to survive on. The place where I work a horrid 40+ hours a week job with a verbally abusive boss before going home to stress over these exams. I’m proud to say that through hard work, scholarships, help, and luck I have no student loans, but I’ve paid dearly for that in other ways. Because I work, I am unable to dedicate myself to publishing (which is the only means to employment, if you can even find it). So why am I doing this?

i-dont-know-who-i-am-any-more

In addition, where I live, having higher education makes you more unemployable than a felon. I often lie and leave off my higher education on resumes or I don’t receive interviews or are flat out told I am over-educated, over-qualified, etc. Smart people need to eat too. (I’m serious about the felon part-I know of a registered sex offender that has a job that pays three times as much as mine)

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I wish I could end this post with an enlightened, ‘This is what I reminded myself of why I’m doing what I’m doing’ but I’m not there yet. I don’t have an answer. Maybe I’m doing this because I’ve already worked for three years to get this far into the Ph.D. Maybe because school was the only thing I felt I was ever good at and base my sense of worth upon it. 

Perhaps this is why you seldom see sober Ph.D. students when they’re studying for comps.

exist 3

Working as an Assistant…and Slowly Losing What’s Left of My Self Esteem

Published August 2, 2014 by harleyquinnly

Everyone has had a job in high school, during college, etc. that totally sucked (like fast food or retail) and was meant just to pay the bills or buy booze on the weekends. However, there’s always the dream ( *cough* expectation *cough*) that after college we will never have to do those jobs again because we can use whatever degree we’ve earned to do our dream job. Then you get to the real world…and yeah, it gets a little depressing…time for a shot of tequila.

Original post here.

desperate

I was actually a very lucky person to get my dream job right out of college. However, after working said dream job for about four years, budget cuts and inflation meant I could no longer pay my bills or buy food on that never-changing salary. After my family scraped together to help me pay a few bills and cutting down to eating only twice I day, I said goodbye to my dream job and looked for a job doing whatever that would enable me to buy food.

zooey

So I became a legal assistant. I was ecstatic. I could pay my bills for the first time in a long time working only one job and I had always had an interest in law (my degree is in history) so at least it would be somewhat interesting. Man, was I wrong. I’ve worked there for only three months now and I think each day I’ve lost a little piece of self esteem and my soul.

kill me

I found this great excerpt from Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse by Alida Nugent that I think accurately describes a little of what I experience each day:

“After a few weeks of working at an office, I realized I was becoming the kind of person who was finding joy in the little things-and by little things, I mean meaningless, stupid distractions from my shitty job. A reprieve of going to the copy machine and getting the pleasure of mindlessly staring at the wall for five minutes was magical. Trips to the bathroom were a joyous urination break where I washed my hands until they became pruney. And don’t forget about the absolute thrill of lunch . . . On the occasions that I went out beyond the office doors to buy a salad, you’d think I was being let out of prison after a twenty-year sentence . . . .”

It hit me yesterday, after being called varying forms of stupid and being cursed at all day long by someone less educated than myself, that I can’t continue to do this job much longer and remain sane. Like Alida Nugent, I’ve been taking breaks to hide in the stairwell on varying floors in my building to get away from it. I go to the restroom on different floors each time so my boss can’t send someone in to tell me he needs me at that absolute moment because he can’t walk to the break room to get his own f*^&%ing Diet Pepsi.

eyeroll

I’m not sure what the purpose of this post is, other than venting. But if you are in a job like this, working for a narcissistic, insecure, asshat that thinks of himself as a special little snowflake, know you’re not alone. Tell yourself every single morning before your shift begins and when you leave that you are intelligent, you are a good worker, etc. I find this experience similar to being in an emotionally/verbally abusive relationship. I’ve found myself in social situations where someone politely asks what I do and I simply say, “I’m just an assistant” despite the fact that I’m halfway through a Ph.D. (though a useless one) and am really excited about original research I will begin soon. The person I was with began inputting what I was doing with school and it made me realize that it’s sad another person has to speak up for my accomplishments and that it was a sign that I am slowly beginning to believe I am useless and stupid. That’s not healthy. There’s no reprieve since I work at a small place with no HR department and well paying jobs (aka I make enough to pay my bills) are rare.

sad

Just remember, “You is smart, you is kind, you is important.” And you are much better than these types of people, regardless of how much money they have. Rich white men put their pants on every morning the exact same we do: one leg at a time. Remember that when you become a supervisor.

kind smart im

via Working as an Assistant…and Slowly Losing What’s Left of My Self Esteem.

Hooking Up, Dating, or Whatever the Hell This Is

Published June 7, 2014 by harleyquinnly

Yep. Dating, or whatever you choose to call it, is confusing.

Tequila Mockingbird

Have you ever wondered, ‘Am I dating this person?’ or ‘Am I their boy/girlfriend, booty call, etc.” Where the hell do I stand with this person? In today’s culture it can be a little less than vague. I mean, because we’re just supposed to automatically know through our powers of mind-reading.

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A Little Background

I married young (stupidly in my case) and never really dated. I just had steady, longterm, monogamous relationships. When I became single I had no idea how this dating thing worked. The last relationship I had that didn’t end in marriage or started to end up that way was in high school. So all I had to go off of is, ‘Well, he didn’t ignore me today and actually drove me home instead of ditching me for his garage band so I must be his girlfriend.’ Not so applicable in the adult world. At least I…

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In Marriage

Published May 24, 2014 by harleyquinnly

20140524-223504-81304359.jpg“I have always been petrified of marriage – absolutely afraid. I’ve felt like once I would get married, someone would want to change me, and I would have no choice but to become this locked-up specimen in a box. I’m worried about losing my freedom of expression. People who meet me go, ‘Oh, you’re really fun and wild’. Then as soon as they get to know me, they go, ‘Well don’t do that’. And then I don’t do it. And I become this separate person from who I was. Then I resent the person who was trying to change me.”

Sandra Bullock

I don’t believe marriage is a horrible thing, but with the wrong person it can chew you up and then spit you out, forever leaving scars. Though those scars may fade, they’ll always be there.

To those of you who are in a happy, healthy relationship/marriage, count yourself very lucky.

Fate, Not Luck: Where I Was Always Supposed to Be

Published May 9, 2014 by harleyquinnly

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 Have you ever lost something/someone in your life or felt you were heading in a wrong direction, or at least the one you weren’t meant for? Four years ago I lost the person most dear to me. When I say loss I don’t mean death. I mean a severing of every ounce of my being as they chose a direction in life that didn’t include me. After intense mourning I picked myself up and sought a pleasing path in life. Now, in an uncomprehending turn of events, he has come back. And he still feels like home.

What happens when you get off track for years and then the option comes back? Maybe this option is back because that was the track you were always meant to be on. Perhaps you have to be away from it for a while to grow and learn to fully appreciate it. I always felt like my life was half-assed after the end of us. Not because I didn’t try, I broke myself trying so hard to find/make something right. To have a new dream, a new path in life. But nothing ever felt right. I felt like I was living in this horrible limbo, with nothing I could do to ever make anything right.

With the events in both our lives in the past four years apart without any contact, I believe that we would have eventually found each other again. We both had experiences that forced us to learn the lessons we needed to understand each other. This time, for the first time since May 13, 2011, I feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be. Maybe we can talk naturally like nothing ever happened because we were always meant to be together. It was fate, not luck.

But now there are choices. I can keep stumbling through life, lost, with the hope that I find a path I want, even though deep down I know one doesn’t exist for me. Or I have the opportunity to get back on track, have the life I was always meant to have. Both comes with risk: in the first option I could live forever in limbo. In the second I could lose him and have to experience the severing again.

Oddly after the first contact, I felt no anger. I felt a rush of emotion I haven’t been able to feel in four years. I simultaneously wanted to cry and smile. Even though I had clung to so much hurt and anger for years, in that instant I realized I had let it go. He said everything I’d wanted, and more importantly, needed, to hear all along and never realized it. Even though I am in no way a risk-taker, I knew this was where I was supposed to be. It was where he was supposed to be. This is how we find a home, it’s how we make a life.

I loathe to admit it, but I am so scared…and excited. Just like when we first met when I was seventeen years old I giddily await his message, cling to every word, and for the first time in years, care about someone. I don’t have to pretend, or tell myself this is what emotion will feel like for the rest of my life. It’s there, I know it’s always been there.

In this exciting, terrifying, and beautiful time, I have turned to music as I always do. This song by Ellie Goulding perfectly speaks to me.

 

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” I Know You Care”

Clinging to me

Like a last breath you would breathe
You were like home to me
I don’t recognize the street

Please don’t close your eyes
Don’t know where to look without them
Outside the cars speed by
I never heard them until now

I know you care
I know it has always been there
But there’s trouble ahead, I can feel it
You are just saving yourself when you hide it

Yeah, I know you care
I see it in the way you stare
As if there was trouble ahead and you knew it
I’ll be saving myself from the ruin
And I know you care

I used to run down the stairs
To the door and I thought you were there
Do you shape through to the comfort of us?
Two lovers loved out of love

Oh, but I know you care
I know it is always been there
Thought there was trouble ahead, I can feel it
You are just saving yourself when you hide it

Yeah, I know you care
I see it in the way you stare
As if there was trouble ahead and you knew it
I’ll be saving myself from the ruin

And know it wasn’t always wrong
But I’ve never known a winter so cold
Now I don’t warm my hands in your coat
But I still hope

‘Cause this is how things ought to have been
And I know the worst of it wasn’t all that it seemed
Why can’t I dream?
Why can’t I dream?

‘Cause I know you care
And I know you care
I know you care
I know you care
I know it’s always been there

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