There is something profoundly weird about the life academic. The strange juxtaposition of grade-or-die work binges slammed up against equally intense periods of absolutely nothing can be a little jarring, even though that parabolic cycle of rest and ruin fits my own preference for a very strict, careful division between work and play. I have, if you will, my own little personal firmament* that divides work from play, semester from break.

This winter break, the division between work and play wasn’t accompanied by a plane ride anywhere. Instead, the play** of break wrapped itself around the same geographic surroundings that had marked the real work of the semester. Finding a way to reconcile the change in behavioral patterns without a concomitant change in environment was a little isolating and required quite a bit of readjustment. Ultimately, the new non-geographic way of dividing work from play rendered up any number of worthwhile things, some corporeal and tangible, others slightly less so.

Among the corporeal:

Socks On Ice

Finally! At long last! I had time and leisure to finish the final edits on a basic 2×2 ribbed-sock pattern that has sizing for the forked heel. It’s available for purchase now at Ravelry and it never would have gotten done if not for the photographic stylings of chemgrrl. (Thanks!)

The socks (and a hat/scarf set that is still to come) were accompanied by intangible rewards: personal validation, though that too had a corporeal form in the shape of evaluations from students. Good ones. Really good ones. So good that I’m almost afraid to talk about them any more, lest I jinx myself for this term….

2008 was a very serious test, in many many ways. The early part of last year’s academic summer break, and the accompanying early-summer break-up, tested my will to pursue a life undertaken with great care and intent, and that meant serious consideration for what’s most important in that life. Fall semester brought with it not just another division between work and play, but a growing division between gloomy past and promising future. Friends and family (hey, that’s you!) have provided support in spades, but it still came down to whether or not I could harness all of the help and good will flowing in and channel it effectively in the unexpected process of reshaping my life. As a result, the fall semester was one long pep-talk. I kept reminding myself over and over again that the measuring tape that matters most is the one in my own head, not the one that someone else handed to me.

The ongoing emphasis on internal validation coupled with the strange, isolating, unfamiliar shape of this winter break meant I had lots of time to think. That’s been good, but it also had me feeling a little bit like I was tuned to a different frequency than everyone else. The stack of very important papers sitting next to me, heavy with the penciled-in scribblings of students, proves that occasionally, regardless of how sure you are of what you want, what matters is some sort of sign from the outside world that you and it are orbiting the sun at basically the same rate.


*You know, the firmament? From Genesis? It divides the waters below from the waters above. And God called the firmament heaven? Nevermind….
**”Play“! Hah! Take that, Derridaean critical theorists!

One Response to “Epiphany (or: how I learned to love the holidays)”

  1. chemgrrl says:

    Yay socks! The picture turned out nice, although you do look kind of cold. I like the stick.

    Did you get your evaluations already? Holy cow, that was quick. Yay for them not hating you. Somebody always hates me, but I tend to call that a victory. :)

    Do you still need pep talks? I can be obnoxiously cheery, if need be. Gooooo Kalani! Yaaaaaay Kalani! Ohmigod, you’re awesome! (Imagine pom-poms in there.)

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