Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Pieces and Piecing and Peace

Or, welcome to the end of the semester. That's right, friends, I just turned in my last paper and can officially say goodbye to the semester that I knew from the get-go was going to do it's best to do me in. Between reading four books a week on 20th-century history, to writing a chapter of a dissertation that I'm still not sure about, to a class on American women's religious history with just me and my professor (so I really had to know what I'd read and what I thought about it--no skimping here!), I did it. I finished. I did IT in. And the best news is that I only one more class left IN ALL MY PhD CAREER. (and my orals and my dissertation)

So here are some things I've learned this semester:

  • "Read" is a loose term. It's all about really knowing the main idea, the conclusion, and the line of argument. And in all reality, you can figure that out within an hour, even if it's a 400-pager. I promise--this really is empowering information.
  • It's all about making a plan--a manageable plan. I accomplished my big paper by biting it off in chunks. Each piece was so much more manageable than the whole darn thing. And I think it even might be a pretty good paper.
  • Sleep can go a long way. I'm even willing to admit that sleep may be more important than reading the same page over and over and over again. And in the battle between whether to be tired while on a really good allergy medication or to be awake with a sinus infection, I choose the meds. Bring on the Zyrtec. And bring on the sleep.
  • Saturday is a special day. I have worked and read and edited and written on the metro, in line, on the phone, even at work when things got slow, and even in the car at stoplights. And I've had some great Saturdays to clear my head, planting flowers, at the zoo, dancing like an African, watching American Idol. My point is, you need balance. Thank goodness for distractions. And really great people who are great distractions.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the quilt exchange I've been working on with a bunch of friends. Well we finally got together and exchanged our blocks. Now that I'm done with papers and reading, it's all about figuring out how to piece together my pieces... just the same way I'm now trying to figure out how the pieces of my post-Spring 2008 semester life will all fit together. I've laid things out on the floor and moved things around, trying to find just the right mix of colors and patterns and textures. Where will my white spaces go? What about the borders? If only I could manage my life and its excitement the same way I could piece together a paper or a quilt...

11 comments:

Zololkis said...
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Laurel said...

There is just so much about this post that is great.
I am SO proud of you, Reeder. and love the lessons you've learned. They'll go a long way helping me.

You're my idol.

Amber said...

Congratulations on finishing your semester and finding balance! You are a gem.

The Wyler Family said...

way to go jenny reeder! i'm so proud of you. i have every confidence that you will put all the "pieces" together exactly how they should be. have a fun summer. i think you should go on a walkabout to cleveland... i hear it's going to be a hotspot this summer. :)

JJ said...

First, huge congratulations on finishing the semester AND only having one class left! Second...I can not wait to see what you do with the quilt squares...I need inspiration!

D'Arcy said...

I warmed up under my quilt (made by sweet you!) a few days ago and my sister was so envious that I had a friend who would do that! It was still such an amazing Christmas surprise! One more class! Jealous! In irony, I start the very first class of my PhD career in June!

Jennifer said...

YOU never cease to amaze me. Really.

Robin Lunt said...

Congratulations on making it through the semester. You inspire me!

Janell said...

How does your brain just come up with such profound-ness? I'm SO HAPPY that you made it through the semester alive and sane. CONGRATS!
-jd

Jill said...

Congrats on getting your nights and weekends back!!! Life is a whole new world (sing like Ariel and spin around!).

Lael said...

Woo Hoo for the end of the semester! What are you going to DO with all that spare time?

Man, that is going to be a beautiful quilt.