Sunday, August 06, 2006

Study-free weekend

Since January of 2004, I have spent nearly every weekend studying. At first, I was working full-time and taking 5 courses, 2 online & 3 with labs after lecture- 5 til 10 pm three nights a week. Friday nights I vegged but Saturdays after morning tea I went right to the books doing online macroeconomics coursework, calculus problems, read the chem and physics assignments for the week, and did the pre-labs.
When summer came, I did O-Chem 4 nights a week with a few Friday lectures to make up the time requirements- two lab nights, two-three lectures. I got up at 5 to do the pre-labs and homeworks before work, and seldom got home before 11 pm. It was grueling.
When I got into the grad program and quit my job, Saturdays were my cleaning mornings and study afternoons, and Sundays were study. I generally got to school by 8 and seldom left before 10 and then read all weekend. At the end of the first year, I finally took the job my friend had pestered me about. He is director of pharmacy at an acute care hospital, and he likes to hire students. I came onboard to work every other weekend. I had to study in a more structured manner- no farting off at all after work and the weekend off I hit the books, but the first quarter I pulled great grades. It was doable on my rotation, but when I started 2nd year coursework, I started floundering big-time. I cut down in January to two days a month, and had Sundays to study. I pulled the grades up and acquitted myself quite well.
Quitting my job and borrowing money to live on was like stepping off a cliff and assuming I could fly. No matter what I did or how well, the mortgage, the furnace, the damp basement, the drafts in the sunporch, the lawn needing mowing, the shovelling of the drive, all hung over my shoulder whispering that there was not enough time, they needed attention. I gave them only what I could spare in moments. As my friend Francois said to me repeatedly, "failure is not an option." He was right- we had too much at stake to lose, and to blow it, we could blame on no one but ourselves.
So by dint of constant hard work, drumming details into my brain over every spare minute, even in the car during my commute, I did it. I succeeded and passed the didactic. Last week was my first week off, traditionally when I catch up on housework and errands. I went to a cookout, a wedding, and started the rounds of catching up- got my annual PPD, got back online, started organizing all my schoolwork, and clearing up, took my mom to visit an old friend for a day and actually watched a movie. I heard from several friends, and called several more. I spent a day vegging and took a 4 hour nap in the 100 degree heat.
This weekend I do not study. I swear I will not touch a book that weighs more than a few ounces (the Keltiad series is easing me back into fiction). After work yesterday I spent the evening on the couch with Pinot Grigio and the Red Sox (Pharmacy Son had the clicker and I was too tired to argue). Today, I shall shop. OK, today I shall shop after I do the laundry, the litterboxes, the dump run and put away some of the crap in the kitchen. But the point is, after three years of non-stop grinding, I don't have to hit the books. I can't tell you how good that feels.

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