Thursday, March 27, 2008

Feeling Minnesota.

I went to see the play Third tonight with some friends. It's a great show, and if you have the chance (and are in the area) definitely go see it before it closes next week! Anyway, you can check out the website to see the description, but basically it is about a professor who accuses one of her students of plagiarism and the way that it causes her to ultimately question some things about her own beliefs/world view. Obviously, it seemed relevant to me given the academic context. But it also had some really good messages/struggles that can apply to people in general. People sometimes forget to re-assess their beliefs and views as they get older (something I've been realizing in various people in my life lately). It was cool to see that idea expanded in a way that applied more generally.

More than the actual messages of the show, though, was the feeling I got sitting in the Guthrie watching the play. I love the feeling of being a part of an audience that is really excited/moved/responsive to something we're watching. It works the same way for me with big concerts in arenas where everyone is screaming, close football games where fans are cheering, etc. etc. Tonight was that, plus the fact that I got to remember what I like so much about theater. And what I like so much about Minneapolis. I got to feel like a real person, a real adult going out in the world and taking advantage of cultural opportunities with friends. I got to appreciate a really good play. And I got to appreciate a city that offers such opportunities, reminding me why I like being in such a city. Nutshell: nights like this make me happy :-).

Once an RA, Always an RA

I got an email today about one of the students I'm TAing for. She hasn't turned in the latest assignment and hadn't responded to any emails inquiring where it is. It didn't seem like her, and I'd started to get a little worried. I told myself that I was just being my usual "jewish mother" self. But the email today was from one of the services that the health center on campus offers. It was basically indicating that there was some very stressful/traumatic event that happened to her recently, which was why she was missing class/not turning in assignments. I'm not really sure what my official role is as a TA, but my heart immediately went out to her and I wanted to help. My RA instincts kicked in... actually, my RA instincts kicked in about two weeks ago and now I feel really badly for not pursuing the issue further. I just knew something was wrong but what more could/should I have done? Likely nothing. So, to now have my instincts confirmed makes my inclination to be the RA/guidance that she needed even harder, because I know that wasn't my role.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

I'm going on a trip and I'm taking...

Have you ever played the game "I'm going to grandma's house/on a trip and I'm bringing ___ in my suitcase" ? I don't know what the official name of that game is, but I am making up a variation of it, inspired by one of my best friends.

I'm going backpacking through Europe and I'm leaving behind...
- friends who betray my trust; who are fake/exclusive/catty; who don't value me as a person; who don't make time for their friends; who make me feel bad about myself
- parents who can't see that I'm an adult, or treat me on that level
- classes that are a waste of my time
- useless assignments that are a waste of my time
- professors who assign more work over spring break than they do during a normal week
- advisors who can't be bothered
- organizations/departments who keep throwing work at me because they think I have all this extra time
- last-minute meetings/assignments/requirements that I don't have time to fit into my schedule
- weeks upon weeks of sleep debt
- nights of cooking (or lack of any motivation to cook) for one person
- friends who are coupling off
- exams, papers, presentations of all kinds
- prelim exams
- colds
- pointless errands, phone calls, random tasks that take up so much time
- emails that never cease
- forgetfulness
- unhappiness/loneliness

I'm going backpacking through Europe and I'm taking with me...
- my choir
- my true friends
- my grandma
- my real research interests (once I find them??)
- books to read for fun
- music that makes me happy
- time to enjoy new places and the important people
- new memories that I make along the way
- inspiration and guidance from the few who are giving it to me
- hugs
- pictures
- smiles of little kids
- happiness
- friendship
- belongingness

My "Core."

I did an interview with an undergrad student today to practice my clinical interviewing skills for my assessment class. The point of the interview is to get a complete picture of the person's life -- school, family, friends, life history, etc. In the discussion about friends, the girl kept talking about her "core" group of friends -- 4 girls she is close to and who she hangs out with on a regular basis. It was timely because it is something I've been thinking about a lot lately (and by lately, I mean for about the last two years).

In high school, I would say I had that "core" group of friends. There were definitely certain people I was closer to than others within the group, but we always had this group that would go to parties/movies/dances/etc. together. In college, I had a group like that freshman year and into sophomore year thanks to the draw system. I didn't necessarily hang out with all of my wonderful drawmates all of the time, but they were my closest friends. Junior year, we all went our separate ways a bit and to some extent grew apart. But we also all found other groups that we became close with (e.g. co-staffers, new housemates, etc.). Senior year was kind of a mix for me -- I didn't feel like I needed a core group because I knew so many different people across campus. But there were usually groups within those people (e.g. psych friends, staffer friends, etc.), and my drawmates were always there to come back to (sort of like a secure base, if you'll pardon the nerdiness). I don't know if I realized at the time how much I value having that core group. But I certainly do now.

Since coming to grad school, I have found my world shrunken a bit. Most of my friends come from my department, with the exception of a few friends from high school/college who are in the area (and their respective friends). Those friends are by default, to some extent. It's like the friendships of a freshman dorm, where you all become friends because you live together. It isn't until the year after when you realize who it is that you truly connect with and share interests with. Only here, there isn't that "year after" to meet new people who you really click with. Consequently, I often feel like I don't quite fit into any of the somewhat established groups. I miss having that "core" group. I have a few close friends, but they are not necessarily the people who are friends with each other. And although there are groups that exist, I'm not really a part of them. I get along with most people, and I'm even close with some. But there are no people I can refer to the way my interviewee referred to her friends.

I miss having that "core"... those people to fall back on, the group to gather together to share good news/get moral support/have fun nights out/diffuse stressful times. As much as I appreciate individual friendships, it just isn't the same sometimes. To feel like you belong, like you have a whole gang of people backing you up, holding you up... that feeling is incredible. And I miss that too.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Time is Relative

In the last few months a lot of people I know have gotten in engaged. More specifically, a lot of people have gotten engaged after relatively little time together. It's gotten me thinking... some friends of mine knew each other 5-10 years before getting engaged. But in a lot of these recent engagements, the couples have known each other less than 2 years when they get engaged. They've been dating anywhere from 6 months to a year and a half. To me, that seems like relatively little time to be able to determine that you want to spend the rest of your life with that person. If I started dating someone now, I don't think I could picture that relationship ending in marriage a year from now. But if you think about it, a lot of movies and such show engagements happening after 10 months. Some of these people are a few years older than me, so I suppose that makes a difference too. But as a concept, it seems like that is such a small amount of time. I guess there is an argument to be made for the "when you know, you know" feeling. I have no idea what that would be like... I guess that might fall under the category of "you don't understand/believe it until it happens to you."