Slowing Down

Slowing Down

Chicago, sometimes you are so darn beautiful.

Fall is definitely here. In just a matter of days the leaves started changing, even if the temperatures are rising and falling inconsistently. Along with the change of seasons, I’ve fallen back into having a more standard routine now that we are almost a quarter of the way through the semester.

I think one of the terms you will hear most often from grad students (besides COFFEE) is balance. I’ve blogged about it before, but I’d like to further stress the importance of having and finding the right balance during your grad program.

My Breakfast Companion

My cat, Magellan, is more than happy to remind me each morning as I get ready for school that mornings are our time together. No books, no papers, just me, him, and breakfast. Quiet moments like this are necessary, wonderful.

The first year is tricky—you’re still figuring things out, getting used to a new routine, new ways of working and thinking. I know that more than one time during my first year I felt like I was stretching myself a bit thin, devoting a ton of attention to one aspect of my studies or work and not giving enough to other aspects. Once you realize the deficit it can be a juggling act to restore proper balance (or search it for in the first place).

And while it may seem like everything is moving so very fast, this year I’m really working on trying to maintain a balance, honoring myself as an individual that does things other than work and attend class and write. Someone with a family, a relationship, other interests, someone who does things. It’s become a hot topic among my cohort: After reading/writing/studying all day long, what is your go to “mindless” activity?

For some of us, it’s shopping or looking at clothes. Others play video games, some browse the internet, while others watch television. But try telling writing grad students to do any of these things without connecting it to critical theory in some way—it’s surprisingly difficult. Commodity fetishization? Cultural appropriation? Problematic depictions of women in media? Yes, we can find all of those things and more! Sometimes these “mindless” relief activities lead to further work and creative production, and that’s okay too.

Waffles for Women Writers!

It’s strange to think last year that there were times in which I felt like I didn’t know anyone in Chicago. One of the things I truly love about the community of writers at Columbia is how close we all have become, not just as colleagues that offer each other valuable insights into professional challenges and our writing, but also as close friends and collaborators. Last year, the same brilliant writers who were beginning their MFA journeys alongside me are now some of my closest friends. Just this past weekend I hosted a incredible lady writers brunch with some of the brilliant women in the poetry and nonfiction cohorts. Waffles, writing, and discussion, the perfect balance of work and play: what more could you ask for?