Dispatches from Graduate School–Part 14

Cali Pitchel McCullough is a Ph.D student in American history at Arizona State University.  For earlier posts in this series click here. –JF

On Thursday, I depart for Providence, Rhode Island. I join my mom on her yearly MLK weekend trip to visit family just south of Boston. I return Monday evening and the following day it begins. Second semester. In just eight days. Although I’m thankful to have an entire semester under my belt, I’m still anxious for the term to start once again. In addition to feeling not quite ready to get back into the swing of things, I failed, despite my best intentions (and lackluster efforts), to be productive over break. I suppose moving, unpacking, and celebrating the holidays are productive, but I was hoping to read a few books on the qualifying exams list from start to finish. I’ll still provide a synopsis for my classmates, but not nearly as comprehensive or detailed as I had planned.

When I think about myself over the past four weeks only one mind-picture seems appropriate. A blob. I read, wrote, studied, conversed, analyzed, and critiqued for 17 weeks. Then I melted into a blob on the floor. Perhaps placing an expectation over my very first break from the PhD program was unrealistic. I really thoughtthat I could carry the energy and enthusiasm from the first semester intowinter break. Some might have been capable, but after a cross-country move and four months in the spare bedroom at my parents’ house, I simply wanted to indulge in poor day-time television, 2-hr long excursions to TJ Maxx, and many, many yoga classes.

Rather than thinking about what might have been achieved had I stayed on my agenda, I’m going to appreciate my month-long hiatus for exactly what it was, a hiatus. Being a blob is just fine with me as long as the other 75% of the year I’m sharp and chiseled.

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