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What good are notebooks? / They won't help me survive. - Ambar
October 24th, 2005
10:29 pm

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What good are notebooks? / They won't help me survive.
Why stay in college? Why go to night school?
Gonna be different this time.
My chest is aching and it burns like a furnace
The burning keeps me alive.


Schedule for winter quarter has finally been published. It looks like my best bet is Mammalian Physiology, followed by Neurobiology -- both MWF lecture classes, one right after the other. If I am willing to add 2 more commutes per week (not to mention being late for work those two days), I could swap Environmental Microbiology for one of those, and gain a known-quantity excellent instructor instead of an unknown quantity.

I will probably opt for the lazy commute and fewer explanations at the office, but I am not looking forward to Neuro. On the other hand, it's my last quarter; the end of the mad project I began in Winter 2003 (holy crap! three years!) is finally in sight.

Which reminds me of a conversation I was having with one of the physical therapists last week, who was saying that he liked "practical stuff", but had a hard time with biology and chemistry courses. "I had to work harder in those to get the grades I wanted."

The statement seemed so alien to me that I remembered it. What I seem to have been doing here instead is:

1) Schedule the impossible.*
2) Work to exhaustion. Fall over. Get up. Repeat.
3) Detach completely from the grades I earn. There is no 'work harder' available in the system. You have done all you can; let the rest be.

Ambar circa 1985 would not recognize me now. But I'm a whole lot saner than she was.

[*See particularly September-December 2003, where I was half-way through the semester before I worked out that job->school->home, plus commutes, left maybe 5 hours for sleep 4 days a week. Semesters go on too long in any case, but that was a particularly vivid walking nightmare.]

Current Mood: annoyedresigned
Current Music: Talking Heads - Stop Making Sense - "Life During Wartime"

(13 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments
 
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From:slfisher
Date:October 25th, 2005 12:32 pm (UTC)
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what degree is it you're working towards?
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From:ambar
Date:October 26th, 2005 03:39 am (UTC)
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Biology BS.
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From:slfisher
Date:October 26th, 2005 04:51 am (UTC)
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What are you going to do with it?
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From:ambar
Date:October 26th, 2005 05:28 am (UTC)
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Well, now, that's a very interesting question.
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From:slfisher
Date:October 26th, 2005 11:00 am (UTC)
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Oh, "I don't know" is a fine answer and not so different from what I tell people myself about my plans for my degree. :-) I was just curious.
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From:cjsmith
Date:October 25th, 2005 02:42 pm (UTC)
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There is no 'work harder' available in the system.

This does lead to a certain level of calm acceptance, I suppose!

MIT felt like that to me. I suppose it would have been quite sane if I hadn't also tried to have a social life... but THAT just wasn't in the cards!
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From:tahnan
Date:October 25th, 2005 06:59 pm (UTC)
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Oh. Whoa. Moment of disconnect. You're the other CJ Smith who knew Ambar at MIT. The one who isn't on the East Coast. Now that I squint at the picture, I can see that, though at first glance...

How very, very disorienting.
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From:cjsmith
Date:October 25th, 2005 09:40 pm (UTC)
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Yep, that's me! It's probably a good thing I haven't updated my pictures... :-)

Sadly, squinting at your picture isn't getting me anywhere. Do I know you?
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From:ambar
Date:October 26th, 2005 03:39 am (UTC)
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Oh, probably, but he's shy. :-)
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From:tahnan
Date:October 26th, 2005 05:53 am (UTC)
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Ah! You look much less like the other CJ Smith in that picture.

I don't think we do actually know each other--I know of you only by very oblique reputation (i.e., CarolYN explaining the odd capitalization of her first name). But I do know Carolyn, and Ambar; though not through MIT. I myself was at MIT much, much later. And for grad school. Carolyn, for that matter, I know because she married a college friend of mine, and Ambar...long story.
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From:ambar
Date:October 26th, 2005 03:42 am (UTC)
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Well, you know, I *could* get worked up about grades, but that would require energy I don't have. I eventually learned not to try. :-)
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From:gregbo
Date:October 27th, 2005 07:28 pm (UTC)
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In some classes at the 'tute, I had to spend more time working, such as 6.111 (digital lab). Some things required arbitrary amounts of time, such as debugging the last lab assignment and final project. If you (Ambar) have classes like that, they just might take more time than even the professors allocate. (Although in all fairness, the 6.111 staff warned people to expect to spend almost all their time on the final project.)

As for grades, I wrote in my journal something to the effect that when I say I wish I had better grades, what I'm really saying is that I wish I could do something to break through the "glass ceiling." So what I have been trying to do is instead of obsessing over things that I don't have control over (such as questions I might be asked in an interview), to take control of some other things, such as how much money I spend, or how much time I spend on something that doesn't seem to have much of a return on the time investment.
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From:tahnan
Date:October 25th, 2005 06:57 pm (UTC)
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Ambar circa 1985 would not recognize me now. But I'm a whole lot saner than she was.

Oh, yes, how well I know that feeling.
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