Friday, March 28, 2014

Thoughts of a soon-to-be master

Starting Monday, I would like you all to refer to me as "Master."

I kid. You can start calling me Master now.

That's right—I've turned in the last of my assignments and I ain't lookin' back no more. Well, except to reflect on my grad school experience, of course. I do have a blog for a reason, you know.

A master's degree. That's a pretty big deal. I keep waiting for the "I'm so awesome!" feeling to descend upon me, but it hasn't yet. And I don't think it will.

Because grad school was never about the destination for me; it was always about the journey. Graduating from BYU was a much more momentous occasion because it was, really, the end of life as I knew it. For as long as I could remember, my life was built around school. I didn't know who I would be without it. Even things like measuring time change when you no longer have school as a frame of reference.

I'm about to graduate for the third time, but there is no terrifying black blob this time. Part of the reason for this is that I'm 26, not 22 (or 18). It's only a four-year difference, but during that time I became completely independent. I already know how to handle car problems and health insurance. I already know what life is like without school to drive you. There are many adult experiences I have yet to experience, but many of the unknowns I had at age 22 are now regular parts of my life. I don't have as much to be afraid of.

The other part of the reason is as I stated above: I didn't decide to go to grad school because I wanted a master's degree—I decided to go to grad school because I needed something fulfilling in my life. Yes, I've complained a lot about school during the last six months. Senioritis can't be avoided, no matter how big of a nerd you are.

But grad school was everything I needed it to be. It gave me something to work toward, filled my empty hours, stretched my brain muscles, and helped me hone skills that I'll actually use. It set me up for a lifetime of continual learning and work, which is why I think I'm done with formal education for reals this time. (Check back in two years to see if things have changed.)

Unlike after my first two graduations, I'm not just looking forward to practicing my pathetic social skills or becoming a part-time couch potato with my free time. I'm not just looking forward to spending more time on the piano and developing other skills like cooking. I don't just want to go back to the familiar; I want to experience something new. I have no idea what that new thing will be, but there are plenty of things I haven't experienced yet. I have a wide selection to pick from. Maybe I'll pick two or three or seven new things to throw into my life.

That's the great thing about graduating from school—you start to feel like you can do anything. I guess the "I'm so awesome!" feeling is settling in after all.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Time for an update

There's something about updating my life in writing—even if it's just to myself—that is soothing and tension reducing. If my thoughts aren't organized, I don't function properly. There are a lot of Harry Potter–related magical objects that I've longed to try out, but a Pensieve is one object that I think would be most beneficial for my Muggle lifestyle. Even small minds need an assistant sometimes.

Good thing I enjoy writing.

New job
  • Switching from a small company to a huge company is quite the adjustment. So far most of the changes have been positive, though. The extra red tape is well worth the extra employee perks.
  • It's still strange to me how nice everyone here is. Like, genuinely nice. It makes me feel guilty for forgetting almost everyone's name when they introduce themselves and welcome me to the company. I have new sympathy for teachers who have to learn hundreds of new names every semester.
  • USANA is all about wellness, and it's rubbing off on me already. I bought a water purifier because I'm a little freaked out now about the stuff that's in my tap water. And I've added some stuff to my daily exercise. And I'm probably going to stop bringing in chocolate-covered raisins to snack on. :(
  • I love, love being able to tell people I'm an editor and leave it at that. No lengthy explanations required. And I love working with other word nerds again. I have someone to cringe with when words are misspelled and punctuation is mispunctuated. Being a solitary nerd is fun sometimes, but it's exponentially more fun when others encourage your nerdiness.
  • Speaking of nerdiness, I'm not the only one here who has read Harry Potter. Thank freakin' goodness. And I'm not the only BYU fan, either.
  • My commute is only 8-ish minutes longer than my old commute. On the one hand, it's nice because I don't have to get up much earlier, but on the other hand I'm a little bummed because I was looking forward to some extra music-listening in my car.
  • I need more stuff to decorate my cubicle walls with. I have much more space than I'm used to, and my two pictures and Y sticker are looking a little sad and lonely right now.
  • I turned in my thesis on Sunday. It wasn't nearly as exciting as I thought it would be because I feel like only 1–2 of my 12 essays are publishable. Writing is hard.
  • Just a few more weeks of this thing and I'll be a master. 
  • That is, if I pass my teaching class. That class is a bully to me.
  • Last week they upgraded the plumbing in my apartment. All of my bathroom and closet stuff was scattered throughout my room. Every morning I had to partially reassemble my bathroom so I could get ready and then dismantle it all again before I left. For a few days, there were holes in my walls and ceilings. Then it smelled like paint. But what bothered me the most was the dust. Oh man, it drove me crazy. Everything I own was caked in it. My big Friday night plans involved eradicating that dust, and let me tell you, it was hugely satisfying.
  • Last night my fridge stopped working. It's a super annoying problem to have.
  • I bought Words of Radiance the day it came out even though I had just barely started reading Way of Kings. (A few more days and I'll be ready for WoR.) Brandon Sanderson's mind boggles my mind. That guy could probably put the biggest Pensieve in the world to good use.
  • I am quite pleased with BYU's better-than-expected NCAA tournament bid. We couldn't have asked for a better spot. (Have you seen the basketball team's reaction video? It's awesome. And hilarious. I think it will even make the BYU haters smile. Here's the video link if you want to watch it.) I'm cautiously optimistic about Thursday's match-up, even without Kyle Collinsworth.
  • Yesterday it was so windy I was slightly afraid for my life.
  • I forgot about St. Patrick's Day again. I think I've worn green on purpose on St. Patrick's Day exactly once in my adult life.

Friday, March 7, 2014

On my last day at work

I woke up smiling this morning. I may have even hopped around my bedroom a bit. (I have no new bruises or scrapes, though, so I can't prove that the hopping actually happened. It could have been a dream.)

I've already been through the first 4 Stages of Self-Induced Change (excitement, doubt, terror, sadness/nostalgia) and have been sitting in the impatiently-ready-to-move-on stage for several months now. Usually when something comes to an end I'm still in either the terror or sadness/nostalgia stage, and then my journal entry that night is full of soul-searching questions and/or an overload of sentimentality.

Rarely do I approach a new chapter in life feeling this prepared. I was excited to turn off my Google news alerts and stop following the health IT blogs I've collected over the past three years (I'm not even sad that I won't be reading HIStalk anymore). I cleaned out my desk yesterday thinking about where I should recycle all of my paper rather than all the memories I was tossing away.

In fact, the thought at the front of my mind isn't that my last minutes are slowly ticking away: I'm too busy thinking about how BYU's WCC tournament run is going to go (I think BYU can totally win it, in case you wanted my opinion). And when I'm going to have time to take my car in for an oil change. And the fact that I didn't utilize my spring break the way I was supposed to and only managed to complete half the catch-up homework I planned to do (which isn't bad, really).

It's a little weird being this mentally prepared for a change, actually. So prepared that there's no need for final reflection or conflicting emotions--just the driving need to officially finish up this chapter and move on.