I miss grad school. In a lot of ways getting used to life without it feels like going through a breakup. School was such a constant, omnipresent force in my life for the past 4.5 years that I’m struggling a little to figure out who I am without it.
I have job applications and work projects to keep me busy, and I’ve been reading fiction for the first time in quite a while. I’ve also begun training for the Iron Girl. But the lack of a single driving focus leaves me feeling unmoored. I feel guilty for taking time to relax, but also lack the motivation that I’m used to feeling.
This is something I need to address. If I don’t find a way to excel at my life’s work without reserving a personal life, I’ll never be happy. I expect that I will need to work at balance as hard as I’ve ever worked at school. It’s not something that I’m naturally good at. Maybe making a goal of it will harness my need for accomplishment for the power of good?
Whatever happens, being hard on myself accomplishes little at this point. All I can do is keep my skills sharp, keep learning and try to benefit from a little more freedom in my schedule. I suspect that finding a job will be very, very good for me, but in the meantime I’m trying to see the difficulty of leaving school behind as an opportunity for growth.
On a more interesting note…
The first book I picked up after graduation was Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris. It’s the most recent in the Sookie Stackhouse series, and highly appropriate given that when I finished my undergrad the first thing I did was read the entire series in about a week. They’re not great books, but I like Sookie as a character. She’s tough in more ways than one. The tv show jumped the shark a few seasons ago, but the supernatural characters seem less far-fetched in print somehow. The end of this book was left unresolved, with the distinct possibility that Sookie and Sam could get together. Silly as these books are, I’m looking forward to the next one.
I moved on to Divergent by Veronica Roth, which has been thrown around as a readalike for The Hunger Games. There are similarities – children from various factions being forced to fight – but overall I thought it was less satisfying. The characters are not as thoughtfully drawn, and Tris’ bravery is no match for Katniss’ grit and intelligence. By the end, the story had devolved into an action plot with shallow political implications that only scratch the surface of those explored by Collins. It wasn’t a bad read, but ultimately it didn’t live up to the hype.
Next up was 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher. Fabulous. Really, really amazing. While the way Hannah distributed her story might be a little hard to believe, this device allows the events surrounding her suicide to be described both in her words and in the mind of someone who loved her. The result is a well-rounded account of suicide. It shows issues such as suicide, rape and bullying in a multifaceted and nuanced way. Every high school student should read this book.
Savvy by Ingrid Law took about two hours to finish, and it was a lovely gentle read. Although the character development was well done, even more distinctive was Law’s use of regional dialect. I’m not generally a fan of fantasy or magic in fiction, particularly when the protagonist is supernatural, but I loved that the book explored teenagers acquiring new and frightening abilities. The focus was on the human aspect and the challenges of growing up. Scumble is the sequel, and may be my next pick.
I’m currently about two thirds of the way through Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. I haven’t formed an opinion yet, although I’m impressed by how skillfully Riggs has wrapped his narrative around a set of vintage photographs. It’s unlike anything I would ordinarily read; there’s time travel, supernatural people and even possibly a monster. So far, I can find no fault, so I look forward to finishing!