Usually, the beginning of the semester is a time to ease in to all the things that you forgot you had to do. The first month or so of any semester is like a smooth, steady ride into the inevitable panic of finals. Since generally all you have to do during this time-period is keep up with your class reading, it’s a way to re-set your schedule, re-set your brain from whatever break you just came off, and just get back into the groove of things.
As you are all (dare I say painfully) aware, I managed to burn the candle at both ends at the very beginning of this semester. That did not bode well for the progress of things. I spent last week shambling place to place like an empty-headed pre-caffeine zombie just trying every survival technique I had at my disposal to get me through my day. Something had to give because I knew that, soon enough, I would be hitting finals research mode and with the way my brain was running, there was no possible way that I could handle more than I was already doing.
For most of us, this past weekend was a long weekend. I hadn’t really planned on it being as amazing as it was but, as luck would have it, my life often coalesces in my favor (after an extraordinary amount of work, of course). I spent the week putting my affairs in order and due to an academic calendar re-shuffle had one less class to read for. And that, my friends, made all the difference.
It meant that I was able to take two days off and do nothing but spend some time with some of my favorite girlfriends. We have a tradition, you see. Every few months, this particular group gets together and participates in a handful of ritualistic activities. These activities always include: playing board games, talking about yarn, drinking wine, eating
from a BEAUTIFUL and BOUNTEOUS spread which we have lovingly dubbed “the charterusery” (“charcuterie” but with “chartreuse” mixed in because that’s how much you glow at the yumminess), and chatting about girl stuff (i.e. our lives, boys, and crafting projects). Sometimes we mix in day-trips. Previous day-trips have included: yarn stores, hiking trails to picturesque gorges, wineries, and anywhere that we can have up-scale chocolate treats. This weekend, however, we made the collective decision that we were all too burnt out to do anything that involved changing out of our pajamas. So we didn’t. We watched Up, I finished a pair of socks I had been working on, and I didn’t read a single page the entire time.
Then, to cement how wonderful my weekend away was, I spent my extra day on the town with my favorite partner in crime. This was a sudden change-in-plans as I had slotted Monday for a catch-up reading day after my weekend away. As it turns out, I managed to cram all my required reading in before I left on Friday so I could have a spare day to not think about anything remotely theatrical. I took said partner in crime shopping (since, you know, boys can’t pick out their own clothes). We grabbed lunch. Then we went rock climbing (yes, I’m afraid of heights and I love to rock climb, I’m a creature of contradictions, I know). There’s a great gym here in Boston that has just about everything you would want from an indoor place – top-rope, a hefty bouldering cave, even lead climbing if you’re into that sort of thing (I’m not… it scares me). Rates for students are extremely reasonable, especially if you have your own gear (even if you don’t, it’s $20 for a day-pass and equipment rental… you’d pay more to go see a movie). If you don’t know how to belay, you can boulder or take a class (slightly more expensive, but a one-time expense and worth it if you’re at all interested, especially if you have a partner to go with).
The end result was an endorphin-flooded, utterly relaxed, totally re-invigorated mind ready to take on the next bit of the semester… which is good because I have two conference papers to give in March, some publication deadlines looming, two more big and two more small class presentations in addition to three finals papers, planning for the summer, and bracing for comps. I need my brain on point, and this weekend was precisely what I required to make certain that that happened. So… thank you, dead presidents. Your gift to me this weekend was worth more than words can say.