Well, I’m back.
And let me tell you, being back is rough.
I’m uncertain if I’ve yet documented the condition which I not-so-fondly refer to as the “end of semester flop”. After the fall semester was over, after the last final was put to bed, and of course during the first few days of my real vacation, I was so exhausted that I felt sick. I had to take several days to just lay in bed and sleep, not talk to anyone, and let the gigantic thing that I had just accomplished wash over me and through me.
It took me a while to realize that that was what it was: sheer exhaustion from
the emotional and mental fatigue I had sustained over the course of the semester. For a while, I worried that I was incubating yet another unable-to-be-explained-by-modern-medical-science ailment. Thankfully, after some quality time with my bed (or, rather, the hotel bed since I was on vacation with my family at the time), I was able to shake it off and be a real human being again.
I was prepared for a similar experience this semester. Unfortunately (or, perhaps, fortunately), I had to meet a few publication deadlines hard on the heels of my finals deadlines. What this meant was that the semester didn’t really end. It rolled into the summer like blue rolls into indigo and, instead of being able to succumb to the end of semester flop, I just kept working. Nights candles had burnt out and jocund day stood tip toe on misty mountain tops, but there was nothing for it. I simply had to keep going.
Well, two weeks ago, the week before I left for my official summer vacation, I ran out of “gotta do it now”s. I had a few little tid bits that needed cleaning up before I could leave my desk for a week, but on the whole if I really wanted to keep working I was going to have to re-open another big project (something I was loathe to do a mere week before I left it abandoned on my desk mostly because I didn’t want to be fretting over it my entire vacation). So I took it easy. I finished my bits and bobs and made it such that I could return to my desk with a clean slate.
And return I did. Though I was technically home in the wee hours of Sunday morning, Sunday was essentially lost since I had slept for three hours and driven for the previous thirteen. I spent the day doing laundry and unpacking with just enough naps to sustain my sleep-deprived self. I woke up today and felt like I had been run over by a truck; my energy had bottomed out and I was barely able to think straight for the first half of the day.
At first, I panicked. I had to hit the ground running. I need to clean up my paper for ASTR. I need to get together some things for my Measure for Measure director. I need to learn my lines for Rosalind. I need to hit the gym because I bet it forgets how much it hurts after I’ve had my way with it.
Then, I realized. This was it. The end of semester flop. It had graciously delayed itself by about two months to give me the stamina to get through the first two thirds of my summer, but this was it.
And like it or not, I was down for the count for the next few days.
And I should just accept it and be grateful that I was going to be well-rested for September because darn it, I was going to rest.
So I took it easy Monday. I did countless loads of laundry (finishing all of it that I came home with), took care of my tent which I had packed up while moist so it needed attention, sorted through a bunch of stuff in my basement, finished a few crafts projects, made dinner for a friend who had stopped by, cleaned my room, learned some of my lines, did a bit of writing, and attended to a few neglected household chores (yes, believe it or not, this is my life on easy mode… you don’t want to know what my hard days are like).
And tomorrow I will open up those projects and hit them hard. I hope. End of semester flop is nothing to joke about; it’s a necessary evil for the wanna-be-sane graduate student and without it, there’s no way I could be prepared for September.
The moral of this story: everyone deserves a break. Especially after six months of consistent sixty to seventy hour work weeks. I earned this flop with every till-midnight paper session and every Saturday that I said “sorry, I have to stay home and work”.
Enjoy your flopping!