So I got so wrapped up in stripping the Christmas tree this morning (what portions of it the cat hadn't already shredded, that is) that I missed my bus. During the 40-minute walk to class, I started thinking - something I haven't had a lot of time to do since classes started up again - and the topic was Persian. In case this hasn't already come through perfectly clearly on this blog: I don't like Persian. At all. I've liked the vast majority of the languages I've studied, with the sole exception of Wolof, so I assumed I'd like Persian okay too - so I enrolled, to try to make myself a more attractive candidate for NSA. Now, however, the NSA's Language Enhancement Program (which I was going to apply to) has been abolished, meaning linguists without fluency in a security-sensitive language just got their options MAJORLY limited. The website is now recruiting only those with proficiency. I can, and might, still apply for a Cryptanalysis position, but the option I'd been aiming for since junior year, the option where I would have gotten the majority of my training through the agency itself, is now gone. That means, in all likelihood, that a second semester of Persian wouldn't have any effect whatsoever on my chances of being taken onboard, because it wouldn't put me a whole heck of a lot closer to being a native speaker. They'd still have to spend a ton of time and money on training me. And even if by some wild chance a second semester did work in my favor, and it did get me in the door, and they did somehow agree to train me further, well, then what would that mean? That I'd be using Persian every day of my career for the next 40 years. And I don't like it. One thing I've learned through my years of college is that I don't actually like every language out there. I used to think 'one code is the same as another', in a manner of speaking, meaning any language could be 'cracked' equally, and with an equal amount of pleasure on my part. Well, that's not the case, as I learned when I took that Wolof course. I loved Dutch, we all know that. I enjoyed Spanish a lot too. Latin was awesome, and even French held my interest. German would have been fun, also. But Wolof? And Persian? I just don't like it.
So I think I'm going to drop the class. It just feels like the right thing to do, like a relief from a burden I didn't know I was carrying. I pushed through last semester, just to see how it would go, but there's virtually no reason for me to be in it anymore, career- or education-wise. And since I don't have the internal drive to learn it the way I did with some of the languages I studied in the past, I don't see why I should bother to stick with it. Dropping it is something of a sign that I need to do some reexamining as to where I'm going when I finish this program, but if that's the case, then so be it. I was already becoming aware that I'm less and less interested in a government position with every passing day. What I am interested in, I can't quite say, at least not yet. Some of the options that have crossed my mind recently are Ph.Ds in various fields (English lit, Sociolinguistics, Creative Writing...), but a Ph.D would essentially require that I spend the rest of my life in academia, and I want to wait and see how the TAship goes next year - whether I enjoy teaching or not - before I make that call. PA school has also crossed my mind - a way to do medicine without going through a thousand years of school - but that decision too will have to wait, until the end of the EMT course. Other, goofier options, like an administrative position at a summer camp, are floating around up there too, but those are just misty, half-formed thoughts at this point.
We'll see. That's really all I can say at this point.
In the meantime? I want to focus on Phonology, Historical Linguistics, and Language Acquisition. I want to read my 1300-page EMT book and get a feel for that field. I want to swim with the club team three nights a week. I want to start the process for becoming a linguistics TA next year, and study until I feel like I have a confident grasp on the field again. I want to run three days a week. I want to start lifting weights again. I want to play loud music, eat junk food, spend weekends at the beach with Liz, go out dancing, watch movies, have a little fun. And I want to casually explore new areas, new courses, new schools, new ideas - without feeling pressured to pick one and have a new Life Road Map as quickly as possible.
I mean, really - I'm 22. I'm not supposed to have every detail of my life planned out through retirement, am I? Liz and I have had multiple conversations about how graduate school is supposed to be like this, supposed to kick our asses, supposed to make us reevaluate ourselves and what we want out of life - so I actually don't feel too panicked, although that usually is my initial response to life throwing curve balls at me that deviate from my 'best-laid plans'. I will find what I'm supposed to be doing. Someone with my smarts, my varied interest areas, and my passion for life isn't going to just 'settle' for something I'm less than ecstatic about. I have to believe that there is something out there that will hook me, that I'll love doing, that will get me excited to wake up every morning and go out into the world. I will find it. It just may take a little longer than I'd hoped.
((Oh yeah, the half marathon. It was awesome - Monique and I both RAN the ENTIRE race, no walking, and all I had afterwards was a little muscle tightness and general fatigue, none of this can't-walk-for-a-week crap that happened after the River Run. There were bands, photographers, and costumed characters lining the course, drivers and spectators shouting encouragement, and cool gimmicks like 'speaker tunnels' where one could pick a chute to run through depending on what kind of music s/he wanted to hear for those two minutes or so. I finished in 3 hours exactly. Very very very cool race, and yes, I'm quite proud of myself. Wonder how long it'll be before I get up the guts to try a full marathon? LOL.)
I almost forgot to do this. I try to write ten 'accomplished' goals and ten 'pending' goals at the turn of every year. They don't always match up - I only achieved five of the ten goals I wrote down on 12/31/05, for those who care to check the archives - but there are always ten things to write in a year, even if they weren't the ten I was originally aiming for. So here's the 2006/2007 list:
1) Went skydiving 2) Completed the 15k River Run 3) Got accepted to graduate school 4) Graduated from UF 5) Made the switch to a Mac laptop 6) Visited 7 new states (CN, DE, MA, NH, NJ, NY, ME) 7) Completed the 8-mile Boston Light swim 8) Learned to kneeboard 9) Started studying a new language (Farsi) 10) Completed my first Olympic-distance triathlon
1) Complete the Disney half marathon (13mi) 2) Complete the 15k River Run (again) 3) See Josh Groban in concert 4) Earn my EMT certification 5) Complete the 12.5-mile Swim Around Key West (again) 6) Complete a successful English Channel relay crossing 7) Visit France (again) and Italy 8) Pass the linguistics comprehensive exams for my M.A. 9) Complete another Olympic-distance triathlon 10) Go skiing
I apologize for the lack of posts... and for the lack of real information in the posts I have written. Here is the catch-up post:
12/15 - I pack the car, take my last final exam, and head to Jacksonville. I get there at 11pm.
12/16 - My cousin's wedding day. The four of us pile into the car around 8am, and arrive in Birmingham at 3:30. For reasons unknown, I have been feeling steadily sicker since 10am, and, after getting all dolled up and ready to leave for the (evening) wedding, nearly pass out in the hotel room. Some food and water gets me back to the low side of 'okay', and we head out to the wedding (which was very nice, very 'efficient', a 20-minute church ceremony followed by a food-, drink-, and dancing-filled reception at a historic house). My cousin is married. Ack!
12/17 - We pile back into the car and arrive back in Jacksonville around 7pm. I have now spent 24 of the past 72 hours in a car.
12/18 - Mom and I go shopping. I am now the proud owner of a black Fossil belt, as well as six, count 'em, six new bras - red, pink, purple, brown, beige, and black. Can you tell we hit a sale?
12/19 - I run in the morning, followed by my first swim practice in about eight weeks. My muscles burn at times in the water, but I'm not as slow as I thought I'd be.
12/20 - I go to Gainesville with Dad for the Gator basketball game versus Stetson, score a free dinner, and manage to sneak down into the Rowdy Reptiles section - 'mah peeps'! - which is definitely the place to be.
12/21 - Again, a morning run followed in the evening by my second swim practice in eight weeks. A vast improvement over Tuesday. I feel awesome.
12/22 - I meet up with Elise, one of my best friends from high school, and we work out together in the tiny gym at her church. It's a little awkward, since we haven't seen each other in so long, and we can't talk freely because her little sister has come along. Oh, well.
12/23 - I go to Gainesville again, and this time scam a free (swanky) lunch off the CBS crew, who have come to cover the game, since it's against Ohio State. Anna, one of my best friends from UF, meets up with me and scams her own food; then we hang out and check out basically every vantage point in the entire arena before we climb up to the ceiling and sit on the cement stairs (to avoid getting in the way of the paying members of the sold-out crowd) and proceed to talk for the next hour and a half. It's a good time.
12/24 - Jags vs. Patriots. Elise and Faith (another high school friend) go with me - we get great end zone seats, huge boxes of chili fries, and very little rain. Unfortunately, the Jags lose. Sigh.
12/25 - Merry Christmas! I come away with a red 8 GB iPod nano, a couple of books and DVDs, a new fleece jacket, a pair of gorgeous dangly silver earrings, and various other odds and ends, including a packet of chocolate-covered sunflower seeds. Yum!
12/27 - I go for what's supposed to be a 3-mile run, and end up feeling so great that I do almost 7 miles (and could have done more). The only problem? I rub all the skin off the inside of my thigh with my cheapo running shorts. Time to invest in some new ones.
12/28 - Mom and I shop together (and I get new running shorts). New, pretty underwear is also in the mix. Swim practice at 6:30.
12/29 - My roomie Liz arrives, hooray! We give her her Christmas presents (a calendar, a journal, and an external hard drive) and I take her on a Jville tour.
12/30 - Liz and I visit my grandparents. I become convinced that not only my parents, but my grandfather would also like to trade me in and adopt Liz. He gives her the grand tour of his orchards, regales her with stories, and sends her home with 25 pounds of satsumas. (I wish I were kidding.) We hit the beach for a little while, then have dinner with Mom and Catie at Olive Garden.
12/31 - New Year's Eve means party time! We head out to the beaches to hang out with some old high school friends. I try to break a $50 bill at a liquor store, only to be told it's counterfeit. (The bank would later dispute this claim. We're trusting the bank.) Alcohol, fireworks, the infamous Dick Clark (that man is never going to die. At the end of the world, all that will be left are cockroaches and Dick Clark. And possibly Cher.) ... What more could a girl want? (Well, maybe a phone call from Elise telling me she's standing in Times Square 'reeeeally far away from the ball!')
1/1 - Happy New Year. Seeing as nothing else is open, I take Liz to ride the skyway and walk on the Riverwalk. We grab dinner at Panera; then Catie, Liz, and I curl up on the Aerobed and watch Renaissance Man.
1/2 - Mom, Catie, Liz, and I go to the borrowed-from-the-British-Museum exhibit of Egyptian artifacts exhibit at the Cummer - which is wicked cool - then eat an early dinner at Trent's (an incredible, hole-in-the-wall seafood restaurant). Liz watches my swim practice, then Dad gives her (and me, again, by default) a tour of the stadium, during which we steal frozen yogurt (and get busted). Then we visit my other grandmother, and end up hanging out and reviewing family photos until almost 11pm.
1/3 - Liz left this morning, and I went back to bed for a while, then did laundry, went for a run (last one before the race!), did some errands, and packed up all my stuff for the long haul back home.
Tomorrow: new license plate, eye doctor appointment, trip to Orlando, dinner with Kelsey, and sleeping at my aunt's with Monique (whom I haven't seen since graduation and am really eager to catch up with).
Friday: Monique and I are going to MGM - rock on!
Saturday: The day I've been counting down to since summer... the half marathon! Trust me, a post will follow.