Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Trip to the Bank

Only three weeks left of this semester--holy cats!

In these next three weeks I have two presentations, a research paper, and three exams due, plus several academic events to attend.  But it's cool.  I kind of like the end-of-semester crunch, because it's an ultra-productive burst of activity where I get really creative about managing my time, and I like seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.  The light, of course, being the first day of break where I spend all day in bed with a bag of Red Vines and that 6-hour long Pride and Prejudice TV-movie.

So it's almost Thanksgiving and the weather here in Phoenix is sunny and balmy and beautiful, and I'm acclimating to this quite nicely.  I don't miss the leaves turning colors, I don't miss the snow, I don't miss ruddy-cheeked kids running around with snot frozen on their scarves.  But some people here are getting into the holiday spirit.  I mean, as much as one can when surrounded by palm trees.  Last week, for example, I walked into my bank and noticed that Christmas music was playing in the lobby.  It was this song, as a matter of fact:

(Which, interestingly, also has a desert backdrop.)

H A T E  Christmas music.  I know I'm the only person in the world who feels that way, but damn.  What do I hate more?  Flying or Christmas music?  Ooh, that's a tough one.

One of the reasons I hate Christmas music so much is that I worked in retail almost continuously between the ages of 15 and 25, and for each of those years, between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, I was forced to listen to Christmas music, 5-6 days per week, 8-12 hours per day.  With that kind of overexposure, it's not so holly jolly anymore.

Another reason is that working in retail sucks.  Customers suck.  Selling stuff sucks.  I cannot listen to Christmas music without immediately thinking of screaming, angry customers chucking insults at me and throwing tantrums because the item they ordered is out of stock and now Junior's going to find out that Santa isn't real.  In fact, I can't think of Christmas in general without those unpleasant images swimming through my mind.  And yes, people really do pull that crap, and no, I'm not making that up.

Where was I?  Oh yeah...so I'm standing in this bank lobby, trying to ignore Bon Jovi, watching the clerk process my transaction, and it occurred to me that I don't work in retail or customer service right now, and that I haven't for quite some time.  And I swelled with gratitude at the realization that no part of my day is spent trying to convince people to buy useless shit they don't need.  And that no part of my day is wasted on cajoling spoiled rich people.  And that no part of my day consists of being insulted, threatened, harassed, or yelled at.  But most importantly, no part of my workday/schoolday is spent being force-fed Christmas music.

And the most sublimely happy feeling came over me.

Now, I'm not going to lie and say that this semester wasn't rough for me at first.  It was.  But now I feel like I'm getting the hang of grad school, and am actually starting to enjoy it, and this bank visit made me really realize how lucky I am to get paid to spend my days learning about science and anatomy and hominoids, and I get to measure bones and handle skulls and think and write about why people behave the way that they do.  And that ROCKS!   

I have no idea what my grades are going to look like for this semester, though.  I'm not sure I'm even passing all of my classes (in grad school, a C is failing).  I guess it doesn't help that this past Friday I forgot to go to class.  Yes, that really did happen and no, I'm not making that up.  I knew something felt funny about the weekend, but I didn't realize that I'd actually forgotten to go to school until days later.

If I do fail anything, I guess I don't mind repeating a class or two, but I do have to keep a certain GPA in order to keep my stipend, so maybe I'll get kicked out.  I'm not sure what's going to happen, but until I find out, I'm just going to enjoy my skulls and stuff.  'Cause I'm hard rock like that.

Yeah, I’m a nickel-saving, never-shaving,
Bagel-stealing, shame-concealing
Sunlight-hating, annotating,
Prob’ly never graduating,
Hardly caring, flash-drive-wearing,
Moron-teaching, microfiching,
Early-rising, harmonizing,
Never, ever unionizing,
Crap-enduring, debt-incurring,
Overnighting, thesis-writing,
Data-mining, constant-whining,
I can’t see the silver lining,
Paper-grading, tax-evading
Uninspired, very tired,
Snipin’, gripin’, always typin’,
Please don’t take away my stipend,
Grad student.
If I try to stay mellow,
I can start my career as a post-doctoral fellow.