The Semester is … Over?
The final exams, papers, and projects were all turned in last week. The professors struggle mightily to meet today’s grading deadline. The students check online every hour or so to see what letter arrives next to their course names. The semester is over…sort of. But there is always more work to do. One more left over project, one more bit of personal reading, a few hours of work to make up after skipping to finish that one last paper.
The rhythms of academic life are so familiar to me now. “What are you doing with all your free time now that school is finished for the semester? Sleeping?” my mother asked. I wish I could say I was. Instead, I’m working those make up hours, bringing me more or less full-time in these last few weeks. In addition to finalizing my doctoral applications (each a project unto itself), I’ve got three major papers awaiting completion.
This semester was so hectic, in fact, that despite my boss’s understanding acceptance of my recently erratic schedule, I still had to take an incomplete in one class. I have a final paper and two close readings hanging over me, begging completion prior to the start of Spring semester. Best not to let them linger.
In addition, there’s still my online class, with its final deadline of Christmas Eve. I’ve four more lectures to listen to and a 5000-word exegetical paper on the Biblical flood of Genesis to compose. That’s going to be a trick because even as a child the story of the flood never sat well with me.
Last, but hardly least, there’s my friend from Korea, to whom I owe a similarly-sized paper on the use of mindfulness meditation to cultivate self-compassion and its beneficial effects for Buddhist caregivers. I have promised to knock that out in the week after Christmas as they are holding the publication of the conference proceedings for me. (Who says Buddhist’s don’t do guilt trips?)
All of which means, despite my supposed “winter break,” I’ve a stack of books and papers to get through about three feet high. Joy. I really need to learn the meaning of “vacation.” (And don’t forget the half dozen student government projects simmering on the back burners.)
On the bright side, tomorrow I’m going to a potluck with my chaplaincy peeps to celebrate the “end” of another fun semester. I get to spend Christmas with Colin’s family in the beautiful Monterrey Bay area. I’ve got most of my holiday shopping finished and shipped. I get to spend a week after Christmas dog-sitting for my dear boss and friend and her lovely German Shepherd, Wally. Several movies are in theaters which I intend to enjoy. And on the academic side, I’ve got at least one firm ‘A’ pulling my GPA up a notch. Finally, my employment contract was renewed for next semester, so I’ll be able to continue living the decadent lifestyle (hooray for lattes and unpatched jeans!) to which I’ve become accustomed. That never hurts.
Then there’s the blog, which I’ve been neglecting of late. I’ve several half-finished posts to round out and I’d like to get ahead of things in the new year. It is much more challenging to try to write about things other people might like to read than to just ramble on about whatever inner conundrum is currently dominating my mental/emotional life. There’s still enough of that to go around, mind, but lately I’ve been trying to be more topical and “Dharmic.” Thus, I’ll be finishing my Dharma Bites on Bhikkhu Bodhi’s book and seeking to take up more social commentary in the year to come.
The contributors to the new blog, Dharma Dialogue, have also all voiced their desire to keep that going. I’m likely to remain involved by acting as webmaster and soliciting/editing some posts from time to time. In many ways, Dharma Dialogue is what I would have liked to see Dharma Cowgirl become had I ever put in the serious time and effort needed to round up contributors. Luckily, Dr. Iwamura, being our professor and department chair, has a much more powerful mechanism for coercing posts out of authors. The first post is always the hardest and now that our rookie bloggers are broken in, so to speak, perhaps they can be more easily prompted to continue the trend.
For now, please pray, dedicate the merit, and simply wish me luck on my doctoral applications. And if you know anyone at UC Santa Barbara, Claremont, the Graduate Theological Union, Harvard, U Hawaii at Manoa, or the California Institute of Integral Studies, do put in a good word for me. Happy holidays everyone and a restful winter break!