Wednesday, March 23, 2011


So I'm living in the middle of nowhere and the biggest business in this two-horse town is the Walmart.  It's always busy there and believe me, short of sunrise, I'd rather go any time of the day when there aren't people. They're like zombies or something.  Walmart in Maine isn't much different than Walmart in Kentucky or Oklahoma.  There are always going to be people who don't brush their hair, teeth or armpit hairs before leaving the house. But enough about me..

Ada is pretty quiet.  Even though I live on Stadium Drive, on campus, and it's the busiest street with a couple thousand students a few stone's throws away, it's still more quiet than Berry Rd in Norman.  I don't know if that's because it's truly less traffic or because I live in a concrete cell block, but nonetheless, not a lot of noise.  My neighbors and I seem to have an understanding that peace and quiet are all we need.  No talking, no borrowing cups of sugar (Ok, I don't have any actual sugar and I barely know what to do with that shit other than to lend it to people.  What am I gonna do, bake?!). Just quiet.  We are all single women.  Two of the three apartments on my floor are occupied; the other is not.  Nobody downstairs as far as I can tell. Just me and them.  And across the complex in the other buildings are my students.  Lots and lots of them and they never come near.  I think they worry that I've got some evil den going on or that I'm somehow incapable of discussion outside of a classroom.  It's let me get some work done, that's for sure.

Every time I go somewhere, I think "I'm not staying, I shouldn't meet people or get attached".  So I tend to engage in solitary activities and anyone who knows me knows I already enjoy this.  I like walking in the little park by my house- to the park, around the lake and home is two miles.  It's a nice little jog on a sunny Spring day.  I also run or do the stairs at the track on campus.  It's roughly 200 steps from my door.  I can, if I want, go to the little fitness center on campus.  Only problem is that I'm pretty sure that I'm not going there.  I imagine this scenario:  I'm sweating, using some elliptical and listening to the Offspring on my little iPod.  I get interrupted by a student wanting help on his next assignment.  Another wants to know what's due tomorrow. And another who didn't make office hours but knows that I'm on campus and of course I will talk to her.  Meanwhile my mascara has run because I didn't go wash it off first and I'm sweating and smell almost as good as a warthog in heat.  Awesome.  Yeah. Not going there.

I thought I'd dwell on a few positive things.  You know, to cheer me up.  It's kinda lonely in the concrete bunker.  And I get sick of self-pity and being freaked out about how things didn't get the way I wanted them to.  Things go all wonky all over the world and in much worse ways than I have to deal with so i'm just going to get over it.

Today I'm going to be grateful. Way grateful that I have been given the opportunity to write a dissertation.  Not many people are that lucky (or even care. Or think it's cool, or think that I'm cool for wanting to.. ).  And grateful to Kimberly Stormer who met me at the library last week for a pep talk and a read-through on my work.  She gave great and timely feedback and showed me pictures of that gorgeous little girl of hers.  And Cathy who kept my dog Big for weeks and chauffeured him to the vet and back.  And met me for coffee and a pep talk and another read through.  I need lots of read-throughs.  And both of those amazing women looked me in the eye and said that it's going to be ok.  Actually, Kimberly said that I was not a normal white girl, but I'm sure she means that she believes in me.  My friend Greg read the whole thing and gave me written feedback in only a day.  And he sent me a text that said it didn't suck.

Valerie helped me move in and she and my cousin Christian both hung out with me for St. Patrick's Day.  It was awesome, low-key and fun (and normal, ha!) and sane.  I get messages all of the time from my friends- have a great day, thinking of you, please get done with that piece of writing because we want our friend back- you know, encouragement, by text or Facebook or email.  And I've really appreciated that. Hell, this afternoon, my friend Dan put on a Superman cape and flew to my rescue as I melted down over pagination.  Seriously, I emailed it to him and he emailed it back to me ten minutes later. All better.  Made me cry, but don't tell him I said that.

My Grandma is dying now, too.  I found out that it's a matter of days.  Actually, I found out as I was writing chapter 5.  I saw her at Christmas up in Washington state and I considered flying up there just to say goodbye one more time.  The thing is that she knows I love her and my uncle, aunt, sisters and their children are all there too. And my mom.  And our pastor.  They say that I should concentrate on this and on being here in this moment and that's a hard thing to do.  But again, I'm really grateful that my Grandma is surrounded by people who love her and care for her. She's a loving person and has always been well loved in return.  She has good karma.  Of course, she could cut you- make no mistake. Do not get on her bad side.  The good part about that is that it's pretty hard to get on her bad side. It can be done, but it takes some doing.  I have gratitude even in this, because if anyone deserves a little grace, it's my Grandma. And later, it will be us who love her who will need it.

So thanks, friends, for your support and encouragement in scary times and for rooting for me on the whole dissertation thing.  I think I'm ok if the whole thing blows up. So thank you, Valerie and and Cathy and Kimberly and Liz and Matt and Matt and MattMatt, and Luke and Greg (and Greg), and Samantha, and Davie and R.E. and Veronica and Brook and especially Shellie (OMG you are so funny!) and Jeff and Orinda and Elissa and Daren and Mitch and Tammy and Joe and Hassie and Jackie and Hayley and Matthew and Damian and my cousin Christian (yeah, cuz you are my friend too) and Joe and Tafv and Steve and Staci and Sandra and Britton and Dennis and Sabrina and Shelly and Mandy and Jen and Jen and everyone else that I forgot.  Damn!  How did I get so lucky?

Ok, I do have to go here: the worst case scenario is me sitting in a room with 5 committee members and them telling me how awful my project is and that I will never make it and I should just give up.  And somehow in there I am naked and wearing my nerd glasses with tape on them.  And braces. I've never had braces or needed them.  But I'm good, just in case that does happen.  I hear it's not too late to become a bartender.


  1. When you're a doctor do you get to wear a shiny medal around your neck? You are awesome Mindie.

  2. Gratitude is good. I have two words printed out and taped to my monitor in the office: "Compassion" and "Gratitude."

    When I was in grad school, I avoided setting down roots because hey, I was only passing through. And then I stayed in Riverside, Calif., for 10 years. (I stayed for awhile after I got my tenure-track job; I wasn't in grad school for a decade.) The point is: We never know when we are staying for a short while or a long while. So go ahead and make friends and put down some roots. Even if we are in one place for a brief time, the friends there make it more enjoyable and worthwile.

  3. Aw, thanks for the shout out. *fist bump* Here's a quote from someone that Jen Elsner has been inspired by, "Courage is not the absence of fear but the judgement that something else is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all. For now, you are traveling the road between who you think you are and who you can be." Sometimes, even if things are not permanent, it is better to make friends & share laughter & love with people then it is to have missed out on even a single smile. I hope the rest of the dissertation process goes smoothly for you. Cheers!

  4. You naked!! WOW!!!!

  5. I'm glad I can help with the support! I'm a firm believer that life is all about how we choose to see it, and I love that you're seeing it from a grateful perspective. You really are awesome and I think in the end you'll rock this dissertation! Love the description of students approaching you at the gym, by the way, too funny! :D