So. Like months ago, I finally managed to tell grad school to fuck right on off. It was simultaneously awesome and soul-destroying: it was like giving up on a dream that I’d finally realized I should have given up on years earlier (because, had I given up on it years earlier, I’d have been a much happier person in those intervening years).

Waaaaah.

Anyway (I have a cat curled up on my chest in an awkward position, and she’s making it difficult to type. Also alcohol. So if there are typos, I apologize). I went out for dinner tonight with my husband on the occasion of his 33rd birthday, and I figured something out. Namely, if you talk to bartenders about the wonkiest and weirdest of alcohols they have hiding behind the bar, you’re quite likely to get free samples of the said alcohols without actually asking for them. This phenomenon explains my tasting tonight of both black walnut and pistachio liqueurs, as well as getting a complementary full-on serving of apricot-infused grappa. (Like I said, also alcohol, as it were).

The thing that ties these two disparate things together – the graduate school quitting and the random booze-questioning/-getting is this: now that I’m out of grad school, it’s like my brain is opening up in all kinds of weird ways. I don’t have the preoccupation with a predetermined subject that I had while in school, so I’m free to pursue whatever seems fun or interesting at any given moment without the guilt that I should be spending that mental energy on my studies.

As a result, I’m actually studying more than I did for the last few years of grad school. It feels awesome. Moreover, grad school was basically a lot of fail and criticism (despite having a stupid-high GPA), so I’ve learned that I can handle immense quantities of criticism. And that I can learn veritible shit tons about totally weird topics.

End result A: I will be a licensed and registered sommelier by next January if it kills me, because I know I can assimilate that much information in that amount of time and because I know I can trust my palate.
End result B: I’m learning to do things I never would have considered having time for before, like (at present) learning how to critique creative writing in a way that’s helpful to the author. Doing this is also helping me with my own writing, and I feel hugely happy to have time to devote to my own writing.
End result C: I’m actually learning more day-by-day now than I did for the last few years of grad school, because learning feels fun and new and interesting and not like it’s trying to kill me.
End result D: This may be the nectarine and apricot grappas and black walnut liqueur and pistachio liqueur talking, but I feel smarter than I have in years.

Anyway. For everyone locked in a grad program and feeling hopeless, please consider this a reminder that life does actually exist (and get better) post-grad school, whether or not you end up with another pointless degree. For everyone else, enjoy life.

Smooches.

Also, black walnut liqueur is completely awesomesauce.

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