Timeout: Hey, What’s Up? Part I: Of Grad School & Blog/Writing.

Hi. Happy Friday. I think I’m suffering from fatigue thanks to the past two weeks, and maybe nobody actually even wondered aha, but here’s a Timeout update on what’s going on in my life, this sticky thing about writing (lack thereof, more like), what I’m watching, and unpopular opinions about the current KPop scene. Sometimes I just feel like talking haha and you’re absolutely free to skip this, especially since I’m breaking them into two-parts – the more general, not-talking-about-me topics will be in the next Timeout.

Hey, What’s Up? 

This is mainly what’s up: spring quarter. It’s crazy, though funnily not necessarily bad-crazy. I’m super stoked to be in the classes I’m in, especially two of the four. One class is a sanitation in developing countries, which I hope will benefit me in the long-run because it’s a niche in water resources and environmental engineering (or one could argue it’s a branch of the field) that I hope I will delve deeper into within my community in Malaysia, specifically looking at East Malaysia. It’s the same topic that I built a rough thesis on when I entertained my (short-lived) PhD aspirations. The class is taught by, in my opinion, one of the best professors in the department and gah she is such an inspiration to me. So yes, I’m super stoked to be in this class but the reading list? Aw man, the weekly reading list is massive. It’s insane. It’s challenging. It’s time-consuming.

(Welcome to grad school)

There’s another class, greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation. It’s another topic within the field which I hope to build a niche in, because climate change is the topic of the century after all, and GHG is something I’ll most definitely delve into, if my near-future job does indeed happen. I have always been interested to learn more, and the chance is finally here. I’ve waited for this class to be offered since fall so I’m ridiculously excited, but the catch is I haven’t taken a class on energy and economic calculations in… forever. I’ve never been very good at them either, in the past. I’ve gotten so familiar with the water-related kind of calculations that trying to understand marginal abatement, accounting for the many definitions related to GHG accounting – aye, headache. It’s overwhelming and last Friday and Saturday I spent both days doing background reading, all the while feeling so incredibly, immensely stressed out and incapable. After much deliberation though, I’m sticking with this class, even if it means I have to work twice as hard as those in the atmospheric & energy program. Here’s what I told myself: no one ever starts at 10. Everyone has to start somewhere, whether that’s a zero, one or one-half, you know what I mean? It’s unfortunate I’m starting at zero, but I am here to learn, not die trying!

(Welcome, welcome, to grad school in the field of engineering) 

On the side, I’m still doing research work – I am literally research assisting because I’m basically helping to run an experimental set once a week – and my third class is a traditional engineering class – problem-set based – with lots of chemistry (groans). The fourth class is a seminar, but I attend talks regularly anyway (so many good ones here!) so that’s just a typical thing on the side. In short, oi vey, this quarter is busier than last quarter.

I’ll share a quick story, proof of just how exhaustive the past two weeks have been: on Monday I actually absent-mindedly left my phone in the computer lab for an hour i.e. enough time to bike back, clean up, make dinner …only to realize wait, where’s my phone? Frantic once I realized I left it behind, I bike back there as fast as I could and thankfully it was still there but yeah… be sure to keep your mind in one place, folks. I’m now extremely paranoid of leaving my phone, because it’s actually the third time I’ve left it behind in the past seven months…

In addition, I’m not just suffering from fatigue thanks to school, but also social life. Here’s the thing about being someone who thrives in solitude – I love people, don’t get me wrong, but now I just feel exhausted and want nothing better than to be left alone for a while. It’s my free Friday night this week, but hell no, ain’t no one is going to find that out. Plus, tomorrow I am going to – guess what – bike across the Golden Gate bridge. It’ll be fun, I bet, but I’m also doubly nervous because hello, me on a bike? While it’s true that I am now biking more regularly, I’m no pro. Plus, I’m tiny (hush don’t use the s-word on me!), and ugh, I hate how adult bikes are often too tall for me. Remember last summer, when I was supposed to do this with Housemate #1 but I ended up near-tears, so we walked across the bridge instead? Yeah, let’s hope history doesn’t repeat itself…

All these aside though, grunts included, here’s the upside: I feel strong.

I feel like I am finally coming into my own again. The quiet confidence. Saying no to things and events I’m uncomfortable about, and opting out of meets and whatever else if I feel like my time is better off spent differently. Peer pressure ain’t got nothing on me anymore, hurrah. I am no longer hiding who I really am – not on my Facebook where my personal interests in books, writing, Malaysia, and poetry are obvious – and especially not in real life. I like what I like, believe in what I do, ask when I don’t know, and know to make and receive jokes about myself. I feel confidence creeping up again, and I want to hug it close like a long-lost friend as I wail and ask, “Where’ve you been? Do you know just how hard it’s been, without you?!”

Plus, three-quarters into grad school and FINALLY, I remember. At last it has dawned upon me, why I decided to do this two-year detour with the masters. The excitement I feel for these classes, and realizing that I want to stick with them despite knowing how hard and taxing they are – that’s commitment, passion, and determination right there. It honestly feels GREAT to have purpose and goals again, i.e. to remember exactly why I chose to pursue environmental engineering in the first place. So I’ll repeat my advice to those of you who feel like you’re just wandering aimlessly – which I did too, for the past seven months -: it’s not about passion-or-nothing, but your fighting spirit.

Toughen up, and hold on to that fighting spirit.

Hey, What’s Up With The Writing? 

This week, the words refused to appear. Taciturn is indeed the right word and placeholder, and the sound of silence is what it is. I have a few things I want to write about, stuff I’ve meant to for the past three weeks, but never got around to. I probably sound like I’m making excuses for myself, and maybe I am, who knows.

Sometimes the words just won’t appear, so there is no use trying to force them out. Most of the time timing is a bitch and you know, writing is work. It is. It doesn’t matter if I’m passionate about it or not, whether I’m drunken in love or merely in the dating stages with it – it’s time- and emotionally consuming. So when I understood that the words won’t appear, I gave in to the sound of silence. I wrote that little entry. I waited patiently.

The thing about being so busy with Real Life happenings is that you’ve no time to put up with stupid, trivial shit. Thank goodness, I know, I hear ya. I remember just a few months ago, when I was still so hung up about follower stats and readership (side-note: hello new readers, thank you for joining me here!). Now it cracks me up to realize how extremely trivial it is to worry about, and I kind of want to kick myself for being so silly. A couple of Tumblr bloggers I follow – those on WINNER-related news – got pretty worked up and upset about losing followers because they were blogging non-WINNER related stuff. Maybe things work differently in Tumblr for all I know, but cue over-justifications and repeated lengthy explanations. Aw man, been there and done that. It’s embarrassing. It’s understandable the first time, but the third, fourth, fifth explanations? Oi vey, we need to be less insecure.

Honestly, I don’t know why people are following me on Tumblr. Over here I do, kinda, but over there if I think seriously about it I am always scratching my head in wonderment. Stats tells me I have 25 followers (some of them are my friends here). I post really random items there, like paragraphs I like which I wrote, links to articles I enjoyed reading, and sometimes quotes from books and dramas. There’s no comments feature, and perhaps that’s the point of Tumblr, but it’s hard to get a sense of the why when it feels like there’s no relationship between the who, you know what I mean? I don’t repost anything there too, because I’m still allergic to the idea that my space is occupied by writings which aren’t mine, albeit foreseeing that this will likely change, cos I suspect I will end up reposting poetry eventually. Those Tumblr poets, damn, I swear they undo me.

Above all, blogging is done for fun, a favorite pastime if you will – at least for me – and more about personal satisfaction than it is about meeting others’ whims and demands. Of course there’s a fine balance and a compromising point, but in the wise words of my fellow bloggers, who’d encouraged and repeatedly reminded me of the blogging 101 rule, when I was in that funk: if  it starts to stress you out and takes away the fun factor, then stop. Reassess. Be confident about your writing voice, and/or the kind of materials you put forth! This isn’t school so no, it’s not supposed to be stressful, as if you’ve a grade you’re expected to meet, or professors to please. It’s just… honestly, it’s just blogging.

Go crazy with it, and enjoy the ride.

Although you know, I will add that not too long ago, I ended up in a random blogger’s personal blog – I think I was blog-hopping, and ended up there somehow. I can’t remember the details too much honestly aha, but I remember it was 100% a personal blog and s/he has so many followers and I was just surprised. In my head I thought, “Why would people be interested to read about other people’s lives?”

…only to realize that’s what I uh, do here.

I don’t really follow any personal blogs, though I love getting to know the blogger behind their blogs, as in they’ve got to feel real to me. But yeah, my point is: it hit me that ironically, while I maintain a personal blog where I happily yap about whatever I feel like in and about my life, I don’t actually know what the attraction is because I don’t follow strictly personal blogs (okay, maybe one or two). It’s weird, but basically it hit me that sincerely, thank you for finding worth in this space! Thank you for finding some common ground, relatedness, empathy, annoyance – anything – in the glimpses you get of my life. It means a lot and exactly why blogging is, in my book, fun.

…If you’ve read this fully, oh my god thank you for caring about how I’m doing! Or at least, can I think that of you, for reading this oh-just-my-life updates? The second Timeout will address the what I’m watching and unpopular KPop opinions, both topics which I know some of you are specifically here for. I just thought the entry would be too massive if I lump everything together, so I’m breaking them into two-parts.

Regular blogging, I hope so at least, will resume starting from today!

9 thoughts on “Timeout: Hey, What’s Up? Part I: Of Grad School & Blog/Writing.

    1. I am, aren’t? Two weeks into school and I’m counting down to summer already, believe it or not!!

      But yes, absolute YAY to strength! It’s about time, but I needed the hard lessons from the past months, for sure. Hindsight is a rather wonderful thing, I must say ;)

      (and I kind of love it that all along, you just waited patiently for the phase and stormy weather to subside within me, all “been there, done that” and SUCH a cool-as-cucumber source of support! :))

      1. Aww… I was sort of wincing along with you and hoping you’d find your way through. (And pretty sure you would, because your stormy times sounded… necessary? if that doesn’t sound weird?) But I felt like the worst thing to say would be something like, “you’ll find your way!” because it’s trite. And then I worried I wasn’t being as supportive as I could be. So… long story short, I’m glad as it came off as supportive! :D

  1. Come to think of it, yours is the only personal blog I follow too. Haha. I guess you’re just that special. And it’s weird because it’s not like I’m following you for the purpose of watching your life go by vicariously, because you know.. I don’t want to go to grad school or become an environmental engineer. I just seriously see you posting some personal and I want to know how you’ve been and what you’re up to this week, or this day, or.. Oh man I sound sappy now hahaha. Anyways but it’s true.

    I don’t know about tumblr either. And I especially don’t like the no comments feature. I’ve just given it over for a space where I collect things I want to see again and most of them are Kpop or drama related.

  2. so glad you’re enjoying your classes this quarter! i was always kinda pooped by spring quarter, but some of my favorite classes were also during the spring, now that i think about it… hehheee! ^^
    hang in there, miss genius engineer! :D

    1. Winter’s always my worse actually haha, and spring is often a lot better. Tradition continues, but I’m glad you’re liking the quarter thus far too! :D Hang in there too, Miss Future Doctor !!! ;)

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