A Day in the Life: Grad Student
10am Alarm goes off. Snooze.
11am Alarm goes off. Snooze.
12pm Alarm goes off. Snooze.
12:30pm Alarm goes off. Snooze.
1pm Wake up. Boil water for instant coffee before anything else as coffee is the lifeblood of my day.
1:15 Make coffee. Drink coffee. Make second cup of coffee. Consider eating breakfast. Eat a protein bar. Get ready for school.
2pm Go to class feeling self-congratulatory for finishing the book that was required for this week’s class. Feel elated. Start to think maybe I really do belong in Grad School.
2:30 Spend the first hour of class trying to look smart and engaged. Spend the second hour of class working up the courage to say the smart thing I thought of. Never actually say it. Change mind about the certainty of belonging in Grad School.
5pm After class is over say the smart thing to a few other students. Say it loud enough for the Professor to overhear thus maybe witness I’m smart even though I was too shy to speak up during class. Promise myself that I’ll do better next time. Promise to start acting like a grad student. Promise to start feeling like I belong here.
5:30 Think about going to Starbucks to get coffee. Remember that I can’t afford Starbucks (as my parents just had to lend me money for rent, my student loan having already run out). Make instant coffee instead. Use the instant coffee that I keep in my office (my office being really just a cubicle in a room of 6 other cubicles with no window but I fucking love my cubicle). I NEED MY CUBICLE. My cubicle makes me feel like a grown up with a purpose and an office. No man is a cubicle but this cubicle is me, man.
5:45 Realize I don’t have any milk for my coffee. Sit at my desk in my cubicle and drink it anyway, stare at the stacks of library books and berate myself for not doing more research, for not being further along in your final research paper (thesis). Wonder if my desk serves more as a place to put books than a place to do work. Decide it does. Decide I don’t care. Realize that it doesn’t matter that my desk is small and my cubicle is in a shared space because I know the combination to this locked dungeon of cubicles that is specifically marked for grad students. Feel proud. I am a fucking grad student. I earned this grad student space. Realize it’s all I have. Without this space I am nothing. Go to the class I TA for.
6:00 Early British Literature.
6:01 Try to stay awake during this 1st year English class, which is most certainly on material I already know. Listen as the Professor dissects Beowulf (which I haven’t studied in a decade, since I was busy not paying attention in 1st year English). Realize it all seems like brand new information. Feel like a sham. Feel like a failure. Doubt everything I’ve ever accomplished. Wonder how the fuck I got into grad school. Jump to the assumption that I’m an idiot and what the fuck am I going to do with my life. Take a deep breath. Realize that this just isn’t my area of expertise and that there is too much literature for me to know everything. Tell myself it’s okay.
6:50 MUST. NOT. FALL. ASLEEP.
8:00 Try to run the discussion group for the class. Get more uncomfortable with each deafening silence to my prodding questions. Feel like there isn’t enough time to accomplish anything meaningful. Remember the comments of a student from last term on my evaluation who said “she seems rushed and kind of nervous”. Hate that kid. Hate the fact that he/she was right. I am rushed, I am nervous. Wish I could tell that kid that there is absolutely no training for being a TA except your undergrad and intelligence, none of which prepare you to teach. Feel like a sham. Feel like a failure. Ask more questions. Hear more silence. Wonder if the students even read the text. Wonder if the students are even awake. Wonder what the fuck is the point of any of this. Use my backup material and turn this into a tutorial on essay writing, which they desperately need. Watch as their eyes glaze over. Sweat. Get frustrated. Get exasperated. Sweat. Hate life.
8:50 Hand back the mid-term essays. Watch them read their grades in confusion. Most of them think they deserve A’s and B’s. Most of them deserve F’s. Give most of them C+s because I’m part of a continent wide broken educational system. Try to remember what my work was like when I was a first year student. Pretty sure I was drunk for most of first year. Remind them about my office hours tomorrow. Encourage them to come see me, to come talk about their grades, to come talk about their work, so that I can help them. Know that no one will show up and I’ll sit for an hour by myself, in an office I share with all the other grad students. Try not to become disillusioned with the whole system of education.
9:00 Walk home. Realize I haven’t eaten since breakfast. Stop at the grocery store on the way home and make impulse purchases that go well beyond my means, calorically and financially. Use my credit card to pay.
9:30 Eat. Worry. Eat. Worry. Watch old episodes of Newsroom on my computer (I can’t afford cable, or a TV, or even to get my own wifi so I have to use the free wifi that comes with my apartment but blocks all the good websites like torrent downloading, youtube, and porn. Eat. Worry. Eat. Worry. Make some coffee (I have a ton of work to do).
12:00am Remember I have to read a 347 page book and a 44 page article for my class on thursday. Start reading.
12:15 Calculate how many hours I have before my next class. Figure out how many pages I can read in 20 minutes. Multiply 20 by 3 to get how many pages I can read in an hour. Calculate how many hours it will take to read 347 pages of a novel and 44 pages of an article. Worry. Fidget. Worry. Wonder if I should’ve gone into mathematics.
12:30 (stress) Masturbate. Drink more coffee.
1:00am Read more
2:00 I’m reading 18th century literature. My eyelids are no longer my friends. Drink more coffee, I still have so much work to do. Keep reading.
4:00am Take a break to eat. Watch another episode of Newsroom. Eat. Worry. Eat. Worry. Eat. Worry. Coffee.
5:00 Read. Read. Read.
7:00am Realize I see the sunrise too often. Hate it. Consider taking up yoga. Consider becoming one of those breezy people who don’t worry and don’t get stressed. Promise I’ll start fresh tomorrow. Tomorrow, I will finish all my readings on time. Tomorrow, I won’t go to class unprepared, I won’t skate by. Tomorrow, I will wake up at a decent time and I will exercise and be at one with myself and the world. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.
7:30 Try to sleep (hate myself for having to drink so much coffee to get through the day)
8:00 Try to sleep (hate myself for being a student when my friends have $$$ jobs)
8:30 Try to sleep (wish I exercised more, studied more, was a better person)
9:00 Try to sleep (FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WHY CAN’T I FUCKING SLEEP!!!!)
9:30am Smoke some weed and fall asleep.