Lena Corazon

Flights of Fancy

ROW80: There’s No Place Like Home

It is a strange feeling, having two homes.

My fourth year of graduate school begins on Thursday, and so I drove back to my apartment today, after spending six weeks at my parents’ house.  Initially, I worried about going home to stay with my parents. I wasn’t sure if their presence would chafe, especially after being on my own for the past 3 years.  However, the opposite occurred: I have realized that my parents are actually really awesome people, and I love being home with them. Leaving was incredibly difficult, and it was with a heavy heart that I drove back to school this afternoon.

There’s an odd amount of emotional work that has to be done in order to prepare for the transition: saying goodbye to my friends and family in my hometown, letting go of the coziness of my childhood bedroom, and detaching myself from the family cat. There’s also the work of adjusting to a change in roles, from daughter and sister to student and teacher, not to mention the shift in geographic location (northern to southern California; big city to small-ish town; my childhood home to my teeny but cozy studio apartment).

I spent the first couple of hours on the drive down here lamenting the end of my summer and dreading the looming specter of coursework and teaching, but once I reached my apartment, I felt the familiar longings for my school-life: the rhythm of seminars and lectures, the excitement of grad student gatherings and parties, the tranquility of my home, the beauty of the beaches.

There’s a lot for me to ponder as we reach the end of round 3 of ROW80, especially since it also marks the very end of my summer vacation. So much has happened over the past 80 days, and it will be an adventure to see how I will integrate this “writing-self” that has emerged with the “student-self” that I will become once classes begin.

And so here I am, about to begin my 4th year of grad school. This is the year when I need to complete my MA thesis, finish my last few classes, write and defend my PhD dissertation proposal, and advance to candidacy. If all goes well, this will be my last year in Santa Barbara, and I’ll be able to move back in with my parents next August, so I can write my dissertation, rent-free, in San Francisco.

“Focus” will be my middle name in the months to come, especially if I am going to accomplish all of the above, and still tackle the creative writing that I love and adore. I’ve drafted a weekly schedule that allows me time in the evenings for writing and social media stuff, as well as blocks out a couple of hours each afternoon for my research and thesis writing. We’ll see if I can adhere to it, but if I’ve learned anything this summer, it’s that I work best when I’m satisfying my left brain and my right brain. I won’t be giving up on my novel(s) any time soon. 😀

That’s all from me at the moment! I may be a little MIA over the next week or two: my mom is in town with me, and we will be busy sight-seeing, shopping, and hanging out together. However, I’ll do my best to blog-hop about in the days to come, to check in with everyone in our last few days of Round 3.

34 Comments

  1. Transitions are never easy but you seem to be handling it very well Lena. I truly hope that you are able to attain candidacy; what an exciting time for you. Sure there is much work to be done but you are closer to the end of this section of road then the beginning and the payoff is not far in the distance.

    All the best for the coming week. Go focus and we’ll all be here to greet you when you get back 🙂

    • Gene, your comments always bring a smile to my face. For the first time ever, I feel like I can see the light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to my PhD program, and I’m actually excited to tackle the hurdles that I’m facing for the year. There’s definitely a lot to anticipate!

      Have a wonderful week, Gene!

  2. I can completely identify with this! I also feel I have two homes. I have lived in my little flat for five years but I live there because that is where I got a job but every holiday I migrate home to my parents. I am lucky to only live an hour and a half away from them. I always struggle when I leave my parents home and will be tackling that later today as I have spent the weekend at home.

    I love that focus is going to be your middle name and I think I might adopt it too over the coming months. I hope you get back in to the swing of things and enjoy your time with your mum.

    • Isn’t it the strangest feeling? When I’m at school, I miss home; when I’m home, I miss my apartment. Good luck to you as you make your end-of-the-weekend transition. 😀

      We’ll see if I can pull off actually trying to focus! I feel like I’m a little ADD, constantly getting distracted by shiny baubles, but if I try really hard, maybe it’ll happen.

  3. Soooo jealous of you. I want to go back to school, I want to visit my parents, I want to be in California. Now I might live vicariously through your post for the rest of the day. You have lots of work ahead, but it sure does sound pleasant.

    • Aww! It’s so funny, Nicole, because I’m totally jealous of your life in Europe! But I have to admit, I feel incredibly grateful for the life I’ve been able to lead. Making the choice to stay in California for grad school was one of the best I could have made, and I am learning to appreciate all of the daily blessings that come my way.

      Have a great week!

  4. Enjoy spending time with your mom! I live far from my parents and siblings, so I cherish every minute I get with them. Best of luck with getting back into the swing of grad work/teaching/living away from home. And, I wish you all the discipline you need to not only stick to your schedule, but the enjoyment to feel empowered by it – and not like you must check off just ‘one-more-thing-to-do’ before you can relax! ~ Nadja

    • Thanks, Nadja! I feel really lucky to have my parents nearby, especially since I know that it might not always be the case.

      And I love this — “the enjoyment to feel empowered by it.” I think that’s definitely going to be my goal for this school year, because I have spent enough time overwhelmed and burdened by stress.

      Hope your week is off to a wonderful start!

  5. How amazing that you are embarking on this challenging and exciting time of life! Best wishes on grad school. Keep up the novel! It sounds like you’ve got great perspective and know where you’re heading.

    • Thanks so much, Julie! I have to admit, I have that excited fluttery feeling as I face the start of the school year. Crossing my fingers that I can harness that excitement and use it to my advantage in the months to come. 😀

  6. Sounds sooo amazing! Transition is always hard. My kids have shown me that without being in the proper mind frame even transitioning simple activites can be hard. It sounds like you’re in the right state of mind though.

    • That’s so true — my mom used to teach pre-kindergarten and I worked in her classroom. Getting through transition periods was always a challenge.

      Hoping I can keep up the energy and enthusiasm once school actually starts. We’ll see. 😛

  7. well done you – exciting times ahead also – I like your new middle name – we all should adopt it!! hope to see you back next round – all the best

  8. Good luck finishing school! And if you set your mind to it, you can keep that schedule for both studying and writing. I remember the one semester in my grad program where I put creative writing on the back burner; I was miserable! By the third semester, I determined to work on my novel and study. My classmates thought I was crazy, but that semester actually ended up being my easiest. I’m sure my mental and emotional health had something to do with that. 🙂 You can do it!

    • Yessss, I totally know what you mean. I didn’t write anything during my 2nd year of grad school, or the first half of my 3rd year, and things just felt so desolate and sad. Thanks for the vote of confidence!

  9. Have fun with your mom! The end of summer is so bittersweet, isn’t it? Especially so, though, when you’re a student. Best of luck with all your academic (and writerly) goals! 🙂

    • Thanks so much, Crystal. I feel like I am violently protesting the end of summer, being dragged kicking and screaming back to the world of school, but having my mom here to ease the transition will help a lot.

  10. You sound ready to kick butt in your fourth year! Stay positive! You can totally do this! I identify with the right brain/left brain thing. I’ll put up with an amazing amount of stress, and feel good about it, if it means I get some writing in. 🙂

    • Thank you so much! Seriously, being able to write alleviates a world of ills for me. It’s a definite way for me to ease stress.

      Hope you have a wonderful week!

  11. You are a great example of organization. I get my blogs done, my words done. Research is included in ‘words’. Wow, everything seems to be working great for you.
    I’m excited to see how your path continues. Good Luck.

  12. Wow, I really admire your organizational talents! When I was in grad school, my creative writing writing diminished to occasional poems and song lyrics. :/ In my own defense, however, I also had two small children to contend with, and they make havoc of the best-laid plans … not that I had any … but it’s a good excuse. *g*

    Good luck with all your ambitious plans and have a great week!

    • Grad school alone is a huge undertaking, and I admire anyone who manages to get through it while also raising children! Sometimes just getting through my basic “adult” tasks (washing dishes, doing my laundry, etc.) takes up any extra energy I have left over after reading and research. 😛

      Thanks for stopping by, Ruth. Have a wonderful week!

  13. Sounds bittersweet for sure, but it’s wonderful to hear that you have a family who loves you and supports all that you do. Focus is something that I need to adhere to as well, so many things that I want to accomplish, and often too many things at once. I need to sit down and find the right schedule that works for me. Like you I need to satisfy both sides of my brain or I feel lost and out of balance.

    You’re a determined person, so I don’t doubt that once you find the right schedule for you, it will all work out. Always here for you sweets!! 🙂

    marie

    • I’m so very, very grateful for my family, more now than ever. It makes the time that I spend away from home so much easier. 😀

      Hope you have a wonderful week, Marie!

  14. Make the most of the time with your Mum. A wise woman once told me that when we are sixteen, our parents know nothing. By the time we are twenty-one, we are surprised by how much they have learned in the past five years 🙂

  15. This last year of grad school is such a mixture of emotions. I remember that year so well; many of my friends were a bit ahead of me in the program, so when I went back, they had all gone, and I was the grand dame. Huh, me? I will offer, though, that it was during that year that I learned the most, grew up the most, and gained an incredible amount of confidence.

    You will rock this year. Go for it, Lena!

    • Yes, this is definitely my experience right now. There are a few 5th and 6th years around, but many of my friends have just finished the program and are off teaching. I’m crossing my fingers that this will be the year that I do a bit of extra growing. 😀

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Elizabeth!

  16. How sweet that you realized your parents are awesome! Best of luck with your big year, and glad ROW80’s encouragement and support helped put you in a place to tackle it!

  17. That would have to be hard, leaving family and friends. I can even see how leaving the family cat would be sad (I love cats). In life, we do what we have to do and make the choices that are best for us. And it sounds like you’ve made a great choice…to further your education and stay focused on what needs to be done to accomplish your goals. You’re obviously a very organized person, since you’re making schedules.

    Good luck with everything. Someday soon, we’ll be calling you Doctor! 🙂

    • My parents will kill me, but I think leaving the cat was the hardest of all. I can talk to my parents on the phone, but there’s no way to curl up with the cat when I’m not home.

      Trying to stick with my schedule will be one of my goals for Round 4, so we’ll see how it goes. And squee, I can’t *wait* till I’m a “Doctor”. I’ve only been dreaming of the day since I was 12. 😉

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