Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A body at rest tends to stay at rest

I've lost momentum on my schoolwork. I try to be fair to myself. There's a lot going on here, extra stressors, oddly busy days popping up here and there, a bored 6-year-old to keep from destroying the house, heat that makes reading other languages a near impossibility. Some of those items are bigger than others, but the combination has made me that much slower to commit as much as a sentence to the screen in a day.

I will send a draft off to my supervisor soon. For better or worse. We'll see how it goes over with him.

What I'm least looking forward to is the likely pointed reminder that I would probably be making faster progress were I still a resident of Toronto.

That's somewhat debatable, even in its most simplistic form. While I would have better library resources at my disposal and a private carrel in which to sequester myself on occasion, being around the department would provide more distractions. (I have a couple friends in particular with whom I can chat for hours. Facebook, at least, spreads the conversation out.)

But I've also been thinking about this is grander terms, the likely trajectory certain aspects of my life might have taken had we stayed in Canada.

The first, one of our biggest motivators in moving back to the States, is Scooter's education. We had already held Scooter out of junior kindergarten because we expected to move and didn't want to create additional transitions for him. Maybe we would have decided differently if we'd known we were going to stay, but I'm not sure. We were still waiting on an evaluation and were not confident that he would have qualified for much in the way of services. For kindergarten, we would have been able to keep him at his old daycare for mornings and send him to a school near campus for afternoon kindergarten. And then for first grade, he would have to leave that school and go to the one near our condo. Too many transitions, too many different administrations to deal with.

Then there was the toll on our health. There was one solid year when at least one of us was sick. We thought for a while that Scooter had asthma; it turned out to be a persistent bronchial infection that took multiple medications and an inhaler to conquer. I found out this past year that I am horribly allergic to several types of mold, the likely culprit for my own respiratory problems. Trillian and I even posit that between the mold allergy and the gluten sensitivity, my immune system was working overtime and may have contributed to my miscarriages.

Not to mention the toll on our relationship. Trillian came closer to breaking up in Toronto than any other time in our now 16 1/2 years together. The above point played its part; we both felt physically off most of the time we were there. I felt responsible for dropping us into the whole situation, Trillian was carrying the financial burden of our family. Throw in trying to maintain finances across international borders, issues with the health system I've written about before, and the discovery that both of us suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder to some degree (holy hell, the winters there are long and gray, so very gray). Things have not been perfect for us here, far from it, but the tension between us has lessened considerably.

I feel pretty certain that had I stayed in Toronto, either with my family or in some long-distance arrangement, I would either have dropped out of the program (as too much for my son, my marriage, our finances) or ended up staying in Toronto alone (with Trillian and Scooter down here, another huge drain on our finances).

Not that I'll be saying all this to my supervisor the next time he makes his remark. I know he'll always think that this move was a bad idea in terms of my studies--and it's his job to focus on that. And I don't think I have the fortitude to suggest that as far as my priorities go, graduate school ranks lower than some other aspects of my life.

(Mostly unrelated, but brought to mind by the issue of priorities: due to a changing of the guard in my department, my committee is now comprised entirely of childless-by-choice professors. Two of them aren't even living with anybody. I'm not looking forward to my annual meeting.)

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