Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Spring break

I'm not on vacation; I'm on a break.

While many of my classmates have left town, I chose to stay. I picked up some shifts copy editing in the newsroom and have been working ahead on end-of-the-year projects.

Even though this has been a working break, not having classes has allowed me to work half days and spend time hanging out with Claire, getting drinks with friends and taking Leo to the park.

Columbia has had sunny weather in the 80s, and Leo loves to soak in Stephens Lake. Normally, he wades up to his shoulders, faces the breeze and closes his eyes.

Sometimes he walks a little further out, but the moment his front paws can't touch the ground, he reels back.

Today, Claire came with us. She threw sticks toward the middle of the lake. Leo was interested but hesitant.

We encouraged Leo, and he timidly tested a few paddles into the deeper water. Suddenly he was swimming!

He fetched sticks for about 10 minutes and then willingly got out of the water. I usually have to walk out of sight to trick him into stepping out to look for me.

Claire and I walked wet-but-perky Leo home. I have no regrets about staying close.

Monday, March 19, 2012

On call

I've become a firefighter.

Well, that's how I've started to see myself. Only, I wear a bike helmet instead of a hard hat and the fires I put out aren't literal ones.

Graduate school has proved to be one of the busiest times in my life up until now. There are constant deadlines for my courses and my teaching assistantship. I keep schedules several weeks in advance to be sure that I stay on top of the workload. Each night I write out an hour by hour schedule for the following day. 

I've become quite rigid about my plans and I get anxious if I have to break from them. Such strict adherence to my calendar allows me to get things done, but I've worried that it also keeps me from exercising spontaneity — something that was once very important to me.   

Last Friday, I was presented with the perfect opportunity to practice being spontaneous. A friend called needing a ride to the St. Louis airport. He had a family emergency and had to get home right away. Even though my schedule is important, so is being a good friend. I said yes.

I canceled the plan I had made to eat a picnic lunch with another friend. As it turned out, I was lucky to have lunch with me for the ride. 

After picking up my friend, we drove out of Columbia and onto the long straight stretch of I-70 that goes to St. Louis. 

Two hours later, my friend was at the airport in time to catch his flight and I was heading back to Columbia and to my list of tasks that I was supposed to accomplish that day.

I did get some of the tasks crossed off and others I completed on Saturday and Sunday. Though I'd hoped to have Sunday to relax and not think about schoolwork, the unplanned drive to St. Louis gave me the opportunity to practice flexibility and to be there for a friend. 

Today, I'm dreaming about life after graduate school. Will there be fewer fires to put out? I hope so. Fortunately, spring break is a week away and will give me the chance for a few much-needed lazy afternoons. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Grateful for spring

When I woke up this morning, spring had arrived. Just like that. The birds sang. The sun shone. The balmy air smelled damp.

Yesterday, it rained all day, which was irritating but helpful. The semester has picked up. (It's week nine of 16.) So, I used the dreariness as a deterrent from getting out of bed. I spent most of the day curled up under the blankets doing homework. In the early evening, I did pull on my rain pants, boots and coat and took Leo out for a soggy walk. Despite my gear, my face and neck got soaked and poor Leo slunk behind me.

And this morning the world looked different. The grass looked brighter. I took Leo through the neighborhoods, so we could look at blooming flowers. (Well, I looked at them and Leo appreciated them in his way. Let's just say that he saw fit to mark the prettiest ones.)

Another busy week has started, but it all seems more manageable with the promise of sun.

I took my sandals out of storage!

Monday, March 5, 2012

A trip to the zoo

Marisa watches them.
The gorilla stares back.
This is a quick post because it's late and I'm tired. I spent the afternoon in St. Louis with Marisa. It's been one year since Argentina and I wanted to go for a long afternoon walk in commemoration of the many walks on our trip and her upcoming birthday. We found our way to the Saint Louis Zoo and visited Marisa's favorite animals — the primates.