Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Zu Ende

Ed and I began dating in May of 2007. Last night, we broke up.

It's been an interesting and mostly great three years, but I won't get into all of that now. Why did we break up? Well, I keep thinking that it's a long and complicated story, but I think that really it is a short and simple one.

My relationship with Ed has always required high inputs of energy. It has been a high-drama, high-maintenance relationship, which has mostly suited me well.

But grad school takes up all of my energy. It's not that I don't have time left over for talking or hanging out or whatever, but I don't have mental energy and space left for being an extremely involved partner. I was thinking about this last night, and what I think is, I could only be a really involved partner to someone new (where you have that crazy "new relationship energy") and, if that happened, I would probably fail my classes, because I really can't do those two things at the same time. Maybe if it were someone more studious than I am and also in grad school, then it would work out, but otherwise, I don't see how it could. (I am certainly not looking.)

Ed tried to deal with my benign neglect as best he could, but it made him increasingly hurt and angry. This came up a week or so ago in a big way and we made some changes to try to resolve it, but I think the changes were too little, too late, and last night he decided to call it quits.

It wasn't a big surprise. I had felt (and said, a few days ago) that I thought our breaking up might be inevitable. There was a lot that I valued in the relationship - so much that I couldn't decide to break up with him myself - but there was no more that I could do to fix things, I didn't think. I decided to proceed as though the relationship would continue in the best possible way and let the chips fall where they might. And this is where they fell.

We are still friends. I consider it nobody's fault that the romantic part of the relationship is over. (I started to say that it was nobody's fault that it "didn't work out," but it did work out, very much so, and the fact that it was of limited duration doesn't change that.) I don't think either of us is moving out of our shared apartment anytime soon, so we will have to get through this awkward stage of being newly broken up. I think we will.

Thanks for three and a half great years, Ed.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Small Revelation about Time Management

Grad school life has been pretty great for me so far, but the major thing that I struggle with is getting work done. I don't usually have an actually overwhelming amount of work to do, but I waste a large number of hours each week procrastinating or trying to start working, when if I just worked I would have more free time to do things like read.

I have, however, realized one thing that has made a big difference over the past few weeks, and that is that I really hate doing things at the last minute. When it's "do or die" and you will stay up all night to finish something due the next morning, it feels like some giant metal rod is pressing against you. Sometimes the thought of doing the work is intolerable but, of course, not doing it at all is unthinkable.

The "correct" way to avoid this is to do the work ahead of time, but I sometimes struggle with that. My revelation is that just moving that "last minute" point up by a day has a huge impact. So my current strategy is staying up all night the night before the night before something is due, rather than just the night before.

You would think it wouldn't matter or help. Staying up all night is staying up all night, right? (I've not literally had to stay up all night yet; I'm using the term loosely.) But it actually makes an enormous difference to me. I have that "I am not going to bed until I [more or less] finish this" urgency to keep me going, but without the horrible iron bar feeling. Instead, I have the virtuous and enjoyable feeling of kicking ass by getting something done early. Also, once I get to the point where I have only a little bit left to do, I can leave off and finish up the next day with minimal stress.

It's sort of exciting to have a working, specific strategy to avoid being crushed by things at the last minute.

Thursday, November 04, 2010


Just a story I enjoyed...

When my real analysis professor was a graduate student, he had a Number Theory professor who made the homework sets available by leaving copies at local copy shops, where you would go and pay for them to make a copy of the problem set for you. One time, the week before an exam, the professor hadn't left any problem sets, so my now-professor and his pals typed up a page of unsolved problems in the field and left them for the other students.