I’m at school early this morning because I carpooled with Free, who was going to the ceremony for the kids’ first day of Waldorf school.  First grade and fourth grade — they’ve been homeschooled all their lives!  They’re both looking forward to it…

To balance the last post, I have to say that the one piece of grad school that I’m loving is teaching.  I’m a TA for SOC 101, and I get to lead three discussion sections of 20 students each.  I get to ask the questions I want them to consider, and so far, they actually answer!  I get to say “These are the institutions that have shaped your perception of the world, and this is your opportunity to examine their messages and CHOOSE if you want to continue to view the world through their filters.”  And they look, wide-eyed, back at me and nod slightly (or is that just my imagination?).  We were talking last week about the different institutions through which “society” determines the scope of our agency to act, and when they said “education,” I said “Here I am, enculturating you right now!”

I feel like I’m on the right path when I’m in a room with 20 students talking about culture.  I feel like I’m on a “less right” path when I’m sitting in my office for hours reading about research design and worrying if my office-mates are offended by my smell (I shower almost every day, and I’m adverse to masking my natural “human” smell because social norms tell me it’s not okay.  I’m CLEANER than the people who smear chemicals in their armpits everyday!  These are the things I tell myself when I get paranoid that the people in my office think I stink).  The one compromise I’ve made in the body smell department is to wear deoderant (Tom’s of Maine, of course) on Thursdays, the day I teach.  In the small cramped discussion rooms, I want my students to focus on what I’m saying, not on how I smell.  I thought about bringing it up in class, just acknowledging my reasons for not wearing deoderant, but I think it’s still a bit early in the semester for that deconstruction.  I’m sure it will come out eventually!  I’ve thought about researching and writing a paper on “the social construction of stink.”  I’ll keep you updated…

The main thing I think I need to remember is to not take any of this too seriously.  Find a gentle balance.  Enjoy myself, pursue my interests, and spend time with my partner and family.  We went hiking in the mountains this weekend, and though I had moments of guilt for the reading I needed to do and the papers I needed to grade, I was able to let it go and appreciate the grand beauty of the Shenandoahs.   Swimming naked at the base of a waterfall after a long hike puts grad school in a different perspective.

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