Our lives are series of symbiotic relationships.
Depression has been a constant companion for half my life, a kind of parasite that feeds off low self-esteem and anxiety.
I’ve sought ways to cure the depression beyond the daily doses of my SSRI. The danger is always there of giving in to the medication, of letting it solve everything for you, at least for me. And so I seek solace in other ways: through a friend, a relationship, an addiction.
England has been all three of those for me. Once upon a time when I came to this country, I felt like everything was right. But I grew up and inevitably that relationship between myself and England has changed.
It’s taken me months of living in the UK again to come to terms with the fact that I have changed irrevocably. To take a page from the book in the title: as a girl, I was the child in Silverstein’s classic and England was the tree. England gave me its pieces of history and pop culture like so many apples I pulled from a tree of life. In 2008, I felt like I gave back some of what I got from England. I gave it my joy and my heart and my mornings and afternoons and days. It’s the closest to a reciprocal sort of happiness I’ve ever felt.
This time when I came, I think I’ve asked too much of England. I’ve asked to cut down the tree and build the boat, as if that will solve my problems.
We know how Silverstein’s book ends: the child, now an old man, visits his giving tree only to see a stump. As adults we understand the selfishness of what a child asks, but how can children understand the destruction they will cause? I’m not that old man yet and England is not a stump. It’s altered; there are fewer branches and fewer apples for me. But there may be a day when I come back and there’s nothing left except a gnarled wooden seat in an empty forest, the trials of a life having passed me by.
At that time, I hope I will have the presence of mind to sit and rest.
This week marks another milestone in my master’s program: the last week of classes. One class ended last week with a series of presentations, but for the other 3, this will be the last time I meet in a class setting for my master’s degree. Tomorrow, in particular, is the last time we meet in a core class that everyone in my course is required to take, so it’s like the last hurrah: the last time we all come together to learn.
It’s been over 5 months now, so not only am I almost halfway into the second semester, but I’m also almost halfway through my year-long master’s program here at the University of Manchester.
I haven’t done the best job documenting my time here, preferring to tweet inane comments about the weather, about football, about drinking cheap Pinot Grigio by the bottle. It’s hard for me to believe that by this time in Brighton, I was preparing to leave in a month, whereas in Manchester I still have so much to do.
So, grad school. It’s dominated my life the past few weeks as I’ve scrambled to finish my coursework for the first semester. Now that all my essays are handed in, I’ve had time to reflect on it, and I wanted to share a few thoughts:
They say “start as you mean to go on.” An apt phrase for the start of a new year, but never quite accurate. After all, don’t many of us spend New Year’s Day hungover and eating all manner of bad food? Therefore, I find it best not to attach too much significance to the date. As I said in my last post, I don’t make resolutions. In the past, I’ve thought of the academic year more than the calendar year, and I prefer to use my birthday (31 October) to think of what I’ve “accomplished” in the intervening months.
That’s not to say there isn’t some value to setting a beginning and an end to a year using the traditional calendar year. Even people who have no intention of keeping a New Year’s resolution make them. It can be symbolic, or at least a starting off point. With that in mind, I do plan to do my best to make 2012 a memorable one.
Most of this year will revolve around obtaining my master’s degree, and that is where I’d like to focus this post. Ever since I decided I wanted to study anthropology, I’ve gotten a lot of mixed responses, mostly confused and/or blank expressions. What is anthropology, and why am I studying it?
It’s been almost two months since I wrote in this blog. It’s also just 2 days shy of the 3-month anniversary of my arrival in Manchester. If my life were an hourglass, the grains of sand would be falling faster than the rain that’s been pounding against my window and the pavements this past hellish week of late autumn.
I’ve found it hard to write anything lately, which is why I haven’t written here in so long. I’ve thought of so much to say — about my friends, about my classmates, about football, about my course. I’ve wanted to write about all the minutiae of daily life. I’ve wanted to write about my research, my ideas, my hopes for the future. Yes, I’ve begun to hope again that there is a meaningful future, certainly a miracle. When I felt that I’d be resigned to uncertainty forever, I regained some sense of purpose. I just find it hard to articulate any of it.
I reached my one-month anniversary of arriving in Manchester on Saturday in smashing fashion.
Looking back on the past month, I naturally ask myself where the time has gone. Sometimes I feel like I’ve been here forever, but most of the time I still feel like the new kid. I’m not sure what areas have yet to click into place because it’s, well, not so tangible as that. In some sort of abstract way, I feel like I don’t quite fit… yet.