One of the resolutions I made upon beginning graduate school was that I would not, under any circumstances, allow schoolwork and due dates and stress to make me batty, which is what happened when I was in college.
I would like to give you a brief update to tell you that it is not completely working, but it is not quite at undergraduate levels of craze either. For example, under pressure of due dates from professors whose expectations, when my entire stove and oven stopped working this weekend, I somewhat lost it. When a container of soap fell in the sink, splashing yucky soapy dishwater onto the cookies I was about to eat, I nearly burst into tears.
At that point I had the presence of mind to get out of the house! Lately, I have been taking very long walks.
Now that I'm looking at a five-day forecast of 50's and Partly Cloudy, it all seems a fading distant memory, but last week and many of the weeks before that, Portland was dark and gloomy. It was also cold, colder than April in Portland is supposed to be. One day even set a record for lowest high temperature, something like 47 degrees. Instead of mist and sprinkles, we had storms, downpours, and hail. It kept me indoors.
On Friday, it was still dark and downpouring, but I decided I could take no more. I needed to get out of the house. I packed a bag with my laptop, its charger, my textbooks, and my Nook, and I put on my waterproof boots and my bright red rain jacket. I put my hair into a tightly-wound configuration of twists stapled into place with dozens of bobby pins of varying sizes, so that nothing would escape save some rainy-day fuzz. I gave up any notions of dressing fashionably; I did not care if my waterproof boots made my feet look big or anything of that sort. And then I went out into the rain, to the post office to mail my taxes and after that, to a neighborhood coffeehouse to do homework.
When I got to the first coffeehouse, I wasn't ready to stop walking. I kept going, with the pretense of trying a new place I'd read about. But when I got there, I still wasn't ready to stop. I felt insecure - what if this wasn't the kind of place where you could sit by yourself and do work? It looked like it might be more of a sit-down-and-eat-lunch-with-a-friend place. And I wasn't ready to stop.
Three miles later, I found myself at a familiar, comfortable coffeehouse with Stumptown for under $2, one free refill, power strips for laptops, and plenty of tables. Three miles later, my legs were finally ready to take a break. And then I walked another half mile or so to a friend's house to get a ride home.
The next day, I went for another three mile walk. Fortunately, it wasn't raining anymore. It's like an addiction; I can't stop! It's like I can't settle for quick little walks to the library, because I have spent too much of this rainy April cooped up inside and now all I want to do is speed walk and explore the neighborhoods of Portland. I think next week I'll take my walking over to the West side!