Guest Blogs

“Back at School — and Back in Limbo”

The whirl of grad school leaves me too busy to think about daily life…but my racing ADHD mind still finds time to wonder what’s up with my new long-distance boyfriend.

I’ve been able to exhale (however briefly) from my Ph.D. program’s Everest of readings and paper assignments. My classmates are surprisingly around my vintage, married with kids, and I wonder how they do it. How are they able to juggle assignments, tests, readings, work, spouse, and kids while getting the oil changed, the groceries purchased, the cat fed, getting sleep and still remaining sane?

They all seem very normal, even pleasant. How do they do it? None of them exhibit any signs of being ADHD. Lucky them. I want so much to have a sense of stability and normalcy. I look at their lives in envy. Now why can’t I just have a bit of…?

Their obligations seem so much greater than mine, which makes it all the more embarrassing that I’m doing all the juggling quite poorly. Since leaving the cushy world of living with the grandmother and the domestic helper, I’ve been left to cook, clean, and grocery shop, along with dealing with the new life of a graduate student. That juggle feels like a nightmare on many days. I run around like a chicken with its head cut off attempting to boil pasta, check the laundry in the washing machine, chop up celery for lunch the next day, answer the gazillion emails, and also read up on what’s happening in the world. What is happening in the world? Shrug.

And there is something new on the radar screen: the boyfriend, who has been a boyfriend since last February. This is a new sort of relationship for me — I’ve known the guy for almost a decade, first as colleagues and then as friends. We’ve never lived together or been together in the same city. So far he’s been taking mini trips — say, one or two days — to fly to see me. At a distance we connect briefly with Skype, Google Hangouts, and Facebook. (My love/hate relationship with Facebook continues.)

The uncertainty of the future looms greatly over my work, relationship, study, and finances, the latter being the question of how I can live like a poor grad student for three years. The doctorate program and my personal life might in fact never bear any fruit; there are no concrete signs of stability in sight. And just as things seem to be advancing and taking off, it all seems to retreat into darkness again.

This has been the summary of my life over the past few months, the what-next, the what-if? I tell the boyfriend that I wish we would get engaged and married, and since his own life is in limbo there is only silence – the kind of stony silence that makes me wonder where this (and life overall) is all headed. I feel like I am on one of those crazy open-water swims where the course seemed so clear the day before, but now it’s all foggy and blurry again.