Revised philosophy: when life gives you lemons, make shandy. Relaxation and a social life is just as important as industriously rearranging things to Work Again, and so after our first dance concert last night (went great!) I went to the local Irish pub with Bryce and Kyler and laughed and quaffed hard cider (gluten-free!) and split a giant round of chips with cheese and salsa and all sorts of yummy stuff (gluten-free! I still have to dance today) and talked about plans for the spring term and dancing and the soccer game that was on TV and where one might be able to purchase a kilt. The guys dropped me off at my place afterwards and I remember stumbling into bed thinking wait, this is what it's like to be a normal student, to go out with buddies and actually hear them talking at the bar, to look forward to tomorrow's post-production party without dread that you'll be left out of the conversation, to have breathing room for a life outside of schoolwork, to be able to laugh and cheer and be happy and sad and have feelings alongside many people...

In other words, I'm a human! Yay! (Yay? The fullness of being in the world can be a real clobbering sometimes, and I'm experiencing that too.)

The last two weeks have been preeeeeeeetty damn good tests of my ability to turn everything into an opportunity. When I say "my," I actually mean a collective "we" -- the network and support structures of family and friends and students, teachers, mentors, and advisors that I'm very lucky to have. I'm hanging in there, though. The changes this has wrought in the work-and-study front may start to trickle onto this blog over the next few weeks and months; I'm not sure what will happen yet, but I'm going to have a very, very interesting PhD adventure. (How's the weather in Zambia in May? I need to renew my passport anyway...)

Last night I even nearly stabbed my eyeballs with a pencil! That is to say, I applied my own eyeliner -- and all the stage makeup, for that matter. (Amy later suggested using a stiff, small angled brush and dark eyeshadow for the same effect with less ouchie.) You can bet that after tonight's concert I'm going to have at it with the cold cream, and the next time I'm likely to wear makeup is the XWorks dance concert in March, thank goodness.

I may, however, reinstate my Working War Stripes. My first year of college featured a fair number of take-home math and physics exams, and I could not for the life of me do them in a quiet room, so I was working in the hallways and lounges and other public spaces with people and noise, and had to run and do pushups and situps before and during and after to stay on track. (One wonders what took so long for my ADHD diagnosis.) Because "ask Mel for homework help!" was also a popular college activity, I used to paint war stripes on my face (red for physics, black for math) to indicate to others that I was taking the exam, and also to get myself in/out of the mood as a sort of transition ritual. (If I got distracted and wandered off, other people would look at me and go "you... um... stripes, face...?" and I'd go "AH YES!" and scurry back to my exam.)

Okay, maybe the Working War Stripes work best for more intense periods of focus, but for normal periods of daily work, I could wear a hat or something. Which reminds me that I need a haircut as soon as this dance concert is over.

Last night I did in fact ship my Design reflection (so I'm done with that class, and only Dance and Hearing Aids remain!) and my goal this morning is to finish at least 3 out of 9 things on my courses to-do list. I also made it into the audiology lab and worked the programming software for my hearing aids for the first time, sort of. It's a "sort of" because my hearing aids weren't hooked up so I didn't make any changes to my actual programs, but I was getting screenshots for the features I'm writing about in my paper... and along the way, I found some settings that I want to change on mine.

For instance, my frequency lowering start point is currently at 3.1kHz, which is silly because I've got something like 100-120dB of loss at that point -- it's a cochlear dead region. I want to see what happens when we pull that down to 1.5kHz, the lowest possible setting. Yeah, I've got ~80dB loss there, but that's a little better. Also, the fancy features for feedback and wind noise suppression are off, and I'm curious about switching them on. And there's a way I can get my microphones to have side directionality, and...

Holy cow. Okay. Reading over this post, I'm incredibly distractomel this morning and I need to go and get my Ritalin and get ready for my meeting with Sally (I shall write about coaching once my coursework for this term is done!) and set up to crank on my remaining papers and exam revisions. Almost done. Almost done. By Tuesday I will be finished with the term. Hang in there, Mel. The hard is what makes it good.