Friday, January 30, 2009

A New Place to People Watch...

I haven't been running for three weeks. I think that is a record. In fact, in the past five weeks I've been out only once. I did it to myself, of course--I pushed an injury too far. Fear not! All is not lost. I have been doing my swimming and biking duty and the nearby community rec center. This morning as I kickboarded my way up the lane I got a good look at some of the people sharing the pool with me and decided that rec centers are much better places to exercise.

First, the fellow at the front desk knows my name, and not because he wants a date. He probably has several grandchildren. But Dan (I finally asked his) is excited to see my and says, "Good morning Rachel" every day. And at 6:30 on a dark, cold January morning hearing my name means a lot. Especially since he may be the only person I talk to until 5 pm that evening.

Furthermore, the gym-rat crowd is missing. Instead, there are moms, dads, and a lot of retired folks there. It is nice to feel like a normal person instead of the biggest wimp at the place. In fact, sometimes I feel downright Olympic compared to others there. It's nice to lift weights after a 90 year-old great-grandmother. It's probably the only time I'll ever get to move the weight machine to more weight after someone else has used it. It's nice to sweat alongside real people.

I watch the people in the pool around me. There's the fellow in his late sixties that kick boards very slowly up and down the lap lane--for at least half an hour. A lifeguard warned me not to share a lane with him, he's grumpy. There are the ladies there for water aerobics with their goofy music and goofier moves. On Saturday morning a man in his 40s teaches and the entire pool is filled with women. Then there are the older ladies who are appear just to be hanging out in the deep end suspended by floaties just talking to their friends for the morning. They never seem to do anything. There is a lady doing some sort of water exercise who wears her hair in a snood! A small group also does laps in some sort of gentle river in the middle of the pool. My favourite is the couple where the husband walks backwards and the wife forwards so that they can face each other and talk. I guess after 50 years they still have plenty to say. Most everyone eventually cycles through the hot tub and chats there. Usually the on-duty lifeguard is hanging out with his feet in the water as well.

Really, could you ask for better company than these new friends?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

After a nice, long break.

Over the past six months I haven't felt very excited about this continuing road of education that I'm on. That's not just because it is still continuuing when everyone else has stopped. I've struggled with my plans, department politics, U of U's lack of funding and organization, etc. etc. But today things are different. I am thrilled to be here doing this. My friends are in offices with bosses and I am in a cushy chair by a window at the library reading an article titled "Demography, Feminism, and the Social-Science Policy Nexus". I mean really, who is so lucky that they get to stay in school 7.5 years with more to go? I have been dreading studying for this giant exam, but it isn't as bad as I have feared. Sometimes just starting is the hard part.

I love that I'm my own boss. I decide my schedule every day. Which means that I take walking breaks, eat lunch whenever I get hungry, and can pick any location across this big city to do my work. I really do like learning new things. Being a repository for social facts isn't particularly helpful in the social scene, but the daily push is a good feeling. I like that I can still come home each day and say, "Guess what I learned today?" I really love that I can where whatever I want each day. In other words, no heels and hose for me. Blue jeans and sneakers.

Sometimes I am sick of being poor. I get tired of still doing homework at night. I'd love good health insurance. Still wish I knew what would happen when this ends (assuming I pass that big exam). But I am all too aware that I am one of the very lucky few who get an education. Not just a minimal amount, but as much as one can possibly obtain. I study society and I know that if I was a woman born in a different time period, of a different race, to a different culture, to a different socioeconomic position none of what I do would be possible. That makes me even luckier, even more blessed. It's a good, new year.

So excuse me, because I still need to read "Historical Demography: Achievements and Prospects" and "Demography: Past, Present, and Future" before I can go home.