“What we play is life.” – Louis Armstrong

My semester is over which means I’ve made it through the first year of this program. Some quick notes about that:

I am confident that in the past year I’ve learned just as much as I did in the combined seven years of my undergrad and previous Master’s (yes, I took a victory lap for my undergrad years). I know this is improbable, but I’ve certainly lit up some synapses this year. This past week one of my final exams included a mock defense of our prospecti, and the biggest realization afterwards was that the depth of the five-hour conversation we had never would have happened a year ago. It brought me back to day one of our first seminar, where we were all frantically googling to define the words out of our professors’ mouth. I know it seems like a silly measuring tool, but this school has a way of making its students proud to be here, and I’ve certainly fallen into that category.

So, now it’s summer which means four months “off’ (I use that word loosely). Yesterday I sat down in an attempt to create summer goals, and then chastised myself for being too structured about it (I had planned my days hour-by-hour), and threw out the plan. This summer needs to be about transitioning from a full-time grad student (as my main identifying characteristic) to a full-time human, while grasping on to the discipline I’ve maintained throughout the year.

So then, the question I’m left to struggle with is, “how do I transition to a full-time human?” I think rather than limiting myself by creating structure around these four months, it will be about unblocking spirituality, creativity, “healthfulness”, and playfulness. I can write about this until I’m blue, but this is something easier achieved through practice than theory. It’s about clearing pathways.

My dogs have been less stressed, my house is already cleaner, and my colossal summer reading pile is stacked up on a table. I can finally unleash some of these internal directives and focus on the projects I’ve had up my sleeve. Aside from my thesis project, I have inherited a NOLA opera archive project which deserves some attention. I need to create a program website, and continue work on my NOLA Brass website. I’m going to explore literature on Andalusia, because my internal directive toward it has been strong for months now. I want to learn to paint, and resume my adventures in creative writing. I’m going to yank my instruments out of their cases, and play them until something enjoyable comes out.

Ideally, the above will be accomplished between short road trips, festivals, and other amusing misadventures. Today’s goals include a continuation of my “spring” cleaning, playing with the dogs, some yoga, spending a few hours with something off of the reading table, and making something scrumptiously edible for my partner when she comes home from work. With that, cheers to the beginning of summer and the rediscovery of my playful, mischievous, healthful, and spiritual autonomy.

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