Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Mushy Brain

It's been a long time since I've been in an academic class. Or to a lecture. Or in any kind of environment in which my brain would be regularly massaged.  I spend a lot of time playing with cars and legos, drawing pictures of airports and racetracks, planning soccer practice drills and playing tee-ball in the yard. I do a lot of data entry with my job, a lot of meal planning and implementing for my family.  I laugh a lot.  But there are days my brain feels like mush.

I loved school. I really did. Unashamedly. I was that person who looked forward to final exams because it meant that life slowed down around me and all I had to do was study for hours and hours a day. Lock myself in the basement of the library with a lug-a-mug of hot chocolate mixed with coffee and just study. Learn. Think. Cram my head full of interesting (and sometimes not-so-interesting but nonetheless necessary) facts.  I can still tell you the names of most of the classes I took in college because I actually enjoyed them. I really did. And not in that "oh I'm so privileged to have an education so I should appreciate it and work hard" kind of way. I was a nerd in the nicest sense.

For over 10 years now I have not been a student. I've taken a few summer seminary classes, as well as a few forays into the creative arts with a hip-hop dance class and oil painting(The hip hop class alone is probably worthy of several blog posts).  There are days, though, that I just miss being a student. Days when I go to the library to work on documents for my job and stare jealously at the person across my big table who is clearly studying a textbook. I'm sure I've become the "creepy" girl at the local library by now.

Tonight a friend invited me to attend a local event. A lecture on Race and Children's perspectives at a local eatery, a program affectionately(and nerdily) known as Periodic Tables.  Halfway through the day I was partially trying to find a valid excuse not to go. Not because I wasn't interested in the topic, but because I've become accustomed to being in my pajamas by 8pm most nights curled up on the sofa with my dog and a good book. And occasionally my husband.  But as I was hemming and hawing and generally feeling like a fuddy-duddy, I suddenly realized that I could not remember the last time I had done something like this. When I had gone into an environment that might actually challenge my brain a little. When I'd hung out with only adults outside my home.  And I realized if I didn't get out and do this, I was definitely in danger of brain atrophy.

So, my friend and I ventured out in the rain. She 39 weeks pregnant, me tired and grumpy from a week with a sick child and too many pretend car races to count.  And it was fantastic. We talked, we laughed. We listened to an intelligent adult human being with a PhD talk about race and perceptions among children and what we as parents can do to be proactive in building a healthy understanding of race in our kids as well as fostering open communication about it in our homes. It was challenging, it was entertaining and it made me yearn for more.  It made me yearn, as I often do these days, to be a student again.

Some days I do wonder if this growing desire to be back behind a desk is just my typical boredom or if it's really the Lord starting to move me towards a change.  I've been working with the same amazing organization for 10 years now. And I love it. But sometimes I'm not so sure that I'm staying with it for all the right reasons.  I've never been a particularly fearful person, but it's no small thing to end a career with a company you trust, colleagues you love and a cause for which you are passionate.  Taking a plunge somewhere else would be a huge change. And being in the middle of the adoption process doesn't make taking that plunge any easier as I am busy plunging in other ways.

Whether I move slowly towards the decision to go back to school or not, I do know this. I'm going back next month to hear another lecture. Second Tuesdays of the month, here I come.  Mushy brain beware.


  1. 1) I literally stopped when I read "lug-a-mug" and had a majorly nostalgic moment, even though I don't think I ever used mine. Yay for the University of Richmond's D-Hall.
    2) I love that you made a choice to put forth some effort to learn about a topic that you already know a lot about yet want to know more.
    3) You're so dang cool, Carolyn!

  2. I want to go to a lecture like that! Where do I find them?

  3. Michelle, check and see if any of the science museums in Charlotte host anything like this! The Durham Museum of Life and Science hosts this.