5/15/2006 11:00:00 PM   [ link ]

the Plan.

So what I didn't say before, back when I was floundering and had no Plan was that I wasn't only thinking about quitting grad school. I was actually thinking quite seriously about quitting CS altogether.

It seemed rather dangerous to actually say so out loud.

There was a single moment that led me to question everything: I discovered that the good pianos aren't actually all locked away like they used to be. And as I was sitting there practicing one day, the thought popped into my head that if the practice room were my office, instead of a room with a computer and a chalkboard and a lot of code that I need to write but don't want to write, then I might be a lot happier. And this thought was very compelling to me. I went home and laid my head on Mike's lap and cried that I didn't know what I was doing with my life; that I would play piano all day long if I could; that I had made a horrible mistake in going to grad school. Maybe I should be a piano teacher. I could imagine being a piano teacher, I could see it in my head like it was happening.

Obviously this was irrational thinking. I was overreacting. But still, everything was different after I had had those thoughts, and for weeks I floundered and wailed to everyone I knew. I needed to change something, but everything was laid out in front of me like a maze, and all the paths looked the same.

Should I stay in the doctoral program? Maybe I would be happier if I just stuck with it for a while and got through the current project and chose something more interesting? (Or maybe it would still be just as bad.)

Maybe I should just quit altogether and go to music school? (Or maybe if I was actually expected to play the piano all the time I would get burned out on that just as much.)

Maybe I should get a job in the real world and play piano on the side? Maybe I should get a job just for the summer and see how I like it? Maybe that would give me a sense of perspective and I'd want to return to the doctoral program. (Or maybe I'd still have no idea.)

Ooh, I know, maybe I should get an entirely unrelated job -- like be a waitress for the summer and see if that cures my burnout?

Maybe I should listen to this email I just got from Amy Sia and go to Boston... for a while? Forever? (But Mike would hate Boston! (But then again, that's nothing to base a decision off of, if I think I might like the job...))

Maybe maybe maybe maybe maybe. "Maybe" doesn't even look like a real word anymore, if you type it too many times in a row.

I was flailing around, and all my choices seemed the same, and there were too many what-ifs. I talked to my advisor and I started researching music schools. I brushed up my resume and looked up my former piano teacher (she just wrote a book). And I kept playing piano all the time.

And then... I'm not really sure what happened. I think I understand better now why some people believe that their path in life is chosen by God. Because all I did was whine and flail for several weeks, and then suddenly one of those paths in the maze seemed just a little bit shinier. I don't feel like I answered any of the what-ifs, but one of the paths started to sparkle just a little bit, anyway.

I can't be a piano teacher without more education. I don't want to close the door on teaching piano. Therefore, I will go to music school. Put that way, it seems simple.

I will visit Marilyn and watch her teach.
I will ask her to help me research music schools.
I will get a CS job for now.
I will practice piano and study theory and music history.
I will apply to music school for Fall '07.
I will spend 2 years focusing on music.
But I will keep up my CS skills while I am there.
When I am done, I will have music teaching experience and CS job experience.
I will find the right balance between the two.

I am confident that I can find it.