Jonesing (Or Mental Exam Prep, Part 1 of 3)

As a kind of double-check on this whole crazy licensing project, I sat down last night and interrogated myself on the topic of motivation. Why do I want to spend the next 7 or 8 months memorizing facts, reading contracts, and generally avoiding society? ‘Cause if it’s about hiding out, that’s not good. And if it’s about distraction, that’s not good, either. And even if it’s about accomplishment, that’s still not enough.

So I thought about the things I’m jonesing for now, really longing for. The things that make me happiest, not just for a bit—while I am jonesing for a coffee milkshake at the moment, that wouldn’t be worth months of work. I have a really strong desire to work on a bunch of projects that I’ll have to set aside to get this done, so I have to know it’s worth it. But abstractions like ‘joy’ or ‘fulfillment’ aren’t that useful either—there are a million roads to joy.

The things I want aren’t that different from what a lot of people want, but they aren’t the same exact things, either. I don’t need a lot of structure in my life (I can build my own, thank you very much), for example. But let’s see how the test project stacks up against my desire index:

– One big thing I am really jonesing for lately is connection. I feel very disconnected from the world, and I’m a bit worried that this big solo project is going to exacerbate that. So chalk that up in the ‘sacrifices’ column, and in the mean time I’ll probably be using a lot of electronic connection substitutes (hello, Facebook, Flickr, and, yes, even this blog) to mitigate the isolation. And expect a full-on social tornado when it’s all over. And some smaller dust devils when I need a break, or just a little emotional sustenance. And I can’t forget that there are some sweet little kittens at home to keep me company and sit on my notes, I mean help me study.

+ The flip side of that, though, is independence. And man, I need me some independence. I always have, and I’m sure I always will. I need creative independence, I need personal independence, and I need financial independence. Eventually I want to have my own office, and this is a critical step on that road. And the medium-term project of finding a more remunerative job will be greatly helped by getting my license in order. While focusing on the testing means I won’t have the bandwidth to job hunt until it’s over, that hunt will be a lot more successful if I can show my fancy stamp. More money = more possibilities and a shorter timeline to independence.

+ I also need a lot of input—if I’m not learning new things I go a little mentally stir crazy. An MArch (that’s pronounced em-arc, by the way) is a terminal degree, so now I have to teach myself things. And boy howdy am I gonna teach myself a lot of things in the next few months. I’m probably going to crave more visual and aural input, though, since AREs are a solid diet of words and really, really ugly drafted drawings, so I’m going to have to include some art+music in the Treats & Breaks schedule.

+ Influence and respect are things I’ve wanted more of, too. Switching careers at an age as advanced as mine is a bitch for that, and I’m going to have to give up opportunities for short-term applause (no time to win competitions, give talks, or be on the teevee right now) to get this thing done. But having this under my belt will enable the independence down the road that I need to dream up the projects that will gain me influence and respect. So short term loss, but long term gain. This is a tough one, though—I wish I could skip ahead just a bit here, but if nothing else I will give myself some big props for getting through this project.

+ I am both terrible at focusing and way too good at it. I tend to not let myself focus too much, because when I do I let everything else slide—bills, friends, basic nutrition. I will stay up all night, I will burn my dinner, and I will seriously neglect the housekeeping when I am engaged in a compelling project, or even just reading a good book. But I love that immersion! Architecture grad school if anything intensified my focus addiction, because dropping everything (including sleep) was the only way to make it through. And while I don’t want to dive in quite that deeply for nearly that long (four years is a long time to neglect your life), I’ve got my scuba gear ready and I’m excited for a medium-term mid-level dive. It’s going to be hard to give up all the other great projects I’d like to be working on, but it’s going to be good to feed that focus addiction.

So the yeas have it!

One other sort of ancillary jones I’ve had for a long time has been to have a better home base. I haven’t had a lot of time or money to either explore my changing neighborhood more or to make my apartment nicer, which is going to be critical if I’m going to put a lot of hours in studying there. Well, I still don’t have a ton of either time or money, but I’m going to try to get creative with cheap ways to make my home a nicer place to hang out—I mean study—and I’m sure the Kitten Sisters will help me out with that. Suggestions are always welcome.

Right now, though, I think I’ll go get a coffee milkshake.



This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 13th, 2010 and is filed under architecture. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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