Tuesday, April 5, 2011

TWD: Pecan Powder Puffs


Oh hai. Yeah. I must admit, I'm not incredibly sure how to go about this, my first post in a number of weeks. Especially since when I wrote my last post, I was positive it wasn't going to be a "goodbye for now" so much as a "see ya later, or more likely never again." I even went three weeks without baking, which has to be a record (except for last summer when I was stranded, oven-less). Those weeks leading up to my last post as well as the intervening weeks have been rough. I can't lie about that. It takes a lot to get me out of the kitchen, off the internet, away from the other flour-obsessed crazies (so titled with all the affection in my heart). But it happened.

 
You see, for most of this year I've been more than a little bit depressed. And in general, my solution has been a combination of two things: running and baking. But that solution just wasn't working. I was having crying jags in the middle of stores, hours of unprovoked sobbing at home while J sat helplessly, days when I nearly didn't make it out of bed. I almost left my program here at UNC, which, since I had dropped everything to start it, was not a very good sign. Graduate school has been a wee bit isolating, thanks to the dearth of other married folk (or people who aren't scared of married folk) or people who had worked prior to going to graduate school. There are social complications because of those two facts, which aren't important to get into specifically.

 
Not only that, there are times when I wonder if this degree will be all it's cracked up to be. The question of type of job versus job field has come up multiple times. You see, I love environmental chemistry. I geek out on organic chemistry, particulate matter, and climate change science. But I also adore fast-paced, highly structured, people-oriented jobs. It's what I loved about my job in Wisconsin - I got to interact with so many people, there were new challenges every day, and new goals or projects around every corner. How do I know that I'll get that when I join the environmental job market? And - the big one - which matters more, the field or the job type? Needless to say, these are big, big questions. Around the time that I bid a short goodbye, I was nearly convinced that I was going to leave my program. The program I had moved halfway across the country for, the one for which J had picked up and moved without a single job prospect.

 
So this blog? The baking? The photos and the writing? Those weren't a high priority. Priorities were heart-to-hearts with my mom, frank discussions with my advisor, and cry fests with J. And thank goodness for all three of them. My mom, who listened even when she couldn't understand what I was saying through the tears, my advisor, who patiently talked me through my waffling back and forth on accelerating the program into 1.5 years instead of 2, and J, who was there, forcing me to, if nothing else, go on walks for the fresh air. Because there were definitely times when just getting out of bed was difficult enough.

 
What does that have to do with cookies? Oh, very little, except that I forgot to buy ice cream for the coffee ice cream tart. I did bake everything that had been chosen up until these cookies, but taking pictures just wasn't going to happen. The coffee ice cream tart will happen eventually though, given my love of coffee in all its forms. But the cookies were a welcome back to my kitchen. And a promise that things get better.

A bit ago: Chocolate Pots de Creme
Next week: Strawberry-Rhubarb Double Crisp (hoping to find rhubarb, but it feels a bit early still)

17 comments:

Tia said...

Thank you for sharing a bit about yourself with us... I wish you all the best in these tough decisions. I'm glad you could bake along with me and my TWD pick. I hope the cookies helped a little :)
take care, good luck with everything hon.

natalia said...

Ciao Caitlin,I wish I was closer to hug you!baci

Y said...

I think to a certain extent we can all relate to what you're going through. Everyone experiences uncertainties about what they're doing. Whether or not you're making the right choices, who can tell. Everything always looks brighter in hindsight. It seems to me as though this is a path you need to go down. It's not two years lost if it ends up being nothing you want to pursue further. It's two years gained, being just that little bit wiser!

Jessica said...

C, this was a brave post to write, and I'm really impressed. I know everyone's experience's are different, but if it should help you at all, I identify with a lot of your frustrations with adjusting to life in a graduate program. I worked before I went back to school, and I wasn't married but in a serious relationship. It's true that a few extra years and a significant other can isolate you in the world of advanced degrees. Not to mention that there's a fair amount of competition and it seems many times it's difficult to figure out who's sincere and who might be using you. The hardest lesson I had to learn was that I'd best watch my back because no one else was going to watch it for me. Thank goodness you have J and your mom and a good advisor. Keep your chin up and follow your heart. They're such cliches but I think they help.

And, in the meantime, I'm glad you're finding solace in the flour obsessed crazies again -- even if it's just periodically. I think the cookies look comforting (and I haven't made the coffee tart yet either!) and lovely.

Jules Someone said...

Welcome back to the fold! You can come cry on our flour covered shoulders any time. Though, we're just as happy to share our sugar-high hugs with you. I'm glad you have such wonderful support. There will be light (and cookies!) at the end of the tunnel. Hugs!

Nicole said...

Thanks for sharing...we all care a lot about you and you need to do what is best. I've been down too and it manifests in different ways. I've been doing more baking but not eating what I bake which makes it hard to blog about it.

Take care of yourself and I'll look forward to your posts if it feels right to post.

cindy said...

I'm so sorry life is difficult for the moment. I have 6 grown children and have so often been a shoulder to cry on. Nothing hurts a parent more than watching their children hurt. I came close to catching the first flight to WA yesterday. My daughters baby has RSV and I could tell she was having a more than rough day. But I talked to her several times, encouraged her and prayed for her!
Today is a better day.

Hang in there, you have a great support system. And many TWD friends that care about you.

Jennifurla said...

Many hugs to you, such big life changing things going on. I wish you clarity!

Kayte said...

Oh, these look wonderful, and just the thing to lift one's spirits a bit. Melt in your mouth goodness. That said, here's one for you: the entire month after I got married I cried every single day. I loved Mark, I loved my life, but for some strange reason, I was in tears all the time...have no idea what that was about...none to this day. He was totally confused. Poor guy. Then it just stopped, and I have no idea about that either. We've been married for 32 years, so we just laugh when we think back on that time, but it was no laughing matter at the time. Hugs for you...and for J!!!

Carla said...

Caitlin, I too am going through a depression. I moved to a new town all alone 2 hrs away. Been here 9 months. Thought I was making friends at work until Friday when they forgot to get me for someones surprise party at lunch. I couldn't stop crying all weekend. And since this is my first real job since graduating I question every day is this what I want?

Point of this is to let you know you aren't alone in feeling this way. Maybe our situations are different but the emotions are the same. "when you're lost and alone in life, you have to always know that stars shine in a dark night sky."

Tracey said...

I'm so glad to see you back Caitlin, and so glad you had the courage to write this post. I've been there... In fact, maybe I still am. Trying to figure out which path to choose is never easy, and it sounds like you're very lucky to have your mom & J to help you along the way. Sending you lots of hugs!

Cookies make everything better, and yours look wonderful :)

Jen said...

Thanks for sharing. You have a great support system. Hang in there, we miss you but understand you have to do what's best for you.

Judy said...

Glad to have you back, Caitlin. Growing up is a difficult path sometimes. We've all had those moments (sometimes we still do, no matter the age!). We're always here for you any time you need us. Happy baking therapy!

Meghan said...

Hi there, I've been a reader for a while. I'm a geotechnical engineer in boston, about your age and married too.

Anyway, I spent the first ENTIRE year of grad school second guessing my decision. It gets better the second year, there's light at the end of the tunnel!

Avanika [YumsiliciousBakes] said...

Glad to see you back. Sure hope things get better for you.

Rigby said...

Good to have you back--I missed your posts.

shaz said...

Welcome back Caitlin. I'm a bit of a lurker and don't really comment all too often, but so glad to read you're feeling better. And baking again.