I resolved my first-week dilemma by settling on four classes and keeping my job. I think this was the right thing to do, and, so far, I haven't had too much trouble making time for all of my school work and my work work. If it turns out that I do, partway through the semester (that is, when I start having to write papers and such), I'll quit my job then, but right now, it seems like it'll be okay.
The classes I'm taking are two required classes:
Quantitative Reasoning, which is not all that interesting to me, but it's important, and we're learning to use SPSS, which is likely to be useful, too. This class touches on a lot of stuff I already know, because it's what I do in my job, and a lot of it is the stuff about my job that I find less interesting, so you can imagine how that extends to this class.
Reflections on Public Policy, which is for the people in the MPP degree program. At first, i thought I was going to find this class frustrating, because we started out with heavy theory readings and the first discussion was all about people going, "Wait! This is all theory! We don't want theory!" while I actually do want theory. Subsequent classes have been better, though, and, in fact, these are among my favorite discussions. Everyone in this degree program has been out of school and working for at least 7 years, so everyone has a lot of experience and practical knowledge that makes for some great conversations. This is a half credit course, which means we only meet for 75 minutes a week; I wish we had a full 2 1/2 hours and tha the half credit only applied to the out-of-class work, because these discussions are so engaging.
And two elective classes:
Environmental Justice, which is not, at this point in the semester, very uplifting, but it's very interesting and engaging, and I'm really enjoying it.
Developing Sustainable Communities, which is, in at least some sense, the reason I'm in this program. And it's a really great class, with and excellent and engaging professor, who's also the chair of the department. I met with him during his office hours yesterday to talk about the distinction between planners and policy-makers (still fuzzy, but that's okay). He gave me the best sell on why I should be in a PhD program that anyone ever has, which I will talk about in some other post sometime.
It's weird to be back in school, and it's taking me some time to shift my thinking into the right shape of what this means for me day to day. So far, the main logistical change I'm making is that I'm canceling weekend plans left and right. Or, rather, I'm canceling plans that take up big chunks of weekends, except for a couple of weekends away, and it's clear that I can't have two weekends in a row where I have one or both days completely consumed by stuff out of the house. Thinking of myself as a student, rather than as someone who's just taking a few classes, is taking some time.
From the point of view of work, though, it's great. I love spending most of my time really engaged with my schoolwork, enough so that the time I'm spending on work is much less aggravating and frustrating than it was when I was full time. It's great to be able to say, "Okay, I'm not done with X task, but that's all the work I'm going to do today," and feel like I'm not just slacking off, but actually aligning my choices with my stated goals.
I was trying not to make much in the way of social plans the first few weeks of the term, while I was figuring out how much time I needed to allot myself to get my work done. Now that I have a better sense of that, I'm also emerging from my shell at least a little and making evening plans and lunch plans and even weekend plans, so I'm starting to feel a bit more like me in the context of all this, too. This is good, and I hope I can maintain that balance.
I think that's all the big exciting changey stuff in my life at the moment. Am I forgetting anything? Did I gloss over something you're dying to ask me about? You know what to do.