Saturday, February 01, 2014

"In a play propelled by macho decision and action, the idea that there is an order of success that can come of knowing the right moment to go with the flow is appealingly counterintuitiveif you can't create the right moment, you'd better be able to recognize it when it comes."

            -Joanna Biggs, writing on Chang-rae Lee's On Such a Full Sea


Ugh. School started this week and by started I mean really started, like, work has started to pile up and there's not enough time to do it. A big part of my coping strategy when it comes to this kind of stress is to deflect or "subvert" my energies into existential questions of why am I doing this? Do I really belong here? Should I really be spending my time trying to enter a discipline that, from my perspective here at Purdue, has little regard for what I value? Of course during the break and the early stages of the semester I'm in such a good mood and am so ready to engage with these questions in productive ways. Yet by week three the palpable sense of alienation I feel on a daily basis begins to acquire momentum and push me off of the autonomous base I'd spent the break recovering. Making it through the week becomes the priority and I lose perspective on what it was I came here to do. So as, I seek ways out of this immediate discomfort rather than engaging with the work. I'm not talking about drinking or drugging, but about worrying and blaming others (self-as-other included) for my situation. But I move through, I hope either something will change (as something inevitably always does...for example this semester and prelims and then I'll have more latitude to determine my time) and try to stay ready to take advantage of opportunity when it comes up. 

Or maybe I just need a mommy to feed me and enforce nap times. Maybe we all do. My students this week were feeling it too, as well as many of my colleagues. Last week was so atypical that the grind didn't really start until now. That picture I posted a few posts ago? People flitting round like birds yet anchored to the ground? Anxious importance? Graduate school. Sorry for complaining so much.


"...all is not to be thought at one go..."


The True Encounter

 "Wolf!" cried my cunning heart
At every sheep it spied,
And roused the countryside.

"Wolf! Wolf!"—and up would start
Good neighbours, bringing spade
And pitchfork to my aid.

At length my cry was known:
Therein lay my release.
I met the wolf alone
And was devoured in peace.

               -Edna St. Vincent Millay