Thursday, January 01, 2015

Hi. Happy New Year. Let's have one okay? Okay. Now that that's out of the way, to continue with the discourse on Jinx, I guess what I'm trying to say, and kind of have been getting at without explicitly saying so, and pardon the slightly unfocused writing that maybe is a result of a) not investing as much time as I have been in writing in this blog and being out of practice when it comes to writing essayistic narrative, and b) not totally knowing how to get at this vague sense of what it is that I'm trying to say, and maybe a way to read the previous two posts are as drafts that helped lay the ground for my main point, which is: I've been dreading taking Jinx to the vet and beginning a regimen of care, such as injections, mixing medicines with his food, rubbing solvent on his ears (something to do with hyperthyrodism), and squirting anti-biotic into his mouth because I don't want our relationship to change. This is selfish, I know, but to take care of another being like a doctor  requires a certain kind of relationship, and I don't want Jinx to think that when I pick him up, I'm going to do something unpleasant to him. I think of KG sitting on my lap, as it was, seemingly, her preferred cat/human interaction zone, and how when I initially started injecting her with saline it was on my lap. Pretty soon she stopped sitting on my lap.

More generally, change is difficult, especially when it comes to important relationships. The last semester was, for me, a kind of shift into accepting and imagining my future as an academic. I'm not sure where or when this happened, and obviously it's been a gradual process, but something has changed, where now instead of fantasizing about creative projects I find myself fantasizing about research questions. My preference is to pick up an academic text rather than a book of poetry or a novel. When it comes to writing, some of my fears have come true in that I find that I'm thinking more about arguments, ideas, and scholarship than I am about the "liminal spaces" (a trendy word in poetry from ten years ago) from which to start making the poetic, and mercifully indeterminate connections between things that much of my writing on this blog has started from. CD said to me once, twelve somethings years ago, that I wrote in a remarkably "unpredatory" way (I was always proud of the characterization). I wonder if she would say the same thing now. It seems my academic identity, after two and a half years, has grown to the point where it's becoming my primary identity.

The reasons for this shift are, I believe, a combination of unpredictable life events and the disciplining of the PhD program. In the last year and a half I've experienced a number of losses, including a cat, a father, and a lover, i.e. a shift in important everyday relationships. In the last six months or so, I've also noticed that I've stopped "making phone calls" to people in "California," and invest the majority of my social energy into people who live in Lafayette. Thus, through a combination of bonds that have fallen away, and new ones that have come to take their place, my day to day consists of different kinds of conversations and interactions than the ones I was having. At the same time after two and a half years of intensive classes, intensive academic writing and now, getting into research, I've been learning the specifics of academic work. I think the big shift came over the summer, after studying and taking and passing prelims, somehow, I began to think of the work I was doing not as the necessary work of graduate school, but as my work. I came here thinking that I just needed to get through, get out, and then go back to teaching and writing with health insurance and a steady gig. Now I'm beginning to imagine another kind of future, and it's one I never could have predicted.

Not to say that I'm not going to write in this blog anymore, or stop working on non-academic writing and music, or that I'm going to let Jinx die because I don't want to be his doctor. I'll continue to do all of it, continue to work towards pulling all these threads together, and continue to balance the strain of what I don't want to do with my own agenda. More later on what that agenda consists of but right now I'm going to go eat dinner with mi familia. Here is a poem for the old year by the Polish poet Wisława Szymborska, translated by Stanisław Barańczak and Clare Cavanag. I'll let you know when I find one for the new year:
Cat in an Empty Apartment

Die—you can’t do that to a cat.
Since what can a cat do
in an empty apartment?
Climb the walls?
Rub up against the furniture?
Nothing seems different here
but nothing is the same.
Nothing’s been moved
but there’s more space.
And at nighttime no lamps are lit.

Footsteps on the staircase,
but they’re new ones.
The hand that puts fish on the saucer
has changed, too.

Something doesn’t start
at its usual time.
Something doesn’t happen
as it should.
Someone was always, always here,
then suddenly disappeared
and stubbornly stays disappeared.

Every closet’s been examined.
Every shelf has been explored.
Excavations under the carpet turned up nothing.
A commandment was even broken:
papers scattered everywhere.
What remains to be done.
Just sleep and wait.

Just wait till he turns up,
just let him show his face.
Will he ever get a lesson
on what not to do to a cat.
Sidle toward him
as if unwilling
and ever so slow
on visibly offended paws,
and no leaps or squeals at least to start.