There went October break: a string of gloomy days interspersed with bright beads of glory. At the dissertation bootcamp last weekend, I finally figured out what I was trying to say in my ancient qualifying paper, which was good, because it was about time! Since then, I have been writing large chunks of prose each day and trying to restrain myself from editing in the interest of just getting all my thoughts on the table. It's a real pleasure to finally have something to say and a way of saying it. I am, unfortunately, a week behind on my reading list, due to grading. But I think things should be smoother from here on out--and if they aren't, I'll try not to complain too much.
I finished Lila yesterday, and all I can say is: Read it. (And the other Gilead novels, if you haven't read them yet.) That book made me grateful to be alive.
I don't do six impossible things before breakfast, but the days do feel impossibly full. I do more or less the same five things, over and over: read, translate, go to class, have meetings, teach. I have a self-imposed curfew now. At 11pm, I shut off my computer and brush my teeth and read myself to sleep. Because if not then, when? There would always be one more thing to do. My bedtime reading the last few days has been Marilynne Robinson's new book, Lila, which I preordered so that I could read it as soon as I possibly could. The characters are beautiful and sad, and it almost hurts to watch Lila fumbling around her outer world so claustrophobically when her inner world is so grand and mysterious. I can only read a few pages at a time. Before Lila arrived, I was reading the New Yorker. Sometimes it takes me two or three nights to get through a single article (they're really long), but I always learn interesting things, as my philosopher will tell you (because I tell him everything I learn from them). "You and your little anecdotes from the New Yorker," he says. But I really do learn a lot. Speaking of impossible things, the next hurdle comes this Friday. My supervisor is visiting my first section and will tell me, I guess, whether I am any good at this. I'm terrified that my students won't talk or that I'll say foolish things for fifty minutes, but the good thing is that it is only fifty minutes and then next week is October break, free of obligations, with the promise of time to catch up.
Today, after almost two weeks of close, sticky, unbearable humidity and heat, the weather seemed to break. I wore a sweater on my bike ride to school and there was something sweet and smoky in the air.
I'm in my third year now (fourth year of graduate school, fifth year out of college). Can you believe that? Everyone has begun asking me what my dissertation is on. The question terrifies me because, although I have some ideas, I haven't yet had the time to think them through properly. This semester I'm working diligently at my reading list, writing two qualifying papers, auditing two classes, and teaching for the first time.
I'm excited about teaching. After my first two sections last week, I came home glowing with delight. I liked my students and the class I'm teaching for (ancient philosophy), and I loved that once I started talking, time flew. We had done Heraclitus in lecture, so in section, I presented four different interpretive questions one could raise about his corpus and suggested some solutions. Then I had them write tweets--in their best Heraclitean style (Heraclitus appears to have writen primarily in epigraphs and sayings)--and explain how their tweet might settle or provide evidence for one of the questions we'd discussed. The exercise was a hit. Also, the tweets were impressively poetic. This Friday we'll be doing an analysis of the function argument in Book I of Plato's Republic.
You guys. What a week. In the last seven days, my phone broke, my iPad broke, I lost my credit card, and, in a final flourish of inconvenience, I had to haul my beautiful (and very large) newly framed picture back downtown, on foot, because of a finishing flaw (and because I don't have car). It was like something out of a country song.
I can't tell you what was more upsetting: the fact that I might have to pay to get these things replaced, or the fact that replacing them involved making phone calls and, well, talking to strangers. (I thought that I would eventually grow out of these phobias, but, no, still present and accounted for.)
Anyhow, it's all taken care of. I bought a newer, better phone; the Apple technician took one look at my iPad, which was, thankfully, still under warranty, and ordered me a new one; I think I ordered a new credit card (it's hard to tell with these automated tellers); and my picture has been handily and quickly repaired.