For my birthday, I’m writing a blog.  I’m so excited to be able to do this.  You have no idea.  First semester of graduate school has been like (I will create a simile for you:) insane.  I remember working this hard as a freshman in college, but part of that difficult year was adjusting to a new city, adjusting to living on my own, adjusting to interacting with people I didn’t know.  Hey, actually, that sounds like the current difficulties: adjusting to married life, adjusting to living in close quarters with someone, adjusting to interacting with people so much smarter than I.

But no, this is harder.  Your professors take care of you when you’re a freshman, and your peers all clump together in survival groups.  Graduate school professors assume you can take care of yourself, and other grad students are busy as hell, too.  And some of them are married, and have kids.  Basically, I seem to be on my own, and I’m learning by myself how much time 10-minute presentations take to put together (10 and 7 hours, respectively), and how long ago I should have started my Milton / Lanyer and Jean Rhys / “creolization” research (2 years ago, respectively).

Thing of interest: the paper I’m putting together right now for my Milton/17th Century Poetry class is changing my world.  The amount of focused research I’m doing, and the library and databases I have at my disposal, are opening up worlds of knowledge for me that I could never have touched as an undergraduate.  This is what graduate school allows me: focus.  I knew it would, but the relief of being able to choose my own study is really still a novelty, still a surprise.  Reading Milton’s version of the fall against Aemilia Lanyer’s (“Eves Apologie”), seeing the surface contradictions in culpability (Adam or Eve?  why are they pitted against each other?  why has the structure of Western gender notions been built on these fights over whose fault it was?) is taking me back into the querelles des femmes, the 17th-century pamphlet war between antifeminist and antipatriarchal (still not sure what to call them?) writers.  And, presumably, some part of their audience.

This window into gender relations feels like what I’ve been looking for, ever since I read Paradise Lost for the first time and wondered where the women were in 1667.  If these sentences are impossible to read, it’s because instead of writing, this semester, I have been re-learning how to write, and it does strange scrambling work on the brain.  I’m hoping I’ll get it back this week, in which I’m starting both of my seminar papers.

In other news, I’m 26, and still can’t believe how little I know about life.  Old friends and structures of belief about relationships are passing away, I’m losing them in the distance, and the things I’m learning about marriage are re-writing my understanding of relationships.  I’m writing poetry again, and the new poems are even more honest and interesting than before.  I’m writing about one of the most influential events of my “childhood,” the divorce of some friends, and the many constellations of effort and effect and denial and loss involved therein.  I hope honestly.  I hope it’s healing.  It seems to be the precursor of both.

Christmas is another point of excitement.  During the 4-week break from classes, I will sleep so much.  I will watch It’s a Wonderful Life as often as I damn well please, and will weep and weep over it.  It’ll be so great.  I’m telling you I just can’t wait.  There’s a chance we will be able to see Jason, and we’ll be able to hang out with Evan and Casey, and we’ll just in general get to see people.  Which we haven’t really done much since I’ve been in school.  I hope our friends will take us back.  But yes, Christmas is a thought-bubble filled with images of eggnog and fireplaces and trees and walking around being happy and cold.  I’m sure there will be moments — at least one each — of all of these things.  And I have lost weight so I could potentially have eggnog like everyday too.

Enough giddiness.  It’s my birthday, and I finished with all non-paper academic responsibilities yesterday, so I’m feeling that burst of freedom.  No more Writing Center, grading papers or meeting with students, no more presentations or responses.  The week before my papers are due will, I’m sure, be as stressful as last week was, but that’s not happening right now.  I’ll work for four more hours today, and then, since it’s my birthday, I’m going to the Goodwill in Bearden.  Just to see.

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