And verily it came to pass, that one day the people of campus looked at their calendars and realized there were only 1.5 weeks until summer vacation, and that their grad students were in presentations so there was no more course prep, and next Wednesday is a Monday schedule which means the late-night class doesn’t meet at all, and anyway it’s almost over.
I’ve noticed a psychological pattern and I’m hoping that noticing it will help me overcome it. Basically I go the whole day feeling okay, solving problems, getting my shit done, and feeling productive and more or less good about everything. Then, during the 20 minutes or so that we read in bed before going to sleep, I suddenly become filled with regret and dread about all the mistakes I actually made that day, and all the horrible stuff I have to do the next day, and all the things that have been happening that surely mean everyone hates me and I am not going to get tenure, and then it’s hard to go to sleep. Then I wake up in the morning feeling normal again. This is clearly some mode of self-sabotage my brain is performing for unknown reasons. I feel like for the first time in my life I might want to see a good therapist. I have a list of mysteries about my psyche that I would like to try to get to the bottom of. Perhaps this is an impossible dream, however, as surely one of the greatest truths of contemporary western consciousness is that we will always have an unconscious that, by definition, we will never comprehend.
ANYWAY, the end of my first year. I think all told I am feeling okay. I didn’t cry much at all; everyone told me they cried all the time their first year. I definitely have struggled with depression for the first time ever, and have had some dark nights of the soul, and have questioned my life choices, and a lot of things I’ve experienced/observed have made me feel real true despair about the future of humanity, but overall I think I have stayed more or less upbeat (I didn’t have great hopes for humanity anyway, even before, so it’s like, whatever, throw it on the pile). We’ll see what happens at my end-of-year review; things could still go horribly south.
I’m very much looking forward to the summer, when I will not have to grade or go to meetings, and can really focus exclusively on research. I’m beginning to bring home my stacks of summer reading already, and have a solid draft of my summer to-do list done. I’m really excited because the big items on my to-do list (2 conference papers and an article) are all on the same topic, which has never happened to me before because I’ve always been working on 2 totally different topics at once, and it’s been hard to negotiate between them. Now I can really focus and maybe finally read all these books about capitalism that have been piling up. After 3 years of failed attempts I also finally got into my field’s fanciest conference again, which is making me feel legit, even though I just re-read my abstract and it seems to me to be pretty incomprehensible.
And of course it will be summer, which means ramblin’ in the woods with the dog, swimmin’ in the river, wearin’ flip flops, and generally chilling out. We’re going to go camping in Vermont, or so we claim.
My old man is reading a book about the Saint-Simonians and I’ve never seen him so excited about a book before. He’s even more excited than when he was reading Magic Mountain and kept joyously proclaiming it “the most boring book ever written” (his highest praise). He is like a little boy who gets a toy gun for christmas and then wants to have the gun with him everywhere; in the bath, in bed at night, at the dinner table, etc. Yesterday he was driving us to school and when he got out of the car the book fell on the ground and I realized he’d just been holding it in his lap while driving, the whole time, I guess in the hopes that we’d stop at a stoplight or something and he could keep reading it. He wants to talk to me about it all the time; he keeps bringing it in to wherever I am and pointing at things in it, including once a drawing of a man with a truly incredible beard, which I did like.
I meanwhile at night am reading the letters of Sylvia Townshend Warner, which are utterly wonderful. I’m learning so much about her. She sent a copy of Lolly Willowes to an actual witch and then she and the witch had lunch together! “She said things that would make the hairs on your head stand on end.” She is friends with a small child named Theo who she appreciates because she says he understands that Death is not actually as frightening as Life. She and her girlfriend rescue an owl from a farmer and set it free at night, and they have a million cats and dogs who are named things like “William.” I will tell you more about her at some later date.
I’m trying to fix our compost pile. It’s not composting! It’s just a pile of gross garbage. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong; my next step is to buy some worms and dump them in there, see if they can make sense of the mess.
I’ve fallen behind on my Beowulf and Chaucer leisure-reading. Got to get back on that horse. I refuse to be one of the millions of people who gets halfway through Beowulf and then abandons it forever. I know I read the whole thing in high school, when I was much stupider, surely I can deal with it now that I am old and smart.