Thursday, April 5, 2007

Coming Back Slowly to Our Regularly Scheduled Program

So I'm back in Grad City, bleary-eyed with the shock of eight hours of sleep. My time in Urban Home City was chaos, punctuated by snarky comments or just plain grump (I've decided grump should be a noun) from me whenever I felt I hadn't worked enough. There was one particular day where I went from The Fam's house to Favorite-Person-in-the-World's back to The Fam's. I walked in and my father said he'd expected us earlier, a fact that was unbeknownst to me. But this drew out some inner fourteen year old: Dad, there's this thing called a cell phone. You could call. The look he gave me afterward must have been dumb-foundedness. He did not say: Earnest, aren't you a little old to talk like a snarky teenager? Isn't that gray hair I see on your head? Though I was particularly amused the next day when someone was trying to hustle Littlest Sister to do something after just returning home and she looked at them totally nonplussed and said: I just walked in.

My answer to the chaos while I was channeling my snarky teenager was to do what every teenager does: drink too much wine and smoke someone else's cigarettes. There was a particularly memorable moment when SO put my Fancy Cigarettes in my backpack, saying: As much as I don't like you smoking, I'd much rather you smoke your Fancy Natural Cigarettes than Marlboros. When family members asked about the cigarettes, I said: I'm allowed. I'm writing a dissertation.

The extended family were all curious about SO and gossiped in the kitchen about him with my father, who I now realize is the biggest gossip ever (except me) because the entire family already knew about Adventure U and asked me about it. I think I actually became a person with some of the extended fam instead of just My Father's Daughter #1 because one of Dad's cousins starting asking me about what I did, what I write, was I published, how I started writing, etc. It was as if he could suddenly see me as something more than just a person who he used to watch walk under the table. (I'll bet this has to do with the fact that his own children are teenagers. I'm in my thirties for god's sake. I'm much older than any of the cousins' kids, some of whom are teenagers and a couple of whom, like my sister and brother, are in their twenties. But I guess it takes time.)

If I suddenly go MIA, it may be because I have stolen children and am on the run. Now, I have long wanted to steal my niece -- to the point that occasionally she torments me by squealing steal me! steal me! when I really want to do just that. I wanted her to come out to Grad City and go camping with WSF (more on him later) and me, though Sisterpalooza and I couldn't quite get it together (read: cash) to manage it. But now my Fave Person's child faces similar danger. He is a mere four years old (I think) and the cutest little human ever. But I may have to steal him because he climbed into a box and said he was going to ship himself to Adventure City. Tape me in, he instructed, and don't April fool me. So I (Scotch) taped him in and wrote my name and Adventure City on the box. (Also handle with care and this way up.) Then he decided that since it was going to take some time to be shipped there that he needed tissues and sunscreen. Then he needed a place to put the tissues, so he put his little garbage can in there. Then he needed shoes. And he couldn't go without his play swords. By the time he was done packing, he couldn't close the flap of the box. You understand -- he stayed in the box, waiting to be picked up by UPS until he realized that they'd probably have to pick him up the next day. He only came out of the box when it was time for dinner and he figured out that I wasn't in Adventure City yet -- and he'd get there before me and that wasn't right. OH! SO CUTE! (For shits and giggles, contrast this story with this other recent story about children and me. I'm nothing if not conflicted.)

But now we're back to the regularly scheduled program of dissertation working, tutoring hours on end, dissertation working. When I was gone, a fellow tutor asked if I would take some of her hours. What could I say? (I've been told that if you put your tongue a little behind your upper teeth, vocalize, and then shape your mouth into a circle, duties and responsibilities magically disappear, but I haven't developed the right reflex action yet.) So I did six hours of tutoring, though blessedly no one came in for three and a half of them! So that's when I got to work on Big D. Since I need to have Chapters 3 and 4 to Peppy Advisor by April 20, I had decided that what that really meant was five days of free-writing crap and five days of revising and shaping for each chapter. (Insane. Totally f***ing insane.) So today will be my last day of happy crap-writing. Tomorrow I'm actually going to have to do something terrible, like read and do something with the crap I've written.

I emailed all of my committee members last week, telling them about my timeline. Since I'm frantic to graduate in August, of course this means that everyone has different schedules and timelines and that I'm going to have to set time aside just to map all their different responses about turn-in times and defense dates. (Don't you people understand? I have things to do. Like, uh, write the dissertation!) Life lesson: do not try to graduate in the summer. You, dear reader, would not do this.

In news of uckiness, Witty Sardonic Friend may be staying in North Dakota. I actually think it's the best thing because he's much more likely there to have the perfect combination of work and time to write/study that will allow him to come back to the academy sooner than the job he's up for here in Grad City. There's a whole long story about his derailment from the academy that if I wrote here I'd immediately have to go on the lam and never see WSF again, the second of which I find utterly insupportable because I'm having a hard enough time without him already. Suffice it to say, life derailed him. He did nothing wrong. He got screwed.

WSF's wacky Poet Friend is coming out here on Tuesday. I've never met him. He's a wonderful talented poet who just wrote a book. Do you think anyone would notice if he just, uh, disappeared?

The semester will be over in a few weeks. Of course, by then I will have had to give Peppy Advisor a revised draft of the whole damn thing. OY! But at least it's only 10:30am. Am I the only one who can't manage to work on the diss in the morning, caffeine or no caffeine? I can mark papers in the morning, but academic writing is a complete no go. Why?


gwoertendyke said...

welcome back, ee, i missed you@ maybe i'm just not getting it, but it seems like you write WAY faster than i do, are way more productive, and generally are a kinder and happier soul...god love you!

thanks for the cheer it was much enjoyed!

Earnest English said...

Thanks for the good cheer, AH. I assure you -- I am full of hate. I just ran into Similarly Hate-Filled Dissertator and she said she thought of me when she thought of hate and misery. (Maybe I shouldn't, but I just took it as she feels my pain.) But the way I produce is by writing crap. Total crap. Like non-academic crap where I ask myself questions about what I'm talking about. And then I get sort of into it. I figure I can translate in academese later. So I've got oodles of pages. But very little that's publishable/passable. We'll see. Strangely glad to be back, since I understand the chaos here. Great to see you!

Sisyphus said...

I regress to about age 13 whenever I first go home to the fam as well. I thought that was a little weird of me but one of my undergrad profs once described the exact same thing, so maybe it's more universal.

I'm glad that you have a BFF named Hate-Filled Dissertator; that makes me smile ... er, uh, no, makes me pissed, absolutely malevolent and full of anger. (How does one congratulate on on achieving the proper level of jaded bitterness to survive grad school? heh.)

Good luck on getting the chapter done. You can always follow my strategy: I will take a nap, and then, a miracle will occur eventually and *poof* the chapter will come into being.

gwoertendyke said...

oh good, i was starting to feel bad, like how can you be so nice, tutor all these people, and still write funny blogs? i'm glad there is hate in you yet....

Hilaire said...

God, you capture the regression-to-the-teens beautifully. I am similarly horrified by myself. It happens especially around my mother. It's awful. At my father's house, it's not that I am a snarky asshole, but that I lie around eating chips and watching sitcoms for days on end.

Anyway, welcome back! Good luck with scary work!