Sunday, July 22, 2007

Work as Solace: Discuss

Okay, I realize that this is going to sound totally nuts, given how prone I am to complaining about academic work. (I'd probably complain about any kind of work. If I worked at an ice cream store, I'd probably complain that it makes my hands sticky.) But here's something I've been thinking about since all the OPL drama: work is also a solace. While it does happen that sometimes in writing nothing seems to go right, that one's argument crumbles in one's hands, at least it's in our hands. I've noticed while waiting to see what turn my life is going to take that when I get back to doing some edits on the dissertation (I have to take out all the commas that I usually put in, as in DorkusEnglish, 412 -- gahhh! how did I ever start that???), it's a pain (naturally) but also a kind of relief. Here's a world I understand. I can look up something in MLA and get an answer (usually) and format my citation correctly. I can think my way through an intellectual or pedagogical problem in a way that I can't think my way through in my life. Let's face it: one cannot think one's way through life, one must live it. Aye, there's the rub. But one can think one's way through some intellectual problems. And the engagement and excitement of tangling with an idea or concept that is totally involving belongs only to you (which makes us isolated sometimes, but also makes us independent from well, dependence on others for access to our mojo). Peppy Advisor and I sometimes talk about this -- how at least when we enter the English building we enter a world where we have some small amount of control (which we cling to in contrast to the total lack of control of the rest of our lives) and we know the rules and we have to leave some of the whirlwind heartache of our lives behind.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, relieved that sometimes I can cut through the OPL panic and worry haze and get some work done (yay! something I know how to do! since I don't know how to wait, be patient, trust). All this to say, my work life is a solace while I wait, wait, wait to find out whether the man I'm in love with will take a leap toward crazy magical happiness and choose me. In short, my life sucks. And that's all there is folks. Hence, only intermittent blogging. If you find yourself coming over to Absurdist Paradise and there is nothing new laid out for your consumption, it's probably because the lady of the house has wasted herself on tears and prayer -- and has no lively quips or sarcasm canapes to offer. It's all earnest hope over here folks. Not very entertaining. Wish me luck, blogfriends.


Hilaire said...

Oh, dear...Good, good luck with this. I can imagine how hard it must be, waiting. I'm sorry. And glad you can take comfort of a kind in your work.

Sending virtual hugs.

Sisyphus said...

Hmm ... do you have the latest Harry Potter book? You could read that to pass the time while waiting for various things. _And_ you have a movie to entertain yourself with!

I find my work frustrating in a way that I feel is not under my control. For me, when I am upset or feeling overwhelmed, I like to do very mindless and physical things to order my world. So if my personal life was up in the air and I was waiting for other people to respond to my professional stuff, I'd be cleaning and organizing and packing like crazy: "I can't force other people to do X, Y, or Z, but I can remove all these books and put them in these boxes, dammit! And you will even know when I am done."

And mindless cat pictures or flower pics would entertain both you _and_ your readers!

Perinteger said...

I'm lining up behind Hilaire in the virtual hug line.

post-doc said...

That made my stomach hurt, having waited for someone to choose me and lived in quite earnest hope myself. Here's hoping things turn out much, much better for you. So I'm absolutely wishing you all the luck you need.

In the meantime, working in order to distract yourself can be good. I hope you continue to be productive.

medieval woman said...

I wish you big luck and big virtual hugs! And I also had to wait for the Dutchman to choose me (and not stay with his girlfriend) and now we're married!


Earnest English said...

Thank you all so much! I actually feel much much better today -- had a good discussion with OPL last night where I said some things that made me feel stronger. He can choose me or not, but at least I've learned that I am strong enough to make this leap. If he's not, well, I'll be very very sorry -- but that's not about me. Thanks everyone for supporting me in my time of insanity. I really appreciate it.

gwoertendyke said...

yes, so good to read your last post--i too have been in this position and gained strength from knowing i was honest and made the leap without knowing what the outcome would be. that in itself is so major and important...and of course you want it to be returned....quite an emotional week for you ee, thinking of you.

k8 said...

Best wishes with everything! Sometimes a person has to take a risk to feel at ease, I think. Otherwise (at least with me), the what if questions can become an obsession.

I totally get the work as solace thing. For me I think it is the routine-ness of it - the fact that I can depend on it for keeping me going and I know that I have some measure of control over it. Not that it is going through the motions, but it is something real and productive and I can do something about it (like get closer to the finish of whatever I'm working on).

Hugs all around!! And, since I bake, virtual cookies for comfort!

Earnest English said...

Thanks to you all, especially those of you who mentioned going through similar experiences. I hear myself and the good feminist wonders why on earth I should be -- I don't know -- all up in arms and hoping and waiting for some guy. But it's a pretty small voice. I mean, life is not all about trying to do good work and closing one's self off afraid to get hurt and self-protection and railing against inequities. It's also, as they say in Practical Magic, about falling in love whenever you can. And keeping rosemary at your garden gate.