Rivers know this

“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.” —Winnie-the-Pooh

Over the past several months I’ve drafted and deleted several posts, most of them mental posts. And I delete them, because they feel lame. But I think that I will write it down, because I think it will be cathartic and stop impeding my productivity if I do.

I’ve come to the realization that my life as a graduate student has to develop through a natural order of things and that I just have to go through the stages in order. Much like all people, in order to learn to write, no matter how old they are, have to go through certain development of scribble techniques. (There’s a very interesting book about that, by the way.)

So this is where I am: you know how three and four-year-olds want to do things but they can’t quite really, but they almost can? Like pouring some orange juice for instance: my 4yo can get a cup out of his drawer, go to the fridge, get out the orange juice, attempt to pour his own juice, put the juice back in the fridge, and drink his juice. If this is all done successfully, he feels a great sense of accomplishment; however, if not everything is in the right place, his task is impeded. His success is dependent on their being clean cups in the kids’ dishes drawer that he can reach. Also if the juice is too full, it will likely result in spillage, and sad frustration. He is a pendulum of exuberance and despair.

And that is where I am. Sometimes, what I do works; it’s exhilarating. Most of the time, I’m grasping for an independence that is so close, yet so far. On the one hand, I want to feel more confident as a well-functioning adult in her mid-30’s, mother of two. On the other, I realize that there is so much to know before I can start drawing lines between, that I feel like a child. These discordances are disconcerting.

 

How do I know that what I’m doing is valuable? Or that I’m on track? There are plenty of people to tell you when you’re wrong or off track. Why should I care to know? Is it a “girl” thing? I start using the details of my life as measures of value: conference acceptance? plus one. Not funded? take away…a lot. Even if I know that these things are far more complicated than just measures of value. The thing is that *I* value what I’m doing, so I want to feel valued. But it’s all so arbitrary and unmeasurable.

I wonder, staring at the lacuna of What There is Yet to Know, how I can make a contribution.

I’m sorry for the self-obsessiveness. What I usually do, and what I will do when I finish this post, is just get to work. Because someday, pouring the juice will not be an occasion for triumph or despair, but will just be something I’m confident that I can do and won’t think anything of it.

Year 2

About three weeks ago, I started year two of my program. I’m so tired I hardly know what to post.

I’m not teaching this year. Just TAing. I was a little sad about that. But, honestly, I’m so glad to not have preps this year and can really focus on my two seminars and preparing a couple of articles.

My work is challenging me a lot. Field work is a brand new research tool for me. I’m trying to figure out how to incorporate what I’ve learned from the trips I’ve made to meet with these Deaf musicians into a scholarly article. And I’m reading stuff that is blowing my mind…phenomenology of sound!?

And I’m still trying to figure out a dissertation topic. And keep getting faced with disappointments about work I’m interested in or have already invested in in my primary field of Who the Hell Cares.

And that is the state of the union at the moment.

the Garden of your Mind

Since I spend most of the summer reveling in agriculture, this video was not only incredibly nostalgic (shout out to the ol’ ‘hood!) but delightfully a propos.

What a simple, yet deeply evocative, metaphor: letting ideas grow in the garden of your mind.

I’m gardening a lot these days, so I think about all the things that go into growing plants–good soil, fertilizer, watering, training. I am challenged to think about how I’m tending the garden of my mind. Especially since I’m working to be a professional scholar, where my mind is the foundation of my job, inasmuch as a farmer’s field is. As a grad student, I always feel like I’m cramming stuff into my mind as frantically as possible. But maybe my ideas will grow into healthier plants if I step back and tend them more carefully. Yet, at the same time, practical considerations also overwhelm. Do I feel ready to get that conference paper? If I don’t give x number of papers and meet y number of people, will I get a job? It’s tough. But, for now, I feel inspired by the ultimate cheerleader to the least of us, Mr. Rogers.