So I Don’t Forget.

“We are important and our lives are important, magnificent really, and their details are worthy to be recorded. This is how writers must think, this is how we must sit down with pen in hand. We were here; we are human beings; this is how we lived. Let it be known, the earth passed before us. Our details are important. Otherwise, if they are not, we can drop a bomb and it doesn’t matter. . . Recording the details of our lives is a stance against bombs with their mass ability to kill, against too much speed and efficiency. A writer must say yes to life, to all of life: the water glasses, the Kemp’s half-and-half, the ketchup on the counter. It is not a writer’s task to say, “It is dumb to live in a small town or to eat in a café when you can eat macrobiotic at home.” Our task is to say a holy yes to the real things of our life as they exist – the real truth of who we are: several pounds overweight, the gray, cold street outside, the Christmas tinsel in the showcase, the Jewish writer in the orange booth across from her blond friend who has black children. We must become writers who accept things as they are, come to love the details, and step forward with a yes on our lips so there can be no more noes in the world, noes that invalidate life and stop these details from continuing.”
― Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within

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Thesis Re-Visited

[It’s] a popular notion, that it is exclusively suffering that produces good work, or insightful work.  I don’t think that’s the case. I think in a certain sense, it’s  a trigger, or a lever. But I think good work is produced in spite of suffering, and as a response, as a victory over suffering.

Leonard Cohen

I had the idea to read through my thesis, and post excerpts on my blog; I may still do that.  As always, I hesitate; I think that some of this work is of high quality, but I wonder how it will be received. I talked about my thesis and agonized over it for so long, that I’m not sure anything I could have created would have been worth the fuss I made about it. Then again, the only arbriter that really matters at the end of the day – my supervisor – gave me an A- on it. So I’m not really sure what I’m worried about in that regard. I suppose putting one’s work out there will always feel like an act of incredible vulnerability.

Reading my thesis in preparation for posting it reminds me of how far removed I am from the academic world; I admit that this reminder is somewhat disheartening. I’d have to read and study for months before I would become as well-versed in the theoretical language and literature as I was when I wrote the thesis. Furthermore, I don’t see myself having the opportunity to write something like that and become immersed in the acts of learning and creation anytime soon; I may not have an opportunity like that ever again.  I suppose my hesitation to post my thesis is borne from that sentiment as well, which isn’t exactly regret; I’ve just become aware that there’s a gap between where I am, and where I want to be, and I’d rather not think about it.  At the present time though, I’m a still a little too weary from the struggle to get through school to knit that yarn into motivation to go back.

Although there are ideas and passages in this piece that I wish I could have developed further, in some ways, that doesn’t really matter; what matters most to me about this work is that I finished it at all. I wrote it during a tumultuous time in my life, during which I was suffering from clinical depression and anxiety disorders. Hence, the Leonard Cohen quote above: this work is important to me for its merits as a piece of undergraduate-level scholarship, and because I see the completion of this project as a “victory over suffering.” I may always struggle with my mind, but this serves as a reminder that I can still (with a hell of a lot of effort, time, and support) complete the work I set out to do.

That’s what I’ll remember this piece for; this piece, with all of its glorious imperfection. Maybe one day I’ll regard the time of my life during which I wrote it as being “gloriously imperfect” as well.

——————————

After thinking and writing about it, I’ve decided to post excerpts from my thesis after all. These can be found on the following pages:

Dance Macabre: Women’s Experiences in Burlesque Excerpt 1 (Introductory Chapter)

Dance Macabre: Women’s Experiences in Burlesque  Excerpt 2 (Research Methods Chapter)

Note To Self

Today I learned that if I allow myself to do the “fun”/”unproductive” activities that I actually want to do (in this case, it was writing and drawing), I’m less grumpy about the tasks I have to do in order to keep my life from falling apart (eg. maintaining my student loan).  Neat.  I can work with this.

Thomas De Quincey: I get you.

Dear Adderall,

With your help, I’ve been able to focus on my schoolwork for an hour, in a setting that would normally drive me mad: a cafe in which the staff are playing catchy music, and in which there are people bustling around and chatting with one another. Instead of being led away by the beautiful beats and ambient noise (and memories of fun times that were accompanied by beautiful beats), my mind has been able to stay focused on my studying.  Rather than being an infernal distraction, the commotion seems to promote an awareness of time passing, which helps to keep me on track  (I chose to study in a cafe rather than at home for that reason). This subjective state of heightened (yet not anxious) attention is fabulous, and I want my internal space to feel like this all the time!

I credit this lovely sense of awareness and enhanced willpower, as well as the productivity that has resulted from those factors, to a combination of my motivation, and the magic you work on my brainmeats, Adderall.  Under your spell, I am able to remain mentally stable and focus seemingly at will, something which I find nearly impossible to do otherwise (even in ideal environments). This is a revelation!

Once you’re off patent and become more affordable, I’ll be able to keep my brainmeats under your influence more consistently. That will be an exciting time indeed; my stimulant-fuelled brainmeats and I will have the power to take over the world! Mwahahaha!

(Or maybe I’ll just accomplish my work-related goals, now that I’ve found a reliable way to make my body and mind sit still. That would be awesome too.)

(And instead of supporting Big Pharma indefinitely, I’ll contribute a less-substantial portion of my lifetime earnings to a manufacturer of generic drugs instead. That will help me to sleep at night.)

Oooh! Shiny!

–Just Kidding,

Amber

Now what?

So the confluence  of a number of factors has created a something of a gap in my life. The factors are as follows:

Due to being sick when I had otherwise planned to update my resume and apply for a full-time job at my workplace, I missed out on that particular opportunity (I have reason to believe that I would have been in the running for the position, had I applied for it).  Although I can likely make enough money working casually to pay my rent and meet my basic needs, it’s highly unlikely that I’ll earn enough money any time soon to do that and save up the tuition I need for my remaining classes.  Consequently, I seem to have a bit of time on my hands, and I won’t be filling that time up with academic work in the foreseeable future.

So, given that:

  • I’m not working full-time
  • I seem to be able to keep the bills paid at the moment, so I don’t need to go looking for another part-time job (not yet, anyways)
  • I won’t have academic work to worry about (for the first time in too many years),
  • …and there’s a really good chance that even the cat would appreciate it if I got a life, or a hobby, or both, so she could watch the traffic outside in peace

I’ve started to consider the idea that now might be as good of a time as any to develop my “hobbies”.  I’m even entertaining the wild thought of getting into my “arts” (dancing, music, creative writing, visual arts, photography, and experimental programming) and/or teaching yoga more seriously. No shit!
I’m also kind of hoping that when I explore any of the aforementioned options, I might even stumble upon a vocation that makes me happier than academia evidently did (indulging my intellectual ambitions while simultaneously reaching the limits of my sanity and living like a pauper wasn’t nearly as fun – or fulfilling – as comic books and movies made it seem; it turns out Maslow and Marx might have been onto something, while Plato gave me false hope).

So it turns out that when I grow up, I want to be an artist/yoga teacher. I get the last laugh, government/society; you’re never getting your money/investment back, nor will I ever be a role-model for poor kids everywhere that you can “beat the system” while working within it (although I’ll be damned if I don’t teach the economically/socially disadvantaged kids – many of whom also have psychological problems and struggle with addictions – with whom I work in my day job  everything I know about how to survive in it, as a person in the margins).

Once a jaded punk, always a jaded punk, it seems.