the writing on the wall (and not, notably, on my computer screen, alas)

Ok, so I’m really, really ready for this angst to be over.  I feel like I’m trapped in my own special John Hughes film, albeit one where I don’t end up with a new makeover/attitude adjustment/boyfriend (in fact, I’m pretty sure Apparent Dip is happy about the latter).

There are certain elements of my studies/interests that have been haunting me for years and I have long refused to admit that I should, perhaps, specialize in a certain field (which I’m not going to mention outright because I don’t want to out myself too much–I am, after all, at least trying to be pseudonymous here).  I have been fighting this field from the moment I stepped into a graduate seminar, lo those many years ago.  My refusal to read the writing on the wall, alas, has more often then not led to me feeling stymied in my research.  More specifically, it has led to no writing at all anywhere else.  As in, I can’t get up enough interest in papers to finish them.  But, but, but, I insist, you don’t really want to work in this field do you?  I mean, think of all the things you’ll miss!

And yet…

I keep finding myself drawn to other people’s work on this field.

And yet…

I compulsively read about this field in my spare time.

And yet…

I design courses to teach in this field.  Courses which I have a blast teaching.  Courses that I continue to think about even when I’ve moved on.

Perhaps, and this is only a suggestion, but perhaps I should stop being a FLAMING IDIOT and just accept the writing on the wall.  Enough with the angsty crap!

I leave you with another kitty picture (because I am apparently only good at taking pictures of cats and flowers):

Meshuggenah again.  The other 3 cats are not nearly as interested in being photographed.

Meshuggenah again. The other 3 cats are not nearly as interested in being photographed.

4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Linda on August 16, 2009 at 9:44 am

    So is she resting her head on your latest paper? She seems intent in trying to figure out the most important points of the paper which I am sure she thinks are written about her.


  2. Linda: no, she’s in the windowsill in the sunshine…it’s her favorite spot in the house. She’s telling me about how hard she works…


  3. Why don’t you want to give way and work in this field? Maybe you need to work that out first. Is there no future in it? Is it already ‘over-subscribed? Is it one you will never get funding for? If not, then go for it.


  4. Hallo!!! I am just catching up on your blog after a year and a half of my own blog absence, and I am filled with 1) cat-covetousness (Seriously: could your cats be any more lovely? I am sadly cat-deprived. Sigh.), and 2) overwhelming sympathy for the PhD decision. Since my return to blogging I have been griping and wailing a lot on Sycorax Pine about the state of the industry (as has anyone involved in the field, although no one else is doing it on Sycorax Pine, I suppose), and I spent most of graduate school wondering how I had come to make the choice that led me there and whether it was utterly foolhardy. So anytime you want to chat about it, drop me a line. I am glad to commiserate, opine, advice, and generally gripe.

    My instinct was and would be to stay in the program while you are figuring out other paths that might be fruitful for you and while you are fully funded. As English profs the nation over are telling grad students: the minute grad student stipend and most of all the benefits are better than almost anything that awaits us on the job market right now. So as a place to be in a holding pattern, it could be worse (although it is not delightful in any number of ways as well.). After finishing the dissertation two years ago, I did a year of Visiting and Lecturer teaching in lit and comp and drama, and it was pretty exhausting by comparison to being a grad student, I have to say. And I can’t really say (as the conventional wisdom so often goes) that the “CV improvements” it made gave me a significantly better outcome on the job market the second year around. Although, praise the fickle job market jobs, I did at last end up with a job in my field that I am really enjoying. But it really felt like that was luck – incredible, incredible luck.

    Also, I want to add this one last thing: I found the seminar years of graduate school miserable. I had imagined that grad school would be a time when we all got together, read like maniacs, and then enthusiastically exchanged ideas and delighted in the free exchange of opinions and advancement of knowledge about literature in an idealistic environment. Hmm. Instead seminars were largely exercises in silence, as everyone glared suspiciously at one another, afraid to say anything that might prove misguided, ignorant, or unfashionable. I had a few good classes, but mostly I was struck by how judgmental and competitive everyone was. And by the end I was just done with being a student; I was ready to do my own work and teach my own classes. So don’t let the seminar years get you down. I didn’t do anything with ANY of the papers I wrote for seminars. Grad school coursework is not the crucial part of what gets done in grad school.

    At any rate, I suspect that you are now sunk deep in the academic year, but just a quick note to say that your blog is always delightful and I am so glad to have gotten a chance to read it again.


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