A Little Bit of Wonder is where I journal about the somewhat roundabout way that I have been working to establish a career and a strong sense of self--I spend a lot of time thinking and writing about "direction" and "identity." I have a Master's Degree in Literature, but I'm no longer working as an English Professor; I'm starting the next step in my life as I work to establish a career as a writer in the non-profit sector.

At my companion blog, Little Wonder's Recommended Reading, you will find reviews for both books and other blogs that I enjoy. The two blogs are inter-linked, so you can access my reviews and reading challenges from the sidebar on the left.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Recovering at the End of the Semester

I haven't blogged a whole lot lately--after the debacle of my Josephine Baker paper, I've purposely kept the laptop shut for a day or two at a time, in fact. After I had taken my exam, I knew I had to get right to work on that paper in order to pull all my research together into a coherent display of what I had learned over the entire semester. This is a ridiculous expectation, of course, and turned out to be a painful experience that definitely lowered my GPA a little bit.

I spent about twelve to fourteen hours a day, for three days straight, sitting at the computer--and finally submitted my paper at 4:15 A.M. on Saturday, December 13. A measly 4 hours or so after it was actually due... I'm hoping the professor didn't notice the time stamp on the submission. It's not like he was going to grade it right away when it was due at midnight.

Of course, I woke up in the morning with a clear picture of how I should have approached the project and written the paper. I then developed a new and exciting obsession with rewriting the paper that I had already turned in--so I decided that it would be much more emotionally healthy for me to close the laptop and back slowly away. I figured that a healthy diet of movies and shopping should cure this useless compulsion to rewrite and rewrite and rewrite (a paper that no one else would read). I didn't even allow the lure of surfing Amazon and Facebook to entice me back to the computer. I swapped one screen for another, deciding it was time for some therapeutic romantic comedies.

After watching Love Actually, followed by several discs of The X-Files season 1, I was suddenly overtaken with a desire that seizes me at the end of every semester--to clean and reorganize the apartment. It's like a cleansing, I suppose. I could no longer stand the dirty dishes, Smirnoff bottles, cardboard boxes from Amazon shipments and stacks of papers that had piled up during the last few weeks of the semester. Everything must go--into filing cabinets, the bins at the recycling center, or the trash. Old clothes must be donated, the apartment dusted, the furniture re-arranged. I managed to move the Queen-sized mattress and box spring by myself, as well as the five zillion pound elliptical machine in our bedroom, in order to make room for a new bookcase, which I then hauled home from Ikea and assembled more or less on my own. I re-hung all the pictures on the walls to suit the new furniture arrangement. I scrubbed the stove. I did five loads of laundry. I wrapped all the Christmas presents for our families. I read virtually nothing for an entire week, and it felt so good to be DOING--anything--instead of just sitting and reading.

I feel better, and now that we've come to our parents' homes to celebrate Christmas with all possible permutations of our family groupings, do you know what I want to do?

I want to cuddle up with my copy of Nadeem Aslam's new novel and Hermoine Lee's biography of Virginia Woolf. Followed by Ulysees by James Joyce, although even my friends in the literature department think that I would be punishing myself to read that particular book as Christmas "Break" reading material. I'm a sick, sick person, but I've regained my insatiable desire to read. Perhaps it's a good thing that while at my parents' house and my in-laws' house, there aren't too many quiet moments... another week or so without hundreds of pages to consume might do me some good. Except all I really want for Christmas is some time to read books of my own choice. Well, that and a yacht. But for now, I'd settle for the time to read.

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