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.

Friday, January 23, 2009

It's Almost February...

...and I've spent most of January reading Harry Potter. Well, if the year has to be one-twelfth over, that was certainly an excellent use of my time. I've also been occupied with hundreds of sonnets--because as if I didn't have enough to do with my thesis and my comprehensive exams this semester, I have an independent study in poetry as well. I don't even have enough time to distract myself with the X-Files any more-- but at least I can justify my Harry Potter spree as work for my thesis. I haven't had any nightmares at all lately; I just keep falling into a sound sleep for about five hours and then simply waking up at 5 AM (!), so anxious about getting my work done that I feel the need to start up again at that ungodly hour of the morning.

The one break I allowed myself, however, was a day to go to the Inauguration of President Obama. And it did, indeed, take up an entire day--my husband and I joined the queue at the Metro station near our apartment at 6:30 AM, got down to the National Mall 3 hours later, and didn't get home until 5 PM (the ceremony finished around 1 PM). It was 7 hours of traveling in densely packed crowds in order to witness the important twenty minutes of the ceremony. Worth it? Well, now we can say that we were a part of history. It was worth getting out of the house for a day, even in the cold that stiffened my legs, numbed my feet, and froze my knees... it was also enough to tell me that I really don't feel the need to go to another presidential inauguration ever again, but at least I can say I was there for this one in particular.

All of this is to say that January has sped past, filled with anxiety-ridden nights, fifteen hour days and a strange mix of Shakespeare, Harry Potter and Pablo Neruda, with a little Barack Obama thrown in for some flavor. The nice thing is that even though I don't have any more time for X-Files marathons before bed, the inauguration has brought a resurgence of interesting political broadcasts. Now I can listen to msnbc.com reports on things like Obama's address to the State Department before bed, or the presidential press secretary's report on how Obama will indeed get to keep his Blackberry. These are important news items, after all--helpful to staying informed about political events and simultaneously able to help me drift off to sleep when I finally allow myself to put my homework down for the night.

The real challenge is how I will cope with the rest of the semester, once January passes by and I've re-read all my Harry Potter novels. Then I wont have an excuse any more; I'm going to have to start the actual process of WRITING my thesis... which I think will make February go much, much slower than January has.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Terrors Worse Than Alien Abduction

Christmas break has sped past, and I'm thrilled that I have nothing more exciting to report than the fact that I received a green ceramic turkey as a gift. Yes, a green ceramic turkey. All the usual holiday stories aside, though (including a little too much gin at one party, a little too much Chinese food at another) I spent my break from school uneventfully. We visited family and old friends in Michigan (where the cold reminded us why we moved south), then we returned home to D.C., where several X-Files marathons took up a lot of my time.

Guilt and anxiety have set in, though, that I did not study more for my comprehesive exam while I had the chance. I've got about twelve weeks to write and memorize about forty essays, plus prepare myself for the poetry section. I've also got to worry about my thesis; over the last week, I finally returned to my research, which made me realize just how much more work I have to do--with only eleven weeks to finish! And then there's my coursework to consider. Why, oh why, did I lay around watching Mulder and Scully so much?

Quite honestly, these terrors are exactly the reason why I keep retreating to the comfort of my new X-Files Complete Collectors Set DVDs, which I persuaded my husband to buy me for Christmas. Nine seasons of Mulder and Scully has been doing wonders for my insomnia: if I lull myself into a benign terror of alien abductions, incurable contagions, and government experimentation on human beings using alien DNA, I am at least able to fall asleep without thinking too much about all the work that will bury me in the next two and a half months.

Of course, every time I have an X-Files marathon, I start to have really disturbing dreams, which have already started. Only one of them has given me any sort of real fright--I dreamed a man was watching me and stalking me, so apparently I'm more afraid of human predators than aliens. The monster dreams mostly just amuse me--I'm quite fond of the most famous of all my dreams, the product of an intense several weeks of watching the X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I dreamed I was an alien slayer, a hybrid of Buffy and Mulder/Scully, I suppose. My friend Zack was being repeatedly impregnated by aliens and it was my job to hunt down the children he had borne and stab them through the heart with one of those click pencils that everybody loves using when they are in junior high. The whole thing was quite vivid, a little disturbing, but mostly hilarious... so much better than the dreams I tend to have about writing papers (and other academic nightmares) now that I'm in graduate school.

In the face of questions regarding Renaissance plays and free verse poetry, the X-Files has become my new comfort blanket. I'm hoping that if I watch enough X-Files, though, I'll start to have dreams about aliens and vampires again, instead of nightmares about endlessly re-writing my projects and taking tests. The real horror isn't the Hell that most people imagine, the place with flames and physical torture--it is, as Buffy once imagined, the experience of taking your exams over and over and over again...
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