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, 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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