Chained to my work
Some people never learn. Their inner alarms either fail to go off on time, or they just breeze through life pretending everything is hunky dory on the surface, even if they might be panicking inside. I am one of those people. Welcome to my life.
Last year, I took a risk when I signed up for the thesis option. At the Master’s level in English, there are easier ways to get a degree. Being enrolled in actual courses, instead of trudging through a 100 page thesis by yourself with your advisor for company, is a pretty good one.
I am lucky. My advisor is a sweetheart. Supportive, yet firm. Helpful without being ingratiating. But the fledgling of procrastination that I am, a self-imposed exile is my only way to salvation. Half way through, and yet, quite a way to go.
I have been distracted. By my recent move to a new house. By the blinding sunlight and chirping birds outside. By the promise of my fiction and poetry taking off from just being on my hard drive. Distractions are many. Self motivation? Not so much.
Forgive me, thus, for this self-imposed exile. I will be away for a month. Hopefully, less. Fifty pages of academic writing await me. See you on the other side.
An edited version was published by South Asian Generation Next on 4th November 2010.
I have been meaning to write this post for a while now. But I have been busy. With grad school.
Life as a graduate student is overrated. For one, you are always over exhausted.
Remember that day when you received that acceptance letter in the mail? That absolute joy that filled you when you realised that you would be joining the world of academic elites, something you had deemed impossible? Remember that smugness you experienced when you announced proudly to all those waiting in the wings to judge you by your future prospects? Remember?
Well, this “joy” is short-lived. It is squashed out of you through over work.
“Now, what is a little over work when a degree with a coveted Master or Doctorate next to your name on an official sheet of paper awaits you at the end of your journey?” you ask belligerently.
I would say nothing, except for the fact that I:
- Plan my life around naps: Yes, naps. An undisturbed all night’s sleep is out of the question when you are a grad student. Sleep is an inconvenience. There is just always too much to read, too much to write, too much to do!
- Read books with names like Dangerous Liaisons*, except they are books on feminist theory on gender and politics.
- Live from weekend to weekend: Weekends mean longer naps.
- Dream of the day when I could wake up and go back to being a carefree undergrad student: Sometimes, these dreams can become nightmares when you wake up and realise that they are nothing but dreams.
- Want to kill myself when I have to read endless badly written first year papers: You conveniently forget that you used to be one of them.
- Marvel at the lack of creativity of excuses on the part of first year students: Yes, you have been there and done ALL of that. So, when a student comes to you and says he couldn’t hand in an essay on time because he accidentally hit a deer on the way to school and then his car broke down, after which he lost his way to the university from the car repair store, you raise a sceptical eyebrow and go “Huh! Really?”
- Wish that I had a life beyond naps and endless reading, and then remind myself that I should be lucky to be in grad school, and then wish I had a life… all over again.
- Silently plot to kill my students when they hand in unstapled papers and justify themselves by saying, “but I folded the corners”. No shit.
- Attend 8:30 morning lectures of first year classes that I don’t belong to, but I am a TA (teaching assistant) for: You have forgotten what 8:30 classes used to be like, especially after you vowed in your first year never to take one again. Karma can be quite a bitch, huh?
- Nap in my office in between classes: How else do you think I get through the day?
Ok, back to my books now.
*Dangerous Liaisons is a 1997 collection of essays on politics of gender, race and identity, edited by Anne McClintock, Aamir Mufti and Ella Shohat.