It is so cold here in Maringouin, no building can stop it. The air-swords find subtle entry to your flesh at every point. I am still reading about Esther Murphy in Lisa Cohen’s book and wondering whether I resemble her, in her intense, yet undisciplined work effort, her struggle to focus, and her planned, yet never executed long works.
I think not. People have been saying I was organized, focused and disciplined since I was a week old.
This, again, would be why I so dislike academic advice. On the one hand, it wants to hammer in what one already knows. On the other, it screeches about the need to take time off just when you have been assigned a new task and really and truly will not get paid if you do not do it. It is yet another double bind, assuming you need more discipline and also less, and also that you would not be competent to manage your own day; most frustrating about academic advice is that it does not take questions, but only repeats rules. Is it really true that these same professors value autonomy in their students? There is something to be said for the Zen master attitude, where you keep repeating your dictum until the interlocutor comes up with a reconversion of it that fits them. But there is also something to be said for dialogue.
I am already a fast thinker and the most common imperative, to go even faster and get even more efficient, means going too fast to keep your feet; not giving oneself enough time is what gets me intimidated and paralyzed.
I woke up this morning thinking of the day I got my dissertation signed. Driving along a glinting highway I had a feeling come over me: I will never put off my own priorities again.
I woke up this morning thinking of my first job. I said: there is no time to waste, I am a professor in a certain field now and I am not fully trained to be that; there are whole subfields, a system to acquire right here, it is quite interesting, let’s start.
I woke up thinking of the ex-wife of a friend of mine, who left the profession and her marriage as well, just to make sure she was really gone. “It is so good not to be on the straight and narrow anymore,” she said. I woke up thinking that the straight and narrow is what I was born knowing, not what I needed to learn (as it apparently is for so many).
I woke up remembering the eddies and bayous, the tributaries in which I have swum like Esther Murphy. I woke up thinking it is not the straight and narrow I seek. I woke up dreaming of the broad road.