He’s Back? He’s Back.
Dusting off the old keyboard, getting back on the bicycle, third allegory; I’m still here, again, anew.
In the past couple of years, I’ve been working towards my PhD, which in all honesty has been immensely time consuming. (Who knew?) The vast majority of my time in soaked up in reading, sometimes writing, and grading papers. It’s hectic, but not a bad life. In fact, it’s a bit of a safe life.
Before my latest schooling, I led a much more writable life: working for companies who didn’t always have a good track record when it came to paying their employees; getting stranded in foreign countries; dating; hanging out in bars with friends. I never understood people who were “bored.” Bored people aren’t reaching for the next adventure, and I was all about adventure. Of the slew of adjectives in my arsenal, bored was nowhere to be found. In fact, I still haven’t dusted that off yet. But now, my adventures are much more stationary (and stationery). I still take my students’ papers on adventures, to cafes in Rhode Island and Airbnbs in Maine, but the act of grading is a solitary and often one-sided conversation. When I’m not grading or inserting comments or scribbling in the margins in runny blue ink, I’m reading. But reading at a professional level: I’ve always been a multi-tasking reader, reading two or sometimes three books at a time, depending on my mood. Against all sound advice, I read and walk, especially if the literature is good. But now I’m up to five to seven, sometimes with a highlighter, sometimes transcribing lines I’m certain I’ll quote later, sometimes reading on the laptop, and sometimes lying on the grass as the sun shuffles slowly across the sky. And when I’m not grading or reading, I’m verbing: researching, weaving, knitting, cleaning, driving, drinking coffee (which should be condensed into its own verb—I’d get much more use out of coffeeing than coughing), jogging, planning, etc. If this PhD has taught me anything, in terms of transferable skills, it is how to utilize time and how to research independently.
In fact, I was at the national archives in Waltham, Massachusetts a few days ago, and my favorite archivist and I got to talking. Every once in a while we break the silence of the research room by chatting about the latest film or the direction that digital technology is heading in (two areas on my exam list—I suppose I do have a one-track mind when it comes to my work, but I love to gather opinions about these areas). This time we talked about everything, and about nothing, for somewhere close to two hours. We held ideas up and turned them over and put them back down. And I realized that that’s what I missed most about writing in my blog—it is the written act of taking something from life, examining it, refuting it, embracing it, and putting it back down. So here I am again. Instagram offers this in picture form (when I praised Instagram, my archivist friend said, “sure, but when was the last time you saw a post on Instagram that wasn’t filtered to the gods?” I myself am filter illiterate, preferring the power of reality). Twitter is the pithy form; Snapchat the transient form; Facebook…Facebook just feels wrong for this kind of in-depth consideration. Facebook is the place health announcements, cat pictures, and party invitations. (To prove my point, I skimmed my Facebook feed, and in actuality it’s pictures of art, wineries, and one person taking the names of a few good chiropractors.) But a blog—here I can be as rambling or as pithy as I cared to be, and as precise or as rambling as I would be if I sat across from you on my front porch, coffeeing.
So welcome, again, to my in-depth ramblings and considerations. I’m older now, and safer perhaps, but never ever bored, and hopefully never boring.