Friday, February 13, 2015

all year long

Lately, in the corners of the internet that I inhabit, I've seen a lot of this sort of sentiment:

"We don't celebrate Valentine's Day in our house because my partner and I love each other all year long and give gifts when we feel moved."

It reminds me of the people who said things like, "December 25th is an arbitrary day. Even if Jesus was born, it wasn't in December, and we should work for peace on earth and goodwill towards men all year long."

Or the ones who said, "What's up with 'Giving Tuesday'? We should be generous to the charities we care about all year long."

How does that work, even? So, we should be nurturing our relationships with those nearest to us, reaching out in peace to the wider world, and remembering to support those who are less fortunate all year long? That's a lot to do every day. I'm not up to that task.

While I totally understand rejecting the consumerism that so often accompanies holidays in American culture, I'm having trouble following the logic of repudiating the holidays entirely.

I'd be lying if I said that the romantic rhetoric of Valentine's Day didn't make me feel at least a little bit lonely. I have a lot of love to give to a partner, and I hope to find someone who has love to return in equal measure, so I'll spend some of my meditation time tomorrow directing that love toward myself and also making space for a partner to step into. Then, all year long when the lonelies attack and I despair of ever meeting anyone ever again, I'll have this Valentine's Day meditation to remember, like a token in my pocket.

I will be celebrating love on this Valentine's Day, too.  Sofia and I are babysitting so that my best friend Erin and her husband David can go out to dinner. Because even though we all agree that going out to eat on Valentine's Day is insane, sometimes it's fun to embrace the insanity. I'm not sure what they'll be eating, but Sofia, Margaret, Blaise, and I will be having a pirate meal complete with octopus (hot dogs cut specially before boiling), doubloons (carrot rounds), seaweed (lettuce), and yo-ho-ho punch (sparkling juice). You should totally be envious.

If we reject holidays completely, consumerism wins. Subversion is a much more effective way to reclaim the values our holidays claim to celebrate.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

not pretty

I've unfollowed a couple of my colleagues on Facebook recently. Their well-deserved joy at their own progress has been feeding the monster of my impostor syndrome.

One Colleague: Just cut a 60 page chapter down to ten pages for conference presentation!
In my head: 60 page chapter?!?! Who does that? Are my chapters so short that my committee will just tell me to quit? What am I missing?

Other Colleague: Writing my acknowledgements! Submitting the defense paperwork!
In my head: I'm happy for other colleague, who has worked hard, but I started first. What have I been doing all this time? Why didn't I work harder?

Still Other Colleague: Finishing up an r&r. It's so much easier the second time.
In my head: The second time? A second article accepted? *sob*

I don't begrudge my friends their celebration of their accomplishments. Really, I don't. This job is hard, and often lonely, and we need to invite others to celebrate with us when we get something done. Yay, my colleagues!

I'm not interested in beating my colleagues in the marathon that is the dissertation process, either, but I'm having a really hard time continuing to run while being lapped.  I'm already a year behind where I wanted to be, and even knowing that I spent that year becoming a damn fine head of household and executor of estate is little consolation.

As with the tendency toward photos of clean, smiling children and tidy houses on social media, academics' posts about our writing tend to present more the good parts than the bad parts, which leads to a skewed impression of what the academic writing process looks like.

So, here's a shout out to any other graduate students who are struggling:

 It's not pretty over here. My prose looks like shit. A significant number of my footnotes say, "FIND SOURCE!!!" I've fallen out of love with my dissertation several times now. My books are all in boxes  < snark > because moving in the middle of a dissertation was a great idea < /snark>. I'm slogging.

If any of that resonates with your experience, here's a fist bump of solidarity: p#d