Sunday, April 25, 2010

More Sunday Night Musings

Another Sunday night, another Writing Center shift. Got my last hour open, so may as well waste a little time here.

Since last I posted, I've been to New Orleans for ACLA. The high points were definitely all the street-drinking and the insanely good food we ate (including alligator, and some phenomenal shrimp wrapped with crab, breaded, and served with a blood orange hollandaise sauce!). Low point was without a doubt Good Friday, where I, unlike certain other Catholics I won't name, fasted until 10:30 that night. I also resisted the urge to go to a strip club on Easter Sunday. Which, I figure, is a win for both me and God.

Given that my dissertation chapter is currently in the hands of my advisor, and I just can't muster up the will to go back and revise anything else yet, I've kind of been coasting since then. I work in the WC four days a week now (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday), and I spent a week prepping my application and interview for the Writing Center Admin job I've got next year (success! money! health insurance for a full year!). So any other kind of academic endeavor has been put severely on the back burner. I've been reading a few books, particularly a 600 page beast of a Vietnam novel called Matterhorn, which Captain Americanist recommended to me after seeing a review in the Times. Definitely a slog through the muck, watching many buddies die face down. Also contains one of the most disturbing "leech up the urethra" scenes I've ever encountered (and given my field of research, that's saying something). Tomorrow I may try to read through a theory book that my advisor left for me in my mailbox, apropos of nothing. It contains the cryptic note "Dubs, have you read this?", then has the name of a prominent theorist scrawled in a different ink. The theorist in the note is not the author of the book, nor is she referenced anywhere on the page where the post-it was stuck. She is cited in the work, but the index unhelpfully won't tell me where. So I guess I get to read this whole book now and try to guess my advisor's mind. Which, knowing him, will be assuredly surreal.

Still having my usual early-morning wakeups (today was at 4:30 and again at 5:30), though I'm pretty much used to them by this point. As I draw nearer and nearer to 30, I'm just tracking the slow deterioration of the rest of my body (matching up with the long-developing deterioration of my liver). Whether this will make my upcoming 30th birthday gala an epic drunkfest or a maudlin meditation on my own mortality remains to be seen. (I'll either end up sobbing into a boot of beer or attempting to jump over Lake Monona using only the power of my mind.)

I remember when my blog posts used to have some semblance of narrative coherence. Now, they're increasingly becoming just a collection of ramblings. Does this indicate some kind of lack of coherence in my life overall? Or am I just no longer prone to narrativizing the randomness of my life? Or maybe I'm just not having as much fun as I used to over a sustained period of time. (Wait, that last one is definitively true.) But it's an interesting question: what do we do here in Madison that's worth telling stories about? Vice is currently working on a folklore project, wherein she has to chronicle past tales of glory and shame from the department, and we were more than capable of providing her with many ribald tales of debauchery. But now, I ask myself what sorts of things we do that are worth memorializing in the epic sorts of narratives I used to craft on this blog? Events either boil down to "We got drunk" or "We got epically drunk, and I don't remember it enough to tell a story." The latter sums up Fangirl and Red-Headed Stepchild's recent birthday party/epic drunkfest, which others can chronicle but I cannot. But beyond events like that, I must question, am I really running out of narrative moments?

Jesus, that's sad. It's probably just indicative of my own general laziness and unwillingness to spend the extra time constructing coherence, rather than any commentary on the state of my life. Or maybe I just get depressed working in the Writing Center. Or maybe I need to stop having so many drunken nights, and instead actively seek out drunken adventures. Or maybe I just need to drink less, so I can remember the adventures we are having. Somehow that seems counterproductive...

Anyway, April's almost over, and my mood always improves once May rolls around. It means my friends will be finishing their course work, so they'll stop being so depressingly busy all the time. It'll mean a lot more weeknight escapades, such as porch drinking, terrace sitting, and general outdoorsiness. Bocce, grilling, fire-juggling, Up North drinking, etc. Plus that bottle of Oban Distillers Reserve is almost certainly going to get broken out for my birthday. And mayhap Virtue and I can finally plan the long-anticipated Oxford party. But I'll have to reread Brideshead before then, as well as brush up on my Jeeves and Wooster. Which will be difficult, but somehow I'll manage to soldier through.

Oh, and the recently revealed "Doctor Who" fanbase here in Madison is making me seriously reconsider my Dalek costume for next Halloween.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Writing Center Blog

Sitting here, at the Writing Center, on a Sunday night. No one is signed up for the last hour and a half of my shift. Others may come, but for now, I'm a bored man with a computer, and I have already replied to all my e-mail backlogs. So here we go; first blog post in almost a year.

Looking back at my last post, I see it was about insomnia. That's kind of sad for me, given that I'm still regularly having trouble sleeping. I find myself waking up at around 3:30 or so each morning, largely due to some kind of crazy dream. I then fall back asleep, and wake up an hour or so later. Repeat until 7:30, when I usually wake up for real. It's not terribly debilitating, as I usually fall right back asleep, but I choose to see it as a sign of my increasing mortality and the fact that I'm drawing ever closer to death and/or old age. (30 in May! Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!)

Blogging is a very existential thing for me at this point in time, given how disconnected I am from the rest of the online world. I conceive of blogging at this point much as Paul Celan saw poetry in the face of trauma--like a message in a bottle cast out in search of an audience that it may never find. Wow that was a pretentious comparison. Which is fine with me, since we all know I'm a fairly pretentious person. But my point is, I really don't even know if there's an internet community out there anymore. For the two of you who haven't heard (perhaps because you have been on Mars, living in a cave, with your eyes closed and your hands over your ears), I've given up facebook for lent. This has led to two disturbing and/or hilarious events: 1. I have no idea what is going on in my friends' lives, and 2. My wall has apparently become a breeding ground for all manner of vile calumny and lies. As I see each e-mail notification (which I piously delete without reading), I can only envision that some grand meta-narrative is developing, where my wall has become the battleground for the souls of mankind. Or at least it'll provide enough insight into the depravity surrounding my circle of peers that I can publish an article on it. Though the battleground thing sounds cooler.

Hmm...what else to write? Had beers with the Director last week, which was pretty awesome. He told us a long story about his glory days in Iowa City, where he and a friend started partying out in the countryside around 2pm, invaded a restored Victorian home whose caretaker they knew, crashed another party where "some dope was being smoked," piled into a car and went to Denny's at 6am, and then played tennis later that day. Oddly enough, I have no difficulty at all picturing him doing all these things, though in my mind he looks exactly the same age, and may in fact be wearing his lime green fleece. In any event, my dissertation director is all kinds of awesome.

I realize tonight that, due to my writing center shift, this is the first night in a week's time when I haven't been drinking to excess and/or drunk. Monday, Friday, and yesterday all involved margaritas at Tex Tubbs (which I have now begun to frequent at a very alarming rate, thanks to Red Headed Stepchild and blog newcomers Virtue and Vice,* whose fascination with the place borders on the obsessive), Tuesday was beers at game night, while Wednesday and Thursday both involved multiple pitchers at the Union (where, on Wednesday, Hambone and I soundly defeated Vice and her myriad of partners at an epic euchre series--a forerunner of things to come). And while I know that a decent chunk of the department will be out at the bar tonight welcoming the prospective students, I'm fairly sure I don't want to be drunk around them right now. I can't imagine I would have any words of encouragement to prospective grad students, other than to run away as fast as they can. So maybe I'll just have some scotch when I get home, to keep the trend going. Because tomorrow is my Ides of March drinking fest, where we celebrate the life and death of Caesar ("salad dressing dude!"). Is it sad that this is how I measure my life, or awesome? I think I'm going to go with awesome, at least until my doctor tells me otherwise.

Like the domestication of the dog, my dissertation continues unabated. I now have about 45 pages of my final chapter written, and hope to have a full draft done by Tuesday night. That and the drinking are the only ways I really have of delineating time these days. Otherwise, my life largely consists of moving from location to location, working in the Writing Center, and watching episodes of "Dr. Who" on Netflix. As I write this, I realize just how sad that sounds. Which you don't really notice if you're drinking as much as I've been. (And to be fair, I'm doing a lot of this drinking with friends, so that's all for the good.)

Hmm, what else? I realize that after a year, I should really have some fantastically amusing stories to tell. And I'm sure I do, but I can't for the life of me think of them as I sit here waiting for students to come. But I've only got to be here for another hour, so I've got that going for me.

Maybe I'll just read some; been working my way through Saturday and Gilead, swapping from one to the other as my mood dictates. Though I did spend a lot of today reading the new Star Wars novel instead, I'm not ashamed to admit. Given that I also walked about nine miles today and only slept for five hours (lousy daylight savings time *shakes fist at skies*), I feel perfectly justified in a little mindless popcorn fiction. In a perfect world, I could just throw my headphones in and watch more "Dr. Who." But people might frown on that. And by people, I mean the Writing Center director, were he to hear about it. Seeing as how I like money, I choose not to offend him in any way possible.

Guess I'll sign off for now, then. If I come up with any new insights before 9:30, I'll see what I can add. Otherwise, I may start posting again more regularly, I may not. Who can say? Till then, Dubs out.

*For the uninformed, Virtue and Vice are roommates, both in the department, who have become additions to our cavalcade of whimsy over the past year. Vice isn't particularly viceful, but Virtue already had that nickname, and seeing as how they're a pair attached at the hip, I'm content arbitrarily applying the term. (T, you'd particularly enjoy Virtue, who has this year discovered the joys of everything Brideshead [both textually and in Jeremy Irons], extols the pleasures of Wodehouse, and, despite the fact that she's a Medievalist, still has otherwise excellent taste. We're planning an Oxford party for later in the year, which will be glorious.)