Monday, May 01, 2006

Begin what I finish

The title of this post is backwards of course. But that's how this day has felt. By 7:00 am I had finished my fellowship proposal. Long story short, I haven't submitted. Yes, the deadline passed... well, not exactly. They extended until Friday. Good news and bad. Good that I have more time to make it better. Bad that (as Dr. Tasseplein once remarked, in good humor, and considering us alike in this regard) I'm one of those who will take whatever time I have to prepare: if it's 15 minutes, that's all it'll take; but if it's three days, you sure can bet I'll be using it all.)

I started to write a long-winded post here a few hours ago, explaining all of my power outage, and network troubles. But I deleted before publishing. And I won't rehash it all here, other than to say, I wound up coming back home after two hours on campus, and working out of the house, which is always a bit of an optimistic word for what I do when the boys are around to distract me.

I'm just feeling a bit out of sorts again. Atlas is still shrugging, but that damn globe won't fall down. It's been a long day. Nothing like a bit of an upset to my routine to set me off. Like I said (somewhere) recently, I'm not a control freak in that I care to tell other people how to behave. I just feel a strong need to be in control of my own life, my own destiny.

Planning for contingencies is something I do, to a fault. It sometimes drives the Rocket Scientist batty, when I lay out 13 possible variations at every turn. And considering I've applied to (it must be) over 50 jobs this year, you can imagine. I already feel out of control of my life in many ways. Today, even the little things I take for granted went out the window: electrical power on campus (the laptop battery only lasts so long); my home network down (if they hadn't extended the deadline, I would have been going crazy).

At the end of the journey, I still wonder what it was all for. Why did I push to finish the dissertation in 5 years? What was the rush? There was always the nagging, when are you going to finish?... Don't be like those who never finish... And so I did. And... it's... gotten... me... nowhere. Nowhere I wasn't before. Indeed, in some ways I was perhaps happier.

There's some comfort in being all potential, there's always something to look forward to, always something around the bend, an aim, a goal, something to achieve. Right now, I feel like I've receieved the most outstanding, unqualified recommendation for the tortellini rigazza at some new restaurant:
Oh, man... you got to try it... I mean, run, don't walk. It's so good. You won't believe it.
So, I breathlessly dash off to Little Italy, mouth watering the whole way, dreaming of the most heavenly pasta dinner I've ever had. Only, when I get there (following a series of minor mishaps -- each of which I shrugged off, in anticipation of ecstasy), I discover that the meal is as average as Chef Boyardee, with some parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

And that's how I feel about this PhD. Dr. Articulate Dad... Rigatoni Amandine... Whatever! It sounded a lot better before I tasted it. And the saddest thing of all: damn it, I know what I've done is good, what I have to give is good.

I'm out here with the wind whipping, and my tent shredded, the sun is going down, the temperature will drop. I'm without fire, without shelter. The food rations are running slim. My water will only last another day or two (maybe a Hanukkah miracle, we'll make it eight). And I'm wondering, will they come to get me? Is there anyone out there? Do I have enough left in me, to make it back?

I just don't know.

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