Saturday, November 7

Dream for a Depressed Grad Student

"That's for 5 years of my youth"

"And that's for all the mice I've tortured"

"This one's for the women I didn't save..."

"...that for the problems I didn't solve..."

"...this one for the questions I didn't answer..."

"..and here's for the diseases I didn't cure"

"That's for the 3 AM depression fits"

"That's for the constant worrying about never ever being able to afford a house"

"This one's for the grants that were never funded"

"There's 10 for the weeks of helplessness, inadequacy and loss of control"

"This is for the experiments that never worked..."

"..and the time courses that never produced interesting results..."

"..and the weekends spent in correcting proofs of manuscripts that never got submitted..."

"...poster sessions where noone came up to my poster...."

"..a big, fat one for crappy-ass conferences..."

"This here's for insane post-docs.."

"..let's not forget the socially inept grad students.."

"..demanding PIs who don't know what they're demanding..."

"..lily-livered mentors who quail in front of a thesis committee...."

"..thesis committee members, hah! A band of jerks if ever I saw one"

"Finally, here's 50 for the Shattering of my Illusions, you bastards"

Graduation gown confetti scattered around her feet as she glowed softly with satisfaction....and possibly exertion.

Tuesday, February 17

Blogging helps.

So, here it is. Or, I should say, here we are. Again.

It is not enough to know a language, to be able to immerse yourself in it. It is not enough to feel every comma, taste every meaning, thrill at the touch of a sibilant. That is the plain truth. It is not enough.

What you really need is the power of flight. You need to leave the language behind you like you would shed your clothes before stepping into the shower. Because, if you must have it frankly, the language just gets in your way.

The problem is though, that you become accustomed to the language. It is easy to become expert at spelling "loquacious" or learning to distinguish between the purposes fulfilled by a semi-colon rather than a colon. It easy because it is safe. The well known warmth, like that pair of threadbare cotton panties that appreciates the roundness of your bum just so, tenderly, is welcoming. It does not require squeezing or coaxing or the commodity that is hardest to come by, the courage to squeeze and to coax.

I do not talk about the ordinary, everyday courage that you need to put on lipstick and smile at a stranger without wondering whether there's lipstick on your teeth. I talk, rather, about that particular brand of courage that you borrow from insanity.

To think, first, and then to believe that those thoughts must be not proffered but thrust in to the mind of another, it takes a special sort of something. Let us pretend it is bravery. Let us even pretend that at least in some cases it is welcome. Dickens, comes to mind. Austen is another. And yet those names themselves should frighten any but the most foolhardy, surely. To follow in the deep trenches left by those lithe footsteps. Presumption itself must tremble at the thought.

Well satisfied, chastened, even, you beat a determined retreat. The fingers might itch in passing, keys might receive lingering looks and wistful sighs but the chin remains ever defiantly raised and the heart skips hardly a beat. Some thing lies in abeyance.

But you must write e-mails, after all. People need to keep in touch. Donne, that wise man, said once I believe that no man was an island. Even less of an island is a woman. Some might say she is more an oasis where Arabs and camels talk to the palm trees, as they chew on dates. The trick is to strike the right note in the e-mail. To never cheat, never flirt, never even try to look up that tempting skirt but to keep the note informal, informative and always without a flourish. That is the way to keep that some thing abeyed.

Maybe just the tiniest quip. A quip can do no harm. It is lighthearted, aiming to do nothing but create a smile in passing. A venture at a pun, maybe. You know old So-and-So enjoys his puns. There is no malice in a pun, unless it is intended. Everyone knows that. And all too quickly, the email is done. There is only so much that can happen in one life and the telling of it tends to create reduction. Embroidering is out of the question. That argument has been argued to a conclusion. There is not even anyone else to email.

And yet, those fingers - they will itch. Those looks, they will linger and those sighs most of all will insist on wisting fully. The monitor wists back. The keys glisten. The rising flood of thoughts must leave now. Must. leave. now.!

So, here it is. Or, should I say, here we are? Again.