I know it’s been quiet here. I don’t have much to say right now. I have a lot of ideas and partially written posts but I just don’t feel the energy to do anything. I haven’t worked on my midterm papers for my classes. I haven’t contributed to the research project I’m working on with my professor. I haven’t prepped either of the conference presentations coming up in a few weeks.
This week was my spring break – a much needed pause from the hectic whirlwind of my graduate life. I should have used that time to complete my rather long list of course-related projects as well as a variety of personal projects. But I didn’t. I just didn’t.
And I don’t feel bad about it. Well, I don’t feel bad about it today. I probably will tomorrow. And the day after that. And the day after that too. I imagine that my own procrastination will loom over me until the end of the semester.
But today, I don’t feel bad. I needed the rest. I needed to be able to mentally check out and let myself be carried through the week without worrying about due dates.
I’m worn out. I’m exhausted and beaten down and worn out. For once, I don’t want to apologize for it. Tomorrow I probably will but not tonight.
If I haven’t already mentioned it, I’m taking a class on Rhetoric and Composition Theory for my Masters. We’re looking at the conversation between historical rhetorical studies and composition studies, which are both entirely out of my comfort zone. My emphasis is literature (specifically, medieval) so forging my way through rhetoric and composition isn’t exactly easy. To be honest, reading composition theory can sometimes more challenging than reading literary theory (but only sometimes).
This week, my professor paired Patrick Hartwell’s 1985 “Grammar, Grammars, and the Teaching of Grammar” with our readings on Renaissance rhetoric. While I haven’t yet drawn the connection between the two, I was intrigued by Hartwell’s article (and way more than Peter Ramus and Francis Bacon combined).
Since I’m also taking a course on linguistics right now, this article spoke to the ideas of that course, not only in the “Grammar 1” and “Grammar 2” sections, but also in the general idea that formal grammar education is less helpful than we think it. I loved Hartwell’s point about “redefining error,” since I think that’s indicative of most grammatical issues. Most of the time, I can’t recite specific grammar rules because I never really learned them explicitly. I learned through acquisition and internalization. Besides, my linguistics professor says that prescriptive rules aren’t really worth their weight and I’m inclined to agree.
While I’m sure that I did receive formal training, I never did sentence diagramming or the likes. Sure, maybe my writing is weaker because of it but I don’t feel that I’m a poorer writer as a result of never diagramming. Maybe I can’t toss out the terminology but I can pretty much work out how a sentence works without having that terminology. And is that a bad thing, really?
Ideally, I would hope that my students can likewise internalize grammar rather than recite by rote. As my I prepare lesson plans for a beginning composition class full of non-native English speakers, I’m hesitant to use rigid rules or complex worksheets. If I can’t explain it in my own terminology and have to rely entirely on unfamiliar words, I can’t help them learn. And I want to help them learn. I don’t really have a good idea for how to do just that, so I’m definitely welcoming suggestions.
I’m a graduate student and usually that just means I’m pursuing an additional degree specialization beyond a standard B.A. But some days it means that I’m reanalyzing my view of myself and adjusting my expectations of my intelligence in accordance with my peers.
I’m in my second of four semesters pursuing a Masters of English Literature at a local state university. With three grad level courses per semester, my academic muscles get the practice they’ve been sorely lacking since I finished undergrad. I’m pursuing research opportunities, teaching supplemental composition classes, and reading an endless list of CFPs.
But more than that, I’m dismantling the idea that I am “not-( )-enough.” A few weeks ago, I submitted an abstract to a nearby academic conference. The paper I proposed is one that I wrote three years ago and, more likely than not, need to rewrite in the time preceding the conference. I received an invitation to present at this conference yesterday morning and I was floored. It’s not that I expected to be accepted, but that I expected to not be accepted. I was viewing myself as clearly not-(articulate, intelligent, accomplished, etc.)-enough to be accepted to an academic conference. Except that I am.
I’m just beginning to come to terms with what graduate school means about my identity. I’m still navigating the reality of the fact that, not only did I get into a graduate program (technically two, if you count the acceptance to Claremont Graduate University that I turned down two years ago), but I am capable of living a life of academic rigor. And not every day is an easy day. But today, with my first invitation to present at an academic conference, I feel like I am meant for this.
Some days are better than others and I know that there will be days where I feel overwhelmed, unimportant, and unworthy. On those days where I begin to think that I am not-enough, I hope that I can also remember the ways in which I am.