Coming to a Close

© Kylee Parks 2016
© Kylee Parks 2016

Summer sauntered. Autumn arrived. Winter wept.

So…it’s been a while. While I want to write regularly, it’s difficult to find the motivation to shout into the void (particularly when I post on Twitter instead). But as the end of the year draws near, I think perhaps I’d like to document my midnight thoughts.

I finished my fall semester with an A in each of my classes and what I hope are interesting term papers. My doctoral applications have been submitted (save one) but I still need to work on my summer research application. I’m currently fielding conference invitations to share the research that I am neglecting in order to finish the chapter manuscript due at the end of this month. I have one semester left of my program before I am officially considered a “Master.” Hopefully I know where my future leads by the time I graduate.

Sewing is at a standstill. I have numerous unfinished costumes and yet I continue to come up with new ideas and projects. Sometimes I imagine that a dedicated craft space would result in more finished work but more likely it would mean an even larger fabric stash and more half-sewn garments.

At the beginning of the year, I gave myself a fairly modest Goodreads challenge and I’m happy to report that I read more than my anticipated goal of twenty books. As of right now, my count is 37 books (though three are textbooks I did not finish but of which I read a great deal). I read fifteen collections of poetry and am especially fond of the wise words in Lang Leav’s The Universe of Us. There are seven books in-progress, two of which were nearly finished for my medieval literature class. Currently stacked on my desk are seven books I hopeto finish before my next semester begins. They are as follows (in no particular order):

  • The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis (in progress)
  • Horse Latitudes by Paul Muldoon (in progress)
  • Fixing English by Anne Curzan (in progress)
  • How to Read a Poem (And Fall in Love with Poetry) by Edward Hirsch (in progress)
  • Four Romances of England edited by Herzman, Drake, and Salisbury (only dear Bevis left to be read)
  • Insular Romance by Susan Crane (briefly skimmed)
  • Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur (not yet started)

Of course, I’m also reading A Storm of Swords and I wholeheartedly blame my sudden interest in A Song of Ice and Fire on Game of Thrones Book Club with Practical Folks. If you haven’t yet seen any episodes, there’s a special guest on AGOT episodes eight and nine (hint: it’s me).

I travelled frequently this year, primarily to Seattle but I also explored Portland, Orlando, and more of my home: southern California. While in Florida, Kylee shot a fine art series titled “Whispering” which can be seen in full at Colfox Photography. The featured image at the top of this post is from that series and I am always blown away by Kylee’s work.

I hope to put together a chapbook of my own poetry next year, featuring what I consider my best works of recent years. I’m caught between spatial experimentation in my newer works and the emotional weight of my older ones. Hopefully working on a small collection will help me to bring that distance together. I’m slowly becoming more comfortable sharing my poems because, while sharing my poetry is hard, pretending I don’t want to is harder.

I have little else to say and I have started most of these sentences with “I” so, as it is now nearing the end of the midnight hour, good night.

One Month Left

There are only four weeks left in the semester and I’m starting to feel the crunch. I’ve yet to begin the final project for my Linguistics course. There’s a rather large pile of articles and books for me to read, which will support the yet-to-be-started final project for my Rhetoric and Composition course. Next week, I’ll receive the prompts for the final essays in my Critical Theory course. Meanwhile, I haven’t worked on my AEME assignments since January and I’ve done very little sewing aside from a half-finished corset and 15 hours of hand beading trim for a dress.

My midterm essays for my critical theory class were returned this week. I wrote about reader-response theory for one and Leo Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilych for the other. They received an A and A-, respectively. While I’m more than content with my grades, I do wonder about the purpose of an A-. What does that minus sign signify?

Over the past two weeks, I also presented at two academic conferences. I took a shortened version of my analysis of the Pardoner from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales to CSU Long Beach. The next week, I cut down my paper on Virginia Woolf’s Jacob’s Room for presentation at CSU Northridge, my home school. Both conferences were vastly enjoyable for me and I look forward to future conference presentations.

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I’ll be presenting an original research project (the aforementioned rhet/comp final project) this summer at Anime Expo‘s Anime and Manga Studies Symposium. I have my primary argument and a stockpile of articles, books, and dissertations to read. I just need to find the time to read them, write my analysis, and prepare the web portion before it’s due in May. Oh, and prepare the AX presentation component (but I’m going to worry about that part after the semester ends).

There are four weeks left in the semester. Wish me luck.

No Apologies Tonight

Taken by KNP Photography, February 2016.

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.

Currently listening to Devin Sinha’s album, Our Past and Present Futures.

On Being “Smart Enough”

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.