Friday, March 13, 2009

Long, slow march into May...

There are only a few weeks left of classes, and I feel insufferably behind. I've been sick, I've travelled, but what it boils down to is that I am wiped out. Mostly mentally. That's what graduate school does.

Lately I'm reminded of a race I ran once in Percy Warner park in Nashville. It was a lovely 10k, and the first half (at least) was entirely up hill. The thing that made it so crushing to the brain was that the trail was winding. So I would get to what I thought was the top, and discover that there was still more up to go. When I bonked, I was fairly certain I was going to hit the sun. (I had some SportBeans and a gulp of water and shortly thereafter the downhill began. My brain started to work again.)

Today I bonked academically. I have any number of reasons, including overwork, pure exhaustion, the afore mentioned illness, student demands, but the point is, I couldn't do it anymore. I was working in my office, and after a brief internet break, I picked my book up to read again. I had to look at it for a full 30 seconds before I realized it was upside down. At which point, I did the academic equivalent of having some SportBeans and some water: I packed up and went to the yarn shop, where I bought a new bag (exactly the sort of messenger bag I've been looking for, and on sale) and a skein of entirely superflous sock yarn. (my only defence is: Noro was on sale. 20% off. As a knitter, I was obligated.)

In other news, I sat in the weirdest in-class discussion of my many years of education. (I am, after all, in about the 23rd grade now.) In the class I TA for, there topic of the lecture was reactions on the part of composers to the Great Depression. In particular, Aaron Copland was the topic at hand. They were talking about his Amercanist period, and the work Appalachian Spring (ignore cheesy powerpoint), and the question came up, "why is this American?" Since the only students who come to class on Fridays are the ones who actually care, and might have even done the homework, a really coherent and interesting discussion ensued. They were talking about the American idea of building things ourselves, and the vast open spaces of the American landscape, and ignoring the plight of native people in order to create a heroic narritive.

Then I remembered where I was, and the whole thing fell apart in my brain. My boss, leading the discussion, is a British woman, leading a bunch of Canadians in their quest to figure out and articulate "Americanness." And I had to sit there and listen. What a weird day. I'm going to spend my evening at home with a bottle of wine, perhaps a pizza, and my dog give my brain a rest, before trying to figure this stuff out tomorrow.

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