Sunday, January 23, 2011

It Begins Again

In a couple short days, the semester commences. So ends the blissfully lazy days of the last few weeks, in which my brain was allowed to wander where it pleased and my hours were divided between Something and Nothing pretty evenly. Without a schedule, I lost, for a few days, the ability to structure my time, and I reveled in it. I'm sure it'll come back to me pretty quickly as soon as every hour is once again reserved for some task or another.

Of the Something: shoveling snow, and shoveling snow, and shoveling snow; various university-related tasks whose doing was neither unpleasant nor stressful; getting to know my environs a bit better, with the help of Actual Friends; cat-sitting for an old and persnickety but lovable and goofy old cat; and devising plans to instate my resolutions for the new year, which involves, of all things, a pedometer. I've never used one before, but apparently there are about 2000 steps in a mile, and so my goal to begin with is to walk a cumulative and approximate four miles a day, which may be difficult in the ice and snow that has been covering the ground for well over a month now. Some images of Something:



Similarly, images of Nothing:



Of the Nothing: it's hard to describe nothing. Reading and writing and thinking back, thinking forward; short trips and snow-filled shoes; cat naps, complete with cats; recounting and describing things in my head that I would at one point have recounted and described out loud; commiserating with friends on endless subjects, both personal and public; and wandering. Oh, the wandering. A semester's worth of hurrying makes the afternoons of wandering like an unattainable dream come to life, especially with the brisk winter air and the crunch of dehydrated snow underfoot (and yes, dehydrated snow seems like an oxymoron, but I'm sure you catch my meaning). The holidays were, once again, spent far from family, but at least this time we share a continent.

And so it all begins again. One of my resolutions this year is to allocate time for decompression, which means that my blog will not be quite so neglected, and I assure you, I have a good track record with resolutions, so this is not an empty promise. The fact that I will be around these parts more often means that I will have to constantly be on the lookout for new and interesting things to write about, which will probably also help me avoid the extreme tunnel-vision that is inadvertently appended to my academic program. I have high hopes and good boots, so I'm off on the right proverbial foot, excited for my two more days of Nothing.

Monday, January 03, 2011

January, 2011

I have just now decided that one of my New Year's resolutions is to write on my blog more often. I'm not sure that it will take, but I'll give it a shot. (I wonder how many people are making this same resolution right now, with the same wariness regarding its realization).

I am finally settling into having some time to be myself again. It occurred to me recently that the subversion of every aspect of the personality (except, of course, for coping behavior and survival skills) is one of the most traumatic elements of graduate school. I'm not knocking it - I knew what I was in for - but it's definitely a visible side effect.

Hence, it takes a little while to work back into the personality one uses during periods of relaxation. You know, the personality that listens to music, does things for fun, socializes, reads books without making notations. For instance: I am reading Günter Grass's Cat and Mouse right now (tr. Ralph Manheim), for absolutely no reason except that I feel like it. It was difficult at first, though. I took a lot of naps, watched an awful lot of movies, and walked face-first through a mini-blizzard over the last few weeks just to shake my brain out of its steady and high-pitched frequency.

(The movies I watched: Together by Lukas Moodysson, a beautiful and surprising film whether it's the first viewing or the fifth; Dolores Claiborne, a dark and lovely old nightmare in which Kathy Bates is seriously captivating; Dead Snow, a Norwegian slasher flick about Nazi zombies which was satisfactorily bloody but fairly flat; Rudo y Cursi, better the second time around; The Baader Meinhof Complex , which is about the Red Army Faction in West Germany in the 1970's and amazingly doesn't draw any heroes where there really weren't any; and some comfort-movies that only come out around the holidays, like Big and Moonstruck. Only joking! I'll watch Moonstruck anywhere, anytime).

Looking back, I see that I sort of abandoned my narrative of Petersburg in a cloud of discombobulation. I am soon going to pick it up, though it's long overdue, and I'll even wind my way up to the present. For now, though, Happy New Year to all y'all. Here's to a productive 2011.