Thursday, September 23, 2010

Notes from my lunar insomnia: Apologies from the wilderness

File:San Juan Bautista por Joan de Joanes.jpgA Harvest Moon tonight, the best in 2O years, so they say, and the sky is clouded over here in Ithaca. Damn you, Lady Fortune!

I return to you, a changed woman. I have a theory about academic work—that its rhythms of feast and fast, of heavy, intense work and periods of creative drought and no deadlines serve to mask a deeper, horrifying truth: that as you get caught up in the cycle of not much work, then intense work, you don’t realize the periods of rest are getting shorter, that the stakes are getting higher, and that no amount of work will ever be good enough. You don’t notice that you are working harder and harder, becoming a more intense person year by year, slowly turning into that workaholic academic you thought you’d never become.

I have always resisted this fate, hoping to remain a well-rounded, grounded person who does not live for her work alone, but somehow the system has gotten to me. How else can I explain this past month of near non-stop work on my dissertation drafts, on my articles, on my job search materials. How can I explain my abandonment of my beloved blog, my ceasing to touch base with another part of myself?

All this to say: I am sorry for having left Hortus Conclusus alone for a whole month! I have missed it and you, and I hope things will get better soon! I just have SO MUCH TO DO!!!!!!!!!! I have a plan though: I will try to post twice or thrice a week—that seems more manageable than my previous once a day, and then maybe catching up with you all won’t be such a daunting task. Then, hopefully by December, my life will be a little less intense, and I can resume my earlier schedule, which certainly brought me a lot of joy. 

I also have so many stories to tell you, if only my guilt about not working on ‘the important stuff’ first would let me write them for you…..

Sorry for such a frantic first post after such a long drought. Bear with me, my fragrant friends. I promise the old LBV is in there somewhere.

p.s. ironically, the article I am devoting my life to right now is about madness.

and Bellatrix, I am working on those lovely samples…..

Painting of St. John the Baptist (c.1560) by Joan de Joanes (1523-1579). Joan J. Gavara Collection (Valencia)

15 comments:

  1. I was wondering what happened to you. :)
    I hope you find the time you need to blog a little and successfully finish your dissertation.
    We'll be here, waiting. :)

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  2. Thanks Ines! I promise I'll be better....

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  3. You are so right about the rhythms of academia speeding up. Not only do the rest periods get shorter, the work level during the "rest" periods ends up being what it used to be during the "frantic" period, and the "frantic" periods ... well, you get the picture. I had to laugh at your famous last words, "by December my life will be less intense"! I don't know how many times I've said that, and the time never comes. You just adapt to the new level. Take it from someone who's been in this crazy business far too long.

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  4. Well, whatever the pace, we're glad to see you back - and hope you can get a breather, at least every once in a while! Good luck - and as Ines said - we'll be waiting!

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  5. Miss you! And hope to read more and also that you miss me. ha. ;)

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  6. Sarah,
    You and Divina over at fragrancebouquet.blogspot.com should strike up a dialog and possibly provide mutual support for eachother, especially during those academic crunch times.
    a:)

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  7. It's good to have you back! I've missed reading your posts. I do hope you'll manage to snatch some time here and there to update, it is always such a pleasure to read. Take care and good good luck with the academic whirlwind, chica.

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  8. Glad you're ok. Was beginning to get worried by your absence.

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  9. Do your best :) we all wait for your new posts :) :)

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  10. I am also an academic and there are intense moments as you describe. Last week, for instance, I slept 4 hours or less each night because a book I'm co-editing goes out for external review today. And when I was working on my dissertation, the last stages did require my utmost attention. I don't consider myself a workaholic, but there are times when the sacrifice and time/work commitment is great. The sacrifice/commitment are worth it only if we believe in the bigger picture/impact of our work, and only if we play as hard as we work, I think...

    Best of luck to you! I wish you much success. xox

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  11. What a fantastic blog you have! I look forward to, and absolutely bask in, your posts.

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  12. Hope to 'see' you here in the New Year, and hoping you're enjoying the holiday season!

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  13. I hope that all is well with you and yours, and that your oceans of creativity are pulled by the moon's tides in this direction once again, to these shores, where you are missed.

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  14. I am extremely impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your blog post..I appreciate your great work keep it up....

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what thinkest thou?

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