Before mercury, my blood used to fill thermometers.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Do not hurry, do not rest.

Two quotes that I believe are both in Annie Dillard's Writing Life that my friend Gretchen and I used to have all over our notebooks in college: "How we spend our days is how we spend our lives" and "do not hurry, do not rest," both of which at the time seemed comforting and providing adequate directions, make me feel now like I'm going insane.

I am in the middle of Against Interpretation and this is on its way. Because I read Sempre Susan a few months ago and I loved the observation by Nunez of Sontag's habits, "like a student all her life." Now that it is fall I am thinking of that.

A friend is finishing her thesis, having left school early, corresponding with her university, adjusting vocally to working life while trying to accommodate this pursuit powered only now not by the atmosphere or sense of community but by the love of what she's writing about. Reading makes me feel better and I need to feel better. It gives me the false impression that I felt certainly, extremely perfect as a student, which was not true.

My boyfriend and I were reading at the Scholar last weekend - it's expanded and the new parts are not always crowded. We were alone in the new space and I asked him what he missed about being a student, since, being ABD in history, he was a student much longer than I was. He misses the time he had, he said, and the control he had over his schedule, which was the exact opposite of what I perceived I had when I was in school. I do not miss anything, but what I am experiencing I think is resistance to adjusting my habits to a tendency to get devasated.

If I am taking the afternoon not to write but lie in bed after a bath and read Against Interpretation my restfulness agitates me. I resist the idea that there's no other thing I should be doing, no obligation to anything besides myself and getting myself in shape to do work. I wish there was no reconciling or healing and my head was full of only useful, beautiful things.

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