Thoughts on the New Year

Good evening good friends!

I’m breaking the radio silence this evening to bring you greetings from sunny Orlando.  I have a great deal to say about what’s been going on down here, but frankly the much-needed break has been so good for my semester-addled brain that I’m having trouble convincing myself that breaking the sanctity of “vacation” is worth the amusing blogal anecdotes.  Don’t worry, I’ll get around to describing my antics at some point, but for now, I’m going to rest up, spend some time with my family, and forget that I’m an educated person.

I’ve read four books since the end of the semester, all of my own choosing, and I started on a fifth this morning.  None of them have anything to do with theatre, Shakespeare, or my comps list.  This, if anything, means “vacation” to me.

I wanted to take a moment at the dawning of a new year to reflect on how far the past 365 days have taken me.  Last year at this time I was just finishing up my PhD applications, struggling to steel myself for the final semester of my MA, teaching ballroom dance in New Jersey, karaoking several times a week for lack of anything else to do with my time, and in utter and complete life limbo as I couldn’t plan anything until I heard back from my programs.  Though I knew my life was about to change drastically, there was no way I could have any inkling as to how and where those changes might lead me.

This next year, I have a much better idea of the trajectory of the next twelve months.  That being said, the past year has been a reminder that even when one has plans, one still needs to allot for drastic change in them.  As much as has happened in the past year (and more!) could happen in the next year.  The illusion of consistency (the hobgoblin of little minds) is limiting at best and devastatingly crippling at worst.

I do have some plans for the next year.  I have at least one conference lined up, my first ever academic publication forthcoming, and another year of coursework ahead of me.  I will be learning another language over the summer to fulfill degree requirements.  I will be ramping up for Comps.  Next fall, I will be teaching at least one class.

I’ve never taken much stock in New Years’ resolutions.  To me, they mostly wind up being over-rated hype that more quickly turn into empty words than fulfilling promises.  Then, at the turning of 2006 into 2007, I realized my problem.

Start small.  That year, I resolved to finally finish reading Pride and Prejudice.  It worked.

This year, I’m resolving to memorize a better toast for next year.  Inevitably people look at me at midnight and expect something witty or wise or funny or some combination of the above… inevitably I come up short (either because I’ve had a few too many glasses of champagne or because I’m tired).  Somehow people are aghast and agog that the Shakespeare scholar can’t think of a single set of sage words to ring us into the next year.

Next year, I won’t be stuck fumbling around for such things.  For now, though, you’ll have to count yourself satisfied with this:

What is love? ’tis not hereafter;
Present mirth hath present laughter;
What’s to come is still unsure:
In delay there lies no plenty;
Then come kiss me, sweet and twenty,
Youth’s a stuff will not endure.

Have a happy, safe, healthful, fulfilling new year folks!  I’m going to go bury my head in the sand for another week.  I’ll catch you back in Boston!

Turkey Trot

Ah Thanksgiving.  A time to relax, ponder those things in life which we are grateful for, eat some delicious food, take a nap after dinner, and spend time with the family.  It’s the little break before the last leg of the race.  Just a breather before we launch into the final stretch.

Almost there.

So close.

It’s dangling right over my head, I can see it, I just can’t quite reach it (even if I jump).

Panic?  … …. …. PANIC!!!!

At the end of the semester every semester (and sometimes at the beginning depending on

Desk avec whiteboard. It literally looms over me as I work.

how overwhelmed I’m feeling), I dig out my giant whiteboard.  I list all of the assignments standing between me and the semester’s end.  I list their due dates.  Then I make a big check-box for each of them.

The whiteboard’s been out for about a month now and, while I can see that I’m making headway on all of these things I have to do, the big three (namely: papers) are beginning to loom ever-more-menacing.

It’s funny because I kept telling myself that, since I didn’t have class this week, I could get SO MUCH DONE and be in the BEST SHAPE EVER for that final push.  Well…. It’s Thursday.  So far I have managed to chip away at things, but no great or drastic improvement yet.  I don’t feel armed for this fight, I’m still waiting for them to alter my chain mail to fit me since I’m not amazonianly proportioned and, oh wouldn’t you know it, they stopped making chain mail in “short and stumpy” so they’re going to have to custom it and can’t fighting that dragon just wait another week, because they’ve got all these backorders due to black Friday and nobody gets work done during the holidays so it’s either go out there unprotected or wait a bit longer to get suited up and darn doesn’t it look like whatever pivotal equipment they need is going to fail horribly just in time to make my life incredible inconvenient?

Anyway, enough about that.  Let me take a moment and bow to the wishes of today’s holiday spirit and put some positive juju out in the air in hopes that it will come back to me when I need it in these coming weeks.

Let’s start with a heart-warming Thanksgiving story.

I wasn’t going to go home for Thanksgiving.  Driving down to New York to have dinner with my family, while appealing, was simply going to take too long.  I couldn’t spend what would amount to three days away from my work at this critical time in the semester.  So I regretfully tapped out of family dinner and went to start making arrangements as to how I could find some turkey to eat at my desk with my man Will.

My family is pretty much the best, because they decided that this meant (since I couldn’t come to them) they would drive up to Boston to spend the holiday with me.  My mom’s bringing a full turkey dinner.  My dad’s bringing bags and bags of high quality whole-bean coffee that he can’t drink anymore due to health reasons.  My sister is bringing her lovely self.  I’m really excited to see them.

So, while I still got up early to bang some things out today, as soon as they get here I’m putting the books down for the evening and taking a mental vacation for twelve hours.  I don’t care how far back it’s going to set me.  I have a lot to be thankful for this year and that pumpkin pie isn’t going to eat itself.

Ah the turkey. Nature's ugliest animal. Eating them is like beautifying the world, one drumstick at a time.

If you, like me, are still sitting at your computer frantically trying to put your affairs in order, I hereby give you permission to set it by a while.  There’s nothing you can accomplish in this twelve-hour span that’s going to be more important, or more rejuvenating, than a good turkey dinner, some booze, and good company.  Think about how lucky you are to be in the program you’re in, thank the fellowship gods, and then forget about it.  Life’s too short to let finals stand in the way of enjoying dinner.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.  I’ll catch you on the flip side with tales of the bloody battle to come; honor and glory; valorous victory; crushing defeats; injurious blows; and how to avoid death by library books.

Stay tuned.

A Vacation

I am in Maine.  Smack dead in the middle of Acadia National Park.  There is hiking and sailing and eagles and seals and porpoise.

…and the longer I am here…

…the more I am convinced…

…that if some higher power were to chose to send me to heaven (a dubious prospect at best given my choice of vocations… actors are no better than professional liars and scholars, well, just ask Samuel Johnson about how well they tend to do)…

…it would look something like this.