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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Archive for the day “June 11, 2017”

Intensely Understood

And what makes this encounter with the Former Nemesis so intense is that I felt so completely understood with her. I haven’t felt this understood and in sync with anybody who is not a close personal friend or my sister in forever. (With N we are not on the same wavelength at all, and it’s the reason our relationship is so passionate.)

This is the last person I expected to be so like me (see the part about Trump in the previous post.) It’s so weird. We literally finished each other’s sentences. So weird. 

I’m now wondering who else I should look up to see how it would feel. 

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Inspired

I just had a 4-hour-long dinner with my former thesis adviser, and it was shockingly amazing. I had a fantastic time. People who know me in person have just fallen off their chairs because they are very aware of how fraught my relationship with her had been. But today I discovered that she is a passionate, fun person.

Gosh, I so wish I could have seen this in her back when I was a student. It’s incredible how much one’s inner darkness colors one’s experience of people and places. 

Of course, she’s a Trump supporter because hello, she’s a tenured professor at Yale, what else could she be? And we all know me, I’m pathologically vocal about my politics, so I announced from the start that I hate Trump and supported Hillary. And still we had a fantastic time chatting about everything and especially politics. 

I’m super psyched because it’s not even about the professor. It’s about me making peace with my past. I feel energized and inspired and almost ready to cry because it’s such a relief not to have to hate my past any longer. 

No-Heaven is now officially renamed back into New Haven. 

Writing Process

Here is an interesting link on the writing process. It made me smile because I’m the exact opposite of this author. I grab my phone and scroll through my news feed the moment I wake up. My desk is chaotic and overflows with grocery receipts and unopened envelopes. I have a million windows opened at once. I interrupt my writing every 10 minutes to pay bills, check new Vine offerings, answer emails, buy diapers, read blogs. 

But I’m also the most organized person in the world. I print out my syllabi and arrange them in neat piles 3 months before the beginning of the semester. I write my conference talks months in advance. I have never in my life asked for an extended deadline with any of the publishers or my committee. 

My mind creates ideas out of a complete chaos. But I contain the chaos with the steely organization routines. 

It’s neither better nor worse than what the linked writer does. It’s just me. 

Organization 

Jonathan talks about the importance of spending time on actually organizing your work. And he’s absolutely right. I can’t tell you how helpful it’s been to learn to start every writing project with a calculator in hand, figuring out what exactly I will write and when.

I remember this exhausting feeling of the utter futility of even trying to write unless I had a long, unbroken chunk of free time ahead of me. And now all I need is 30 minutes. Hell, even 15 minutes are enough time to rewrite a clumsy sentence, start a new one, work on connecting two paragraphs, break up a breathless sentence or merge two choppy ones. 

A Chunk of Marble

Writing an article is akin to sculpting in marble. I create a Word file, dump a bunch of quotes, sources, ideas, unfunished sentences into it, and begin to bang on them, trying to bring out a meaningful image from the raw material. 

Gradually, an outline of something recognizable and maybe even a tad elegant begins to appear. I continue banging on my chunk of marble, and it even feels physically exhausting because marble is hard and refuses to be molded. 

It’s easy to come up with ideas and envision what the finished marble statue will look like. It’s the actual process of carving, sanding, polishing and then doing the whole thing over and over again that’s hard. 

Indian

The Indian buffet across from where I used to live is still the tastiest in the world. Maybe it’s psychological because I have great memories from it. But they managed to stay open when most non-chic place went out of business, so they might be objectively great. 

Let’s Be Friends

The friends I was reuniting with in New Haven have left, and I’m going to spend the day reuniting with the town on my own. It’s like having a disastrous relationship with a guy and then meeting him 10 years later and realizing that he’s not that bad and you might even be friends with him. Granted, I’ll never feel this way about any guy but maybe I can about a town. 

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