Something magical has happened to me. It’s almost September; it feels very much like September–cool nights, the dark leaning in earlier each evening, days that feel more like a slightly wistful memory of summer than summer itself–but I don’t feel like September.
For the first time that I can remember, all of this climatic loveliness is not accompanied by a clinging and increasingly heavy dread. I finished all my excessive and sometimes amazing schooling in 2008. But this is the first year my body and soul haven’t started bracing themselves for the return of morning to evening study-work-study coupled with no weekends off, ever.
My god, this is glorious. I feel absolutely fucking fantastic. I feel as though something amazing is beginning, rather than ending; and although I have no idea what this amazing thing might be, it doesn’t matter; it’ll sort and reveal itself when it’s good and ready. Or maybe it’s that nothing in particular is going to happen in the next several weeks; yes, it may be precisely that no major undertaking will begin.
The point is, I’m ready for it, whether it exists or not; I’m not tired in advance the way the thought of picking apart literature and student papers used to make me feel; I’m not bored in advance of the inevitable syllabus choices, mine or others’, that can’t possibly be as amazing as the books I’d choose for myself.
I joked about sporting an Alice Cooper t-shirt to my thesis defense, but it’s only now, today, nearing the end of the shit-kicking, but also surprisingly wonderful, summer of 2017 that I know that school really is OUT. FOR. EVER! (Except for my Spanish classes, of course, but those are really, really just for fun; but more about those anon.)
Nine years….that’s a long time to finally get over being a seemingly perpetual, permanent, doomed student. It’s almost as though graduate studies are a kind of hostage situation, or a toxic and potentially abusive relationship. It’s almost as though–no, it is, in fact, that I am no longer subject to either Stockholm Syndrome or that bad boyfriend’s brilliant but poisonous mind. There are many kinds of freedom; it is really rather wonderful to have been visited by yet another one just now.
What shall I do with this freedom, this rebirth of joy in the wonderful possibilities of late summer and early autumn?
- First of all, I will not feel anxious about school.
- Second, I will not tempt fate by trying to go shopping for clothes or office supplies anytime within the next two to three weeks.
- Third, I will pity the poor kids slumping down the hill of my street for another year of social anxiety coupled with academic mediocrity.
- Fourth, I will forget how to count because who cares? I am no longer in school and I don’t have to know how to count; my smartphone can do that for me!
- Fifth, I’ll make lists merely because I feel like it, not in a fretful attempt to space all my assignments evenly apart; and if I feel so inclined, I will throw those little bastards away, knowing my life will not devolve into chaos if I do.
- Sixth, I will continue to read widely and randomly with impunity, more impunity! more randomness!, than before.
Damn tootin’. This combination of punchy and congenial is something I can’t recommend highly enough. Right, I’m off to bake the hell out of some pears I picked myself. Yes, that’s right. When school really is out forever, you can both go fruit-picking AND bake without guilt. Dare to dream, fellow babies.
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I still miss school, or maybe just the idea of school. I loved grad school and would have went on to a doctorate but I was too poor, financially, to continue. I thought I would work a few yews then go back, but that was about 20 years ago. I feel ok about it now. To quote another rocker, “If you want to get laid, go to college. If you want an education, go to the library.” ~ Frank Zappa.
So by these calculations I only have three years to go before my parole is up! In the meanwhile, this week I started fantasizing about buying a ticket to ANYWHERE south of the equator in order to avoid fall.