Whoever decided to only put one week in between Thanksgiving Break and the end of the semester deserves to step on a floor of Lego blocks for a very long time.
I didn’t realize how much I was depending on the turn around time after Thanksgiving to get ready for the end of the semester. Fortunately, due to my obsessive need to plan everything out and work weeks ahead of schedule, I found myself with a substantial part of my final papers done coming back from break. But I also realized that was somewhat unusual. Most of my peers had nothing written, no ideas, no arguments, and while I totally understand that procrastination is absolutely a way of life for some people, even the idea of having nothing this close to due dates was enough to nearly send me into a panic.
I cannot imagine what it must be like to work under the pressure of a next day deadline. I don’t want to imagine it. As a perpetually anxious person, I need to do anything I can to alleviate the stress I do have to deal with. So if that means getting an obnoxiously head start on papers…well, you know the rest.
Two of my three deadlines are Wednesday at 5 PM; the other isn’t technically due until Christmas Eve, but the thought of having one final paper hanging over my head for another three weeks also stresses me out, so that paper will probably get submitted with the rest of my semester portfolio.
As of today, I have drafts of two papers and half of the last; I’ve sent two in to professors to get comments and I have one back already; and after I finish writing this blog, I’ll probably get cracking on that last paper. Fortunately, it’s just a literature a review and a sort of exploration of my field of interest, which I’m discovering is Blackness in speculative, fantastic fields (thank you, Richard Iton, for expanding my ideas of the Black Fantastic), particularly sequential art and comic studies (which, thanks to Deborah Whaley, I’m realizing is not the same thing). Honestly, the literature review has been helpful; if anything it’s been helping me organize my thoughts and ideas, narrow down my areas of interest with laser precision, and read what else is out there, thus figuring out where my own work will fit in this larger intellectual conversation.
My research paper has been an experience. I started thinking about how I could track the image of Black Panther, the comic character, over time and then the deeper I got into the research, the bigger I realized what I wanted to talk about was. I wonder how often that happens and what happens when your realize your project is too big but you want to keep working on it…Maybe over time, with more research, this paper might turn into my first article that I refine for submission to a journal.
Finally, I’ve been working on a sort of interdisciplinary, literary analysis/criticism for my Interracialism class. I took a look at racial formation through musical and linguistic articulations, and how that may look in different geographic spaces, in James Weldon Johnson’s Autobiography of An Ex-Colored Man and Esi Edugyan’s Half-Blood Blues. I love that I’m coming back to works that I found intriguing in undergrad and finding a use for them now. So special shout out to Professor Hamilton who assigned some bomb books I probably wouldn’t have read otherwise in Musical Fictions, and also to Professor Woolfork for her Fictions of Black Identity books. I should also take the time to thank her for kicking my ass in terms of my writing. I will never forget how hard I had to work in her class–I bring that ethic to everything I do now.
Through out all of this, I have been trying to take care of myself…with varying levels of effort, thus with sometimes spotty results. I did outline my ideal study/work day and my usual attempts to organize my work and life during finals, though, for the site I write for Literally, Darling, so if you’re interested in my tips and tricks for surviving the madness, be sure to check it out here.
It’s hard to believe that the next time I write might be the last until I gear up for Act I, scene II of the drama that is my life as a graduate student, because it’ll all be over for the moment. I can’t wait to reflect on it all, to see the road I’ve come down, and assess the path ahead.
Over break, I might toy with writing a few blogs on writing the big papers, figuring out your areas of interest and reading on your own, and application tips and tricks that I didn’t know about when I was getting ready do the graduate school thing.
I’m so proud of myself for making it this far, and thank you, dear reader, for traveling with me as I embarked on my latest great adventure.