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solipsism amok

I am the pillar, not the light.

However much I thirst to shine, to beam knowledge and brilliance across the seas, I can never be the crystal.

I am the pillar.

Steadfast, stalwart, dependable, solid.  Never wavering, growing only upward, reaching for the heavens but bolted to the ground.

I am the pillar.

Immobile and unwavering, stubbornly convinced of the integrity of my base, the construction of my form.  Solid concrete, from heart to skin.  I cannot be moved, I cannot be swayed, I am and only am what I am.  Extant, immutable.

I am the pillar.

Filled only when others fill me.  Remorsefully purposeless without a carefully nurtured flame, propogated by others, a mere shell awaiting a use.

I am the pillar.

Beset by barnicles, moribund in fog.  Begat of good intentions, but so singly-purposed as to obsolesce into fallowness.  Bereft of purpose.

I am the pillar.

A monument to faith, quaintly atemporal, belying the naievity of woman who dreams but doubts.  An obelisk dedicated to frictionless momentum, future forged by the first forward push.

I am the pillar.

Let Alexandria burn and build again.

smearing sincerity

This mental space is comforting, maddening, disturbing.   An item attempting to leave orbit with no way to judge the amount of fuel it takes to leave orbit, I’m seizing anything flammable and throwing it on the pyre.  I can only pray my resources and stamina can outstrip physics, and only then will I know whether my craft can even survive the atmospheric pressure.

The future is so tangible I can feel its inevitability and irrealis in even my most mundane actions.  My advisor has been slice time corrected and smoothed and sits before me the concatenation of every time sample simultaneously existing in the moment and serving as the culmination of decades of his actions.  His purpose is realized in the fomenting of my labyrinthal crusades, and it could not have been otherwise that he exists in this moment to give me sphinx-like hints to this quixotic riddle.

My erstwhile mind fixates on my own past, my foibles, my inconsistencies, my unworthiness.  I’ve been mentally tidying, mending this dusty web of acquaintance.  Apologizing for pains I’ve caused is ultimately futile, but somehow any end is better than a loose one.   I move from situation to situation, compulsively regurgitating agonies I’d swallowed in vain hope to rid myself of them.  My social failures dog me, but hopes of reconciliation and restitution have been long vanquished.  Failing toward forgiveness I find only my prostrate shame discarded, the detritus of accumulated actions and reactions no longer relevant to the narrative.

I rouse myself from these seemingly precambrian delusions only to discover I’m entrenched in the same mundane reality I ever have been.  Reading accumulates, papers get procrastinated, I impress, aggravate, avoid the same people in the same places, and I remember to walk the dog.  The inconceivably numerous voxels of reality concatenate together to form an interminable rope from past to future I am bound to follow.  Free will somehow remains: enduring, wieldable, oppressive.

I keep on slipping, slipping, slipping…

It seems around now, at the end of each quarter, this void opens up in my head. It’s a place I know I shouldn’t go, because I can’t be there and here at the same time. It’s full of thoughts: unorganized, murky, recursive thoughts. My papers live in here. I can dip my toe in, and pull out paragraphs like seaweed. But I can’t organize a paper, and think it at the same time. Today, I’m slipping in. I’ve organized, organized, organized… I’ve outlined, I’ve re-outlined, neatly stacked my books, prepared my topics, summarized my readings. This is as far as this line goes. From here, you must disembark, grab your paltry outlines, and step into the fog. If you’ve done a good enough job you’ll have stashed food in your pockets, water in your bag, and brought a map of the right city, in the right time. You gather this fog in your arms, package it, label it, store it, and arrange it. Three weeks pass, and you can’t remember why you were here, or why it seems like so much time has passed and there’s nothing to show for it. More weeks of silence, relative freedom, organized thought returns after a restorative period of languid disinterest. At the end of it all, someone gives you a grade: an A. The same grade you would have gotten regardless of the sequence of events that lead you here. Not because your paper earned it, but because your graduate school admission came with this clause: you’ll spend the next several years writing papers no one reads, compelled to do so by a sense of duty and a fear of the unknown, which will earn you in all circumstances the letter signifying your continued acceptability: an A.

What’s with linguists and these metaphors?

My life as a dialogue. I just got to the final and most persuasive subpoint, and I’ve forgotten what issue we’re debating. I carry on anyway, hoping that at the end of this section it all comes back to me. Or that no one noticed I obviously lost my way.

The King (and Swing)

Urgh, I’m having one of those gloomy sidekick kind of days.  I woke up with “Blue Christmas” stuck in my head.  Subtract out the holiday-ness of it, and you’ve sort of got my soundtrack of the day.  “I’ll have a blue, blue, blue, blue…” … day.  Sigh.

I don’t even think there’s anything amiss, other than it’s been raining for a solid week.  Maybe that’s enough to bring a girl down in this land of bright sunshine and relative warmth.  Partially I know it’s because I’m stressed out about the semantics presentation I have to give next week, though that in itself isn’t either very important or very difficult.  Maybe it’s just the only thing I have to stress about?  I’m feeling underworked again.  Like my quarter is filled with people who have low expectations of me.   This makes me tired, and perpetuates this feeling that I have nothing to give.  I’m not a person who can run with an idea very long without guidance or support or counsil.  I have to monkey-bar my way up the ladder, I don’t sail on my own.  And I’m lacking those in-between-y grips.

I guess when it comes right down to it, I’m always just me, swinging into the unknown again and again.  And there are a lot of days I don’t feel like I have anything worth sharing.  And lonely on these bars without someone on the ground watching.  All I can do is keep swinging, and wondering where these bars lead, and how soon and how far I’m going to fall.

Structuralist / Anastructuralist

What a ridiculously successful day.  I don’t even really know where to start.  I’m really tired, I should have gone to bed hours ago when I got tired, but I’ve been on such a roll, and there’s so much little stuff I could be getting done.  Lately it’s been seeming like I don’t need as much sleep as I need to get stuff done.  In other words, I’m getting physically exhausted before I get mentally worn out, which is a rarity.  I think this is probably good.

So there’s not actually that much to report from the day.  Feeling of success is mostly stemming from the meeting with my research advisor this afternoon.  Before that I just had Quechua, and it went pretty well, though was sadly full of frustratingly unexplained new and strange grammatical junk.  I guess that’s always what I get in Quechua.  Anyway, after that I met up with my research advisor and sort of brain dumped everything I’d been working on, and through a series of things I don’t really want to rehash it seems that I’ve gotten him really excited about the direction of my project, and I’ve uncovered the threads from which I might unravel some of my fundamental misunderstandings of Optimality Theory.  I really can’t go over how much this excites me.  It’s like a choose your own adventure version of my mental life.  I do a lot of work, I turn a lot of pages, and with every page I turn, another little hint is dropped… thus a whole mental universe contained in pages connected to pages connected to pages.  My own mental labrinth.

I’ve gone astray.  Met later in the afternoon (after a trip with Lewis to Sams… mmm) with my TA professor for a tiny meeting on this week’s homework grading.  Another thing I can’t say enough of:  how nice this professor is to work with.  So far, at least, he’s been really considerate, pleasant, and amiable.  He also ascented to look over anything I need while I’m working on this phonology paper (as he is, in fact, a phonologist).  This is great.  I’m TAing for his Optimality Theory class, so it’s the perfect stage for us to get our brains together on the Optimality Theory portion of the paper I’m working on. As an added bonus, my graduate program advisor had just recommeded him to me as a likely candidate to be on my PhD committee if I am in fact going to go forward with a phonology thesis.  I can’t imagine doing otherwise, so good to get the relevant folks on my side earlier than later!

Saw a colloquium from John Ohala this evening, which was slightly less eventful than I might have hoped.  At first, his presentation seemed to be speaking directly to the conversation I had been having with my research advisor, but then it veered off in a different direction and left me wanting.  It was nice to see everyone I know all in one room at once though, since pretty much the entire lingusitics program – professors and graduate students alike – was in attendance.  It’s always good to see famousy linguists talk though, if for no other reason than it’s healthy to separate the reputation from the man and to see how peers interact in these environments.  I’d like to think I wouldn’t been so star struck as to avoid the risk of making a fool of myself in front of someone big-named  in favor of being meek.  It’s funny how much of my graduate school education lately seems to be learning to operate as an equal and valid individual in such a small field.

Tomorrow… doctors appointment, and only one class!  Also, perhaps, picking out new frames for my glasses!  Could be good times.

A Voice As Big As the Sea

…by which I mean eternally droning on and on until the rocks of your attention break into tiny granuals and I wash away the continent of your comprehension.

I wrote essay (singular) and replied to emails (numerous) all day.  Emails were odd – some really downputting, like telling my professor I protested to some of the questions on our final, and telling some of the kids I TA for that they can’t do anything about their grades.  Some good though, since a few kids were studying today and needed help with some questions.  Those are uplifting.  All I can do is shake my head at the final though.  I really protest having questions on there we haven’t talked about in class.  It turns into a reading quiz where none of the material is discussed, tested, or mentioned, and you had several hundred pages of new technical material to get through in the last 5 weeks.  Then again, this is probably why we curve the tests.  Sigh.

Essay went pretty well.  I got the portions I wanted to get done written, and I’m well set up for tomorrow’s big push to get the first one finished.  From there onward it’s one big day of final administering, and one more big paper, and then I’m free!  Hopefully we can get a few other things done between here and there – like getting a christmas tree.  And maybe even a puppy!  Saw one online today that’s at the Yolo County shelter that we could potentially pick up Tuesday or Wednesday if it turns out that’s what we want to do.  I think Lewis and I are both waffling now that the time is getting near.  I just don’t know about these things.  And it’s so hard to make a clear decision while you’re exhausting yourself with school work and other responsibilities.

Which reminds me.  When my eyes unfocus and my sentences creep on, it’s time to go to bed.  It’s definitely that time.