Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I am a leaf on the wind...

It's funny, but the closer I get to my exams, the more serene I am -- during my serene periods, that is. When I'm not serene, I'm obsessively reading something. Yesterday it was re-reading and taking notes on Chaucer. Last night? Bede's De Arte Metrica, and the work on Tropes that I can't remember how to spell (thank goodness these are orals, eh?) Today, I'm prepping for my final meeting with my major list adviser. Which means reviewing Bede and Aelfric, reading some articles (and a book) on the same, and then...well, whatever seems to be next on my list.

I've resisted the idea of making a schedule of my work, right to the very end. That's a bit new to me. I know what needs to be done -- I could probably make a list of it. It's mostly note-taking and articles now. A few stray Canterbury Tales I wouldn't mind re-reading (though given that I lectured on the Pardoner a year or so ago in a class I TA'd for, perhaps my notes for that will suffice). Maybe a few "sit down and write about what I said I was interested in" sorts of exercises. I definitely need to re-write my Chaucer list justification.

That's the funny part of all this. The oral exams have already accomplished what they were supposed to -- I have a dissertation topic, even if to date my favorite way to express is "Time does weird things in vernacular texts dealing with the "English" nation in the periods immediately pre- and post-conquest." So really this is a formality. A chance to dress up, get very nervous, and prove (once again) I know more than I think I do. Doesn't make me any less scared, but it does lend a sort of a serenity of purpose to the whole exercise. This one more thing, and then I can start writing. This one more thing, and it's on to building a career. Whatever that means.

Speaking of serenity, my current mantra:

I am a leaf on the wind, watch me soar.

Those of you familiar with Joss Whedon's Firefly and the movie it spawned will recognize that as a recurring line for the Wash, the pilot of the ship named the Serenity. Never mind that the last time he says it, he gets impaled by in-coming spear. Not bad, as far as last words go.

Off to study, then. 9 days and counting...


Eileen Joy said...

Good luck, MKH [which, as always, you don't need], and congrats on this whole serenity/leaf on the wind affair: you've got it exactly right. When I was in graduate school, some of my closest friends were horrified that, as I got closer and closer to exam and other "qualifying" requirements, that I could often be found building dry-stack stone walls in my garden or reading back issues of the "New Yorker" on my front porch, while, of course, also "prepping" my exam texts: close friends thought I was crazy because I wasn't freaking out like they were. Big confession: I failed my medieval [Old and Middle English] exam the first time I took it, partly because I was too casual in my preparation, but mainly because a close friend of mine was having a psychotic breakdown and needed my sustained attention. I never stressed out, assuming life always would take its strange twists and turns regardless of my own intentions. I have never regretted anything, and things tuned out okay [at least, I think so].


MadelineTheWriter said...

I wrote something deep -
but not having my password erased it all -
I'll just say following that floating leaf left me wondering how your test came out for you and what Eileen Joy's rockwalls look like...