I've been in a frightfully thoughtful mood for the last day or so, perhaps in part due to a massive lack of sleep. I'm sitting down as if to do work, alternately looking at grading, reading, watching a DVD or film clip, googling stuff... and in the process I thought I'd see what my one and only book was doing out there.
No, don't get all excited. My dissertation was turned into a book by Routledge in 2006-7 It's "Post-Revolutionary Chicana Women Writers" blah blah blah. No need to read it, it is in parts quite dense. But there are pics!
"Remembering the Brave Women" was originally its title when it was filed for my PhD in 2004. I like that much better, and have "brave women" engraved inside my class ring (pinky ring, very small). Because I do not have or want kids, I believe it represents the most difficult thing I've ever done in my life. I'm not naturally a very disciplined thinker, and I've always been prone to tangents, so doing a book on one subject was a REAL challenge. Of course, I probably overread for it some, but...
I guess it made me thoughtful, in the way that I still marvel I'm alive now. I had no plans or goals for life except to become "Doctor" (I don't count the 'win an Oscar' wish). At 33, I got to cross the stage with 2 other friends to get the PhD from the U of Iowa; my mom got to see it, as did my aunt and uncle and assorted good friends. It was a truly great moment, and I'm glad I got to do it with friends.
I'm a very, very bright person with a very, very fast and agile brain. That fast and agile brain has been slowed by multiple sclerosis, but the only people who can tell that would be me, my grad school roomie and friend Robin, and MAYBE one or two of my old profs at Iowa. I visited a friend of mine at Arizona State where he teaches now (also an ex-Hawkeye) and we not only had very similar mentalities, humor, and sharp wit, but we agreed that Iowa makes people like that in some ways-- to survive and get the PhD, the terminal degree,, in English, you have to be very good, very determined, and very competitive. I have no doubt with a day's notice or less Ed or I could teach any undergrad course in English and several in graduate English. That's professionally how fast we are and how sharp our intellect is, and a lot of it IS due to surviving the PhD
I don't often toot my horn. But I'm very bright. I have an exceptional brain when it comes to connections, and there's a wicked irony in that those connections are threatened by something completely external to getting old or getting smacked in the head with a bat. I would say it's an external and random thing, but who knows about randomness? It certainly is with me all the time, like the poor or hair issues, but it's not welcome.
I am pleased that I can still be thoughtful, still link up words, phrases, and clauses (pace Conjunction Junction!), still teach and do it in a flexible style, moving and dodging and creating like dancing. I am not pleased about slowing down at all, even if it's barely perceptible. I sound like a moron sometimes, to myself. I am ECSTATIC about being able to enjoy a good film, admire the talent of good art and fine acting, see and appreciate the world at large, and laugh at myself, others, and my life. I like my life. I just didn't expect it to go on so long.
So at 41 (bday in October, thank you thank you), I think back and think forward. But most of all