The first thing to do is to write the paper for EC and hand it in as soon as possible. I am aiming for April 15, which gives me three weeks. I am relieved now to be running out of time because now I feel the pressure and urgency, and it’s a little, or maybe a lot, like feeling inspiration and clarity.
It was a great relief to meet with CD yesterday and to finally come to terms with what I am doing. He reassured me that everything is fine, and that I am allowed to take the time I need. Of course it is expensive to do it this way, but he knows and the department knows that life can get in the way and cause hiccups in one’s plans. Most importantly to me, I got the feeling from him yesterday that he finds my proposed essay and text genuinely interesting, and that he believed me that I haven’t just been sitting on my hands at home doing nothing for no reason. Though it frequently feels to me like that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. The truth is though that things have felt so crappy for so long now that starting to feel better feels nearly ecstatic, and at this moment I am actually thinking positively that things might really work out and I might really say what I want to say and write what I want to write, and ease back through the membrane into the good reality once again. Hmm, utopia?
This reminds me, I woke up this morning from a dream in which I pulled up in a car to a big old beige pickup truck parked on the side of a dirt road, and it was my pickup truck, and the driver of the car that I was in said, oh looks like you’ve left your lights on. It was daytime and the pickup’s lights did seem to be on, but I thought it could have just been the sun refracting in them. But then I realised that at that moment I did see the lights go out, as if the battery completely died, so I got in the driver’s seat and turned the key and the truck started up right away and I was relieved. I woke up with a song in my head, with the lyric: “slip into your father’s arms.”
The best advice came from J, who reminded me to “downplay” the emotional element and to just focus on clarifying my options. As soon as I was able to do that (which involved first of all having a good cry about everything the day before to my dear friend over the phone), I was able to go in with confidence that at least I wasn’t going to cry in CD’s office. Very important to me, as the last time I saw him, back in September, I did pretty much break down and bawl. This time was much different. I felt conscious of performing Grad Student according to how I wished to be perceived–calm and rational, and not at the mercy of my mental static or emotional currents. It was a good reminder that this is an option, regardless of whether such attire, sartorial, attitudinal, or otherwise, is assumed for a meeting or not.
CD’s advice toward a plan for finishing:
1. Read Ursula K. Le Guin: The Dispossessed (re: situating Vonnegut as a West Coast text.)
2. Consider NS, NB, or CT, all of whom are involved with the Literatures of the West Coast concentration, as possible supervisors. EC will be more suited as a second reader.
3. Aim for a December defense with one fall course to finish everything.
1. Priority: write and hand in the essay to EC by April 15. Forget about the Master’s Essay and everything else until this is completed; don’t worry about relating it to anything. (I respect this advice and at the same time I know that I will keep relating it to the Master’s Essay, but I will strive to not conceive of both papers simultaneously.)
2. Email CD a proposal to work on Vonnegut as a West Coast text. He takes it to the committee to approve and then it is good to go.
Contextualize it as a West Coast text:
–discuss its border-crossings
–per my discussion with J: situate it in terms of political (US/Canada), ideological (anti-capitalist, anti-war, anti-social–back to the land), cultural/historical (memoir, history of BC, baby-boomer generation–esp. youth culture [culture of the teenager–see Owram] and its response to technology and infrastructure making available more and better education and travel), and maybe even apocalyptic border crossings
–interviews with the people who pointed me to this text (who were they? . . . on recalling them, I wonder, are all boomer men named Steve and Peter?)
–look into intellectual property protocol
–but intellectual property issues can be avoided by finding anything that has been written about the text (does it have to be published?)
3. Begin conversations with potential supervisors (NS esp.)
–ask NB to advise me on other West Coast utopian texts
4. Take the summer to write a draft of the Master’s Essay
5. Check out courses on offer through the History department to see if one fits my studies enough that I can make an argument for it–if I want one, then email CD a proposal and request for his permission to take it, etc.
–check out the digital humanities crash course in summer?
–NS’s course on dogs in the fall?
6. If I take a fall course I can still aim for a December defense if I hand in everything early
. . .
“If I hand in everything early.”