I love autumn. Every last bit of it. The leaves change color, the smell of woodsmoke, apple cider and pumpkin is thick in the air, I get to go office supply shopping (don’t judge, I love office supply shopping), boots and adorable denim jackets are seasonal attire once more, and the spirit for my favorite holiday ensues. The first whiffs of fall make me tingle with anticipation and here in New Jersey the season began to peek its nose around the corner this very week.
Maybe it’s because my life centers so much around school, but the autumn is always a time of new things to me. September is exciting because I get new notebooks, new classes, new textbooks, new research, new schedule, new back-to-school clothes, new projects… what a whirlwind of change. This year is looking particularly scary and wonderful due to several factors. So today, rather than my traditional blogy narrative, I’d like to take a moment to write an autumn-themed list of various and sundry things that have been and will be whirling into (and out of) my life in the past/next few weeks on the harvest wind.
*I’m down to one job! Briefly, albeit, before work at the theatre starts up again. My last day at the archive was yesterday. The life of an archivist is one that I had never thought to live and, I can say with some certainty, it’s much tougher than anyone would have imagined. Digging, piling, compiling, categorizing, counting, labeling, all the while being paranoid of mouse droppings and assorted pests which may or may not be skittering out of assembled boxes at any given time. I walked out of the archive every day feeling like I needed to be decontaminated rather than cleaned. Coated in dust, sneezing, eyes watering, I also felt satisfied. It was an Indiana-Jones style hunt through paths unblazed by second-generation human knowledge. That was as exciting as it sounds. The feeling that around any corner could be waiting a surprise find to change the face of knowledge, the idea that I was doing something worthwhile, and the notion that (while on a small scale) I was becoming an expert in a previously undiscovered area of comprehension made this perhaps the most fulfilling job I have ever worked. I would not hesitate to do it again. That and the pay was good.
*PhD application process begins (seriously) now. I don’t want to speak on this at great length just now because a) I will likely be speaking on it in future blog entries and b) because it scares me. More than a little. The acceptance process into any given program is so arbitrary that, while I know I have done everything right and that I am a prime candidate for my programs, I can’t help but dwell upon the great and imminent coin flip that determines the rest of my life. This entire ordeal is equally strange because it feels like college applications all over again. You know, that time in your life that you thought was done but (apparently) is not. That great burgeoning uncertainty as you stand on the precipice of your future waiting to jump but uncertain which direction will be your best bet for surviving the fall (sorry, can’t resist a pun…). Looking over the abyss, teetering on the edge, dipping my toe into its unknown depths, I think fear is a natural reaction. I keep trying to remind myself that fear is an acronym for “False Expectations Appearing Real”, but this seems to only deepen the illusions rather than make them disperse. I’m fairly certain that I am approaching a jittering, uneasy serenity about this entire process, which, really, is all you can do. Lay back, enjoy the ride, and accept that for a time you’ll just have no clue. Yup. Blissful Cluelessness here I come…
*I cleaned my bookshelf last night of last semester’s textbooks (with the exception of those on the Master’s Reading Exam List which got re-located to a separate shelf) and placed upon it instead this semester’s new acquisitions. Somehow, this makes everything feel more real. My first class is on Wednesday, I just completed my first academic reading for the semester, and my first syllabus is printed and ready to go. I am pumped. I’m already thinking about paper topics and possible conference papers... though this likely means that I’ll have to finally get around to reading Judith Butler.
*This year at the theatre seems to be Shakespeare year and I can’t be more thrilled. Two of our four annual productions will be Shakespeare-themed! In the fall, we will be doing a production of Magic Time by James Sherman followed by a Spring production of Twelfth Night. Twelfth Night is definitely one of my favorites and a show that I’ve had an intimate knowledge of for some years. Featuring the best Shakespearean clown (in my opinion), one of the best heroines, and (drum roll please) a comic fight scene, this play really has just about everything that a novice Shakespeare Company would need or want. Granted, we’re not a Shakespeare company, but we do have some pretty amazing people who work on these things. Stay tuned for more info on Twelfth Night. In the meantime, I have been asked to work on Magic Time as the fight director. Magic Time is a show about a Company producing Hamlet. Naturally, the duel scene is enacted several times in the script. Which means that I get to live every fight director’s dream and do the infamous duel. I’ve started kicking around ideas (it’s harder than you think to kick ideas with a sword when you don’t even know who your actors are and if they have any scrap of hand/eye co-ordination). Will our heroine be able to pull through? Will she kill and/or gravely injure any actors in the process? Will the fight look good and not like a clay-mation Errol-Flynn wanna-be sequence? Only time will tell….
*I am about 98% certain that I will again be grading for the Best Professor in the World (who may or may not be reading this right now). Pending financial disaster in the Department or a lack of registration for Eighteenth Century British Lit (part I), I will definitely be on board as a paper monkey for Dr. Lynch. I could not be more thrilled. This man has been (and will continue to be) an inspiration and mentor to me as I pick my way through academia. I am waiting with bated breathe for his Spring Graduate Seminar in Gothic…. Oh, and for those of you who have had need of (and will need in the future) a GREAT style guide written to be useful, readable, and fun, check out his. It is complete with historical tid-bits and lovingly annotated grammar rules and regulations from a man who knows his stuff. That and it’s online for free (though it does come in paper version, which, let’s face it, is totally worth having).
*I want to go apple picking and eat pumpkin everything. I understand that the weather will be kicking back up to eighty degrees this weekend as summer shows us the strength of its death throes. I hope that this won’t foil my perky autumn-inspired mood…