October 18, 2010

Deer in the Headlights

Do you ever get to a certain point where you have so much on your plate that you are frozen?  So much to do, limited time in which to do it, and yet the thought of the entire situation stresses you out so much that you just can’t do anything?  Like a deer in the headlights, frozen where you stand, unable to move, unable to think, simply able to worry about all the things that you aren’t doing because you’re expending your mental energy not doing them.

Yea, I hit that point tonight.

It’s not that anything in my life right now is bad or unexciting, it is just that there is so bloody much of it.  It’s spilling over and making me remiss in my blogging.  I am working on so much at once that my mind is too scattered to put together a coherent though much less a coherent blog post.

As a result, I’m writing a list.  I find that list-making helps me get my thoughts together, and, since I haven’t come up with much else to blog about, you’re going to get to read my list.  Here is a list of everything that I need to accomplish this month in the order in which these things occur to me.  Enjoy.

1)    1) Finish the Austen midterm.  This is due October 31st by 9PM, though my professor is merciful and may give me an extension.  It will likely wind up being a 20 page paper rather than a 10 page paper as I am currently 6 pages in and not nearly halfway through everything I want to say.  Hopefully I can have a working draft cranked out by the end of the week so I can start muddling through the editing process.  There will be more blogging on my drafting process, complete with pictures, just not tonight.

2)     2)  Ensure actors don’t stab each other during Magic Time this weekend.  This is going fairly well mostly due to the fact that said actors worked their butts off while I was gone over the weekend after I put the fear of god into them via text message.  Fight looks pretty solid as of tonight, which is a good thing as tomorrow is their final dress.  Still a few tweaks, but those are easy.  Considering that as I was leaving my driveway on Friday there was frantic texting between me and the director concerning the integrity of the fight and the actors’ ability to perform it properly, this is VERY good.  Director thought it might need cuts due to actor misperformance, I assured director that this was the proper flow of things and that after working it until their fingers bled muscle memory would kick in and they’d look great.  Guess who was right?  All I can say is:  phew.

3)     3) Keep up on class reading.  Reading for class is like treading water in the ocean: just when you’re on top of the game, a wave comes by to bury you again.  It never ends.  After a year of this, I thought I was used to the break-neck pace of Graduate English programs and everything that came with them.  What I learned this semester is “used to it” does not mean “unphased by it”.  I’m no longer a fresh-faced newb, but all that means is that I’m more jaded and less likely to let things escape through the cracks of composure.  Can’t let those who are actually fresh-faced newbs know how hard it still is even after practice.

4)      4) PhD aps.  Oh god PhD aps.  My personal statement is a wreck and THAT needs fixing pronto.  I hate writing personal statements.  It’s the net that’s supposed to catch everything the rest of the application let fall.  It’s your last ditch effort to impress the program.  It’s the piece of the ap that programs value the highest.  It’s a boatload of pressure.  “Say something smart and witty that will make us like you and simultaneously explain your previous experience, training and academic work as well as this writing sample… in two pages or less”.  Can someone just…. Do this for me?  It’s not that I don’t like to talk about myself, I’m arrogant enough that the premise of this appeals to my need for self-validation, but this is way too much.  What if they don’t like my tone?  What if I accidentally offend them? What if I forget to say something I really should have said?   What if they just hate people named “Danielle”? 

5)      5) Get the conference paper ready to go.  I don’t even want to talk about this. 

6)      6) Prep for cert at the studio.  I’m up for a raise and a boost in ballroom-dancerly-power in the form of a certification.  This happens in early November and involves a three hour test with fifty seven million dance moves from nine different dances (both lead and follow) as well as technical questions about alignment, footwork, and teaching techniques.  I love to dance, for the most part my body knows how to do it, but being asked questions about the process is intimidating.  Memorizing alignments sucks, thinking about footwork makes my head hurt, and my teaching techniques are probably nothing like what the text book tells me to do.  In short: stressful.  It’s like the Spanish Inquisition of Ballroom…. Without the comfy chair.

7)      7) In-Class presentations.  In my absolutely astounding amount of foresight, I managed to sign up for two out of three of my semesterly-required-in-class-presentations during the window of time in which I have the most other things going on.  I’m giving one Wednesday and one next Tuesday.  Next semester, I’m checking my damned calendar before I sign up for these things.  I am less concerned about the Wednesday presentation as it’s on a secondary source article.  The presentation next Tuesday is on Coleridge and involves outside research and crazy prep.  I love Coleridge, but I’ll be a monkey’s uncle if I know more about him than Joe-literati-shmoe.  Better learn fast.  All I can say is I dug my own grave on this one.

8)      8) Due in for another stack of grading.  I’m hoping they’re as epic as the last papers… though perhaps with a little more forethought put into them.  This may just be my comic relief/escape for a while… don’t have time to see a funny de-stressing movie?  Grade some undergrad papers.  It’s kinda the same thing….. really, have I stooped this low?

9)     9)  Finals.  Everyone keeps asking about final paper topics; students, professors, my mom….  I wish I could plug my ears and sing loudly and tunelessly every time the subject is brought up.  I can’t think about finals until my midterms are done, it’s a Cosmic Truth.  Besides which, I simply have no idea.  None.  No clue.  Dunno.  Come back later, brain busy, can’t work it out now.

….I need someone to buy me a nice bottle of wine and give me a backrub.  Or maybe a beer and a hug.

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