Post-Ac-Life: Sleeplessness and Productivity

Last night a friend and I texted back and forth about the “waiting game.” All of our PhD applications are in and now it’s just a matter of sitting by while committees of people decide our fate. While texting, I was also checking out thegradcafe.com for information about wait times, acceptance/rejection ratios and general conversations about applying to graduate schools for Literature, Composition, and Rhetoric.

I had made the conscious decision not to check these forums before getting my applications together. That was both a wise and unwise decision.

Had I known that one of my schools only accepts one student with an outside M.A. I would have saved the money on the application. (A similar realization for my friend was what spurred our conversation in the first place.) Also, had I known about the terribly low stipend from another school (information not easily found on their website) I may have skipped that one as well. Foreknowledge is forewarned, I suppose, but at the time I was adamant to keep outside influence out of my decision process. Sometimes I forget that some influence is helpful. Lesson learned.

I’m not sure if that realization led to my sleeplessness last night. I can’t remember anything other than the general self-loathing and self-doubt that normally invades the bookends of my nightly unconsciousness, but dang if I didn’t have a heck of a time getting to sleepytown. I woke up at the usual “stupid-early” o’clock to the smell of coffee being brewed by the programmable coffee machine (my life, my love) and am strangely lacking in the normal exhaustion that would accompany a short bout of sleeplessness. I’m sure this will catch up with me later today.

In the meantime, I will be productive. I have freelance work to do, thankfully, and I’ve decided to create a bibliography of my own work over the last four years. Time and again I will come across a paper I wrote and think, “when did I do this?” Moving forward with other research interests is my priority, but I think it will be beneficial to take a look back on what interested me in the past. Perhaps I’m hoping to rekindle an old flame. Perhaps I’m just procrastinating.

Either way, I need to get words on the page today; different words on different pages. Let’s hope the coffee holds out.

A Playground Metaphor for Jumping In

Slides are scary.

Sometimes, it’s hard just to stand at the bottom of the ladder, looking up at your friend’s backside as it disappears into the summer sky. Then, there’s a hop, a bump and a screech as their ass hits the hot metal and they shed three layers of skin on their way down.

And then this crazy person comes back around to climb up and do it again.

You let them pass.

Here you are, at the bottom of the ladder, not even the fun part of the slide, looking up at the fun part. Never mind the hard macadam that surrounds the base of the slide, never mind the stench of burnt flesh as friend after friend has millimeters of their epidermis sizzled off like layers of Aqua Net on a curling iron.

They’re having fun and you’re too chickenshit to move.

See, the thing about slides is, you have to climb up. You have to put one foot above the other on the wrought steel, possibly stamped with your municipality name, more probably not. You have to haul your cowardly ass up and up and up until you’re standing atop a blazing tower of metal, buffed by the butts of heroes of the past.

You HAVE to do it, because right now, at the base of the ladder, you’re in everyone else’s way.

But the scariest part, the most terrifying, gut churning, knuckles to the knees, “Elizabeth I’m coming” moment is before you. It’s before you. It’s horrendous, it’s gob-smacking, it’s one thin parallel universe away from your first adult orgasm and it smells like fear.

It’s also brief.

Because as you sit there, butt squeezed in between the “safety” handles, sun baking down on your Mork and Mindy t-shirt, the weird ovals of worn chrome on the slide base laughing at you from below, you know that once you start, you won’t be able to stop.

Technically you could. You could thrust out your hands and feet and grip the edges of the slide and stop yourself mid-descent. You’ll shift hard with a squeak and a squawk and you’ll hike up your underwear so far into your “dark neighborhood” that you’ll never wear those Underoos again.

Sure, you could stop, but you’ll be in everyone’s way. Again. Worse this time.

See at the base of the ladder, you could just take a step back out of the way and play it off as consideration, courtesy, too-cool-for-the-kiddie-slide.

But, in the middle of the slide, you’ve got two choices. Do the long, embarrassing, butt-shift scoot back the top to the jeers of your friends and local wildlife?

Or slide.

Go.