Saturday, September 26, 2015

Alien Landscapes

Yesterday was one of those dizzying days at work.  In the past year, we've had lots of staff come and go--mostly go--and occasionally I crash into full knowledge of what those people did and what I still don't know how to do.

We run our math classes differently from any other class, with our students having an additional quarter to complete the competencies.  When they finish, we have to go back in the system to change a grade from a previous quarter.

Our math faculty used to turn in these grades to our registrar, who would sort it all out.  But our registrar is out on maternity leave.  So yesterday I found myself with a variety of grades and not much insight about what should be done next.

I pieced it all together, but it took the better part of my work day.  Several times I found myself saying, "I did not go to grad school for this!"

Earlier in the week, I did have one woman ask me why I wanted a Ph.D., and I talked about wanting to teach and needing a Ph.D. to get a full-time job.  And yesterday, in the midst of math headaches, someone asked me about my dissertation, and still, after all these years, I was able to talk coherently about what I wrote about, the presences of domestic violence in the Gothic vein, a tradition that's not considered realistic, but the depiction of domestic violence is very realistic:  abusers and victims act and think in ways that have been proven, long before the disciplines of Sociology and Psychology explored this social problem at all.

We had a brief chat about Wuthering Heights, a novel that figured prominently in my dissertation.  What a relief to find my brain is not permanently mush!

Last night, I returned to my short story about the gardener on Mars.  I've been having problems figuring out where to go and what the conflict is.  Last night I realized that I'm writing about people who can't go home again, to use the words of the Thomas Wolfe novel.  We are all of us stranded in alien landscapes, although we don't all realize it yet.

Sounds like a cheery short story, eh?  But it's not as bleak as I make it sound.  I'm still not exactly sure where it's going or how to get there.  It's turned into a very different piece of writing than the bit of a vignette that I planned to go with other vignettes that I planned to write and weave together.

Again, it's nice to be surprised by the fact that my brain can rise above the activities which seek to defeat it.  I may be stranded in an alien landscape, but I am not yet lost!

No comments: