Day 106: Judging a Book by Its Cover

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Yes, it is true. I am in the process of finishing up a Ph.D. in Literature and Literary Theory and I did it. Yesterday, I judged a book by its cover. This changes everything. As far as I know, having done something like this in my life will definitely prevent me from becoming President of the MLA.

Anyway, today will be a writing day. It just has to be. I have not been as productive as I should have been for the last few days, despite the fact that I need to get done the following: a chapter, an article, an intro for a collection pitch, my MLG conference paper, present this paper at the conference, keep organizing the MLG ICS (see previous posts), research for my dissertation director and write a short essay for a college textbook. All of this has to get done before June 25. But I have somehow been unable to focus on all of this, since my thoughts are revolving around the big move to my new place next Friday. I will need to rent a truck, possibly find someone who is kind enough to help me carry stuff, pack all my things (including a hell of a lot of books) and then actually do the moving. I did, however, get a call from my landlord yesterday who informed me that my apartment will possibly even have a floor by the day I move in. Wow! In short, it would be really easy for me to freak out right now. Instead I will go back to my baby-steps strategy and only focus on what is right in front of me. Today this means that I will have to focus on the article I am writing and try not to let myself get distracted by all the other thoughts that are racing through my mind. (Which tends to be difficult, since I am always trying to imagine a time when things will get better, but after June 25, which is when this batch of work needs to get done by, I have two other writing deadlines waiting for me (July 15 and July 30), the revision of the first three chapters, the struggle of finding a publisher for a collection, two more dissertation chapters, as well as ideally the attempt to send out some condensed chapters to journals before August. In August I have to begin preparing my fall classes, revise dissertation stuff and jump right into the job market, which means writing cover letters, polishing writing samples, organizing my portfolio, … so I really cannot think of any situation in the near future that will not have the potential to freak me out. Guess I will just have to suck it up. At this point I have directed all my dreams toward that magical time that I hope the summer of 2008 to be, which is when I would ideally have a completed Ph.D. and some kind of a job in hand and could take a month off work to travel. At this point I envision grabbing my backpack and hiking through the wilderness in some remote country all by myself for a month, refusing to shave, shower, talk and write (see example in picture above). We’ll see how the project “Midsummer Night’s Dream 2008” changes once it meets that ugly thing called reality. I will keep you posted.)

For all other freaked out graduate students who are not yet reading this daily comic, here a link: http://www.phdcomics.com/comics.php?n=866 . This particular one is also about Lost. In general the series of comic strips is quite therapeutic and makes freaking out seem more of a collective, hence tolerable experience.

Also, since I tend to fly long distances quite frequently, I was truly interested in this list of the 5o safest airlines in the world. I figured other people might be interested as well. Here the link (in German): http://www.rtl.de/ratgeber/reisen_914676.php . Here some of the results that might be interesting to people in Germany and the US:

top three: 1. Quantas 2. Finnair 3. Cathay Pacific

Other airlines of interest in the top 50 (and toward the places 35 to 50 the statistics are  already getting somewhat scary): 7. Ryanair, 12. Jet Blue, 13. Southwest (interestingly these discount airlines are doing quite well), 17. Lufthansa

This public service has been provided to you by Youlooksofreakyoutytoday Ithinkyouneedadistraction Inc.

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