Ancrene Wiseass

A would-be medievalist holds forth on academia, teaching, gender politics, blogging, pop culture, critters, and whatever else comes her way.

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Yes, this really is yet another blog by a disillusioned grad student. I sympathize, but that's just the way it has to be. For hints as to what my bizarre alias means, click here and here and, if needed, here and here. To get a sense of what I'm up to, feel free to check out the sections called "Toward a Wiseass Creed" and "Showings: Some Introductory Wiseassery" in my main blog's left-hand sidebar. Please be aware that spamming, harassing, or otherwise obnoxious comments will be deleted and traced.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

A strange new addiction

Okay. I have a confession to make.

My name is Ancrene Wiseass, and I'm a prospectaholic.

This is my new term for how I've come to feel about working on this prospectus. I don't want to do other things. I just want to work on my prospectus for eight hours a day, every day, until it's done. When I am not researching books or annotating books for my bibliography (which is the phase I'm tackling first), I am thinking about doing it and trying to figure out how to arrange things so that I can work on it for the longest possible period of time before my brain and/or body rebel against me. In other words, I am now daydreaming . . . about writing a dissertation prospectus.

I do not daydream about the prospectus because it's fun to work on. It's just that I'm actually in pain from the stress when I am not working on it. My back and neck knot up. I feel twitchy and unfocused. I get so unbearably grumpy that I can't stand to be with myself--which is unfortunate, since I don't have much choice in the matter. During daylight hours, unless I am completely exhausted, brain-dead, suffering from back spasms, asleep, and/or the library is closed, I want anybody and anything detaining me from walking the stacks to vanish.

Part of this is probably that I just so want to be done with this fool thing. Part of it is definitely that I'm tired of not being able to meet any of the deadlines I've set so far. Part of it is probably my almost psychotic desire to keep working around the clock until I finish whatever task I've started, no matter how long it takes.

At any rate, when I started digging back into this project a few weeks ago, the following statement--and many others just like it--scared the crap out of me:

"My single-mindedness in researching and writing this book has entailed domestic and personal sacrifices and I am eternally at the behest of those who have allowed me the space to continue along this lonely path."

(Anthony Musson, from the Preface to Medieval Law in Context: The growth of legal consciousness from Magna Carta to the Peasants' Revolt.)
"Is that what I'm going to be like?" I thought. "I'll be unbearable when I'm with other people and terribly lonely when I'm not. I am going to turn into a Bona-Fide Jackass."

Well, folks, it would seem that the transformation has begun. The saving grace thus far is that I don't seem to notice the loneliness too much at this point: it's always kinda there in the background, especially after the first two or three hours, but it somehow doesn't matter a whole lot.

So, if I seem twitchy or unwarrantedly bitchy to any of you who happen to interact with me offscreen during the next couple of months and change, please accept my apologies in advance. I promise I'll tread as lightly as possible on all your toes.