Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Woman and Madness

That's the title of one my texts for school, which starts tonight. It's also a little descriptor of what's been happening in my life these days. Chaos, upheaval, tumult... more other people's than mine... but explain to me -- if that's the case -- why I'm sitting here, staring at the untaken dose of Wellbutrin that's sitting on my desk, waiting for me to refill my water bottle so I can take it. Hmmmm.... It reminds me of some cheesy 50's horror flick dialogue, just as he's about to conduct some unspeakable experiment on the starlet who (for some inexplicable reason) is dressed only in her white satin slip... "They all said I was mad at the institute... but I'm not mad.... I'm not... Bwahahahahaaaa...."

No... really... I'm not....

So, back to school I go tonight, the beginning of a ten-week quarter. The course is entitled Psychology of Women Through Film and Literature -- obviously, I'm taking it as a Lit class. The class syllabus, so generously provided online prior to the start of the quarter, indicates that we will be using no fewer than five (count 'em -- FIVE) books (though some will only be selections of short story collections). Add that to the six texts required for my other class -- Lyric and Narrative, History and Imagination in Contemporary Literature -- and that's a whole lotta books. For two classes. Six units. Guess who's going to be reading a lot. Good thing I like to read.
I'm pretty excited about going back to school. I was really liking school for a while there. Then weird shit started to happen. In my Art of Fiction course in the Spring of 2004, the professor (whom I greatly admire and enjoy as a teacher) had her life take a sudden nosedive, and she ended up turning the day-to-day instruction over to her teaching assistant, a well-meaning, but very, very inexperienced grad student who's muddled instructions and inability to give meaningful, constructive critique made for an extremely frustrating quarter. She also made me doubt my ability and my talent, and I have wondered to myself whether that was intentional. It also made me wonder about the fragility of our little artist selves that one person's lack of support (and possible willful intent) could so quickly serve to undermine us. I have to own part of that, though I'm not sure exactly what needs to be done to shore up my creaky self-image as an artist.

What I do know is that school is a place where I can write badly with safety, which allows me to be a better, braver writer. I just have to be able to separate the wheat from the chafe in terms of professors and teachers who have my best interests at heart, versus those who are too insecure to teach well. What I also know is that school is marvelous excuse to read good writing, especially writing I might never have chosen to read of my own accord. Sad, but true -- some of the best writing I've read was forced into my hands by assignment. (And, no, Beth, I'm still not going to read The Poisonwood Bible anytime soon.)

Well, as marvy as this all is, I simply MUST refill my water bottle and take my Wellbutrin. Because... I'm not mad... I'm not....



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