24 October 2010

Curiosity Killed the FireCat (or, The Post That Goes Just About Nowhere)

My curiosity isn't the kind that electrocutes small children, or poisons household pets, or causes cartoon characters to turn into an animal-shaped pile of cinders. For some reason, I've never been the "what happens if I put the knife into the electrical outlet?" kind of curious, or the "gee, what's this green stuff taste like?" kind of curious, or even the "what happens if I pull this string, Allan?" kind of curious. (The answer to that last question, by the way, is apparently, "My shorts will fall off." I wasn't there at the time, but I heard the story for days afterward.)

No, mine is the kind of curious that sends one to grad school. Repeatedly. What's with all the little boats in Dante? Is rose a rose a rose? Why can't we, once and for all, decide how to spell the Wife of Bath's name? And for god's sake, will someone please smack Werther upside the head and give him an SSRI? For the good of all Europe? Seriously.

The alarming result of this particular strain of academic curiosity is that--oh God. I'm about to confess this out loud. On the Internet. Ok. The result of this is that I love writing papers.

There. I said it, ok? I love writing academic research papers. Call the ambulance on me, lock me up in an ivory tower, hit me in the face with a waffle iron, do whatever you want, but it's true. Except, mostly, what I like is the research part. I don't necessarily like sitting my arse on the chair and cobbling the pieces together (which is sometimes what it feels like, especially this past semester), but I love logging into JSTOR and following the thread of my ideas and seeing where it leads. This, despite the fact that more than once in the past several months I have typed in literary search parameters and gotten a certain article about White-Faced Capuchin monkeys. I am not making this up.

Presently, however, it has led me to the most frustrating dead end of my life. I've got all these fabulous ingredients, but they don't make soup. They make smoosh. I know it. Chaucer knows it. My cats know it. My rough draft knows it (and, as a result, is being more recalcitrant than usual). Worst of all, the professor knows it. The Scots-English word "fookt" does not even begin to describe my situation here. I am several pages into nowhere, and need to have been finished already by the time I meet the professor tomorrow to discuss possible solutions. This is due to a glitch in the matrix known as "I have a marathon to run out of town next weekend and am not due to return home until thirty seconds before this paper is actually due, and you can't give me an extension because immediately (as in, the four days type of immediately, so, super-immediately) after that is my qualifying exam, for which I still have 200 pages of reading."

Sorry. This isn't really a post about curiosity. This is really a post about sheer, unmitigated panic. But that's what I'm good for right now.

That, and lots and lots of coffee.


Jae Rose said...

You can do it! Remember the curiosity that brought you there..good luck..Jae

ana said...

My first visit. The "What I need to remember" on the sidebar cracked me up!
I can relate to this post! :) I LOVE research and I always put off writing until deadline. Good luck!

thefirecat said...

Sadly, the story about the underpants is entirely true. And, of course, I was wearing a skirt.

Wendy said...

I add myself to the ranks of those who feel that sickish need to continue learning ALWAYS and writing SOMETIMES BUT NOT NEARLY ENOUGH. From the sidelines, I cheer you on!