Only a scant few days of classes left, and I am a jangling bag of nerves because everything seems to be going so smoothly. This can only mean that there is some massive crucial project that I have utterly forgotten since it was first assigned in January. Right? Right.
E., my first partner and dear friend, used to say, “Elsa, if you were a super hero, you’d be Worst Case Scenario Girl!” (For the full effect, you should stand straight and proud with your shoulders thrown back and arms akimbo, and call it out in your most stentorian voice: “Making mountains out of molehills! Leaping to the most disastrous and farfetched of conclusions! It’s Worst Case Scenario Girl!” Really put the exclamation point in there. Good work.) He would tease and deride me right out of my twitching fits of fatalistic nerve-burn, threatening to get me tights and a cape and a crest emblazoned WCS.
E. doesn’t say this anymore, not because I have learned to
tame the nightmare blood weasels that populate my brain manage daily stress, but because he died a few years ago. But his derision lives on. When I catch myself going right off the rails, imagining that a possible mishap is only the first step towards the Worst Case Scenario, I picture myself in full regalia, flying off into the sunset to inform someone of just how bad this could be, and I start to laugh. He left me a legacy of laughter and mockery, and I imagine that suits him fine, wherever he is, as the flames lick at his heels.
I have been using the image of WCS Girl for years to defuse my panicky bouts, and it is only this week that I noticed something rather obvious: Dude, you got sick and died. Worst Case Scenario Girl was right! In your face, dead loved one!
I miss you, honey. Thanks for getting me through finals. Again.
NaNoWriMo is proving arduous, but not for any reason I expected. The subject matter is taking too high an emotional toll; I can’t imagine keeping at it, especially since I am doing all my writing in the computer clusters at the university, and sitting here clickety-clacking away while tears stream down my face seems a breach of courtesy.
So… instead of following the original backstory for my main character, in which her partner dies young of a lingering illness, I am making her a young widow whose husband died in a wacky mishap, the details of which are pending.
But still I am flayed by the process of writing. I ruminated for most of the morning on love — what it is, what it feels like to the loving and to the beloved, why it is so damn hard whenever it isn’t effortless.
This afternoon in art history class, we discussed “reality” in art. The prof put forth a few examples to clarify the concept that reality is a slippery little sucker.
“Is this pen real?”
“Was your childhood real?”
“Is love real?” At this moment, she accidentally dropped the pen, and the crack when it hit the floor shocked me nearly to tears. I had thought all morning about the nature of love, and “real” never occurred to me.
I turn in my last midterm assignment today, and I already need to study for an exam next week and start research for another paper. I suddenly find myself stricken with a sense of fellow feeling toward sharks: I never sleep, and if I stop moving, I die.
I’ve finally created a thesis statement. It is, like everything else, temporary.
I’m positing that the staggering popularity of Luca della Robbia’s terracotta Madonna reliefs arose as an indirect result of the increase in foundling homes, which fostered (no pun intended) a change in the cultural vocabulary regarding women, motherhood, and infants, as well as a growing devotion to Mary.
And, yes, I did choose this in part because the stuff’s so pretty.
Despite the extra day off (thank you, imperialist swines of history!), I am exhausted and badly disorganized. I haven’t unpacked my winter coats and gloves, ordered my new computer, or written a formal thesis statement for my art history class.
In fact, I am very much afraid that my art history paper has taken a turn for the interesting. I anticipate so much trouble sticking to the professor’s strict page limit that I’m considering new but related topics:
> The Innocenta: The dowry as an index of honor for Renaissance Florence’s foundling girls
> Nekkid, nekkid, nekkid: Sexual license, adolescent confraternities, and Donatello’s David
My thesis statement is due in just a few days, so I plan to research all three simultaneously and see which argument emerges from the historical record fastest. Also this week, I need to start the heavy lifting on my anthropology thesis, for which I am (tentatively) researching the Westermarck effect in maritime societies. Zowie — college is fun!
Heaven help me, I mean it.