It’s unofficially official: I’m graduating in May. I’ve officially applied for graduation, and my degree progress has been officially approved by my adviser. Now it’s on its way to the heads and chairs and all those important people that I’ll never see.
This semester is tough. Next semester will be tougher; of that I have no doubt. But while I’m both dreading it and looking forward to it, it sort of hit me that I am constantly amazed by what I am able to pull off in terms of literary miracles. Now, I say “I” in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way. I know that, while my fingers are the ones that dance over the keyboard (particularly the backspace key), I am quite certain that I really can’t take all the credit for these so-called literary miracles.
Because, really, there have been a lot of them.
This semester, for example, has produced six papers including two total re-writes, and two mid-terms, all within two weeks. While I’m not particularly happy with some of the grades, I still managed, somehow, to pull off over 50 pages of writing so far this term, not including all of the books read and all of the one and two-page assignments that are tossed out as if they were beads at Mardi Gras.
My next semester will be fun, fun, in that “I think my fingers are falling off” sort of way. I’m taking three writing intensive courses (so deemed by the actual course description) and an independent study under the Bear. Advanced composition, fiction writing, Survey of Shakespeare (yay!) and the independent study about which I have no clue.
But now I’m thinking about Shakespeare, and I’m thinking about Midsummer Night’s Dream and Richard III (blast it) specifically. Significant action in both of these plays takes place off stage. The conquering of Hippolyta the theft of the Indian boy, and, in Richard’s case — oh, poor Richard, not even cool enough to die on stage despite the play bearing his name. But thinking about Shakespeare, and these plays, it strikes me as not insignificant how much action takes place behind the scenes and out of sight.
And that’s where I am, right now: behind the scenes and out of sight. Not as a means of hiding, for once, but as a means of accomplishment. Because that’s what I’m doing these days: accomplishing junk. And sometimes it feels hopeless and unwieldy, words and papers and tests and headaches all running together, but I’m still getting through. Even somewhat sanely, I might add, even if I spend an inordinate amount of time watching the social hierarchy and segregation of turtles.
The turtles, no matter how silly they are, add to my happiness, so there they stay, in my view as much as possible. It’s a weird place to be, 33 years old and finally holding onto things that make you happy. It’s almost as strange as letting go of things that do not make me happy, but rather simply add to my disappointment and disengagement because it filled some sort of need to be a hero or to be needed.
I’ve named some of the turtles, the ones that follow me as I walk back and forth across the bridge. Some of them have redneck names: Billy Bob, Bubba. Others have literary names: Anton, Chesnutt. I’m not going to even pretend that I can tell the similar sized box turtles apart, but they are there nonetheless. I certainly can’t tell them apart when the only visible part of them is their noses, poked above the water while the mass of them is down below, doing whatever turtles do to keep their noses above surface.
I just know that I understand what they’re going through.