Wednesday, December 13, 2006

i love my friends...

Yesterday, I considered writing a magical realist story about a girl who could not stop crying. It became a medical condition like blindness or like turets syndrome. She'd go to class, and she'd be crying. She'd go shopping. Crying. Eventually, everyone would be used to having someone around who had a constant stream of tears flowing from her eyes. (my apologies if this is an actual medical condition that i've never heard of)

I wondered if this was a burn-out/depression that would last a while, or if, as usual, I would snap out of it. I imagined myself going to a university counselor, and the thought was comforting. At certain times, I wish I were Catholic, just because the idea of a confessor sounds so right. Someone who will listen to you pour out all your doubts, fears, and sins, and send you away light and renewed, with a game plan for penance and improvement. i think protestants should institute confession and confessors as part of our way of life.

Well, as usual, I've snapped out of it, although i imagine the issue of burn-out is still going to be a factor for a while. I usually can't stay down for more than a couple of days. I'm such a sucker for approval. It just took going to see my professor and apologizing and hearing him saying "Oh, it wasn't a bad paper. It just wasn't a finished paper. I felt really bad writing that AB, because you're so obviously an A student, and your comments in class were excellent. But, at the same time, as scholars, we need to be honest with eachother." That's all I needed. Because what kept me in tears for 24 hours was not the grade. That I deserved. It was the thought that my professor might have lost respect for me--that he might have thought i was just blowing the class off. And also, I am so disappointed in myself because i know i COULD have written a brilliant paper on the film, but instead turned in a mediocre one. But, no, he told me, it doesn't lessen his respect for me one iota. He knows I do good and extremely interesting work, and he knows I've had a very busy semester. (I apparently have this gift of looking really tired all the time.) He just knows that this paper was so much less what I am capable of, that it is all there--just needs another week or so to be a really good paper--and he knows that I will do great once I had a chance to just sit down and write and not be so busy. Which I knew too--both that I had greatly underperformed and that I will do fine later. My voice wavered a bit, but I was so relieved. I LOVE this professor, so much. His comments are sometimes cutting, but they are also completely honest, and he is also encouraging and completely devoted to his students.

In fact, this post is devoted to how much I love this professor, and how much I love my friends. R. who called the moment I needed her the most, and who has just published her first piece--photos and a write up in an architectural book (I'm so PROUD!!!). My roommate who, although I get irritated with her at times, also has been terrific the last few days. As I sit around tears flowing, she says things like: oh you won't ever have a problem finding a job. you'll be vying for the top positions. (so, nice to have people say that every once in a while--even if it's total bunk). And Mukoma (hi Mukoma) who apparently (he confessed today in the midst of a pitcher of beer he drank all by himself while i primly drank water) found this blog through googling himself. (hahahaha, ok, i admit, i do it too, but you must have done some serious googling, because when i tried it, i didn't find my blog until page 11 or 12... sheesh). I'm not abbreviating his name, because he told me he "doesn't mind" the promotion. And while we are promoting, I will advertise that (along with his nonfiction and recently-published volume of poetry) he has written the most brilliant novel, which is with a big-name agent, and which will no doubt be recieved with all sort of critical acclaim when it is published. Anyone who reads this post should keep your eyes peeled.... And F. whose house I hung out at last Friday, where we ate Ugandan food and gossiped and lounged about watching Mississippi Masala and The Devil Wears Prada. And N. who im-ed me from Durban the other day and sympathetically listened to/read my kvetching. And H. and M., both of whom bale me out of trouble in the department with their impeccable diplomacy. And J. who kept me company during our paper-writing all-nighter with insane emails. And K. who is back in Naija hanging out with hip-hop stars in Lagos. And all the blogger folk, who have become such a strangely necessary part of my life. I love you all. i emerge from the greyness, energized.

Just an aside. i have (not very seriously) tried to vaguely disguise who i am on this blog. but it obviously has not worked. i am very easy to figure out. I recently discovered that people as varied as my mother, old college friends, and Mukoma are reading my blog. This is both alarming and gratifying. How does one write for such a diverse audience? And how open can one be? I've avoided writing about moments I am seriously angry with specific people, but should I be more careful about moaning and groaning over various woes? For, now, i'm going to say, no. We'll see how it goes.

7 comments:

stefan said...

i love reading your blog - it´s like a chronicle ( i hope that´s an appropriate word, if not ´m still learning ) so and from this your diary i could learn that you are not just a clever person but sensitive,good hearted and could use more and more such words ( just i have to learn them jet)) so it isn´t surprissing you have such a big amount of readers on your blog and much more friends they love you too ( but you surely know it without my notes so well so pls.jst write what your eye sees your soul feels and your hand is made for....

Texter said...

perhaps obvious, but what is an "AB" ? I haven't seen those where I am. I mean, is it analogous to a B+? The same?

Talatu-Carmen said...

yes, i think the AB is a ridiculous thing. I had never seen one until i was here either. I don't know what is wrong with the old +/- system. An AB is apparently somewhere between a A- and a B+. If I think of it as an A-, then I am fine with it, because I have earned many an A- in my day. But anything with a B in it just (obviously) makes me depressed.

texter said...

If it makes you feel better, I received a B or B+ (I've forgotten - shows you how important it was to me) in an early seminar on Renaissance lit I took in grad school. I shouldn't have taken it; actually renaissance is not one of my favored eras or aesthetic, and as a specialist in african, there was no reason i had to take it. I took it b/c I was following some internal prescription that said I had to be knowledgeable about "everything". Anyway, long story short, I got a B. It may be different since you were interested in the topic of your seminar and you liked and respected the prof, but try not to dwell on it. In the larger scheme of things, as time moves on, it won't hold as much weight. I think this is just an indicator (as others have told you) that you've been carrying alot this semester, so give yourself a break!

stefan said...

lol can you imagine they would start with an AC

Talatu-Carmen said...

Thanks Texter! Yes, I don't feel so bad about the grade now that I've talked to the professor about it. I think probably at this stage of schooling, the grade probably doesn't matter so much, especially when it's obvious that i've been doing so much else.

I can identify with that urge to know everything though. I had been planning to minor (this university requires PhD minors) in English, because I really do still love a great variety of literature (ie. not only African), but the English classes are so hard to get into and I've taken so many classes in other departments that it looks like it's going to be easier just to do an individualized minor and forget the English thing. That makes me sad, but then again, that's what books are for. I've recently realized that I don't have to take classes on everything that I'm interested in. I can also read books about them and educate myself.

Talatu-Carmen said...

Stefan,
LOL, yeah, i guess the "AC", would be a good solid "B." I try to remember that grading is pretty much an arbitrary thing anyway. If I were in Nigeria, I'd be rejoicing to get a B! A's are very rare and far between there, and perhaps they should be. But I do love me some A's.