For a Grad Student in Doubt (“What Am I Doing Here?!”)

by Mark Chmiel

Declare Wednesdays as the weekly liberated time zone of not once having to justify being in school to yourself or to anyone
Leave guilt at the door of the library, then stride in with gusto, like you own the place
Cut class sometimes and reread Twelfth Night
Develop your ability instantly to recognize sheer academic arbitrariness
Caress your treasured volumes
Bask in knowledge
Flaunt your ignorance
Vibrate via questioning
Delight in mapping your mind’s own quivers and calculations
GO BUY A TWO DOLLAR NOTEBOOK
Send your uncle a postcard of monosyllables with what you got out of this week’s Foucault seminar
Console someone who’s hurting in life (who knows not the beauty and burden of books)
If intellectual contortions lead to corporal ones, see a Feldenkrais practitioner or a teacher of the Alexander Technique
Make it a point to say one irrelevant thing in each class
Become proficient in being calm before entering inscrutable intellectual labyrinths
Put on   “Like a Rolling Stone” and listen to five times in a row
(“You used to be so amused, At Napoleon in rags and the language that he used”)
Schedule a weekly meeting with a friend to drink half the usual amount of caffeine and only talk  about what you were like at age 5
Accumulate this week
Give it all away next week
When you’re about to burst with doubt & screams & thrashing & fists clenched at the cosmos
Go do the laundry, but at the nearest laundromat
Befriend someone there who is your mother’s age

–from novel-in-process, Our Heroic and Ceaseless 24/7 Struggle against Tsuris

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