this wasted, shaded daylight

Every summer, I like to re-read some series of books that I enjoyed awhile ago. Harry Potter. All-of-a-Kind Family. What have you. This summer, I was planning on re-reading the Jessica Darling series, but I also have all these books I have wanted to read for the first time, not for the second or third, and then yesterday I picked up Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, because it’s also been awhile since I’ve re-read Rachel Cohn’s books, and I love her. Best. YA. Author. Ever. Period. So now I have even more reading to do, and I really don’t have time for silly things like working on my novel or writing songs or editing short stories or studying for the GRE or working on grad school applications. But blogging? Hells yeah, I always find time for that. Blargh.

In addition to Nick and Norah, though, I am also reading Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure, which I have not read before. I have even not seen the movie, hooray! I have no idea how famous or classic this book is, but it looks that way from the stills from the movie and from the fact that there are a million editions of it. But I honestly just pulled it from the pile of books my sister was getting rid of a few years ago because I wanted to own more “good” books. Also, Kate Winslet was on the spine and I love her. I guess I love lots of people.

Anyway. A passage that I read last night kind of reminded me that I need to kick myself in the ass and get to work. Writing and reading, writing and reading, with a little bit of museum-going with friends, work, and exercise in the middle. No more of this re-watching primetime soaps thing. Because what I read made me think that general higher education used to be what PhD study is now:

He was young and strong, or he never could have executed with such zest the undertakings to which he now applied himself, since they involved reading most of the night after working all day. First he bought a shaded lamp for four and sixpence, and obtained a good light. Then he got pens, paper, and such other necessary books as he had been unable to obtain elsewhere. Then, to the consternation of his landlady, he shifted all the furniture of his room – a single one for living and sleeping – rigged up a curtain on a rope across the middle, to make a double chamber out of one, hung up a thick blind that nobody should know how he was curtailing the hours of sleep, laid out his books, and sat down.

And he’s not even getting a stipend. It’s like the work of a PhD student with the life of a Master’s student. Is this going to be me in a year? Ouch. I would print that passage out and tape it over my desk, but since owning it I have never once done work while sitting at it. That is another sad thing about my life that I should change. I am now at my kitchen table, which is clean for once, but it would be better if I didn’t have the distraction of food right behind me. Like right now, since I like to procrastinate even when I’m enjoying myself, and because I’m having trouble breathing, I’m going to make a cup of chai.

Okay. So the water is boiling.

Maybe I am just better at writing letters and blog posts than novels and applications. Maybe when people study me years from now, they’ll read all my letters to penpals and realize that that was my true gift to art and society.

Until then, though, I have to do something that is at least good enough to make me famous in the first place. And to keep me in school. So I’m off to work on writing and studying and reading and applications. Let’s hope I can spend at least two hours doing that without getting distracted. I fail hard lately.

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