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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Conundrum

As I look back on it, I was not mentally prepared (or financially really, but that is another matter) for a field study. The wise thing to do, would have been to stay in Provo and just work. Not take classes, just work as much as I could to save money and prepare for the fall semester. I was not ready to just show up somewhere, establish my life, learn how to conduct research and then conduct it, as well as balancing an intense load of academic course work. Just going to India essentially randomly and trying to establish a life in and of itself was a titanic project. Because I was not ready, because I did not really know what I was doing, all in all, I would have to say that mostly I failed in the explicit goals of my project. That isn't to say that the summer was a failure, per se, or that I did not learn anything. It was incredibly difficult and a very stretching situation. But as to balancing course work and figuring out how to conduct research, success was elusive.

So really, it would have been better in many ways that I had not gone. I am not going to have some amazing paper to show off to future employers or grad schools. In fact trying to describe exactly what I did and why it was worth while itself is a difficult task. Trying to do this semester with the extra things I did not quite finish in the field and trying to pull together a summer that was so full and so empty emotionally, psychologically, and academically is something that is still beyond me (even as due dates sprint at me). Had I not gone I would not feel so unbalanced now. Had I not gone, I would not have been so distracted and so busy this semester. Had I not gone, I would not have near the stress I have had to deal with this past semester trying to work through and conceive of my coursework and my project.

But I promised a conundrum and here it is: had I not gone, I would not be ready to go again. Arguably there are better ways to receive this introduction. I could have waited for a program in which I would be someone's assistant. I could have looked for a program that was an already established project with established contacts and I just had to show up. I do not discount these things. Looking back, much of what I did was foolish and in many ways suffering as the result of being lazy in my preparation. However, the thing that I struggle with most in trying to communicate my failure is that I know now how to do my project. I know how to establish myself on my own in India. I know how to begin a project. I know how to structure it. I know the correct time of year to go. I even have a few contacts that could lead to other contacts. I do not suggest that I have created the foundation to just go next summer and create some field-changing study, but I know now how to start.

So what do I do in this case? How do I create a narrative that makes sense out of this experience? I have suffered much for this field study and most of what I suffered will not yield anything productive. I have no contacts in higher education. This is not my "in" to a prestigious program somewhere. In fact I honestly believe putting myself into a program I was not prepared for and thus being overwhelmed, taking on more than I should have will most likely result in lower marks which will probably hurt my chances of getting into a decent graduate program. But I would not be able to do what I know feel so much more capable of without this experience. Do I regret the problems I have created for myself or do I rejoice in my gained experience? Is it a case of x steps forward, y steps back? Is it better to say I am stable and dependable, send me on a stable and dependable program even though I am inexperienced? Or is it better to say I have no proof, but you can drop me off anywhere and I will try?

I don't know. I don't know. I don't know what the correct answer is. What is done is done. I cannot take back this crazy summer and get back the time I spent this semester worrying over it and working on it. I cannot squeeze back in a productive summer of quiet work and preparatory reading.

Because the thing is there really isn't a way to prepare for international experience. It is international. The point is it is a different culture. If you do it by careful installation, if you try to maintain as much of your previous life as before, you will never succeed. You will always be met with petty irritations and annoyances. There will always be days when the air conditioner/heater doesn't work like the one in America even though you paid extra for it and it would be so easy for the natives to make it work. There will always be days when the people are acting completely irrational in the face of your carefully explained, science-backed rational ideas, explanations, and implorings.

But I guess you just have to be aware that the cost of jumping in with both feet can be incredibly high.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A fragment is not a fraction but a whole piece.

Brilliant line from Lyn Hejinian. I've been thinking of it a lot lately.

Anyhow, so here I am back again. I kind of intentionally let this lie fallow to wean people from reading this blog. What I am doing next will be completely undirected and I don't want to fool anyone into thinking I have any idea what I am doing. Why don't you make it private you ask? Because leaving this public makes me accountable to do something. If it is private then if I never follow up on these thoughts. If it is private it isn't embarrassing when people randomly stop by your blog and see some grand post about how you are going to write the constitution developing country X should have written and also provide a philosophical proof for how to tell if you exist or not and then have your last post be from some time in 2010. Also, having this public means it is possible that someone will read it, keeping my thoughts in check so I don't post something really out there.

I don't really think of this as "publishing" nor do I believe in publishing. Click on the manifesto button to get a general idea on my feelings about publishing. At least for those who can't/don't really have anything to write. So this is just selfish space, generally.

In the near future after I finally turn in everything left over from this summer I will start breaking down vaguely what happened. I don't know that I want to really share everything that happened this summer. It was really difficult in many ways. It wasn't what I expected. I am still processing much of what occurred. But I want to work through some of it, especially with regards to my project. It has given me a lot of ideas and with what I am learning, I have put together many more. Mostly I have just learned that there is so much I need to learn/read. Especially read. I am so embarrassingly underread. Anyhow, that is the plan for the near future. Go through some of the things that happened with my project and to continue to muse about the Indian literature I am reading and have read. I think I may post some of my thoughts about some of these books specifically, not exactly a review, because I am no one to have the authority to review a book, but just a record of what I thought.

And this is rambling. Anyhow, I am not gone. And this blog is far from abandoned. I am just too dang busy to work with it at this exact moment. Just give me three weeks. Dag blast. Three weeks. I have about two or three months worth of work to do and I only have three weeks. Okay, maybe four weeks. Three weeks to finish out the semester, and one week to recover/pull myself together after the breakdown that I will probably have in two and a half weeks.

Also, I am thinking about/looking for a way to get back to India again.