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Tom Coburn is a Big Fat Jerk


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Friday, January 06, 2006

Hiatii

It isn't enough to call it a hiatus, but there's no plural. So hiatii will have to do.

I've been getting my brains back, I think for the first time since I bailed out of grad school. I've been dreaming of becoming a wildlife biologist, and saving the frogs and toads and skinks. I've been buried in books and movies, learning about Roman history and feral children and capoiera and the olive oil in Aix and how to build Asian gardens and the advantages of lemongrass and leaf amaranth --- a kind of beckoning to old ways. See, before my foolish grad school experience, no one was even sure what I looked like because I spent so much time buried in books --- okay, that's an exaggeration. But not really.

Yes, I went on wild tangents where I pretended to have some idea of the game plan. There were several fashionable descents which were pretty rummy and a couple of unexpected plummets up the social ladder. I even spent a little time with British nobility --- gawd, they're worms. But I was always able to escape the inevitable disasters these social expeditions inevitably became by making a nice stew and finding a few good books and hunkering down beneath the covers and feeding myself.

I completely lost that somewhere around my third year of grad school. I remember someone once told me you could tell a good department from bad by how completely the grad students were drug into the petty warfare of deans and faculty. If my experience was any measure, I was in the worst department ever. And even though my advisor tried to allay my fears by telling me (repeatedly) that he loved graduate school, that even when faculty and students were bitch-slapping and fist fighting in the hallways (which was apparently a constant), he was always so lost in his studies that he didn't notice and didn't care.

I'm not that tough. I have permeable boundaries, which is generally an advantage. But I'm also dangerously curious, which leads me into trouble each and every time. And I'm stubborn, although less so these days. And, worst of all, I'm basically a very simple person --- give me a nice strong cup of coffee in the morning and a thick piece of homemade bread and some time to doodle in the dirt, and I'm happy.

All in all, a very bad combination for a very bad department.

So somewhere around my third year of grad school, I basically blew my brain circuits. I even lost my impeccable sense of color. I couldn't for the life of me sit down and read like I used to. And painting the house was a nightmare --- where once I would just know just the right colors, suddenly every choice was a gruesome mistake.

I was certain I must have had a small stroke or something which caused very specific damage to my neurology. I panicked at first, then learned to accept it. Okay, so the bookwormy colored part of my life is over, I told myself. I will become instead a woman of action and spend all my time digging.

Then, a week or so before Christmas, a package arrived in the mail, sent by one of my brainier friends --- a real live linguist, somewhat infamous but in the best of ways. A true pioneer and a true scholar.

The package was wrapped in a dark green tissue and contained a small book. The moment I opened it, I decided to read it. So I poured myself a big glass of wine, pulled out my giant bright green comforter, crawled onto the sofa and started reading. I didn't stop until the next morning, when I suddenly realized that for the first time in a very long time, I had completely lost myself in a book.

My brain had begun to heal itself, it seemed. But I wasn't convinced.

The next evening, I decided to try it again, just to see. I went to my shelves, located a thin, colorful book on Asian gardening and started reading. I spent hours completely lost --- I even made notes --- and was incredibly sad when the book was over.

I was stunned. It appeared the brain damage from grad school was gone! I immediately ran to a little shed out back, pulled out a couple of ancient metal art class chairs someone had given me years and years ago (they were sitting next to the smokey blackened folding chairs from the local volunteer fire department which burned down a year or so ago --- one of my most prized possessions, given to me by an elderly neighbor as a housewarming present).

I drug the chairs inside, scrubbed them from top to bottom and painted them an electric blue. It was perfect! My brain was healed! I wasn't imagining things!

I immediately got online and ordered a huge pile of books.

And I've been reading ever since.

So that's where I've been. Of course, there was the giant white rabbit which showed up here a week or so ago, right after the runaway turkeys. And I took the car to the mechanic who only takes payment in cash and under the table, and he performed a miracle on my car, like he always does, and for less than $200. And the two guys hired to come out and do some work under the place --- I told them that when I first moved in, I discovered a pack rat was living here, under one of the bathtubs. Not a human pack rat, but the real live four legged furry kind who like to steal things and leave you little presents, like acorns and tiny bits of colored plastic, as thanks. They laighed and told me they could tell, that they'd pulled out any number of tiny bottles and bits of colorful plastic and printed napkins and acorns and stones out from one of the cubbyholes down there --- the telltale signs of pack rat habitation. Etc.

So okay, it hasn't all been books, but close. I think have my brains back enough to return to work on Monday and maybe even start blogging again.

But we'll see.