What We Need

Status report: I did it. Today I turned in the revised Chapter 3 and bibliography. That means my readers now have the entire dissertation. Every part of it, except the introduction, has been revised at least three times. And even significant parts of the introduction come from parts they’ve already seen, because I moved those parts to the front.

At this point, all I need to do is make whatever revisions they tell me to make. And then, the dissertation will go to the committee. That’s supposed to happen by Labor Day.

After I sent it off, I drove into town and bought myself some ice cream. I didn’t know what else to do with myself. I couldn’t focus on anything. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, and the hardest thing about it is the extent to which I’ve dropped out of life. I’ve lost touch with friends. Now that the whole dissertation is put together, now that there’s so little left to do, I need to reconnect again. Go out into the sunlight and remember that there’s a world out there. A real life to live, although my entire life has been intellectual lately.

I’ve been thinking recently about what we need to live, and it seems to me that we need three things.

The first of those is work we love. For me, that’s writing and teaching, but honestly, it’s writing above all. When I have free time, I find myself thinking: Now I can write! I want to be able to combine those things more than I do now, teach more creative writing. And of course I want to write more. Once the dissertation goes to the committee, I should be able to get back to the YA novel. I can’t wait.

The second of those things is a place where we feel at home. That’s different for everyone, of course. I know a musician who’s perfectly comfortable traveling around the country, sleeping in friends’ houses. But I need a house of my own, a small house with a large garden, filled with flowers. Especially roses. After eating ice cream, I stopped in the library, where I bought a book about creating a rose garden that looks like it came out of an impressionist painting. It was only $2. I want to find that home for myself.

The third thing is love that comes with no conditions or restrictions. We all need someone who loves us as we are, without wishing that we were somehow different. Who wants us to become what we are meant to become. Many of us get that from parents. If we don’t, I think we spend the rest of our lives searching for it. Sometimes we get it from spouses. It’s one of the reasons people have pets, because while they can’t tell us that we’re wonderful writers, for example, they can at least love us without asking us to change.

I think those are the three things we need in our lives.

And now, I have some free time. I’ve done everything I can, until my readers’ comments come in. So guess what I’m going to do for fun? Write, of course! And while I do, I’m going to listen to a lovely, if particularly grim, ballad that I discovered recently:

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5 Responses to What We Need

  1. You did it! I have a slightly different list of necessities, though I love yours – Air, Water, and Love. A request – For we who do not understand French, it would be kind to provide a translation dear Theodora. Here is the show clip (shaky camera with soft focus, but some more information – http://youtu.be/WLCy3yorBDE “Concert de reformation de Malicorne le 15 juillet 2010 au Festival des Francofolies, Grand Théâtre de La Coursive, La Rochelle, France. Le DVD / CD officiel est sorti le 7 mars 2011.” It’s lovely, provocative and melancholy indeed, It speaks of longing. May all you long for manifest for you.

  2. Sofia says:

    Congratulations! This is a HUGE step, and one I dream of!

  3. Jeff P. says:

    Yay, you did it!! I hope you eat lots of ice cream and sit in the sun and doze in a hammock and spend time with friends. You’ve more than earned it.

  4. Margaret Fisher Squires says:

    I’ve been cheering you on from the sidelines–too quietly. Congratulations on getting the dissertation to your readers!! I have been admiring your dogged determination and workmanlike organization–setting goals, working on one section at a time, keeping track of progress, finding ways to encourage yourself through the grueling process.

    There is life post-dissertation (I think I’ve had about 32 years of it now). May you savor every bite of ice cream that comes your way, and reconnect with life, and friends, in all the wonderful ways that you are clearly equipped to enjoy!!

  5. Margaret Fisher Squires says:

    (Oh, I meant to sign up for the notifications of follow-up comments, but posted too quickly. So, re-try…)

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