I’m on Spring Break this week.
Typically, Spring Break means, for me, catching up on grading, trying to get a handle on research papers for seminars that will be due all too soon, reading for the classes that will be back in session, all too soon, and trying to catch a little bit of R&R.
This semester, though, I’m not taking any classes. I’m done with coursework. I took my last seminar in the fall (yes, I know, I’m never really done with coursework; but I’m done with the required credit hours of coursework for my graduate degree). I’m supposed to be studying for qualifying exams, working on a qualifying paper, and dissertating.
I am doing all of those things, with varying levels of success.
I’ve had a pretty difficult year… well, I’ll be honest, I’ve had a difficult couple of years… a difficult decade, if I want to be really honest. My 20s? I will not be sorry to see the end of them. There are experiences I wouldn’t trade, of course, but I’m hoping that my 30s (which will begin in a little over a week) will cut me some slack and ease up on the soul-crushing, anxiety-and-depression-producing angst just a tad.
I’ve been trying to figure out what to do for my thirtieth birthday… I don’t really like birthdays much. Why? That’s a subject not for this blog. I like helping other people celebrate their birthdays, but I don’t really like mine.
But I’m turning 30. I’m supposed to do something special, right? So here I am, doing something special. I’m in Abiquiu, New Mexico, at a cabin by myself. I love New Mexico, and I’ve been desperate to come back ever since I took a summer course here two years ago. So this year, I decided to come back, on my own, and just indulge in some serious hermitude.
I have a suitcase and a tote bag full of books–pleasure reading and academic reading alike–my laptop, some movies, and no cell-phone reception (though I do have internet). I got a new pair of hiking boots, and I brought my guitar with me (maybe I’ll actually learn how to play some chords?)
I was a little nervous–a long drive alone, plus a week with little to no human contact. It sounds lovely to me, because I’m in constant sensory overload with all the contact I always have. But I was also nervous that it wouldn’t be as nice as I thought. What if I get bored? Lonely? Scared?
Well, I’m here anyway. And I’m glad.
As I drove through Abiquiu, up into the mountains, and saw the red hills and mesas in front of me, recognized in the landscape some of my favorite paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe, my breath caught and I found myself crying. The glorious thing about it, is that I wasn’t crying because of stress or exhaustion or sadness. I actually felt so overwhelmed by the beauty of the landscape that I cried.
I realize that this post is personal in nature, rather than focused on my academic/ intellectual work. But, this is important to my intellectual work. The mental break will be restorative; alone here, away from my noisy neighbors and my usual distractions, I am excited to do my work and I actually have the energy to do my work.
Although, I do miss my cats.