Dear Diary

On Staring At the Ceiling As A Legitimate Activity

I do a lot, I must say, to “give my brain a break.” I have a six book stack of YA fiction, mostly taken from book nerds on Tumblr, that I am working my way through. These are the kinds of books where nothing is remotely real, but most of it is quite enjoyable for just that reason. These are the books that I probably won’t review, or will review in batch in about a paragraph each. They’re just a way to relax at the end of a long day. And I have a lot of long days, because this season, I have overcommitted myself:
— I work full time as the adult specialist librarian at the Cypress Hills branch of the Brooklyn Public Library. At the library, I am involved in several committees, and will be responsible for a lot of training in the next couple months for other librarians. In addition, I plan and run programs for all ages at my branch, plus the normal clerical stuff librarians do. It’s a great job, because I am a people person with a lot of media interests and a good tech background. It fits me and I fit it. 🙂
— I am taking a comparative politics course at NYU and a directed reading (i.e. an independent study) that was supposedly on Arendt but has morphed into the introduction to my thesis. I am a graduate student at NYU in the humanities and social thought. I am very interested in my thesis, but if I could write my thesis without having to do anything else, including getting the MA itself, I probably would. I have learned that graduate school administration is full of extremely warm, enthusiastic staff trying to navigate a whole lot of disjunction and dysfunction. If I still aimed to work in an academic library, I would want the MA for rubber stamp reasons. But that simply isn’t the case anymore, and I’m not sure grad school was ever a good fit for me, even the first time around (when I got my library degree).
— I am a senior editor for Anamesa, which is a journal my department publishes. The staff last semester, who asked me to do it, could not have had any idea that it would suddenly be Journal Revolution Season this semester, in which we are attempting to transform the entire project. This is a year long commitment, but I did bail for Spring semester.
— I am taking American Sign Language II. I love sign language, and am very happy to be doing this.
— I am editing my novel with actual editors. Three rounds as is standard: developmental, polish, copy edit. This is something that I can choose to do at whatever pace I want, but the part I have to pay for has been paid for already, so its a hard commit.
— I am taking two courses this semester, consecutively, at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Thought. They are four weeks each, three hours one day per week, and consist of only reading. The first one is an introduction to the Frankfurt school which is related to my thesis (and the justification for taking it). The second one, which starts in November, is on poetry and poetics.
— I have Games Club, where I write an open letter series on my blog about one indie PC game each month with a friend.
— I host board game days once a month at my apartment.
— I go to “Games with Strangers” on Saturday evenings at the Brooklyn Strategist.
— My roommate E and I are slowly finishing the TV show Fringe together.
— Theoretically, I should also be running a Kingdom meetup.

And that’s not even to get into dating and other random social activities, like the Halloween party, the whale watching, the farm visit, poetry brothel, etc.

So… doing nothing often can feel gross, especially nothing on top of nothing. But I have found that when your schedule gets extremely full like this, either due to over commitment (as in my case) or something outside of your control (work, family, something), it is not a waste of time to waste time anymore. Last night I spent upwards of three hours lying on my bed and spacing out, and it doesn’t feel like time badly spent. There’s a word in Portuguese, conseguir, which roughly translates to “get,” or “pull off,” and there comes a point where one’s mental faculties can no longer consegue anything at all. Where the whole notion of any particular process is simply out of the question. For most people, this time comes in between activities, whenever we space out. But if your schedule is as tightly packed as mine, sometimes you need to dedicate time for spacing out. In that case, staring at the ceiling is an excellent way to spend a few hours.

By jtp

Joanna Tova Price has a lot of heart.

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