Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Because I Said So

So, in keeping with my Facebook declaration a few days ago, ("Susan decides to be happier"), I decided to make a list of reasons why I might look forward to a year abroad. Without going into details, I'm always astonished at my therapist's flexibility. Yesterday, that character/professional trait manifested itself in her willingness to serve as a rather amiable and encouraging sounding board for the beginnings of my list. What I've got so far:

Why I Want to Spend a Year in London and India:
  • I've never spent time in the U.K. during the fall to winter transition, only spring to summer, high summer, summer to fall; something new to experience;
  • The house I'll be living in is in Cockfosters, outside London, an area I've never visited, so a new place to see;
  • Cockfosters is on the London Loop, and I've been wanting to do some more walking;
  • This year's Serpentine Pavilion will still be in place when I arrive in London;
  • This will be a chance to introduce more structure into my day, going to the archives at a regular time every day (at least in London)--I can use this as a chance to regulate my sleep/eat/work schedule and stabilize my life a little;
  • Three months in one place! Followed by another three months of one place, and then another, and then another. Three months in one place sounds impossibly grand to me right now;
  • An opportunity to see more of India: live in the Thar Desert for three months, finally visit Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, take a long weekend to Chennai, Mumbai or Goa;
  • Reconnect with favorite Indian places and people: go back to Jaipur for a weekend or two, back to Ujjain, Varanasi, spend more time in Delhi;
  • An opportunity to change my diet; although I've been living far away from vending machines for the past few months, it will be nice to be living some where with few processed foods to seduce me;
  • Doing this puts me closer to the completion of the dissertation, and closer to my goal of leaving academia;
  • This will give me a chance to regain the confidence and independence I discovered last summer in India;
  • Networking. This seems like a good opportunity to meet other Americans working in my field; the more people I talk to now, the more likely it is that I will find a job--in or out of academia--in the future;
  • A year without a car! Writing as someone who has put 14,232 on her vehicle since January 15, I can say I am very much looking forward to 368 days of Shank's mare and public transportation. I can't promise that I won't ever purchase bottled water when I'm in India, but even so, my carbon/resource footprint should drastically shrink over the next several months;
  • I'm much more likely to bump into Preity Zinta on the street if I'm in India than if I'm in Bloomington, Indiana or Rantoul, Illinois [that one's for you, Beth].
  • Both of my major fellowship awards come with a book-buying budget. I can finally buy all those books I need for my dissertation instead of relying on the library's copies.
Why I Do Not Want to Spend a Year in London and India:
  • A year away from home, are you fucking kidding me?
  • I miss the cats already, will they even remember who I am when I return home? What if something happens to Jackie while I'm gone?
  • What is something happens to Catherine, and I've wasted what could have been good times together on archival research about which I don't really care?
  • Living apart for 368 days is definitely going to put stress on my relationship;
  • Reuniting after living apart for 368 days is definitely going to put stress on my relationship;
  • My father's health--what if I don't see him again before it's too late?
  • I don't even want a Ph.D. It feels like I'm doing this for some reason other than "I want to," and I'm pretty sure that's the wrong reason;
  • I hate all people, and I'm pretty sure I'll have to talk to some of them in the next year;
  • I'm really not a big fan of Indian food, unless it's dal makhani or veg jalfreezi. It's going to be a long year of no tomato soup or popcorn;
  • What if I get sick, and there I am, out in the great Thar Desert, all by myself, unable to communicate? What if something really, really bad happens?
  • A year of lack. While this is good in terms of my gas consumption, it will be difficult in terms of a lack of: privacy, access to clean water, friends, my native language, familiar objects, etc.

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