What I Do All Day

We've spent the last couple months searching for wild raspberries in the forest, for crayfish in the river bed, for the lost cape of Lego Wonder Woman under the couch. There's a lot of academic proofreading to be done, and we need the money. I like to kvetch about the long hours at the desk, the mind-numbing tasks of double-checking reference dates against their in-text citations, but there are worse things in the world than reading about the ways in which the British incorrectly categorized Indian temples as either strictly Buddhist or strictly Hindu. Many temples were simply places of worship, and the brass icons often served dual purposes, as Buddha or Shiva, depending on the worshipper. 

Needless to say, I have not gotten a lot of writing done, but I am reading a lot. I started off summer break with Helen Phillip's haunting The Beautiful Bureaucrat. It was a book that had been on my to read list for a while now, but after I saw her read at the Hudson Valley Writers Center (HVWC), it shot up to the top of my list. The Beautiful Bureaucrat s a brutal accounting of our modern life. Maybe it's all the data entry I've done, but the descriptions of being imprisoned in a windowless, featureless room triggers that deep-seated existential dread I have of meaningless office work.

But now, there are just four days left of summer, and I have two editing projects due and a grant proposal, which I had, of course, intended to work on all summer. Instead I found myself the past few nights staying up all hours, trying to wrench an intelligible paragraph out of my tired brain. What astounds me, every time, is that with a little effort and a willingness to play, I have actually created a reasonable answer to the grant's first question of Who I Am

It's strange how bureaucratic hurdles such as artist's statements and college essays can illicit such dread, and yet, when done, they seem to serve the intended purpose of getting you to actually figure out where you are in this moment, where you want to go, and how to get there.