Category: Grad School

Water Logic

Capricious published “Water Logic” back in December, in their second issue, but it’s now available for free. I hope that if you like it you’ll consider subscribing because it’s an interesting venture.

This is the second SF story I wrote, after “Lilacs and Daffodils,” when I was trying to relearn short fiction as a genre. It’s a bit painful to re-read because it’s so deeply embedded in the isolating obsessions of grad school. I have a friend who loves MR James because of the way he writes the pleasure of research, though his characters are often damned by their desire to know. I’m trying to get a little of that feel here: the way one can be seduced by research, or the possibility of really, truly understanding that complex, inaccessible thing that one has been pursuing through all those years of study:

Gabe had cultivated the monomaniacal perspective of the basement-dwelling graduate student, so it was easy to imagine a hydrospheric world-computer as vast as the index he had imagined. He reasoned that Dr Leukos had already begun it in the walls of the very building in which he sat, in the substance which he had drunk, and eliminated, and flushed away; in the city’s systems, its flora, the tender roots of grass, and the deep roots of black walnut and red oak, the nodes, the connections, the reservoirs in winter-dormant perennials, the memory of trees. His mind rushed outward through campus greenspace and city parks, the culverts and storm drains, the ravines.

It’s also about water integrators. Because those are pretty cool. And a poem I made up called “Arethusa.”  And those summer rain-storms in Toronto, the kind of that flood the streets in a couple of minutes and are as warm as bathwater.

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Camp X and Northrop Frye: Why This Blog is Called “Where is Here?”

Camp X from the air. 1943.

Last spring D and I made the trip out to Whitby, Ontario, for an early Doors Open Toronto event at Intrepid Park.  It was May, one of those days that aren’t cold really or warm, but blustery and dull, with a flat, pale sky, and quite a bit of mud.

There are no doors to open at Intrepid Park, because there’s nothing there but a concrete memorial, a few shell holes, and a grassy mound. It’s a nice park, with viewpoints from which you can look along the coast of Lake Ontario toward the downtown skyline, which looks delicate and almost translucent at that distance. Continue reading

PHD VI

As of this week I am no longer PHD V, but I think I’ll cling to the designation a little longer.  I had intended to finish my dissertation in year five.  I am not finished, but I’m not ready to accept the “VI” yet, either.

Sometimes it feels like I’ll never be finished.  Sometimes it feels like I’ve never not been working on a dissertation. Like, I’m pretty sure I’ve persisted in this state for centuries:  always anxious, probably procrastinating, never finished.

While contemplating the big tick-over from V to VI, I realized how much I identify with the guy in Eraserhead, the one stuck with the scary baby. Like him I am saddled with a creepy thing, one I brought into the world, and for which I am responsible. The thing just lies there, crying its creepy, inhuman cries, utterly helpless, making less sense every time you look at it.  I think it might be messing with me, too.

At some point, I must have thought it was a good idea to be Dr. Whereishere.  I just hope it ends better for me than it did for him.

I feel your pain, guy from Eraserhead.