Cali Pitchel McCullough is a Ph.D student in American history at Arizona State University. For earlier posts in this series click here. –JF
I think I can, I think I can, I think I can….One more week. 60 pages to write. 115 Blue Books to grade.
It’s at that point in the semester when I purposely do not allow the fact that I have just about ten days to finish three written finals to sink into my mind. It’s a weird game I play. The very thought of what needs to be done in the little time I have creates a wave of anxiety in my chest—so I don’t think about it. I just do.
I’ve spent the past two days at my favorite coffee shop. I arrive early enough to stake claim to a large table in the corner close to an outlet. I open my laptop, spread my books across the desk, and then proceed to the counter for the usual: a chai tea latte and a freshly baked blueberry scone.
Then, I write. I page through the texts, searching for that one mention of patriarchy or that paragraph on the politics of suburban growth. Occasionally the person next to me strikes up a conversation. Most people do a double take when they notice my stack of books and are interested in what I’m doing. This inevitably leads to a discussion about his or her own history education, which was, of course, boring.
I suppose I am part of a rare breed. But I like it. As I enter the final days of this semester, I feel more committed to this pursuit than when it started. How many people get to spend their days people-watching and sipping premium loose-leaf tea? There is obviously more to what I am doing than my coffee shop rituals, but I feel content in the space—reading, writing, engaging in dialogue. I was meant to be here. This feeling makes the deadlines, red pens, and track changes worth it.
(Will someone please remind me of this post when I’m studying for Qualifying Exams? Thanks.)
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