Koreatown, Los Angeles, lunchtime
Can this really be it? I’ve barely done anything today, except mess around in this same old room, talk to Sarah, eat a sandwich, and spend more than five hours reading over my paper—I mean in the sense that I had such a hard time concentrating that it took me five hours and more to get through it once. But it’s fine. I knew I was more or less done, didn’t I? Nothing to do now but to oscillate between the two overwhelming feelings: pride that I’ve written something that’s really quite good, and horror that it’s not actually very good at all and yet I’m turning this in as representative of the work I can do.
This project has been in the back of my mind for a year now, and in the front of it for maybe half of that time. Have I ever worked on something quite so self-motivated, and quite so long-term? I’m not sure.
It’s sort of frightening. I’ve been saying “April 13, 2012” since it was so far away that it sounded like The Future. But it’s a few hours away and I am, for better or worse, done with this project. I read sources on the couch of the rental house in Wellfleet, spent days and days’ worth of time on the first floor of the Reg, drank Nespresso with hot chocolate while piecing things together at my kitchen table on a rainy December day in Brooklyn, renewed books, panicked about being in touch with my advisor, made friends with a whole seminar full of other history majors, commiserated and worked and waded through something that seemed impossibly daunting for so so very long. And I have these forty-four pages to show for it—forty-four pages that only two people are ever going to read.
I want to feel happy about it but it hasn’t quite hit me yet, in the way that you can tell yourself again and again that something is a big deal but some part of yourself doesn’t accept it.
We’ll call it setting yourself up for anticlimax.