Image: Arthur Elgort for Teen Vogue
Well hi nerds. Yes I am suitable shamefaced for having neglected you so long but I have a very good reason, I do. Or... dozens of reasons, each of them small, itchy, red and infectious. That's right! Adult chickenpox aka my latest bedfellow, which laid me low for over a week. Unpleasant. Luckily for me, the Met Ball kept my eyes suitably occupied but unluckily for the old PhD... well, it didn't get touched the entire time. I had work with me but was too weak, tired and uncomfortable to even consider reconsidering my theories of place and space so my books languished, and now I return to style blogs and feel... stale.
I do not usually feel stale about my work, nerds. You know this. More for me is the hushed triumphant hissing of 'yessss!' in the ARC as I discover that some theorist I've been avoiding (too hard basket) actually nails the exact thing I'm seeing online (hey Bourdieu, hey Husserl, what's happening.) More for me the awkward and supremely unattractive victory dancing in the kitchen when I've written a paragraph which is particularly good (if I do say so myself). Less for me the dull-eyed gaze at books I don't want to open or the lacklustre contemplation of chapters that really need to be worked on but... But I have dabbled in this malaise before and here's what I've got: you just have to get on with it.
This does not mean dragging your feet reluctantly through your work, hating every moment- not at all. It means picking up your pen, rereading and retracing your way back to, if not inspiration, motivation. I must remember that I chose this topic (style blogs, obvz) for a reason- I need to remember what that reason was. And I need to re-engage with style blogs: I stopped reading them over the past few months because there was too much information all of the time. I would always find out about new blogs and couldn't keep up with the sheer volume and the constant triggering of ideas. To try to mark some kind of parameter around my project, I officially "stopped reading" last October... but now am feeling a bit cynical about style blogs, a bit distanced. Maybe this is a "natural progression" but it's maybe a slightly melancholy one, and maybe one to be held at arm's length from the dedication I must bring to their study.
And I usually find that retracing my steps, giving time to the reading I know I must do, and generally allowing my research to lap around me again reinvigorates me. I encounter new ideas, remember old thoughts I haven't done anything with, and gradually the enthusiasm kicks back in. Such moments feel like dim recollections right now but I'm fairly sure it will happen again. And as someone who can never let a good metaphor go by, it occurred to me today that it's like I have to fall in love with my PhD again. Have to let it romance me and I have to feed "our love" by giving it the attention it demands. The more time we spend together, the stronger we are and the more we grow (as a couple? my thesis and I? okay, I never said this was a flawless metaphor). And when I think of what the work could be- not world-changing, but maybe thought-provoking for the few people who may be interested- then a glimpse of my passion reignites. I do have something to say and I want to say it... so I will. So look for me and you'll find me- I'll be the one presenting an armful of peonies to my stack of books on cities, cyberspace and the flaneur... and I know we're going to be oh so happy together.