Friday, May 1, 2015

Dinosaur Bones

I am now a BYU student and this is my life.

I wish the church hadn't waged a wore on leggings. It may be worse than the war on drugs.

Things are actually going really well. I am so happy to be back in English classes again. I love English classes. I am just an English major at heart. I haven't written anything academic in two years, and I'm already writing a lot. I forgot how rewarding and maddening and wonderful writing papers is. I love it. 

I think writing a paper is like someone giving you a small piece of land and a paintbrush and saying, "We know there's some sort of fossil here. Find it." At first you dig rapidly and eagerly with your hands through the grass, sand, and snow that might be the top layer. The prospect of finding a dinosaur is both exhilarating and overwhelming. Eventually, a few pieces of bones surface. Is that a tooth or a toe? You keep digging, ever growing more wary in this blind act of discovery. The most important thing is to keep going, because even if you don't find anything, at least now you know where not to dig, which is worth much more than it sounds like. You can try to systematically search the depths of this piece of earth, but in reality it is simply a confusing and messy process. You may think you have an idea of what you're searching for - triceratops were always your favorite dinosaur after all - but the more you dig the more meddled everything becomes until the dirt seems to have permanently entered your nose and brain and teeth. That's when it's time for your lunch break. 

You come back from lunch no longer hungry, but not eager to get back to the chaotic digging, which is when you notice all the disarrayed bones you dug up in your earlier fury. You squat down to examine them. That certainly looks like a shoulder. And a hind leg. Yes, this is definitely a dinosaur. You venture to guess it's actually a Brontosaurus, but people aren't even sure they ever existed anyway. So you keep going, looking for the characteristic Brontosaurus pieces. You dig again because damn there's actually a dinosaur here! Your boss comes by to look at what you've done and commends you for  what you've found but informs you that what you have on your hands is unquestionably a T. rex. This terrifies you because it nullifies all the work you did on that Brontosaurus you were building, but it is also thrilling because it's a bloody T. rex. You know there really is no dinosaur superior to the T. rex. You pull out that paintbrush you'd all but forgotten about and go to work meticulously cleaning and looking for missing vertebrae and claws. 

Later in the day, your boss comes by to congratulate you on the excellent dinosaur you have built and to give you another paintbrush and square of land. You start to protest that you aren't done with you T. rex yet - what about her eyelashes and fingernails? I can find those! - but then realize that you'll probably never be done with her. It might take working the rest of your life to make these 85 million years old bones shine like they just came out of your toddler's plastic toy kit. And then it hits you: you could stay here with your paintbrush and dinosaur and swatch of land for the rest of your life and you'd never have the perfect, complete dinosaur you envisioned when you started the project, because the earth did not fossilize all of her bones and even if she had your only tools are your hands and a paintbrush. So you give your dinosaur a nice name, preferably one that includes a colon like Moral Motherhood: Women’s Entrance into the Public Sphere and Achievement of Suffrage Through Embracing the Gender Ideals of the Cult of True Womanhood or Complaints Against Christians: Red Jacket’s Resistance of the Vanishing Indian Narrative Through the Othering of White Christianity and you walk away, having learned once again that Valery was probably right when he told us "a poem is never finished, only abandoned," but knowing deep within you'll never stop looking for the whole dinosaur in your little square of earth. That's why you like the digging, anyway.

And that's how we procrastinate writing a paper by writing about writing a paper, ladies and gents.

1 comment:

  1. what happened to the Hilary thing? I started this comment and it occurred to me that it was an April entry, so I had to go back to make sure you didn't post that on April 1. Nope, you didn't.

    So how come no mention of what became of that?