The Helen Keller project genesis

By consulting my journal, I find that I mention Helen Keller on Vaudeville for the first time on February 4 2009, nearly two years ago.  Sad.  Sometimes it takes me so long to get things going that it almost doesn’t matter by the time I do.  Furthermore, I’m not proud of the fact that the mention of it is tucked amongst a bunch of bullshit about a dubious relationship and struggles with self-doubt. Typical.  Yes, very but strange nonetheless since the previous month (Jan 09) had marked the official completion date of my PhD.  this is of course one of the great accomplishments of my life – perhaps the greatest – but the excitement I should have felt was shadowed by the more palpable sense of relief.  It had taken so fucking long that it was more of a “phew.” Than a “woohoo!”  The mountain of years of work and not-work, doubt and disgust loomed large behind me and a great yawning pit of “what the hell am I gonna do now?” stretched out ahead, and so this pretty cool thing passed by almost without reflection.  The “pretty cool thing” being the day I, a mere grad student, entered a room with five professors to defend my dissertation and, when I emerged, they squeezed my hand, gave me hugs and were the first to call me “doctor”!  This alas did not even make it into my journal, though I do remember getting thoroughly drunk afterward.  Crazy right? After a million years as a student (my mother told me to stay in school, so I did!), I was finally done, culminating in my big fat English PhD (pronounced phud by my father), and I didn’t even mention the event in my journal.  I mean I fretted about it in just about every entry leading up to it for years, and congratulated myself for doing it in many entries since, but I did not take the time to detail the ordeal when it happened.  If I write anything about the experience of that day here, it is from memory, and memory is not reliable.  This is why I keep a journal.  It is very difficult to write about something in the past without coloring it with the knowledge of what came after.  Impossible more likely.  But what does it matter?  This is not about me being a doctor of philosophy, but about my relationship with the Helen Keller project.

If I tell you that my only post-doc plans were to host a monthly variety show called “the doctor michelle party show”, it might help you to understand why I pounced on the Helen Keller on vaudeville like a dog, and have worried it ever since.  “Helen Keller on vaudeville??!”  I started researching it and performing it almost immediately!  But alas, I am nothing if not inconstant, and so I have not been diligent, either with the performance or the research.  Hence, the blog. I hereby commit myself to this project till death do us part…

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