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Succeed, fail, or get the hell out?

Dear Gunther,

I decided yesterday that it’s been too long since I dropped you a note to see how you are and to piss and moan. So, the first thing this morning, I’ve decided to keep the pissing and moaning down to this:

I’m trying to get motivated for this stupid dissertation. It doesn’t need to be Nobel Prize material, it just needs to be completed. Somehow, I have that thing that tells me I can’t do it. This, in part, is about fearing success and failure. But it is also about having an excuse not to succeed or fail.

In short, if I have an excuse, I don’t have to face flopping on this thing, having my feelings hurt, and possibly hanging myself in the basement. But the “I can’t” excuse also works for not taking on the responsibility of success.

You know as well as I do that lesser minds than mine have completed the Ph.D. trek. Somehow, this intellectual realization does not reach into the heart. The tapes are playing, and they are loud. You can’t do this, they say. Give it up. Why do you even try? Who told you you could do anything like this? Why can’t you get a job like normal people? What do you want to be a bigshot for? You can’t compete anyway? What does any expert know that I don’t? I don’t need a degree for that. Etc.

Maybe you’re not familiar with this kind of thinking. I mostly have done what I’ve done “to show those fuckers,” including me, that I can do these kinds of things. But it’s time to move on to a different motivation. This one’s too painful.

On to rosier subjects.

The second book, a river journey sequel to Seldom Seen, I think will have the title (tell me what you think): Medicine River Summer. Or, Medicine River Summer: A Missouri River Journey. I’m not quite sure about the subtitle yet. But I like the title so far. I can be talked out of anything.

I have decided not to build bridges this summer and instead write and research. I need to get that dissertation completed and the river book. I’m in a position to do just that. Virginia is behind me on this, and the kids seems to like having their dad around the house (even if they keep him from getting his work done).

To keep my head together, I’ve gotten back on the bike and spent time on the treadmill watching Alfred Hitchcock movies on the big screen in the basement. Since I’m on the damn thing for a hour at a time (with 30 pushups every .25 miles to 240-250), I get in about half the movie and leave off where I can easily get back in. The movies run back into Hitchcock’s silent movies and exclude the big-cheese ones he made in the 1950s and 1960s. I think this disc set has some episodes of his television series, Alfred Hitchcock Presents with it. Plus, when I run out of Hitchcock, there’s Netflix on that projector.

I’m not losing any weight off my fat ass but I am in shape. I’d like to be skinny but what the hell, ey?

Let me hear from you soon. Business good? What of the political climate? Reaction has taken over where reason left off. I mean, if Michelle Bachmann and Mitt Romney are possible presidents, yikes.

Nature, river, and you? We have flooding, but I think flooding is a flaw of the human nature not working well with the nonhuman. Read my letter to the Star, “High water not necessarily same as flood.” It’s short and sums it all up.

Must run. Alfred and all he entails await.

Patrick

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