The wanderer returns
Well, I’m back. No excuses really, just adjusting to being post-PhD. I have a new gender-, marital-state-neutral title. It’s nice. I still get a mini-shock when I pull out my bankcard and read ‘Dr’. But otherwise, it’s not a big deal. No major life-tranformations. I have a new identity of a kind, but no job, not much direction yet. That will come.
I’ve written one paper and sent it out. I’ve drafted another, but I have some issues to sort out. I am thinking of my novel again, the one I abandoned to do my PhD. The one I spent a month working on in Hawthornden (http://www.nawe.co.uk/DB/events-2/hawthornden-castle-international-retreat.html) before I started the PhD. I don’t want to do a post-doc. This decision is strange to me, because I thought it was what I was working towards. I thought I wanted this. But I’m not young, we’re barely in Belfast 8 months, and I don’t want to move again. I want to be here. Sitting in our study, newly shelved, at my old writing desk, looking out at a gap between the houses opposite, where I can just about see the Belfast hills. It’s not quite the same as the Sperrins, but it’ll do.
I’m reorientating. The PhD was brilliant, but everything is pushing me back in my old direction. I did the Masters to distract myself from grief, and to redeem my 2ii. I worked really hard, did really well, got the PhD as a result. I loved the PhD. I loved the fieldwork, the research, the thinking, the writing. But I’ve had to put poetry aside for far too long ….
Speaking of books and poetry, I devoured Helen Macdonald’s “H is for hawk” (http://www.amazon.co.uk/H-Hawk-Helen-Macdonald/dp/0224097008) over the weekend. The reviews aren’t exaggerating. This is a brilliant book, grief and distraction dissected and chartered with the forensic sight of the book’s ostensible subject. But the poetry of description, the brilliance of the images, is uplifting. The book soars, as breathtaking and brilliant as a hawk on the wing.