Hi Grad Students,
My favorite (rock and roll) artist released an album this week. On Tuesday, Bruce Springsteen’s Wrecking Ball, in glossy black vinyl, arrived at my fiance’s apartment, via U.S. mail, and a digital version I had pre-ordered was uploaded onto my laptop, via I-tunes.
Springsteen always speaks to me in my time of need. I remember reading an article once in Time Magazine in which Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks said that sometimes, when she isn’t sure of what to do in life, she asks herself, “What would Bruce Springsteen do?” and it usually helps her out of a dilemma, and guides her down the wiser road, or helps her find the strength to choose the road less traveled. This method of self-monitoring has often worked for me, too. His messages are in his music, and in his living example, and in his honest creation of characters that explore what it means to be an adult, an American, a human. In Wrecking Ball, the message is timely and urgent.
I was in desperate need of a little Springsteen, this week, actually, after sifting through archives of The Chronicle and finding, and reading, in its entirety -- in an act of what in retrospect I might describe as insane masochism -- an article entitled: “Graduate School in the Humanities: Just Don't Go.” (I should mention that I also continued the masochistic episode and further increased the despair by reading “Just Don’t Go, Part Two.”)
The article brings to mind a scene from the movie The Wedding Singer, when Adam Sandler’s character snarls to his ex-fiance who has left him at the altar and is now giving him reasons why she as fallen out of love with him: “Once again, things that could've been brought to my attention YESTERDAY!”
Sigh…. If you are one of the GSAS students in one of the humanities departments, you may know how I am feeling after reading that article. Thank goodness this episode of self-torture coincided with the release of Wrecking Ball. In the album, Springsteen’s characters are angry and anguished about the promises of the American dream being shattered, but also defiant and resilient. Rolling Stone reviewer David Fricke said one of the songs is like a “dance through the ashes” of the “scorched earth” that America has become, and that the record reminds us that we still have the power to sing and create.
Springsteen resounds, “Take you best shot, show ‘em what you got, bring on your wrecking ball,” and I imagined somehow channeling all my fear and bitterness and sadness and anger that arose after reading the article and somehow standing up to the world, without regret, doing whatever it is that I do here in grad school and in work and in life, and telling the crushing reality of life to come and get me, because in the end life is the journey, not the end product.
After reading the dismal and gloomy and soul-crushing article mentioned above, searching for a way to quell my despair, I asked myself, “What would Bruce do?” In his new album, he tells me what to do:
‘Til you’re done. Yes. Onward and onward, folks. Until next time, Liza