Pax Gutierrez-Neal (’11) On The “Fun Bits That Punch Through The Lovely Chaos of Academia”

Whitworth English

Pax Gutierrez-Neal (’11) poses with Zee Captain, a character from the web-comic Romantically Apocalyptic. Pax recently sent us this post about life in graduate school (and the photos, including ones below of her and her colleague’s tiny study Cube of Doom and the “literature-loving robot ninja” who guards said Cube.)

Here’s Pax on Pax:

I’m a medievalist, almost halfway through my second year of graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin. I’m looking forward to an Old English course in the spring, will be presenting a paper at the 2013 MLA in January, and will hopefully have my Master’s by next fall.

 I spend my free time (my what now?) enjoying fairy tales and folklore, reading beach trash, and watching walkthroughs of horror video games on YouTube (in the dark, with headphones). I play WoW, but had to let my subscription expire when the academic term started back up; I eagerly await December, when I can in good conscience renew it again.

Robot Ninja

Here’s Pax on her grad school experience:

So it turns out time flies when you’re going delightfully insane. I say “delightfully” because I’ve always been rather fond of my insanity, and its recurrences are like family visits—you look forward to it, revel in the first few days, then realize why you moved out and slowly start going cross-eyed and twitchy before the expected final day, in which you are honestly both sad and relieved to see the visit at an end.

That is what grad school is like for me. The middle slump is the truest part of the insanity—the few “So, this is what going insane feels like” weeks in the middle that culminate in the “Oh my God, I must be a masochist” handful of days, only to give way to that relieved, accomplished high once finals have passed. I’m in that middle dip right now, which means I spend an inordinate amount of time holed up in my tiny Cube of Doom; luckily, though, I live in one awesome city.

Pax Gutierrez-Neal

 You see, there are fun bits that punch through the lovely chaos of academia—and which are not themselves academic in nature, and the insanity-fun-times hit during some great events. The Celtic Festival is a good example—with its caber-toss competitions (which they put right next to the sheep-herding demonstrations, despite stray logs flying into the pasture), viking invasions (only mostly staged), and faux-but-very-convincing-haggis (which is also deep-fried, because America), there’s fun for every kilt-wearing, kilt-admiring, and kilt-unsure-of-where-I-stand-(or-how-I-sit-in-these) festival goer. That’s next weekend, and I’m shifting my nerd-gears in preparation because I just finished a different excursion in the geeks’ Mecca: Comic-Con.

It comes to Austin every fall, and I’m pretty sure I’ve ‘squee’d every time. This year’s con was even bigger than the last, and I spent a solid six hours or so wandering around wide-eyed and playing guess-the-cosplay and planning on maybe-possibly-would’t-it-be-great-to-try a cosplay of my own for next time. You can always tell what’s happening in the (geek) cultural climate by the cosplays; for example, there were tons of Batmans, amazing Spidermen and various Avengers running around (all summer blockbusters), quite a few Eleventh Doctors (the new season just hit its mid-run break a few weeks ago), and so many Star Trek uniforms we could have formed a fleet right there (Sir Patrick Stewart and crew were guests at the Con). There were also quite a few Ghost Busters, and the DeLorean was on display, as well as the usual cadre of Naruto characters (I’m still working on an explanation for those).

And that’s how I survive grad school: insanity, chaos, and so much geekiness I’ll probably take an arrow to the knee while explaining to a zombie that it can’t eat my brains because The Harley Lyrics have already exploded them.

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