At the Dallas Fort Worth airport, I bumped into Craig Dworkin and after five years of never saying a word to him I finally turned around while we were in line waiting to board and said, awkwardly and somewhat creepily, "Are you . . . Craig?" to which he said, while obviously wondering if I was a stalker, a random fan, someone from SLC he was supposed to know, etc., "Y-es?" after which we briefly established that after fifteen years of teaching he is on sabbatical and will soon be traveling to a conference (I think) in California, that our department is not comp lit (which I did not know), that my exams are behind me and now I am dissertating, and that my 98-year-old grandmother who is soon to be 99 has the genes of an immortal. Not bad for a two-minute conversation. Also not bad? I learned that on the fly, I can sum up my dissertation in one sentence, which is like, amazing.
Me: Yeah, I took exams in December, so it's been a few months now. I guess I'm working on my dissertation, but it still feels like I'm stuck in exam mode.
Craig: I think you'll always feel like that.
Craig: What's your project?
Me on the inside, totally panicking, thinking, Project!? Am I someone who is supposed to have a project? Oh, right, I just said I'm dissertating. Dear god, I'm supposed to be someone who is dissertating. WTF am I supposed to say? while somehow, despite my inner freakout, I said, calmly and like I've said it a million times before: I'm retelling the original Beauty and the Beast, and chapter by chapter mimicking the 18th Century novel, the 19th, the 20th, and 21st.
Craig, responding with the same question Lance posed way back in the early days when I first began articulating this version of the proposal for this manuscript: So you'll be imagining the 22nd Century novel too?
And here, my post begins. Today's [insert game-show host voice]: Dissertation Dilemma! What will the 22nd Century novel look like?