A little less than six years ago, I was in the throes of studying for the very last M.A. exam given by the English department at my university— a rare honor that involved preparing to write essays on the whole of English literature (as conceptualized by some old white men, a rather long time ago). I think I wrote an essay about the similarities between Beowulf and Beloved (there aren’t really any that I can think of right now).
Anyway, just a few weeks before the exam— whilst I was thoroughly entrenched in losing my mind— the small white Magic Chef stove that I inherited with the purchase of my house decided to quit working. I had no love for that stove— my very first experience with it involved rushing out to the grocery store to buy a new, tinier cookie sheet because the lovely one I had purchased for my new home and new kitchen was approximately twice as wide as the oven itself. But the timing could have been a little better.
I bought a new stove. This stove, in fact, that has traveled with us to Colorado and continues to haunt me with its shiny, never-quite-clean cooktop. I never wanted an electric stove, but there was no way for me to navigate both the installation of a gas line and the slim comparisons between Tender Buttons and The Canterbury Tales. So I had to buy one anyway. And when I sold my house, the buyer didn’t want it. She wanted a vintage stove instead, which sounds quaint and everything, but seems a little crazy even to me. I am willing to wage a war against practicality in many decorative functions, but there are some things that I just want to work.
Which this stove, of course, no longer does. Work, that is. And I’m thinking that it must be because I’m due to defend my dissertation in just a week or so. Perfect timing. My academic life, it seems, moves in cycles of appliances. I have measured out my life, as Prufrock might say, in electric ranges. And I think I actually learned that bit from the M.A. exam.
I don’t know whether to feel good or bad that my Ph.D. took as long to complete as this stove wanted to live. But there is hope in sight; it turns out that my stove was recalled last winter because it also might burst into flames. So, I’m calling LG. And preparing for my defense. And all is right with the world.