in 52 days, i’m presenting a paper that i’ve not yet begun to write.

my proposed title contains the following words (presented here in no order): “adventure”, “stardom”, “tabloid”, “feminism”, “narrative”, journey”, “the NEW woman”, “via”, “jackie onassis”.

it contains not one but TWO colons.

if you’re at all familiar with the tendencies of upper-level undergraduates or university of chicago masters students, you’ll rightly interpret this as a clear sign that- when i pitched this paper- i had no idea what it was going to be about. accordingly, i larded it’s title with voguish academic words and clichés that seemed rich with intellectual vigor when i was composing them and appallingly gauche in retrospect.

my abstract wasn’t much better, as it merely shoved all this together into a buzzword smörgåsbord. as though “adventure stardom” and “tabloid feminism” were bona fide concepts into which i will be delving (they aren’t) and “jackie onassis” were the conduit to “the NEW woman” (is she?) and “the NEW woman” were a real thing (is it?).

given i’ve that mass of nonsense as a guide, i’ve put off the writing of this paper in characteristic fashion. meaning, i pulled 8 pages of information together during the last hour on the plane home from prague, and subsequently took a three-week break to recover from the strenuousness of that exertion. during which time, in every conversation with my mother, i’ve off-handedly confessed, “i really need to write that paper for paris”, and to anyone who’s inquired into the paper’s progress, i’ve smiled coyly and whispered, “it’s marinating.”

as though a 10-page paper on jackie onassis were a slow-roasting rack of lamb that mustn’t be rushed lest the delicate flavors be unsettled.

but, in all honesty, it isn’t nearly so sophisticated as that. it is, simply, a 10-page paper on jackie onassis that i’m presenting in 52 days and which i’ve not yet begun to write.

(photo by eve arnold)

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