The reason why you've hardly heard from me lately is that I've finally settled into a comps reading routine. Yes, the rumours are true: I'm procrastinating less than usual.
And it's as if comps reading has consumed the interesting part of my brain. I've become this reading machine right now. I devour books in four hours. I find myself distracted (for this moment) by debates between gender history and women's history, between materialist social historians and post-structuralists.
I am completely boring. I float through my day, absorbing things. Watching TV. Reading stuff on the internet, but not really paying attention. What makes me animated? Comps. I went to a meeting with the other comps-reading members of my department and our grad chair. She asked us what methods we were using, and suddenly I lit up! I yammered on and on about note-taking and reading strategies. About survival techniques and when to take breaks.
I imagine that I'll become a normal personal again soon, and that soon it won't be so strange that I'm reading for hours at a time. My plan is to take evenings and Sundays off, but of course I'm not really used to working regular people hours yet. (I'm a grad student! I can feel a sense of accomplishment by sending a couple of e-mails in a day.) I'm sure my brain will start working again soon, and I won't feel like a reading machine.
(And I imagine, after my exams are over, that I will feel lost without this structure. I'm sure that someday I will be like my professors, and I will tell my students to value this time. That they will never again get this chance to spend a year reading. And I will forget the madness of trying to read an entire book in four hours, and the frustration of attempting to balance comps reading with all the other demands on a graduate student's time.)