Ancrene Wiseass

A would-be medievalist holds forth on academia, teaching, gender politics, blogging, pop culture, critters, and whatever else comes her way.

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Location: United States

Yes, this really is yet another blog by a disillusioned grad student. I sympathize, but that's just the way it has to be. For hints as to what my bizarre alias means, click here and here and, if needed, here and here. To get a sense of what I'm up to, feel free to check out the sections called "Toward a Wiseass Creed" and "Showings: Some Introductory Wiseassery" in my main blog's left-hand sidebar. Please be aware that spamming, harassing, or otherwise obnoxious comments will be deleted and traced.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Dispatch from Old Home Sod

I'm safely ensconced here and am being ridiculously well fed. In addition to being reunited with Mom and Dad, I've been able to visit with two good friends I hadn't seen for a while and with a whole host of acquaintances, to boot. I have seen more trees than I'm accustomed to, breathed much cleaner air than usual, and encountered people playing bluegrass (very well, too) on street corners. And I think my holiday shopping is nearly done, which is good news for my bank account.

I've also been tearing through books that have nothing to do with my work. I seem to have a need to do this every once in a while, even (or maybe especially) when I have the kind of down-time which means that I should be trying to tackle little bits and pieces of projects between visits and shopping and present-wrapping and things. It's kinda like an intellectual and psychic palate-cleansing, I guess.

While it's true that I could probably do with an entire three weeks' worth of nothing but vegging and socializing, there's a certain amount of stress and anxiety that just won't go away unless I make at least a little bit of headway on the major projects that are casting their shadows over me. Hanging out with loved ones, running quotidian errands, and playing with critters and kids is deeply satisfying, but if I'm lying awake with guilt-and-jet-lag-induced insomnia for half the night afterward, I'm not exactly relaxing.

So I'm planning to set very small and well defined goals to get at least a few hours of work done on most (though not all) days. And I just might buy a small bottle of whiskey to help lull myself to sleep at night (easier said than done, I'm afraid--liquor licensing laws are still pretty strict down here).

Meanwhile, I've read these:
--Arthur Machen, Tales of Horror and the Supernatural (Knopf, 1948). I enjoyed this immensely, particularly when I realized that I could actually understand untranslated lines of Welsh in a few of the stories. See? Studying all those dead languages can come in handy sometimes!
--Erik Larson, The Devil in the White City. I initially thought Larson's intermittently flowery style was going to drive me nuts, particularly during the first half of the book. For instance, could this guy be any more obsessed with blue eyes? I mean, enough already with the "blue gazes" and the "blue calms" and "bright blue hopes" emitting from the serial killer's eyes! I also got irritated by several passages in which Larson made unwarranted assumptions for the sake of a more novelistic approach. But the book improved in the latter half, once the pace picked up and he seemed to become more confident about what he was doing.

I bought used copies of this, this, and this at a new bookstore nearby which, of course, I had to investigate. I'm saving this, which I bought earlier, for the plane ride home.

What are you reading (or planning to read) during the holidays?