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In Which I Muse about Writing as it Snows

February 1, 2015

It’s been snowing heavily in Cleveland. My husband, a high school teacher, already has the day off from school tomorrow. I’m hoping for the same for my daughter and son, mostly as I’d love to have another day to work on my dissertation in (relative) peace.

It’s funny how it feels like I have to steal time in order to write. Like I feel like I’m not allowed to work unless I’m given permission by some outside force.

I’ve spent the last week or so watching all of the crazy stories I tell myself rise and fall inside of my head, crumbling into bits. Yet I’m not exactly sure how, as Martha Beck advises, to step away from the old and find new thoughts to replace them with. The old thoughts certainly keep making me plenty miserable. I’m also really starting to see how I keep myself from moving on. Every time I make real progress on my dissertation, for example, I somehow seem to find a reason to return to mulling over past regrets, mistakes, or worrying about the future. Or, I suddenly have a need to order ten books from the library, binge watch British television, and then it’s days later and I haven’t written anything new.

While I’ve been much better about this of late, I note the irony that I’m writing a dissertation about how Americans made up their own narratives about anxiety and the drugs they treated it with, even as I see my own narratives coming apart at the seams.

I’ve also been a bit flustered because I accepted an offer to return to a summer job, but in a slightly higher position. While I love this job and it’s short-term, and pays well…the idea of coming back to it and having to supervise others seems incredibly daunting. It brings up all of my anxieties over teaching and leadership…and makes me dredge up all of the times in which I’ve made mistakes in these areas, instead of seeing them as learning experiences.

In other news, I have truly been horrified about the recent revelation that the Egyptian Museum glued King Tut’s funerary mask back together with what looks like Gorilla Glue. (My favorite roundup so far is here at The History Blog.) I guess I’m flabbergasted that in 2015, this could happen to the one of the world’s most famous artifacts. Having read Jo Marchant’s book on Tut’s mummy, I know that the Boy King has had a rough time of it since the 1920s, but this really takes the cake. (And further brings home to me the fact that archeology and history both, in their own ways, aren’t nearly as professional as we like to think they are.)

I’ve also been watching “Grantchester” on Masterpiece Mystery. James Norton’s portrayal of Sidney Chambers is making the show watchable for me. I am about midway into the second book of the series that the show is based on, by James Runcie, but I have to say that the books make me somewhat uneasy. They are not British cozy mysteries, despite how they’ve been marketed. They are more meditations on the dark side of the British psyche during the 1950s, and, in my opinion, are too preoccupied with issues of sexuality. I also was truly appalled by the treatment of Amanda (as much as I dislike the character) during one of the stories in the first book, as it seemed completely unnecessary. The television scripts seem to be handling the subject matter better (though do we really need to harp on the curate’s sexual orientation constantly?), but the stories are faithful enough to the books that I’m not looking forward to what’s coming.

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