A big steaming bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup.

Recovery and Writing

Well, I’m home. I’ve actually been home for almost two weeks now, actually, but when you lock yourself in an aluminum tube with over 200 other humans who’ve been who knows where doing who knows what, well…fizzy tabs of vitamin C only go so far.

I don’t think that I’ve been as sick as I was last week for a very long time. I basically spent an entire week on my couch, watching YouTube and Netflix and not wanting to move at all. Every time I did, I’d cough, which hurt my throat and my abs, which sadly got a great workout trying to get the crud out of my lungs. I’m still coughing up garbage and I’m still not really as energetic as I was before I left, but I’m getting better. I’m forcing myself to walk now, even pushing myself to my old 15,000 step goal just because I feel like I should have at least that level of activity. With hope and a little Mucinex, I hope to be back to 100% soon.

…which will be a good thing for my writing, as well. I have decided that I need to stop caring about quality at all. That’s the only way this is ever going to get done. As a result, I’m going to go back to the point here where I post semi-regularly as well as work every single day to get at least two pages written. It’s not a lot, but that rate will let me have a chapter mostly done by the end of the month.

Writing here isn’t really the same, but it does help me feel as though I can write again, which is good. The more I practice putting coherent thoughts down on the screen, the better able I am to try to make some sort of sense out of the things I need to process and discuss on the diss.

I also want to clarify that I’ll be writing a few more things about my experiences in the Exeter and Parker Libraries in my notes, too, but those won’t really ever see the light of day. I just feel like I need to write about what I saw and experienced. Some of it is filled with awe, and some of it is just plain observation, but it’s all going to be important when I sit down to talk about the manuscripts and the material culture they represent. I don’t want to forget some of the reactions I had and some of the observations about myself that I made while looking at these priceless artifacts that are, simultaneously, just dusty old books.

So yes, stay tuned. I can’t say that I’ll be writing a lot of earth-shattering things while I get through all this. What I need to do is get the argument of my diss put together to the point where my committee finds it acceptable. Once I’m there, I can finally worry about making things better and putting the final touches on a very long and very difficult process…and then begin another difficult process: finding out what my life post-grad school can look like.

I also wanted to make a very brief mention here that I know how lucky I am. I know I’m incredibly fortunate that I will remember January and February 2018 as that time I got to see the manuscripts, not the time when I lost someone I loved dearly to an auto accident or cancer or another school shooting. There’s an awful amount of awful in the world right now, and I don’t know if it’s just that we hear about it more, or if it really does seem to be increasing in magnitude and frequency. What I know is that I’m grateful to have what I have; I don’t take it for granted at all that I had a great couple of months while others had the worst times of their lives…or simply had their lives stop prematurely. It’s been hard for me to write about how much fun I was having while knowing that there are so many others whose hearts, spirits, and lives are shattered right now. Please understand: those thoughts were never very far from the top of my mind, even as I sat in the reading room.

I can’t really justify being excited while close friends of mine are dealing with actual tragedy on a daily basis unless I remind myself that life is a wheel, and lady fortune spins it how she wants. We all have our times on top and on the bottom. Do what you can to help those on the bottom to find their way back up, and help to keep those on top from falling and crashing too hard when the wheel turns again. That’s kind of the purpose of it all, if you ask me: do what you can do when you can do it. Just be mindful of the wheel.

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