Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Buried Alive

When Claire and I settled in for a long Winter's nap last night, we were fairly certain that we would wake up to a town that had begun to pull back the blanket of snow that fell yesterday and sacrifice some of the gentle beauty of the untouched snow drifts. We were anticipating muddy streets and melting slush. Boy, were we wrong!

At least two more feet of snow fell last night and the neighborhood looks roughly like the surface of the moon. Judging by the back deck, I would say that it probably comes up to my navel. There's something very appropriate about being buried under snow right now because I'm currently feeling smothered by work. I still have 30 exams to grade this morning, which is actually quite easy. The hard part is writing the explanations for my grading. There are only so many time that you can write "Too vague- needs more specific information" without going insane.

When I get done with that, I need to get back on track with my exam readings. I'm hopelessly behind in the Mediterranean field and have yet to hear from the professor that I'm doing the readings with. Normally, you meet with the professor to discuss the readings and get some idea if you're getting the right information from them. But, this professor just hasn't been available for five months and won't answer my questions via email, so I'm digging my own paths through a stack of books in a field that I'm not familiar with in the first place. I'm a French history student- what do I know of janissaries?!

Anyway, I think I can handle that, but I'm supposed to be done with the list by now and on to my 'major field' readings about France from 1750-1850. My professor for that is very thorough and well-respected in the field. Happily, and perhaps a bit odd for academia, she is much more concerned that I know the material inside and out than if I get done A.S.A.P. Of course, the other side of that is that most of the books she wants me to read are over 1,000 pages and in French! So that list is going slowly as well.

Add to this the fact that I am married and my wife is not ready to lose her husband to old books and the fact that we're still trying to get twenty hours North (!) to visit our friend in the hospital, and it becomes clear why I'm a bit frayed. Oh, and I'm also trying to get a paper ready for a conference in the Spring.
(Sigh) This was exactly what I expected from grad school. But, now that I'm buried in grad school up to my waist, I'm starting to feel exhausted. The trick is to keep moving, I think. Just keep digging and don't stop, or you'll die of hypothermia. Or something like that.

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