May 19th, 2013
May 17th, 2013
Wow, it’s been a while, huh?
I have been crazy busy this last while, mostly working on my thesis proposal, which is pretty much the culmination of my entire first year of study. It’s due in a few hours, and I put what I hope are the finishing touches on it just a little bit ago. I’m waiting on some last-minute feedback from my advisor, and once I hear back from her, and probably make a couple more touch-ups, I’m releasing that baby bird into the air.
This week I was down in Uppsala from Sunday evening to Wednesday afternoon, and I had the chance to get a lot of work done. I spent six hours on Tuesday in the archives, combing through hundreds-of-years-old estate inventories in search of “status objects” among clergy families. I know you won’t believe me when I tell you that those hours just flew by, but they did. Not only that, but they were fruitful hours — I found one priest with three sofas and another with gilded leather wallpaper!
Now that the proposal is finished, I’ve got just one more big assignment before summer break. Next Friday I’ve got an essay due for my Self and Identity class, and while it’s important — the bulk of the course’s grade — after the thesis proposal it feels eminently manageable. The last week of May will be pretty wild, with workshops and seminars galore in Uppsala, broken up by a whirlwind, 18-hour trip home in the middle, but I’m actually looking forward to it, not least for the opportunity to meet with a prominent historian in my field who has said that he’s eager to discuss my work.
Now, though, I’m being summoned to go out in the sunshine with my two-year-old, so that’s where I’ll be if you need me.
May 8th, 2013
When I dropped Brynja off at pre-school this morning, I got confirmation that Yrsa has been accepted to start there in the fall. This is very good news, because I really need some kid-free work time, and this is the only place we’re willing to send her. I’m sure that the other pre-schools in town are perfectly good, but we’ve had a kid enrolled at this one continuously for seven years, and we’re very happy with it. Not only that, but if she went to another place, we’d have the two youngest in two different pre-schools, and that’s a hassle I’m not willing to take on. We need submit a schedule in the next couple of weeks, and I think we’re mostly settled on three six-hour days. The price is nearly double for more than twenty hours per week and, more important, full-time daycare for little ones just isn’t my cup of tea.
At the moment, though, I probably wouldn’t mind sending the entire family away for a week or so. I have so much to get done, and so little opportunity to make much headway. I really need to hammer out at least five or six good pages for my thesis proposal tomorrow while Olof keeps the kids occupied. I also have a big essay due on May 24th, but I just don’t have the time or energy to think about that at least until the beginning of next week.
I’m sure everyone has been on pins and needles wondering about the Amanda Vickery thing, and I’m sorry to disappoint, but I didn’t have the opportunity to talk to her at all, really, let alone stir up any controversy. It’s just as well, as I enjoyed the lecture quite a lot and found her very smart and funny. I’d hate to have put a damper of any sort on the day.
May 5th, 2013
It’s a beautiful, sunny day and, wouldn’t you know it, I’m leaving for the airport to hop in a plane in a couple of hours. We did make some use of the nice weather earlier, though, and the kids and I played outside while Olof finally put the summer tires on the car. We also made a pile of miscellaneous stuff to be taken away in the semi-annual “big trash” collection. If not for Olof’s intervention, said pile would probably be twice as large, but at least we’re getting rid of some annoying eyesores such as the broken clothesline and our old dryer.
I’ve got a busy week ahead of me, with lots of writing to do, so it’s a good thing that Thursday is a holiday. I’ve already laid claim to the entire day, and possibly some of Wednesday, which is a half-day, to hole up away from the kids with my thesis proposal. I need to get a pretty good draft sent to my advisor so she can give me some last-minute tips before I submit the real deal on the 17th. I’m a little dismayed that I’ve left everything so late, but I suppose there’s no sense crying about that now.
Tomorrow I’m attending a guest lecture given by Amanda Vickery, a well-known British historian. I enjoy her writing, but in my previous course I took issue with what I see as improper manipulation of primary sources in some of her work, so it should be an interesting day. I’m not sure if I’ll be brave enough to bring up my criticism of her, but we’ll see what happens. I’m assured that she’s very down-to-earth and not scary, but still.
After that I have a quick meeting with some classmates for a group assignment, then I’m back on a plane home just before six in the evening. Usually I get home very late, long after the kids are in bed, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow being more normal, hopefully with an early-ish bedtime for me. I’ll be spending six consecutive nights in my own bed, and I plan to enjoy them to the fullest.
April 29th, 2013
April 27th, 2013
The school year is winding down for the kids, but for me it seems to be gaining momentum. I’ve got just about exactly a month left before summer, but it feels like the closer I get to the end the more work I’ve got. I’ve been home for a little over a week since my last trip down to Uppsala, and to be honest, I’ve probably slacked off a little more than I should. It’s a lot harder than I imagined it would be to get anything done when I’m home with the kids. I expected that I wouldn’t be able to get a lot of actual productive work done, but I didn’t figure on just reading to be as much of a struggle as it is. Yrsa, especially, demands that I engage her nearly every second, and when she’s under the weather like she’s been the past week or so, it’s that much worse. I have a seminar Monday morning and hundreds of pages to read before then; I’ll probably be able to steal away some reading time today since Olof’s home, but the thing that’s really going to save me is that I’m going down to Uppsala tomorrow afternoon. When I have a few free hours to myself, I can burn through the pages like nobody’s business.
This next week is going to be pretty hectic travel-wise. I leave tomorrow and come back late Monday. Then I leave Wednesday afternoon and get home Thursday night, only to leave again next Sunday afternoon and come home Monday evening. I’m not sure I’ve done three trips within a week’s time before. After that I think it’s just three more required trips total until the next school year starts. In the middle of all that travel, I’ve got to read and read and read, plus write an essay for the class I’m taking now and, most important, finish up my currently woeful thesis proposal. Good thing this is something I love; otherwise I’d really hate it.
April 20th, 2013
April 19th, 2013
The younger kids have been gearing up for weeks, plotting secrets and planning treats, and today they finally got to show off all their hard work. I got cards and presents and flowers and cookies and cupcakes and all sorts of birthday love from all quarters. We’ve even got some sunshine and blue skies, and I’m given to understand there will be more of all of these tomorrow. I lead a charmed life, it’s true.
April 18th, 2013
I’ve got sick kids, again. I swear, these past several months have been the worst stretch of one-after-another sickness we’ve ever had. I’m ready for it to be over.
Our local professional hockey team, Skellefteå AIK, won game 4 of the finals tonight, making them the national champs. Think Sweden’s version of the Stanley Cup. It’s a pretty big deal.
I got a box of books in the mail from my mom today, and inside was my college yearbook from my senior year, 1994-1995. Such a baby I was.
April 17th, 2013
Despite my noble intention of going to bed early last night, I stayed up until nearly two in the morning, reading the last half of Life of Pi (yes, more than a decade after everyone else — it’s more than just my blog that I have trouble keeping up with). I’d been reading it in fits and starts, trying to fit in a few pages whenever I could between my family and school obligations. I fell head over heels in love with it right from the start, and immediately began recommending it to my nearest and dearest.
That feeling didn’t last past the halfway point, I’m sorry to say. The wonderfulness of the story unraveled quickly in the second half and I’ve been out of sorts all day mulling over my dissatisfaction with the ending. Bah, I hate it when a good book goes bad, and I especially hate it now, when I don’t really have time to read purely for pleasure. Not only am I disappointed with Life of Pi in particular, but I’m also bummed out that I wasted so much time and energy on a book I didn’t end up loving. (To be fair, I suppose that I still do love the parts I loved early on — I think I’m just going to pretend that second bit never happened.)
After my too-late night, I stayed in bed this morning somewhat later than I’d intended, but I did get myself up and out the door before noon. I spent most of the day reading, in various coffeehouses and also the city library, where I signed up for a library card. One of the very many things that I love about Sweden is that the public libraries truly are public. If I were so inclined, I could visit every library in the country and take out a library card there. Not only that, but it wouldn’t cost me a thing as long as I returned all my borrowed materials on time. Just one more reason you won’t find me complaining about the taxes here — we get plenty of bang for our buck, as far as I’m concerned.