February 11th, 2014
I was very industrious today, putting in a few solid hours working on my thesis. My page count thus far is six or seven, which means I’m ten percent done! Yeah, that’s pretty daunting. Not too daunting, though — yet? — as I’ve still got a good six weeks until I need to submit it, then I’ll have time for revisions before the final submission in mid-May. I still can’t believe how many hours of work go into just one page of text, Part of what slows me down is that I’m very much an edit-as-I-go type of writer, so at least I can say that what I’ve got down so far is pretty much in finished form.
I have to tell you, I am so fascinated by “my” priest; I think I could make an entire career researching and writing his life story. I’d tell you more about him, but, well … spoilers. Just believe me when I say that it’s a story worth reading about. I feel very fortunate to have stumbled upon such a rich character. It does creep me out some, though, to think about some scholar looking into all the details of my life, sordid and otherwise, some three hundred years from now. It also makes me think I should keep a thorough diary of absolutely everything, just to help that someday researcher on her way (what I wouldn’t give for my priest to have kept a journal!).
The absolute worst part about this thesis-writing is that I’m working in Microsoft Word … gah. I suppose at least I’m learning all over again to be thankful for Linux. I complained to Olof today about some quirk or other in Windows taking me longer to sort out than it had done to write an entire page earlier in the day. He just chuckled wryly and said he could tell I didn’t work with Windows very often. Against his deeply-held principles, he works all day with Microsoft products, and he told me that he sometimes counts the time lost to Microsoft inefficiency in days rather than hours. Double gah.
February 6th, 2014
Yesterday I had my first hearing test since my surgery in December. I don’t remember the actual numbers, mostly because I don’t understand them, but the upshot is there’s a “clear improvement” in my hearing. Apparently my right ear is still quite a bit stronger than my left ear, but the operated ear is approaching normal hearing. I’ve been told that it could get better still in the coming months, but even if it doesn’t, I’m pleased with the results.
In other news, although the dishwasher was indeed repaired last week, the fix didn’t last longer than one wash, so we’ve still been washing by hand. The repair guy came just a few minutes ago to give it another try, so keep your fingers crossed that this time it sticks.
I’m home for another three weeks before my next trip to Uppsala, and I really need to get the bulk of my thesis written in that time. My preliminary deadline isn’t until the first of April, but March is going to be extremely busy with a trip to England and at least one other trip to the university for seminars and meetings. The final deadline is mid-May, but my supervisor needs a finished manuscript six weeks earlier in order for her to read it and give me feedback for the final polish. I’d hoped to be able to churn out five pages per day, but it’s looking like two or three is going to be the most I can hope for. I did get the books I’d been waiting for, and have also found another couple of texts that should be pretty useful. I think I’ll need to make one more quick trip to the archives, to photograph a couple of documents that I missed on my earlier visits.
The stress is starting to set in a little, but I still feel as though I’m in pretty good shape to come up with a solid finished product in two months’ time. Just gotta keep on keepin’ on.
February 4th, 2014
I put in a solid few hours working on my thesis today. I did fall rather short of the five pages I was aiming for, but I got two pretty good ones, bringing my total to four. It’s so much slower going when I have to look up references and insert footnotes and all that. Also, I’m waiting for a couple of books that I need to cite, so there are some pretty big gaps in what I can write right now. With luck those books will show up this week and I can get that bit out of the way.
Probably the biggest part of the challenge is that I’m not confident about how to incorporate methodology, theory, previous research, et cetera into a smoothly flowing paper. It all seems so clunky. What’s wrong with just telling an interesting story, anyway? I know, I know, it’s not “scientific,” but damn it, Jim, I’m a historian, not a scientist! In my most recent years of study I’ve learned that “descriptive” is just about the worst thing a proper academic text should be. I don’t know if it’s my age showing, or different systems, or god, who knows … all I know is that I earned lots of As on lots of descriptive papers in my undergrad days. It’s a whole new world, it seems.
February 3rd, 2014
Tage has been complaining of headaches for the past while, which is always a bit of a worry. I took him to the doctor a few weeks ago where they took some blood for testing and did a rudimentary physical. Having ruled out anything immediately wrong in a physical sense, they suggested that we take him for an eye exam. I half-expected that glasses might be the cure, but the exam this afternoon found that his vision is perfect. So, back to square one.
After the eye appointment, he and I grabbed a quick dinner at Subway then hurried to his orchestra practice. It’s a nice break for me to sit and listen to the music — they’re surprisingly good — while I read a book. I’m nearly through Life after Life by Kate Atkinson, and it is a terrific read. I love her style so much, and she’ll always be a favorite of mine if for nothing more than that she titled an earlier book Started Early, Took My Dog. I can hardly think of a better title (or a better life philosophy, come to that).
I really do need to stop reading fiction and get more serious about writing my thesis. A completed manuscript is due to my supervisor in two months, and I’ve written hardly more than two pages. Those pages are good, if I do say so myself, but it’s not much to stand on. I’ve set a goal of at least twenty pages — the entire thing is supposed to be seventy — by Friday the 14th. Ideally I’d like to have a complete draft by the end of this month, so that I can spend March polishing it up, but I’m aware that’s rather a lofty aim.
February 2nd, 2014
This afternoon Olof watched Groundhog Day with the kids, in what has become a yearly tradition for them. I like the movie fine, but I don’t love it beyond reason the way some people seem to, so I stayed in the office and listened to George Strait on Spotify. There’s nothing like good country music.
We were up early this morning to head out to the church for the “children’s service” that Petra was taking part in as part of an after-school group she attends. Church isn’t really my thing, but the service was short and the kids were cute, so it was all right. Getting out of bed at nine on a Sunday morning was not all right, however, so I made sure to take a long nap when we came home.
In the middle of my lie-down, Tage came in to tell me that Gwen (the cat) was puking “like, every ten seconds”. Yay. I got up and checked out the situation, and she seemed mostly okay. Apparently she’d eaten part of a rubber spiderweb toy. She got at least two biggish pieces out of her system, which is good, but I worry that there’s more in there. She’s eating and drinking and seems her normal self, but she’s still throwing up now and then as well. I guess a call to the vet is in order tomorrow. Stupid cat.
You know what else is stupid? Our having learned in typing class that two spaces between sentences was the way to go. Not so, as it turns out. For more than twenty-five years I’ve been spacing twice after every sentence, and it’s so ingrained in my fingers that I can hardly help myself. I decided a couple of years ago just to go with it, and hadn’t thought much about until I started seriously writing my thesis. Now I’m determined to break the habit, and it’s just about as much fun (and easy) as breaking habits tends to be.
January 27th, 2014
After some weeks of unsatisfactory performance, our dishwasher gave up the ghost entirely about a month ago. We called out a repairman, and he ascertained fairly quickly that it was the electronics card that had gone out. As luck would have it, the machine is still under warranty so we won’t be responsible for the steep replacement price, but we’ve paid a pretty hefty price in waiting for the repair. It’s been at least three weeks since the part was ordered, and the fix has finally been scheduled for Wednesday of this week. That’s a whole lot of dishes we’ve washed by hand.
Actually, I haven’t been complaining too much. I mentioned to Olof this afternoon that, surprisingly, we’re doing a better job keeping up with the dishes now than when we have the dishwasher to rely on. I think it’s probably because we know that the dirty-dish count will rapidly reach critical mass if we don’t wash up after every meal and snack. Also, I’ve remembered that I sometimes rather enjoy washing by hand if I let myself get a little zen while doing it. Also, there’s something satisfying about a stack of clean dishes sitting next to a clean, empty sink.
Too bad getting the rest of this house tidied up isn’t as quick and pleasant. I’d gladly forgo a dishwasher if there were an automated house-cleaner to be had.
January 22nd, 2014
First things first — it has come to my attention that I never posted here about how it went with my ear when I flew down to Uppsala last week, and I suppose the reason for my neglecting to mention it is that it was entirely uneventful. Yay! Weirdly, about ten minutes into the flight, my ears were popping like a couple of times a minute, but it didn’t hurt and it stopped after a while. So, while that was a little annoying, it was nothing near the agony I feared.
In other news, it felt so good to be back at the university, meeting up with my friends and cohorts and talking history with people whose eyes don’t glaze over with a lack of interest when I bring up my 18th-century priest. I was there only overnight, but it was enough to recharge my academic batteries and get me thinking more seriously about my project again.
This is going to be a busy term, with more travel that I had initially anticipated, and lots and lots of hours spent in front of a computer, getting down on paper (so to speak) the seventy pages that up to now have mostly just been swirling around in my head. I have no doubts about my ability to get done before my deadline, but I’m also under no illusion about how demanding and time-consuming it’s going to be. Even just a week-and-a-half into the term, I’m patting myself on the back for having the foresight to extend the little girls’ hours and pre-school and send Petra to an after-school program for a couple of hours after school. I confess that thus far I’ve been catching up on sleep as much as working during those kid-free hours, but anybody who didn’t see that coming doesn’t know me very well. Such a long period of peace and quiet is too precious not to dedicate at least a portion of to napping.
January 19th, 2014
January 18th, 2014
Thirteen years ago today I embarked on the adventure of my life, moving from Idaho to Sweden. That’s nearly a third of my life spent as an immigrant — where does the time go?!
January 14th, 2014
Today is Yrsa’s birthday, and also Olof’s and my anniversary (11 years!), and I’m heading to Uppsala in a couple of hours. At least I have time to do presents before we all head off to school. I’ll miss birthday cake later, but the bright side is that I don’t have to make a birthday cake!
I’m a little nervous about flying for the first time after my ear operation, but I have decongestants — two kinds — plus painkillers and gum, so I’m hoping that should get me through. A very nice doctor assured me just yesterday that everything looks good with my eardrum, so I’m hopeful that it will go well. Keep your fingers crossed for me!