Monday, August 31, 2009

What I did on my summer vacation

Or: wheels within wheels

It's a well-know phenomenon: the way that, when you're deeply engrossed in one project, everything you do and read and encounter suddenly seems totally relevant. And indeed, nearly everything I read within my field this summer--no matter how far outside my subfield--got fringed with Post-It flags and incorporated as citations or sometimes entirely new paragraphs within my manuscript.

But as the summer wore on, I kept having that tingly feeling that I was encountering super-important, majorly relevant stuff . . . even when whatever I was reading or watching or doing had no possible connection to my book.

And so perhaps my real project this summer wasn't the book so much as a personally and intellectually coherent life, one in which everything felt connected in meaningful ways (though I'm not sure I can articulate all of them).

Forthwith, then, the stuff what I done this summer:

Writing/research stuff
Revised two MS chapters and began minor/cosmetic changes to two more

Came up with a new title and organizing principle for the book, as well as a new way to frame its topic

Read two recent books and wrote a single book review (vastly late, but whatever)

Reviewed one book MS for a publisher

Read a new book in my field that I was afraid might overlap too much with mine (it doesn't)

Got a contract for an edition I'm co-editing
Other stuff read
Two chapters of Cosimo's book (and he read one of mine in return)

Four chapters of my scholarly LTR's manuscript (and he read some of mine)

A couple of friends' essays- or chapters-in-progress

Calvin Trillin, Remembering Denny

Richard Russo, Empire Falls

The book for RU's summer reading program

A friend's recently-published novel

François Cusset, French Theory

Eve Sedgwick, Epistemology of the Closet

Fredric Jameson, Political Unconscious

The Odyssey (audiobook)

The Aeneid (audiobook)

Lolita (audiobook)

Months and months' worth of back issues of The New Yorker and Commonweal
Stuff seen
A couple of seasons of The Tudors and one of Mad Men

Productions of Coriolanus and Fences

Evey and her band rocking the farmers' market

(500) Days of Summer, The Hangover, Julie & Julia, Summer Hours, Theodora Goes Wild, The Apartment, Madam Satan, Z
Stuff done
Taught a summer class (and put the money toward my credit card debt)

Attended two weddings

Went to California twice, first to see my grandmother and then for her memorial service

Spent a week in New England

Met Cosimo's family, as he met mine

Adopted a second cat

Ate and drank and ate and drank on deck after sidewalk after patio

Had one of my closest friends move away

Saw old friends in Boston and New York--and ended the summer with a long lovely visit from Bert this past weekend.
My classes start tomorrow. I'm not remotely ready. But boy, was it a glorious summer.


Renaissance Girl said...

My, what a full summer you had! It's wonderful to read such a diverse list (as opposed to my all-too-focused obsessings about the one thing) and to hear someone acknowledge the ways in which the life of the mind IS, at its most successful, an integrated life. Thanks for your perspective and your always brilliant example!

Sisyphus said...

I was going to make a snark about _A Beautiful Mind_ when you said that about everything in your life making patterns together, but instead I am going to be amazed by the quantity and quality of your productivity, which also seems very well rounded! :)

(and interesting films --- Cosimo's work?)

life_of_a_fool said...

Wow, I also am impressed. I am tempted to make such a list, but I really only want to do it if it is going to make me feel like I accomplished a lot (of any variety) and I'm afraid it won't. . .

Doctor Cleveland said...

Just reading this list makes me tired. What a full summer! Bravissima!

Also, pace, Sisyphus: interesting films --- introducing Cosimo to new horizons?

medieval woman said...

This sounds like a great summer! Hmmm....maybe I'll do one of these as well over at Chez Bloggez Moi...

And again congrats on the contract, lady!

Flavia said...

LoaF and MW (and RG): I totally recommend it. Easiest way to feel depressed? Look at your pre-summer to-do list. Easiest way to feel accomplished? Make a new list after the fact!

And Sis: nah, just the happy result of a couple of good art house theatres (one of those movies was seen via DVD, but all the rest were on the big screen).

What Now? said...

Wow -- that was indeed a summer. Congrats on the cohesive life -- quite an accomplishment, even if it only stays cohesive for short periods and then goes temporarily uncohesive again.

miltonista said...

Ahh! I've been bad! I'll return to your MS soon! I actually did start the Milton chapter but life got in the way.

Flavia said...

M: dude, don't even worry about it (and I meant I'd read your intro + three chs--haven't yet finished your MS, either).

And at this point I might rather you reread one of the revised chapters than read one of the unrevised. . . but, we'll tawk.