An Observation

Here’s a problem I write about pretty frequently which seems newly pertinent today: when you’re a good academic, you never stop working.

I can’t tell you the last time I spent a whole weekend without answering a work-related e-mail, cracking a work-related book, doing a library run, doing work-related writing, discussing my research, sitting at my desk, contemplating a draft, going to rehearsal, doing research, or just flat-out tagging an extra two days onto my work week.

In any other field, this would be called “workaholism”. The constant drive to continue doing whatever it is that earns you a paycheck without a regular break is widely regarded as an unhealthy work habit.

And yet, somehow, in academia it is encouraged.

Oh sure they tell you “take time off” or “walk away from your desk at the end of the day”, but really, do we? In the age of smart phones, is it even possible to leave your work at work? And what does that mean since the ivory tower is such a theoretical construct? It would be impossible for me to function if having healthy work habits meant that I could only work when on campus.

I’ve had to find ways to delineate the boundaries between my work and my life (for example, unless it’s the middle of summer and a scorcher day and thereby I need to seek refuge in air conditioning somewhere, I only work at my desk and will not bring reading to my couch or my bed no matter how tempting). But even I, with a keen eye on this issue, find that work creeps into every aspect of my life.

While out having an amazing time this weekend, I couldn’t avoid the fact that I was receiving e-mails related to my class, or my exams, or my upcoming conferences. I couldn’t stop blathering about the research I was doing and the new things I’ve realized about American actor training. My head so far into this game, it’s not really possible (I think) to leave this by the wayside.

It may just be that I’m at a particularly taxing point of the PhD process (well… I definitely am), but I can’t help but feel that this is an under-attended issue.

That being said, I have nominal suggestions for how to fix it. Thought patterns being what

....spectacular adventures like this one.  I rode an elephant!

….spectacular adventures like this one. I rode an elephant!

they are, the best work is going to come from immersion. My plan this semester was to dive in head first and take a nice long break when I popped up on the other side (so… in December sometimes). Meanwhile, I’ve been content with having a few spectacular adventures during the in-between times.

And now… back to the grind.


I’m at a truly odd point of my PhD process.  That is: the in-between place.

Right now, I’m not quite a “Student” not quite a “Candidate”.  I’ve passed 2/3 of my exams, but I still have 1/3 to go before I can say that I’ve completed them and, thereby, moved into the next stage of my PhD.

Explaining this to folks who are outside of the academy has been an interesting process.  There are many terms and definitions that are commonplace to us denizens of the ivory tower but sound mostly the same to folks on the outside.  As such, I’ve found myself having the same conversation over and over again (which I don’t begrudge; it’s wonderful that

...bringing this one back because it's quite possibly my favorite pic I've ever posted on the blog.  I am, in fact, a Shakespeare Paladin.

…bringing this one back because it’s quite possibly my favorite pic I’ve ever posted on the blog. I am, in fact, a Shakespeare Paladin.

folks in my life care enough about me to ask questions about this process).  However, since I’ve found that it is a common communication issue, I also think it would be useful to have an easy-access reference guide for those less-than-familiar with this process.

So, in case you have a struggling Graduate Student in your life, here’s some good vocabulary for you to know:

A.B.D.: Stands for “All But Dissertation”.  This is a colloquial term that we use to refer to someone who has passed all of her degree requirements except writing the book.  It’s also a way to refer to someone who is a….

Doctoral Candidate: Someone who has passed all degree requirements except the dissertation (generally means that the dissertation is in process).  This is not to be confused with…

Doctoral Student: (Yes, this is a different thing, only in academia….)  A Doctoral Student is someone who is in progress with the early parts of the degree (coursework, exams, etc.).  Alternately, someone who has been accepted into a program but hasn’t started that program yet.  As an aside: mixing up these two terms can be… awkward.  You are either giving someone credit for work they did not already do and thereby devaluing that work, or taking away a hard-earned benchmark.  I have, over the years, been called by well-meaning onlookers a “Doctoral Candidate” and even “Dr. Rosvally” before needing to quickly correct this.  In an industry that functions almost exclusively on the importance of words, it is not considered supportive to devalue those words by using them outside of their accepted meanings.  In short: try to use the appropriate title for someone in the process of his PhD.  Don’t worry; you have the rest of his lives to call him “Dr.”.

Comprehensive Exams: Or “Comps” (yes, if you’ve been following this blog at all over the last few months, you already know what this means).  The exhaustive, stressful exam generally administered at the end of coursework (sometimes administered in steps over the course of coursework) that proves a student is a competent generalist in her field and, thereby, is qualified to move on to the next step.

Orals: Sometimes, the comps include an oral examination as well as a written examination (this is the case in my department).

Dissertation: The large piece of writing you produce as one of the final steps in your PhD process.  This is an exhaustive, original piece of scholarship and (presumable) a PhD’s first long-term project.  It is sometimes colloquially shortened to “diss”.  It is not to be confused with a…

Thesis: This generally refers to the culminating project of a Master’s degree.  It is shorter than a dissertation and with less expectations of originality.  The big difference between a Master’s degree and a doctoral degree is that a Master’s degree shows that you have mastered a given field while a doctoral degree shows that you have added something to the field.  The capstone writing projects for each degree exhibit this difference; the thesis is based upon work that has already been done and the dissertation is something completely new.

Home Institution: The place where a scholar calls “home”.  This implies that the scholar is somehow in residence at the institution, either as a student, candidate, or professor.

 Committee: An assembled group of scholars (who, ideally, have some expertise in the field which the candidate is writing about) who evaluate the dissertation for its worthiness

alternately, you could find a partner to go dance in a bookstore with.  No word of a lie, this is a past time of mine.

alternately, you could find a partner to go dance in a bookstore with. No word of a lie, this is a past time of mine.

as an original piece of scholarship.  Generally, this group consists mostly of scholars from the candidate’s home institution with one outside reader for consistency/fairness/representation of the field at large.

So now that you’re able to use the lingo, your academic street cred just went up by at least 10%.  Seriously.  Go have a latte and stand on the steps of the library chatting about your most recent re-read of a major canonical work and see if I’m wrong.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!


As I have previously mentioned, comps does many things.  Among those things, it gives you perspective.

It gives you perspective about your friends.  Who is really going to be there to cook you dinner at the end of the day when you can barely make eye contact and talking about anything that’s not theatre history is simply out of the question?  Who is going to not be offended that you haven’t called/been to a party/replied to text messages for the last few months because you’ve been swallowed into the oblivion of studying?  Who is going to understand when you just need to sit and stare at the wall/cry/talk out an idea that they have no possible way to contribute to?  Who is going to respond to the rally of “I need to not be in my house tonight, but I don’t have any energy to expend socially”?

It gives you perspective about your life.  Can you ever really say that you’re having a stressful day ever again?  Or a bad day for that matter?

It gives you perspective about what you can and cannot handle and what you can and cannot do.  I, for instance, am never going to say that I don’t have enough time to complete x assignment again without some serious thought about what I managed to do in four-days with my take-home exam.  I have a better idea of my own limits both emotionally and intellectually.

Most pertinent to my everyday life and writing, however, is this: it gives you perspective about books.  I have a brand new notion of how big a “big” book is, or how many books is “a lot” of books.  What this really means is that my perspective is skewed.  I sat down, for instance, to write about how I should be doing some research right now and sorting through the “large pile of books” that I brought home from the library today.  But looking at it?  It’s not that big.

In other news... campus was really pretty today!

In other news… campus was really pretty today!

…it’s really not my fault that, at my peak this summer, I was reading 5-7 books in a day and, thereby, a stack of 8 books no longer looks insurmountable, right?  Somehow, this newfound regard for the amount of research that I am capable of is somewhat dehumanizing.  If I can really pound through that many books in a day, then what does it say on days when I don’t?  Days when I’m working at my usual speed rather than ridiculous comps-speed?

The psychological aftershock of this process is something that I’m going to be dealing with for some time now.  Also; I’m not even really done yet.  I still have orals to get through.

No rest for the weary.

Reclaiming my Life

In a faster-than-light turn-around time, the fate of my PhD career has been decided: I have, officially, passed my written comprehensive exam!

There is still a long way to go on the road to doctorhood (next up: orals; after which I can (non-denominational deity willing) call myself a “Doctoral Candidate” instead of a “Doctoral Student” and, perhaps, take a much-needed and well-deserved BREAK).  That said, I’m champing at the bit for the next challenge and I’ve hit the ground running with the projects which had been sitting dormant just waiting for my exams to be complete.

I had been told that Comps would drain me.  That I should expect to not do much of anything for a week or so after I sat the exam.

I found that this was true for the day or two directly following my final turn-in moment.  I was dead tired.  But I was also aware, as only a Type A personality can be, that I had a long list of things waiting for me.  I had some deadlines looming; conference papers to write, blog posts that I owed people (details on that to follow!), and friends to catch up with.

While I was bone-weary, I was simultaneously caught in an existential loop of utter chaos.

a pretty shot of campus I took the other day

a pretty shot of campus I took the other day

My life had been built upon preparing for and taking this exam for so long; what was I supposed to do now without it?  Who was I if I wasn’t a book-reading machine designed only to take notes and choke down more theatre history?  And what did my academic career really mean if I, for some reason, hadn’t succeeded at this monumental thing that I just did?

That not-so-slowly faded into a wave of “OH GOD I HAVE ALL THESE PROJECTS TO DO!”  Luckily, since I had effectively proven to myself via the test that I’m an invincible super-girl, this did not panic me nearly as much as it would have in the days B.C. (Before Comps).  In picking at the sides of my projects, I have been slowly but surely making good progress on them and, after Tuesday, will have knocked a few things off my desk so I can move onto the next step: orals.

It also took me some time to reconnect with my social and personal life.  Towards the end of the comps process, I limited my interaction with the outside world.  Part of this was of necessity; since I was studying much more, I didn’t have time to see anyone.  Part of this was also a calming mechanism: as a terminal introvert, I just didn’t have the extra energy for social interaction.  Especially any social interaction that I had to think about (which, for an introvert, is a surprisingly large amount).  Because of all these factors (and the fact that I was still tired and brain-fried), I had to be very careful about re-introducing myself to my life.  I did not have a giant blowout bash; I made play-dates to see my close friends in small group situations.  I did not invite a ton of people over to my house; I went outside to smell the fresh air and not have to look at my desk for a while.

I cleaned my desk.  Oh god did I clean my desk.

I also hopped in to rehearsal to put together some stage violence. Because nothing gets me feeling like myself again like punching students.

I also hopped in to rehearsal to put together some stage violence. Because nothing gets me feeling like myself again like punching students.

I’m slowly returning library books, but as my last count was over 150 books and I can only bring them back in manageable loads (10-20 or so), it’s been taking some time.  At this point, I’ve gotten at least half of them returned (though I have picked up some more in the process to assist me with aforementioned projects).

I am, with more and more seriousness, exploring the idea of reading for leisure once more.  During the final stages of studying, it was all I could do to tumble into bed at night and, due to eyestrain and general brain fatigue, leisure reading was right out.  This unfortunately meant that To Be or Not to Be (Choose your own Adventure Hamlet) and William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope sat sadly in the corner mostly un-cracked.  The more days that go by, the more these volumes look appealing to me.  It’s like regaining your appetite after you’ve had a stomach flu; it feels so good just to want these things again.

I’ve been calling this process “reclaiming my life” because, really, that’s how it feels.  For several days after the exam, I walked around feeling not like myself.  Like a stranger in my own body.  These days, I’m feeling more and more Dani-like.  The whiteboard is back to its normal peacekeeping.  My tasks feel less alien and more comfortable (and comforting!).  I’ve returned to using caffeine as a morning stimulant and not a life-line.

On the whole, I’m doing great.  I’m not back to 100% yet, but I can tell that I’ll get there.  I’m also feeling ready to take on the next challenge which, really, is the most important part.

Onward!  Into the Wild Blue Yonder! To Doctorhood; and beyond!

Lazy, Hazy Days

Yesterday, I meandered onto campus to run a few errands in what I will blissfully refer to as “the last golden days of summer”.

Summer (or any large break for that matter) on a university campus is a blissful time.  A peaceful time.  A time when graduate students can haul books around without fear of being held up by a large pack of care-free mozying undergrads taking up the entire sidewalk.  A time when a graduate student can be assured that librarians (or diligent hard-working student laborers) will be at the circulation desk and, thereby, will not be told that she can just “leave her books over there” when clearly she wants them checked in in front of her because she has 150 check-outs and can’t afford overdue fees due to some error or loss between her hand and the library’s tender cradle.  A time when on-campus errands can be accomplished in a breezy way since there are no lines at the public safety desk and thereby IDs and Parking Passes can be picked up in fifteen minutes rather than two hours.

In this last week of summer, I was smart enough to do all of my pre-semester business before the crowds arrive (a wonder in itself that I had the presence of mind since my brain is essential blown for anything that’s not theatre history right now, and even that is touch and go).  As I looked around I realized a few things:

1)   Wow, this was really smart.

2)   Some of these fresh-faced kids sporting around campus may be my students in just a few weeks.

3)   …I had probably better find somewhere else to practice my bullwhip.

Sixteen days to comps lift-off.  Headed back to the grind now.


The Care and Feeding of your Comps-Taking PhD-to-be

As we launch into August, it has come to my attention that I will have to take the comprehensive exam.

“Well, duh!” You say, “Isn’t that what you’ve been studying for since June?  Isn’t that the cause of your extreme stress, and the true root of every single nightly anxiety dream you’ve been experiencing?  Don’t you already know this?”

…yes, I know this.  In theory.  Comps, much like any other part of this process of becoming, is something that is effectively fiction until it’s reality.  You know that it’s listed as a degree requirement in the Graduate Student Handbook, you see its wake in the eyes of your senior colleagues, you understand that it is a thing that does happen, but until you have some confirmation that it will happen to you it still seems like you roommate’s imaginary Boyfriend who lives in Canada*.

For me, the concrete proof came in an e-mail from our department admin this week announcing the dates of the exam, some details about the exam, and the locations where we will each be subject to our individual torture hell anguish trial.  This, combined with the realization that it is, in fact, August and thereby the summer will, at some point, end has added some heat to the proverbial fire and kicked my already-overblown stress level into overdrive.  The anxiety dreams have gotten more pressing (though, sadly, more routine and so affect me less when I wake up), the fatigue has gotten more dragging, and the day-to-day realities of comps studying have

Another cute picture of a cat that's not mine with books that are mine.

Another cute picture of a cat that’s not mine with books that are mine.

gotten more mind-numbing.  I’d love to say I was in the final stretch, but I’m really only cresting the mid-point.  I’ve got about a third of the way left to go.

This in mind, I would like to take a moment to address the care and feeding of your beloved PhD student.  If you’re reading this, there is (in some capacity) someone in your life who has, will, or is gone through or going through this process.  As such, please bear in mind the following fundamental truths of comps studying:

Truth the first: every small adjustment, change, or mishap is suddenly a GIANT CALAMITY.  Right now, there are very few things that we can control.  Changing a SINGLE THING which falls inside that realm is simply disastrous.  In the past week, I’ve burst into tears over eggplant because it wasn’t in the fridge when I expected it to be.  No joke.  Treat your PhD student gently and if something ABSOLUTELY HAS TO CHANGE, make sure it has the smallest effect on his/her existence.

Truth the second: We don’t have enough hours in our day.  Do not expect us to go above and beyond for anything right now (note: “above and beyond” can just mean “hey, can you take out the trash AND recycling because of completely reasonable reason y?”  See truth the first for further explanation on this point).  Also, do not expect us to be capable of organizing, planning, being in charge, helping, assisting, or taking care of anything no matter how menial it may seem.  We simply can’t do it.

Truth the third: Small words.  Please.  Use small words.  And unless you’re talking to us about our field, don’t expect to engage us in any conversation that requires more than grunts, nods, or Neolithic fist pounding.  If you do expect such engagement, also expect that we will almost immediately find a way to turn the conversation back to whatever it is we’re studying.  Example: I found clear references to eighteenth century acting technique in Pixar’s Monster’s University.  When my companion asked what I thought of the film, it was about all I had to add to the conversation.

2013-07-28 21.36.58

and another picture of my desk. This time in PANORAMA!

Truth the fourth: Any small kindness will be taken as earth-shatteringly wonderful.  This includes meal-cooking/meal-providing, hugs without conversation, and pretty much any unobtrusive reminder that you’re there, you love us, and you understand we’re going through a rough time but don’t worry it’ll get better soon.

Truth the fifth: Treat plan-making with us as a precarious process which may or may not come to full fruition, and please PLEASE don’t take it personally when we have to stay home and read, work late for some reason, etc.  This also includes unanswered/unreturned texts or phone calls.  We still love you and we promise that we’ll get back to you come September when this ordeal has come to its inevitable conclusion.

Truth the sixth: As odd as this may look from the outside, this is a life-changing process which (literally) determines the fate of our future.  Our entire careers will be changed by the outcome of this exam.  Dealing with that reality every day is daunting, dizzying, and frankly terrifying.  We are essentially training our brains to think like professional academics and this is something we will use for the rest of our lives.  Please don’t compare our stress over this to your bad day at work, the failures of your dating life, or burning dinner.  It will just make us angry and frustrated that you don’t really understand what we’re going through.

Truth the seventh: Pretty much just treat us like cranky three-year-olds and you can’t go wrong.  Simple things that provide amusement are appreciated, tasty treats will always be greeted with gratitude, ignoring us when we’re having a temper tantrum is perfectly acceptable.

I assure you, we will repay the favor tenfold when we’re no longer living in the seventh circle.

*Please Note: My current roommate doesn’t have one of these, but I understand from contemporary satire (i.e. Avenue Q.) that it could be a thing which a hopelessly single person might say in order to convince his/her friends that he/she is not, in fact, hopelessly single.

The Warm-up

This is a drive-by to let you know that I’m not dead.

I wish I could say many things; aphorisms about how hard I’ve been working this week, comforting thoughts about how I’m nearing the end, or really just something poignant about the process I’m going through right now.

Unfortunately, they would all be lies.

The process is only beginning.  I’m just dipping my toes into the ocean that is studying for comps.  I’ve been working hard, but it’s only a warm-up for the big leagues that are ever so steadily coming my way this summer.

For that, this warm-up period is important.  You can never, ever, throw yourself into the

This was the amusing thing that happened yesterday when my comps pile for the day caved in on itself.

This was the amusing thing that happened yesterday when my comps pile for the day caved in on itself.

deep end and expect to swim when you’re plumb exhausted.  I took a break, but quickly found that that break wasn’t enough.  A good friend reminded me that fatigue is cumulative and yes, I just achieved an enormous step in this whole “becoming a Doctor” process (even though the next mountain is about twice as high and infested with Yetis) it’s no wonder I’m so damned tired.  Giving into this sometimes is only going to help me in the long run and I can study during the intervals between naptime, so long as I keep naptime under control.  In other words:    warming my brain back up to the idea of working is an important step.

It’s not pleasant.  I would liken it to those first few days at the gym pushing yourself into a brand new workout regime: i’s sweaty, uncomfortable, and no matter how good you know it is for you, you never want to go do it.  You wake up exhausted and sore the next day with only the knowledge that, in order to achieve your goals, you must do it again.  And again.  And again.

So I’m hitting it.  I’m holding myself to deadlines, I’m withholding the appropriate bribery forms (often times I have to physically walk away from my desk to keep myself from messing around on the internet instead of reading Greek tragedy), I’m keeping a proper scheduling (SCHEDULING IS IMPORTANT!  Nothing creates burnout like too much work crammed into an undoable amount of time!), and I’m making sure I eat and exercise regularly.

For that, I’m tired.  I’m stressed.  And I don’t see it getting better anytime soon.

This summer is just going to be another exercise in staying in the red and finding the energy.  But you know what?  Sometimes, you just have to get it together and muscle through.

If you need me, I’ll be buried under this pile of books for the next few months.  Don’t mind the occasional bouts of cursing, snoring, or drooling.

School’s out for Summer

Yesterday, I attended the last class of my PhD.

This isn’t to be confused with completing coursework (which won’t happen until my papers are all firmly nestled into the appropriate inboxes, a momentous occasion which will occur next Wednesday) and, really, knowing me I won’t be satisfied until the grades all pop up on my transcript affirming, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that this is (in fact) real.

The class was a five-hour lecture wrapping up my ancient theatre course.  This particular lecture covered Sturm und Drang, Weimar Classicism, and Romanticism.  It also included a “presentation” I had prepped on Goethe’s relationship with Shakespeare (I put “presentation” in quotation marks because it wasn’t a “talk at the class for x amount of time” kinda deal but rather a “do a lot of reading and act as a pop-up video as we discuss the course reading” sort of thing).  This class wasn’t a small deal at all.

But I survived.  The class ended with the professor making a few profound remarks about

Yup.  It's me.  Slaying zombie Shakespeare.  Because I roll that way.

Yup. It’s me. Slaying zombie Shakespeare. Because I roll that way.

how far we had come and it took all my self-restraint not to stand up in my chair and yet “AMEN TO THAT!”  For me, she wasn’t just talking about her course (though certainly we had come a long way there), but rather the progression of my graduate career at Tufts.  Two academic years ago, I was sitting in a room, terrified, and waiting for someone to stand up, point at me, and shout “you don’t belong here!” before systematically evicting me from the premises never to return again.  That feeling of being a fraud, not worthy of the opportunities allotted me in my career, has faded over time.  I’ve learned so many things these past two years; some quantifiable, some not.

Among the other things I’m proud of, here’s a reasonably superficial list in terms of its breadth and depth, but it should at least give you some idea of the way I’ve changed as a scholar since my wide-eyed arrival at Tufts University:

I’ve learned how to gain access to (and dig through) an archive.  I’ve learned how to cite the sources that I find there and use them in a paper that I may, someday, publish.

I’ve learned how to get on a plane to a city I’ve never been and be totally comfortable (if a little nervous the first time or two) spending two to four days networking my little Shakespearean heart out with people whom I have never met before, and may be Top Men in my field.

I’ve learned how to write better, how to read better, and how to think better.

I’ve learned about playwrights I’d never though I’d read, performances I’d never known existed, and theorists I’d never hoped to “meet”.

I’ve learned how to talk about my own work in a way that isn’t a snooze-fest (though this will depend upon the audience, of course.  Even I can’t make the deep technical aspects of some of my research appeal to everyone).

I’ve learned to read and translate German (…though this is a skill that I’ll be cultivating for some time).

I’ve learned that when in doubt, just look.  And when looking doesn’t help you, just ask.  There are always people there to turn to.

I’ve learned that it’s amazing what people will do/reveal when you ask them questions.  So many people are willing to be so generous with their time if you’re just nice to them.

Yesterday's theory board doodle

Yesterday’s theory board doodle

I’ve learned that reference librarians are veritable deities and should be worshiped as such.

I’ve learned that it’s not enough to think, you must do.  Touch the ground and your work will always have more depth and meaning.  This means it’s not enough just to think about theatre; go see theatre.  Make theatre.  Get your hands dirty.  If we forget why we fell in love with the field in the first place, there’s no way that we’re going to last in it (and there’s no way that we’re going to make our students love it).

I’ve learned that just because it’s obvious to you does not mean that it’s obvious to anyone else, or that it does not need to be said.  And, moreover, if you don’t say it, someone else will.  Jump on it, take credit for your ideas, and you’ll go much further than if you just simper and mull them to yourself.

…this list could continue ad infinitum but I’ve still got a paper to write.  I hope that your finals are treating you well, you’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and that you can take some time today to remember why it is (precisely) that you do this.

…or you could just watch this:

Some random mid-week thoughts

With Twelfth Night behind me, I’ve dived head first into an insane-o week.

The midterms for the course I’m TAing have come due and are in the process of being graded.  This process is otherwise known as “Operation: dig yourself out of the avalanche of papers that just fell on you”.  I’m making pretty good progress (and, without saying horribly much about it, the class is turning out some impressive work – good job, team!).

All of the projects which I had pushed off until after the show are suddenly looming before

Plus side to having just completed a show: I get to wake up to this every morning.  I love roses!

Plus side to having just completed a show: I get to wake up to this every morning. I love roses!

me like the chimeras and dragons they are.  This semester’s big projects consist of one paper (due ASAP), one paper (due in May), one more lecture for my TAship (in two weeks), my German qual exam (mid April), a conference paper that’s written but has yet to be conferencified (beginning of April), and a class presentation (end of April).  Basically I’ve got a series of staggered deadlines for big projects that are all screaming at me simultaneously.

Luckily, next week is Spring break.  If I can make it to next week, I can have the entire week to not be on campus and sit and work in my pajamas all day every day.

This doesn’t sound healthy.

…or it sounds extremely healthy.

One of the two, I’m not sure which.

I just finished translating Grimm’s Aschenputtel (Cinderella) yesterday which means I need to start in on a new piece.  I try to spend an hour or so every day with my German.  I’m thinking of going back to the German Goethe articles I had the library pull for me.  I should also probably return to my grammar book.  But translating fairy tales is so much more fun than learning grammar!

I have spent the last week steeping in Molière.  I’m writing a seminar paper on him and there are a LOT of plays to get through.  My professor loaned me some books so I’ve been trying to (with a moderate degree of success GO ME!) to get through them in a week so I can return them to her.  This means over-saturation in French witticism.  I’m continually surprised (to the point that it really shouldn’t surprise me anymore) about how much more pleasant it is to research something that’s enjoyable to read than to research something you couldn’t give a damn about (or is just torturous to get through).  Though he many not be my man Will, Monsieur Molière is slippery, witty, and wonderful and I’m having fun getting to know him.  I’d be grateful if you didn’t disclose this to Herr Shakespeare; he’s a jealous mistress (don’t believe me?  Read the sonnets).

I’ve had some wonderful professional opportunities fall onto my plate this week (details to follow; I don’t want to give too much away before things are finalized).  Suffice to say you may want to leave the evening of April 23 available (Shakespeare’s birthday) if you’re anywhere in the vicinity of Portsmouth, NH.

And on that note, I should return to the mountain to defeat the midterm dragons.  They’re becoming rather insistent and I’d rather not walk away smelling of scorched hair.