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Errantry: Novak's Journal
...Words to cast/My feelings into sculpted thoughts/To make some wisdom last
Personal: New Year's with Dan and Amy; Discovering an old journal; Dissertating and Fall 2008 
3rd-Jan-2008 11:17 am
Michelangelo's Tomb 2006
New Year oddments:

I had a second New Year's celebration with the Lloyds, who invited me over for fun and dinner on Tuesday. Amy had had a major piece of work dropped on her from the office, so she was scarce for the first hour or two, working away in the upstairs office, and Dan and I kept the kids busy downstairs in the living room while she crunched numbers. Dan shared the sad news that his maternal grandmother had died that morning, and we spoke some of that over the kids' heads. Dan eventually decided to fire up the grill out back for dinner, even though it was a crazy windy 4ºF outside. But he got his huge pork slabs seasoned and cooking while I took turns lifting Owen or Anna and keeping them distracted.

Dinner was another solid Lloyd feast, with the "traditional Pennsylvania Dutch New Year's Day meal of pork and saurkraut" dinner that Dan had advertised, as well as generous portions of mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli. I had already sort of mentally "checked off" New Year's as something I'd done the night before with the Hurts and the Schwabs, so I was a bit surprised when Amy decided to add champaign to the meal, but I felt doubly honoured when I realized that I was part of their New Year's festivities. And so we went with the bubbly. Anna had a minor drama with her refusal to even try the saurkraut, which I could sympathize with as it's never appealed to me either, but I won big parental points for coming up with the idea to put the saurkraut with the pork, which she very much wanted, and then to bury the both with a smear of mashed potatoes. This she did eat, though she suspected the trick, and finally accepted the proposition that saurkraut was okay mixed with the other foods.

The kids went down easy after a little play and dancing with them (Anna didn't want the slower sounds of Over The Rhine's Snow Angel but insisted on the "faster" music of Bela Fleck), and we spent the rest of the night mostly talking schemes for student participation in our Theology Through the Centuries sections or politics/ethics (like the question of Church discipline becoming politicized in the U.S. or not) while Amy crunched numbers on the laptop next to us and only surfaced from time to time to make some clarifying point in the conversation.

I mentioned how I'd looked at some old journals on my laptop over my holiday travels. I haven't really done that in ages and the mood has stayed on me. I had noted to Dad that I had a gap in my typed journals from August 1995, when I started living and working at Holy Cross House and the rhythm of my day changed, dissuading me from keeping a journal on my computer, until sketchy and largely unsustained attempts at getting back in the habit in February 1997. I mentioned that I regretted that particular gap as it was in those years that my life was changed so strongly by being integrated into two musical groups: George and the Freeks and the Notre Dame Folk Choir. As a result, my circle of friends changed mightily from being almost exclusively grad students to now including a bunch of undergraduates five years my junior, all showering me in artistic, intellectual and spiritual riches I didn't get through grad work alone.

So I was kind of surprised to discover that I notebook I dug out remembering as containing a few notes from our Ireland tour of 1997 in fact contained some 70 pages of a intermittent journal from that period. It was kind of revelatory to read some of those things for the first time in ages, laughing out loud at certain moments, and being baffled by others. My personal history is often "periodized" in my head by whoever the woman is that I'm dating or interested in at a given time, and so I was rather amazed to find a few months with notes of hanging with one Notre Dame student of whom I have no clear recollection at all: no real recognition of the name, no picture in my head, no idea where I knew her from – my journal apparently taking all such for granted. So strange. I tried return a call to Erik with the added bonus of now being able to read him a few select passages, but no luck there.

The journal crashed and burned in May/June of 1997 when I started to write a grand journal of the Folk Choir's tour of Ireland and Northern Ireland only to discover that I could either keep a detailed journal of the trip or I could experience the trip and opted for the later. This experience resulted in my learning that accomplishing the important task of journaling abroad had to be otherwise accomplished, and so I started carrying a recorder in my pocket, and dictating a travel journal had proved to be a pretty solid success.

Otherwise, I'm working away at the dissertation, according to the plan. It's taken a few days of startup, though, to get my mind re-immersed into the material, going over my notes and starting to put together the whole plan for the chapter. I still have more dissociated sections than anything else, but they're slowly meeting up and beginning to dock with one another. I have come to the realization that I'm going to have to not teach in the Fall 2008 semester so that I can be sure to finish next year, even if that means just living entirely off of student loans. Better that and definitely getting done than this getting-really-tired feeling of treading water. I am so ready to turn the page and get to the next chapter of my life and career: I really feel I'm "on hold" at this point. The other day's "PHD"/Piled Higher and Deeper felt all too apropos:

3rd-Jan-2008 07:26 pm (UTC)
My personal history is often "periodized" in my head by whoever the woman is that I'm dating or interested in at a given time

This begs for a snotty joke playing off the "Great Man" conception of history, but I can't quite swing it...
3rd-Jan-2008 07:48 pm (UTC)
:-) Aw, you should have tried harder! I can see the association now that you point it out, but yes, the wording is challenging...!
3rd-Jan-2008 08:27 pm (UTC)
I feel like I would have to know you better to really craft a truly stellar zinger. :)
3rd-Jan-2008 08:37 pm (UTC)
Oh, I doubt it: the joke is in the idea, not in the one who embodies the idea. I'm sure even some oblique academic reference to "this new 'Great Woman' theory of history" would have worked out....
3rd-Jan-2008 08:40 pm (UTC)
This is perhaps why one should never attempt to discuss humor.
3rd-Jan-2008 09:02 pm (UTC)
I'll have to send you my paper for my Judaism class where I used the existence of humour – and the Judaism-spoofing customs of their feast of Purim as my jumping-off point – as the basis for a proof for the existence of God. My rabbi loved it, so much so that that's probably why I'm here....
3rd-Jan-2008 09:06 pm (UTC)
3rd-Jan-2008 08:16 pm (UTC)
Is it good or bad that I'm starting to identifty with these comic strips? There were a couple about thesis-writing that got posted for seniors around our school. SURELY I'M NOT THAT MIRED IN ACADEMIA YET?

Happy New Year! I miss reading your posts when I'm away. *sniff*
3rd-Jan-2008 08:36 pm (UTC)
? When you're away from what?

And how do I say this? Dear Sweet Innocent Naïve Amea: it was obvious that you were a congenital academic from the very first words of yours I ever read. Don't fight destiny. :-)
3rd-Jan-2008 08:41 pm (UTC)
I second Mike wholeheartedly -- and how often does THAT happen?
3rd-Jan-2008 09:00 pm (UTC)
from the Internet!
3rd-Jan-2008 09:03 pm (UTC)
I didn't realize you'd been absent, per se: I thought you were just busy with school and that that was why I saw less postings from you.
3rd-Jan-2008 09:05 pm (UTC)
O. Well, that was kinda what I meant. I was absent, as they say where I come from, per accidens. Continually.

WHAT WE HAVE HERE FOLKS IS A FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE. :) It happens among we academically-minded with startling frequency.
3rd-Jan-2008 09:33 pm (UTC)
:-) I thought maybe you were saying you had less actual computer access. It was certainly possible that I'd failed to read or had disremembered some informational comment you might have made to that effect. Or that TAC had outlawed any non-Latin internet sites.
3rd-Jan-2008 09:47 pm (UTC)
Well, they do their level best to keep it computer access limited, so, yes, it's true on that account. There are only 6 computers on all of camputer (2 new others this year! for 3 years I only had 4!) with internet access, and there's usually such a line for them that a twenty-minute time limit is enforced.

So, I can get on the Internet for 20 minutes if I want to wait 20 minutes. Which doesn't happen often, and when it does happen, I tend to not spend the whole time writing complex LJ entries, but try to do simpler, wider-spread things like Facebook (more info to more people with less time!) or e-mail my family. Besides, who can think up awesomely creative entries with five people breathing down their back to get computer usage?

Hence my practical absence. :)
3rd-Jan-2008 09:53 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I'd be pissed. As I've said elsewhere, and touched on it above, not only is LiveJournal about staying in touch for me, but the social or public aspect of it keeps me journaling, publicly and privately, where I've had struggles in the past to keep writing, and thus lost sections of my past to not journaling consistently. I'd have to try to circumvent the school's limitations by writing on a laptop and then using my 20 minutes' access to transfer and upload, or something like that....
3rd-Jan-2008 09:01 pm (UTC)
PS - is that picture you? 'cause if so, that would be AWESOME.
3rd-Jan-2008 09:04 pm (UTC)
Indeed it is! Consider your day to be awesome.
3rd-Jan-2008 09:08 pm (UTC)
Wow! People all the heck over Africa and Arabia read your journal! I feel so honored to know you! How long has that been up accumulating?
3rd-Jan-2008 09:32 pm (UTC)
Heh. Maybe around 9 months to a year. It's kind of bizarre to see the hits. The international hits over the last day or so included: Republic of Korea; London, United Kingdom; Longford, Ireland; Gambia (totally new!) and Manaus, Brazil (right in the heart of the Amazon!)! Hardly any of these people ever comment, and I think it's more a testament to surfing and friends pages than anything else. But knowing how I pop up on random pages around the world, it's really interesting to see the accumulated glimpses people are having of my nook, too.
3rd-Jan-2008 09:49 pm (UTC)
It's a fun little do-dad: you might want to install it on your page. I like the knew layout in itself, though I have trouble reconciling that much orange to "The Lady is Withdrawn in a White Gown...." That just brings something more Waterhouse/The Lady of Shalott to my mind.

And while I envy you the know-how to do the utter code customization, which I haven't even tried to figure out, I know that I am so sidebar-dependent that I could never just pirate and copy your setup, no matter how attractive it might be.
3rd-Jan-2008 10:04 pm (UTC)
Heck, I got that layout somewhere and put in a new background. I got a map and have been trying to install it on the sidebar without success for twenty minutes. Apparently the code overrides kill my optional side textbar, somehow. I'll experiment with it later, but for now I slapped it on my info page.

You should go make it make a Marquette circle!
3rd-Jan-2008 10:49 pm (UTC)
Happy New Year to you! Love the comic, too.
5th-Jan-2008 06:38 pm (UTC)
I thought it might have a certain universal appeal to all who've endured grad school.
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