Tuesday, August 17, 2010

London Fogs

After some very noble blogging attempts, solo and collaborative, I sit in a place from which to say that writing is hard. There's a level of professionalism among the big names of the blogosphere that is just hard to match, and no mistake.

Even keeping somewhat regular updates to a personal travelogue is difficult, with all the other concerns of life whirling around as well. My thinking is, if I'm going to be writing something, shouldn't it be my dissertation? Why spend the energy elsewhere? I think I've found an acceptable answer. Because it's enriching, and a much needed mental health break from the academic coma into which I so easily fall. I've spent the last several months with my nose buried in more books than I thought I'd be able to get through in such a comparatively short time.

It's really interesting work, but that's not the point. Even people who love their jobs need vacations. Sadly, I have neither the time nor the money for a proper vacation right now. Italy and Sweden were about all the Committee of Ways and Means could handle at this point. Making the most of my experience in London is on top of my priority list right now. What that means is slightly more ambiguous. When I'm steeped in research for a week straight, I feel accomplished, but I have absolutely nothing to talk about with my friends or even my wife. Not that they couldn't carry a conversation in physiognomy and masculine anxiety concerning the British empire in the late nineteenth century, it's just that I don't want to talk about it anymore!

There's so many other things going on here that it's actually difficult to process and analyze. Considering when my last update here was, it seems like I have a pattern of going AWOL on personal writing until I build up a critical mass of tension and over-focus and need the outlet. It may make for interesting writing sometimes, but it is neither regular nor comprehensive enough to be really reflective of an amazing experience like I have before me right now. A year abroad in a place like London could bear writing everyday, probably more than once. That would take time and patience beyond what I have available right now. Instead, I will commit myself to slightly less frequent, but no less important and (hopefully) interesting writing.

By way of foreshadowing, our good friend is visiting us for a week or so. We're heading to Stonehenge, Bath, and looking forward to a lot of interesting times just around London. Should make good material for my next post!

Monday, January 11, 2010

London Bound!

London bound. A few days in a new country, with no permanent home, contacts, or concrete schedule does wonders to mess your head up. I have been thinking now that most people truly need some distraction, some task or deadline to keep them sane and reasonable. The pace of life. Right now, mine is about zero. I have nothing but time until my course begins, and no clear idea how to spend it. I'm reading, walking miles a day, and enjoying some of the local flavor at night. Really though, there is nothing determining me from moment to moment, and I have very little to worry about in terms of personal security or finances. It's unsettling to feel so free and cared-for (in an abstract, general sense) and still to be so far away from the familiar comforts of home.

Today I move in to my permanent home for the next 5 months. Having a sense of place, at least--a neighborhood to call my own, frequented bars and restaurants, just an address--will perhaps start to bring together the various threads of school, personal life, and daily tasks into a more recognizable form of home life. I haven't had to set my own schedule for such a long time. Always there was some outlying task to prepare for; hours in the car, presentations one after the other, paperwork to follow up on. General responsibilities foster general peace of mind. American workers not lucky enough to love their work tend to grumble about the tasks small and large that fill up what is usually referred to as "all my free time." Strangely, without those necessitating tasks, our free time becomes and incomprehensible greatness, equally as mind-numbing and dull as the hated functions of a profession.

Wishing so strongly for responsibility is a new feeling to me. I intend (before I've started, mind you)to work hard and long to make this a successful year. We'll see how that turns out once I'm faced with the reality of long nights and little time to write long papers.