What have I been up to?

So, last time I updated my blog, I was procrastinating wildly. Remember how I was writing about my terrible eating habits during finals? Well, let me tell you something. The best thing in the world happened right after that. My mom and her bff Gail (whom I’ve always referred to as my “other mom”) came for a short visit and proceeded to stock my fridge and freezer with groceries and mom-cooked meals to see me through finals so that I wouldn’t have to worry about food. They made ham and cheese chowder, chicken pot pie, pot roast, blueberry muffins, and dozens and dozens of delicious oatmeal cookies and chocolate chip. So I ended up eating a lot of sugar (because I finished ALL the cookies without sharing very many), but good golly y’all. It was FANTASTIC. They also cleaned my house and took me out to eat and were generally wonderful company. I told them they were always welcome back during finals.

After they left, I made a mad dash to finish my two remaining papers in a little under two weeks, had a job interview for a position in our library’s special collections (that’s where they keep all the rare books, manuscripts, archives and whatnot–basically all the coolest stuff in the library), and then I hit the road for some much-needed Texas time. Oh, Texas. There’s just no place like home. I’ve loved living in places with tall trees and vibrant green everywhere and rain and cooler temperatures. All the things Texans dream of. But I think in my heart I will always yearn for big sky and flat prairies. Texas is just stitched into my soul, and nowhere else I’ve been feels quite so right. My visit was entirely comprised of resting, reading, lots of horseback riding (my goodness, how I miss that part of my life!), spending time with the people who love me best in the world, eating my favorite things (foremost of which is anything my brother cooks), and  letting all of the stress and anxiety of the past semester melt away. Folks, I know I’m biased when I say this, but Texas is the best place in the world.

Also in Texas, I got to know my new roommate Grace (hi Grace!) a little better (she’s an ACU pal who’s heading out here to start her PhD in the Fall). After a long lunch conversation, we both concurred that we are going to have a darn good time together. I mean, anyone who is willing to have an extended conversation about Marvel vs DC, Joss Whedon, Star Wars, Star Trek, and even a few non-geek topics is bound to fit right in around here. Well, that and she’s just a fabulous human being. It’s been a really long time since I had a roomate (college), and I hadn’t really expected to have one here because I really enjoyed living alone in Boston. But here, living alone has been lonely and isolating, so I’m really excited and feeling very blessed that Grace is going to be here in August.

So, after I got back from Texas, I started my new job at the library. Eventually, my job will be instruction, so professors will bring their students to the library to learn about what we have and how they can use the materials in our collection and I will teach them those things. Mostly, I’ll be responsible for classes focused on British and Irish literature since that’s my field. But for now, my job is to get familiar with the collection–what’s available and how to find things. So for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been spending several hours a day looking at really, really cool stuff.

(disclaimer: all of the following will mostly be interesting to my literature people and maybe a little silly to the rest of you).

Like, Lady Gregory’s personal editions of Yeats’ poems, complete with inscriptions from Yeats, hand-written revisions to the printed text, new poems penned onto blank pages, and the like. Or AE’s letters to Lady Gregory with goofy caricatures of Yeats. Or a first-edition of The Wind Among the Reeds (Yeats) with sketches from Jack Yeats on the inside covers. Programs from the Abbey Theatre in it’s earliest days. A letter from Sean O’Casey to Lady Gregory. The letter to Yeats in which Maud Gonne responds to the poem “Easter 1916” (she begins, “My dearest Willie, No, I did not like your poem”). Lady Gregory’s address book with J M Synge’s address in it. A letter to the editor against conscription of the Irish into the British Army during WWI signed by Lady G, Yeats, Douglas Hyde, James Stephens, and AE. A holograph (that means hand-written, y’all) draft of Yeats’ play At the Hawk’s Well. A letter from Eamon de Valera (3rd president of Ireland) to Lady G. And I spent a couple of days perusing our almost-complete collection of Poblacht na h-Eireann, a one-page newspaper printed almost daily during the Irish Civil War (1922-3) to report war news specifically for the Republicans (anti-treaty folks. They lost)–so fascinating! You can see that I started by camping out in the Revival/early 20th C stuff. But, seriously. We have Lady Gregory’s papers (really, the whole Gregory family) and some of her library, some Yeats’ papers, Maud Gonne’s papers, and a very rare collection of the Poblacht, so it’s a great place to start. We have loads and loads of papers from contemporary Irish writers, too, to keep me busy, and I’m just starting into the Seamus Heaney collection. I’ll probably make my way through my favorite Irish writers and then move on to the Ted Hugh’s collection, because at some point I suppose I have to learn about our British stuff too.

Suffice it to say, I’m enjoying my work. “Work.” The hardest part is not stopping in the stacks and just looking at ALL the rare and special books.

Also, I saw an Aztec bible. For. Real. (Well, I mean I looked at a facsimile of an Aztec bible, but it was still pretty awesome).

Other than that, I’ve been doing a little yard work, especially battling the ivy in my backyard. Today I trimmed hedges. My arms are still protesting. Did you know that some of the same muscles used in operating manual hedge trimmers are used in typing? Because I’m just now learning that. Between that and wrenching up ivy, I can tell that I’m going to be a little sore tomorrow. Did you know that there are muscles over your ribs that can get sore? Because that’s something else I’m learning just now.

And, I’ve been watching a lot of tv. ‘Cause that’s what happens in the summer. But I’ve been reading some too. I’ve already improved on the amount of reading I did all of last summer by like four books. Turns out, there’s a lot more time for leisure activities in the summer when you’re not trying to sell and buy a home and pack up your life and move.

Anyhow, that’s more or less what I’ve been up to.

 

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