Our weekend didn’t go quite as planned, so I’m afraid none of us are as refreshed as we might have hoped. It’s a good thing I don’t believe in fates, otherwise I might think they were conspiring against us! This weekend was the weekend before the full start of the term, which the students apparently take as an opportunity to party. So we heard a lot of noise outside the house until well until the middle of the night. In addition, Nathaniel developed a cold, so he had me on several-nights’-little-sleep coming into things.
I was trying to be optimistic, so, on the first night, when it became clear that he was going to be keeping me up, I thought, “Well, even on bad nights, he usually settles down by about four.” Katherine woke up crying at 4:30. So, it’s perhaps not surprising that, when I finally settled into a library with my computer, I could barely keep my eyes open and focused on the screen. I also, ahem, get a very short fuse when I’m really tired, so I further hurt my case by reacting unhelpfully to everything that went wrong: the washing machine breaking, my computer cord breaking (which left me with 20 minutes to fix it before my computer died) . . . The more that things went wrong, the closer I stuck to home, which apparently just made Sydney’s job harder (since Nathaniel howled whenever he heard the door, or a squeaky stair, or anything else that he thought might be me).
There were some really nice things that managed to happen (despite everything else!) this weekend, so I’m going to list some of them.
– I got to spend time in several libraries: the Bodleian (with its large reading rooms and giant windows), the Radcliffe Camera (the perfectly-round building that you see in all pictures of Oxford), the Social Sciences Library (which is quite ugly, but open later than the others), and the new underground tunnel that links the Bodleian and the Radcliffe (which has nice work areas, and it allows water!). It felt wonderful to be back in a library again.
– I had tea and lunch in a nice sandwich shop on Saturday, and I treated myself to full afternoon tea (with the sandwiches, scones, cakes, and all things cute) yesterday. I love tea, and it was great to settle in with a pot and a hard copy of my article to wrestle with language and meaning in such a cozy environment.
– Sydney took Nathaniel one of the nights, so I got to sleep through the night for the first time since September. I holed up downstairs, in our livingroom, and when I woke up in the morning, I realized that 1) I was awake earlier than everyone else 2) I could just get up and make tea if I wanted to 3) I could even leave the house. It was marvelous.
– I took a nice three-mile walk by myself every morning, before everyone else was awake. It is cold in Oxford this week, so I got to enjoy weather that would give me pause if I had the kids. A heavy frost made every tree, twig, and blade of grass stand out like crystal. A wonderful way to start the day.
– On Saturday, after a long day in the library, I stopped by New College for an evensong service. We have been struggling to find a church home since we arrived in Oxford, but this may well be a good source of church time for me if I can go on a regular basis. New College has a renowned choir, and I loved the liturgy and the time for quiet prayer and reflection, even if I was a bit confused. I was reminded of a time that seems very long ago now: the evensong services I attended during college with Lauren and Sydney, as well as the Episcopalian church that Sydney and I attended when we were at Yale. Same liturgy, but a very different place and time in my life!
– I also got serious work done for the first time in several weeks. It’s difficult to express how important that was to getting my mind right-side-up again, after a hard season of job applications and post-graduation drift. It is great to really dig into an article, and I really made some progress. It’s not done, but I should be able to get it finished up and sent off this week.