This is how you know you are dissertating – You are alone in the department in your office on a Saturday when it is 70 degrees and clear for the first time in 2 weeks and the day happens to be your birthday. Sigh.
But, before you start to feel bad for me, and before I permit myself to feel bad for myself, my lovely Spousal Unit took me to a fabulous breakfast this morning at our favorite place. I had potato-apple-sausage hash with fried eggs and gruyere, sourdough toast and fresh squeezed orange juice. It was divine. Then, I went window shopping for a bit, put a little denim couch on hold for my new office, and bought a couple of novels for myself at the bookstore. Then I got an iced mocha and wandered up to campus. I’ll only be here for the afternoon and then S.U. and I are going out for a nice dinner tonight, but I know I’ll feel better about celebrating if I get a bit more accomplished.
Yesterday I made a lot of progress. Looking back over the 20 pages I had, that I thought just needed a little tweaking to fit into the new conceptual framework, I realized that they needed a lot of work. So, when I said I was done with composition, I jumped the gun a bit. I was able to use a lot of the evidence I had already written about, but I had to re-frame it completely. Of the three sections that I need to do now, I finished one yesterday, so that was good. I guess a little fear that is externally induced rather than internally produced has been a good thing for my work life.
I could have done more — I was totally on a roll yesterday evening –but we had theater tickets and were cooking dinner for friends before the show. (Free-range, grass-fed tenderloin steaks, chipotle-mashed Yukon gold potatoes with smoked paprika sour-cream, and a bacon-kale-corn-tomato summer sauté. Combined with the Mango Margaritas and the excellent Cabernet-Sauvignon our friends brought, it was an amazing meal.)
The play was really interesting – but confirmed yet again why I am a historian. It was a one-man show about a real-life German transvestite who survived both the Nazi Regime and Communist East Germany, collecting Weimar Republic relics and preserving them in a private museum that she somehow maintained against incredible odds. It was fascinating, mainly because while the playwright was researching and interviewing Charlotta, it came out that she had collaborated with the Communists as an informant. The playwright didn’t know what to do with this – and so finally decided to write the play about his experience of encountering her rather than write a story of her heroism in the face of oppression. It was interesting, but ultimately unsatisfying. I wanted documentation, I wanted more research, I wanted texture and nuance, and far, far more depth. I think that if this had been my research, I wouldn’t have been willing to submit to the severe limitations placed on the storyteller by the genre – the story doesn’t want to be a play, it wants to be a book. Or maybe I just wanted it to be a book. Hopefully, by now someone has written it.
Well, off to tackle this next hurdle. Happy Day folks!