Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Settling In

Well, that was a longer hiatus than I had anticipated!  Packing took a week, moving half of another week, and we’ve spent our time since then unpacking our multitude of boxes and settling in.  We’ve already located a great Thai place and a fantastic coffee shop, invited some of my colleagues over for dinner (Moroccan chicken stew, yum!), acquired public library cards, and become familiar with the running track around the music department’s smaller campus (I hate running, and I’m perversely determined to become a runner because this track is such a convenient way for my husband and I to “unwind” together after our days spent living the life of the mind).  All in all, a successful start in our new home, I’d say!  The only difficulty is that we don’t yet have internet set up in our new place, and because we’re heading out of town again in a few days for my sister-in-law’s wedding, won’t have internet set up until next week.  So, I’m writing this at home and hope to post it tomorrow, when I’m somewhere with internet.  I’ve done a fair amount of reading in the last few weeks, and should be able to schedule posts on the great books I’ve finished over the next little while, even as we drive up to Michigan for the wedding.  Happily, I was able to catch up on my blog-reading this afternoon – y’all have read some really lovely books lately and posted some really insightful and intriguing musings and reviews!

So what have I realized in these last few days, as I’ve unpacked boxes, unwrapped yards of bubble wrap, sorted through too much kitchen stuff to actually fit in our kitchen cupboards, organized our pantry, mopped our lovely new hardwood floors, and happily shelved an entire bookcase of fiction and an entire bookcase of academic texts?  Several things.  First, I now have in my possession just about all of the books I own (save my set of hardcover Harry Potter books, which my mother still hasn’t found since her move), and I’m starting to run short on bookshelf space.  I only have one bookcase designated for fiction, and it’s quite full.  Does it bug you to stack books sideways?  I’ve had to do that with my kids and young adult fiction, to save space, but it looks so…messy.  Crowded.  Unpolished.  Is it just me?  Anyway, the first thing I’ve realized is that I’ll have to make good use of the school and public libraries in the next few years, because until I have another bookcase, I can’t really buy any more fiction.  A pity, because I so love frequenting used bookstores.  I suppose I could banish some of my young adult stuff to a box in the closet, but that thought bums me out, so I’ll hold off on that possibility for now.

Another thing I’ve acknowledged is that I’ll have a lot less reading time once the school year starts in a few weeks.  I’m not yet sure what the workload will be, as a first-year PhD student, but I imagine it will occupy my time more than a part-time job and two audited classes, which was my situation this past spring.  When I have time for non-classwork-related reading, a good bit of that will likely be spent in academic texts.  After all, I have conference papers and an upcoming dissertation to think about.  That being said, I refuse to set aside classics for good.  I find so much joy in my fiction reading, and will cheerfully give up television or other, less-essential hobbies in order to maintain my general well-being.  The consequence of less free reading time will likely result in fewer blog posts.  Books will take longer; writing posts may take second-place beside writing for classes.  I will choose not to worry about this.  The whole point of creating this blog, after all, was not to impose some arbitrary posting schedule on myself.  If reading starts to cause stress, it has lost its purpose.  Perhaps I’ll finish a book and put it on my completed fiction list without posting on it at all.  That would be okay too.  Perhaps the ratio of fiction-to-nonfiction may skew more heavily toward the academic side.  I hope that’s not too boring for any of my readers.  Perhaps, by the end of this first year, I may not have any readers at all!  I’d choose to be okay with that.  After all, amassing readers was not among my goals in starting this blog.  Hopefully, though, a few of you will stick around – it’s difficult to facilitate interesting discussion without a few other people around to chime in.

Things to think about:
Speaking of discussions, I’ve had one in mind as a result of the outpouring of help from my department that my husband and I received in unloading our moving truck: Graduate school life is like socialism.  Don’t you think so?  If you were, or are, a graduate student, is this your experience?

Books I’ve completed (reviews forthcoming):
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Books 1-4), Ann Brashares
The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton
The Rest is Noise, Alex Ross
Wives and Daughters, Elizabeth Gaskell

Books I’m currently reading:
Nectar in a Sieve, Kamala Markandaya
The Trumpet of the Swan, E.B. White
The Stripping of the Altars, Eamon Duffy
William Byrd and His Contemporaries, Philip Brett
Tricks of the Trade, Harold Becker


  1. Congratulations on your move! I long ago made the shift to libraries (partly for reasons of budget and partly for space) and have never regretted it; I buy books only for birthdays and Christmas now, and it's such a wonderful treat. Plus I have the joy of supporting the library! :)

    My experience was that grad school was like nothing else on earth. :) A little bit commune, a little bit Bloomsbury, a little bit medieval, a little bit heaven, a little bit hell, a little bit panic attack, a little bit empowering dynamo. I adored it. I know you will, too.

  2. So glad to hear that your move went well! And that you have a library card...the most important part of settling in! :-) I can't remember if you said where you moved to? I'm looking forward to reading about your academic as well as fiction reading!