Snow Day

There is a snow day here in Columbia, Missouri–though what we have received is really just a dusting compared to what has been going on in Boston. Despite the nostalgic glee of snow days past, classes being cancelled means almost nothing for me. I rearranged my day because I won’t have an afternoon broken up by trekking to campus and back for office hours and lecture attendance, but the remaining components of my day are intact.

In general, the snow gets a mixed response. People are happy that there aren’t classes, of course, but they also grumble about shoveling and the cold and many people–notably the people reading the weather–have been positively joyous when reading off temperatures this winter that rose as high as 60. Winter, whether cold or snowy, is a hated thing

I know that I am in the minority when I say that I actually like shoveling snow (the only reason I haven’t yet today is that I don’t own a shovel). It is good exercise and I find it relaxing. With due respect to friends in Boston, though, there is such a thing as too much. But I also find falling snow and the quiet that comes with it to be peaceful. The crispness of the air and the solitude of the trees when skiing or snow-shoeing is rejuvenating, and stripping off the layers to sit in front of the fire with hot chocolate makes an ideal contrast.

Here in Missouri it is not that we get too much winter, but too little. It is likely that there will be one or two storms, but it usually melts away too quickly to give the perpetual ground cover necessary for outdoor recreation. The appearance of the snow is a labor, not an opportunity. And, of course, my apartment does not come with a fireplace or pellet stove.

What is making me happy: my dissertation

Following the model of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour and its final segment, I am using some of these posts as a reminder to myself that there are things that bring me joy and as a means of posting recommendations of things–usually artistic or cultural, sometimes culinary–that are worth consuming.

The thing that is making me happy as the semester draws to a close is the same thing that is stressing me out, namely that my first serious dive into Greek epigraphy (inscriptions) has me more optimistic about the relevance of my dissertation than I have been in a few months. I still loved my topic, but I was in despair about how new some of my conclusions were going to be. The inscriptions I’ve been working on the last few weeks have given me more and more valuable things to say, even as it has taught me that I am going to need to rewrite one of the chapters from the ground up because the chronology I followed is probably invalid. In the grand scheme of things this development is a good thing because it makes for a fresher and better dissertation, but, in the short term, I have to rewrite a draft of that chapter by the end of January so that there aren’t glaring inconsistencies in what I submit for a dissertation fellowship–on top of my schedule of producing new material.

I have some more specific thoughts on this development, some for the dissertation, some about the process, and some about how much ancient history frequently requires as much explanation about how we know what we know as what we know. And I will probably write about this in the near future, but, in the meantime, I have a chapter due on Monday. I also intend to do some sort of 2014/15 retrospective/preview, update my top novels list, possibly a semester recap, and a few other assorted things I want to write about (posted here for my own benefit as much as anything).

Since what I model this post on requires the recommendation of something, but what is making me happy isn’t readily available for consumption for at least a year or two yet and won’t be in book form for some years after that, if ever, I will point out a few quick things.

  1. I’m not usually one to obsess over particular records, let alone stay up to date on the world of music. However, this week my work soundtrack has been a mix of Great Big Sea, Gin Blossoms, Ha Ha Tonka, and Johnny Clegg and Savuka. In particular, I’ve been enjoying taking much deeper dives into Deluxe, Live, or other lesser known material of groups I like than I previously had, and getting to hear their sound in somewhat different ways.
  2. Netflix recently added more of the 30 for 30 documentaries and I’m currently enjoying the currently-topical Brothers in Exile film about Orlando and Livan Hernandez’ defection from Cuba in the 1990s.
  3. It is snowing. I love snow. If it is available in your area, go cross-country skiing or put on snowshoes, wander into the woods, and let your mind wander. I hope to be able to indulge in this soon.