Sunday, March 14, 2010

Spring Break Used to Mean Relaxing . . .

But now it means reading and writing like a crazy history maniac. "Spring Break" is a fallacious term in my case; it should be called "Spring Catch-up" or "Spring Hold-on-for-dear-life!"

I made myself nocturnal for about four days, in preparation for departure. Then on the 9th, I slept all day, got up in time for class, and left right after class finished (about 6:30 pm). I rushed home, grabbed Jasper, picked up some dinner, and then hit the road. We officially left for Michigan at 7:30 that evening; we arrived at my parents' doorstep at exactly 6:30 the next morning. Surprisingly, it was not too bad of a drive. Jasper got carsick going through Bedford, but that's to be expected - Bedford is a gorgeous little town, but the road I take each time twists and turns in a seemingly-nonsensical manner amidst the Blue Ridge Mountains, and even I have to fight not to be sick going through it. Aside from that, there were no troubles.

Jasper was overjoyed when we pulled into my parents' driveway. As soon as I unlocked the front door, he rushed in to see if anything had changed since the last time we were here. I sluggishly unloaded the car, greeted Dad and the other two dogs, then tried to start reading. No luck; my body was adamant that sleep must precede research. A short struggle later, I gave in. After a lengthy nap, my body and mind were both ready to start working. There have been few pauses in my work since then. I start reading while I eat my breakfast each morning, and don't stop until dinnertime. After dinner I have a break, then work some more, then finish around 8:00 or so. It's been far more like History Boot Camp than Spring Break!

All this reading has had the unfortunate effect of giving me some very odd dreams. In the past few nights, I have had a picnic in a trench in WWI (and woke myself up by muttering aloud "This is so inaccurate"), donned the attire of a flapper and danced the Lambeth Walk, and dropped by parachute into Yugoslavia. Thank goodness I'm not studying the Russian Revolutions!

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"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"