Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Work, You Say?

It is amazing to me how much less I get done in the US than in Prague. This was not quite as noticeable in California since my parents did not require me to do too many tasks for them.
I keep telling myself that one of these days I will actually be properly moved into my apartment and have the majority of my belongings not just unpacked but put in some sort of plausible arrangement, and that someday I will actually have a real phone and internet at home. (The phone has now been ordered and will allegedly be functional on Monday.) It is true that I make progress each day on the home front, and that I am also making small amounts of progress on the dissertation. But it does not feel that way.
No, even though I spend very little time in that infamous land of ease and gossip known as the TA Office (I do often eat lunch there in order to enjoy professional discourse on topics such as coffee grinders, carpal tunnel, and the correct dating of the Oseberg Ship), I feel as though most of my time is spent floating about.
Floating about to the computer lab for printouts, floating about with lists of books to find, floating about to doctors' appointments (this morning I had my hands X-rayed no less than 12 times and some dreadful quantity of unwilling blood was removed from my recalcitrant veins), floating about the internet trying to remember what else I need to look up, floating about from one place to another buying ever more boring quantities of household objects while wondering where to store them (atop the refrigerator? under the bathroom sink? on the floor of a closet?).
It must be admitted that I have attended no less than three social events (one night-time grad party, one grad brunch, and one area studies reception), and that I have conversed with several professors, of whom three are even members of my dissertation committee. But still.
My advisor, who seems content with my progress for the moment, reveals that not only should we schedule a defense date now, before the calendar fills up (it can always be changed if some disaster occurs before April), but that if she is to verify my impending graduation to prospective employers, she will have to see some significant chunk of text by November or thereabouts. Apparently there is less of a willingness to hire ABD these days and the candidate's proximity to graduation must be confirmed in blood well before the job interview.
My advisor appeared relatively blithe about this, but only because she evidently supposes that I can throw her a staggering amount of manuscript in the near future. It is thus my plan to start her on the first three chapters, ideally by next week. I do not claim these chapters are done, but there is some hope that they can be made intelligible, apart from the section that awaits perusal of the belated Štyrský monograph (allegedly forthcoming, although the exhibition must be about over). One of my other committee members is also anxious for something to read, so I suppose she can be given the same package.
And so I must return to my attempts to create a useful summary of the Devětsil group as it relates to Toyen and the surrealists...

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