I shouldn't be blogging now--much work to do--but I need to clear my mind a bit before I can accomplish anything school-related.
A few days ago, I delved into my copy of Getting Things Done, a book that had been sitting on my shelf for waaaaay too long (maybe 6-8 months?). Ends up it's a nifty little system, and I have indeed already started to get some long-delayed stuff done, and accomplished as well some of the stuff on which I'd usually procrastinate. (I will not be joining the GTD cultists, though, thankyouverymuch. No time for that, and too much on my plate already.)
Now that I've cleared my mind of all its clutter by writing out a huge long to-do list as well as some long-term goals, I find I have time to think about other, maybe much more important stuff. And now I feel pretty damn vulnerable because there are all kinds of feelings rushing in to fill the space.
Things from this afternoon that exacerbated my emotional exhaustion:
1. Lucas having a total meltdown in the car when I couldn't do much about it.
2. Immediately upon his quieting down (I managed to pull a bottle of water from the diaper bag, reach back, and put it into his hands without killing us both), I tuned into a replay of this week's Prairie Home Companion at the beginning of a very sad song. I can't find the name of it right now, but it's about the loss of family members who were important in one's childhood--mother, uncles, and aunts--and how much the singer misses their presence, their voices, and their touch.
I'm not yet at the stage of my life where I have to face cascading deaths, but the song saddened me significantly for the future, both for my own losses and for when Lucas will lose me.
3. I started reading The Girls Who Went Away, a new book about women who became pregnant between the end of WWII and the Roe v. Wade decision and who were pressured to give up their children for adoption. I made it through two chapters and realized I just couldn't read any more of it because it made me too damn sad. It's a beautiful book, really, but so sad.
4. I watched tonight's episode of Big Love. As much as I know there are parts of it that should offend my feminist sensibilities (like, oh, the polygamy), I've become attached to the show's characters and can't wait to see each week's stories unfold. (I'll be a bit cryptic here, but it might spoil things for you if you haven't seen this week's episode, so in that case don't read on.) Tonight's thing with Barb made me profoundly sad. It's as if she's being punished for accepting the help of other women, for not going it completely alone as a mother.
And as a mother, I know we all need the extra help. (Would I allow other women to marry into my family? Hell no. But her situation touches a chord with me.)
5. I finished reading, for the second time, The Devil in the White City, another wonderful book. But the last 50 or so pages of the book, with the progressive defacement and eventual destruction of the Columbian Exposition's dream cityscape, the White City, got to me. Add to that the conclusion's speculations about the number of serial killer H. H. Holmes's (mostly young, independent female) victims, and the book ended for me on a real low note, something I didn't need today.
As you might have surmised about my time travel post of a few days ago, I've been thinking a lot about the Columbian Exposition, since it's what I'm covering in my class right now. I'm about to compose a long blog post for my students on a lecture I promised but didn't deliver, one about women's participation in the fair. I have huge, thick folders of documents I photocopied from numerous archives and libraries when I was a grad student fellow at the Smithsonian, and while the sheer bulk of these documents are daunting, I'm hoping that I'll lose my sadness in the history.
(BTW, if you aren't familiar with the 1893 Columbian Exposition, I heartily recommend checking out The Book of the Fair, which is available online here. Also, you definitely should read The Devil in the White City, a work of creative nonfiction by Erik Larson. Some historians aren't thrilled with the liberties Larson takes, but it's a good read nonetheless.)
All right--back to work. Thanks for listening.