“Book Jail”

It’s been a while. I have posted occasionally at Kemet Today – and that reminds me I need to get Theanos another installment – but otherwise, the last months have been spent continuing Daybook research/writing and completing another year of graduate school. I’m one semester short of finishing coursework now. For those who don’t do grad school lingo, that means that in December, I will be done with classes, and it will be time to do nothing but write my dissertation until it is done. The work has already started, even though, in theory, I don’t have to begin until next year when my qualifying exams are complete. I’m blessed with an incredible Doktorvater who is challenging me and supporting me in all the right ways so far. Gods willing, I won’t let him down. I’ll be presenting my first paper on a subject related to this research at this summer’s St. Shenouda Coptic Society/UCLA Coptic Studies Conference. It’s a big deal, and I’d be pushing myself even if the main research I’m working at right now wasn’t 800 pages (!) of a French-language dissertation on a grainy microfiche copy I can barely make out. Hoping I can still see my audience by the time I get up to stand in front of them. Note to budding scholars: if you go to graduate school, you will need reading glasses by the time you’re done.

Life here in the Inland Empire is hot.

I don’t think I was built for multiple days of triple-digit weather. It’s been a challenge to figure out how to cope, especially since it’s only June, and there will be many more weeks of this to come before the rainy season returns – we hope – in late autumn. This week, it’s also been fiery, which means smoke and haze. I live in the foothills, but not in a fire zone, so it isn’t an evacuation concern. However, I don’t think I will ever get used to the idea of an entire mountainside on fire. This is one of the things that I marvel at as a former Midwesterner. A few weeks ago, I watched flames climbing the hills miles south of me from my patio, bright enough to light the night. I have no idea how anyone gets used to such things. California continues to fascinate: beauty and deadliness, dancing in symmetry.

I’ve been dealing with doctors since early in the year. One of them delivered the incredible – and unexpected – news that the liver tumor I was diagnosed with in 2006 is no longer visible on any scans. For all intents and purposes, this means it’s gone and I do not have to go through any testing for it ever again. I’m very happy, of course. It is hard to get my mind used to the idea, though, after so many years of living with the inoperable time bomb, to be told “it’s not there anymore.” I suppose I’ve used up another one of my lives. My knee has been problematic for several years now and I finally got an answer about that. It’s a slightly torn ACL, not bad enough for surgery, so it’s bracing and physical therapy and medication in hopes it will just stop being problematic at some point. I pushed myself a bit too hard with stress and school and these things and so now, in addition to the work I’m regularly doing, I’m trying to get some rest time, some less-stressful time. This means “book jail” – I’ve cut back on everything that’s expendable, social and social media and nonessential appearances, so that I can spend time with the Daybook and the Coptic presentation and get them ready for next month. That means I will be even more scarce overall.

It probably also means I shouldn’t be posting here, but sometimes, when you want to write and your brain can only think about the fact that it’s a hundred and no outside…you need to prime the pump. Pump’s primed now, so I’m off to fight with some manuscripts. At least there’s an early release program for book jail, if you’re good.


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