I could still be unhappy about how little work I got done today, except I started the day unsure that I'd be able to do any work at all: I've had a screaming headache since 5:30 a.m., and although I finally managed to turn the volume down enough that I could bear to look at a computer screen, I still have that feeling that my synapses are not quite connecting that comes with head pain.
Note to self: taking a walk helps. Even when it's pretty danged cold out.
But the other thing that helped was one of those little moments of synchronicity that can happen when one is reading pretty much anything within the expanded radius of the work. As I mentioned, at first I knew I wouldn't be able to sit in front of a computer screen: I was pretty sure I needed to be close to horizontal and fully anticipated reading a little bit and then falling asleep. I wasn't even reading anything that I "need" to read--certainly not the lit crit that I've been gathering and that is apparently endless: I had decided I'd just read whatever stories might provide more of the matrix for the novel, pulled out an anthology, and there in the introduction was the key to the timeline of the Hainish universe that I've been wrestling with. God love Ursula: she's so smart and funny--and willing to poke fun at herself. She says:
"Though I've put a good deal of work into my fictional universe, I don't exactly feel that I invented it. I blundered into it, and have been blundering around in it unsystematically ever sine--dropping a millennium here, forgetting a planet there. Honest and earnest people, calling it the Hainish Universe, have tried to plot its history onto Time Lines. I call it the Ekumen, and I say it's hopeless. its Time Line is like something the kitten pulled out of the knitting basket, and its history consists largely of gaps." (Foreword, Birthday of the World and Other Stories)
And there's my solution right there. I quoted that--and that left me free to simply explain the few constants that students might find helpful, give a bit of an overivew, and leave it at that.
So, after my walk, I got to sit down and play with that chapter, and it's a hell of a lot more fun now that I don't have to try to make sense out of everything. I still hit the wall pretty quickly--not surprisingly, as although the volume is down on the headache, it's still very much there--but I'm so relieved that I actually accomplished anything at all, I'm taking that as a win.
Tomorrow my rhythms may be off again: I need to make another trip to the NCC library. I've been using the inter-library loan function ILLIAD, and loving it--but I keep getting e-mails from colleagues at our library, essentially saying, "Ahem, thanks for asking for that, but you know, we have it on our shelves...." So, in addition to four books I want to take a look at, there are a bunch of articles in a journal that our library actually has in print that I'm going to go make copies of. The librarian who told me that we have the journal in our collection also said that, if I'm very sweet and a little bit lucky, I may even be able to persuade the librarian on the desk to let me use their copier in the basement, so I don't have to pay for the copies. I'm happy to pay, if need be--I just consider it a business expense--but of course I won't say no to getting the copies free if I can. That particular librarian is actually working tomorrow, so I'll see if I can get him to help me (always easier than having to use my own brain).
I do wonder why it is, however, that I do the searches and can't find the sources but the librarians turn them up like it's nothing. The guy who found the print journal for me also found four articles I wanted on a database that I'd searched. I feel like an idiot, but this is another one of those "good to share with my students" experiences: the "take away" is, do the research yourself first, but then, if you hit a wall, ask a librarian for help, because apparently they can walk through walls.
So, tomorrow, library and a trip to Staples: I started to print out the articles I think I'm going to use for my psych paper and almost immediately got the message that I'm low on ink. I thought I had spare cartridges, but turns out not. I don't know what else I'll get done. If there's no blog post tomorrow, you'll know that those errands were it. If I get more done, I'll post.
And now, I'm going to lie down again. Man am I ever glad I didn't have to face students today. Man do I wish I could win the lottery so I could just live like this....