Wednesday, February 2, 2011

To the archives!

After last night's car drama, J and I bussed to the archive today, and we're back on track for the stress of doing research travel with a spouse.  This involved a brisk walk across a lot of partially plowed imperial plazas and side walks in State Capitol, which was probably the most pleasant part of the day.  

Most of my stress surrounding this trip (pre car drama) was in the planning: I have a lot of flexibility in leaving Overcast City for research travel, because I'm only locked in to teach one day a week.  I'm TAing, so I can miss lecture the rest of the week and it's not too big of a deal.  J, on the other hand, works retail, and has neither regular nor back-to-back days off.  I originally had a four-day research extravaganza planned, because like all good research trips, my last trip to State Archives ended with me stumbling onto an amazing collection of records which no one has worked with before, and which the archivist told me I wouldn't be interested in or find helpful.  They are, in fact, actually what I need for the last chapter of my dissertation, and I found them literally a half hour before leaving the archive last time.

But the four-day trip became a two or two and a half day trip when J got a couple of days off right in the middle of the trip.  At first we threw ideas around about him coming up to meet me, but that involved driving both our cars to State Capitol and back, or him just staying in Overcast City, but that seemed like a bad use of his days off, so we decided that he should come up to State Capitol with me and play research assistant.  No problem there: J's a history major and he's been my research assistant before at other archives.  It's sometimes hard to be clear about what I need to find in the archives, since I sometimes don't always know myself, and I don't want to just make him play transcriptionist, but that's a solvable problem,

But this is the first research trip we've done as a couple, rather than day trips to an archive while we're visiting somewhere, or me doing a research trip by myself.  Things are so much more involved with another person!  First, my research days got cut from four to two (which has ended up not being a problem), but I've been realizing that because J and I were long distance for my first two years of grad school, all of my work habits are habits that are ok for me to have alone, but much harder to keep with another person (or even the cat) in the house.  (And I feel some ambivalence about feeling like I have to change my work patterns now that I'm living with a partner, but a relationship has to be give and take).  My habits when I was living alone were to sit at my desk and write for hours at a time in the middle of the night, and on research trips or conference trips to just do business all the time (ok, at conferences "business time" means "drinking time" but it's networking!).  

J had all these plans to find restaurants in State Capitol that we don't have in Overcast City, and to go see museums, and maybe a show, and I started to freak out a little bit before we left because it was out of routine.  We haven't really been able to do any of that because of Snowmageddon, but it freaked me out that J wasn't approaching this as a work marathon.  My last trip to State Archives, I worked from 9-5 at the archive, then came home and transcribed from 6-11.  So unhealthy!  But so much easier to do than think about how to spend time in a new city.  With a partner in tow for whom the trip is vacation with a side of helping, it's less ok to eat leftover pizza the whole trip and type all evening (I sound like both a horrible nerd and a frat boy). 

But having J with on this trip has also been very stress-relieving, and not just because he dealt with all of the car business today.  (The car we drove here in--it's wrecked.  After the mechanic looked at it and quoted several thousands dollars worth of damage, it went to a junk yard which paid enough to cover both the cost of the tow and the cost of the rental car to get us back to Overcast).  But it was also great to have someone here who wasn't focused on getting things done.  We had to walk through State Capitol's government plaza, which is this huge mid-century mall space with huge modern art pieces and gigantic buildings, and especially today, it was absolutely empty.  And alone I would have just breezed through there as fast as my wet shoes and the three inches of snow would have allowed, but we stopped and looked around at things.

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