Today has just been ridiculous. Running around here and there, I was maybe in the office a total of two hours, where I read articles that were somewhat relevant to my work but not really. My meeting this morning with both supervisors went fairly well; at least, I have something to Do, which is better than not having anything, but it’s not like I wasn’t plugging away at my reading already. The workshop this afternoon went on an hour longer than it was supposed to, which made me miss my meeting with Megan; I left my keys in my office and had to go back to get them; I thought I had bought dark chocolate only to find that it’s actually milk. Good grief. It seems the whole week has been like this, one thing after another.
The best part of today was working in Special Collections: sitting in a big, highly air-conditioned room and wearing brightly colored gloves, sliding into that timeless space where the only sound is the hum of the air-conditioner and the scratch of pencil against paper. For those two hours it was only me and the artifacts; I sorted through the box of manuscripts, handling the black and white photographs of the university with the same reverence I held a Byzantine icon or an Egyptian alabaster jar when I worked at the museum. It’s all history. One of the photographs was taken in front of the cathedral with a large group of people; that one candid moment captured. Who were those people? Is that man holding a pipe? What is he saying? I read a booklet of references for a woman applying for some unknown post. One of them said, ‘I can only think that the rather disturbed conditions under which the students have had to work this last year account for the Division 2’. Another one of her references couldn’t say what she had done at her job because of the Secrets Act. She was fluent in French and German. The year was 1940.