Well, I’m bored. Of course, it’s been jolly nice to have all that reading time back, and I’ve managed to blitz through the first half of season 3 of Veronica Mars, but I can’t shake that feeling that there is something I ought to be doing. I can feel my brain up there, drumming its fingers on the table in impatience, getting increasingly desperate as it realises it has nothing to do but can’t go and inhabit the head of someone who will actually use it. The poor thing. If I don’t take care of it, it will drive me to do crazy things.
Such as, now that I have read Of Human Bondage (which I guiltily gulped down last weekend before the reading challenge has even really started, which probably counts as cheating) sending me off to read a biography or two of Maugham, two or three of his other works, two or three works by his contemporaries, a biography of Gaugain and anything else I subsequently come across, so that I have a bit of background with which to arm myself for writing a blog post on the book. I caught myself in time, and anyway, my Yale privileges expire on Wednesday. Although I might be able to get into JSTOR for a bit longer. (I love JSTOR. I would consider a personal subscription.) ‘Steady on,’ I thought. ‘That’s overkill. Just the biography and a couple of other novels will do.’
In reply, my brain harrumphed at me and folded its arms. ‘Well, if you can’t be bothered to do the job properly…’
And herein lies the problem. Because I am goal-oriented, deadline driven and, oh yes, lazy, there has to be a point if I’m going to do all that work. The pure fun of it alone is not enough, the results have to be graded to be valid. If that’s not going to happen, then I’ll be back to reading Shopaholic Becomes a Grandmother before you can say ‘disposable chick-lit’.
This was my quandary while lying in bed last night but actually I was in just the right place to solve the problem, because I have noticed that I have some of my best thoughts during that before-going-to-sleep thinking time. Often those thoughts are no more insightful than ‘Give up that handbag, there is no possible way you can afford it.’ But I did also solve a few problems with my dissertation at night, and draft out the resulting paragraphs in my head. And what’s more, the solutions and the paragraphs still made as much sense in the unforgiving daylight as they did in cozy darkness.
Anyway, last night’s genius thought was that I should learn Ancient Greek. Of course! It’s obvious! Why didn’t I think of it before? This idea kills so many birds with one stone it’s positively an avian massacre: (1) I get to learn a stark and beautiful language, and ultimately to read some fantastic literature unmediated by translators; (2) it is progress on the way to reading for an MPhil, which I really want to do when I have the money but for which language skills are definitely required; (3) I am too lazy and unfocused to be auto-didactic, therefore must acquire a tutor, therefore my verb-learning exercises will be graded; (4) I do not have to construct my own course in 20th century literature because I will already be learning something; (5) I keep a toe in the distant past; (6) I will always have something to do because from what I remember of Ancient Greek it could take me months to wrap my head around the middle voice alone; (7) I will have an excuse for indulging my stationery fetish and buying at least one new notebook and a vocab book…
So, first thing this morning I looked for a Greek tutor. And what do you know, Craigslist New Haven had just such a person offering their skills. I wait with trepidation to see if they are prepared to take me on. If not, then plan B kicks in. Can anyone recommend a good biography of Maugham, just in case?