Thought for the day

“My therapist told me the way to achieve true inner peace is to finish what I start. So far today, I have finished two bags of M&Ms and a chocolate cake. I feel better already.” — Dave Barry

I like this mental health maintenance approach. Going with that myself. Except I will also include ‘finishing chapter four’ as I am not leaving the library today until that bugger is surfing its way across the Internet into the Inbox of my supervisor to sort the hell out!

Friends

I got to work this morning. Something happened. I needed assistance. I sent an SOS email to my friend. Thirty minutes later, she arrived at uni with the urgently required item.

That is one of the reasons a good friend is the best thing in the world.

Thank you Ariel! I couldn’t decide which ‘thank you’ image to illustrate my thanks, so you get both.

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Is it just me?

I am 40 years old and I find colouring-in a very relaxing activity. Is it just me? It is almost midnight on Thursday 23 May 2013 and I have vowed I will not leave the library until blasted chapter four has been drafted and emailed to my poor long-suffering supervisor.

My shift finished at 9pm. Since then I have eaten my dinner, watched some Stephen Fry in Planet Word, and it is currently playing in the background for my listening pleasure.

While I was ‘watching’ Planet Word, I was colouring-in.

I went in search of a colouring-in book on the weekend. It wasn’t until tonight that I have been able to christen it. I have been using colouring-in as a relaxation technique since 2001 during the long and emotionally-draining job hunt on my arrival in post-9/11 London.

Tonight, I think it has been more about avoiding the inevitable. (It’s always something with me.)

However, maybe, after the relaxation of bringing some colour into the apple-picker’s life and listening to the wonderful Stephen Fry, I might feel able to get on with this blasted chapter and send it through the virtual world to my supervisor before I pass out from tiredness, or boredom, or frustration.

As someone who can’t draw to save her life, well, not anything beyond the basic geometrically unrealistic house and an amateurish cartoon smiley face, I get great pleasure from selecting the colours to bring a little colour-in to technicolor glory. I feel ill-equipped at present as I only have a selection of 12 pencils.

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Pencils are my preferred colouring-in tool. When I am doing it right, I will have a pencil box full of colours and variations on the theme. The sight of a large packet of colour pencils gets my colouring juices going. The choice between the 5 variations of red or blue is part of fun.

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I am pretty fussy when it comes to the colouring-in book. I am not really a fan of these ones tied to kids’ telly shows and films. They don’t feel right for colouring. I am a girl of the 1970s and we had certain styles of colouring-in books that just enhance the whole experience of colouring-in. I have been on what was fast becoming a fruitless search for the right colouring-in book until the weekend when I popped into a newsagency to see what they had to offer and amongst the undesirable telly/film tie-in colouring books, I found it. Thick black lines forming large and happy figures that cry out for a colouring-in by the enthusiastic colourist.

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It sounds like the screening episode of Planet Word is drawing to its inevitable conclusion and I vowed that I would get underway with some writing of my own when that happened. And I mean thesis-writing, not bollocks-ing away on my blog.

I leave you tonight with my current colouring creation. I promise that it will be the only relax-ating colouring I do tonight and this morning, (which begins in 5 minutes). I will, now, finally, return to blasted chapter 4. (That is not its official title by the way. No, it’s ‘Inside the Paris Hôtel-Dieu: The effect of the May 1505 Reform’ actually.)

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Happy Colouring-In!

Tips for my Fellow Drivers that descends into a ramble about Australia

Actually, it’s not so much tips for my fellow drivers. I only have one really. I was reminded of this particular ‘tip’ this morning, when, once again, I’m travelling along Great Eastern Highway doing the allowable speed of 80km/hr and just ahead of me I see a Ford driver, (the make of the car is irrelevant, but as a Holden/Commodore girl, one notices when an evil Ford is in one’s path). The Ford driver is waiting to pull onto the highway. The Ford driver pulls out onto the highway just in front of me!

Fortunately, as I’m driving a Little White Holden Nova, aka a brilliant car with excellent brakes, I was able to slam on them and reduce my speed from 80km/hr to around 20km/hr in the 5 seconds time frame that could have resulted in me and my Little White Holden Nova occupying the same space as the Ford and the idiot behind its wheel.

This is not the first time a driver has done this to me. And I am sure some of my Fellow Drivers on the Great Eastern Highway have had it done to them.

If someone has to slam on their brakes to prevent slamming into you, YOU HAVE PULLED OUT TOO SOON!!!

I think the police might have to introduce a system whereby people have to retake the test for their drivers licence every 5 years, because the dangerous way some people manoeuvre about the roads suggests to me that some of them received no instruction at all, or need a little reminder about how to be a safe and courteous driver.

Now, I am not saying I am a perfect driver. No, indeedy not. In fact, I got ‘done by the fuzz’ for talking on my mobile the other weekend. I wasn’t driving at the time. I was sitting at the red traffic light. There was a police car in front of me. The phone rang, I was trying to meet up with someone, so I answered it. Then I saw the police car’s lights flash.

“I’ve got to hang up! It’s the Fuzz!”

It turns out that if you are in your vehicle and the engine is on, NO PHONE! I thought it would be okay because I was stationary at the traffic lights. No, the police man informed me, giving me a caution and telling me to put my phone away. (I learned something very important and I provided some amusement for the ANZAC Day Parade attendees who were standing about waiting to cross the road.)

So, you see, I am not a perfect driver. However, I do wait for there to be a sufficient break in traffic before I pull out in front of fast-moving vehicles. Maybe I can be accused of waiting too long, going by the chap who was sitting behind me the other morning, during peak hour, I hasten to point out. Suddenly, he’s sounding his horn, furiously reversing back before, illegally, coming down beside me, waiting for 2 seconds and then shooting out onto the highway, right in front of two lanes of peak hour traffic causing the lead cars to, go on, guess! There was a reason I was sitting there for a long time, dickhead! (The DH in question wasn’t driving a Ford. It was a Nissan.)

The thing is, and this probably harks back to the ‘Thought for the day‘ I posted earlier, every time this happens to me I get plunged into a melancholy. If you have wandered onto my blog before, you know that I am, as my nephew J…… and I refer to ourselves, an Aussie-Pom. He actually is, whereas I am one at heart. These near misses on the road are a brief moment when the possibility of dying in bloody Perth becomes an actuality!

I am a Perth-girl born and bred, but my soul belongs in the Mother Country, (aka England), and I am desperate to get back there. (Though not desperate enough to get my skates on and finish the Blasted Thesis it would seem.)

Perth is a great place, don’t get me wrong. If you like the beach, we have the best in Australia. Yes, it is sunny and hot, bloody hot, for most of the year, unless you live in Melbourne, and is probably why I love that city so much. However, these two things, which are the reasons why my English friends think I’m mad for wanting to live in England, do not appeal to me at all. I absolutely deplore the heat. It is awfully relentless here in summer time. It’s soooo draining. To me! This Aussie does not thrive on, or in, the heat. I can’t even tolerate it. (I am very much a Whinging Aussie-Pom in summer time; if the heat hasn’t zapped me free of even enough energy to utter a whinge.) Every summer I spend in Australia, I pray daily to the gods who inspired the people behind the invention of air conditioning. Bloody marvellous invention! I’m more polar bear in my tendencies. Give me a good thunderstorm with a chill in the air and… BLISS!

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As for the beach babe thing. Well, I used to love going to the beach. It was something the Elliott Clan did almost every weekend and our camping holidays were generally to beachside destinations like Kalbarri (fabulous), Denmark (lovely) and Dunsborough (best bakery!).

Then I saw Jaws.

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I must have been under 12 because it was at our Cook Ave house. It was the viewing choice of our guest, Rosalie C-F, who wasn’t afraid of anything! After that it was a case of, “The beach? Swimming? No thanks!” I don’t need to remind you that for us Aussies, Jaws is a reality. That was enough to put me off going into the water for a long time and the fear was exacerbated by a documentary we watched in Science class around the same time about the perils of the ocean, particularly the deadly blue-ringed octopus, who is rather fond of the West Australian waters. (Or so I got into my head and have thought ever since until I looked him up now for the linking and discovered he prefers South Australia and New South Wales waters.)

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Oh! Another one. We were holidaying in Denmark one year. I was floating about in the tidal waters atop my boogie board when Dad suddenly appeared beside me and says calmly, but, I remember sensing, with a little urgency, “Lisa, come over here to me now please”. I dutifully floated over and Dad pulled me off my boogie board. I turned around to see I had been followed through the shallows by a rather enormous sting-ray. Yes, the creature that Steve Irwin was in the act of taunting just before he was tragically killed, by the sting-ray.Image

My fear of the beach wasn’t helped when my sport teacher forced me into the water for a swimming lesson. I wasn’t happy about it, but like Dory in Finding Nemo, I ‘just kept swimming, just kept swimming’. Until. Suddenly I have stopped swimming, am standing up, screaming and pulling at my bathers. A jellyfish had floated into my decolletage area and attached itself under my left lady-part to do its stinging thing. My friend, Dulcie reached in and ripped it out, but the damage was done. And I’m not talking about just to the underside of my left bosom. The incident was further confirmation that the beach was no place for me. (And just a tip. Yellow, red and orange bathers are a bad idea as they are attractive colours for sea creatures. I was wearing red bathers when I encountered the stingray and bright orange ones when I had my close encounter with the jellyfish. Proof.)

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But, seriously though, many many Australians go through their life with very little disagreeable or fatal contact with our rather ferocious wildlife. The Australian landscape is bloody amazing, as I was reminded earlier this year when I accompanied Dad and the Penthouse Caravan on the drive back from Canberra across the Nullarbor Plain to Perth.

Potential Visitors, do not be put off with our joshing you about the wildlife. The life guards won’t let you in the water if there are sharks and we are pretty good at keeping the deadly spiders at bay. Don’t venture off into the bush without a functioning GPS and lots of water. (Actually, just don’t do that unless you are on a guided tour with The Bush Tucker Man.) The crocodiles of the Northern Territory won’t snack on you if you actually pay attention to the signs. They are everywhere and they aren’t there purely as subjects for your holiday snaps.

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I can’t remember the last time I encountered a deadly spider. I remember very clearly the last time I saw a snake (about 3 years ago) and, fortunately, it was in our pool and I think it was dead, but I didn’t stay around long enough to check. (Apparently they are more terrified of us, so, as the posters tell us, Keep Calm and Stay Still. Oh, and always wear long hiking trousers or socks when walking in the Aussie bush, so if they go for you, they can’t get your ankles.) I saw crocs when I toured Kakadu National Park, with Australian of the Year John Farnham, and survived because, unlike John’s young son, who wanted to jump in to swim with them, I didn’t. I stayed in the boat. I paid attention to the croc signs whenever I came across an inviting looking watering hole. Actually, if you come to a watering hole, check for signs before going anywhere near the water. In regard to the prehistoric reptiles, I recommend you don’t have a crocodile pie when visiting the Darwin Croc Farm. It really isn’t sensible to be walking about a farm full of human-lovin’ creatures with their relatives lingering on your breath. Tomato sauce enhances the taste, but it doesn’t cover the smell.

I know my Fellow Aussies will back me up that, yes, we have deadly creatures here, but you very rarely encounter them. Well, they will if they aren’t having too much fun taking the piss out of you.

Anyway… Where the dickens did we start? What was the point of this bloggy post? Oh yeah!

DON’T PULL OUT IN FRONT OF ONCOMING TRAFFIC IN A MANNER THAT COULD RESULT IN COLLISION, YOU IDIOTS!

Thought for the day…

Having said announced this as a ‘thought for the day’, well, I think it would be a good thought to be mindful of everyday! Me in particular. I am extremely good at the ‘retrospective bitterness/anger/regret/shame’. “By-gones!”, as one of the characters in some telly show I can’t think of the name… Ally McBeal… Richard in that show used to say, “By-gones!” and he seemed pretty healthy, although he had a thing for money and the crinkly necks of older women. To each their own!

Anyway, the thought!

“It is a simple but sometimes forgotten truth that the greatest enemy to present joy and high hopes is the cultivation of retrospective bitterness.” — Sir Robert Menzies, 12th Australian PM, 1949-1966.

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See? Told you it was a good one for everyday.

Lisa Keane Elliott on the Eve of Her 40th Birthday

As I do not have a lot of time before I have to shut up shop on all the Life-min (life administration) and stuffing about I am doing at present, I thought I would take the opportunity to reflect upon myself by answering the questions posed to and by one of the people whose blog I follow. As it is also my Birthday Eve, I feel it is another good reason for some reflection on the self, particularly as tomorrow I will be leaving behind my ‘Buggering Things Up Fart-Arsing About’ Thirties behind and entering the period my Musical Goddess Kate Ceberano assures me will be My Fabulous Forties.

To be honest, I am not that fussed about entering my forties. I know some people see it as a time of stress and disappointment, but when you consider that I am still stuffing about with a thesis that was begun soooo many years ago now, have allowed myself to get horribly fat and am still living in Perth instead of London, well, turning 40 ain’t that bad.

So, what are the questions that Tour Guide Girl answered in response to her nomination for a blogging Liebster Award? (P.S. I do recommend you have a little gander at Tour Guide Girl’s blog. She has a very exciting mini-adventuring life; the kind of life I hope to get back to post-thesis.)

What is your favourite book of all time?

Gosh. This is a bit difficult. Only one book? I suppose if I was to be stuck on a desert island and was allowed only one book, I would not feel the deprivations of no chocolate, running water and soap so much if I had Jane Austen’s Persuasion to keep me company. Spending time with Captain Wentworth is always a good thing. The book has romance, comedy, despair, exasperation… All the things one will be missing when doing a Robinson Crusoe on deserted island.

Is there any fictional character from literature or film you wish was real?

Captain Wentworth from the afore-mentioned Jane Austen novel or Lloyd Dobler as portrayed by John Cusack in the film, Say Anything.

Which five historical figures would you invite to your fantasy dinner party?

I have thought about this scenario many times over the years. The two guests who have appeared on every list have been Elizabeth I and Jane Austen, although I might have to sit the ladies at opposite ends of the table as Jane Austen was not all that fond of Elizabeth I thanks to her rudely signing the death warrant that allowed Walsingham and co to chop off the Queen of Scots’ head. Maybe if I had Mozart along, he could get all riotously flirty with Her Majesty and keep the two of them apart. I would also have to say Charles II before his good living got the better of him and the chances of catching something nasty from him were increased. Yes, I would jump the saucy old devil’s bones, if he would let me. He was rather a dish before he became all dissipated from his saucy devilish ways. As for my last guest, I cannot decide whether we should have Cole Porter, Noel Coward or Dean Martin around for musical entertainment. I lean toward Mr Coward, because he also has raconteur on his resume and could be relied upon to fill any awkward silences, most likely to be caused by Mozart getting Her Majesty riled up by his over familiarity. But if Dean Martin was there, I could hear him sing ‘Everybody Loves Somebody’ in person. Tough choice.

If you could live in any period of history, when would it be?

 

Well, delving into hospital history means one gets to know a bit about the diseases that afflicted society and, quite frankly, I do not do sick that well at all. I certainly would not do sick well when there is no Panadol, Peter Alexander Pyjamas or iPads to take one’s mind off the whole sorry business. Having said that, if I could simply visit a period in time, I would definitely head back for a quick trip to the Paris Hôtel-Dieu in the sixteenth century so I could see for myself whether the poor nuns doing all the hard work of looking after the hospital’s pauvres malades were really as bad as the contemporary sources would sometimes have you believe. Were they really being saucy wenches entertaining men after hours? Some wags proclaimed the hospital to be “the biggest brothel” in Paris. Humph! I would also like to see whether Jean Briçonnet, one of the hospital’s early lay governors, was exaggerating when he said there were up to 15 people to a bed sometimes. This might sound like a lot of people in one bed, but the dimensions of the beds appear to be slightly larger than today’s king-size beds, so… The other possibility is maybe heading back for a visit to Paris in 1871 where I could attempt to stop the Communards’ arsonist proclivities, hence saving the destruction of so many historical documents, many of which I would like to still be extant for the sake of my thesis. Not that I really need any more handwritten sixteenth-century French sources to read!

Inside the hospital from the 1482 manuscript from Jehan Henry

Inside the hospital from the 1482 manuscript from Jehan Henry

Do you have any bad habits?

Oh, this is easy. Slothfulness. Procrastination, hence 7 years plus for the thesis, and it is still not finished yet. Thinking of chocolate as a food group.

Facebook or Twitter?

That one is pretty easy. While I have a Facebook account, I do so only to see photos of my Niece and Nephews, not that my sister’s post stuff very often. My Honorary Sis posts photos of Jackson and Keelan all the time. She’s a good Honorary Sis! No, I am a Twitter girl. I signed up to stalk Stephen Fry and have found so many fabulous fellow historians and mini-adventurers and procrastinators to follow and be Tweet-Friends with that I now view my insomnia more kindly as it means I have extra time in the morning for just lying in bed, in the dark, tweeting away until the alarm chimes.

Do you have a pet hate?

Well, yes and it is pets, particularly dogs who do their business on the floor, which leads one to slip in it and smack their head on coffee tables as they didn’t see the big puddle of wee by the laundry door, for example. I also hate snakes, but I am sure they hate and fear me too, so I figure that makes us even.

Has there been a song, book or movie that changed your life? If so, how?

I don’t know about changing my life, but life would certainly be pretty crap without my Musical Goddess Kate Ceberano. I first saw her in concert when I was 14. It was Her Majesty’s Theatre in Perth. Mum took me. I saw a friend from school there with her Mum. She was magical and sounded 100,000 times better live than on her albums. I have been to every concert she has graced us with in Perth since that time if the funds and geography allowed. (I move between here and London a lot.) I have had the pleasure of meeting her a few times. In fact, on the Saturday just gone, she wished me Happy Birthday in front of everyone at this year’s Mundaring Weir Hotel concert. And she gave me a hug after the show, which I returned with all the love and affection I could muster toward the lovely woman. She is the First Lady of Australian Music as far as I am concerned. There have been wonderful women before her and I know of many who are following behind her, but for me, Kate Ceberano is The One and Only Musical Goddess. #HappyMaking in Twitter speak.

Where is your favourite place in the world?

That’s too easy. As many of you already know, it’s London!

Are there any historical crime ‘fictions’ which get on your nerves?

I have to concur with my fellow historian and mini-adventurer, Tour Guide Girl on this point. The writers of historical fiction of any genre change the facts to fit better with their story, which really irritates me, because the truth is generally so much better than the fiction they make up. I do try and enjoy it for what is, creative work inspired by history, but sometimes it really jars with me. Studying history has turned me into something of a Depressive History Snob. I add ‘depressive’, because there is an element of depression that creeps in when you read of historical horrors and mistakes that we are repeating now. Split Endz sang ‘History Never Repeats’, but “as I tell myself before I go to sleep”, unfortunately that is wishful thinking and bulldust. Having said that, one thing I have noticed is if the historically-inspired creation has been really well conceived and presented, I don’t get too cranky about it because the creator has swept me up into their world and Lisa the Historian takes a back seat to wallowing in the entertainment of it all. Does that make me cheap?

What is your greatest achievement to date?

It has to be a tie between plodding through the trials and tribulations of The Melancholy reasonably intact and getting my act together enough to get myself published, and not just any old publications, serious academic publications. In case you missed it, in late 2011, my first paper on Jean Martin and his Grand Bureau des Pauvres appeared in a tome titled Governing Masculinities and my second paper on the lovely Duchess of Nevers and her charity for 60 poor girls appeared late last year in Experiences of Poverty. If you Google me, yes, this blog appears, but my contributions to these books appear on the first page too, which is very chuffing, or #HappyMaking, as I would tweet. I have a third paper that will appear sometime late this year or early next year about the huggable Nicolas Houel and his Maison de charité chrétienne in which hoped to train young orphan boys in the apothecarial sciences. Of course, it won’t get finished if I allow the fart-arsing about of my 30s to drag on into my 40s!

Can you tell us one of the goals for your future?

This is easy – GET THE BLASTED THESIS FINISHED!!!

What would your death row meal be right now?

I better not be tempting fate by answering this question. Would be bloody ticked off if The Powers That Be decided my time was up now. I will not die in Perth! Anyway… Back to the question. It would have to be a freshly made lasagne, with no accompanying salad to spoil things. A slice of garlic bread to wipe up all the sticky yumminess leftover on the plate when I have finished followed by chocolate cake and a glass of cold milk for dessert. Can I have an ‘after dinner mint’? If so, I would like 4 of the lovely Fleur de Lis chocolates from my former ‘dealer’, Casemir Chocolates. Four was the usual quantity purchased when I needed a ‘fix’.

What would you do with a $50 million Lotto win?

Set up my family and friends in their own houses, eliminating the stress of mortgages from our lives. Get the whole clan together in Australia this year for a family Christmas and then the following year, all of us head to Newcastle for Christmas with my nephew, Jackson and the UK contingent. Buy a flat for Mary and I to live in somewhere close to central London with a room big enough to house our combined book collections, although mine has been decimated in recent weeks in preparation for my Third and Eternal Sojourn in London. Invest the rest so I can live off the interest and get a job that I really enjoy, not having to worry about what they pay me. Historic Royal Palaces, I mean you!

Is there a new skill you would like to learn?

I would be happy if all my French classes actually stayed in my head instead of disappearing so quickly. It would make my thesis research move along so much quicker and make trips to Paris slightly less embarrassing, such as the following scenario that took place during my trip to the Archives Nationales in 2010. (Please note that as my French is c..p, the following dialogue from the Archives Nationales employees – ANE-Her and ANE-Him – has been translated into English as I cannot bear the trauma of trying to translate it back when it was so difficult to figure it out the first time.)

Lisa: I would like to renew my membership?

ANE-Him: Do you have your old card?

ANE-Her: [who has come over to see what is going on with the Australian struggling to parle Française] What are you studying?

Lisa: [in French, because she has the answer to this question already prepared] I am studying the history of the Paris Hôtel-Dieu in the sixteenth century for my doctoral thesis.

ANE-Her: So you are studying French history and yet you cannot speak French? [ANE-Her and ANE-Him laugh]

Lisa: Did you just say ‘So you are studying French history, but you can’t speak French’?

ANE-Him: Ah! Oui! Très bien! You can speak French!

[All laugh together. Lisa goes red with embarrassment, but also with some pleasure that she managed to comprehend the joke made at her expense.]

If you could write one book, what would it be?

I would like to write a historical novel, not sure what genre, in which I change not a jot of the truth for the sake of my story. I think that is a very achievable goal! Well, not the writing bit. I do tend to make a pig’s ear of that process. The book might be some time coming if the production of the Magnificent Octopus slash Blasted Thesis is anything to go by.

 

Well, I think that is enough self-reflection for one bloggy post. It is time to get some lunch/dinner into me and prepare for my shift at the library. Tomorrow is my 40th Birthday and I intend to spend it in the manner to which I become accustomed in my fortieth decade – feet up, pink champagne in one hand and a box of chocolates within easy reach of the other, while I am watching a film starring some saucy lad like Richard Armitage or Rufus Sewell. Pip pip to you all. Thanks for reading or skimming through this rather long bloggy post. If you have been, well, I am really sorry.

What do serious academics do when they can’t get the word flow happening?

Why they play with the effects in the Photo Booth thingy on their laptop, that’s what!

Lisa swims with the fishes

Lisa swims with the fishes

Lisa visits the Eiffel Tower. Ooh la la!

Lisa visits the Eiffel Tower. Ooh la la!

Lisa Warhols herself

Lisa Warhols herself

Lisa's distorted face reflects her distorted mind?

Lisa’s distorted face reflects her distorted mind?

Away with the fairies, or representative of her angelic disposition? Hmm?

Away with the fairies, or representative of her angelic disposition? Hmm?

In the end, I’m just a plodding historian sitting in the public library searching for the inspiration and enthusiasm needed to get the blasted Magnificent Octopus finished. Actually, right now, I would just settle for enough inspiration and enthusiasm to spit out what is left of my chapter 3 rewrite. It was not a re-draft or edit. Nope. It was out with the old draft and in with something completely new. Sigh. And it is just as tedious to write the second time around! And taking just as long!

Will she ever get this thesis finished?

Searching for inspiration. And enthusiasm.

Searching for inspiration. And enthusiasm.