An Historian’s Orgasm

I’ve been busy.  (Who isn’t?)  But it’s generally been a good busy.  The kind of busy that let’s you feel like you are being useful, productive, and positive.  Not the kind of busy that makes you wonder how your head is staying attached to your body nor is it the kind of busy that takes years off your life.  I’ve been teaching, parenting, occasionally even wife-ing.  I’ve managed to sneak in a few outings with friends even.  Correcting, planning, feeding and cleaning children, reading, tucking in…all these things add up to busy days and nights.

But here’s something else I’ve been up to.  I’ve been sneaking in a little Historian’s porn.  After grading a class full of papers, I let myself History Google to my heart’s content for a pre-determined amount of time.  (Control issues) On really exciting days, I open up JSTOR and wander through the latest Tables of Content of all my favourite journals.  Once upon a time I spent days and days doing this.  We called it research.  These days it feels like an incredibly indulgent activity.

In all fairness, I think I can say that it’s tough to be a teacher AND a researcher.  Save for some very generous grants, one might even argue that it’s impossible.  But next semester I’m being given the gift of time.  I will abandon the classroom in order to dive back into that research world.  I’ve got old projects that need to undergo some sort of transformation and I’ve got a brand new project I’m ridiculously ecstatic to start.   In order to get from here (week 6 of a 15 week term) to there, I’m allowing myself these Googling forays.

And yesterday, the research gods shone of me.  I found this:

“It is a very ancient house…Lady Drummond lives most beautifully.”[1]

Yes.  I know.  Exciting isn’t it?!?!?!?  Did the earth just move or what?? It’s an honest-to-goodness description of Julia Drummond’s living quarters in London during the First World War!!!!  (This was just a small piece of the greater goodness!) For the vast majority of humankind, this will mean nothing.  For me, it’s like being bathed in chocolate.  I believe this is what should be called an historian’s orgasm.  And like any good reference to sex, I wish it happened more often.  But for now I’ll just bask in the after glow.  Knowing that in nine more weeks I can do this kind of thing every day.

[1] Butlin, Susan. The Practice of Her Profession: Florence Carlyle Canadian Painter in the Age of Impresssionism (McGill-Queen’s, 2009), 208.