A forty-degree New Year, here in Athens, so far.
i. Image. Back cover, Winter in New England, promo pamphlet for the Boston & Maine Railroad, 1923 (via Harvard's The Shelf blog). Must be the Bretton Woods Hotel, in the background there? Missing those mountains this winter.
ii. Things I wrote, published since last we spoke. Five of the ten funnest digital history sites I browsed in 2016. (More to come, tomorrow or Weds.) And: I bought a chest freezer and stocked it from bottom to top. Here's what's in it.
iv. Year in review. My writing year in 2016 felt a bit like a splintered-up mess, fragmented by what happened in early November, which has frankly left me wondering whether some of the ways I've been writing about history are still worth pursuing. The "look, isn't this [piece of ephemera] [story] [person's life] interesting" mode feels like it might be dead. But easy historical parallels and consolations are (as I have banged on about ad nauseam) simple and odious. Add to this the fact that I'm about to go on maternity leave, and I feel somewhat at a loss for working direction in 2017. (See section v., "Resolutions," below.)
Actually, I feel better now. Thanks, Year in Review! iv. Resolutions. How can a person who is two weeks, give or take, from becoming a parent make any resolutions at all? I have a pile of ideas for things I could do during maternity leave—everything from "finally update my iMac's OS" to "process personal archive" to "write book proposal"—but what will the baby be like? How will I feel? Everyone says "You can't imagine how it will change you," and I wonder what that will mean. Will these books I've started to receive that will be published in Spring 2017 even appetize? I just got a few good-looking ones the other day: galleys for American Girls in Red Russia: Chasing the Soviet Dream, by one of my dissertation supervisors, Julia Mickenberg, and a review copy of Anya Zilberstein's A Temperate Empire: Making Climate Change in Early America. But when the baby is real, will these books start to look as unappealing as coffee did back in the bad old morning-sickness days?
Those are personal goals and habits, but then there are the external resolutions—what I want to do in the world, in this year of what I hope will be recovery and retrenchment and strengthening. I am of the "time to get local" school; I think some of the best moves we can make in the years of Trump will be to get to know people in our communities better, to run for office, to have more in-person conversations. Will being parents make this easier or harder for us to do? I just can't picture it.
I guess I need to adopt Virginia's resolution no. 1: "To have none. Not to be tied." At least for a little while.