Yee ha, what a week. Pretty much every day I was busy from morning through evening, though if you asked me to relate exactly what it is I was doing with all that time I'd come up blank. If you asked me just about anything I'd come up blank. My brain, she is on vacation.
I started my practicum, a week before the semester's even started. I worked 6.5 hours archiving the papers of a former anthropology/SE Asia professor formerly working at CUNY. I drove myself mercilessly, not even taking a break. Why? Because, as the curator told me, if I finish this project I can possibly work on another. And two projects look better on the resume. Now that's incentive.
Wednesday was my first day at NIU. And a very rainy Wednesday it was. I left home half an hour early, and it's a good thing I did. I was stopped by a train in a miniscule speck of a town called Burlington, waiting for a train that was in no apparent hurry. A gentleman in a ripped t-shirt, revealing so much belly it burned my eyes, let me know the train cars were carrying ethanol, and there were 150 of them waiting for another train so they could proceed on their merry way. I'm glad he took the time letting me know they were full of ethanol, because the word painted on the side of every car wasn't obvious enough, being in three-foot letters and all. Maybe he wanted me to know they weren't kidding. This really was ethanol, and not some other substance masquerading as a flammable liquid.
Despite the train incident, I made it to NIU on time, presenting my freshly-scrubbed face in the Rare Books Dept. at the stroke of 10:00. Lynne, the curator, had just been talking to my trainer – a woman with a B.A. in art history, undecided as to her future Master's major – when I got there. I'm nothing if not timely. Annie, the aforesaid trainer, instructed me on the basics on my project, making sure I was set up and reasonably sure what I was doing, then left me to my own devices.
The work isn't difficult; it's just time-consuming. The papers must be gone through, folder by folder, removing all paperclips and staples. The papers are put in chronological order, and re-filed and labeled in acid-free folders. Ultimately, they'll be put in archival boxes to be shelved (in this case, in the SE Asia collection), then the information typed into a spreadsheet and published on the internet for scholars who need the papers for research. Easy as pie, eh?
Out of three file-sized cardboard boxes comprising the collection (plus a metal box of slides I'll have to look through), I came within one stinking folder of finishing the first box. So, so close. At this rate I expect I'll be on project number two before the semester's out. My requirement is 120 hours for the actual work, then a paper outlining what I learned. No problemo.
That explains one day I was away. The typing of this much made me tired. I'll come back over the weekend to take care of other outstanding matters. Time to relax…