Tuesday, March 17, 2009

From Melbourne to Philadelphia ...

... is a very long journey indeed. Yes, I know: relative to C19 or earlier travel it's a breeze, but even at jet speed it's still pretty punishing. And that's when you have tail winds all the way, and when connections are easy and timely.

I was sitting in the midst of a bunch of US and Canadian fire-fighters, all on their way home after a month helping out in Victoria. I've never seen such a massed force of quietly gentle and politely heroic masculinity. They were modest about what they had done; and reticent about what they had seen. The man next to me wanted to show me pictures on his camera of his grandchild, and raced through his pictures of the campsite (he was a logistics specialist), apologising for the photograph of the dead wombat ("well, I'd never seen one"). They were all being very well looked after by the crew.

It's now the end of my first full day in Philadelphia. I've gone for several walks, cooked a meal in my little apartment (actually, it's quite a decent size, and beautifully fitted out, with its own laundry facilities and proper kitchen, and quieter than a hotel). Maybe it's the cooking? I don't feel too much of the horror homesickness that dogged my stay in London hotels last July.

I also lasted about two hours of David's graduate class this afternoon before the jetlag hit, when I gave up trying to make intelligent interventions, and just sat back and marvelled at his students: so well-read, engaged, and articulate. They are, of course, graduate students, so they have more experience than my honours students, but what really impressed me was the efficiency of their discussion. They are so articulate they can raise a problem or a question in such a way as to focus discussion for a few minutes — discussion that always seemed to be moving forwards, never back or around in circles — before another topic arose. David has won heaps of teaching awards, and it was great to observe his style first-hand. Jetlagged himself, he still directed and guided, while trusting the student presenters to do their work well, as they did.

I have a few little chores to do for home, but tomorrow morning I'm just going to stay here in the apartment and start knocking Chapter One into shape. As I always say to my students, you'll probably write the introduction several times before you write it for the last time. But it's time for that last re-write, now.

2 comments:

Pavlov's Cat said...

Excellent to hear that you're safely arrived and settling in. But I can't imagine sitting through a graduate class jetlagged, much less directing one. The mind boggles.

Pavlov's Cat said...

PS -- love the bi-located Weatherpixies!