Friday, August 06, 2010

What I did with my 36-hour research trip (that took 55 hours)

So on Wednesday morning, I hopped a flight to NYC for a brief research trip, mostly to look at the files that an Off-Broadway company kept on a play they had commissioned in the late 90s that has only very recently been published, and now will get the treatment in the book. In fact, I'm close enough to that part of the ms. revision (ch 6) that I hope to get all of this trip's fruits incorporated into the prose by the end of the month.

But the actual archive time was very brief: only about three hours. There wasn't too much of interest (though precisely what I needed), I was allowed to make photocopies, and they had me set up in the front lobby of their small admin offices, so I felt a bit intrusive (though they assured me I wasn't). At any rate, that left me enough time to do the following things (keeping in mind I was on a very tight budget and was lugging around my only bag w/ books and laptop the whole time).

Read two very different but wonderful novels: Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum's Ms. Hempel Chronicles which is very different from her amazing previous novel is still lovely and affecting, and which I polished off in its entirety on Wednesday; also, David Markson's Wittgenstein's Mistress, which like the other work of his I've read, This is not a Novel, is brilliantly cerebral, remarkably propulsive, and despite being barely narrative at all, still manages to tell an incredible, mysterious story.

Also: got lost behind Lincoln Center, sweated through two shirts, took a break from 95 degree heat in Central Park, took a lovely dinner with my friend Sue in the Village, lounged around the Columbia campus for a while, noticed how disproportionate were the hands and feet of The Thinker, looked for Fornes plays at the 66th St. Barnes and Noble, failed to enjoy several cab rides, and spent more time than I'd like in airports.

The last thing was an unwelcome cap on a nice little trip: Because it was so hot yesterday and I was so tired, I headed off to the airport at 3 for a 7:30 flight. It was air conditioned, it was free, and there was wi-fi (not free). Except that my flight was canceled. Fortunately, my friend Sue had room on her sofa for a visitor, and at 5:00 am, I woke up to try again, and finally made my way home (the extra airport time facilitating the completion of the Markson novel).

So, good trip, a little longer than expected. Lots of reading (two novels and multiple drafts of a play, plus a couple of academic articles and a bunch of supplementary materials), and some good research.

And remind me to do that post about men flying alone. A veritable sociological study there.


Flavia said...

Sounds like a great trip!

And consider yourself reminded to write that post about men traveling alone--sounds v. promising.

Rosemary said...

I second Flavia's reminder--you've got me intrigued now.

I have to say, there are few pleasures greater than consuming a good book in one giant gulp in an airport or on a plane. And these days, it's one of the only pleasures *left* about flying.