How I spent my winter break

My first semester ended when I turned in my capitalisms paper on December 17. With classes not resuming until January 16, that left me with several weeks to myself. After working in a job where I only got two weeks off a year, having that much free time was a welcome change. So how did I spend it?

When I was getting my master’s I remember sleeping a lot during the first week in a break, as I would habitually stay up until 3, 4, or 5 am during the finals period to finish papers (I never could pull a total all-nighter). I didn’t try that this time because I frankly don’t see the point anymore, so I wasn’t as exhausted. I also didn’t travel during the break, so I didn’t have to contend with jet lag or its related energy-sappers. Still, I did get a little more sleep than usual, partly because it’s the winter and I’m always tempted to go into hibernation myself when it gets dark at 5.

Spending the holidays in Williamsburg meant plenty of time to study its decorations.

I did do some preemptive academic work. I wrote plenty of conference abstracts, for example, and thought ahead to the next semester’s projects. Since I already know which classes I’ve signed up for, I figured I may as well start thinking about projects so I won’t feel rushed by the time the end of next semester comes around. I also read about some new working techniques to help me better space out my research and writing next semester.

One of the codes I worked on, in this case for a map with pop-ups on specific locations.

I spent a week improving my Digital Humanities skills by taking an intensive workshop the first full week of January. Whereas my DH class had focused on theory as well as practice, this was all about the nuts and bolts of basic programming with Python. I don’t fancy myself a programmer, but being familiar with coding doesn’t hurt, especially since I intend to continue making these kinds of projects.

I also wrote several posts for this blog. I always like to keep a stash of them in case things get busy and I don’t have time to write. Since several of them aren’t tied to any specific event, they can be posted whenever they’re needed, whether it’s this semester, the summer, or even further in the future.

Not everything was work though. I also spent a lot of time with Brandon. We took day trips to nearby places such as the Jamestown settlement, which is only about 15 minutes from where we live. Having lived in the Southwest for several years, we regularly encountered the complicated legacies of Spanish Colonialism, but here, we’re seeing how the English approached it. We contemplated the geography, the sense of place, and complicated histories.

A couple of views of one of my houseplants, an angel wing begonia.

I also did a lot of drawing. I stopped sketching regularly in October, so I really enjoyed taking my time on these drawings. Doing these sketches made me realize that I need to change my drawing habits for next term, so I picked up a smaller book that I can carry around with me for quick drawings, the sort of thing that I can do in 2-3 minutes. Drawing every day is better than not, even if it’s only for a couple of minutes. They may not be finished or detailed like the ones I did over the break, but I’m still making marks on paper, which is more than what I’ve done for the last several months.

So that’s how I spend my break. Some preemptive work mixed with mostly fun and self-care. I can’t complain about that.

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