Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Remember when my blog was about life as an ex-pat in Singapore? Oops...

Now it's about being on a college campus. I am currently writing (trying to write?) a paper in the stacks of the UPenn library. There are a few things striking about the experience.

The smell of the stacks is so stuck in my brain. At Michigan I used to study in the stacks. Since I spent so much time in the Judaic section (I think it was on the fourth level in the back, but it's been about ten years...), I saw that there were desks, and it was quiet, so I started studying there on a regular basis - not only Jewish stuff. The smell meant hot heaters, cold outside, lots of books, and way too much work to do. I remember being there really late at night, and I remember running up and down the stairs for some reason.

When I enter the stacks at the Penn library, they smell exactly the same, and it seems to have the same books, and the same study desks! So I sit here trying to write a paper about HR at HP and what that might mean for the world...Why not?

The other thing that is striking to me is that the last time I spent a lot of time in the stacks (other than last week) was such a different technological world. I didn't have a laptop - I was lucky to have a computer! There was barely internet - or at least I wasn't really using it. We still registered for classes over the phone. Now I sit at a desk from 1963 with my macbook plugged into the little fluorescent lamp, and I have wifi. It's just a totally different world.

I bet in 1997 and 1999 I got more done, because I wasn't able to check my email every hour...or blog...instead of WRITING MY PAPER!!!


Harry said...

The 4th floor stacks was my favorite place to study as well - something about the cloistered feel of being surrounded by endless knowledge to encourage digging deeper into my work. Maybe turn off the wifi to look within? Enjoy spring in Philly. It's beautiful. And not so cold to stand in line for the yummy food trucks.

Matt and Melanie Hildebrandt said...

I had never heard of food trucks until I got here. They're great!

I don't think I ever saw you on the fourth floor...but I guess I don't really remember.

Harry - I hope you're doing well. I miss you on the east coast.