At the end of the winter semester, I was treacherously close to returning to my old summer job: that perilous occupation known as treeplanting. My summer schedule was looking rather irregular and, with all the commuting I knew I'd be doing--back and forth between Manitoba and Alberta--I realized it would be hard to find a job for the summer. Instead of treeplanting, I've spent the last two weeks working at a construction-type job in my hometown. It wasn't hell, but given the fact that I had little to no down-time, it was incredibly draining. Even with the holiday this past week, I ended up at over a hundred hours. Waking up at 6am and driving home after 10pm was pretty typical. My longest day was 15 hours, but there were occasional lulls in which we stood around and ate peanuts (we didn't actually take breaks--although I got a half hour for lunch at 3pm). Our project consisted of building a massive steel booth to be used for painting farming machinery. It was the perfect job for my wild summer schedule (short!), it gave me a taste of the sort of manual labour I'd been dreaming about throughout last semester, and it provided me a chance to redeem myself (my last construction job didn't go so well); not only that, I have now made an exceptional contribution to Winkler's booming economy. Let's just say, Winkler's industrial sector makes for a pretty awkward bike ride.
I'll be spending the rest of the summer months working on my French (off to Laval in Quebec City for July), doing research preparation for my thesis (I'm visiting the Newberry Library in Chicago, which is home to a fantastic John Milton collection), and attending weddings (it seems that I'm running out of single friends).
Originally, I wanted to time my trip to Chicago so that it would coincide with the Pitchfork Music Festival. Although this didn't work out, there are so many festivals in the city over the summer, I should be able to make one of them work. For a $5.00 donation, I can attend the Green Music Fest in late June and see Yo La Tengo, the Thermals, and Les Savy Fav.
I've also assembled a list of preliminary readings that should get me in the right headspace for the next school year. Most of them offer accounts of political and religious turmoil in England during the latter half of the of seventeenth century. In particular, I'm interested in the work of the celebrated (but highly contested) Marxist historian, Christopher Hill. Part of my task for the summer is to position Milton's writing not only in relation to the political philosophies of his time (namely, those of Hobbes and Locke), but in relation to emerging groups of religious radicals and the consolidation of an English middle-class.