This semester, I've been out of the loop, writing at home. It's been relaxing not to be a part of the stress cycle. I have my deadlines, but they are only marginally related to everyone else's. I've been following it second-hand through other peoples' journals and weblogs.
Today, I briefly dipped back into the final whirlwind of the semester. A recently-graduated member of my cohort, Dr. Sidoli, gave a colloquium on Ptolemy's mathematics. The audience numbers were respectable, but thinner than they could be - an end-of-the-semester crowd. The usual cookies afterwards were cancelled - they conflicted with the greater allure of the Victoria College holiday party downstairs, where attendees were fêted with finger sandwiches, elegant cookies, and punch in elegantly shallow stemware. Over a ball of chocolate ganache, I chatted with old departmental friends and professors. They were all preoccupied with other things: the prospect of a sabbatical semester; the enormous pile of papers waiting to be graded; looming dissertation deadlines on top of exam proctoring to do; final paper deadlines; exams to take. The prospect of high-quality free food lured them more readily to a party than to a lecture, but they are still caught in the end-of-term turmoil and exhaustion. Vacation can't come too soon.