Saturday, January 24, 2009

Kitties Are the Answer, Except I'm Still Wicked Busy

MB noted in the comments to the last post that zie finds my lists intriguing (really?) but because zie tends not to acknowledge much of the work that zie does as work - it just seeps into other parts of hir life. (Man, I don't even know if I'm doing the gender-neutral pronouns right, but I can't be bothered to double-check myself because I really shouldn't be blogging at all but rather should be continuing to work, except I need a break.)

But so here's the thing. I hate it when I get all listy on the blog, because I suspect it's boring blogging, but I do it periodically because 1) I do think it's useful for people (esp. people who might be considering grad school) to see all of the stuff that goes into this job that has absolutely nothing to do with a life of the mind, or if not absolutely nothing, well, it stil has to do with a lot of other things, too, that are typically not what one thinks will be involved when one pursues this profession; 2) I think it's validating for the professor types out there to see their suspicion that they're busting their asses when they do the same stuff confirmed (that's why I like reading other people's to-do lists - it confirms my suspicion that we all do a hell of a lot on a given day); 3) writing the stuff out for an audience gives me a greater sense of accomplishment (so it's not that I write the lists to be accountable so much as to be self-congratulatory, which may not be very attractive, but somebody needs to pat me on the back and since the kitties don't have language, it's easier if I just do it for myself).

So I've been a busy bee today as well. I have:
  1. Finished 95% of my annual activity report.
  2. Reviewed emails and notes from Committee on the Major and composed a document to circulate about where we are right now (this took ages, but I hope it will do a good job of shaping the discussion at our department meeting).
  3. Sent some emails.
  4. Did some administering of course blog.
  5. Talked to my mom.
  6. Talked to High School Best Friend (HSBF from this point forward, because I've never given her a pseudonym or an acronym).
  7. Talked to A.
  8. Made notes for the review that I must complete by tomorrow, or, rather, transcribed and elaborated on notes, and organized them into an outline.
  9. Went to the gym and kicked my own ass with my workout.
  10. Ran the dishwasher.
  11. Made preparations for hummus making for work-related pot-luck.
While it is true that only 1-4 are really work, and 9 is only tangentially work, I do like to include all of the things that I accomplish on my lists, to give myself a sense of how much I'm really doing. Also, doing this keeps me honest about taking care of myself, even when I'm busy. See, if I don't include "working out" as a thing that goes on the list, then I just don't do it because it doesn't "count" as something I have to do. I should probably acknowledge that I only tend to post lists on the blog when I'm feeling tragically overwhelmed and overcommitted, so this isn't like a typical weekend or something. But at the same time, this weekend isn't so anomalous as not to deserve to appear, if that makes sense. I'd say I probably have 6 or so of these weekends throughout the academic year, usually weighted more toward the spring, I think. Now. Is this because of my poor work habits? Because I'm a procrastinator? Because I bunch up major activities to accomplish in short spans of time? Maybe. Or maybe this is a pretty typical rhythm for academic types - that it's either feast or famine.

It's funny, I was whining to a colleague yesterday and she noted that I end up in these sorts of predicaments because I don't have kids. I kind of think that she's right, in that maybe if I had kids I'd be more likely not to agree to do certain things because I'd have other commitments that would prohibit me from agreeing. But then I think that she's wrong, because I kind of think that this is just how I'm wired. I suspect, though, that if I had kids I'd have to be more attuned to being consistent in my work habits because I wouldn't have the luxury of being as inconsistent as I am currently. So I don't think it's that I'd refuse to do stuff or wouldn't be able to do stuff so much as I'd have to be less of a marathon weekend sort of a person. Would that be possible though? No idea. It would be hard, though, and would require a major revision of my approach to work, which pretty much involves a heavy reliance on marathon weekends.

But so anyway, I'll get most of my things done this weekend, I do believe. That said, I'm feeling a little weird about the review I'm writing. The weirdness has to do with this: I think that the book is very, very good, but I profoundly disagree with the approach that the author ends up taking. Not the theory per se, or even the texts under review or anything - I mean, I recognize this book as an amazing piece of scholarship and as something that will be very useful to others - including me. It's artfully written, meticulously researched, and just a good read in many, many ways. No, it's that I have a fundamental disagreement with this kind of criticism, however good it is, because I just think that the approach is wrong - asks the right questions in some cases, but can never possibly hope to come up with the right answers. And then I feel like a tool because who do I think I am to pass judgment in the way I'm doing? And yet, I do. Still, the book is really fantastic. And in fact, probably that's evidence of the fantasticness of the book that I think it's fantastic even though I so fundamentally disagree. And then, you know who I am to have opinions? The reviewer. It's my job to have opinions. It will be interesting to see how I end up addressing this ambivalence in the review, ultimately. I mean, seriously: the review is going to be positive, but I think I have to ask the questions that I asked while I was reading. This also reminds me: it would be easier to ask these questions if the collection essay that's being held hostage were actually in print. Must inquire about the status of that.

So now I need to go write. Wish me luck.


gwinne said...

Interesting comment your colleague made about having kids. I have to say my own work habits have changed radically since LG was born (and many times since then). Currently weekends are largely work-free (except for evenings and those occasions when I need to get a sitter to grade), whereas before LG weekends were largely about work. Now I must stop reading your blog, put a load of clothes in the dryer, and read for Monday's class!

Doctor Pion said...

My word verification is "ingest". Very odd. How did it know that I was going to recommend that you check out this snowflake talking about her english teacher, chew her up, and spit her out when you happen to have some time to kill.

Heck, I knew the difference between "reading a book" and "reading a book for english class" back when I was in high school. Sheesh.

And if it makes you feel any better, everyone I know thinks spring semester piles work on work. It just happens.

Dr. Crazy said...

Oh, Dr. P. I thoroughly enjoyed that link, though probably not for the reasons that you thought I would. I actually thought that the "snowflake" had legitimate complaints! I feel that they were complaints I would have made as a student! I mean, 2 full weeks on Catcher in the Rye? Worksheets in class every day? Seriously? I spend no more than three class periods on Mrs. Dalloway! And worksheets? Seriously? Group work in which students can screw around? Seriously? I do tons of group work, but typically they've got so much to accomplish that there isn't time to screw around and not do work! In other words, I actually think that this girl is not a snowflake but a thinking person. Because at the end of the day, if that's how one is mandated to spend one's class time, if one is capable of more, it totally sucks.

Dude, if the students who had a problem with me posted videos, what they'd probably say would involve some of the following:

1. We don't have enough time on each book.
2. Why don't you just lecture?\
3. She turns all of the lights on, even when we're sitting there in pleasant window-light without actual light and we can see one another.

In other words, I fear that this student who posted this video might BECOME me someday. Which is both scary and awesome :)

Doctor Pion said...

Point taken, especially your #2!

I missed her comment about worksheets, probably because I don't use them as a way to simplify "participation" evaluation but only when simply writing a detailed problem on the board would take too much class time.

Now that I think about it, spending two weeks on that book (which I'd expect everyone to have read in HS) is hardly a college pace. Her teacher must not be assuming they are reading it during their 6 hours per week of homework for the class.