Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Where Exactly Has the Summer Gone?

That's what I'd like to know. Indeed, all of a sudden the fact that I'm well past the midpoint has come to my attention, and I'm not so sure how I feel about that. On the one hand, I have been ridiculously productive this summer:

  • I finished that revise and resubmit, and found out that the journal would like to pursue publication.
  • I finished an article for an essay collection and submitted it.
  • I read a book for which I need to write a review.
  • I finished 2/4 syllabi for the fall, one brand new course and one course to which I've done some major tweaking.
  • I've been ruminating about my sabbatical project and letting ideas percolate and form, and I've been beginning to consider how I'm formulating the project in earnest.
  • I've completely weeded out my second bedroom (office) and taken a bunch of crap to goodwill (front closet actually has usable space for the first time in over a year!).
I've also been taking care of business on a personal front:
  • I've taken care of various doctor appointments and such.
  • I had a nice visit with A. to kick the summer off.
  • My parents were here this past weekend and I had a nice visit with them.
  • I've done a good bit of relaxing and reading for pleasure, as well as a moderate amount of socializing (perhaps I could have been more social, but seriously: it's been kind of nice not to have a lot of face-time with people - rejuvenating).
  • I visited my aunt in NYC which was amazing.
  • I've planned trips to Hometown (beginning of August) and to visit FL (First Love) at mid-month.
  • I'm finally back in the groove of eating properly, and I've really been enjoying cooking again, after months of being too stressed to allow myself to eat properly and to enjoy cooking. (When my parents were here I made lovely chicken breast marinated in yogurt, lemon, and various spices, as well as a squash gratin. My mom joked that I'd really make somebody a good wife - to which I responded that people really need to put up with a lot of crap in order to get the food that I make, so I'm not so sure about that. She laughed in agreement, but added that my food might make up for it.)
  • I've cut myself a good bit of slack with my summer teaching, and it's really gone a long way to making me realize that I don't need to kill myself in order for me to be a good teacher.
All of that is a good bit of stuff. But, as always happens at this time of year - about a month before my birthday, around the time of my anniversary of beginning blogging (it's been 5 years!), about a month before the academic year starts getting rolling - I'm thinking about the to-do list that I'd set for myself at the beginning of the summer, the things left on it that I've yet to accomplish, as well as the new things that have somehow cropped up (as new things always seem to do), and how I'll possibly make a dent in that list between now and the start of school.

So, what's remaining on the list?
  • Make pdfs of readings for the new class I'll be teaching this fall. I've figured out all of the readings - it's just a matter of taking the time to scan everything, which I really do aim to get done in the next week or two, and then to put all of it up on blackboard.
  • Write all of the assignments for that new class, so that I'm not scrambling around to do it during the semester.
  • Finish 2 remaining syllabi (perhaps I should knock at least one of those out today?) and revise assignments to make my life easier (one of my resolutions post-tenure is to take care of myself more when it comes to teaching, which includes recognizing the value of assigning as much as I can reasonably and with quick turnaround time grade).
  • Write the book review.
  • Do minor revisions on one collection article.
  • Do minor revisions on accepted journal article.
  • Deal with proofs for MLA panels as well as with some other Society business. Make reservations for MLA.
  • Collect more sample successful sabbatical applications, and begin drafting my own sabbatical application (not due until October, but better to begin drafting early rather than at the last minute).
  • Write catalog copy for the overhauled major (my goal had been to have this finished by August 1, which will not happen, but it really does need to be ready to go by September 1.
  • Finalize dates for conference I will host in 2011, get at least some rooms reserved (ideally), and come up with a budget and a timeline for all of the things that I need to do in relation to that. This also means scheduling a meeting with a colleague who organized/hosted a conference here a few years ago to get her insights and advice.
  • Serve on Very Important Committee (meets at the end of the month).
  • Make a dentist appointment and an appointment for a full physical.
  • Seriously take July 30 through August 16 off of work. Yes, this means I've got one hell of a lot to do in the next couple of weeks.
In other words, although I've already done a lot with my summer, I've also got a lot to do. That said, and what may not be apparent from all of the listing that I've done, I'm actually feeling like this summer has been a very relaxing and calming one. The small trips have been good for my morale, and they've been so much less stressful than a major trip would have been. And getting all of this work done makes me feel like my academic year won't be so nutso in 2009-2010, which is a good feeling to have after my 2008-2009. Also, and this wasn't something I really expected, I'm feeling very energized by tenure right now. I know that I may well hit a post-tenure wall or slump or whatever, but right now, I'm sort of reveling in the freedom to do what I want professionally and in the certain knowledge that I don't need to prove my worth with a binder of materials this year! Or next! Or the year after that! Huzzah!

I've also been doing a good amount of thinking about personal life stuff and how I want that to work in my newly tenured life, but I think I'll table a discussion of that for the moment. For now, I'm just happy to be feeling so centered and focused, after feeling decidedly unfocused and scattered for so much of last academic year.


canuck_grad said...

I hate to add something else to your list (although what is left seems quite reasonable, compared to what you've already finished, which was quite impressive!)... but you could please post the recipe for the yogurt chicken marinade? My little guy loves yogurt, perhaps it will encourage him to eat some chicken (I think we might have a vegetarian on our hands).

Doctor Pion said...

Yeah, one month to go!

I like your idea of taking two weeks off before the term starts. I've got most of my syllabi updated for fall, with one major exception related to assignments like you describe in your list. I also want to write an exam or two so there is zero overlap with exams that are in general circulation. As an inveterate procrastinator, a false deadline like July 30 would help!

And thanks for the reminder to go to the dentist!