Monday, August 18, 2008

Remember How This Is an "Academic" Blog?

Indeed. One week from today classes begin. And so this week begins the following:
  • Meeting with students.
  • Meeting with colleagues.
  • Forcing myself to finalize that online class and getting it up and running (which really, will be no small feat given my horrifying lack of progress on that score).
  • Getting myself back on a sleeping schedule that in some way resembles my teaching schedule.
  • Cleaning out my campus mailbox, which hasn't been empty since... who knows when.
I've got to say, I'm both ready and not ready to go back. This morning I received pages from my thesis student, and I was excited to read what she's written, and I'm excited to meet with her later today, even though I feel like she's not going to be terribly happy with some of the feedback I give her. I also plan to spend most of the day at the office, taking care of the final book stuff that I've been procrastinating about, and making a solid start on the home stretch of the online course and on updating my website, which I've not touched for like a year. I feel like perhaps my wee kitty-cats have been assisting me in cultivating a Culture of Procrastination in the home, and so a change of scenery may go a long way toward increasing productivity.

But then, I'm also not ready to go back. I have so much work to do. And I'm not in the mood to do work. Not at all. One bright spot is that I don't really have anything on my research plate at the moment, which makes me feel like even with all of that work, I can have some semblance of a "normal" life. But the first weeks are always so intense and draining.

Part of that is just the shock of being so inundated with people in the first weeks. That's always the part of the fall semester that throws me, as much as I've now come to expect it. Just the sheer number of people who need my attention and who want to have conversations with me always exhausts me at first, before I get used to it. Now, I'm a friendly and people-oriented person, but in the summer, well, I don't have the volume of contact with other human beings. While on the one hand I look forward to that change each year - for I do tend to get a bit sick of myself by summer's end - I also know that it will knock me on my ass for the first little bit.

And this year will be both the same and different than the ones before it because this year I go up for tenure. I'm not sure what to say about that at the moment, but I do want to write more about it and about how the tenure-track has worked for me at this institution over the past years. One thing that becomes increasingly apparent to me is how totally different the tenure process is not only based on institution type but also based on a lot of other factors. That's something that probably we should talk more about in academia, because it just seems weird to me that we spend all of these years getting trained to do a job, we somehow manage to get one, but then we have no idea at the outset what the real requirements are for the next step. Sure, there's some mix of teaching/service/research required, but I feel like what that means - and how one proves it - isn't always terribly transparent. So look for me to write about that as I finalize the Big Binder of Tenure Application and think more about it.

But ok, I've procrastinated enough. If I really hope to get lots done today, I'd better get in the shower.

No comments: