Wednesday, August 29, 2012

So... wanna try this writing thing again?

One thing I learned by running a writing group?

Thing one: If you were to look at my CV, you would notice that I have a ton of conference papers, but very few published articles.  Conclusion: I am spending too much time writing conference papers, and not doing anything with them.

Thing two: I have to file for promotion in a year.

Thing three: I need accountability.  But I have time to either run a writing group, or to write, but not both.

So here's the deal:
1. I've dug out my copy of "Writing your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks," and I'm going to follow it here, every Friday, starting a week from tomorrow. Gonna stick to the book like glue.

2. If you want to do the same thing on Fridays (either here or elsewhere), you're welcome to do it. I'm not going to be leading discussions or responding to every check-in or tracking and posting everyone's progress, because that's what made it hard for me to keep up with both the group and my own writing.  But if you just want a bit of structure and accountability, Stop by again this Friday, when I lay out the week 1 project, and next Friday, when I check in and lay out week 2, etc.

Just an idea.

UPDATE: Dame Eleanor is a saint, and she is running a group over at her place.  So let's meet over there instead of here, yes?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Ahimsa for the High-Strung Scholar

[NB: in this post, I am all introspective-meditative-blogger again.  So if that's not to your taste, you might want to skip this post.  I'm sure I'll be back to something bizarre and random again very soon.]

As long-time followers know, I have a few extracurricular passions that ebb and flow with my schedule.  And as even more recent followers know, my post-tenure life sees me constantly struggling to carve out time to devote to them, to be a more balanced human being.  It's tough.

And it's been even more tough of late to maintain balance in the mind.  Grit City U., like every other public university out there, lately is living and dying by nickles and dimes. I shan't enumerate the many things we've lost over the past few years, but it does seem that just when I find a bit of peace with the "new normal" (are we all getting tired of that phrase yet?), a place where I can, as the yogis preach, not struggle, something new comes up, and I'm fighting tooth and claw again.

Add to this the fact that my body is now betraying me.  Nothing horrible; just a combination of age and mileage. But it means another two weeks of near-inactivity for me, and accepting that short-term frustration (two weeks of very limited activity) will prevent long-term injury.

One of the things I'm having to give up for those two weeks is yoga.  This is a blow: yoga not only keeps me physically fit, it was helping me counteract the eight or so pounds I put on when I quit smoking.  And it has the added bonus of keeping me from killing people.  Plus, there's the vanity thing: there's some thing very cool about having a perky butt and awesome shoulders when you're forty-something and used to being slightly pudgy.

So, I'm putting into practice one of the yoga principles: Ahimsa. It's usually translated as "non-injury." Now, I haven't killed anyone yet, though sometimes it's a close thing. But I tend to forget that non-injury has to be directed inward as well.  And like most scholars, I demand a lot of myself. And it makes me cranky, and makes me feel like a failure, which results in more self-directed violence, etc.

So, I'm going to try to practice Ahimsa the first week of the semester.  It seems like a good time, especially since the word can also be translated to mean "compassion," and I've been tapped to be an undergraduate adviser this year. I'm also going to tell myself that it's okay to not exercise like an amateur athlete when you're injured, ferthaluvagod.

How I will manage this without giving up on standards altogether remains to be seen.

Monday, August 20, 2012

I don't wanna wake up

Here at Grit City U., we don't officially start for another week, but this week-before seems just as hard: it's the week where you wake up from that beautiful dream you call "summer" and realize that, yes, you do have to finish your syllabi, and post them online, along with the other course materials, and call the bookstore to make sure your books are in, and figure out where your classrooms are, and try to find out why one of them appears to be completely gutted and whether it will be operational in time for the first day, and get your books on reserve in the library, and get certified for the new service assignment you just agreed to last week, and wonder why you still haven't cleaned out that one drawer in your desk (you know the one), and start running into people you haven't seen all summer and realize "Hey, I actually have some pretty cool colleagues here!" and resolve -- once again -- to avoid negative people and complain less and accentuate the positive and not get emotionally involved when something falls apart and devote all hours before 10 a.m. to writing and to treat your non-work-life as a priority and maybe this will be the semester you learn a language or meditate every day or...

Note to self: take one of these and chill the fuck out.

And then you realize that you're setting yourself up to make yourself crazy yet again, so you pick one of these things as a must-do to focus on right now, and a second one as a thing to aspire to, and breathe, and know that even if it's not different this time, it will be the same in a different way, so  maybe this time you can have a good giggle at it, all the while keeping that one tiny corner of your brain labeled "summer" (the one where you made new friends and swam in the ocean and drank espresso with sweetened condensed milk) as a little internal refuge for just a while longer.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Feeling good about this

21 days since my last cigarette.

I still have a residual sore throat, but I think I'll survive it.

Yay, me.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I have to *what*?!?

A while ago, I decided that this would be the year that I started taking advantage of our university's tuition benefit for faculty and staff, according to which we can take up to 6 hours of coursework per semester at a drastically reduced rate.  I wanted to take a year of Italian, which would help me in my research, and would prepare me for a possible yoga retreat in southern Italy this summer. I had visions of taking courses in the future on Art History, photography, etc.  Lifelong learning and all that.

I assumed that, as a professor, I would be given last priority in enrollment: I go to class on the first day, along with all the other non-matriculated students, and see if there are seats available. So two days ago, I went down to enrollment services to get the ball rolling, and it turns out that all my assumptions were wrong. 

I need to actually be accepted to the university as a student matriculated in a degree program.

Well, the deadline is passed for that.  But I thought it might be fun to try to get accepted as an undergraduate in my own university. The irony is that I may not meet the requirements for admission.  I've apparently got to, like any other student, get high school transcripts, and my high school GPA was a whopping 2.81. 

This should be interesting, no?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Fun with carcinogens!

No, not the cigarettes.  Yes, I'm still not smoking. 16 days.

Nope, I'm talking about the ones in my building. Specifically, the asbestos that is there when I have a maintenance request (hole in my window), but isn't there when I ask for health concerns.

Well, this summer, my department miraculously had some use-it-or-lose-it money that had to be spent on "durable equipment," so they decided to remodel the conference/seminar room in our forty year-old "temporary" building.  You see where this is going. Walls were painted. Projector was installed.  Large plasma screen, too. New bookshelves. As a final step, an expensive security system was purchased.  And as they were installing the latter...

Yup.  The asbestos is back. And we are now barred from our conference room (though not, of course, from our offices). And to keep us safe, they have sealed off the areas around the edges of the door and the vents... with blue painter's tape.

Sometimes, I just have to shake my head in wonderment.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Just so you know...

...the fever I referred to in my last post didn't kill me dead.  I've just been... well, part of it is that I've been having those zombie days that I was talking about a while ago. But here's the other thing: since a few days before going home, I've been trying to quit smoking.

Yup.  Again.

How is this keeping me from blogging, you ask?  Well, it's complicated.  See, I managed to make it through the ugly first few days of withdrawal because I was alternately a) sick with a fever; b) preparing to leave Blarg City for home; c) on a transatlantic flight.  So that's good.  But there's that psychological thing that tells me, whenever I'm home: "Hey!  Isn't it about time for a smoke?"

So, I've been attempting to distract myself by gorging on sugar, starch, and a couple of TV series that I'd been wanting to check out (11 episodes of "Justified" in a single day?  Check).

Why, you may ask, not do something healthier? Don't I do yoga?  Well, the other thing is that I've got a nasty case of "quitter's flu." That's when your body starts to turn traitor on you.  And the unkindest cut of all is that the symptoms it involves are the ones that you would think you'd suffer if you were smoking: persistent sore throat, sinus congestion, and a hacking cough.  It's disgusting.  And the congestion means that I can't do stuff that has my head below my heart, or that requires any sort of balance. Which is about 95% of yoga. So I'm stuck with sugars, carbs, TV... oh, and I've found that sugared fennel seeds are working for me as a sort of weird substitute. Probably nothing magic about the thing in particular; it's just what's working for me at the moment.

In any case, Mr. B. is landing for a four-day visit in a couple of hours. That should provide a good distraction.  And when I return, I'll tell you tales of how I've already overcommitted myself for the upcoming semester.  'Cause that's how I roll.