Wednesday, September 30, 2015

My workout goal for the week is still four days. That leaves me tomorrow through Sunday to work out. I think that's doable, still.

I seem to have trouble writing/research and working out at the same time--I mean, not at the *same* time, but the weeks get skewed--I either consistently work out  or I consistently work. This week though, like two weeks ago, I've just been plagued with some bad sleep. I have though, in the last two days, written 1099 words. And that feels pretty good right now, let me tell you.

I can't believe I've never done this before, but I've started writing well before I am ready to and as I'm re/reading the background stuff I need for the article. I know. I feel like this is how just about every other prolific and successful academic does things, and honestly, my grad school papers might have been less stressful to write had I done it this way, but I'm a bit slow in the process. (Seriously, I feel like a decade behind everyone else). I know none of the secrets which is why I guess I am where I am. In any case, Karen over at TLQ was right--some of the writing I did this morning helped me to identify an area I might need to look into--not spend a lot of time on, but work checking out to make my argument stronger for this article.

One of the things helping, too, is that another publishing opportunity came my way this weekend. Like a big one. Huge. I will be part of a major project by a huge academic press. Even though more and more stuff keeps getting added to my plate, it's ironically relaxed me a little bit. I think one of the reasons why is because it has helped to re/validate me as a scholar. The last two years my identity has been solely that of mother. Which is fine. Don't get me wrong. I love being a mom. I love that little girl more than life itself, and while her illnesses are not serious in anyway, they are consistent and persistent and it's exhausting, and everything else gets put on the back burner, as it should. In the process though, I've never made the transition back to, even at least partly, as scholar. Teacher, yes. That took me about a year, but I finally found my grove there again, and the quarter is going rather well thus far, even after the first grades have been given back. But I haven't yet been able to re-enter my scholarly identity/life, and that stuff makes me happy. In my professional life, that's the part that makes me the happiest. So this grueling timeline, the six articles/proposals/book chapters I have to write by next September--the first three or four which will be drafted by end of December--has actually made me feel like I have a purpose as a scholar. Like there is hope here. Like I may actually succeed in putting together a successful tenure portfolio and application. And right now, that possibility is what is keeping me from the abyss of despair. It'd be nice to land a big article, and I still need to, but I do have a little bit of wiggle room here I think. (Or at least I'll find out in February if I'm totally f*cked).

I hope to do a little bit more writing today, but at least I've got some written already and under my belt. I can at least feel better at taking some time for the grad class and reading perhaps.

For the moment though, I'm going to hang out with the hubs before he has to go to work and start getting the lunches ready.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Finally emerging from the sludge.

I am exhausted today. I met all of my goals yesterday except bathing the dog.

My only goal for today, as I have already graded 17 essays, if you count the five for the comp meeting tomorrow, is to just read for an hour tonight. I'm going to try to squeeze an hour in tomorrow, but we'll be at the doctor all day with Magpie for her big allergy tests, and the doctor is an hour away, so we are also going to take care of things we need to while we're there like update my expired mil id, stop at super target, etc. I am tired. And I don't want to grade anymore. 17 is a lot of essays for one day.

Also, another publishing opportunity came my way. It's another book chapter which will help me meet my page requirements; however, it would be nice to have the refereed article as well just for the extra security. But it does at least alleviate some of the pressure knowing that's in the pipeline, which actually relaxes me enough, I think, to be able to stick to the monster timeline I have and finish that work by the end of the year.

I actually would have gotten more grading done had the printer software for my computer not been stupid and slow. It took way longer than it should have. I'm a bit mad about this, but oh well. What I've gotten done isn't too bad in any case. I will say that grading has been much better on this nice big, 25? 27 inch screen. I think 27. It's lovely.

In any case, I'm off to teach my last class of the day. I'm glad I have Fridays off. I'm just totally beat by Thursday afternoon.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Life Lessons from Elmo

Thanks to JaneB, I joined Top Left Quadrant, which while for some reason I was resistant to that type of structure over the summer, it's clear that I need it. Also, I sent an email to my dear friend and mentor and senior scholar in my field asking him if he'd look over stuff if I sent things to him at X date, and he said yes, but shot back a really compressed timeline of what he wanted and when, which is not unreasonable, but will require focus and dedication between now and the end of January. However, I trust him, and if that's what he wants, and if that's what I need to do to make sure I get that last article published (which I know means there needs to be like three or four in the pipeline), then I will do it. I don't want this next summer to be a mad dash because I'd like to take a family vacation. I am terrified and intimidated by this timeline, but I know I can do it. He has never steered me wrong, and he wouldn't have given me a schedule that he didn't think I could handle.

That being said, it feels good, honestly, to have that kind of pressure knowing that he's depending on work from me, that's he's making time in his schedule to look at these things in this short period of time, and the pressure of not wanting to disappoint him. No matter what I give him, even if it's not up to par,he's going to help me get it to where it needs to be and won't just throw it back at me telling me it's crap. I think that pressure and support will be helpful.

Right now though, I feel like I'm taking all of my life lessons from Elmo in Grouchland: The Queen of Trash's song, "Life is all about your point of view." And the wise words of the Stuckweed's song: "Take your first step/Soon you will see/Just how brave your heart can be./Look on up/To the sky,/Take your first step,/And kiss your fears goodbye." Those two songs are stuck on an endless loop in my head these days as we have a short list of movies that the Magpie loves: Elmo, Mary Poppins, Babe which is a favorite on any given day. Then sometimes we can sneak in the George of the Jungle movie with Brendan Fraser and Leslie Mann and Babe: Pig in the City, both of which I adore. She loves live action and won't sit still for cartoons, but will watch nature shows. The kid has good taste.

So yes, life lessons from Elmo. The Stuckweed and Vanessa Williams are wise beyond their years.

My goals for today:

  • Set up new office computer
  • Read for at least three hours
  • Bathe dog
  • Make dinner

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


I've been struggling a lot lately with being overwhelmed by the looming specter of tenure. I don't go up until next year, but I'm still short on my scholarship. I think that's what happened this summer. Rather than just getting it done and being done with it so this year didn't become a horror research, writing, and stress, this year is looking to become that horror. And I don't function well in that kind of environment at all. And wanting to get it done because I want tenure isn't enough.

I'm just not a good worker. I have a terrible work ethic. Maybe it's not as bad as I think because I am able to get everything for my teaching done that I need to do; however, I can't apply that same sort of urgency and motivation to my scholarly work. Because if I'm being honest with myself here, I didn't get anything done this summer because once I realized that I couldn't get everything done, I freaked out about what should/needs to be done and just imploded and nothing got done.

So here I am, the year before tenure hoping that I don't fall into classic Maude and flake out.

Here's the other real problem. I've not actually ever written a full length, fully researched article. Ever. I've written seminar papers; I've written short articles and short book chapters; I've written conference papers. But I've never undertaken article writing. Ever. And I'm scared that I can't do it. That I have forgotten how to research. I'm scared that I can't be a professor, scholar, wife, mother, and person. I'm scared that I will actually make a valiant effort at tenure and still fall short.

My fear has left me paralyzed. My paralysis has left me unproductive and stressed and depressed. If I spent the time working on this that I spent worrying about it, I might be done. But I'm having a hard time moving past that.

I know I need to face my fear. I know I need to devote more than an hour a day to this and stop congratulating myself for getting an hour of work in. I need to  make the research a priority for this year, even if it means my teaching falters a little bit because that's good enough for that end, and make this the number one priority. There's too much at stake for me not to.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Now that I've had my little pity party (and, I also started my period, so you know, that actually leveled the hormones and angst and sadness a bit because um duh, now I had a reason this week for feeling the way I did rather than it being completely unidentifiable), I've been thinking a lot (again) about both what I need and what I want this year to look like for me both as an academic/professor and as just me.

I go up for tenure next year, so I feel like this is the year that people will remember--not the good or even the mediocre stuff that I've done up to this point, but this will be the year freshest in everyone's memory.

But I need to figure out what that's going to look like for me. I have ideas. I have plans, but as always, how to enact them is the issue.

It seems to keep coming back to the same issue though--I have too much stuff! My office is cluttered; my house is still cluttered; my life is cluttered. But how do I make space when there's so much else that I need to do.

Case in point--Sunday morning--five hours in the damn kitchen cleaning and emptying cabinets because there are ants somewhere. I have only seen a couple since Sunday, and it needed to be done--the pantry is now totally organized. I moved some stuff into the cabinets so overall the kitchen looks and is less cluttered; however, in those five hours, I could have finished all the assignments and tasks for the grad class and could have been using the time I've been working on those things since then reading and doing research. On top of that, I've already got to start thinking about winter quarter, and we're only in our second week of fall quarter (book orders are due obnoxiously soon).

I'm desperately trying to be organized, but not anal, trying to eat right (so that I sleep better and get more things done), still workout regularly (so that I'm not a stress case around the Magpie and cause her to be stressed)--in short, keep my shit together and get things done. This morning was a helluva morning, and I'm not handling it terribly well, but I still made it to my office hours only 5 minutes late. So there's that.

On a positive note, I might not have a new or newer computer anywhere in my future, but the cybercamp director had leftover funds so he bought a couple of us who needed them huge new monitors! Because our department has no money (and I've been asking for a more functional computer every single year since I've been here), I'm cleaning out my old mac mini (still newer than my office computer) from home, and bringing that bad girl up here. This is great news because the bigger monitor will make grading and reading the online class stuff so much easier. It'll make more room on my desk, and overall I think streamline some things. So, it's a start. I'm excited about that. It's just taking a painfully long time for all of my photos and videos to upload online because I have so much crap on there, but I'm going to wipe it clean like the laptop and start over so it will be like new.

That being said, I'm going to organize some stuff for the survey class and get on my way here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Exactly what I didn't want to happen this summer happened this summer.

I flaked out.

I totally did.

I got stressed. I got depressed. Then I got stressed out about being depressed. Then I gained some weight and feel awful both physically and mentally. I took a vacation to recharge. It helped briefly, then I got super depressed again (like just crying depressed, and crying over everything depressed), and then I don't like the way my hairdresser cut my hair so I feel even more awful about myself. I put off everything that needed to be done by tomorrow for this week, and on our way home, Magpie got super sick and is out of school this week from whatever virus she has. She's feeling better today, but it inhibits my ability to really do things. So I feel like this is the universe punishing me for putting off every thing that needed to get done this summer.

I'm not very good at taking care of myself in terms of what I need to get done. I appear to have a good work ethic, but I don't. And I can't work when I'm depressed.

At some point I've got to stop trying and actually do. Classes start tomorrow and I'm more unprepared than when I came back two years ago from having a baby. I don't know what my problem is. Anyway, I guess the stuff I need to get done will get done by tomorrow. What also needs to get done today while the kid is sleeping is the food prepped for the remainder of the week since I'm at school tomorrow.

Enough complaining. I just needed a little bit of a pity party to clear out my brain and to get going.

I think my real problem is that I want to be lazy. I've been lazy, and I'm pissed that I can neither continue to be lazy nor actually achieve anything whilst being lazy.