the grid

the grid

Sunday 30 July 2017

Week 11: Summer daydreams

It's August next week, and I've not long been back from a week away, so continuing the lighter theme of last week's discussion topic seems a good idea.  One of the great pleasures of childhood summers was the space to daydream, and letting your mind run free is both relaxing and stimulating, an escape from the day to day and its demands.  Carrying on from last week, what's your dream workspace like?  I know we've talked about this before, but with some members having "she-sheds" in their futures and others moving house or reorganising their spaces it seems like a good time to revisit - and to think if there's a small thing from that dream space that we can affordably and practically bring into our current concrete but imperfect work spaces.

Goals from last week:

Contingent Cassandra
--Get grades in (TRQ, but also necessary to having a bit of time to concentrate on TLQ)
--Figure out what I'll do when in the next month as much as possible (I realize that not having a plan is raising my anxiety levels, to the point where I've had some trouble sleeping. On the other hand, some of this involves other people -- other people whom I really want to see, even more than I want some unplugged time to myself, though I also want that -- and their schedules, so I may just have to live with it.
--Keep lifting weights; get in the pool; move some more mulch if weather cooperates

Dame Eleanor Hull
Self: Stretch every day. Swim twice. Prep safe food for travel day.
Teaching: Grade all the things.
Research: Finish revising the MMP-3.
House/Life: type the packing list. Pack for departure from UK.

Elizabeth Anne Mitchell
Walk forty-five minutes a day.
Continue to compile versions of Prudence and continue to follow the schedule.

Good Enough Woman
1) Finalize travel plans.
2) Walk 4x, Swim 1x. Yoga 1x.
3) Do three early mornings for reading/writing. Plan them ahead. (In general, try to plan ahead a bit more.)
4) Plan/take outing with son (if he can think of something he'd like to do).
5) Take remaining bags to office.
6) Put together reading packet and submit it to reprographics.
7) Complete online school registration for kids.
8) Get daughter started on a gratitude journal. She tends to focus on the negative, and she agrees that the gratitude journal might be a good idea.
9) Remind self that summer is not over yet!

heu mihi (carried over from last week)
We're going to the beach for a week on Saturday (YAAAAY!), so I'll have to do a bunch of grocery shopping/cleaning/cooking/etc. to get ready. In addition: 
1) Enter current revisions into ch. 2
2) Complete teaching portion of tenure file (Tuesday, I hope)
3) Work through print-out of ch. 2 (after #1 is done)
4) Take care of admin stuff--conference proposal, guest speaker, etc.

1 finish book review in progress
2 send additional information to Snow editor
3 submit Memory abstract
4 write letter for editorial board
5 read memoir for Perform paper

1) enjoy time with niece and Sister's family
2) be the rock the water rolls off whilst with parents
3) keep checking of work email to a minimum! (I have to check some, but once a day would be enough)

Karen (from week seven)

1. Yoga - 3 home practices (even if little) and 1 class
2. Garden - plan 2017/8 vegetable crops
3. Office - 2 x 25 minutes of clearing the encroaching chaos of floor clutter
4. Read - one article
5. Write - 1 hour on messy first draft of grass text

1. write exam questions, keep plugging on with lecture/class prep
2. start the sewing project (skirt and shirt - never made clothes before, equally exciting and terrifying)
3. work on the two posters for the conference at end of August (oral presentation wasn't accepted but offered chance to do it as a poster, other poster was accepted)

1) Finish first draft of Chapter 2. At least, finish almost.
2) 5-minute-exercises at least twice a day.
3) Find ‘my own 15 minutes’ as many as possible, and do something.
4) Think positively, plan concretely, work practically.

Notorious, PhD (carried over)
-Writing: 2500 words
-Research: One volume of ordinances
-Mind/body: 3 yoga, 4 morning meditation

Susan (from week seven)

1. Get rough drafts of syllabi done
2. Find out how to set up my personal website, start designing it
3. Keep moving
4. Keep reading

1. Finalize APA presentation and practice
2. Scoping review #1 - read through abstracts
3. Work on expectancies paper


  1. I’m hoping that my new bedroom in NYC is big enough to comfortably fit my desk (I have the measurements - and I think it will fit, but hard to know till I am there), and that I can position it to look out of one of the two windows. I’m hoping it is relatively quiet (or that the noise can easily become white noise). Since I will be getting rid of a lot of my stuff - I’m hoping it will also be clean and organized. My bedroom has bright colors (orange and white) - so it will be cheery.

    I’m hoping that my workspace at school is quiet and calm, and that if we have to have cubicles that the walls are high enough to reduce visual distractions/stimuli (and that we can’t be seen by every single passerby - and that we can’t see every single passerby). I continue to be very worried about doing research in an open space. I can’t stand wearing headphones for long periods of time (makes my ears itchy!!) - which is one of the main things people use as a coping strategy in open workspaces.

    I also had really hoped to be near my mentor finally, and I’m not sure if that is going to happen (either in terms of our workspaces being near each other - and being in the same city/state). She has been talking about not moving to NYC till the spring, which really bothers me (I’m not moving to NYC next month for the university - I’m moving to work with her!). I’m also really not clear how she will mentor 2-3 postdocs from half a country away (and for my fellowship, we are supposed to meet face to face weekly). She already travels a ton - I went through a period of 6 months last year where I didn’t see her at all. I adore her - but I feel like she isn’t thinking through these things, and isn’t thinking about how she will train and mentor these new fellows she is planning to hire (I’m also worried about her rep a bit too - I don’t want people to think she isn’t a good mentor). I’m nervous I will get stuck with a lot of that - which I’m happy to do to some extent, but I don’t want it to halt my own progress. I interviewed two possible postdocs this week and they both asked me some version of what *I* as a postdoc could offer them in terms of training, mentorship, etc. I thought that was kind of odd! I was also struck by their expectations that there would be intensive and extensive training on the postdoc - and that just won’t be the reality unless they create those opportunities.

    Last week’s goals:
    1. Finalize APA presentation and practice - DONE (except the practicing - will do today)
    2. Scoping review #1 - read through abstracts - DONE
    3. Work on expectancies paper - DONE (and now have 10 ideas for papers, egad).

    My first first-authored paper from my fellowship was accepted last week - woo hoo! One of the reviewers said the research was on a “critical” topic - which is really validating (esp since this is the first paper from my current program of research).

    This week’s goals:
    1. Practice APA talk
    2. Winnow down something in my house (to prep for move)

    That might be it - I leave on Wed for my conference. I know I’ll get other things done - I just don’t want to feel badly at the end of the week about unachieved goals! After this conference, I have to get serious about my move.

    1. Open plan working spaces would be my personal idea of hell. I don't like headphones for long periods either. Your idea for your desk at home sounds lovely though - I like my home office desk because it's right by the window.
      I hope you get some clarity from your mentor, difficult position to be in. I hope there is a way for it to be an excellent opportunity for you.

    2. Congratulations on your paper acceptance. That is really great news, and it does sound very validating for your research program.

      But I'm sorry about the mentor issues. That sounds very frustrating. In fact, I think I would be pretty upset about making such a big move to follow her and then finding out she might not go yet. And those are very strange questions from postdoc candidates (it seems to me). Anyway, in moments like the one you're facing, I often turn to the parable of the Chinese farmer. Do you know it? Here is a link to a version: (I'm not endorsing Dr. Marlo, never heard of her, just borrowing her page for this parable so I don't have to type it). I think about this parable quite often, and I even referenced it in a commencement speech I gave a couple of years ago. Even if your mentor doesn't go right away, maybe something great will come out of being in NYC. I hope so.

      As for the noise, I've find that when I move to a new place, the noise is very distracting at first, but that after a couple of weeks, it turns into white noise as it becomes more familiar.

      I hope you enjoy the conference!

    3. The mentor issues do sound difficult - you keep saying how much you like her, but it sounds like you're not getting what you need or have the right to expect from her. Can those weekly meetings be by Skype or something, if she's not there, so that they still happen? Can you have regular calls scheduled? Can you pin down what she expects you to do with regards to these new appointees, and if you can make that work for you? Because to have BOTH of them ask unusual questions like that makes me wonder what information they got from the rest of the panel, the job info packet etc. that gave them that impression... It's OK to really like someone and also be frustrated with them!

  2. We're decorating at the moment so my home office has piles of stuff in it so my biggest goal is to tidy it once the other room is painted, and the new bit of furniture arrives. It's pretty good in terms of my dream space. I'd probably like a big bookcase, and a slightly more exciting sofa (it doubles as our guest room so it's a sofa bed), but it's got lots of lovely pictures on the wall, the desk doubles as a crafting table (so I bought a folding dinner table from Ikea so it can be larger or smaller as I need it to be), and it's way more comfortable than my work office.

    Last week:
    1. write exam questions, keep plugging on with lecture/class prep - done but ongoing. Spent 2 days doing the assessment setup for one module (I teach 80% of it which is uncommon in the UK I think). I'm avoiding the exam questions at the moment, can't quite get my head into the right place to write them.
    2. start the sewing project (skirt and shirt - never made clothes before, equally exciting and terrifying) - I started the skirt, just trying to work out the type of waistband I want - elasticated or wrap style...I think wrap style fits the fabric better. I concluded that making long skirts allowed me to get them to my desired length far better than purchasing long skirts.
    3. work on the two posters for the conference at end of August (oral presentation wasn't accepted but offered chance to do it as a poster, other poster was accepted)
    - in progress.

    This week:
    1. write exam questions, keep plugging on with lecture/class prep
    2. finish two posters for conference
    3. finish skirt
    4. go to beach

    1. The dinner table idea is great! I don't think my new space will allow for that, but it's a great idea. As for the sewing, it sounds like there have been no disasters so far, which is impressive to me!

      I hope you make quick progress on the posters and have fun at the beach!

  3. Topic: Well, my actual dream space would be a lovely beach cottage that looks over the ocean or a mountain cabin that looks over a river (with good wifi and a perfect coffee shop nearby). I love being able to look out at water. But that said, I'm pretty excited about the she-shed/"witch hut" going up in the backyard. It's 10 x 14 and will serve as my work space and an extra sitting area if we need to escape teenagers. I think we'll also put in a small futon for an extra sleeping spot, but we'll just have to see what fits. It has drywall, and we picked some lovely hickory flooring (not full wood, but with a wood veneer), and I'm painting the walls a soft gray. It has a sliding glass door and two windows, and I plan to put a small L-shaped desk under in one corner so that one half of the desk will be under a small window that looks over the patio, and the other will face the wall. I never thought I would have a space like this, so I'm feeling excited and grateful, and to be honest, a bit possessive of it as my husband starts envisioning himself relaxing out there with a beer.

    My campus office is a disaster right now, but I'm thrilled to have the new big bookshelf, so I just need to tidy and, as I think I might have said before, bring in a plant or two. Also, for my PhD graduation gift, my mother commissioned a painting from my cousin, and he painted an author portrait of the author I studied in pop-art style. It's awesome, and I think I'll take it to the campus office.

    The one problem with both of these dream spaces is figuring out how to keep them uncluttered. My work like is filled with paper that ends up in stacks! And I can't do grading on the computer (or at least not all of it), my shoulders and back get jacked up.

    Last week:
    1) Finalize travel plans. DONE.
    2) Walk 4x, Swim 1x. Yoga 1x. DONE.
    3) Do three early mornings for reading/writing. Plan them ahead. (In general, try to plan ahead a bit more.). NOT REALLY. I spent some morning time reading and writing, but I only got out of the house for it once.
    4) Plan/take outing with son (if he can think of something he'd like to do). NOT EXACTLY, BUT. . . We did have some nice walks together, and I arranged for him and my husband to take a makerspace class together. So I planned an outing he was excited about, but I didn't go because it was better for his dad to do that with him.
    5) Take remaining bags to office. DONE.
    6) Put together reading packet and submit it to reprographics. DONE!
    I am very impressed with myself about this
    7) Complete online school registration for kids.NOT DONE.
    8) Get daughter started on a gratitude journal. She tends to focus on the negative, and she agrees that the gratitude journal might be a good idea. NOT DONE. We talked about it, but it's not going yet..
    9) Remind self that summer is not over yet! DONE?

    Analysis: Overall, this week was better than the previous weeks. I feel like I'm finally starting to figure out a routine now that summer is coming to a close! Figures.

    This week:
    I'm on vacation with the family (I'm typing this in hotel lobby in San Francisco), so I don't plan to do much. But I would like to do some reading and writing.

    1) Write: 3x, 30 minutes.
    2) Do kids' online registration.
    3) Finish "checklist" of items for son's high school (!) registration.
    4) Be present with family. This is the week to (mostly) be the water, not the stone.

    1. One idea for storage to reduce clutter would be something like this: I have 2 - one for my bathroom stuff (since there are no cabinets or drawers in there) and one beside my desk. I also have a large drawer in my desk in which I keep ALL papers. I only allow what I am working on at the moment to be out of drawers. I can't stand paper and can't stand office clutter!

    2. I like that IKEA dresser unit and nearly laughed out loud at the photo of the open drawer with two notebooks and a pen as the only contents.

    3. gosh you lot would hate my work space. It is a TIP. And if I start with a completely clear space, it becomes a tip within a very short period. I just can't be doing with putting stuff away and getting it out all the time...

    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. All right: I'm back from my latest vacation, and I have five weeks until school starts. Time to get cracking.

    I'm not sure what my dream workspace would be. I've always fantasized about a really big wooden desk; my home desk is a small fold-top that was my mom's in the '60s. It's big enough (because I'm pretty organized and it has a bunch of little shelves and drawers), and it fits the space perfectly, but I like big desks. I do have a large one in my office; however, it's fake wood on top and metal underneath, so it's not my *dream* desk. But that's hardly a genuine problem.

    So, work:

    Two weeks ago:
    1) Enter current revisions into ch. 2 - DONE
    2) Complete teaching portion of tenure file (Tuesday, I hope) - DONE
    3) Work through print-out of ch. 2 (after #1 is done) - NOT DONE, but I'm not ready to do it. Instead, I worked through it on-screen, and came up with a to-do list for the chapter.
    4) Take care of admin stuff--conference proposal, guest speaker, etc. -DONE (ish)

    This week:
    1) On my ch. 2 to-do list, I have 12 small items, 9 medium items, and 5 big items. Goal is to complete 5 smalls and 3 mediums and to make progress on 1 big.
    2) Complete 1/3 syllabi.
    3) Read something for fall classes.
    4) Get to work on scheduling September speaker.

    1. I like the idea of an enormous desk, too. But I need to be able to reach all corners of it. A CIRCULAR desk like the one in the middle of the office in Parks and Rec, now THAT would be fun!

  5. I appear to be posting only once every two weeks. I have no idea what's going on, but I think I've hit my stride again. First, the report:

    -2700 words
    -Most of one source collection gone through.
    -Only ONE each of yoga and morning meditation. ::sigh::

    So, I'm going to carry over my goals again, but I need to step up the writing a bit:
    -3000 words this week
    -3 yoga/four morning meditation
    -One source collection
    AND... clean up desk mess!

    Now, I'm gonna head back and read the actual post; comment below.

    1. Glad to hear you've hit your stride again. Sometimes summer rhythms are unreasonably hard to find...

  6. As for my dream workspace: I grew up in the pacific northwest, so my dream workspace is a medium-sized room, lined with bookshelves, with a big window facing out onto a sea of conifers (douglas fir, cedar, and the like); body of water optional.

    The space MUST remain relatively uncluttered. I heard something on NPR this week about disordered workspaces fostering creativity, but I just can't imagine how this would work.

    Anyone else obsessive about a decluttered space and a decluttered mind?

    1. Yes. I can't work when things are a mess. They might get messy *while* I'm working, but absolutely must be cleaned up at the end of the workday.

      Stuff about how messy people are smarter/more creative/whatever really irritates me, to tell the truth. It's just not a feasible way for me to work! Or maybe I'm just not particularly smart/creative/whatever. (But I don't like the radio and various newsy sources telling me so.)

    2. I was interested to recently find myself doing that frantic nesting kind of organizing and cleaning when I had to sit down to write. I thought that need for order got left behind in college, but nope! I'm with you both on this one.

    3. The urge to tidy is usually a sign that I'm stuck, bored or procrastinating particularly fiercely!

  7. Oh -- you know, I'm going to add to my list: "Finish one nagging task." I have three, so I should be able to pick. Decluttering the mind.

  8. Thank you all for your warm congratulations on Revised Book Project. The difficult part is: revise yet again! Since my contract was sold from one publisher to another, the manuscript I submitted is not long enough to publish now. So I have until the end of September to significantly expand the content. I still haven’t found the courage to start reading through the editor’s comments, but that’s my first task once I get the almost-finished book review completed today.

    Topic: That said, I don’t know when I will get around to rearranging my office, nor am I sure where I will work over the coming two months to revise the revision. Whether now or later, I would like a sofa in my office. The only windows face the street, so there’s not much I can do with light and a better view.

    Last week:
    1 finish book review in progress: almost
    2 send additional information to Snow editor: not needed
    3 submit Memory abstract: yes
    4 write letter for editorial board: decided not to
    5 read memoir for Perform paper: working on it

    This week:
    1 finish book reviews (two due in the coming week)
    2 read rbp editor comments
    3 create rbp workplan
    4 work on Snow in spare time
    5 get caught up with summer class grading

    1. Is there room for a nice picture to create a view?

    2. Good idea! I have a few posters but bought a print a couple of years ago that I meant to get framed and didn't. Doing so will be very affirming!

  9. I'm going to check in with "How I did," but my main goal for the week, right now, is to figure out what my goals are. I'm still a bit jet-lagged and my back is killing me, so I probably need to aim low.

    Last week's achievements:
    Self: Stretch every day. Swim twice. Prep safe food for travel day. YES, ONCE (plus a four-mile walk), YES.
    Teaching: Grade all the things. NO: a lot of the things have not been turned in yet. Bad students, but I can't do much about this.
    Research: Finish revising the MMP-3. NO. (I don't think I thought through the available time very well.)
    House/Life: type the packing list. Pack for departure from UK. NO (and this is now moot). YES.

    Sir John made progress in my absence, and we had more people in the house Doing Things this morning, yet there is still SO MUCH to do.

    1. I hope you get prompt relief from back pain. I've been having an argument with myself in my head about whether having people in the house Doing Things can be counted as Big Accomplishment or if I am giving myself too much credit. On the other hand, I really lack tools and technique for replacing roof shingles and fixing the A/C compressor, so other people Doing Things counts for me Doing too.

    2. Yesterday I was trying to count it, but I feel like I screwed it up: I did not check to see that a door would close properly, so it still sticks, and the other worker turned off a power strip that should have stayed on. Technically it wasn't unplugged, which is what I had assured, but power didn't flow where it was needed. Sigh. And the handy person was a young woman, so I feel extra feeble for not being able to do some of these things myself. Not that that ever bothers my husband. He's perfectly happy to say "not my wheelhouse" and hire someone with the right skills. But he'd check that the work got done right.

    3. I'm back, with some late goal-setting (also, the door finally does close properly and the power strip turned out not to be a real problem, phew).

      This week:
      *regular stretching and gym
      *make two appointments
      *meet with writing group
      *e-mail students about getting their work in
      *put in a few hours of professorial work
      *make two rooms Presentable
      *empty a file cabinet (pack/recycle/shred, as appropriate)

      It's not being the week I'd hoped for, but I will try to consider that rolling with the punches is a useful skill to practice. My back is improving, and the experience reminds me to be grateful for my current state of health, because there was a time when I lived in that foggy state of pain more often than not. It is a gift to have been able to forget exactly what that was like.

      My dream study space is an attic running the length of a house, with skylights and tall narrow windows, a view of treetops, bookshelves between the windows, and a very long table at which I can have multiple work stations: grade here, project A there, project B a little further along, and so on. I'm not sure where, in this picture, office supplies go. I tend to think only about books and work space, and now that I've had to pack up much of my study to make it Beautiful, I realize how much space is needed for paper, sticky notes, writing implements, paper clips, binder clips, chargers, and all that sort of thing. I need more drawer space. I will work on that in the next place.

  10. Quick check in as I have to go sort out laundry before going to bed...

    last week's goals:
    1) enjoy time with niece and Sister's family yes! cookie pizzas were made, games were played, much nonsense was spouted, dogs were cuddled...
    2) be the rock the water rolls off whilst with parents mostly.
    3) keep checking of work email to a minimum! (I have to check some, but once a day would be enough) mostly! And my inbox filled up early on so I couldn't easily reply to stuff which helped!

    Then I got back and had an upset stomach all weekend :-( Oh well!

    This week's goals:
    1) work on some "loose ends" papers where I'm middle author
    2) see if Gallimaufrey Review is ready to go out to the other co-authors
    3) do something with GrantINeverShouldHaveStarted
    4) touch base with PickyPaper

  11. I didn't really fall off the face of the earth. Somehow, though, reporting on life this summer didn't work. I think I'm really just needing to putz and not worry too much.

    Topic: Dream workspace: Would have a view of the sea. Barring that, nature. In fact, my work office looks out over a lake, but my home office the street. Which is fun. I have a BIG CLUNKY old desk (one with a typewriter return, which dates it) and I think I want to get rid of it. I have another desk that I could use, and one or maybe two of those IKEA units that Waffles noted would deal with storage issues. Like JaneB, my workspace always becomes cluttered. I attack it with regularity, but one part of the problem is stuff that I don't know where it needs to go. Hmmm. Sitting in a hotel room in London redesigning my office.

    Goals from Week 7
    1. Get rough drafts of syllabi done DONE, posted as drafts, with first week assignments
    2. Find out how to set up my personal website, start designing it - started, stalled
    3. Keep moving Yes. And over my vacation, I've done lots of walking, which has been great
    4. Keep reading Yes. Also helped by vacation

    I've been overseas for almost 2 weeks, and have one more week. That's been mostly real vacation, but interruptions. The last three days I've been in one of the worlds great libraries, going through the Way Outside paper. I actually think it's pretty close to done, but some things I can't do till I get home. As of mid-day tomorrow, I'm on vacation till next Monday. I. Will. Not. Work. (she says hopefully)

    Goals for the week:
    1. Make sure I've ordered desk copies of all books for fall
    2. Keep moving
    3. Keep reading

    1. A hotel room in London might be the ideal place from which to redesign your home office---perspective from distance, inspiration from the world's great libraries, and so on. I have an on-going struggle between work surface, storage space, and non-clunky furniture: seems impossible to get all 3 at once.

  12. I hope you are having a great time away!

  13. What an wonderful post. Thank you for the post.cubicles ft lauderdale