the grid

the grid

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Welcome to 2018!

After what was for many a trying year, we can now imagine a fresh start. As you may be thinking about (or refuting) resolutions, today seems like a good day to think about setting goals for this session. We'll run through Easter weekend, which is the first weekend in April. Generally check-in posts will go up on Fridays/Saturdays for comments and updates.

With gratitude, much of the following text is lifted from kjhatxon, our predecessor as host here at TLQ.

The format will be the same as ever, but a recap: we will set goals for the whole session and then for each week. It's really easy to get carried away setting goals so I encourage you all to be optimistically realistic without creating a new source of pressure to perform! Goals can be in any aspect of life although the key focus is often writing tasks that are personally (and professionally) important but that never quite tip over into important AND urgent. Each week there will be a discussion topic, generally prompted by checkins the previous week. Feel free to suggest topics to throw open to the group. We'll recap the session goals for updating and refining at least once during the session, as well as the weekly goals. Feel free to comment on everyone's goals as much or as little as you like.

So for this week:

1. Who are you? What's your main focus at the moment? And where are you based? You are welcome to be vague and mysterious in the interest of maintaining anonymity while still introducing yourself to the group.

2. Goals for the session. For the last couple of sessions we've framed this as what would you like to sit down and feel satisfied about over a cup of tea (or coffee or hot chocolate) in 15 weeks time. Common themes include research, home stuff, self-care, crafts, exercise, writing, gardening and you can be as detailed or brief as is helpful to you. Many of us give specific projects nicknames that help us keep track of things. If you anticipate any challenges for the weeks ahead, you can note them too.

3. Goals for the coming week. What do you want to get done in the next week? Specific small tasks and “microdeadlines” are typically more achievable than 'tackle big task'. And don't forget, a lot of this is about the satisfaction of ticking things off the to-do list. So you can be as detailed as you want to in breaking goals down.

Newbies are welcome to join. And finally, don't worry if you miss a few checkins. Life happens.


  1. Wooo hooo! 2018! Top Left Quadrant! Thanks to our new hosts.

    I hope you've all had a reasonable time over the festive season. After a week of family and travelling, I'm still lurking in the 'in-between' (also known as marking by the light of the Christmas tree at home huddled under several hand knit blankets that seemed to be made last year!).

    Who am I?
    I am a senior lecturer in chemistry at a UK university. My main focus this block is getting back into research seriously, and tackling a new part of my job.

    Session Goals:
    1. Make progress on all the lovely chocolates we got as gifts this holiday. This is definitely a marathon not a sprint :) Currently they are piled up in order of expiration date!

    2. Walk regularly and try to find some other kind of tolerable exercise.

    3. Organise 2 outreach events with external funding, plan 2 outreach events for May

    4. Get into new role at work.

    5. Submit opinion article and one research article.

    6. complete a craft project each month

    This week:
    1. Finish marking coursework
    2. write draft of opinion article
    3. make contact with people about outreach events (e.g. reply to emails that got lost in the end of semester chaos)
    4. tackle teaching admin for semester ahead.
    5. finish knitting a hat

    1. Good luck! Post-holiday or intra-holiday marking is not much fun. I hope that it went well and is now safely in the past.

    2. Chocolates that are still available after the holidays end are always especially sweet.

      I so appreciate the balance in your goals, finding time and space for the various ways that you want to engage in the world.

  2. Hello all! And thank you to our new hosts...

    I'm JaneB, I'm a Reader at a "squeezed middle" university in the North of England. My background is in STEM and my context (organisational unit) is a highly disciplinary one with multiple programmes. We continue to be on a Change Journey, which is about as disruptive, confusing and stressful as it sounds. I'm at a conference this week, and my goal is therefore to set goals for the session...

    1. Have the rail fairs gone up for a 'Change Journey' in the same way the rest of the country has?
      Hope the conference goes well.

    2. The "oh here it is January 1" plan of my planning wasn't well thought out in terms of giving everyone time to set goals for the session or for the short week. I'll be posting my session goals during Week 1 too. Hope travel is kind to you.

  3. As prelude: I never thanked Karen and KJHaxton for hosting the last session. Thank you both for interesting topics to mull during the session.

    Now, thanks to humming42 and heu mihi for hosting this spring/fall 2018 session of TLQ.

    As for me, I’m Elizabeth, a tenured librarian whose daily work is creating the magic behind the curtain--how do all those materials appear on the physical or virtual shelves with lovely, collocated, and post-coordinated metadata in the catalog? Why yes, that is due to me and my staff. Apologies, the cold medicine is making me a bit whimsical. I am at a public, STEM-heavy, R1 in the upper Hudson Valley in New York State. Although academic faculty, librarians here are considered “essential personnel,” (“like the landscaping crew who shovel the sidewalks in the winter,” I say in more curmudgeonly moods) and are on twelve-month contracts. I am chair of my department, and chair of a faculty senate committee, so I drown in administrativia if I am not careful. I have a rather aged/defunct ABD in medieval studies, but have landed a sabbatical for next summer to finish the dissertation/book/magnum opus, which is about an early printed Middle English translation of a French text. I live with my husband, whose tenure letter should be coming from the president of the university next week; my two college-age sons; and a incredibly spoiled Standard Poodle.

    Session goals:
    Session mantra: Contemplate, breathe, center
    Plan what libraries to visit in what countries, and when.
    Coordinate the outline for Prudence with the schedule.
    Work up to 5 miles of walking every day.
    Knit 2 shawls, and 2 pairs of socks.

    Next week’s goals:
    Decide if the sale airline tickets will work.
    Revise the outline for chapters 3 & 4 of Prudence.
    Get at least 1.5 miles of walking a day.
    Call gastroenterologist. Sigh.
    Go to dental appointment. Sigh.
    Finish another foot (12 inches) of lace shawl.

    I’m very glad to be back. Excelsior, everyone!

    1. I think I could do with some of that cold medicine - marking would be a little better if I was feeling whimsical! I like your crafting goals, I've been making shawls lately and am slowly getting the hang of lace work.

    2. Your last goal sounds like fun!

    3. Cold medicine all around!

      The shawls and socks should be fun. I'm trying to interleave some fun in my life!

    4. Early congratulations to your husband for earning tenure and for your sabbatical. Please keep up posted on your library travels and visits. I would imagine that many of us swoon a bit (or a lot) at a beautiful library.

    5. Thank you for the congratulations,humming! I will pass that on. One library I know I will be visiting is the Morgan (, which is absolutely gorgeous and worth a visit if you are ever in New York City. I'm not sure about the European libraries yet, but will let you know.

  4. Hello! I'm heu mihi, an almost-tenured (knock wood) medievalist at a public R1 in the northeastern U.S. I have a very noisy cat, a husband, and a five-year-old son. And it's extremely cold up here these days.

    Goals for the session:
    -Write conference paper (for March)
    -Revise old conference paper into the beginning of an article
    -Move forward on a creative writing project--either the novel I wrote in 2006/07, or my NaNo mess.
    -Make things! Slippers, beer (my brand-new hobby), knitting projects to use up old yarn, paper, books--whatever I want. I like the idea of a craft-a-month that KJ Haxton mentions above; I'm going to adopt it.
    -Meditate. Keep trying.

    Goals for the week:
    -Meditate some amount.
    -Draft out what I've already mentally composed for the conference paper; compile bibliography.
    -Read dissertation for next week's defense.
    -Bottle beer.

    1. You can make slippers? That's exciting...and beer? Will next week's goals be 'un-bottle beer'?

    2. Seems like great balance in your goals! I will enjoy following them.

      I hope you are surviving the East Coast storms.

    3. Storms are exciting! -ish.

      Unfortunately I'll have to wait a few weeks to un-bottle, but it should be ready right around when classes start up again....

    4. I have tremendous admiration for fiction writers and especially NaNo writers! November is always such a harried time for me that I routinely failed to do AcWriMo. I'd be interested to hear more from you, JaneB, and other fiction writers how your creative work impacts your scholarly writing. I'll try to add something from the perspective of an out-of-practice poet.

  5. So this is basically a first-quarter group: I like it, very business-like, and a useful counter-balance to the semester calendar that seems to rule my life. :-)

    I am an international woman of mystery! Well, at least I traveled internationally a couple of times last year. I have been an associate professor for a long time, and I expect finally to apply for full no later than spring 2019. I'm going to consult unofficially with some colleagues and see if they think I could do it this year, but next year might be better. Some other personal details: I'm freezing in the American midwest, I'm married to a man (Sir John), we have three cats and a big old house that we want to sell.

    Some updates: I am happy to share with previous group members that I have finished two sets of article revisions that were bedeviling me for the last couple of iterations of this group. Woot! A recent insight about diet is helping my gut, and I'm hoping for further relief after seeing my doctor next week. We're going ahead with some more repairs to this house, which I had hoped not to have to do, but see above about freezing. Let's hope there's some concrete payback when we sell.

    Session goals:
    1. Research: get through my share of translation revision, so that by early April the whole translation team is at the same point w/r/t the final draft. Do one more set of article revisions. Consult with colleagues regarding application for full professorship. Keep up with language study in two dead and two modern languages.
    2. Teaching: Plan fun and manageable courses; keep up with grading and prep (one new course this spring); have a colleague observe a class.
    3. Self-care: take care of some medical and dental appointments; regular exercise and stretching; food prep as necessary for healthy, safe eating. Do fun things regularly.
    4. House and Life Stuff: gather tax documents and hand them over to accountant; replace some more windows, finish the decluttering, have the house photographed and list it; visit my dad and deal with parental/family stuff as necessary; make a list of stuff that I will do later in the year (2nd through 4th quarters).

    This week's goals:
    1. Research: send off the MMP (already done); get back to work on translation (already done); upload a chunk to our shared Dropbox; read through the last article that I need to revise.
    2. Teaching: prepare rough drafts of syllaboi for two classes; start daily teaching notes; review teaching journal for last year's version of the class I've taught before; prep first writing assignment for that class.
    3. Self-care: stretch at least once daily; cardio six days; weights 3x; bake safe cookies.
    4. House/Life: look at last year's tax return to figure something out. Pay bills. Package used printer cartridges to send for recycling. Shop for new laptop.

    1. Congratulations on the MMPs!!!!! It can't be said enough.

    2. Yes! Seeing the MMP launched on its way gives me hope that the daunting projects can indeed be completed...I have a fair share of abandoned projects that I need to either lay to rest or reactivate.

  6. I am a tenured community-college instructor on the Central Coast of California, and this is my 20th year at my college. Just about a year ago, I defended my PhD in English literature (18th century British), which I pursued part-time in the UK while still working my full-time job in California. I live with my husband, two kids (the boy is 14, and the girl is 12), a cat, a dog, two bearded dragons, and a few fish-type creatures. As a 49-year-old, mid-career, recent PhD, I'm trying to find my direction and my mojo. Mostly, I have felt kind of tired and old, but I think I might be turning the corner (I hope).

    Session Goals:
    1) Develop chapter four of PhD thesis into an article. I'm calling this project "Jenny."
    2) Read three SF/F novels and five SF/F short stories (to continue prep for Spring 2019 science fiction class).
    3) Develop four new family-dinner recipes that are plant- and fiber-heavy.
    4) Walk 45min, 3x per week. Occasional swimming and yoga.
    5) Clean out my stuff in the garage left over from summer re-organizing.
    6) Tidy work office.
    7) Finish outfitting home office/studio/witch hut.

    I had been putting off the "Jenny" project/article because it will take some extra research, but it was the chapter that most excited my external examiners at my viva (even though it was the least polished) and has drawn the most positive responses. So I'm going to go for it. Even if my writing isn't up to par, I think reviewers might see its value. I'm hoping for an R & R.

    I also have been wanting to turn to fiction, but I think I've been paralyzed on that front because I haven't given the thesis it's publication due.

    This week's goals:

    Well, I'm finishing up a family winter trip to Colorado, an I just finished grading yesterday. We will get home Saturday, so I can't do much.

    1) Check local listings for second-hand bookshelves for the witch hut.
    2) Plan for my mom's b-day.
    3) Find a dinner recipe that might be good for the repertoire.
    4) Prep one syllabus.

    1. GEW, while each of us has unique experiences and perspectives, I will say that turning 50 was a breakthrough for me. I feel like I have paid my dues, know enough to be confident & strong, and really care much less than I ever did about what other people think about me. I still worry about what it means to act my age, and whether I should think and act more like an "older" person--whatever that means.

      As I wrote to heu mihi, I'm interested to talk more here about creative writing and academic writing and how they complement each other. More on that in the coming weeks.

  7. Hello!
    I'm Daisy, recently tenured at a tiny undergraduate university, in physical science. I have one kid whose dad works several time zones away so for all practical purposes I’m a single parent most of the year. I've participated in TLQ group before and loved the community. Major challenges during this session will include frequent snow days, a brand new course I’ve never done before, three grants with wildly different focus areas, and fitting in enough skiing time between ice storms!

    Session goals:
    1: Finish and submit local project paper LP
    2: Write up and submit two first-author articles on Fabulous Northern Project FNP
    3: Write my parts of two co-authored pieces on Other FNP
    4: Do preliminary work for New Northern Project NNP so that field season goes brilliantly

    This week’s goals:
    1: Do very minor revisions on just-accepted paper – this is TQR in a good way! (I’m halfway through but putting them on here so I can feel good about having something completed!)
    2: Do long neglected sample sorting and shipping for New Local Grant
    3: Finish half-done figures for LP
    4: Pick 2 of the 4 conference abstracts that need writing and finish them

    1. Congratulations on just-accepted paper! What a good way to start the year.

      As I'm thinking about topics for discussion during this TLQ session, I'm interested in how you manage three grants with wildly different focus areas (!!) and what organization tools/scheduling helps you keep moving forward on all fronts.

  8. I just checked in and realized you'd started two weeks ago! That tells you a lot about my break (that was fun but not a break).

    Anyway, I"ll post with this week's stuff, but here's an intro and some session goals.

    I'm Susan, a senior faculty member in the humanities at a new public university in California. Since there's a relatively small cadre of senior people, and I'm competent, I do a lot of service, and am currently carrying a major administrative role. I am a widow & live alone with three cats (therefore NOT alone). My 87 year old mother lives in an assisted living facility in my town, so I've got responsibilities there.

    Session goals:
    I am not teaching this semester (I taught an overload last term) so I'm trying to block time out for writing and thinking.
    1. Way outside project: it's almost done -- I'll finish the substantive stuff today (I think) and then I have to do permissions.
    2. Big lecture. I'm giving a keynote at a conference in March, and need to write it. I'll give the same talk in the UK a few weeks before, so I basically have February to do this
    3. Polemic: I want to write a polemic on a topic that folks are interested in, drawing on my scholarship. I imagine this as short (30-40,000 words). My goal for the spring is to get a solid outline and draft the first chapter. I may do more, but that's doable.
    4. Home: I want to deal with some of the clutter I'm living with. My desk is the first goal, but there's the guest room and the second study which might become a den if I dealt with stuff.
    5. Health: I want to keep moving, eat well, and sleep c. 7 hours a night.
    6. Recreation: read for pleasure; see friends. Do something each week.