the grid

the grid

Sunday 18 November 2018

September-December Week 11

When I work in the front garden, sometimes passers-by compliment me on it. This is gratifying but feels weird, since I didn't plan or plant the garden, just try to maintain what was done by the previous owners. But it is nice to know that it gives other people pleasure, even though I am very conscious of the problems: this thing needs pruned, those bulbs got eaten by squirrels, and the Battle of the Bellflower is not something I can forget. It takes someone else's response to make me notice the garden's attractions.

So: step back and consider your garden, literal or metaphorical, as a stranger might. What would someone else compliment you on? What habits are flourishing? What has bloomed lushly this year?

(GEW, I hope I'm not stepping on your toes, but when I saw that you were chaperoning a drama field trip, I thought you could use a break.)

Roll call:

1. Work on the paper. Write two pages (what's left of the week is short)
2. Practice!

1. Health: eat safely, sleep 8 hours, stretch, cardio/walk, fun thing daily; weights 3x. Social thing Monday.
2. Research: put in 4 hours and/or write 2000 words; keep up with languages.
3. Teaching: grade undergrad short paper, grad proposals. Design and post at least one new assignment for undergrads (the last!). Prep grad class.
4. Life Stuff: make deposit. Plan another trip to see my dad. Plan trip with Sir John in January. Unpack boxes.               
5. Work admin: spring book orders.

Spend two hours on administrative details.
Revise the outline and schedule for the dissertation.

Survive drama field trip

heu mihi
Get my shit together.
1. Write x5, sit x5, language x5, exercise x5. (Or maybe 3/4 of these per day, since NaNo takes up a lot of time.)
2. Keep up with Nano.
3. Review grant proposal.
4. Prep a post-Thanksgiving lecture ahead of time.
5. Grade a batch of papers before Thanksgiving departure (next Tuesday).

1) keep NaNo-ing, and MAYBE if time allows go and meet some other NaNo-ers in a coffee shop
2) self care - water, sugar minimising, NO WHITE BREAD (PMS said yes white bread, tasted SO good but my body does not like at all, at all) or pastries, movement. (currently waiting for a big pan of roast root veg and sausages to cool for healthy and delicious quick evening meals. mmmm.... I'm trying.).
3) an hour of TLQ writing or writing related work

oceangirl101 (held over)
1. Try to write 3000 words on puff piece Encyclopedia entry as way to get back into writing
2. Write grant annual report
3. Read and comment on grad student dissertation chapter
4. Liase with Mom's hospice team
5. Liase with Mom's lawyer re: estate planning
6. Get travel plans set for nephew that Mom wants to see
7. Figure out if I want to rent house in spring or find new house sitter etc.

Plant Girl
1. Finish out the teaching for this block strong (whatever I think that means to me)
2. FL work x3 (already done one)
3. Finalize materials for one specific app and send in.
4. Do something crafty.
5. Seriously contemplate going to the gym and TRY to run for at least 20 minutes.

1. Finish dyad and election parts of paper
2. Revise findings from youth substance abuse paper and send out to co-authors (need to get this under review soon - I fear we might get scooped)
3. Send out plan for asthma paper to co-authors
4. Close out/renew IRB?
5. Make revisions to K application
6. Do a crafty thing
7. Make a plan for all of the letters I need for my K and communicate out.


  1. Topic: I must be doing something right, since I'm getting promoted. Last week I did the proofs for the biggest chunk of the MMP, and was impressed with that article. Somehow eventually I get stuff done, even though day to day I feel like I never do anything worthwhile.

    How I did:
    1. Health: eat safely, sleep 8 hours, stretch, cardio/walk, fun thing daily; weights 3x. Social thing Monday. ABOUT 60%. Light on exercise and stretching, heavy on fun reading & word games, pretty good on sleep.
    2. Research: put in 4 hours and/or write 2000 words; keep up with languages. CLOSE ENOUGH: 1780 words. ALSO reviewed a set of proofs.
    3. Teaching: grade undergrad short paper NO, grad proposals YES. Design and post at least one new assignment for undergrads (the last!). YES. Prep grad class. YES.
    4. Life Stuff: make deposit. Plan another trip to see my dad. Plan trip with Sir John in January. Unpack boxes. NO NONE. I picked up dry cleaning and dropped off more; did the usual cooking; ordered a book I'll need for a spring reading group.
    5. Work admin: spring book orders. NO. Weeks overdue now.

    New goals:
    1. Health: the usual.
    2. Research: finish the introduction to the translation.
    3. Teaching: catch up on grading.
    4. Life Stuff: catch up there too.
    5. Admin: order books, choose next year's classes.

    1. And, since posting the above, I have unpacked (and partially re-packed) two boxes. Welcome back to the food processor, blender, and assorted baking tins!

    2. Congratulations on the getting promoted!! Clearly a lot of people think you're doing things right!

    3. Congratulations!!!!

    4. Congratulations!!

    5. Thank you! I thought I'd mentioned it before, but maybe it was on my blog rather than here.

    6. Congratulations on the official promotion (and if you mentioned it here already, congrats again)! Added bonus, it sounds like you had a very productive week (esp. now that you unpacked some boxes).

      And you didn't step on my toes at all. I'm grateful. I had planned on putting up a post Saturday evening after the field trip, but I fell asleep on the couch.

    7. It won't be truly official till some time next spring, but my case is through all the levels that do serious scrutiny.

  2. I guess my paper productivity looks OK from the outside? I don't think much else does from my boss' point of view, but some of my students seem to feel positively about things I do!

    This week my coworkers and I did proof comments for a paper whose nickname I have forgotten, but it's been about five years to get it to this stage, which was a good thing - and I also got a grant rejection and news that the course which underpins all the teaching redesign of the last few years and is essential for the whole suite of courses I currently teach as my main role is being drastically cut about next year, because of financial reasons, but also "negative feedback and academic concerns" (none of which have come my way). No decision will be taken about the actual changes, about the rest of the package, and about whether I have anything to do with it or not until January some time. It is normal, in my experience, to thank the team of the module or programme for their hard work in such an announcement. No thanks were given, and that really annoys me. Also, it was left to me to tell the rest of the team - or maybe I wasn't SUPPOSED to tell them, but I did (in an email that I crafted over about two hours total spread over 3 days of marinating, so I think it is an email with a good attitude).

    I was mystery-ill last week - still am a bit - first I thought migraine, then stomach bug, then something flu-like - but I currently think it's a mixture of gastric reflux and pure anxiety. lovely! Not. But thank heavens for having made UNREASONABLE DEMANDS about pair-teaching some material that is very hard to reschedule earlier in the year - I was able to have most of two days off campus (came home Tuesday mid morning, worked at home Wed and Thurs - my normal non-campus day - and in on Friday mid-morning because it was a BAD morning for making myself get out of the house) in a very busy teaching week with only 1 hour of contact time cancelled.

    Goals last week:
    1) keep NaNo-ing, and MAYBE if time allows go and meet some other NaNo-ers in a coffee shop YES - at 38,900 words as of now! - and NO - see above re mystery ills
    2) self care - water, sugar minimising, NO WHITE BREAD or pastries, movement. YES, ISH, YES but crackers made with refined flour due to stomach upset and no toastable bread being around), NOT MUCH (see mystery ill)
    3) an hour of TLQ writing or writing related work maybe? I did a little care-and-feeding of the re-re-re-runs of the analyses for ProblemChild2 which are pottering along in the background on my work computer since early October, and a couple of things for the proofs - but I DID tackle the major job of redoing and resubmitting all my ethics approvals on the completely new set of forms. Under the old system, I had a single approval renewed annually for the suite of methods I use, with separate ones prepared for specific funded projects/projects owned by students. Under the new system, every project, even if it uses the exact same methods, must be separately documented and approved, using a non-clonable web form for the first stage. SIGH. It was actually a good job to do on a day when I felt about 50% of normal, it turns out, so quite glad I procrastinated it all summer...

    1. The coming week is quite quiet, and I hope to get through it without needing actual sick time (but probably by cutting corners). The FOLLOWING week is busy for me, with a full day out (by train, for multiple meetings in a nearby city) midweek then a night away (Friday seminar at another university which is near where Sister's family live, so the plan is to arrive at theirs in time for pizza-and-a-movie, stay the night, have a leisurely family breakfast and some dog-and-niece immersion therapy, and come back here when they leave for Niece's Kicking Things class about Saturday lunchtime. Which sounds great, but I just blogged about having a couple of hours of resisting-panic-attacks because Sister came by yesterday evening to drop off my main birthday present, and for some reason I can't pin down that was really anxiety-provoking.

      goals for next week: will therefore be modest.
      1) keep NaNo-ing
      2) self care - water, sugar minimising, NO WHITE BREAD or pastries, movement, sitting
      3) an hour of TLQ writing or writing related work on top of care-and-feeding of ProblemChild2

    2. Given all the chopping and changing that goes around your uni, I strongly suspect that "negative feedback and academic concerns" is code for "we have to have some reason for doing this thing we're going to do anyway, and it shouldn't make the admin look bad." It's nearly impossible not to take such a statement personally, but it sounds like admin-jerkiness to me. All the more reason to focus on the self-care and fun stuff.

    3. JaneB, your work situation sounds truly challenging, and it seems to never let up! Whatever the situation, they seem to be handling it very poorly.

      I hope this quiet week goes well and helps you feel more grounded for the busyness of next week. Kudos on the NaNoing!!!

  3. This is an oddly fortuitous topic, since I got some really over-the-top compliments just today.

    May I take a moment to brag? Or--to reframe it more generously--to share good news? Well, either way, I will!

    An article that I submitted in May just got accepted, with some of the most superlatively complimentary language that I have ever received on anything, ever. Because I kind of can't believe it, I'm going to indulge myself and quote the report:

    "lapidary, stimulating, creative, and polished”; "It would be hard to do justice to the eloquence, strategic voicing, and erudition of this piece”; "a thoughtful, original, nuanced, convincing, and enriching interpretation”; "This essay is THE GOODS, and I’m so thrilled to have been able to read it and opine on it before publication."

    There were some constructive suggestions, of course, but--wow, my goodness, I'm over the moon.

    Back to the check-in:

    Last week:
    Get my shit together. -More or less, mostly due to a few concentrated hours this afternoon while TM and Bonaventure were out looking for a lost glove. (They didn't find it but enjoyed a walk in the snow.)
    1. Write x5 -YES, sit x5 -PARTLY (x4), language x5 -YES, exercise x5 -YES plus shoveling.
    2. Keep up with Nano. -Still on track.
    3. Review grant proposal. -Yes.
    4. Prep a post-Thanksgiving lecture ahead of time. -NO
    5. Grade a batch of papers before Thanksgiving departure (next Tuesday). -NEARLY

    This week:
    I'm not going to give myself too much, because of travel etc. Here's what:
    1. Exercise x4
    2. Sit x5
    3. Nano--12k?
    4. Get ready for re-entry: prep for next Monday; read for next Wednesday; Gen Ed review; finish grading.

    Happy Thanksgiving, USAmericans!

    1. Those reviews are magnificent! You can and should always brag here (everyone should!). I hope you filed those away someplace so that if you are having a bad day you can look at them to make you feel ├╝ber-confident!

    2. You. are. the. awesome. Over the moon indeed!

    3. How lovely! I'd be tempted to work these quotations into some crafty endeavor, like calligraphy or cross-stitch, so I could have the words with me in tangible form.

    4. Yes, stitch the words on a pillow! Those are fantastic compliments, indeed, and I'm so glad you shared them with us. It sounds like your article is not only beautifully written but that it could have a major impact in your field. Well done!

      And I am bowing to the NaNo-ing powers displayed by you and JaneB.

      I hope your travels are happy and safe.

  4. I have no idea what I did this past week! I feel like I give the illusion of being productive, but am not really.
    1. Finish dyad and election parts of paper - NOPE
    1a. Do my parts of the relationship paper - NOPE, but I did my parts of another relationship paper!
    2. Revise findings from youth substance abuse paper and send out to co-authors (need to get this under review soon - I fear we might get scooped)
    NOPE - New results from statistician inconsistent - sent back to her for clarity
    3. Send out plan for asthma paper to co-authors
    4. Close out/renew IRB? NOPE
    5. Make revisions to K application - DONE
    6. Do a crafty thing - DID DO!
    7. Make a plan for all of the letters I need for my K and communicate out. NOPE!

    This week:
    One of my collaborators wanted to set a deadline for us both to get 1 and 1a above done by the end of thanksgiving weekend, and to have a phone check in over the weekend. I feel guilty but I said I couldn't work on it over the holiday weekend and couldn't do a check in. Luckily my mentor and I set 4 priorities for me for the next 2 weeks, and I was able to use that as my excuse . I just really need to not feel beholden to anyone this holiday weekend and wanted to not feel pressure to do stuff for others. I mentioned that I needed to get stuff done for my K, and she asked when it was due. It's not due till february, but I still feel massive amounts of pressure to get it done. Part of that is because I have a mock review in mid December, and I want it in great shape by then so that comments are really helpful in taking it to the next level.

    1. Focus on F32 aim 1 paper
    2. Abstract for APA
    3. Make plan for K letters
    4. IRB close out/renew
    5. LOR for 2 of my mentees

    I am being interviewed by HuffPo tomorrow about one of our studies - and got asked to speak to a group that works with the UN in February. I'm very excited about both!

    1. HuffPo *and* the UN? Wow! That is fantastic.

    2. Yay! That's so cool. I hope the interview goes well today.

    3. Fabulous news about the HuffPo and UN gigs! Clearly you are getting things done and kicking ass along the way. :)

      And I think it's great that you said "no" to your collaborator. And, really, you don't even need an reason. But having planned to focus on K should be a good enough reason (esp. since, as I said, you don't really need one).

      I am curious about the crafty thing you did.

  5. I’m just stumped by this week’s prompt. This is exacerbated by my front yard being the absolute shame of the neighborhood. Our house is one of several that has a gigantic tree in the front yard, and really no grass is going to grow there. We need to take the lead of our neighbors and put in a planter with some kind of shrubbery or ground plant that doesn’t need much light. I’m hoping to figure this out over winter break.

    Reality makes it hard for me to make the metaphor work.

    Last week and the week before:
    1 Submit current book review: Yes
    2 Four hours on Tiny Project, including Actually Writing (session goal of 2500 new words): 1 hour
    3 Send out curriculum proposal: Working on it

    This week, when I have no real distractions:
    1 Write winter-theme blog posts
    2 Work on Road abstract
    3 Work on Archives abstract
    4 Work on Nostalgia
    5 Two hours on Tiny Project

    1. Sorry! For the RL problem, hostas like shade, as do periwinkles (vinca), and lobelia, which will sometimes self-seed.

    2. Thank you for the plant recommendations! Much needed.

  6. Hmmm well oddly enough as someone with active research interests in the history of botany (and many botanical tattoos), I am terrible at gardening. Part of that comes from never owning my own house and moving practically every year since graduating grad school, so I'm not entirely blaming myself.

    I guess metaphorical gardening, I do honestly think my teaching has gone well. Which is nice because I've sunk practically EVERYTHING into my teaching at the expense of a lot of other things. So at least it's good that it's been a success. Research-wise, I've not been able to take time for my book at all (although I'm hoping to do so this next block). I had also submitted the book proposal to a press and this past Friday received positive feedback but ultimately a no from the readers (I think? I'm not good at interpreting this stuff. They'd like me to finish the manuscript and then submit again, which I think is encouraging? But they did have some problems with it which seem ultimately fixable). So I was initially very bummed by this response, but then got angry because I remembered the only reason I felt obligated to send this out so early was because I'm still searching for a full-time position. So, if I had been in a more stable employment situation I would not have pushed the proposal out so soon, I don't think.

    Anyway, enough about that!

    Last week:
    1. Finish out the teaching for this block strong (whatever I think that means to me) -- I think this went very well. My students literally said they loved my class and didn't want me to leave the school (my contract is for one year, MAYBE next year). It was both nice to hear that they enjoyed the class and also bitter because of the whole not a real employee thing.
    2. FL work x3 (already done one) -- Did this. Will have more time to work on it this week, although it would be nice to not need three jobs to pay for things.
    3. Finalize materials for one specific app and send in -- Did this today!
    4. Do something crafty -- I actually did manage to do this, although it wasn't anything impressive. I sketched some fall/winter blooms and colored them in with oil pastel, and then I draw some abstract stuff with markers. Mostly doodling, but it was relaxing.
    5. Seriously contemplate going to the gym and TRY to run for at least 20 minutes -- I RAN TWICE THIS PAST WEEK!! I ran once outside and once on the treadmill, and reached 2 miles both times. (For those concerned, I did run/walk intervals to avoid pushing it too hard).

    This week's goals (moderate because of Thanksgiving):

    1. Run at least once before TG and once after (if possible)
    2. FL work x2 or 3
    3. Read something for fun
    4. Do something artsy again
    5. Collate responses to book and organize notes in preparation for working on it again after TG

    1. I have not published a book, so let's see what other people say (heu mihi?), but my impression is that that is cautious encouragement. It's not as good as a contract, but it's not "this is not for us." And when it is finished, it gives you a way to say "Readers were encouraging and wanted to see the whole thing," so you sort of have an "in."

      Yay running, crafting, and having enthusiastic students!

    2. I second the cautious encouragement. You might want to check out other publishers--that's your call, of course--but keep working on the MS, and unless you already have another contract elsewhere, I would definitely follow up on the resubmit once you've addressed their concerns. And take it as constructive criticism in any case!

      I don't know about your field, but my sense in MY field is that contracts for unfinished manuscripts for first books are extremely rare. For the first book, the expectation is that you're very close to done before the full review and the contract. (That probably isn't the case always, but I don't know anyone who got a contract without close-to-finished MSS.) Also, in my field, revise-and-resubmits can be very promising, as well--certainly not the same thing as rejections. Every R&R I've received has ultimately led to publication (I'm very careful to address all of the readers' concerns). So I'd take this as pretty good news, all things considered!

    3. Huzzah for the great teaching and for getting back into exercise! I know the teaching has been all consuming (for me it always is), but to do so well at a new institution with new preps is a wonderful achievement. And as someone who has been very sedentary for the past few months, I know how hard it is to get moving, and you have my admiration! :)

  7. Topic: I often get remarks on what a good editor I am, and colleagues often ask me to stitch together a collaborative article so that it has a consistent authorial voice. I have also been complimented on writing clear, concise prose, and am co-chair of a committee charged with providing system-wide documentation for the 64 libraries.
    I have to admit, however, that the best compliments I've ever gotten were for conference papers where I interpreted texts just a bit differently, and changed some of the venerable minds in the audience.

    Last week’s goals:
    Spend two hours on administrative details. Yes
    Revise the outline and schedule for the dissertation. Yes.

    Analysis: It was a good couple of weeks for fictional pursuits, but less so for the scholarship. Even so, I managed to get some dissertation work done as well. I am trying very hard not to look at the elephant in the corner -- that looming December 1 date. I have to return to all the administrative craziness that will begin the minute I walk in the door, since I see we have a new time-reporting system, a new content management system, and testing for a new library system platform in place. It will be character-building, at the least!

    Next (this) week’s goals:
    Combine two earlier versions of the Introduction.
    Read and annotate five articles.

    I hope everyone has a lovely week and Thanksgiving holiday if you are in the States. Float like mist, everyone!

    1. Those sound like great skills and points of admiration! And thsoe conference papers sound like achievements to hold onto--like flowers pressed in a book for safe keeping.

      I'm glad it was a good fiction week! I love how many fiction words are coming out of this TLQ group right now. :)

      I hope you really enjoy the coming week. (I'm not even going to mention the elephant right now.)