the grid

the grid

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Summer-north, winter-south, Week 11: Resources and achievement

This will be the last cycling-metaphor post for awhile, promise! The Tour de France finished last weekend. Julian Alaphilippe, who spent fourteen days wearing the yellow jersey of the fastest rider, dropped to fifth place by the time it was over. Is it because he wasn't as good a climber as the men who gained time in the mountains? Or is it because his team just doesn't have the resources, either the money or the personnel, that Team Sky Ineos has? Even in the mountains, professional cyclists move fast enough that it makes a big difference to have people in front of you, so you can ride in their draft. Alaphilippe's team had one other climber, who turned himself inside out (as the commentators say) to help JA climb, but at a certain point, climbers have to go it alone. It also makes a difference to have more and better support personnel, accommodations, meals.

Of course I rooted for Alaphilippe. The French haven't had a winner of their own race since 1985, and Skineos have dominated the race for several years now. If JA hadn't come so close to winning the race outright, I wouldn't even be disappointed that he finished fifth. Even top ten is really good, and he's in the upper half of the top ten. He also won the combativity award, for Most Aggressive Rider. If Deceuninck hire more climbers, Alaphilippe might do better in future years. He certainly made the race exciting. He stayed on message in every press interview: I'm really happy to be in yellow. We'll see what happens tomorrow. My team are great. I'm very happy to be in yellow another day.

So consider: if you're not happy with where you are, is it really that you're not good enough? Or are you outgunned by someone with more resources, more help on the road, better end-of-the-day support? Are you in the top ten, or some other meaningful category, and do you just keep showing up, gritting your teeth, doing your best, and being gracious to the people around you? Then you are winning.

Of course, you might think about whether you can provide yourself with more resources, as well.

Anyway, here we are, summing up week 10 and moving into week 11. Tell us how you did and what you mean to do next. If you feel like extending the cycling metaphor, are you a climber, a sprinter, a time-trialist, a break-away specialist, or a domestique? What kind of person could you use more of, on your team?

Dame Eleanor Hull
1, gym/walk/swim x6, stretch x6, usual low-FODMAP cooking.
2, gardening, paper-sorting etc.
3, complete conference paper draft; finish R&R (may be a stretch goal but let's try!).
4, finish syllaboi.
5, drill grammar or vocabulary x 4 in one language.
6, trip arrangements.

Elizabeth Anne Mitchell
One hour x 3 on framework and schedule for Prudence apparatus.
One hour x 3 on framework and schedule for Illumination.
One hour x 3 on framwork and schedule for Dial.
Put in next 5 ILL requests.
Meditate x 5.

Good Enough Woman (carried over):
1) Write 5x
2) Exercise 5x (and get at least 5000 steps most days)
3) Take daughter to waterpark on Tuesday
4) Enjoy anniversary celebration. Try to relax and not worry about what's happening with kids, chores, academic tasks, etc.
5) Check in with son to see if he wants to go on any special outings
6) Find one good plant-based meal to try
7) Get 201B and 201C syllabus work mostly done. Write two sets of study questions for new texts.

heu mihi
1. Write x5: Kzoo proposal; organize Nov. paper; work on Wonder
2. Finish copy-edits
3. Grad student work (1)
4. Sit x?, language x?
5. Read a monograph and read for fun
6. Finish syllabi

1 Write and submit two book reviews
2 Keep up with grading and comments
3 Write something every day
4 Consider writing Time abstract
5 Send comments to independent study student

JaneB (carried over):
(Pre-conference:) make sure I prioritise self-care over what I "ought" to do or owe the faculty for part-paying-for the trip
(At the conference:) every day, attend one session's worth of talks, read one poster, talk to one person about science who isn't involved in FlatProject (so that can be a current collaborator or a science friend or a new person), and drink at least 2l of water! And that is ENOUGH.

1) edit Ch 3, cut lots and lots and lots of pages if you can
2) Admin work to prepare for postdoc
3) Meet with collaborators on GIS paper
4) ongoing illustration work with drafter
5) exercise x 4
6) long weekend with friends

Susan (carried over):
1. Finish edits on text of Memorial. (I got comments from the editor, which were "BE BOLD", so . . .)
2. Start working on footnotes for Memorial (There are a lot of placeholder ones)
3. Keep walking
4. Enjoy London
5. Keep reading for fun

1. Get diss R&R done and resubmitted
2. Start re-shaping victimization paper #1
3. Apply to 2-3 faculty positions (eek!)
Interracial/interethnic paper (my focus project!)


  1. I am, as usual, talking to myself. I'm about to go to a conference where I am pretty sure other people are going to be the stars, and I have to keep reminding myself that I am not chopped liver. To pick up my own metaphor, I think I'm a climber, one of the little lightweight cyclists who do poorly on long flat windy stages and need protection from the wind, provided by bigger, beefier riders. In the right conditions, though, I can pound out my rhythm and pull away from the pack. I should focus on doing more of what I do well, and not sign up for one-day classic races that put me out on the flat!

    How I did:
    1, gym/walk/swim x6, stretch x6, usual low-FODMAP cooking. YES.
    2, gardening, paper-sorting etc. YES garden, NO papers, a small bit of other house stuff.
    3, complete conference paper draft; finish R&R (may be a stretch goal but let's try!). YES, NO (didn't even touch it, sigh).
    4, finish syllaboi. YES.
    5, drill grammar or vocabulary x 4 in one language. YES if 10 minutes count.
    6, trip arrangements. YES.
    So actually, pretty good.

    New goals:
    Regular exercise, stretching, safe food, adequate down time.
    Pack everything necessary.
    Some other bits of trip prep.
    Get to the airport on time.
    Have a good time at the conference.

    1. What you wrote speaks to me very much, mostly related to my choices to 1) teach at a 3rd tier university and 2) avoid the cliques of my graduate program that didn't really match my research interests. It's hard to remember that we're kick ass scholars when we are outside of that glow that other people create for themselves. I hope the conference gives you space to shine.

    2. Both your words, Dame Eleanor, and your response, Humming, resonate with me. I finished quals at a time when my choices were to be a gypsy scholar or do something else entirely. Neither choice made me less of a scholar, but it is hard to remember that at times.

      I hope the conference gave you many opportunities to be with your people/tribe, and like Humming said, to shine.

  2. Hello! The conference was big and hot and exhausting and hard and inspiring and fun and rather too much. But I did it - and mostly avoided people who make me get all "I coulda been a contender" or frustrated about the differences in our status, and spent more time with younger people who I can help or friends and collaborators who I enjoy and respect, and that was OK.

    My self-care was mixed, but I didn't actually run out of spoons completely, and I didn't feel very guilty about pacing myself, and I haven't brought back a lurgy, so that will count as a win. Probably didn't drink enough (between hormonal hot flushes, hot weather, one of those comfortable but Very Heat Retaining mattress toppers in the hotel, and some very close spaces in the conference centre (which had aircon but was not up to handling the crowds in eg poster sessions), I sweated a LOT - none of this elegant glowing nonsense, sweated. And was very grateful for runners anti-chafe stuff, which does wonders for fat legs in trousers with seams and anyone with an imperfectly fitting bra in sweaty environments!). I pretty much met the one session, one poaster, one new person rule, and did some hiding away which actually let me meet other new people (a small group of us did hand crafts at lunchtime in a quiet corner which wasn't officially open to the conference, but the centre staff gave us access, and that was very useful resetting of the brain).

    Summer is FLYING away and I'm technically on annual leave this week and next(family visit, a few crisis emails, and possibly having to go onto campus to be part of an interview panel make it not exactly a total break) so who the heck knows if I'll even get started on some of the things on my list...

    Anyway, THIS week's list and some updates:
    1a) self care - get the water levels back up, eat sensible food, move some.
    1b) domestic order - I have a decluttering session booked, and would like to do some smaller projects - let's say at least half an hour every day other than the day I have the session
    1c) making things - slow progress so far. Would like to work on neverending project this week. I've been playing around with the sort of arty bullet journalling spreads one can find on youtoob and the like lately and have been enjoying that as a creative outlet, so I've been doing SOMETHING.
    2a) research writing. ProblemChild1 was finally re-re-submitted to the second journal, and ProblemChild2 is off with co-authors again. the conference talk for Fragments went well and FormerPDF and I have a plan for the paper (which may be bigger than originally conceived).
    2b) teaching prep. UGH. But I have decided to set up a teaching bullet journal, so will aim to do a bit of that this week because that bit is fun (I have washi tape... and metallic pens...)
    2c) other stuff - ignore for now.

    1. Your stumbling upon a group doing handwork in a corner sounds delightful. Summer is flashing by at close to the speed of sound, so I especially like your 2)c to ignore other stuff for now.

    2. It was, and we actually met up there deliberately for the rest of the conference days and there were one or two more people each time. It really was a Good Thing which I will try & repeat at future larger meetings...

    3. As will I--such a wonderful way to destress from traveling and conferencing!

  3. I applied for my first faculty position this past weekend. Yikes! I really like the position and the department, but it would mean moving, which I really don't want to do. I am hoping to at least get an interview so I can practice before I do interviews for positions in NYC.

    Last week I put out a call on twitter for students who would be interested in helping me move forward projects of mine that have stalled. The response I got was overwhelming - so this week I have to review CVs and their interests to choose some people. I think supervising and training them will be a bit overwhelming - but I specifically am prioritizing students who don't have local mentors in our field to hopefully support some isolated LGBTQ+/LGBTQ+- research-interested students. When I was a PhD student, I really wanted to specialize in this area but there was no one doing this kind of work (except for HIV researchers - but weirdly they often don't see themselves as LGBTQ+ researchers). So, I am committed to support students in similar positions. Plus - it will likely help me move forward on some things!!!

    Last week
    1. Get diss R&R done and resubmitted - got a one week extension so co-author can review
    2. Start re-shaping victimization paper #1 - not started
    3. Apply to 2-3 faculty positions (eek!) - applied to one!!!
    Interracial/interethnic paper (my focus project!) - started! Stalled bc my SPSS license expired. BOO!

    This week
    1. Get SPSS license!
    2. Run and write up analyses for interracial paper
    3. Outline for interracial intro
    4. Resubmit diss paper
    5. Figure out reviews on my plate and put deadlines into calendar
    6. Review CVs and choose student helpers!

    On academic twitter I learned about a great academic productivity newsletter. Here is this week's issue:

    If you are interested, sign up here:

    1. The tone of MHAWS is fantastic. I subscribed, and thank you for sharing that!

    2. Yes - she is great and really embodies what I love about academic twitter. I feel like people are far more open about their own struggles there, and that it is a democratic community (as in deans supportively interacting with students in ways that would rarely happen on a campus).

    3. I signed up as well, so I also thank you for sharing. As Humming said, the tone is wonderfully refreshing.

  4. I think that I'm starting the process of rethinking what "success" means for me. I've spent the last four years--since starting at Idyllic State--working very hard on all fronts, and it occurs to me that I don't really have to do that anymore. I got tenure last year. With my book coming out in April, I should be fine going up for full. I don't plan to slack off anytime soon, but I can start to think more clearly about what I WANT to be doing.

    Right now, what I WANT to be doing--work-wise--is learning more about the topic of my November conference paper, which may or may not become a book-length project, but I want to learn about it in an unpressured way, not reading to write but just reading to learn.

    At the same time, I've sunk a lot of time into Wonder, an essay about which I no longer feel the slightest enthusiasm. So I think that I've come up with a way to spin it that just makes a minor, close-reading-y argument (so it needs pruning more than additional research), and I will be happy if I can place it in a minor little journal, and just MOVE ON.

    1. Write x5: Kzoo proposal; organize Nov. paper; work on Wonder
    x? This way of tracking didn't make sense for the week. I did send in my Kzoo proposal, minimally organized Nov. paper, and worked on Wonder.
    2. Finish copy-edits - YES
    3. Grad student work (1) - YES
    4. Sit x?, language x? -x0, x0. Not great.
    5. Read a monograph and read for fun - YES
    6. Finish syllabi -2/3; 3rd might be done, but I haven't looked at it in a while.

    This week:
    1. Reframe and rework all of Wonder
    2. Fleshed-out outline of Nov. paper
    3. Syllabus 3
    4. Sit x?, language x?
    5. Read/skim most of dissertation for upcoming defense
    6. Prep week 1 of classes

    Bonaventure is in camp, so I'm being WILDLY optimistic!

    1. I find it hard not to continue at full steam ahead, even when I'm not working on things I enjoy or feel are a contribution to the literature.

      I also hear you in no longer being invested in a project. I have a Kzoo presentation that I started to expand into an article, but now, I just don't care as much. Thank you for outlining what you plan to do with Wonder, since that may work well with my albatross.

  5. As noted in my previous comment, this discussion really speaks to me. I value humility and loathe excessive self-congratulations, but you can also read that as not knowing how to self-promote or network. I could fight more for the things I think I deserve, that other people get instead, but it’s not in my nature. So I generally accept my circumstances as being of my own doing although of course I occasionally wish I had made different choices.

    I do indeed try to do my best. There is nothing more I can do, and I am good with that.

    Last week:
    1 Write and submit two book reviews: one done
    2 Keep up with grading and comments: not even
    3 Write something every day: yes!
    4 Consider writing Time abstract: considering, still
    5 Send comments to independent study student: no

    Like the ubiquitous work/life balance, I need a teaching/research balance. I would welcome any thoughts on that.

    This week:
    1 Write and submit one book reviews
    2 Keep up with grading and comments
    3 Write something every day
    4 Consider writing Time abstract
    5 Send comments to independent study student
    6 Prepare for review meeting for online course

    1. Humming, your thoughts echo with me, as well. I don't want to be the person whom I would have to be to get the things other colleagues get, but I do sometimes wish I could get that support and praise without selling my soul.

      Teaching is such an amorphous space and time sponge. I have two thoughts on balance. One is that even if my research doesn't directly inform my teaching, it makes me a more interesting, happier person, which does impact my teaching. Maybe that will help?
      The other thought is less noble. Sometimes I feel that I should only spend a small percentage more on teaching than my students do on my class. When I first taught, I was in full OCD mode, but I got a little better at recognizing the point of diminishing returns.

  6. Hi! I'm back. I realized I'd dropped off between vacation and traveling and all, and I've missed this. I got back home *very* late Thursday night, and now am catching up with ALL THE THINGS.

    This is an interesting question: I'm aware that because of my professional history, I've had far less support for my scholarship than some of my colleagues who don't talk about gender and patriarchy and stuff. I've adapted, and I've written stuff that people find useful, so that's OK. But I do get competitive at times, and then I think, no I can do what I want. But the ongoing evaluation at my university makes the competition almost inevitable. I'm trying to diminish the pressure on myself, but it's an ongoing struggle.

    Anyway, how I did:
    1. Finish edits on text of Memorial. (I got comments from the editor, which were "BE BOLD", so . . .) NOT QUITE
    2. Start working on footnotes for Memorial (There are a lot of placeholder ones) MOSTLY, but NOT QUITE
    3. Keep walking YES
    4. Enjoy London YES,
    5. Keep reading for fun YES
    - My month away had two "vacation" trips, and they were restful and fun. I moved around too much, and that was hard. Lots of walking, good eating, etc. I read for fun, but nothing "good" or "important", just comfort reading and re-reading.

    Goals for this week:
    1. Catch up on email & business stuff, get inbox down to 800 emails.
    2. Finish last edits and footnotes on Memorial
    3. Look at new editors comments on violence, and decide whether to go through with it or not (This is a self-care decision.)
    4. Start work on syllabus #1.

    (My sister is here through tomorrow evening, so I'm not completely free....)

    It's good to be back.

    1. Also, just thinking about this, friends have been really important in my making peace with who/where I am and have been...

    2. Welcome back! It's hard to find that balance between writing what matters and staying on the positive side of administrators who are handing out the academic candy. I'm also not interested in playing politics or schmoozing the higher-ups, but, as you say, I prefer being able to write what I want.

  7. Topic: I think I am a domestique--I enjoy supporting people, and love that I'm in a position to mentor. That said, I still struggle with envy, especially when it seems to be the more unkind, but politically oily, people who get administrative praise and support.

    My major issue has been finding my "tribe." I was talking to a program director at the graduate school about transforming my ABD into an interdisciplinary Ph. D. this afternoon. At one point, she said, "You've found your people." I was smacked in the face with the truth of never feeling I fit in because, like many medievalists, I inhabit the interstices.

    My "fit" is a major work issue, and my Dean has doubled down in the past week. It only makes me more determined. It was incredibly freeing to a) find my people and b) find they were very excited to talk with me about my research.

    Last week’s goals:
    One hour x 3 on framework and schedule for Prudence apparatus. 2 hours, not 3
    One hour x 3 on framework and schedule for Illumination. No
    One hour x 3 on framework and schedule for Dial. 2 hours, not 3
    Put in next 5 ILL requests. Yes
    Meditate x 5. Yes

    Analysis: I let the litany of "you don't fit in" get to me more than I should have, especially when, if I'm honest, it's not a club I really want to join. However, I thought a lot about heu mihi's comment about doing what she wants. I want to be a medievalist, even if my previous and present Deans make fun of me, and today was the first step on the road to making that happen. So, a victory for me.
    Susan's point about the importance of friends in seeing oneself clearly and accepting the person one sees struck me as well.

    Next few days’ goals:
    Finish application.
    One hour x 2 on framework and schedule for Prudence apparatus.
    One hour x 2 on framework and schedule for Illumination.
    One hour x 2 on framework and schedule for Dial.

    Here’s to not fitting in, but being one's own individual person. Float like mist, everyone.

    1. Wow, I was tired when I wrote this last paragraph. I should have written :"Here's to not fitting in, but being an individual."

    2. Fantastic news about seeing an appealing way forward!

      I think that not-fitting-in often comes with the medievalist territory, by the way, since there's usually (at most) one per department, and most other people find your research interests rather quaint, at best.

    3. "Quaint" is very true, heu mihi. I think that's why Kzoo is such an important networking opportunity--one of the few places where the rare and reclusive medievalist can be observed in a social setting.

      I was spoiled by graduate school, where I had a cohort of seven other medievalists, but that's because we had a Medieval Institute.

  8. Lovely prompt and many of your posts have spoken to me. I also have been rethinking what success means post-tenure. It means, in part, working less and having a more balanced life but then I miss the excitement of getting new grants or having great pubs come out. This is partially because the last three years have been in the black hole of writing book #2, once the book is done I will be free to spend more time writing on things that I want which should make a difference. I too do not really want lots of kudos or congratulations from my colleagues and university, but I sometimes wish I was at an R1 where research is more highly valued than it is at my R2. Mostly just so my constant fight for my lab based needs would be easier met, but then again this battle might be the same anywhere.

    This was a hard week and I am only posting today- Sunday so sorry to play catch up. I had a great time on my long weekend last week but it was a super hard re-entry.

    Last week:
    1) edit Ch 3, cut lots and lots and lots of pages if you can Yes
    2) Admin work to prepare for postdoc Yes
    3) Meet with collaborators on GIS paper Yes
    4) ongoing illustration work with drafter No
    5) exercise x 4 NO
    6) long weekend with friends Yes

    This week:
    1) start editing/writing second half of Ch 6
    2) Meet with drafter/illustrator for book
    3) Admin for post doc
    4) Move downstairs office upstairs- I have been wanting to do this for months so need to push now before the new semester. I am also taking in a part-time lodger, an adjunct faculty who needs a place to stay 2x a week, so this is a must do!
    5) Fun x 2
    6) Exercise x 3