the grid

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Friday 18 October 2019

Northern Fall/Southern Spring, Week 6

Last week JaneB asked us about our quick pick-me-ups, which got me thinking. For me those things are happy accidents, more than things I can do.  So  the things I can do have to do with friends, most of whom live someplace else.  So I thought it would be good for us to talk about and honor our friends -- where we see them, how we stay in touch, what difference they make.  What's their role in your life?  

Goals from last week:
Dame Eleanor Hull:
*daily reading/writing (x5), OR a weekly total of 50 pages read, 1250 words written;
*grade 2 sets of student papers and 2 short assignments; put up 2 new assignments; prep for film-teaching;*daily exercise and stretching (x6);*keep up with dead languages;*pay bills.

Elizabeth Ann Mitchell:
Relax and forget all about work.
Enjoy the Wednesday night concert.
Take some knitting, probably wool socks.
Make sure I have several books with me.

Heu Mihi:
1. Finish Silence edits & send them in
2. Sit x 5
3. Read journal submissions and email timeline to other editors
4. Look at what I’m supposed to do for the collection proposal
5. 2 x30 minutes on November conference paper
6. 1 x30 minutes on language

1) maintain habits (8 items, it's boring to keep listing them)
2) research things this week: finish the FlatProject final step of analysis ready to start writing. Finish refereeing the damn horrible article (ugh). If possible, also drawing up a figure for the grant idea called PCfu (ProblemChild follow up) and send the draft to FormerPDF. Sort out FavouriteIslands samples.
3) prepare all teaching materials for week, 10 days if possible (because there is a two day field trip at the end of next week so I lose weekend time so I want to be ahead enough I can have at least ONE day off. Plus the FOLLOWING week my little sister is graduating with her undergrad degree - she's only 2 years younger than me & studied part time by distance learning/weekend intensives at a specialist-animal-stuff HE-college affiliated to Northern Uni) so I want to spend some time with her family then. grade one thesis and 63 short essays (now urgent).
4) finish reading last bit of previous years NaNoWriMo, collect relevant bits into a new Scrivener file, and start some plotting. (I don't have time but I need the escapism)

1. Enjoy conference
2. Talk to at least 5 new people
3. Grade papers
4. Keep up some kind of exercise while at conference
5. Try to keep some kind of balanced sleep pattern. (Hah, it's almost 11:30.)


  1. Topic: " thought it would be good for us to talk about and honor our friends -- where we see them, how we stay in touch, what difference they make. What's their role in your life?" I have great colleagues for the most part, but I don't really have local friends. A few people I know at the university who have become friends, but not friends from elsewhere. Which is kind of pathetic after over 20 years here, but is in part a consequence of my lack of "get up and go" and social-ness outside of work, in part the issue of single-female-no-kids across the 30-50 age span when most people are very, very busy in couple and family circles, partly that most of my hobbies are not go-out-and-do-stuff kind of hobbies, partly the frustration and unhappiness with the local church which led to me stopping going. Mostly me being me though! I have some great friends from school/uni/previous jobs, some of whom keep in touch regularly through text or calls, others who I keep in touch with more losely through social media and long christmas letters. And then I have online friends, who are probably the ones I 'talk' to the most, and who are incredible, but who also always feel a bit dangerous to invest it - several people I thought were actually friends to varying degrees have just up and vanished over the years, no goodbye, no message, no way to contact them if they drop all the online links. Which hurts. or blog "friends" who've turned their blogs private and didn't respond to an email request for the password, even when we'd "talked" for years, which is less surprising but also hurtful. This has been my experience with humans I like from the earliest days of making friends - sometimes for no reason they dump you, and rarely bother to tell you why. And sometimes they come back into your life as if nothing's changed but it has because they disappeared as if you were nothing and then think that doesn't matter. Which, maybe it doesn't to people who have a small primary set of relationships (partner, close family, children) and regard all others as optional, but it DOES to people who don't really have a single or small number of primary relationships which are very close, which get daily or near-daily contact and interaction, so who build their support from a wider web. WHINE. I've learnt to be open and loving with friends, but to assume they will at some point just go, just cut me off - it's a good thing I'm an intravert with a very active imagination full of other people, and access to the wonders of fiction - fictional characters do NOT dump you! So I love the friends I have, but miss the ones who left (and I refuse to accept it was ALL my fault - I'm annoying in many ways, but those ways are pretty obvious from the start!), and currently have good friends a long way away, casual friends at work and on line, and those strange deep but fleeting internet connections (like this wonderful group) which are both really important and made of gossamer. The world is strange, and I am not that good at humaning, but I'm experiencing grey and oppressive mental weather this week so that may be colouring this response.

    1. last week:
      1) maintain habits (8 items) did quite well in the week, went wonky on the weekend as usual
      2) research things this week: finish the FlatProject final step of analysis ready to start writing. Finish refereeing the damn horrible article (ugh). If possible, also drawing up a figure for the grant idea called PCfu (ProblemChild follow up) and send the draft to FormerPDF. Sort out FavouriteIslands samples.none of these things
      3) prepare all teaching materials for week, 10 days if possible. grade one thesis and 63 short essays (now urgent). finished the prep for next week this morning. Not started on the following week (which is full). graded the thesis and 13 short essays. Really short on motivation
      4) finish reading last bit of previous years NaNoWriMo, collect relevant bits into a new Scrivener file, and start some plotting. (I don't have time but I need the escapism) yes, yes, no. reread very light and fluffy fiction instead, and lay around being sad. Stoopid brain.

      analysis: This is my favourite time of year and I've not got a cold yet, and some classes are going really well. But I am depressed, to be frank. Some of it is situational - the crap things my university is doing, the news in all its layers, having to prepare for a debate on whether the sixth planetary mass extinction is unstoppable at this point. Some of it is probably just stress and over-work (especially if I count time when I am TRYING to work but can't get my brain to focus, my hours are stupid given I'm barely keeping up). Some of it may well be menopause ("it's your age" seems to be the answer for EVERYTHING these days - but I think THAT is the main cause of the anger flares and digestive issues and internal thermostat failures, not the sad, that isn't following any kind of hormonal cycle like the other things are). I'm just tired and sad and done. And only a month into the teaching year.

      goals for next week:
      1) maintain habits (8 items, it's boring to keep listing them)
      2) research things this week - stet: finish the FlatProject final step of analysis ready to start writing. Finish refereeing the damn horrible article (ugh). If possible, also drawing up a figure for the grant idea called PCfu (ProblemChild follow up) and send the draft to FormerPDF. Sort out FavouriteIslands samples.
      3) prepare all teaching materials for the next week. See if I can get out of the field trip (there are several students not going for variously good and indifferent reasons, so we don't REALLY need everyone, and I'm not needed for any specific reason, so...). Grade the remaining 50 short essays (now very urgent) and 60-odd small pieces.
      4) start some plotting for NaNoWriMo. (I don't have time but I need the escapism)

    2. Online-only connections are wonderful and strange. Through blogging, I met some medievalist colleagues whom I might not otherwise have known, but when they moved to Facebook or other forms of social media (and I didn't), we stopped keeping up online, though we still talk to each other at conferences. I've never been sure if you are the sort of blogger who likes to do RL meet-ups or if you prefer to keep online acquaintances online. A few times I've been in the north of England and thought about inquiring as to the possibility of meeting, and then my schedule filled up and I didn't even try. However, since the topic arises: next April I expect to fly into Manchester before heading elsewhere for a conference, so we could attempt a meetup then. Or not, if you'll be busy or just prefer me as an imaginary friend.

    3. Yes, I would like to try and meet (it would be very scary, but it would also be great!) if our diaries add up - I've met a couple of people at conferences and it's been really good once the awkward passes. That airport/general area is fairly easy for me to reach by train (one of the few northern airports with good direct rail connections, and my house is a couple of minutes from a train station)...

      The trend away from blogging has definitely contributed to some of the "dumpings" - it's frustrating! Especially when people move to facebook which I find harder to use and much less enjoyable - I don't want to follow even if I was given the permission to do so since I don't use it much, but I also feel a bit judged-and-found-wanting when other people quit something I still enjoy, which is VERY childish.

    4. I sent an e-mail to your Mollimog address.

    5. Your comment about being dropped by online friends struck me, because I fear I have been guilty of doing that, not by design, but by not wanting to be boring or needy. What's the old canard about not wanting to be in a club that would have me--lots of therapy sessions needed to work through that self-hatred.
      I disagree that you are being childish to be upset that so many have abandoned blogging--it was a good way to get to know people on a depth that Facebook doesn't offer, at least to my mind. I often yearn to go back to it, and need to carve out the time for it.

  2. Hi Everyone, sorry I was MIA last week. I had a hard re-entry from my working trip with a pulled muscle in my back and social anxiety to come down from. The prompt is apropos as I just called my oldest "best friend" from high school last night and left a message. I have found it harder and harder to make close new friends in my older years (like JaneB) because I am not married and do not have kids. But I do have three colleagues at work who have been cultivated into close friends and a few less close friends on campus. My close friends on campus I usually see once a week or more, for a drink or lunch or a writing session at Starbucks. My high school and college and grad school friends I see less regularly but text with montly and/or call a few times a year. I find it very grounding to stay in touch with two close friends from high school- somehow that longevity of friendship, and knowing people who knew my parents well, and of my brother before he died, is super important to me. We go on vacations sometimes together. For my college friends I only see them when I am in CA, and for my graduate school friends I see them at our big annual conference each year- we share hotel rooms and usually get together for drinks or dinner one or two nights. We have talked about starting to take trips together as well. When I am feeling down, or often lonely, I try to call one of my older friends. For work related advice, I tend to call a grad school friend also in academia or someone on campus. I am working now to make some new like minded friends outside of campus, but its hard.
    Week after last
    1. work on usewebs papers Yes
    2. exercise- walk daily Yes
    3. finalize figures for chapter for ed vol #1 Yes
    This week
    1. finish last ed volume chapter
    2. do figures ed vol chapter
    3. emails about fieldwork for the summer
    4. exercise x 3
    5. clean house/laundry/bills things are sort of out of hand
    6. Plane tic to memorial service for Mom (seem to be in denial about this and must do)

    1. It is hard. Sounds like you have some great people in your life though!

    2. I know what you mean about longevity. I have one friend I've known since we were both one year old. The relationship is sometimes dodgy but I think it means something to both of us to have someone who has literally been around all our lives, remembers our parents when they were youngish, that sort of thing.

    3. Yes, old friends are great. I envy my sister, in that she married a local lad and so still has regular contact with friends from school - I do a bit, but it's not the same when we're at far ends of the country and don't occasionally run into each other at the shops...

    4. It is hard, but you're making great strides, Jenny, and setting a great example.
      All yeses on your goals, too!

  3. I really want to create more space for friends in my life--both the old ones who are far away and the new ones that I am (slowly) cultivating here. There are a few colleague-friends on whom I can and do drop in frequently while I'm in the office, and one particular old friend whom I text periodically (who has about a 30% response rate, but that's how he's always been); I'm also now quite close to a newish academic friend who lives far away but who is a 100% kindred spirit, and our periodic texting or calls make me really happy. It's a reminder that spending time with friends is *important* even if it's not *productive.*

    I'm starting to hate the word "productive."

    I'm also very tired today because, for the second or third time in a week, I went to bed too late (like 10:45) after watching a show with my husband, and then I just couldn't sleep. For hours. And now I'm a grump with a long day ahead of her.

    Last week:
    1. Finish Silence edits & send them in -DONE
    2. Sit x 5 -x4
    3. Read journal submissions and email timeline to other editors -DONE
    4. Look at what I’m supposed to do for the collection proposal -DONE; my co-editor has done so much, she’s amazing
    5. 2 x30 minutes on November conference paper -1 and a bit
    6. 1 x30 minutes on language -No

    This week:
    1. Sit x 5
    2. Send out journal acceptances for undergrad thingy
    3. Edit abstracts for collection and send to co-editor
    4. 3x30 minutes on November conference paper
    5. 1x30 minutes on language
    6. Have a calm, rational conversation about my service load with my department chair
    7. Don't go to bed past 10:30

    1. Productive is a sneaky and annoying word!

    2. I do this funny thing sometimes where I start scheduling myself fun time, considering it as a means to allowing me to blow off steam and then be more productive when I am working. I have a friend with kids who considers her time with friends as her own version of 'play dates', things that keep her happy and content and able to function well in the other parts of her life.

    3. Good luck with the service load conversation!

    4. I also need to carve out more time with friends, since I have several who are on the acquaintance/friend cusp. I owe it to myself to pursue the connections.
      I love Jenny's friend's thoughts of time with friends as her own play dates, because they are so helpful as connections and support, in both directions.

  4. Like oceangirl101, I reached out to my friend from 4th grade when things got wonky in my world. We corresponded by mail regularly for years, then by email. I dropped the ball on our email correspondence and it was so affirming to pick it up again. And like JaneB, I have friends from previous jobs and from graduate school that I cherish and stay in contact with, but have only acquaintances after 10 years at my current job/town. Some days I do feel sad about it.

    Two weeks ago:
    1 Finish and submit next book review: yes
    2 Submit conference paper reviews: yes
    3 Work on summer funding proposal: no
    4 Write every day: I don’t know

    This week:
    1 Finish and submit next book review
    2 Write lit review and outline for DQ
    3 Decide about summer funding proposal
    4 Regroup.

    Wishing you sweetness in the days ahead.

    1. I'm hoping things will get better for all of us as we get older: empty-nesters and retirees may be more open to new friendships than people who are overwhelmed with the daily life of children+job. Fingers crossed!

    2. It would be good! I see that has happened for my Mum, so maybe there's hope for the rest of us...

    3. I've been at this job 7.5 years, with only acquaintances as well, Linda. My closest friend in town, from my writing community, moved away for her husband's job, so I am going to have to work on keeping that friendship going, as well as fostering some new friendships.
      I also think Dame Eleanor is right, that being older helps lessen the burdens of life so that one has more time for friendships.

  5. I've been thinking about the topic since I saw the draft post in the folder last week! Last summer I saw old friends from high school, that is, we were all part of the same well-defined group then, and several of them still live in the same city or nearby. It struck me that it was a reunion for them, not just for me: they could see each other regularly, but they don't. Their lives have taken different turns; they have friends from work, hobbies, activism, children's friends' parents; my image of everything going on as usual but without me is wrong. This might be because even the people who still live where we grew up mostly spent time away from there, and all of them married people who moved there from elsewhere, so that certainly created some breaks in the daily friendship we had in high school.

    That helped me feel better about the topic of friendship, in general, which is a little touchy for me. Looking at other responses here, it seems I'm in line with the rest of you, maybe because as academics we almost always move for school and move again for jobs, and I suspect we're more likely than average not to have children. I have friends from grade school and grad school, only one (but a good one) from college; many of the people more regularly in my life now are colleagues and friendly acquaintances rather than friends of the heart, but I do know people from activity groups and have friendly relations with colleagues.

    I think I have always guarded against being truly friendly with colleagues, knowing that I would have to work with them no matter what, and having observed a grad school prof's unhappy break with a friend over a matter of department politics. Living a long distance from campus makes that easier, and also means that it's harder to form bonds with (or even meet) people from other departments.

    This past week I had a very energizing dinner with a former student who has become a friend, and it reminded me of the difference between friends of the heart and the people I see more often, whom I call friends, but are not people I'd keep up with if we weren't put in contact by circumstances. I'd like to see more of my old friends; I'd love to make some new friends who feel as comfortable as the old ones do. But I'm cautious about forming attachments. I think what I want now is not so much the sort of friend who feels like another self as some more people who are both reliable and nice, as well as nearby: people with whom to trade cat-sitting and rides to the airport, that sort of thing. I really wish we hadn't moved six years ago. Our old neighbors were great, and we knew other people near us at least to talk to, people who might have become friends in time. Now if/when we sell our current house, the one we don't like, and move again, we'll have to start over yet another time.

    1. That's one of the things I kind of envy those with children - they may not find heart-friends among their parent-peers, but most of them seem to have a goodly number of hamster-sitting, hedge trimmer or cake pan borrowing, small domestic problem navigating friends to call on, people to ask "who knows a good plumber?", people to do small scale social stuff with like try out a new coffee shop or have a monthly curry night with, and even if that is just surface socialising, it's really important and useful too. And I don't have it - which makes me wonder what I'd DO if I really needed that sort of village?

    2. I think you've put your finger on a lot of the symptoms when you mention moving for school and jobs, Dame Eleanor. I was one of only a handful of my college friends who went to graduate school, and I went far away from that area to go to school. The medievalist cohort was a tight-knit group, but we scattered across the country from coast to coast for jobs.
      I do try to connect with that cohort at Kazoo, despite the fact that several of my friends have retired, or have too far to travel, or no longer feel the need to connect there.
      Jane B's point about the village is a good one - - I live in a small village, and it is nice to have people wave at you, or stop to discuss gardening or weather when you're walking the dog. They aren't close friends, but true, small connections are there.

  6. Onward to goals.

    How I did:
    *daily reading/writing (x5), OR a weekly total of 50 pages read, 1250 words written; YES: about 3000 words, finished noting two ILL books that had to be returned. Yay!
    *grade 2 sets of student papers and 2 short assignments; ONE set of papers, none of the rest (delayed assigning one of the short assignments to gain a little time)
    put up 2 new assignments; YES
    prep for film-teaching; YES
    *daily exercise and stretching (x6); MOSTLY: skipped one day of each, and skimped a little on a couple of other days, but good enough!
    *keep up with dead languages; ONE, dropped the other and didn't even go to reading group to try to sight-read, but took the time to grade.
    *pay bills. YES.

    New goals:
    *daily reading/writing (x5), OR a weekly total of 50 pages read, 1250 words written;
    *grade 1 set of student papers (F&H) and 2 short assignments (sentences, ICW);
    *daily exercise and stretching (x6);
    *keep up with dead languages;
    *deal with paperwork.

  7. Well, I chose the topic because the conference I went to last week was one where I see a great group of women colleague/friends (we call ourselves the women who dine well) and I was looking forward to time with them where we can talk about life and work and they see me in three dimensions. They make me feel less crazy and isolated. But these are actually relatively recent friends. I have one friend from nursery school, and as others have mentioned, the fact that I knew her parents, and she knows mine -- and we have more than 60 years of history -- makes that very special. We talk a few times a year, we've gone on vacation together (also with her partner) - and see each other sometimes: neither of us lives near anything convenient, so it's real work. I have some college friends who I see from time to time, on facebook I see some folks from junior high, and friends from the place I lived for the 20+ years before I moved across the country. I don't know how many of my "friends" here are convenience friends or real friends: time will tell.

    How I did:
    1. Enjoy conference YES!
    2. Talk to at least 5 new people Two or three? I'm not really very sociable :) But I had extended time with one person I don't know well, so maybe that counts?
    3. Grade papers NO
    4. Keep up some kind of exercise while at conference YES (for once!)
    5. Try to keep some kind of balanced sleep pattern. (Hah, it's almost 11:30.) NO...

    I feel the exercise was a win, and the rest was pretty good -- and I saw people I like.

    Goals for this week (I mean, it's Tuesday night so...)
    1. Finish grading first group of papers (TRQ)
    2. Comment on draft paper topics
    3. Re-read book and write blog post on big but old book
    4. Do one admin report that is overdue
    5. Keep walking/ exercising

    Saturday is shot with the diocesan convention, so trying to keep goals limited. My gift to myself this week is a massage. So I'll be relaxed.

    1. The massage sounds lovely, Susan. I indulged in a hydrating wrap at the spa while on vacation this past week, which was so relaxing.
      Your goal to talk to new people is one I would struggle with, since I am so introverted, although if I could do it, it would be at a conference where I had the springboard of a presentation or a panel to start from.

  8. Topic: I am really bad at friendship. I get into a mood where I feel that I don't want to spend time with me, so why should anyone else? Self-defeating? You bet, so I'm working on it.
    I was a weird child - -I found out how weird when I was diagnosed with depression, ADD, and dyslexia in my fifties - - so I didn't have any friends until one in high school, and a handful in graduate school. I don't keep up with them very well, since they are on Facebook, which I do not like.
    I now have some good acquaintances among the local writers' group, although the friend I hung out with most often moved five hours away about a month ago.
    My sister and I became close when we took care of my dad in his last week, so we text or call often, cognizant that since our remaining sister has dementia, we are all that remains of our family of six.
    I am slightly better at online friends, although, like many of you, blogging has gone by the wayside for many, including me, I'm sad to say.
    A great prompt and great ideas for thing forward.

    Last week’s goals:
    Relax and forget all about work. For the most part, by breathing through the thoughts when they crossed my mind.
    Enjoy the Wednesday night concert. Yes, very much.
    Take some knitting, probably wool socks. Yes, although I did a lot of walking and enjoyed being outdoors, the knitting helped with the rather interminable travel.
    Make sure I have several books with me. Thanks to several audio books borrowed from the public library, I made it through without running out of books.

    As I predicted, meeting the goals were easy. However, my lack of focus can be seen by my having the wrong week. I'm still on vacation, although I'm heading to the airport for the flight home soon. It was wonderful to get away, if only for a couple of days. We did a lot of walking, so that was good. I did not stick to my diet, but I'm not going to beat myself up about that. The concert was fantastic, so that helped my mood immensely.

    Next week’s goals:
    Do the hard phone calls - - asking for permission to take classes, talking to Admissions, the Graduate School, and the department.
    Do some prep work for special issue.

    Have a lovely week, everyone. Float like mist.