the grid

the grid

Saturday 30 November 2019

Northern Fall/Southern Spring Week 12

Well, JaneB posted last week about why she hadn't posted the week before, but it appears that I was not the only one who flaked on posting last week. Between medical issues for my mother, preparing to host my brother, SIL, and the not quite 6 year old twins, I completely flaked.   I have spent the day slowly recovering from their presence -- which is great, but exhausting; and my mother tells me how my brother annoys her.  It's all tiring and even though I love them all, all together is hard. 

 I'm obsessed with impeachment stuff, and on twitter watching many colleagues in the UK on their picket lines.  It's not only getting towards "the holidays", but also the end of term in the US, with attendant grading.  Lots of institutions with Xmas dos.  This makes JaneB's questions from last week particularly relevant. Since only Dame Eleanor and Humming42 posted last week, I'm going to repeat them:
In this season of crazy demands, what advice do you find useful on how to be kind to ourselves?  How do we frame the necessary triage as realistic, professional and smart?  What gifts do we want to give ourselves this year?
Which little pieces of the seasonal ritual do we genuinely enjoy, benefit from and intend to prioritise in the coming weeks?
(Go back and read what Dame Eleanor and Humming42 wrote, too -- both very thoughtful and provoking, at least for me!)

Dame Eleanor Hull
*submit abstract; 4 hours on R&R.
*grade 1 complete set of papers, start 2nd set.
*daily exercise and stretching.
*work on dead languages.
*sort/file/toss papers; tidy my study.
*enjoy 2 social engagements.

Elizabeth Ann Mitchell (from last week)
Start to tie up loose ends, and decide which ones can stay untied in the old job.
Look at five of the suggestions for the special issue.
Finish packing the cubicle.
Look at the second interlibrary loan book.
Plan what I need in the new office space.
Edit Prudence 30 minutes a day.
Find out the brass tacks of the new building--refrigerator? Lounge?
Begin the attack on the yarn stash.

Heu Mihi (from last week) 
1. Survive the following: Tonight's speaker, whom I'm hosting; Husband's 50th birthday party tomorrow; guest author in class on Wednesday; giant birthday party for Husband on Friday. Take care of everything that needs taking care of. Don't freak out about the house being small and full of people and getting messy. DON'T.
2. Language x 3
3. Read 2 chapters/essays on research topic

1 Submit DQ, for real, for real
2 Write next book review
3 Try to finish 1 December article
4 Submit KR abstract

JaneB (from 2 weeks ago) 
1) maintain habits (8 items)
2) research - flat project, do SOMETHING. MAYBE
3a) External examining - read a large, large pile of final projects and prepare for a trip to Crowded Capital on the 20th... this has to all be done by the 15th because of family stuff...
3b) prep everything for next week.
3c) Sit down and look seriously at what is to come, and possibly throw self on the mercy of timetabling to ask for a change of some sort, or the mercy of my colleagues, or just... I dunno, cut something. I just. Can't.
4) NaNo. Discuss family stuff with sister, try to finalise the plan for parents wedding anniversary weekend.

OceanGirl101 (from 2 weeks ago)
1. grade midterm, input all grades etc.
2. prep classes
3. two article reviews
4. read student diss chapter
5. bills
6. exercise x 2

Susan (from last week) 
1. Make committees
2. Get all the assignment prompts and related material for both Course A and Course B
3. Finish grading papers for B
4. Do stuff for committee I chair
5. Start reading student dissertation
6. Read 3 journals
7. Walk
8. Sleep
9. Keep knitting in meetings. I started a scarf at the conference, and have decided it's good for me!


  1. Topic: I think the kindest thing I can do for myself is to allow myself imperfection. I tend to beat myself up for any failure to meet goals, whether justified or not. I also tend to compare myself with others, to my detriment.

    How can triage be more professional and realistic? Professionally, I take a deep dive into my psyche to see why I am planning a certain project--it is okay if the motivation is professional advancement, but am I trying to prove something that I do not need to prove (in the line of “X is mean to me, so I will prove I am better at {topic} than X”).

    Realistically, I do better when I multiply by a factor of 1.5-2 the time I think a project will take, then break down the component parts and do the same. If I do something in less time, I feel accomplished, but like now, when a big snow storm is hitting (11” predicted between today and Monday evening, for example), I have some wiggle room to curl up with a good book in front of the fire.

    As for gifts to myself, like Dame Eleanor, I would love to give myself some research time. I also need to restore my home office/corner, so that I am not trying to write in the middle of my open concept kitchen/dining/living room.

    For my seasonal rituals: I try to crochet at least one snowflake to add to the tree every year; this year, I hope to finish knitting the tree skirt as well. On the food/drink front, I tend to make more spiced drinks--cider, tea, and occasionally wine (although some of my wine experiments have not been drinkable!).

    I have holiday mugs from my oldest daughter, as well as a nice centerpiece for the table. I also unearth my mother-in-law's candlesticks. I like your Advent wreath ritual, Jane.

    Last two weeks' goals:
    Start to tie up loose ends, and decide which ones can stay untied in the old job. Yes
    Look at five of the suggestions for the special issue. No
    Finish packing the cubicle. Yes
    Look at the second interlibrary loan book. Yes
    Plan what I need in the new office space. Yes
    Edit Prudence 30 minutes a day. 2 out of 7
    Find out the brass tacks of the new building--refrigerator? Lounge? Not yet
    Begin the attack on the yarn stash. Yes

    Analysis: A couple of very busy weeks. I managed to finish packing, say goodbye to my staff, have a reasonably calm Thanksgiving, and go to Manhattan for a medical appointment last Friday, in the teeth of Thanksgiving travel madness.

    Next week's goals:
    Begin carefully organizing the new cubicle with writing space in mind.
    Write my three statements for tenure and award meetings.
    Edit Prudence 30 minutes a day.
    Plan the timing of my research trip.

    I hope for all of you to have moments of serenity in the next several weeks when so many of you are facing end of semester/holidays approaching madness. Breathe deep, recite those mantras, and float like mist, everyone!

    1. Here's the problem with not checking in regularly--I didn't know until now that you were moving departments! I just went through and found the post where you mentioned it a few weeks ago. Congratulations! I hope that the new start this week is exciting and enjoyable!

    2. Thank you, heu mihi! I have an unexpected snow day today as well, but I feel sure that it will be a much better place for me.

    3. Thank you, Dame Eleanor! I am getting settled, and feeling very good about the new place and position.

  2. This is the first session in which I've missed *two* check-ins. In fact, it might be the first session in which I've missed any. Thank you all for still being here!

    This prompt is thus quite timely--because yes, I feel guilty about missing check-ins (but not very, luckily, since that's obviously counter-productive and I know that you all don't mind), and I feel even more guilty because I haven't been writing/researching regularly, and my language work has fallen by the wayside, and there are weeks when exercise has been spotty. I don't like any of this. When I started this job, I got into some very good writing habits, which I maintained up until this semester. I'm not sure what's happened this semester; I have too many service commitments, for one thing, but that can't be all of it. It's more like I just never found the rhythm.

    On the other hand, I *did* review my proofs and write the index for my book, and (with a colleague) put together and sent a proposal for a collection, and finished/wrote and presented a conference paper, and reviewed the edits for another article, and submitted two abstracts for exciting conferences abroad. So maybe I shouldn't be too hard on myself. But my mind just erases those accomplishments when faced with my failure to work daily.

    Gifts to self, then, should include the acknowledgement of this work. I would also like a series of guilt-free No cards and a return of my determination to do my own work first.

    So I'm sitting here at 5 am, writing this, with a fresh announcement that today is a snow day on my phone and email, and that, too, is a gift. I wasn't even going to bother putting research-related work on my list for the week, but maybe now, with this little assurance of extra time, I will!

    Two weeks ago: I did language once, I think, and read not at all for research. But the party was fun.

    This week:
    1. A billion teaching tasks, both big and little. Finish recommendation letter. Sit through undergrad conference thing that is taking up my whole free day. Attend tiresome but short event that I organized. Watch video of TA's guest lecture and write up comments.
    2. Finish reviewing final proofs
    3. Read/take notes 3 x 30 minutes
    4. Draft syllabus for new spring class
    5. Language x 3

    1. Your gift to acknowledge your work is a very good one. I suspect most of us discount or forget our accomplishments. I know that I do. Also, I'd like to order a set of those guilt-free "No" cards, please.

      And although I agree that putting your work first is extremely important, look at all you did in the past two weeks! So, yes, don't be so hard on yourself.

    2. That is a lot! I need to make a list of things I *did* do this year, because I feel like I've got nothing done, but that's probably not true.

    3. I was going to say, but you did proofs and an index. The finishing work on a book is part of getting the book out (though it's not very exciting.)

  3. Hi All,

    Like many I have been overwhelmed by the season of too many things to do. This Thanksgiving was hard- first real one without both of my parents. I stayed at home and had folks over which kept me busy for the day of the holiday, but the rest of the days off felt uber lonely. I need to plan more social things for Christmas Break. Over break I am focusing on writing Ch 7 of my book, but I also look forward to having more time to work out at the gym, and some time to do self-care like baths, facials, and getting my house office organized. Self care funnily enough will also include scheduling a day to get all of this semester's teaching materials in order so prepping next time for these courses will be easy. I was going to travel to my island field spot for Christmas to see my adoptive family there, but book writing will keep me home. I am hoping this goes ok- I am working as hard as I can in the next week to clear the decks for that. Sorry to miss out on several check ins, and glad everyone is here!
    this week:
    1) finish grading semester based homework etc.
    2) finish 9 reports for FP government publications
    3) write letters of rec for two grad students and a colleague
    4) write a small internal grant
    5) gym x 2

    1. You got through Thanksgiving, though, and learned something about what you need to do to care for yourself through the winter break, so that's good. I tend to check this space a few times a day (reflexively), so you can always leave a comment and we can chat here, if that helps to relieve your solitude.

    2. What Dame Eleanor said. Holidays are really hard after family members die.

      I like your idea of organizing teaching materials for the next go round on a course!

    3. I echo what Dame Eleanor and Susan said. Knowing how Thanksgiving made you feel will help you plan ways to minimize feeling like that on winter break.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Crap. I think I hit "sign out" instead of "publish," so there went my original check-in, including musings on rituals. Let's try this again.

    How I did:
    *submit abstract; 4 hours on R&R. YES, NO not at all.
    *grade 1 complete set of papers, start 2nd set. YES! ("Barely" counts, right?)
    *daily exercise and stretching. YES x6
    *work on dead languages. YES, a bit.
    *sort/file/toss papers; tidy my study. NOOOoooo.
    *enjoy 2 social engagements. YES.

    Although I have impulses towards tidying, I want to do a bigger sort-out rather than just clearing a surface, and since I don't have time for that, I don't get to the surface stuff either. Sigh.

    New goals:
    *Sleep, stretching, exercise.
    *Grade final set of papers, grade two small assignments, write two exams.
    *Two hours research, plus dead languages.
    *Assorted Life Stuff including ordering presents.

    We generally do something Xmas Eve with Sir John's family, then are on our own on the Day. I like to note the passing of the solstice and the lengthening of the days; last year we had friends over for dinner on the Solstice. I'm not sure if we'll do something like that again. I'm trying to pay attention to seasonal changes around me, both natural and human: how many leaves stubbornly clinging to the apple tree? Which neighbours have put up lights?

    1. I hear you on wanting to do the huge clearing out, and struggle with the same tendency.

      As for "barely" counting, yes, it does! I think you did a great job on goals.

      I like your idea of paying attention to the seasonal changes, and want to do more positive things with that--my usual is to grouse about how dark it is going to and leaving work.

  6. I love people's gifts to themselves. I'll take a packet of guilt free "NO" cards. I've been working on kindness all semester - to myself and to others, especially my students.

    As for seasonal rituals, I love Christmas music, I love singing it. About now I'll start playing it...

    Goals from 2 weeks ago:
    1. Make committees NO - now TRQ
    2. Get all the assignment prompts and related material for both Course A and Course B YES
    3. Finish grading papers for B YES (but as of 2 AM this morning, so I am VERY tired.)
    4. Do stuff for committee I chair YES
    5. Start reading student dissertation NO
    6. Read 3 journals YES
    7. Walk NO
    8. Sleep SOME
    9. Keep knitting in meetings. I started a scarf at the conference, and have decided it's good for me! YES

    Reflection: I procrastinated on grading, and actually took time off for the holiday. And decided to move slowly. Walking has been undermined by this weird wet stuff that has been falling from the sky. (No complaints, we really need it, but. . .)
    On the research end of things, I've ILL'd a few books relevant to my two sabbatical projects. And got the go-ahead on BIG.

    Goals for next week:
    1. Make committees and other stuff for org that is TRQ
    2. Do expenses from last trip
    3. Read 2 journals
    4. Comments for students in Course A
    5. Grade next set of papers in Course B (due Thursday)
    6. Go through charity requests on desk and clear it
    7. Get back into exercise
    8. Catch up on sleep

    Classes end December 12 for me, so I've got lots of grading to keep up with so that I can get final grades in quickly. Tonight there was the Holiday party at my mother's Assisted Living place, tomorrow it's the Dean's event for the school, so I'm trying to pace myself.

  7. It sounds like taking a break was helpful for you, Susan, while you still made some steps on research.

    Pacing the holiday parties takes a lot of work. I have a handful, now that I'm in the new job. As delighted as I am to be included, they do take effort and time.