the grid

the grid

Sunday 3 November 2019

Northern Fall/Southern Spring Week 8

First, a belated happy birthday to JaneB!

Last night the clocks changed here, so we've got more light in the mornings, but the evenings will now close in earlier.  The next three months are always the hardest for me, as I just want to hibernate.   

We are half way through the session, and while I won't do a formal mid-session check-in, I invite you to think about your session goals this week: were they reasonable?  Do you need to cut back?   

For those of us in the northern hemisphere, we're deep in the time of grading, and lots of deadlines, committee meetings, conferences, and. . .  It all gets kind of overwhelming.  How do you manage being overwhelmed?  Is there a mantra? Is there something you do for yourself? Or do you just push through?  

Goals from last week:

Dame Eleanor Hull
*daily reading/writing (x5), OR a weekly total of 50 pages read, 1250 words written;
*grade 2 short assignments (summaries; Mab in-class), start grading 1500-word essays; plan when to give two quizzes;
*daily exercise and stretching (x6);
*keep up with dead languages;
*deal with paperwork.

Elizabeth Ann Mitchell
Continue editing 30 minutes a day.
Write a few hundred words of fiction every day.
Weigh suggestions for special issue.
Do not overwork.
Start knitting the tree skirt.

1. Brilliant revision of collection proposal
2. Conference paper/research 30 minutes x 3
3. Language work 30 minutes x 3
4. Calm and rational discussion with chair
5. Sit x 5

1 Finish and submit DQ
This needs all of the possible time and attention this week.

1) maintain habits (8 items)
2) research - flat project, do SOMETHING (which reminds me, I DID do something on flat project last week... had a long angsty conversation with the project lead about former PDF who appears to have got the hump about something but is also really busy so not replying to messages...)
3) Prepare all teaching materials for next week and if possible make a start on the week after that... but
4) Friday is my birthday. Do not work. Write fiction. Roll around in the writing and the ideas being completely self-indulgent. Also, EAT SUGAR (there is a macademia blondie in the freezer which I may have for BREAKFAST). Hippo bird-day to me!!!

1. Finish ed vol chapter, all text, ref and figures
2. Emails for summer fieldwork
3. Midterm- construct new one, grade etc.
4. Bills and laundry and the such
5. Meet with xarpenter for new bookshelves in office
6. Exercise x 2

1. Do next set of grading proposals and drafts
2. DO Blog post
3. Write up minutes
4. Create committees
5. Breathe
6. Keep up with walking, keep getting good sleep.


  1. How I did:
    *daily reading/writing (x5), OR a weekly total of 50 pages read, 1250 words written; once again, more in spirit than by the letter: I'm still messing around analyzing related Latin texts. Also I just did a bit today, at the last minute, so I could report doing something. But that's better than nothing!
    *grade 2 short assignments (summaries; Mab in-class), start grading 1500-word essays; plan when to give two quizzes; YES (actually 3, because I assigned another in-class thing); YES (3 so far); NO.
    *daily exercise and stretching (x6); MOSTLY there were some dark cold days when only very short walks happened
    *keep up with dead languages; YES
    *deal with paperwork. NO.

    Session goals. Ulp. I really need to find more time for research. Even if I cut back on my goals, I want to have some sort of research progress to show for this semester. A lot of time is going to teaching, for Reasons: two grads trying to finish their dissertations, two lower-level classes that need a lot of short assignments to keep them engaged and on track. I'm also giving a lot of time to dead languages while we still have a classicist I can work with (she's likely to retire soon); I'm spending somewhere around nine hours a week in the car; and cooking takes no little time.

    Well, onwards. New goals:
    *daily reading/writing (x5), OR a weekly total of 50 pages read, 1250 words written;
    *grade 1500-word essays; check two in-class writing assignments; plan when to give two quizzes;
    *daily exercise and stretching (x6);
    *keep up with dead languages;
    *deal with paperwork.

    1. Dealing with overwhelm: food, exercise, sleep. Put on my own oxygen mask first. It all feels so much more manageable when I'm rested, well-nourished, and suitably stretched/exercised so I can sit comfortably at my desk.

  2. Thanks all!

    This trimester is just being AWFUL. So awful. I am beyond overwhelmed - research stuff is totally neglected to the point of problems, teaching is hardscrabble, and I'm... well, possibly not as stressed in some ways as last year because the two most stressful people in my department left (Incoming and Very Difficult Colleague). But at the same time, a great many things are really badly wrong and not getting any better, and we're fumbling and more and more tired with every near-disaster and it's just horrible. In some ways it's so obviously undoable that I'm actually doing better at self-care and the like because stuff it, the extra half hour here and there just can't fix the problems.

    Last week:
    1) maintain habits (8 items) not bad. not great, but not bad
    2) research - flat project, do SOMETHING nope
    3) Prepare all teaching materials for next week and if possible make a start on the week after that... but yes, no not a chance. UGH
    4) Friday is my birthday. Do not work. Write fiction. Roll around in the writing and the ideas being completely self-indulgent. Also, EAT SUGAR. I ate sugar. I kind of regret eating sugar, but I guess it's useful to know that, and it wasn't actually that tasty, just ridiculously more-ish. I had a nice birthday, but I really didn't want to get back to work, and then today I didn't work much because... I didn't. I have made a start on NaNo and now that is ALL I want to do, other than sleep, try not to eat sugar, and not be an adult.

    Last week was fun in parts - I had a lovely evening with my sister and niece, but I think I'm at the point where I'm going to stop coping, and either screw something up or get sick. or both, of course, both is an option.

    next week's goals:
    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.

    1. That's interesting: when the overwhelm hits a certain point, and enough of it is out of your control, you can actually walk away somewhat.
      But I'm sorry it's that way.

  3. As you might imagine, I always ask questions that relate to my current state of mind. Which is overwhelm. I got sick after my conference (the conference cold) and it lingered for a long time. So I took naps, and didn't focus as much as I should have. I don't have big things to do, but I have lots of little things (that I am currently not doing while I write this!) I am of the push through group, but I hate it when I'm doing everything as TRQ. I may be over a hump -- I've got a few small things to do, but the big "must be done" stuff is actually done.

    Looking over my session goals, I've actually done pretty well, though keeping up with the teaching of two new courses is, well, lots of keeping up. I haven't touched Race or Big (but may look at Race this weekend) and I haven't had Memorial back from editors. I meet with the general editor of Big next week. But all the other academic stuff is done or (as with teaching) ongoing.
    I haven't done as well with life -- while the walking has been pretty consistent, I'm not consistently taking a day off, not getting 7 hours of sleep, and not reading at bedtime. Sigh.

    Goals from last week:
    1. Do next set of grading proposals and drafts DONE
    2. DO Blog post DONE
    3. Write up minutes DONE
    4. Create committees NO
    5. Breathe Napped instead :)
    6. Keep up with walking, keep getting good sleep. YES, pretty much.

    As I noted the cold had me napping a lot. I took a day to go up to wine country, so that was nice. I took my mother out for a relaxing breakfast, which was good. But so much teaching is happening at the last minute...

    Goals for this week:
    1. Make committees
    2. Admin stuff: expense reports, letter, report etc. Maybe clear out email?
    3. Re-read Race, think about how to revise
    4. Clear desk, which has become a disaster area
    5. Keep walking
    6. Sleep

    1. Lots of little things can be more annoying than the One Big Thing, especially because more of the little buggers keep popping up. Teaching at the last minute can be perfectly effective for the students, though not the best thing from our end. If you come up with bright ideas on the fly, I hope you have a chance to write them down (or take pictures?) so you can use them again later.

    2. Yes, all the littles are a LOT!

  4. Topic:
    Deep in overwhelm over here. The time change is awkward and difficult, trying to figure out how to adjust eating and sleeping, as well as the challenge of household animals whose schedules remain unchanged despite the clocks. Seeing that there are only four more teaching weeks in the semester helps alleviate the overwhelm because the end is in sight.

    That aside, I am mostly on track with my session goals since they were/are mostly things that I’ve already committed to, with deadlines. I regret the couple of things I didn’t get done but press in with what is ahead.

    Last week:
    1 Finish and submit DQ: Ended up with a week’s extension, so this is still my TRQ.

    This week:
    1 Finish and submit DQ
    2 Prepare online conference presentation for next week
    3 Read next review book

    1. Dairy Queen? Maybe we should all make an effort to come up with interesting/weird/funny acronyms or nicknames for our projects, to amuse the rest of the group!

    2. I am all in for weird acronyms and nicknames.

      In this case, I confess: Drag Queen. But I can imagine a fabulous comedy routine about drag queens at Dairy Queen!

    3. I want to watch the movie/TV series on DQ at DQ!

  5. This semester has felt really hard, and I'm not totally sure why. Some of it is excessive service, some of it is my damned first-year seminar, which only meets for 50 minutes a week but is the most soul-crushing teaching experience that I've had since my first year of teaching. (The students are nice, but with very few exceptions they WILL. NOT. TALK. Under any circumstances. And it's a discussion-based SEMINAR.)

    Session goals 1-5 are in good shape, but they're all the deadline-related tasks, plus meditation. The subsequent goals are the habits that I had last year--daily writing/research, daily language--and they're hardly happening at *all*, which is upsetting to me. I feel like I'm just powering from one teaching- or service-related task to the next, with no larger projects of my own in the works.

    So that needs to change.

    Last week:
    1. Brilliant revision of collection proposal - Did a little work on Monday morning, if that counts
    2. Conference paper 30 minutes x 3 - No—1.5 sessions
    3. Language work 30 minutes x 3 — None
    4. Calm and rational discussion with chair - Yes
    5. Sit x 5 - x4

    This week:
    1. Finish conference paper and print it out; prepare intros/read abstracts for panel I'm chairing
    2. Language x 2
    3. Clear out email and niggling service-y tasks
    4. Find a book or article that I want to read and that's related to my next project

    1. There is nothing like students who to drain your life blood. I remember Notorious PhD used to tell hers that she sat zazen every morning, so she was very comfortable with silence, and then just sit and look at them till they cracked. I have mine read things aloud, so they get used to the sound of their own voices, at least.

  6. Topic: I am pretty deep in overwhelm at the moment, because my workplace continues to be hostile, which is simply exhausting. However, a couple of very good things, and one potentially good thing happened this week. The Dean told me Monday that she would meet with me next week, so I am cautiously optomistic that I will be released from purgatory in the near future. Also, on Tuesday I met with the head of the department where I hope to be transferred, and it was clear that the whole department wants me over there. It was a bit of a Sally Field moment (“you like me, you really like me”). On Wednesday, I was officially accepted into the PhD program. Admittedly, the department is a bit spooked by my Dean forbidding me to take classes last fall, but I now officially have an advisor, and hope to meet with him soon.

    I’m not doing great on the session goals. I had planned to take a break from Prudence to set the seeds for the next two projects, but I found myself going back to Prudence. I am only doing so-so on lunches, because I am not sleeping well, and have been directed to start my workday far earlier than I would like.
    I am doing very well on moving about and on decluttering. I am walking a lot--it especially helps when I am angry. I am packing up my cubicle, merrily shredding and recycling, and putting what I need in boxes. I have no official word on where I will go, except that I will not be allowed to stay in the “head’s” cubicle, which is larger than the rank and file’s cubicles. So I’m packing.

    Last week’s goals:
    Continue editing 30 minutes a day. Yes, every single day.
    Write a little fiction every day. Yes.
    Weigh suggestions for special issue. No.
    Do not overwork. Yes.
    Start knitting the tree skirt. Yes.

    Analysis: I am just worn to the bone. I am writing, both scholarly prose and fiction, and knitting in a bit of a daze or sleep-deprived state, which means I end up frogging more than I have needed to in years. Sigh. I also made the mistake of thinking that I’d enjoy a bulky yarn project — the tree skirt, and I just don’t enjoy the bulky needles or thread much. I am more a laceweight through DK kind of knitter, with the balance on the lace end of things. On a positive note, I am on day 10 of the academic writing boot camp, without missing a single day.

    I talked to my referee who hadn’t yet turned in the recommendation letter, and he must have done it in the next hour, which I appreciate immensely. I will ask about whether I will be allowed to take classes when I meet with the Dean, which I hope will happen next week.

    I am sticking with the same goals for the next few days, since this check-in is so darn late.

    Next week’s goals:
    Continue editing 30 minutes a day.
    Write a little fiction every day.
    Weigh suggestions for special issue.
    Do not overwork.
    Continue knitting the tree skirt.

    We are enjoying freezing temperatures in upstate New York. Float like mist, everyone.

    1. Just sending you warm thoughts from California (where it may be 35 in the morning, but we'll damn well be 80 in the afternoon tell me how to dress for that will you?). I'm just appalled at what you're going through and glad the potential department all want you.

      I took a knitting project to our diocesan convention last week, and realized I spent the whole day knitting on needles too small for the yarn. I'm a big needle/fat yarn type. have a lovely project on small needles and I can't even.. .

  7. Thanks, Susan. Layering doesn't even address the scope of temperature you're experiencing--my sympathies!

    The frustration of realizing that your knitting is all for naught, especially when you can't just get the correct needles from the next room...