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Sunday, 29 March 2020

Week 12: Making space

When it comes to planning and setting goals, I think a lot about time and space, both literally and figuratively. The basic example, which we’ve discussed quite a bit here, is whether to set writing goals based on time or work count.   

I find myself ruminating on this even more, since I seem to have no sense of time. The days float by, and even though I am working at tracking my time, I still find myself astonished by the big chunks of time that are suddenly now in the past. Curiously, I seldom have the experience of feeling that I have more time than I thought I did, or that it seems later in the day than the clock says. 

With all that, I’m thinking about using metaphors related to space rather than time. I was thinking about this before the just-announced shelter in place mandate for the city and county in which I live. Maybe if I were an extrovert, I would feel constrained or even some sense of panic about sheltering in place. Instead, I’m thinking about making space for the things I want to do this week. And making sure I make space for the grief of the everyday we no longer have, the fury at mismanagement that has led to lives lost, and the collective sadness that we cannot avoid. 
Whether you want to set goals or not this week, check in and let us know how you’re doing. Be kind to yourselves. 

1) Put everyone on a schedule! 
2) Write funding report and technical report to go with it 
3) Dust off neglected paper and work on figures 
4) Post enough class material to get through 2 weeks 
5) Run at least 4 times 
6) Stop stress-eating everything that doesn’t move fast enough… 

Dame Eleanor Hull 
Daily stretching, walking, 8 hours sleep. 
Class plans for next week (definitely) and beyond (as I can); grade a set of papers; maintain virtual office hours. 
3-4 days: some language study and some reading/note-taking. 
At least one service thing (of 3). 
2-3 items from my Life Stuff list. 

Elizabeth Anne Mitchell 
Hang curtains. 
Block dressing gown and chemise. 
Finish passport application. 
Do some grunt work (glossary, citations, and the like) for half an hour a day to get back into research. 

Good Enough Woman (held over) 
1. Get next week's Brit Lit reading done by Sunday. 
2. Do most of the prep for next week to clear the way for heavier grading. 
3. Find short stories for independent study student. Create first few assignments for her. 
4. Research/write for 1 hour. 
1. Send at least three cards/letters to people. 
2. Have lunch with my mom. 
3. Float like mist through all four of my son's 4-H activities this week. Support him. 
1. Walk 4x 
2. Meditate 4x 
3. Skip late-night treat 3x. Fast at least 13 hours 2x. 
4. Reschedule appointment that got cancelled. 

heu mihi 
1. Establish functional routines for Bonaventure--his teacher is doing daily Zoom meetings, and he's enthusiastic about homework, so this might be okay 
2. Self-care: sit, exercise, get outside, read/watch shows for fun 
3. Get through teaching without worrying about it too much 
4. Write letter of rec. for grad student (this really should be done today); triage email; contact advisees re. Registration 

1 continue to write content for online course I’m teaching 
2 continue to create content for classes that were moved online 
3 decide what call for papers to respond to 
look at DQ and decide whether to revise 

JaneB (held over) 
1) Do one ACTUAL WORK THING, one CHORE THING and one FUN THING every day. 
2) aim for 5 fruit and veg a day, plenty of water, no bread, and small amounts of sugar. 
2a) start to work out what a realistic schedule might look like (we got the news of closure Monday, we still don't know how it will work, we had to write plans over the weekend which then need to be approved (but haven't been yet so I'm reluctant to make too much of a start on prep)). And I have to do as much as I can NOT to let my sleep schedule drift... 
3) spend an hour with my NaNo writing, because I enjoy it 
4) keep building that list of research obligations… 
Karen (held over) 
-clear 2 boxes (the ones next to the bookshelf) 
-start all course F draft documents 
-run x 2, yoga x 3. Wondering if I can fit in a weights session somewhere in my schedule because I realise I need to work on upper body strength, but can't see where. 
-order wind sock, book in 4 field recording days. 
-write up notes from this mornings library trip 

- collate sustainability paperwork for two organisational units 
- produce 2 lectures worth of distance learning for polymer chemistry course 
- carry out student meetings by phone 
- walk 10000 steps each day (we're doing this fitness tracker challenge thing at work) 
Anything beyond this is a bonus. 

Oceangirl101 (held over) 
1) write/work on book, but mostly Ch 7 3x a week, for 2 hrs each- will involve some number crunching, creation of figures, writing and some revision of Ch 3 
2) exercise x 3 
3) meet with undergrad students/grad that I am advising on lab projects/independent studies etc. 
4) finish syllabi, start BB sites for two courses 

1. Manuscript review (must be done by Friday AM) 
2. Clear out 100 more emails (this is relatively mindless, and I got rid of 100 the other day in less than an hour) 
3. 5 minutes of clearing daily 
4. 5 minutes of weeding daily 
5. Keep up social connection / add new people 
6. Keep getting exercise. 
7. Add pleasure reading to schedule. 
8. Keep being kind to people. 

1. COVID and MH 
a. Into qualtrics 
2. Tobacco paper 
3. T32 
4. Asthma paper revision 
5. Take a fresh look at PTSD paper? (if all goes well this week) 


  1. I'm finally over the hump with COVID. Things got pretty scary last week, but I am much better. I've been having a lot of lightheadedness though that I think is anxiety. Basically everyone who was/is on the market this year is terrified their offers will get revoked - or that offers in the works will explode. My interview at my current institution was canceled and I was told I can extend my postdoc another year or two instead of becoming faculty (which threw me into a deep depression) . I have an offer in the works - and I don't want to move to that institution, but I have to really consider whether that would be better than being a postdoc for another two years. I'm so tired of being a trainee and being poor.

    On the fun side, I dyed my hair rose gold (because what better time to dye your hair crazy colors than now???). It's not very rose-y, but I think it is pretty!

    This week:
    1. Unmask intersectionality paper
    2. T32 bits (dues Wednesday)
    3. Tobacco paper (due tomorrow)
    4. Texas study measure
    5. COVID and MH - keep chipping away at online survey
    6. Asthma paper
    7. YRBS paper

    1. I wondered from your description if you had COVID. I'm glad you're getting better. I hope your mentor has been a bit more understanding. I'm sorry about the job market stuff - it's so hard. (And the balance between imperfect job and trainee status at a good place is one of those decisions you'll make by following your instincts. There's no right answer.)
      The rose gold hair sounds gorgeous!

    2. I've been toying with the idea of dying my hair some interesting color, since if I don't like it there will be plenty of time to grow it out before I'm in the classroom again!

  2. Pretty decent week, all things considered… Everyone is healthy, reasonably entertained and not throwing any wobblies about being stuck. I have the world’s easiest, most accommodating child, which means I totally worry about neglecting her because she’s so self-sufficient… Wonderful problem to have, and easy one to solve with activities and mum time. And books, so many books!

    Online teaching sucks, but that’s expected. I’m sure it is worse for many others and for all the students. I’m really grateful we were very close to the end of semester anyway, not as much to salvage as in places with terms that start and end later in the year. We’re doing a big test of the online exam system this week, crossing fingers it goes smoothly and everyone gets it done. We got a super annoying letter from our uni saying that despite “circumstances that are not ideal for working at home” they still expect “normal working hours” from everybody… I’d like to collect a few toddlers, a couple of bored teenagers, a few needy middle-schoolers, and a bunch of over-friendly pets to mail to our VPA so he can show us all how to do these mythical “normal working hours”… Figure he’d go for that? I feel that this is the worst for the staff members whose work is not nearly as flexible as the faculty-type stuff… It really sucks for them and even though lots of us have been making noises and writing to various administrators to advocate for staff the answer is always “they should talk to their managers” who don’t seem terribly receptive judging by the HR missives…

    Making space… That is a good question. I don’t have a dedicated space for working at home (mostly because I don’t like it and do it only when necessary) so I’m in the dining room in open plan floor, so no quiet or privacy. Which is sort of ok, I want to be able to keep an eye on child, and be involved in her activities, so it works fine. She’s much better at not bugging me than the other grown-up member of household… ‘nuff said… Mental space will increase when the last bits of course panic departs… Until then I’m just doing what is possible and trying not to get too caught up in worrying about everything I’m not doing right now...

    Last week’s goals:
    1) Put everyone on a schedule! DONE AND FUNCTIONAL
    2) Write funding report and technical report to go with it DONE
    3) Dust off neglected paper and work on figures NOPE
    4) Post enough class material to get through 2 weeks DONE
    5) Run at least 4 times DONE
    6) Stop stress-eating everything that doesn’t move fast enough… DONE, NOVELTY WORE OFF AFTER ABOUT A WEEK…

    This week’s goals:
    1) Finish one chapter of exam questions for course every day
    2) Bonus reward (TBD) if I do more than one chapter a day…
    3) Dust off (at this point more like excavate) neglected paper and work on figures
    4) Check in with list of on-the-edge students
    5) Run at least 4 times
    6) Practice chosen pieces at least 4 times
    7) Find a better chair for “office” and do regular stretches to recover from the various cricks caused by hard kitchen chairs…

    Hang in there everyone!

    1. Sounds like you're doing pretty well! How nice to have a self-amusing kid. Just ignore your uni's official directives; they're out to lunch. We're all doing the best we can but this is not business as usual.

    2. Wow, you're doing very well! I agree that online teaching sucks. It's going okay, but I don't enjoy interacting with a screen instead of people.

  3. Space: that's interesting. I've been moving around my house more than usual just to vary my work space. I have an office that I was about ready to radically re-do (get a new desk, etc.) when the sky fell in. I'm slowly making my way through the paper that accumulates all the time. I have a great work/reading chair, and I occasionally move my laptop there to write or do email. I lounge on the sofa (that's where zoom happy hours take place) and the other day I took a meeting sitting at the dining room table. But even more than physical space, finding mental space is challenging. I find I can work for about 3 hours seriously in a day, and after that? not so much. The world is too present, and I have to actively wall it off to get work done.

    Goals from last week:
    1. Manuscript review (must be done by Friday AM) DONE
    2. Clear out 100 more emails (this is relatively mindless, and I got rid of 100 the other day in less than an hour) ABOUT 30?
    3. 5 minutes of clearing daily DONE 5 times
    4. 5 minutes of weeding daily DONE 5 times
    5. Keep up social connection / add new people YES
    6. Keep getting exercise. YES
    7. Add pleasure reading to schedule. YES
    8. Keep being kind to people. Trying

    THe manuscript was great, and the workshop, while not nearly as much fun as it would have been in person, was a great experience of intellectual community, and really valued because all my conferences etc which center intellectual community have been canceled. I've made progress on the clearing and the garden, so that's good. The walking continues to be vital. Also, I see people, so have some human connection (from 6 feet away).

    Goals for the week to come:
    1. Read MA thesis draft
    2. Read book/write review
    3. Do 1 year of at least 2 journals (this is less onerous than it sounds)
    4. Read for fun
    5. Keep walking
    6. Keep up with virtual social life
    7. 5 minutes clearing
    8. 5 minutes gardening
    9. Be kind to myself and others

    1. How nice to have a good manuscript to review! It's inspiring to see you making progress on tasks like clearing and weeding by doing a little every day.

    2. What was especially great was that the four other people other than the author were really smart and interesting, and I only knew one of them. So really, the best kind of event.

  4. Here it comes, I thought.

    “I mean, not officially to their attention. I’m sure there are records of who comes into the Library and who leaves, and from where and to where. But I started to think that maybe rather than a real graduation, they were waiting for us to test ourselves. Like, the test was knowing when you were ready to go out on a mission that wasn’t totally supervised. I mean, I have done some supervised missions, the sort of thing where you go through a gate, walk around the block and buy a book, and come back. You don’t get to see much that way. I was curious!” she said, with a mixture of defensiveness and wistfulness. “I was reading up on this world, the world where Dame Eleanor Hull IS the Librarian-in-Residence, anyway, and it seemed like it would be a good place to visit. Lots of libraries, the kind of tech that’s easily hackable, interesting books. But the books I thought should be here, aren’t. And you have these weird little pockets of Fae.”

    I raised my eyebrows.

    “Oh, not that I think you’re one!” she said hastily.

    “I never thought you might think that,” I said. “I was going to ask if the number of worlds is fixed, or if new ones can split off from the ones you know about. Because, now that you mention it, I’ve been thinking for about the last four years that we have moved to an unintended Bizarro World, so maybe this world split from the one where Dame Eleanor is a member of Library staff.”

    “That’s a matter of debate,” she said. “It’s not clear how many worlds there are, and theoretically they could be infinite, but that still doesn’t say whether it’s an infinity that can grow or just a simple infinity. And you know we focus on fiction, not science, and just enough history to have some idea of what we’re getting into when we go to a particular world.

    “Or what the seniors are getting apprentices into,” she added, crossly. “So it’s possible you’ve split off, but I don’t know how to tell.”

    1. Oh yes, we've definitely been in a bizarro world for just about the last 4 years....

  5. The past week was okay. I was sick the whole time, and still feel under-par. No idea if it's a mild version of COVID-19 or just some random virus that's hitting me harder than colds usually do b/c of stress etc. Energy levels are up-and-down, and I often feel close to normal in the morning, then flag significantly around mid-day to early afternoon. So I keep resting and pushing fluids, because whatever I have, this is no time to get sicker through not taking care of myself. In the circumstances, I did a lot, but I'd sure like to feel normal again.

    Oh, and we found a dead mouse in the basement. Not good. We're going to have to go through all the boxes in the basement looking for signs of mouse habitation.

    How I did:
    Daily stretching, walking, 8 hours sleep. HALF? When I felt strong enough, I'd either stretch or go for a walk. Sleep was bad at the beginning of the week due to congestion and coughing, but improved toward the weekend.
    Class plans for next week (definitely) and beyond (as I can); grade a set of papers; maintain virtual office hours. YES. There are some late papers to grade now, and I didn't do anything for next week.
    3-4 days: some language study and some reading/note-taking. One language 3 days, enough to prep for reading group. I read most of a scholarly book but still need to write up notes.
    At least one service thing (of 3). NO.
    2-3 items from my Life Stuff list. ONE.

    New goals:
    Daily stretching, walking, 8 hours sleep (as health allows).
    Class plans for next week (definitely) and beyond (as I can); more grading; maintain virtual office hours.
    3-4 days: some language study and some reading/note-taking.
    At least one service thing (of 3).
    2-3 items from my Life Stuff list.

    1. I'm well equipped for physical space: I have a dedicated home office, and can also read or work on a laptop on the couch in the front window, so I can wave at the occasional dog-walker or jogger. I'm getting better at walling off the news. I still check 3-4 times a day, but not constantly.

    2. I need to learn to just hide from the news.
      I'm sorry about the mouse, though. That's not fun.
      Have a good week...

  6. I’m still thinking about making space for things and making room to fit in what matters. I’m really looking forward to the semester being over so I can sort my physical space and how I make use of it. A puzzle is coming in the mail, and there is new music to listen to while puzzling, so I look forward to being in another part of the house to engage with that. Also I look forward to reading novels for pleasure. I have an e-book on an open tab that I’m close to finishing, and it has been a welcome treat. Clearly the onset of April has me thinking about the future, which is a hopeful thing for me.

    Last week:
    1 continue to write content for online course I’m taking: some
    2 continue to create content for classes that were moved online: some
    3 decide what call for papers to respond to: yes, oddly
    4 look at DQ and decide whether to revise: no

    Since the week is already half over, I end up listing some things I’ve completed, basically submitting abstracts. I decided not to submit to overseas conference, in part because the conference relates to things related to the global pandemic and I feel like my topic was too lighthearted for what will turn out to be a serious, contemplative gathering if it ends up being scheduled. I did find through my grad school friend network that an international conference that is usually held at a distant location will be online this year, so I’m planning to submit to that.

    This week:
    1 continue to write content for online course I’m taking
    2 continue to create content for classes that were moved online
    3 submit article abstracts
    4 look at DQ and decide whether to revise
    5 review two journal articles
    6 submit one book review

    1. Jigsaw puzzles are great! I'm working on a fiendish one, Edward Gorey's "Cat Fancy." I should listen to music more often---thanks for the reminder!

    2. We did a Gorey puzzle during our last puzzle enthusiasm and it was difficult but wonderful. I fell in love with his work all over again.

  7. Well I've been MIA for no good reason. The days are sort of flowing together, despite teaching obligations....

    A bit of good news: Wonder, the article that I've been working on forEVer, was accepted this week. I sent it to a perfectly fine but not ambitious journal, and I'm very happy that it will soon be published!

    Last week:
    1. Establish functional routines for Bonaventure--Doing OK on this
    2. Self-care: sit, exercise, get outside, read/watch shows for fun--Mostly
    3. Get through teaching without worrying about it too much--Not worrying very much at all; I keep sort of forgetting that we're mid-semester
    4. Write letter of rec. for grad student (this really should be done today); triage email; contact advisees re. Registration--Done (none of these took long)

    This week:
    1. Tackle yard clean-up (a cheat, since we did this yesterday!)
    2. Read 30 pages of a research-related book.
    3. Exercise, homeschool, go outside, stay sane.

    1. I feel like it's endlessly Thursday (my teaching schedule this spring was MW, and before that, MWF). Congratulations on placing Wonder! That is excellent news.

    2. Congratulations on placing the article - it will be out in the world, which is what matters!

  8. Topic:
    Space is a hot topic for me at this point, both mental and physical space. I find that working from home has made it easier for me to hyperfocus and not look for mental space as often as I do at my work office. I find that odd, since most friends and relatives I know who work from home struggle with the opposite--the pull of doing laundry, or dishes, or the other household tasks that are always waiting. I’m probably hiding in my work, if I’m honest with myself, and if so, there are worse ways to handle things.

    I’m also thinking a lot about physical space. While not officially open concept, my house is arranged on several levels with short flights of stairs between levels, and no doors between levels. Our Spoo has trouble walking nowadays, so I try to work in the den, on the ground level, so that I can keep her company and call for help when she needs to go outdoors. When I have class or a meeting, I have gone up the short flight of stairs to the living room/kitchen and sit on the sofa, since there is no telephone signal in the den (sigh), and the Philosopher comes to the den to hang out with Brigid. However, the TV is in the den, and the Philosopher is slightly deaf, so there goes holding a meeting in the living room. So yesterday, I ended up sitting on our bed (webcam OFF) to have the meeting, since I have not yet carved out my office space on the top floor. I share that space with the Philosopher, but between getting deathly ill on my sabbatical, and the fact that he likes to talk to me if we are both there, I’ve let my corner turn into a storage/clutter area.

    Therefore, reclaiming that space, even if only for meetings, is on my agenda. I have decided to set an alarm to make myself get up and walk around the block as well, to lure me out of the rabbit hole of isolation.

    Last week’s goals:
    Hang curtains. No.
    Block dressing gown and chemise. Yes.
    Finish passport application. No.
    Do some grunt work (glossary, citations, and the like) for half an hour a day to get back into research. No.

    Hanging the curtains involves other people and tools--the first were not terribly motivated (which I understand) and the tools were not where they were supposed to be, leading to an organizational project (not a bad thing and much needed). As the crisis continues, the passport seems less important, except that I do need something that meets the Real ID guidelines if I want to travel anywhere in the fall, so that remains on my list. The grunt work will also remain on my list; it was only replaced this week with lots of similar grunt work for my class, where I ended up compiling references for a lit review.

    Next week’s goals:
    Clean off office desk and chair.
    Finish passport application.
    Do some grunt work (glossary, citations, and the like) for half an hour a day to get back into research.
    Get up and stretch every 45 minutes.
    Walk aroung the block 4 times a day.
    Meditate 3 times per day.

    Small goals for a short week. I hope all of you and yours are well. Float like mist, everyone.

    1. It's always good to hear from you! Tasks like hanging curtains always fall into the dread-and-procrastinate bucket for me, because I know that some roadblock will turn up and make the whole thing take much longer than it seems like it should.