the grid

the grid

Sunday 11 July 2021

Summer Session, Week 8: What Else?

For this week's pseudo-prompt, I want to pick up on the "other" category that many of us have been adding to our check-ins: the other things that we're doing, outside of our TLQ lists. I find that an excessive focus on my weekly list (of which I'm quite guilty) can skew my sense of what's important. In a way, that's good: it means that I might prioritize my writing over crafting an agenda for a committee meeting. On the other hand, that agenda does need to get written, and it's worth acknowledging that labor.

Those of us who are on a break between semesters right now are also doing a lot of stuff that's much more interesting and pleasurable than agenda-writing: reading for fun, taking trips, spending time with friends. And whatever our work life looks like right now, we could all stand to prioritize what makes us happy as well as what makes us feel "productive."

So feel free to add (or continue adding) your "other" to your check-in. I'm looking forward to reading about all the cool stuff you've been doing! And also about all of the annoying Headaches of Mundane Living that you've been dealing with, since those form part of the "other" as well! (On the docket for me this week, for example: an orthodontist appointment, weeding the flower garden AGAIN [why don't the weeds stay weeded??], figuring out a cat-sitter, etc....)

Last week:


1) URGENT! Send out letters for association stuff – three different sets now!
2) Take photographs for local project, arrange analytical work, write up everything that is done already
3) Send field reports to student
4) Read through and list comments on review manuscript and start fixing them
5) Think about creative thing for sabbatical

Dame Eleanor Hull

Latin, Greek, Domestic, T-reading, Other Reading, Write, all x4.
Work on daily plans for fall class.
File papers, move the rest of the books.
Find new doctor.
Exercise early, eat carefully, go to bed by 11.
Plan/take a day with visiting friend from college.

Elizabeth Anne Mitchell

Finish the search for t&p reviewers.
Put in ILL requests for the three articles we don’t own.
Finish clearing off the home desk.
Prepare for a return road trip to the Midwest.

heu mihi

1. Yoga x2, run more than 3 miles once
2. Sit some amount, Latin some amount
3. Begin review of candidate's tenure docs
4. Journal catch-up
5. Read 100 pages for work


1 Overdue poetry review
2 Road review
3 Submit revision for online course
4 Work on two other book reviews


- Use books in library
- Figure out plans for rest of trip
- Make progress on writing (not sure what that looks like, so this is vague)
- Get two more weeks of class planned.
- Do one more section of self-study
- Do fun stuff
- Get on regular sleep cycle (really wrecked by not being able to go out or get exercise)


  1. What an interesting prompt! It dawned on me that these off-list tasks show a work-life balance that I can learn from or commiserate with. First, I must correct something—it was Dame Eleanor, not me, who began including these lists. I also plan to steal another of Dame Eleanor’s ideas, a time study, this week, hoping to get a handle on the rest of the summer, and to work on my work-life balance.

    Last week's goals:
    Finish the search for t&p reviewers. Yes, but goodness gracious, it was difficult!
    Put in ILL requests for the three articles we don’t own. Yes.
    Finish clearing off the home desk. No, but I’m close. I brought so much work home last year that I found myself on campus looking for stuff that was at home. I’ll get there eventually.
    Prepare for a return road trip to the Midwest. Yes. Our sons are going with us, so the logistics of coordinating everyone took some work, but got done.

    Gardened in the rain— not quite singing, though.
    Did some historic wandering about.
    Settled back into the research room, familiarizing myself with current researchers and projects being done.
    Got used to walking around campus, especially the three flights of stairs required by the fire drill last week.
    Reevaluated current projects since dropping the book conversion, to see where to throw more time.
    Spent some time updating files and essentially bringing everything in my campus office out of mothballs.

    Analysis: It was a pretty good week, overall. I spent some time getting used to being back on campus, and also getting re-aligned with my colleagues. They are a tight-knit group, but they have been working several days a week over the last year while I was exempt from coming in, so it is a bit like being new again. They are great colleagues, and they’re happy I’m back, so the realignment shouldn’t take long.

    I need to figure out where to plug in research and writing. Actually being on the reading room desk is a great time to read and take notes, since most researchers are quite self-sufficient. Writing is a lot harder, so I need to figure that out.

    We are headed back to see our daughters and their families at the end of the week. Everyone is delighted that their brothers/uncles are visiting as well, since they’ve not seen each other for several years.

    Next week’s goals:
    Do time study for three days.
    Finish clearing off the home desk.
    Write at least 300 words x 4.
    Read and take notes for three articles.
    Pack for the road trip.

    Finally, I want to agree with everyone who said that they enjoy the long posts. It is a glimpse into everyone's life that I enjoy as well.

    I hope everyone is managing the weather. Stay cool, and float like mist!

  2. Fire drill?! My goodness, like we need that in this current cultural moment.

    1. It was annoying, especially as we had researchers we had to shoo down the stairs, make sure the reading room was locked, and so on... as if we are going to forget every couple of months how to clear a building.

    2. Well, also, if masks are required (as they are where I am) I find walking upstairs in them difficult!

    3. Exactly, Susan! We wear masks around our researchers, since we don't know their vaccination status. I was stopping on the landings to catch my breath on the way back up!
      Oh, and our building has European numbering for the floors--Ground, 1, 2, 3) so it is FOUR floors of stairs.

  3. We're leaving for a week at the beach on Saturday, which means that I'm staring down a super-busy week: I may have told you all before (like even just two weeks ago) that I like to finish ALL the things before I go on vacation! So in addition to my official tasks for the week, which I'll list below, I plan to do all of my share of the cleaning (principally floors--hooray, Roomba!), some yard work, set up cat-sitting (we actually didn't think that Kitty would still be alive at this point, but here we are), finishing up a rather tedious little knitting project, and finishing a fun book that I'd rather not take with me.

    I didn't get a whole lot of work done last week, but I did participate in a number of in-law visits, including several trips to visit my mother-in-law at the nursing home where she's in care for advanced Alzheimer's. She's 87 years old and remarkably sweet and cheerful, even though she's been virtually non-verbal for several years. We got back in mid-week and I ferried my kid to various lessons, baked cookies, and presided over a play date; these are wonderful now, because the kids entertain themselves entirely and I can do whatever I want (including taking a nap!). I also came down with a one-day micro-cold or something, which means that I haven't exercised much recently--must work on that this week.

    Oh! And I did some tabling for my political group; this meant that I was one of those people with a clipboard haranguing folks at the farmers' market. Not my idea of a good time, but I had some enjoyable conversations and got 15 email addresses in two hours, which is pretty good! Still, I'd rather not have to do that again if I can manage it.

    Last week's report:
    1. Yoga x2, run more than 3 miles once - Yes, but no other exercise
    2. Sit some amount, Latin some amount - x1, x2. Would like to improve here.
    3. Begin review of candidate's tenure docs - Yes; I must become more efficient, however, if I want to finish the letter within this calendar year.
    4. Journal catch-up - Yes (not much here, really)
    5. Read 100 pages for work - Yes

    A lot of Yesses, but these weren't big tasks for the most part.

    Now, this week:
    1. Finish revising and submit "Death"
    2. Yoga x2, run x5 if possible; one run over 3 miles
    3. Finish academic book I'm reading (about 130 pages)
    4. Read two dissertation chapters (I doubt I'll get to this)
    5. Finish drafting tenure letter
    6. Sit some amount, Latin some amount
    7. Make pesto, havarti spread, tapenade, granola for trip; bottle beer (for after trip--it needs another month to age)
    8. Write 20 letters encouraging voters in Virginia to apply for absentee ballots
    9. Meet with new Undergrad Studies Director and begin transition OUT of that role!

    1. Last week sounds like a very busy but lovely summer week. And your #other definitely highlights the many different aspects of a life well lived (I tried out medusa and jellyfish tentacles here but could not come up with an appropriate metaphor).

      I hope you have a most delightful time at the beach. I grew up 20 minutes from the beach and feel its absence often. The view of the horizon is always soothing.

  4. For the TdF fans:
    This is AWESOME!
    A geologist doing a little write-up of the cool geology and how it came to be on each stage, totally worth checking out!

    1. That is super cool! And very much the kind of thing I love to incorporate into teaching although geology is a long, long distance from what I teach.

  5. I have the opposite problem – I forget I have a list and do everything but what’s on it… I can do with some better focus on my lists!

    In “other” today so far I have:
    Vacuumed and washed the field SUV I borrowed for last month’s work (research adjacent?)
    Given my microscope a lens alignment because I moved its table after to reach some houseplants for repotting yesterday (research adjacent?)
    Dealt with some association drama and insurance issues
    Attended a lovely thesis defense for a student I helped with some analytical stuff
    Answered a ton of emails about an upcoming conference
    Made sure humans are fed
    Online meeting with someone who ostensibly had questions but I think really just wanted to chat
    Half-watched kid in online coding camp, she’s pretty self-sufficient
    Guess how much research work? NONE... But research-adjacent things help a bit...

    Longer term “other” things include:
    Taking kid and friends out for ice cream, and having them over at our house to bake and cause chaos
    Trying to tame the garden weed factory
    Doing student advising and writing up guides so that colleague returning from admin stint can take over for my sabbatical
    Sorting and processing field samples from June and getting them sent to where they need to be for further processing
    Repotting mutant house plants (I want to grow violets and herbs, somehow I have a millions Mexican Hat Plants and some other mildly toxic plant the cat loves to chew on but vomits right back up so it has to live on a high shelf and is hitting the ceiling…)
    Watching Shakespeare in the Park (not the famous park, just our local one with howling winds and blackflies galore, still fun…)
    Planning a vacation trip
    Planning camping/kayak trips locally (haven’t actually done one yet which is a bit sad)
    Planning a research trip that involves a boat
    So a pretty wide range!

    Odd week, got some things done and then hit rebellion by Thursday and sat on deck with beer. Also went out for another day of catch-up field work and got nothing done because the bridge that needed repair was still out, and it rained so much the back-up plan roads were flooded, so the day ended up being a nice long drive in the fog with excellent lattes for breakfast (still a good day!).

    Last week’s goals
    1) URGENT! Send out letters for association stuff – three different sets now! DONE
    2) Take photographs for local project, arrange analytical work, write up everything that is done already NOPE
    3) Send field reports to student DONE
    4) Read through and list comments on review manuscript and start fixing them DONE
    5) Think about creative thing for sabbatical DONE

    I decided to go with both new and old instrument simultaneously for sabbatical and tick them off on separate grids – old because I know I will be good if I put in the time, new because it will be a challenge and I’m not guaranteed to be good and that will be good for me. Still going to watch out for fine arts type classes when they restart here…

    This week’s goals
    1) URGENT! Take photographs for local project, arrange analytical work, write up everything that is done already
    2) Do image sorting and write-up on those for paper rewrite
    3) Sort and label field photos for student
    4) Continue manuscript revisions
    5) Data processing for somebody else’s problem paper
    6) Start doing creative thing for sabbatical

    1. Any day that begins with excellent lattes runs the risk of being a very good day regardless of what else happens.

      Your #other for just one day is exhausting. Just fending off chaos in all of its incarnations sounds like more than I could manage.

      I like the idea of new and old instruments simultaneously. Thinking about writing in different genres is a good corollary for me--I can boost my confidence and endurance with familiar forms so I don't let the challenge of new forms disappoint me.

    2. I keep forgetting to look at my calendar. It does not help to write things down if you don't look at what you're supposed to be doing!

  6. The biggest challenge of my week will be taking the Scaredy Cat to the vet on Wednesday. I have never met a more anxious creature and he’s BIG and everything he does is definitely on his terms.

    I’ve been adding a few creative things to my TLQ goals later, but seldom mention writing deadlines for online workshops. So there’s that, as one class is ending and another beginning. Another item in the #other of my life is that I’m auditing an academic workshop organized by a group that are working to create a doctoral program that combines creative work with academic research.

    Last week:
    1 Overdue poetry review: mutually canceled, yay
    2 Road review: working
    3 Submit revision for online course: working
    4 Work on two other book reviews: finished one, working on other

    This week:
    1 Catch up on summer grading
    2 Submit latest version of book chapter abstract
    3 Two creative submissions
    4 Make time for online course revision

    1. I hope the vet trip goes well. We have one who has to be drugged to go to the vet---that is, with a tranquilizer at home, before putting her in the carrier---and another (Basement Cat) whom we can put into a carrier, but he gets gassed at the vet and examined while he's out, because he once bit the vet really badly. I recommend the tranq, though I can't think of its name right now. But ask your vet. We get it in capsules and I open one and sprinkle the contents into food, so no problem pilling the cat.


    2. He did so well! I am so proud! But, he weighed in at 16 pounds and needs to cut back on what the vet called "free serving food" and go back for a weigh-in after two months.

      Poor Basement Cat! When I moved after college, we tranquilized our cat who promptly curled up under the passenger sleep and had to pulled out of the car when stopped for the night. Of course she ran all around the hotel room until dawn...

  7. Like Daisy, I often forget my list, and just do what feels right.

    My other varies - when I'm at home, it often includes doing things with/for my mother, and stuff for church, like writing bulletins. Then there's the reading group I do at church, and my work on the symphony board (come early August, I'm treasurer, alas.)

    How I did last week:
    - Use books in library YES
    - Figure out plans for rest of trip MOSTLY
    - Make progress on writing (not sure what that looks like, so this is vague) YES, some
    - Get two more weeks of class planned. NO, who was I kidding
    - Do one more section of self-study NO,
    - Do fun stuff YES
    - Get on regular sleep cycle (really wrecked by not being able to go out or get exercise) Mostly

    Just the routine of going to the library every day has been excellent, and I'm slowly chugging along. The virtue of being here is that I'm less distracted. But it also means that changing gears is harder. I did manage to clear out email over the weekend, and that feels like something I can do. But the rest of work feels (blessedly) very far away!

    In the other category this week, I went to a museum on Saturday, saw two excellent exhibits; and last night I went to a live (outdoor) performance of Romeo & Juliet at the Globe theatre. I also saw an old friend and then did a long walk to think about space in the book I'm working on now. And I bought a pair of magenta sneakers on sale from one of my favorite shoe companies.

    Goals for the week ahead:
    1. Really get into chapter 3
    2. Do something fun at the weekend
    3. Something re course
    4. Something on self-study (enough to ask the person who can get data to get it)
    5. Get to bed at regular time, since going to bed late is what wrecks my sleep.

    1. Your #other is delightful: Romeo & Juliet outdoors at the Globe, magenta sneakers, long walks! It sounds like you're getting just the right amount of library time too. Forgive me if I do a but of vicarious living from far away.

    2. I will add my vicarious living to humming's--it sounds so lovely!

    3. And just for fun, here are the shoes:

    4. Those shoes are a fabulous color!

  8. The current week is all "other." I'm attending the Early Book Society's conference and trying to keep up with the Tour, which leaves little time for anything else besides basic Life Stuff like exercise and cooking.

    Last week started okay but went completely to hell after a day spent driving around to get together with two different visiting friends from far away, which put us a day behind with the Tour. I'm not really sure why that messed everything else up, but it did.

    How I did:
    Latin, Greek, Domestic, T-reading, Other Reading, Write, all x4. ALL x1 or x2 at best.
    Work on daily plans for fall class. NO.
    File papers, move the rest of the books. About 15 minutes of filing, unpacked two cartons of books.
    Find new doctor. NO
    Exercise early, eat carefully, go to bed by 11. MORE OR LESS.
    Plan/take a day with visiting friend from college. YES.
    OTHER: made Official Brownies along with a lot of other cooking. Put up a curtain rod.

    New goals:
    Enjoy conference.
    Keep up with Tour.
    Exercise daily, eat carefully, go to bed by 11.
    Some Life Stuff, like sending birthday card to great-nephew.

    I'd love to hear more quotidian details from Susan, right down to where you walked and what brand of tea you're enjoying (if you're a tea drinker)!

    1. My walk was from the Tower, up to Cheapside, and over to St Paul's, and then down to Ludgate & Fleet St, over to Lincoln's Inn. I wanted to have a sense of distances and time, and I've never paid much attention to the City as a space.

      Tea drinking is not very exotic: the place I'm renting had Twinings English Breakfast, which is fine with me. (THough my usual at home is Taylor's of Harrogate Yorkshire Gold: very much a builder's tea type.

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