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Archive for the ‘I should be doing work but…’ Category

So, this is basically a nothing post, since I’ve been too busy in the past couple of weeks to have an idea that is unrelated to scholarship.  I head off to a conference in a few days, so that has me preoccupied, plus I’ve had friend-related things going on – with friends near, far, and soon-to-be-far – plus I have a fucking boyfriend, which seemed awfully great when that whole thing blindsided me in November, but, in a surprising turn of events, it turns out that I hate having a boyfriend in the summertime, when in theory I should have time to have one.

No, seriously.  It’s easier to go out with him when my time is so structured during the semester, because the things that structure my time then are easy to transition out of.  It’s easy to compress grading.  It’s easy to bring a novel I have to read for class over to his house.  It’s not easy to compress writing, and it’s not easy to do my scholarly work while also attending to another human being.

Oh, I love him and he’s great and whatever, but seriously?  Making time for him has caused a severe uptick in my stress levels about accomplishing things this summer.  Because, you see, I am used to being able to be a workaholic in the summer.  You know, with weekend visits from friends and family thrown in for good measure, but how I’ve handled my professional life in the summer, oh, forever, is that I work like a maniac and then have fun when I have visitors or when I travel.  Only now there is this “person” who expects to see me on the weekends – EVERY WEEKEND – even on HOLIDAY weekends, like Memorial Day Weekend, which is some awesome thing for him who doesn’t have a whole summer stretching in front of him, but which historically for me has been a great time to get a lot of writing done while all of the generica [grad school term coined by my grad school BFF Medusa for guys who wear dockers and work at dumb office jobs] of the world are busy cooking out, and while in the abstract I am totally on board with that, in practice, dude, it’s cramping my workaholic style.

And that makes me cranky.

And it also makes me cranky that he thinks I’m having “fun” when I go to the pool to read, when I’m reading shit for work.  Even though I know that I’m unreasonable because pool>cubicle in terms of fun, and, of course, I am ostensibly “picking” what I read while I lie in the sun and take breaks for swimming.

But for serious, people: you will the majority of the time find me with a stack of journal articles or a theoretical tome or a novel I HAVE to read at the pool (which, an aside: please all of you go read Adam Thirwell’s first novel Politics, and probably everything else he’s ever written, though I haven’t actually done that yet, so I could be wrong, but I am pretty sure, as is Granta, that he’s a genius), as opposed to with some fucking pornographic best-seller.  My pool time is serious business, and I want people – i.e., The Dude- to recognize that the pool is my office.  An office with SAHMs, kids, teenagers, and senior citizens, but my office nevertheless. Which of course he can’t because I’m being an unreasonable asshole, given the fact that he’s trapped in a cubicle.

Honestly, though, I’m feeling pretty good right now, precisely because, taking practical factors into account, I begged off seeing The Dude tonight in favor of doing tons of work, even though in theory I’d have loved to have seen him, and even though we’d had plans all week long for me to see him both today and tomorrow.  (Now we’re just seeing each other tomorrow.) Honestly, I just am having a hard time negotiating the time commitment that he seems to require (which, let’s note, is very small, as boyfriend time commitments go, which is probably why things have been good).

If it weren’t totally crazy, and if I wouldn’t hate it (as I know I would), I would really like it for us to break up this summer and to get back together on August 12, when I’m back under academic contract.  Not because I want either of us to go out with other people or because my feelings for him are in any way in question – indeed, the feelings grow and grow, annoyingly: just because I’d really like to be dating my book right now.  And the fact that he lives 40 minutes away from me means that I can’t just take him for granted and work on my book all the time, expecting him to just show up periodically when I’m feeling uninspired.  No, because of where we live, we need to have “quality time” in the dating.  And I’m tired of dating him and of all the effort that takes, when I want to date my work, and to put my effort in there, which I know isn’t what you’re supposed to say, but seriously: I just want to be able to procrastinate without feeling guilty, and I want to be able to procrastinate without the consequence of not getting my work done because I am obligated to make time for somebody else!

Don’t get it twisted: I totally understand the irony of the fact that I am bitching about being in a relationship when that’s exactly what I want and have wanted; I totally understand the irony of the fact that my bitching originates with a desire to do more fucking work, even though my whole point with continuing trying to do the dating thing was to stop being a fucking workaholic!

And let’s note: The Dude is totally supportive of my work!  The problem is me, and me alone!  Well, except for that in my fantasy version of my life he wouldn’t just be supportive of my work he would totally sacrifice himself on the altar of my work, because, you know, I’d rather be doing that right now.  And then he’d stop sacrificing himself on the altar of my work, and not be resentful, the moment that I didn’t want it.  Because I’m a Giant and Unreasonable Bitch who can’t sustain a reciprocal relationship with another adult human being, and who expects people to read her mind and to coddle her, even when, especially when, her demands are entirely unreasonable.  So in that way, the problem is also him.  Ha!

Look, I was an only child until I was 20.  And I’m a Leo.  And, apparently, my Enneagram personality type also indicates (according to CF, I haven’t done the weird pop-psych research on this) that while I am the most fun person ever, I’m also entirely unreasonable, in search of what I think is fun.  And in numerology my main number is THREE, the CHILD!  Thank goodness The Dude is a Middle Child and an Aries (though I’ve not investigated the other fake personality things for him).

So anyway, all is good.  You probably won’t hear back from me until like June 12 or 14, because I shall be busy with my conference, nursing my jet-lag, and nursing my motherfucking relationship (I say that to be funny – I really do think things are grand).  But let this be a lesson to all of y’all who are desperately alone academics and whining about your desperate aloneness: you get much more work done, even when you’re not getting anything done, when you don’t have a significant other to consider.  And sometimes, what you really want is to work.  Be careful what you wish for 🙂

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No time to write because my weekend was taken up with the parental visit, during which The Dude was introduced to the parents for the first time.  The short version is this: The Dude loved my parents, my parents loved The Dude, and the whole thing was comfortable and relaxed and great.  Oh, and I made this as the main dish, and it was phenomenal. 

All in all, I couldn’t have hoped for it to go better.  The Dude said afterwards, “I didn’t think it would be so fun!  It was one of the most fun nights I’ve had in a long time!”  My mom said afterwards, “He’s so funny!  And cute!”  G. said, “He’s good.  He’s a good guy. Open.”  (G. also gave my mom the thumbs up after only about 10 minutes, according to my mom’s report.  My mom also reported last night, “G. hasn’t said a single negative thing about him,” which, frankly, is a big deal, because usually G. likes to say the negative things to my mom, if there are negative things to say.)

And me?  What were my opinions about everything and everybody?  On the one hand, I knew that it would be fine.  What nerves I had were really less about how it would go than about what it all “meant.”  Because I don’t just let dudes meet my family.  And The Dude doesn’t just meet parents unless it “means” something.  So.  On the other hand, I didn’t really think I cared as much as I did about it going well, and after it went so exceptionally well I was surprised at how important that was.

So after all was said and done, The Dude and I had a big phone conversation about us and the future and how happy we are together and lots of mushy things.  We’re not rushing into anything, and I’ve still got to meet his parents in the next week or two, but at least at the present moment, it seems like we are on a path to something quite… permanent-ish.  Which is quite a shock for both of us, and an idea that’s going to take some getting used to 🙂

 

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I can’t believe I’m halfway through the week that is spring break.  I’ve gotten some good work done, but I also feel like I don’t feel like doing the work that remains.  What remains?

  • Revisions on an article, which are due by month’s end.
  • Revisions on another article, to submit to another journal.
  • Reckoning with the various pieces of my book manuscript and really making a plan to get the whole thing “finished” (well, in a state where it has a beginning, a middle and an end, so then I can revise it with the hope of sending it out).
  • Send an email to the editor that expressed interest in the book project.

Basically, I need probably 3 solid days of work to accomplish these three things, but I’m feeling a decided lack of motivation today.  So what I need to do is really just to make a decision: do I take today off, with a plan of getting back to work tomorrow through Saturday?  Or do I force myself to do some work today, even though all I want to do is watch television and knit?  Oh, decisions, decisions.

I’m actually pretty happy with what I’ve accomplished so far this break.  I did some cleaning, I did some preparatory stuff for making my application for full professor (which I should note I feel like it’s too soon to do, but there are political reasons why I should submit an application in the fall regardless of my “feelings” – and since there is no penalty for going up and being rejected, it really is worth it to do it), I’ve gotten myself well ahead on reading for the end of the semester – only 3 books that I really should reread (re-skim, really, for I have good notes in all of them) remain!, I wrote and submitted another abstract for consideration for another MLA panel (I’ve put myself in the running for three panels, two of which are special sessions, so I felt the need to hedge my bets since I really want to go to MLA but I also know that if I want to get funded I need to be on the program and special sessions are in no way guaranteed, and that’s even assuming that I get selected for the proposals -although I do know already I’ve been selected for one of the special sessions, which is a combined allied organization panel, so I’m hopeful that will be accepted).  I’ve gotten some knitting done, too.  All in all, I should probably put a little less pressure on myself.

I guess the issue is that I know that once this week is over that I’m going to be slammed for the next 8 weeks, and I fear that if I “waste” this time with things like, I don’t know, rest and relaxation, I’ll regret it later.  Probably what I should do, though, since rest and relaxation are not a waste of time, is split the difference, and do some work and some relaxing, and give myself permission not to accomplish all the things.  We’ll see.

And really I do need to knit.  I’m just half-way done with the wrap I’m knitting for HS BFF’s wedding in August, and given the fact that I started on it in like October, that means I’ve got to make some serious progress for it to be ready in time.  Here it is so far:

What you can’t really see in the photo is that the yarn is flecked with gold, so it shimmers quite prettily.  Yes, I think at the very least I’m going to knit for a couple of hours right now.  Time enough for revisions once I’ve gotten some knitting out of my system.  It is spring break, after all 🙂

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So, upon finishing up teaching (and doing a service thing) on Thursday night, my fall break commenced.  I have (had) big plans for this break, which involve(d) a lot of writing.

You know what I’ve accomplished so far?  Nada.  Zilch.  Zippo.  Well, in terms of the writing.  Apparently, I needed to take two days sleeping (like, literally: sleeping in the day and in the night) and in the interim reading crap.

Did I need to do this?  Probably.  Do I already regret it?  Yep.

Because I really need to write.  I can’t afford to waste this giant (for the middle of semester) block of time.  But I also needed to rest….

So I made a list, and I looked at the first major thing on it, which is slightly more major than I’d imagined it in my head.

Whatever.  It will be ok.  Tomorrow through Wednesday, it is on.  I will buckle down.  But it’s ok that I took two days for rest.  Indeed, I’ve got to believe that the two days of rest will be good for productivity (whether or not that’s “true” is another question, but I need to believe it).

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This marks my third weekend in a row of visitors, and while I am VERY much looking forward to seeing my mom, I’ve gotta say, the three weekends of people has taken a toll on my productivity over the past three weeks.  After FL left on Sunday, I basically just took three days to decompress – reading novels (not for work), knitting, sleeping, etc.  Today I did get half of my narrative portion of my grant application drafted (though I’m sure it will need substantial revision, at least I’ve stopped procrastinating about getting going on it), but still, I’m behind.  And I realize that with school starting in just a couple of weeks (well, the meetings start on the 13th, classes don’t start until the 20th), and then with plans to be out of town three weekends in September, I’m likely to remain behind until October.  I do not love that.  October is going to have to be a catch-up month for sure.  Sigh.

Whatever.  My life is going to be MUCH less complicated this semester than it’s been since my sabbatical, what with shifting out of super-stressful service roles and having a very reasonable teaching schedule (for the first time in three semesters I will actually have a lunch break on the days that I do most of my teaching! and I’m finally teaching a bunch of repeat preps, after three semesters of, well, NOT having that luxury), I do have high hopes that the momentum I’ve built throughout this summer on the book project won’t be for nothing – that I’ll actually be able to maintain a research and writing schedule during the semester.  But can I get the manuscript completed and submitted by December?  Yeah, I don’t know.  It’s the goal, but I’m not sure if it’s possible.  I guess I’ll just have to see what I can manage in the midst of teaching and everything.

What is sick is that I’d really rather keep working on the grant as opposed to getting some crap done around the house for my mom’s arrival.  Ah well, maybe there will be some time for me to work on it some more after I get the householdy things done.  And if not, I suppose I can get those things done when she leaves Sunday….

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I hate July.  Because it is in July that I start getting all angsty about the fact that the summer is Almost Over and soon I will have to start gearing up to go back to school, it is in July that there is the absolute worst weather for my productivity (living in a miserably humid location plus the fact that my biggest seasonal allergy is to mold means that all I really feel motivated to do is to take allergy medicine and lie around in air conditioning), and it is in July that I start beating myself up about all of What I Haven’t Accomplished instead of celebrating what I have accomplished.  Now, the good news for me this summer is I really have built fun things into my summer, and that’s grand, but then that also exacerbates the angsty feelings about not having enough time left and not having done enough.  Blech.

But so, as you might imagine, I’ve stalled out a bit on progress toward getting the complete draft of the book manuscript done.  I do think that it’s reasonable that I will be able to complete the two halves of chapters that I’ve already got underway, and (if I really push myself) get another chapter done by September 1 (all of the research and reading and outlining/argument stuff is done – it’s just a matter of the pesky part of writing).  But then, I still have either one or two body chapters to write, but I can’t know if it’s one or two until I read a book that comes out in September (the problem with working on contemporary authors is that they have a pesky habit of writing new books), but that chapter or chapters should write up quite quickly because there just isn’t much research out there on this author, and what little there is I’ve already read (which kind of makes up for the problem with the author writing new books, since at least you don’t have all of the pesky scholarship to deal with).  But then that leaves me the intro and the conclusion to write, though to be fair I’ve been making notes for those throughout the process, so I’m actually feeling pretty positive about how quickly I can manage to knock those out, once the body of the manuscript is done.  But I can’t kid myself: it is going to be a MAJOR push to get this monstrosity in a shape that I could submit it to a press by Dec. 31 (which is my goal).  And I might not be able to achieve that, even with making a major push – not while teaching four classes and, I dunno, sleeping.  But if I try, I figure that I can manage to get it done within a couple of months of that goal, which is still pretty great, frankly.

And while I’ve been a bit stalled on the book stuff, I haven’t been stalled on everything.  For example, I somehow managed to apply for an internal grant for which I actually hadn’t originally intended to apply, and I just learned that I was selected for it!  Huzzah!  So for completing an application that took me maybe two hours, and for agreeing to share what I develop (which I will have support in doing any of the tech stuff that is beyond me), I am a thousand dollars richer.  Really for doing work that I have been doing anyway for free for years (out of enjoyment more than anything, in truth) just because I wasn’t aware that I could do this sort of stuff and get compensated for doing it.  And this is the thing: I would so much ratherbe spending my time doing this sort of thing than doing the stuff that I’ve been doing for the past four years!  And sure, it’s annoying to have to apply for every little thing in order to get the resources that are there, but I’d rather spend a couple of hours doing a slightly annoying thing than spend my summer teaching!  Or than do work for free!

So anyway, that’s what has been going on with me.  While I’ve been a bit stalled on the book, I’ve been accomplishing other stuff in the meantime.  And next weekend A. will be here for our annual Vagina Power Weekend (do you know that it will be our sixth?!?!  I’m so excited), and then the weekend after that First Love will be here for a visit (which reminds me that I need to call him up and get him to solidify his plans because it’s not like he lives around the corner and his procrastination about getting a plane ticket makes me crazy – I’m not even entirely certain what days he’ll be here, which, that information would be nice to have not only so that I can plan stuff to do while he’s here but also so that I can plan my writing schedule for that week, because it’s not like I’ll get any work done while he’s here, and also he really needs to tell me whether I’m supposed to be going to his high school reunion with him, because that’s been a topic of discussion, and it’s not like I want to go to his stupid reunion, but if he wants to go I don’t think he’ll go if I don’t go with him, and so I basically need to know what’s up with all of that – by the way, don’t think it hasn’t occurred to me that it’s kind of a pain in the ass to have a close relationship with your high school boyfriend.)  And then maybe I’m going to NYC for a few days, and then school starts, and then one of my oldest friends C. (A.’s sister, actually) is getting married so I need to go to hometown a couple of weekends in September, and sandwiched in between that I am going to Chicago for a weekend for this, and then in October I’m going to see Fiona Apple in concert, and somewhere in the middle of all of this I’m getting my kitchen redone (which promises to be an adventure because I have agreed to use the Lebanese connection to get it done because it will cost me much much less, but that also means that I have no control over when it’s done, and it means that my stepdad G. will be here to supervise it, and who knows how that will turn out).

In other words, I really need to get myself on track because I’m a busy lady with a lot of things going on aside from writing a book.

 

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This could be any trip – travel for vacation, travel to visit friends and family, conference travel.  It matters not the type of travel, nor the mode of transportation.  This is what I do:

34 days before the trip: Hey, I’m going on a trip!  I should probably figure out what’s going on with that… (This is especially the case with a trip that requires air travel, though I do tend to begin to think about all trips a month out, considering important topics such as:

  • What will the weather be like?
  • What will I wear?
  • How many shoes are reasonable for such a trip?  (If flying) How many will fit in my tiny suitcase? (If driving) It’s not weird to throw extra shoes loose in the back of the car if necessary, is it?
  • What will I bring with me on this trip?
  • I wonder if my travels will be impeded by delays/traffic/weather/construction?
  • (If flying) Holy crap!  I need to buy my ticket!

You will note that most of these “topics” are really quite open-ended and have little to do with the logistics of any trip.

14 days before the trip:  I am going to make a list!  Of all the thousands of things I’d like to accomplish before going on my trip!  Nearly all of which have to do with house-cleaning because I am ashamed of how I live when there is no pet-sitter to monitor me!  This list often includes items such as:

  • Wash the windows!
  • Clean all the baseboards!
  • Vacuum furniture and stairs and the area rug and every vacuumable surface!
  • Clean out closets and take things to Good Will!
  • Landscape the entire yard!
  • Reorganize all of my books!
  • Dust!
  • Mop every floor!
  • And then all of the normal housekeeping things like cleaning litter boxes, doing dishes, doing laundry for the trip, etc.)

5 days before the trip: At this point, I realize that I have accomplished none of the things on the above list.  But it’s ok!  I have loads of time!  If I just put my mind to it I could really get all of that done!  Or the important things anyway.  And then I decide to:

  • Hang out for hours drinking wine on my porch one night with KSFS (Kindred Spirit Former Student, who was a non-traditional student and so who is my age and who really should have been my friend from the get-go but we couldn’t be because that would have been weird and unethical and wrong.)
  • Spend two days reading novels and taking naps.
  • Spend an afternoon having quality baby and friend time.
  • Spend the next day going to have a Ladies Lunch with another friend, do some accessory shopping and then some shoe browsing, and then, well, I clearly needed to go get a manicure and pedicure.  And then maybe I should start a new knitting project!

1 day before the trip: FUCK!!!!! FUCK!!!! NONE OF THE THINGS ARE DONE!  PERHAPS I MUST ADJUST MY TO-DO LIST:

  • Laundry
  • Dishes
  • Wipe down counters
  • Sweep (but don’t mop) kitchen floor. And the other floors are fine – surely!
  • Litter boxes
  • Aw, the cat sitter surely won’t care that the bathroom floor is disgusting… but I probably should clean the toilet, in case she goes to the bathroom.
  • Who cares about vacuuming?  I certainly don’t!
  • Baseboards? HA!
  • Oh, clutter and dust makes a house home-y!  As do dirty windows!
  • Close all closet doors!
  • The best thing to do with the books is to stack them in neat piles!  Or jam them into shelves willy-nilly!  Clearly!
  • Nobody even looks at the outside of a house!
  • Maybe I should buy a bottle or two of wine?  That would make me feel better about the filth….
  • Fuck!  I’d better pack!

This happens every single time I take a trip.  Which is why while I really like going to other places, I really hate the getting there.  Because I’m an idiot.

 

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