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

My spring break is halfway over, and I have managed to accomplish a lot of knitting and to finish reading a novel for one of my classes for when I get back from break.  In addition, I’ve done some dishes, I’ve made an outline for that conference paper, and…. yes, that would be all.

Now, you might think that this is just fine, that I have loads of time for the rest of the week to get done what I need to get done.  Sadly, this is not true.  Because apparently I refuse to hunker down and do my work, and instead I insist that the time to socialize is now.  Between now and Sunday, I have plans to:

  • Go on a lunch date.
  • Go out with CC.
  • Go visit S. and her tiny baby, which will likely involve us escaping for lunch, too.
  • Go used book shopping with F. and S.

That basically leaves me Thursday and Sunday to do everything I’d wanted to do during Spring Break.

I’m an idiot.  There is nothing more stressful than taking a break during one’s break.

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BFF noted to me tonight that Sundays are my Day of Rage.  This has probably been true since I was a teenager.  It’s because Sunday is the day in which I confront the week ahead and I’m pissed off at all the things.  The week ahead holds grading (which I should have done this weekend, plus some more that I’ll get in), student conferences, plus who knows what else.  This weekend, however, I didn’t do anything.  Well, I did lots of things, but none of them involved work.

I did my taxes.  Yay refund!

I went to buy cat food and litter, and then, in lieu of spending a gajillion dollars on things I don’t need even though I really felt like spending money, I chose instead to spend 16 bucks on some new yarn and to begin making the “Stockholm Scarf” with said awesome (though cheap) yarn.

I knitted.  I napped.  I knitted. I watched an excellent Lifetime Movie, Sexting in Suburbia.  If you like crap, it is not to be missed.  It has everything: sexting, a suicide, mystery, a super-crazy helicopter parent, and an anti-bullying message.

I went on a lovely “date” with CC to see Shame and to dinner and then for coffee.  Let’s note: we both agreed that one should not go on a real date to see this movie, as it would most likely mark the end of any possible future romantic dealings with that person.  But you do need to go with a person because otherwise you’d feel like a pervert.  And you have to go to dinner after the movie, because you don’t really want to see it with a full stomach.  Also you’ll need to talk about it – a lot – after.  Basically, there are a lot of rules to seeing this movie.  Am I glad I saw it in the theater?  Yes.  Will I probably ever watch it again?  Doubtful.  In spite of wanting to see Michael Fassbender naked again and again and again.

I talked to my mom on the phone, I talked to BFF, I knitted, I watched the AbFab marathon on BBC America, I napped, I spent quality time with kitties, I watched a S&TC marathon, I ignored the Superbowl, I watched Madonna’s halftime performance on youtube, and I’m kicking a guy from high school’s ass at Words with Friends.  (One of these days I’ll have to tell you all about this guy from high school, but not today.)

And now I’m thinking about how I really have to go to bed because I’ve got to grade like a rockstar tomorrow morning, do student conferences, and prep for my fifth Motherfucking Tuesday of the semester.

So that’s my report on the weekend.  A weekend of sloth and laziness, but I do feel like I’m rejuvenated for the stupid week ahead.

 

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So, my original plan was that today was to be a travel day.  Since the weather changed my plans, I decided that this should still be a free day for me – the mad work pre-MLA could surely wait until Wednesday.  And so my “free day” involved nothing that was a chore.  I only did activities that I wanted to do.  Those included:

– Going to the grocery store.  Turns out when you don’t host a holiday, you return home to no food.  Well, not no food, but no food that combines into a complete meal.

– Making a boss pot roast accompanied by roasted potatoes, parsnips, and rutabaga.  What?  You would like to know how you, too, can make this delicious dish?  I shall tell you!

Ingredients:

  • Chuck roast (the one I used was about 1.25 pounds, but you could do bigger if you don’t live alone)
  • 1 medium-large onion, chopped
  • 4 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 12 oz. sliced white mushrooms
  • 2 Hungarian hot peppers, seeds mostly removed, minced
  • 3 biggish cloves of garlic, minced
  • dried rosemary (I feel like somewhere between a teaspoon and a tablespoon, but I didn’t really measure)
  • salt and pepper (no measurements – I season throughout the process)
  • 2 bottles of Sam Adams Winter Lager
  • like 2 tablespoons of olive oil (no, I don’t measure)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat Oven to 300.
  2. In a pot that can go from stovetop to oven, heat the olive oil on the stovetop at high.  While it’s heating, season the roast with salt and pepper.
  3. When the oil is hot, brown the roast.  While the roast is browning, and in between turning it, chop your onion and celery.  I went with a fairly rustic chop, as this is a pot roast, after all, and that’s rustic food.
  4. When the roast is browned, transfer it from the pot to a large plate, and then throw in your onions and celery.  Maybe reduce the heat to medium high, depending on how quickly you can mince other ingredients while those are cooking.  Though there is some salt and pepper left over from the awesomeness of the roast, I did season the onion and celery with salt and pepper, too.  While the veggies are cooking (you want to cook them until soft), mince your peppers.
  5. When the onion and celery are “glossy”, add in your minced peppers.  While those are cooking a little, mince your garlic.
  6. Next, add in your rosemary and garlic.  After about two minutes, add in the mushrooms, and cook until they are browned.
  7. With the heat on high, add in the two bottles of beer.  Bring to a boil, and boil for about five minutes.
  8. Turn off the heat, and then stick the roast back in the pot.  Make sure it’s covered with the liquid/veggies, and then cover the pot (my pot is stupid, so I covered tightly with foil.  If anybody wants to buy me a a Le Creuset Dutch Oven, a big one, I will be your girlfriend, and maybe even marry you).
  9. Stick the pot in the oven for an hour and a half.  When the hour and a half is up, remove the veg and the roast from the pot.  Let the roast rest.  We’ll get to the eating part in a bit.

Ingredients for the Roasted Veggies:

  • 2 large-ish parsnips
  • like 2 lbs of baby yukon gold potatoes (like the kind you would use for potato salad that you leave the peels on)
  • 1 rutabaga (maybe a 1.5 to 2 lb-er)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil (drizzled over, no idea how much – not a lot)
  • 1 cup water

Instructions:

  1. When you stick the roast in the oven, you move on to the veggie portion of things.  Spray a baking dish (roasting pan, whatever) with cooking spray (Pam or similar).
  2. Now it’s time to get the veggies ready.  Peel and chop your parsnips and your rutabaga, and wash and cut your potatoes in half.  Basically, you want the root veggies to cook at the same rate, so chop accordingly.
  3. When you’re done, drizzle the whole with olive oil and season with salt and pepper and toss so the veg is coated.  Add in the water.  Cover tightly with foil.
  4. Stick the veg in the oven with the roast.
  5. When you take the roast out of the oven, remove the foil, toss the veg around, and raise the heat to 425.  Let the veg cook for about a half hour more, until it gets all awesome and roasty.

Instructions for the sauce:

Now, once the roast is out of the oven and off on its plate with the mushrooms and celery and stuff, you’ve got the cooking liquid left over.  Put that back on the stovetop, with heat at high or medium-high (use your best judgement) and add in a tablespoon or two of butter and sprinkle in some flour (1-3 tablespoons?  again, I’m not so much for the measuring).  Whisk whisk whisk whisk whisk and cook cook cook until thick and delicious.  (Yes, this is basically a beer sauce.)

When all the things are done, you put them on a plate and eat them.  And you put that sauce all over everything, because it is awesome.

– While making the pot roast, I finally watched the Jane Eyre film adaptation from last year which… it was both great and, I feel, a failed experiment.  Why the hell was St. John (SIN-juhn) Rivers such a large part of the story?  That said, I feel like there is a cat named St. John (SIN-juhn) somewhere in my future.  That said, I think that cat is in line behind Uncle Tannous, Carlos, Kevin, and Reginald.  (Yes, I have gotten in the habit of naming cats that are not yet born, as I won’t get another cat until my two current ones are dead.  I might actually have St. John (SIN-juhn) when I am a senior citizen, which makes the title of this post even more appropriate).

– Also while making the roast, I began a new knitting project, an awesome beret, which I have completed, and which is AWESOME.  I sometimes think that I would be happy if I only ever knitted hats, as if one is a weirdo compulsive person, a hat is done in ONLY ONE DAY!  Problematically, I really want to make a scarf to go with my jaunty beret, and I’ve got like 300-400  yards of this yarn left, and so clearly I need to make a scarf to go with my jaunty beret.  And because I’m bored by “easy” scarves now, this means that the scarf will take at least a couple of weeks.

– Oh, and I spent three hours watching public television while finishing up that beret.  Oh, Michael Pollan with your Botany of Desire!  Oh, Front Line with your investigation of the life of an undertaker, including dead old people and a dead baby!

And I am so relaxed and so happy.  Why exactly am I a professor, again?  I should so be some old lady with enough money that she doesn’t have to work as a greeter at Wal-Mart.  I would be great as an old lady with a ton of money.

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I need to deal with a bunch of paperwork for the stupid committee of which I am chair.  And I must grade.  And I must stop being a slacker of a teacher.  And I must deal with correspondence.

Problematically, what I would prefer to do, apparently, much in the way of teenaged girls, is to check my phone every 10 minutes to see if I have any new texts, gossip with my friends, and, when those teenaged options have been exhausted, obsess about a menu that I’m planning for this weekend (which is totally stupid because I know what I’m making and I know what ingredients I must secure to make what I’m making, so I’m not sure what it is I’m even actually thinking about).

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This week, I consciously registered a breakthrough I’ve made regarding work and the place that it holds in my life.  For the past few weeks, I’ve found myself totally disconnecting – from the computer, from the phone, from all technology other than the television – on Thursdays, my last teaching day of the week.  I come home, I have dinner, and I knit, and I watch television.  The knitting here is crucial – if I’m knitting, then I’m not doing work, because my hands are busy and, as I get more adventurous (I’m doing patterns now!  Easy ones, but patterns nonetheless!  And I’m embarking on my first project with circular needles!  Yay for cr/j for teaching me to knit!  Yay for youtube for showing me how to do things that I don’t know how to do!  I wound my first center-pull ball by hand this week, too!  It is a beautiful, beautiful ball of yarn!  Huzzah to all things knitting!), my mind is occupied.  Even if I hear an email come through on my phone, or if the land-line rings (because I cling to my land-line with a vice-like grip even though I realize that to do so is totally 20th century), I can’t rush to it, as I’m busy.  You can’t just set down the knitting in the middle of a row!  You might lose your place in the pattern!  And it turns out that if you keep knitting, then you forget that the email came through or that the phone rang!

But so the breakthrough is this: I’m going to be “behind” for the rest of my life.  Even when I work constantly, I am still “behind.”  So I’ve got two choices: I can be behind but feel energized, or I can be behind and be exhausted.  Obviously, the first option is better than the second, because at least energy comes with the first option.  Basically, being behind is the state of my being, so I might as well do it in the most comfortable way possible.  It is huge, not only to do it this way, but to know that’s what I’m doing.  It’s the knowing that makes me not feel guilty about it.

And further, regarding knitting: what I realized last week is that I need to apply the thing that makes me a good knitter (such as I am, still being a novice and all) to the work part of things.  See, in knitting, I’m utterly forgiving of myself and not discouraged.  I start something and it goes wonky?  I unravel and start again.  And I don’t feel like it’s a failure or the end of the world or something.  I’m not discouraged, but rather I feel like I’ve figured out a problem.  Also, I’m willing to improvise.  Something I’ve discovered is that I tend to knit tightly.  But rather than spending time trying to knit more loosely, I just say to myself, you know what?  It’s ok if I use a size 9 needle rather than a size 8 – nobody is going to “know” that I did that when I wear my beautiful lacy scarf!  And even if they did, would they care?  Not so much!  It’s fine!  I spend so much of my professional life trying to force myself to knit loosely, even though it doesn’t come naturally.  Why not just use a bigger needle if that’s what works?  Maybe what matters isn’t so much that I do things according to the “rules,” but rather that I bend the rules when necessary to get the outcomes that I need.  Ultimately, the only person driving myself crazy is me.  Heh, Driving myself Crazy.

So last night I made a good start on the lacy scarf (my first attempt to knit lace, and the link is to ravelry.com so you probably can’t see it unless you’re a member), and then, since Friday isn’t a teaching day, I had plans this morning to meet my friend S. for shopping and lunch.  S. is two months away from a bouncing baby boy, whom it turns out will bear the name of Man-Kitty upon entering the world, which is awesome.  (Obviously Man-Kitty’s real name, as opposed to his pseudonym, though I may just call that baby Man-Kitty for fun.  And let’s note: I am so going to embark on my first baby-related knitting in the next week or two – that baby needs a blanket!  A pretty beautiful blanket!  Huzzah!  With soft lovely yarn and a pretty pattern!  It shall be done!  I did not knit anything for the baby of cr/j only because she is such a better knitter than I am and I feel that she has knitted her own baby beautiful things, but now I have an opportunity to knit for a baby who needs my novice knitted things!)  But so anyway, the shopping today was successful, as S. was able to find maternity-wear at 50% off, and I was able to score a great top and cardigan at Nordstrom, and only spent $60 because both were ridiculously on sale!  And then after that I met with CC and CF to discuss CC’s revisions for an article for a collection, although seriously there wasn’t much discussion needed because she just needs to do what the editor said and it’s great otherwise, and then we kvetched and ended our session with a lovely cocktail.

And then I came home to feed those beasts that live with me, and now I’m writing this post.  Oh, and before I wrote this post, I also responded to an email from The Dominator (apparently he gets his own pseudonym, which is probably not a good sign, but whatever) about his paper for my course and also his thesis-type project.  He really is so, so smart.  I’m excited to see what he does.

So, tomorrow, I have to go into school to participate in a “banned books” event organized by the grad students – basically, I have to read some of the smut that is the literature that I research and teach aloud, which is just the sort of service activity that I love – and I need to do some grading.  But because I took last night and today off?  I feel good about it, and not beleaguered.  And that is a major, major breakthrough.

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Ok, people, you just need to get used to the fact that a lot of my posts this month are going to be about how I have Things I Must Accomplish and how I need to give myself a pep talk in order to get them done.  This is one of the things that I actually struggle with the most in this profession – having things that I “want” to accomplish (or need to, or whatever) and yet with nobody telling me to do them, they never quite seem pressing.  And so then I have to do this thing where I’m like “I don’t wanna!” but then I’m like, “but you have to!” and then I’m all, “except it’s more fun not to do them!” and them I say, “But you’ll hate yourself for not doing them!”  Und so weiter.

So what I’ve accomplished so far today is that I actually took a real look at my calendar, and at the various plans I made while in the Land of Accomplishing Things without Self-Flagellation, and I’ve come up with a master plan for the next three weeks.  I’m feeling good about it, and I’m going to try very, very hard to stay on track.

So on today’s agenda is to get three hours of work done on The Chapter That Would Become a Whole Book if I Let It.  You may be asking why I won’t let it become a book, and to that I’ll respond that I don’t think anybody but me would want to read the entirety of that book.  Whereas a tightly organized chapter would set the world on fire (or so I have to believe in order to write the thing).

You know, the funny thing is that I actually really enjoy the work that I do so you’d think that I wouldn’t have to do this thing I’m doing right now.  Except you know what?  Just because you enjoy your work doesn’t mean it’s not work.  And work, however much you enjoy it, isn’t exactly “fun.”

 

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Sigh

Ok, so I’ve basically decompressed for the past couple of days, which is a good thing, but now the time for decompressing is surely done and I need to accomplish some things.  While I know taking a couple of days off was a Good Thing, I also feel a tremendous lack of motivation to begin accomplishing things again.

The main thing is this.  I need to go to campus and begin the project of packing up my office.  I’ve been procrastinating about this since the semester ended, and, well, as much as I want to have been moved into my new office, I am not interested in doing the work of preparing to move.  I know that if I just get my act together and do it that I’ll be better off for it.  But this is not going to be a fun or terribly productive way to spend my time.

I want to get to work on writing, but I also feel like I can’t settle into a routine with that until the office move tasks are taken care of.  And then there’s the fact that it’s sunny and summery and I don’t feel like working.

In other news, I need to call and make a hair appointment.  Best thing about the short hair: totally low maintenance in the day to day.  Worst thing about the short hair: It goes from looking fabulous to looking like shit overnight…. Like it will look great for 5 weeks or so, and then, one morning it betrays me and I feel like I need for it to be cut IMMEDIATELY.

And then I’ve begun reading this book that I’ve owned for a year but hadn’t gotten around to reading but then was encouraged to read it this past week as it will work with my book project, and of course it’s like 900 pages long because I am cursed to be attracted to books that are “essential” and yet also so long that they will only very rarely if ever find their way onto one of my undergraduate syllabi.  I hate it when research things and teaching things can’t do double-duty, but apparently this is my lot in life with many of the novels that I most love.

And then I probably should work on my syllabi for the fall – but I feel like to do that would be procrastinating at this point.

Of course, but writing about all the things I have to do rather than, I don’t know, doing them – well, that, too, is procrastinating.  And so, I need to get myself dressed and take myself to the office to pack like a maniac.  I’m giving myself two days to get this shit done.  And then the real work of the month of July can commence.  You heard it here first.  (God, I just want to go back to bed….)

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