The end of April usually looks something like this:
- finish grading
- send plagiarism cases to the department for investigation
- submit grades
- hold breath to see if students will petition grades and require follow up
- breathe a sigh of relief that term is over
- start madly writing conference papers and packing lists
- plan my impossible summer to-do list whilst simultaneously panicking about not being able to get it all done before Labour Day rolls around
This year, I said no to all of that, or at least to the parts that come after “breathe a sigh of relief.” Yes, I’m still going to Congress and DHSI like always. Yes, I’ve still got an academic summer to-do list. I’m going to finish up a couple of articles that I’ve had on the back-burner for awhile, write as much of my dissertation as I can, see about pitching some more book reviews (since it turns out that we need more reviews by and about women, I love reviewing and I’m good at it), and start planning the course I’m teaching in the fall.
But you know what? That list isn’t the really important one. Because I’ve spent too many summers sitting in my office, the library, or an archive in a city that I don’t really want to be in. Long days of work that stretch longer as the sun stays out, wishing I was out enjoying my city and the light. So this year, the important list of things I want to do with my summer looks like this:
- take my books and my notebook to the beach as many days as I can possibly manage and soak up the sounds of water while I work in the sun
- play in my garden
- play in my kitchen, ideally with things I’ve grown in the garden
- spend long evenings on patios surrounded by folks I like
- explore the whole half of my city that I tend to forget is there
- say no to work-related trips that aren’t absolutely necessary so I don’t have to spend time wishing I was home
- read books that have nothing to do with work but that make me excited about language
- write things that have nothing to do with work but that make me excited about language
- watch terrible summer action movies on the big screen, sometimes at dinnertime so that I can pretend that popcorn is totally an appropriate meal for a grown woman
- watch pickup baseball games in the park with a picnic
- continue to perfect my (already pretty perfect) homemade ice cream recipe
What I hope will happen is that I roll into Labour Day tanned, relaxed, and feeling like, in the words of Anne Wilkinson, I’ve “peel[ed] the skin of summer/ With [my] teeth/ And suck[ed] its marrow from a kiss.” And you know what? I’ll probably get more, and better, work done this summer than I do when it’s all about push and panic. Isn’t that always the way?
So tell me, dear readers: what are your big summer plans, academic and otherwise? How do you approach work-life balance over the summer?