advice · research · saving my sanity · writing

20 Minute Workout: Keep writing, and the ideas will come

I’m giving the opening keynote at the Digital Humanities Summer Institute on June 2. I’ve been working on it for a year. It’s not done yet. And by “not done,” I mean, I have in the document titled DHSI_Keynote about 5000 words of fuzzy non-sequiturs and wild claims. I also have a bunch (like 10 or 11) 200-300 word document stubs with evocative titles and one snappy paragraph. And that’s it. Don’t believe me? Allow me to excerpt the draft in progress. Sample wild claim: “Is DH like bronies? Trampling the 8 year old girls in the name of spurious revolution?” Sample non sequitur: “I’m more the engineering model. More the know your history model. Rules help us all enjoy the game more, if you know what I mean. But now, I’ve changed my mind. Because fan studies.”

It’s a mess, and I’ve got three weeks to get it done.

Now, this morning, it occurs to me, in a blaze of clarity, that I’ve been barking (and writing) up the wrong tree for about a month. And I need to chuck 90% of what I’ve got (bronies? WTH?) and reframe the entire thing.

It’s okay. I can write my way out, and I know how. It’s going to be okay because I write every single day, even when I don’t want to. In fact, in this case, it was because I sat down not wanting to, but did it anyways, that both the Major Problem and the Clever Solution presented themselves to me. Or rather, that I diagnosed my problem and created my solution.

Here’s what happened. I set my 20 minute time, and plunked my cursor into the keynote document, which I was starting to dread, and on which I was getting kind of stuck, and so I wrote about my stuckness and my resistance, because I had to write about something, and all of a sudden (POOF!) I knew what was wrong and why and how, and I had a little idea of how I could fix it. So I shifted over into a new document and wrote to myself some little threads exploring the new frame and the new idea and I can see that it’s going to work and that I’ve already got a bunch of pieces that will tie into this nicely.

I didn’t used to write like this. This way is better. You should do it, too, if you don’t.

To flag what’s important here:

  1. If you set a timer for 20 minutes, and make yourself sit there writing the whole time, you will wind up having an idea. It has never been the case that I’ve just circled the drain that whole time. The fact is that we’re all pretty smart and pretty well read and it necessarily follows that at some moment in that 20 minutes, despite ourselves, we’ll have an idea, just because we’re typing out words. The idea might be big (“Omigod, someone needs to do qualitative research on the child fans of MLP: FiM“) or it might just be footnote-worthy (“Hey, that’s a visual pun on Dr. Who and Rose there, in those background ponies, and I wonder if that’s to amuse the writers, the animators, or the bronies … maybe see where else that happens in cartoons?”)
  2. If you just write every day, even just 20 or 30 minutes, you’ll always have so much half-assed writing lying around that you’ll never be in a panic to just hit the right word count for the deadline. Because writing while panicking is waaaaay less efficient than writing while not suffering from whooshing ear noises and tunnel vision and shakily glugging triple lattes and engaging in subvocalized self-loathing. By the time you really need to get serious about producing 25 superb pages, you’ll already have 50 shitty but intriguing ones–you’ll already be in the admirable position of needing to prune and fine-tune rather than produce out of sheer nothingness.
  3. This giant stack of half-baked pages is comforting even in just its giant stackness. My “book” “typescript” is about 330 pages long now. The other day, I threw out 30 pages in disgust, because they were wrong wrong wrong. But that was easy for me to do because the thing is already 330 (now 300) pages long and I’m not done writing yet. Easy to make the right decision, because sooooo much writing already.
  4. If you write every day your brain is conditioned to Always Be Thinking and Always Be Writing. This means I can just plunk my rear end in the chair and start. At Canadian Tire waiting for the snow tires to get taken off. In my office in the 20 minutes before a meeting. On my front porch after I drop my kid off at the bus. I don’t need a major warmup ritual. I’m already limber, and my brain just knows what to do without much conscious effort to start. So twenty minutes of writing is now preceded by 15 seconds of setting my timer, or 30 seconds of shooing the cat off my lap, rather than by two hours of procrastination and the ritual sacrifice of my sense of self and happiness.
  5. You train your gut. Every day that I write, I’m also sifting out my ideas–good, bad, better, best, in this category, in that category, original, example, digression, important, funny, trivial. They’re whizzing past my critical thinking apparatus all the time. So I’m getting pretty good and pretty efficient at cutting something loose when it’s time to let it go, pretty good at knowing something is underdeveloped but really important, pretty good at figuring out when it needs another pair of eyes, or when it’s ready to submit for peer review. I’m not so tortured about these decisions anymore because I make them all the time.

This is what I’m learning from my daily writing habit. I’m more productive and less stressed. I’m producing higher quality work, and more of it, with less anguish.

You?

saving my sanity

I forgot to be nice to myself for a long time, and here’s what happened

Things have been, shall we say, stressful. As someone who scores pretty damn high on the privilege scale, I feel like a jerk for enumerating those stresses because they are totally the problems of the privileged. I have a very busy (full time, salaried, benefits paying, secure) job that costs me plenty of missed downtime and sleep, a major renovation looming (on a home we own in a city we love), a dissertation that demands lots of time and energy (which is part of a PhD I’ll be completing debt free), a couple of side research projects that are ramping up, and a history of sliding into states of (luckily mostly mild) depression, the triggers for which tend to be major stress and the failure to exercise self-care. And as a confirmed perfectionist, I’m very bad at cutting myself slack.

But–first world problems are still problems, especially when they start to become debilitating. And when Saturday came around–a beautiful sunny day that I’d normally give anything to be outside in–and all I wanted to do was curl up on the couch, mainline Friday Night Lights on Netflix, have a little sniffle and feel sorry for myself, I knew something was wrong. After weeks of pushing myself to my limits, my limits pushed back. That this was about to happen shouldn’t have come as a surprise, since Saturday was presaged by a whole bunch of warning signs that I had been ignoring, most of which involved my total failure to practice self-care. Carrots replaced with chocolate? Major lack of exercise? Mindless surfing taking the place of reading? More takeout than cooking? Work upon work upon work? Meditation practice off the rails? Waking up in the middle of the night to obsess about all the things I was doing and all the things that I wasn’t getting done? Incredible difficulty getting out of bed in the morning? Failure to take my vitamins? Checkity check check check. It amazes me how thoroughly I can put my mental and physical health on the back-burner when work and stress come ‘a calling. 
Just as a studies have started to show that frowning may cause depression as much as depression causes frowning, my failure to take care of myself exacerbates stress and depression just as much as stress and depression make me fail to take care of myself. It doesn’t help that we work in a culture that tells us that work should come before everything else. Or that that same culture subtly reinforces the idea that our bodies are just vehicles for our brilliant brains and deserve only as much care as we need to give them to keep functioning. But after Saturday’s meltdown, I realized that I needed to do better. Waiting to treat things once they become problems doesn’t make much sense, and practicing some self-care is the best way for me to prevent something mostly manageable from become major.

So, little by little, I’m trying to regain the practice of self-care that my body and mind forcibly reminded me I need. It’s hard to do when all you want to do, and feel capable of doing, is a whole bunch of nothing. But the more you do, the more you do. I’ve gone for a couple of runs since then, and spent some time in the garden. I’ve cooked dinner almost every night, and started in again on my giant “to read” pile. I’m taking a four day weekend, starting tomorrow, and I’m not going to think about my office job one bit.  And I’m finally celebrating the birthday that largely got lost amidst all the craziness.It helps, too, to know that it’s not just me. Even with all my privilege, I really can’t have it all (can anyone?), although that doesn’t stop me from trying. But I need reminders, like Boyda’s, and Jana’s, and Aimee’s, and Erin’s, and Margrit’s, that there’s more than work and responsibility, and that slacking and self-care are not synonyms.

How about you, dear readers? Have you had a facepalm total self-care failure recently? How’d you turn things around? 

january blues · saving my sanity

Stressors and Antidotes

It is 7 pm and I’m googling if and how to administer oil of oregano to children. My little one has been coughing–again–during the night, and tonight his skin feels warm, while his still chubby cheeks are rosier than usual. My mind starts racing with questions similar to the ones Aimée brought up: what about work tomorrow, which one of us can stay home? In truth, these questions come to the fore, because it’s easier to think about them than the heavier ones: how sick is he going to get? Is this a good-old cold, the umpteenth one this winter?  Or is this the dreaded pandemic that Public Health has been so loudly announcing?

Whichever the answer, kids’ sickness tops the list of my anxieties, and this beginning of the year–you know, the regular calendar year that most humans follow, as opposed to the academic one–seems rife like none other with mini-anxieties. These mini-anxieties, while quite innocuous on their own, have colluded to make early January feel like one of those weeks when you wonder whether it’s Friday already, only to remember it’s only a too-full a Monday. So I decided to tackle it with my all-purpose weapon–drumroll, please–the mighty list. [Just as an aside, have you noticed how many of us, if not all, here at Hook and Eye are list-makers? Can we have a show of hands, if you’re of the list-making sort, too?]

Whenever I get into a slump, I try to do what a lot of us have been prescribed as the optimum way to manage anxiety: breathe; get yourself outside and/or active; try to get some perspective. We’ve talked about all of these options at length here, and I only want to linger on the latter point. If parenthood has taught me anything, it’s how to take advantage of the little in-between moments, so I decided to start a list of little things that make me happy, and juxtapose it to a list of stressors.

Happy-making
Stress-inducing
Moments to myself
Small talk
New projects
New projects
Grocery shopping on my own
Incessant cold weather
Sleep
Lack of sun
Art
Lack of exercise
Colour
Interviews
Having lunch with friends
Presentations
Music 
Kids’ crying
Bed-time stories (the kids’ and mine, too)
Kids’ sickness

You’ve noticed that some items feature on both sides, and my aim is to intersperse the inevitable things on the right with stolen moments from the left column. And when those things on the left happen, to notice them consciously and to enjoy them fully.
And you? How has your year started? What are some of your happy-making and/or stress-inducing everyday or extraordinary things?
good things · saving my sanity

Beyond post-summer tristesse

Living in Edmonton has made me so polite, that I start every conversation with a weather update. Well, polite might not be quite the term here, but my optimism (self-delusion?) makes me prefer it to, say, boring, obsessed, desperate, etc. So you can see how the beginning of September and its ushering of a greater statistical possibility of snow, sleet, and other decidedly non-summery meteorological events would make me cringe less than happy. However, what saves it for me is looking both ways: forward to the new term, but also back to the summer that’s passed and its many delights.

One of summer’s delights: the ferry leaving Swartz Bay

It’s been a working summer for me, as for most people, I guess. What made it different in my personal academic history, was the absence of that uniquely summery feeling that “if it doesn’t get done today, it will tomorrow, or next week. It’s all good.” Yes, I actually did use to have summers like that. They were glorious, in retrospect. One deadline after another cascaded throughout this most recent summer of mine, in a way that will probably take its toll mid-October, if not sooner. But I did so some summery things. Many of them, in fact. Like travel, like walks to the park and in the River Valley, like reading fiction for pleasure.

Reading fiction at leisure is the definitive trait of my summers. If nothing else, I can read as much as I want, because while experiencing it, summer seems endless. The days are long, especially this far north, and mostly sunny, so all I dream of doing, really, is taking a book out in the back yard, and lounging and reading a great book. And then thinking about how I might teach it.

Which brings my gaze to the “forward” direction: the new academic year. The busy campus. The new students. The mind-blowing conversations. All the things. So many things to discover, to discuss, and to do. Erin was asking on Monday about the resolutions we might make at the beginning of the academic year. I’m not one for resolutions, but I do wish I could maintain a balance between the impression of freedom and endless time that summer bestows (at least on me, and it’s definitely an impression) and the tenuously contained chaos of September. What do you wish for yourself?

heavy-handed metaphors · running · saving my sanity · writing

Writing and running

So, I’m prepping this graduate professionalization course you may have heard me talk about on Twitter. As a result I’m reading a looooooooot of books on writing–academic writing, dissertation writing, creative non-fiction writing. Here’s something I’ve noticed:

A lot of disciplined writers are also runners.

Joan Bolker keeps reverting to running metaphors in Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day. In the Chronicle, writing columnist Rachel Toor refers fairly frequently to her own running habit–she does half-marathons, apparently. (William Zinsser doesn’t run, so far as I can tell, probably because he’s too busy wagging his fingers at people [mostly male people], but that’s neither here nor there.) Anne Lamott doesn’t run, but Bird by Bird reminds Melissa of running.

I’ve got more, that didn’t arrive in time for the photo shoot.

I’ve started to run. The writing books inspired me, actually. And since I’m doing so much writing this summer (reading books on how to be a productive academic can produce productivity this way) I need some outlets for when I unpeel my butt from my deck chair. Obviously, I began my running career by reading about running. It’s striking how similar the writing advice and the running advice is, to wit:

  • Make a schedule and stick to it
  • Be consistent
  • Shorter efforts, more frequently, achieve better results
  • Capacity builds over time; start slow and it will speed up!
  • It’s important to build in time for rest and recovery
  • The hardest part is getting out the door / opening the document
  • “Motivation” is never going to be enough
  • The good feeling you get from dragging your ass/pen through it when you don’t want to today will give you momentum for tomorrow
  • When you hit your stride, there’s nothing better than staying in that flow

Writing and running are mutually reinforcing each other for me right now. When I just want to surf Dog Shaming rather than write, I think to myself, “Well, you dragged your ass out of bed at 6am to run, and that turned out really great, so bring that same commitment to the writing!” And then, at 6am, when I’m all snuggy and listening to my whole household happily snoring, I think, “Dammit, you sat in a chair for two hours trying to create a BOOK out of NOTHING yesterday, so you can probably manage to thump your feet down sequentially on a pretty path and listen to the birds chirp for half an hour and not DIE.” (There’s a lot all-capsy thinking when I’m feeling sorry for myself, as you do when the alarms goes off in the morning.)

The academy is full of funny coincidences. A lot of English professors are in therapy / have weirdo hair. A lot of women in Digital Humanities like to knit. A lot of productive writers are runners. Huh. Something to think about.

being undone · good attitudes about crappy possibilities · good things · saving my sanity · video

Academic Spring

When the weather turned nice, briefly, this week, I dragged a colleague out to grab a cup of tea on campus, and instead of taking the tunnels and our coats, we walked outside. I breathed in the smell of melting snow and wet earth and dry sand and warm sun.

“Spring is my least favourite season,” I blurted out. “It just makes me so anxious!”

I surprised myself saying it, but it’s true! Since high school, I’ve associated this time of year with fast approaching deadlines for materials I’d been wildly procrastinating on for month. Spring is not new beginning for scholars: it’s a time of reckoning. I did my BA at York, which has eight-month courses, so spring was the culmination of everything, and that usually meant desperation, panic, and last-minute calculation of possible grade outcomes. Ugh. Of course, every April also meant packing up all my worldly belongings and moving back to Kirkland Lake for the summer: not really an awesome prospect. Deadlines and impending uprooting! Spring! What’s not to love! Similar angst accompanied my MA and PhD coursework years: constant apartment moving, and lots of deadlines, and waiting for results from SSHRC!

My colleague has worked as a sessional instructor for a long time: her spring, she notes, is marked usually by enormous piles of grading and total uncertainty as to employment status two weeks hence. Contingent labour in the academy, I imagine, must feel as mixed up about spring as I vestigially do.

We’ve written here before about the marvellous opportunities, the spring-like rebirth that September offers us. Well, I guess April can sometimes be the reverse.

I’ve got no reason to dread spring any more. I own my own home, so I’m not moving anywhere. I have a steady job. I do have a lot of conference paper deadlines, but I get to travel and that always excites me. I just reflexively panic, still, when the snow melts and the trees bud.

You too?

As an antidote to the spring heebie-jeebies, I offer you a video–a lip dub I made with my yoga studio friends and teachers at Queen Street Yoga. It’s full of sunshine and smiles and happy music, and it might make you smile as you grade / write / move / job hunt.

saving my sanity

The value of now

How’s the follow-through on those resolutions, my friends? Coming along nicely? Or have they already devolved into anxiety-producing, self-esteem-bashing, flaming failures? Not making resolutions is similar to being a pessimist by choice: If I don’t have high hopes, I won’t be disappointed. What am I droning on about? Resolutions are too much about the future, just like everything else in an academic life, and I want to discover how to dwell in the now. How do you dwell in the now? Practically, I mean?

No, I’m not going all Eckhart Tolle-ish on you now. I know meditation and yoga are all about awareness in the moment, and I wish I did more of both. I’m not alone. But it just doesn’t work for me. You see, I could go to the yoga studio in my “neighbourhood” tomorrow, which means getting there by  10 am for a wonderful class of yoga flow of 90 minutes or thereabouts. Are you kidding me? That will take up my whole morning. Or I could use one of the yoga apps I bought and have used exactly twice. Two time. I keep promising myself one of these days I’ll actually buy one of those cables which link my (old, first-generation) iPad to the TV, and will thus have a wonderful yoga experience. You know as well as I do consumerism is not going to get me dwelling in the moment. So I call bullshit on myself and move on.

On to more anxiety about the deadlines and how I will make them. Because make them I will. There is no question about that. The question is always about the price and what gives. And those are further reasons for anxiety. So, what I do is work. I find actually starting working–even if it means merely making a plan, an outline, a list of tasks, reading the first five pages of an article, basically anything that implies actual labour and not rumination–takes some of that anxiety away. Major projects become more manageable and I begin to envisage their unfolding in time. They become more material, rather than staying in the abstract and nebulous plane of existence.

That’s my living in the now: putting pen to paper, eye to screen, and mind to tasks. I wish it more spiritual, new-agey, and overall posh. But it’s not. I’m a worker bee, and my solution to curbing the anxiety about work is work itself. That way, I can actually take worry-free breaks. Because I know the work, broken down in clear tasks, will be there tomorrow or after lunch, too.

What about you? Can you give me your key to doing more yoga and meditation? Cause I really want to do more yoga and mediation. #noreally #nosarcasm

saving my sanity · you're awesome

How was your break?

Or, more to the point, did you even have a break? Do you feel refreshed and ready to tackle the New Year? Are your syllabi all in a row? Is your brand new writing schedule ogling you passive-aggressively from the corner of your (real or virtual) desktop? How about those resolutions?

Sorry if I’m redundant, but how is it only January 11? I’ll tell you how: big breaks are not good for ya! They come with huge expectations and pressures we put on ourselves. (I’ll have time for yoga! running! knitting! reading for pleasure! [insert your favourite pastime here]!) And all they do is destroy the routine we academics fight so hard to construct in order to be able to juggle the interminable projects, the teaching, the life (what life? the one you’d been postponing until the big Christmas break).

Big breaks are no good, I tell ya! They aren’t for me, and I’m willing to be they aren’t for you. Yes, it was lovely to see family, friends, and the neighbour’s dog. How long did you travel for it? Did you make all of your connections? What bugs did you pick up along the way? Now, I’m not trying to be a grinch, but to advocate for something different, and hopefully less stressful. When your holidays become more stressful than your work, something’s gotta change.

How about just taking time off in-between, as part of our routine? How about building leisure time in the daily schedule? Yes, yes, the cynical in me also says I’m only talking such nonsense because it’s the beginning of term, and hence the possibilities seem endless. But really, think about it: take a calendar (paper, Google, iCal, Outlook, whatever your preference) and write in it your favourite pastime: are you a yoga-at-sunrise kind of person or a wind-down-with-a-good-book (whatever that means for you, I’m not asking or judging) people? Write it in, I say! Don’t forget weekends, either. Schedule some good times in there as well, or else, you’ll think you’ve discovered a gold mine of possible work time. Even better, do not work on weekends! I know that might seem revolutionary (and I haven’t been able to do it last term, not completely), but some people can do it, and why should we not strive for more leisure and less working time?

Yes, there are always exceptions, but if you make taking breaks the rule, you might become more efficient, less of a procrastinator (I know the carrot’s coming in a couple of hours, so I’ll just plough through this last little bit), and a happier person altogether.

What do you say? How’s “taking more breaks” for a New Year’s resolution?

feminism · politics · resolution · saving my sanity

Remind me I’m a feminist

A few weeks ago, I completely forgot about the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre. My forgetting was of course short lived as my numerous social media feeds started trending with memorial posts, but the point is, for a very brief few moments, I completely forgot about the anniversary, about the event, about violence against women…

In discussing this with friends, a few of them joked that what every good feminist needs is an email reminder that they are a feminist. Maybe an online service [www.remind_me_i’m_a_feminist.com] that would compile all of the important dates and events and send out email alerts and news digests.

The darkly comical element here is that one shouldn’t need reminding. Our feminist consciousness should never be that far away. And yet, sometimes we will it into the background. I am sure I am not the only feminist out there that has had her friends complain about a propensity to make every social event/pub night/movie outing into some kind of “feminist thing.” My powers of feminist observation are never far from being unleashed at any given time and place. However, I have also learnt to choose my battles, and that not every event welcomes such politics. This has been a hard lesson to learn, and I’ve definitely alienated a few friends and family members who – for their own reasons – are not particularly enthused by feminist politics.

What I am trying to come to terms with is the difference between “choosing my battles” and forgetting them. There is a certain social convenience that comes with overlooking our feminist politics. What dates like December 6th (or horrific events like the shooting of Malala, or protests like Chief Spence’s hunger strike) reinforce is that the personal needed to become political for very good reasons. Our feminist foremothers knew what they were on about. It may seem easiest at times to push aside our politics for the sake of our everyday sanity, but it is in the everyday that these politics are most profound – in the fight to go to school, to walk the streets unharassed, and  to live with dignity in a safe, warm, and permanent home.

I’m resolving to re-engage with my everyday feminist politics. To remember more forcefully that the personal is political.

balance · community · day in the life · kid stuff · saving my sanity · you're awesome

Making Lemonade

Today, I’m offering up a framed narrative. I wrote the following nested post on Sunday, but then Liz offered a bunch of solutions to my exhaustion questions on Tuesday. So, while my exhaustion has not evaporated, I’ve decided to make the proverbial lemonade, and look forward to brighter things in the New Year. Rest assured, I’m not quite ready to do the counting of the blessings, yet. After all, it’s still November. So, here’s Sunday-me, all tired-but-hopeful:

***

It seems I’m on an inspiration kick. Or a whining kick. Whichever it is, I’m trying to turn it into something better. You might also argue I’m crowdsourcing my counselling. However, I bet I’m not alone in feeling exhausted right about now, on the brink of December. So, I’m writing this post to ask you all: how do you deal? cope? manage? right about now.

Here’s my situation: it’s Sunday as I’m writing these lines, and before you admire my organizational skills, wait until you read the whole thing. My oldest has now been sick with the flu (the real one, the influenza one) for almost a week [update: she’s better, but we still had to pick her up early on Wednesday, as she was running a fever], while also scheduled to take a trip over the pond tomorrow. I hope, by the time you read this post, she will be long past it [update: the cough is still here]. Otherwise I feel like I will snap something. Speaking of snapping: my youngest woke up early. Well, nothing is *too* early for a baby, but right now, at 53 degrees latitude north, when the sun rises around 9 am (I’m exaggerating; tired mothers are allowed their lion’s share of hyperbole), 6:45 am seems unpardonably early. Strike that, it’s always too early to be woken up at that time. 
However, to add literal injury to insult, after I’d taken the baby into my own bed, hoping to steal maybe another 5 seconds of shut-eye, he gleefully–everything is either ginormously gleeful or deathly dramatic at 13 months–proceeded to get up, pick up my water bottle, and drop it–nay, throw it–squarely in my right eye. The visible result? I now sport a red spot on the white of my right eye. Yeah, I didn’t need that one anyway. Symmetry is always better, and my left eye is much more myopic than my right. Babies always know more than we give them credit for, no?
The cherry on the cake of exhaustion–see, even my metaphors get mixed this late in the term–I am about to receive (remember, it’s still Sunday here) eighty (if I spell the numeral instead of writing numbers, it will seem much smaller, yes?) research essays tomorrow. E-i-g-h-t-y (nope, still small, still in denial). 
So, between the packing and the marking and the lesson prepping–and did I mention the few remaining job/postoc apps–and the usual demands of life, my upcoming week–happily now in my past–is looking quite quite busy. 
Which brings me to my last point (and, alas, a sentence fragment–you can see I’m gearing up for marking here!): how do *you* cope with the end-of-term avalanche of marking and deadlines and final exams and final papers and the anticipation of all. that. work waiting for you in the new year. I will spare you my list for 2013, but I would really love to hear, before we do the pinnable year-end tally of “awesome things that happened in 2012,” how you deal with the actual year-end itself. Because me? This here is how I’m dealing. Crowdsourcing my therapy. Please don’t send me a bill, though, k?

***

Now back to my usual Friday-due-post self: you know, I did say I’d snap something, but I didn’t. The cherry on the cake: now my partner is sick. And the baby, the water-bottle-bull’s-eye-throwing baby? I had to pick him up early from daycare yesterday, because they were suspecting pinkeye. Pink-effing-eye! And yet, I’m still here. Unsnapped. What’s holding me together? In the words of the wonderful M M-D (our resident English and Film Studies miracle worker), the end-of-term is within tasting distance! Yes, I still have to mark the papers; yes, I still have to write the final exams; yes, I still have to mark those.

However, in-between, I get to dream about how next term will be so much more exciting. I’m teaching a 200-level course for the first time! I’ve chosen some awesome novels I’m very excited about, and I get to legitimately discuss theory! THEORY! Legitimately! (excuse me for shouting, but I’m just THAT excited). I do, in fact, teach quite a bit of theory in my introductory courses, but it’s always instrumental. And that’s fine. I utilize theory in my research all the time. But this course will allow me to actually discuss theory in itself. Now that’s something to look forward to. (and, by the way, while I’m aware it’s not all fun and games teaching a new course, my realistic side is all taken up with kiddie sickness at the moment, so I’ll just deal with the problematic issues this course will pose as they arise, rather than imagining them)

Finally, and probably most excitingly for me, I will revise, rethink, and reconceptualize my manuscript. I did it once, but I was too enamoured with it, and I didn’t do enough. Now I’ve got some really substantive feedback, which helped me truly see the lacunas, and I’m ready to tackle it again. I’ve also got a very receptive editor who’s willing not only re-read it at the end, but support me in the process. It’s looking good, and it is thrilling.

And that’s my lemonade! Want some?