Life & Work

OMG, it's been a whole week since I last posted! I have no idea where the time has gone. Okay, so I've made it through, let's see, several more levels in Angry Birds. And, okay, there were those episodes of Castle that we just had to watch (which you will too if you follow the link because it will open the trailers--oooh, Nathan Fillion!). And there have been a number of long phone calls with my family, thanks to the ongoing crisis we're in. But surely there should have been time to post something, anything, in the seven days since I last wrote.

But, no. I spent Sunday morning commenting on my students' blog posts about animals and Sunday afternoon (after church and grocery shopping) marking papers for my course in EuroCiv. Monday morning, there was the EuroCiv staff meeting to prepare for, Monday afternoon I had to take notes for Tuesday morning's class on the letters of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu before going to a department meeting, by which time it was time for the trek home with the Dragon Baby (in the rain) so that my husband and I could go to our counselor that evening. Tuesday, let's see, there was class in the morning, then office hours, then a letter of reference to write, then home in time to go to badminton and fencing practice.

Wednesday, Wednesday, Wednesday, what happened Wednesday? Oh, there was preparing for class discussion all morning, then class ("St. Francis and the animals"), then coming home and playing hookey from the work that I "should" have been doing by reading a bit in a book that I bought ten years ago and should definitely have read before now (Lorraine Daston and Katherine Park's Wonders and the Order of Nature 1150-1750 [New York, 1998]), by which time my husband came home and it was time for Castle. Which I didn't really concentrate on terribly well because I was so anxious about that paper that I've been asked to give in late January on spiritual exercises and I don't know when I'm going to have time (or energy) to do the research. Yesterday, I spent most of the day reading the first half of a dissertation, albeit taking a break mid-day to talk on the phone about the Family Crisis and another later in the afternoon to read the paper that we are going to be talking about in our workshop this afternoon. And then my husband and I went to hear our son play bass clarinet in his high school band concert.

Trying not to panic about now. I should say that there were some signal victories in all of this this week. I was pretty low at fencing practice, thanks in part to being on the losing side in every game of badminton that I played. Nor does it help that I simply am never going to beat even in practice most of the guys in our club that I practice against. And Wednesday I really was panicking about my upcoming talk, particularly after reading a few of the applications for which I have been asked to write letters of reference and feeling totally inadequate compared to the projects that my younger colleagues have proposed. I was warming up to a jolly good spiral into the Pit...but it didn't work. Like it or not, Seligman is right. You can talk yourself into--and out of--depression. Count that as two blog posts I didn't write. Not that I had time. Or, rather, not that I felt I could take the time.

Why is that? (Cue Real Topic of this blog post.) I'm not sure. Somehow my days get eaten up doing all of the things that I am pretty sure I am responsible for thanks to the professional position that I have, but nevertheless all too often, by the end of the week, I feel like I really haven't gotten anything done. No research. No writing. This week not even blogging. I would despair about now if I didn't have the Seligman Learned Optimism tape running in my head which is telling me about all of the things that I actually have accomplished over the years, including keeping this blog. Including writing more papers and articles than I typically give myself credit for. Including having so many ideas for things that I would like to research that I probably never will finish even a tenth of them. Maybe that's why I'm panicking: I really don't know where to start. I had in my head when I woke up this morning a list of the things that I have written about and never published over the past eight years since my book came out. It's quite a list. I wonder that I don't work up all of those talks into articles. But then I wouldn't have time for all of these new things that I would like to think about. Like Mary and the animals. Or John of Garland's Epithalamium. Or Richard of St. Laurent's treatise in praise of the Virgin Mary.

Breathe. One day at a time. But what if I am making the wrong decisions about how to spend my days? Why did I agree to serve on this dissertation committee anyway? The student isn't even at my university. Why did I agree to do those book reviews (oh, yes, they're still hanging over me)? Why can't I say no when I know that I don't really want to spend my Christmas vacation reading job applications for a position that we have to fill every three years? It's like sweeping the desert when I should be up on my camel, riding across the dunes. But right now, I have to go finish reading that dissertation for the defense on Monday. And then go to our workshop to talk, yes, about somebody else's work. Sigh.

[Update: It was a very good workshop. But still not my work.]

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