Monday, October 3, 2011

Goodbye, September. Hello, October!

Well, so much for good intentions! Although I enjoyed writing about my delightful meals in Savannah I got nowhere with my plan to blog about food everyday. One of my favorite topics, from any standpoint, and I still couldn't get myself on the page. What gives?


Warning: whinging ahead! I am actively soliciting your feedback and suggestions on how to "get on with it."

I have been surprised by the number of challenges September brought to my life from all directions. If you've been trying to follow my blog this month, I have been more notable by my absence than my presence.

Why? September!

Work challenges! This first month of classes and administration and student interaction has been a series of uphill sprints.

T-shirt armor

Just when I thought I was done and back on level ground, uphill again... full speed!

Before I get into full-speed whinging, though, let me point out the following:
  1. my first novel got bought this summer and I hope soon to have a publication date from my publisher;
  2. in a recent binge, I submitted 8 short plays and 1 monologue to 54 different site for production or competition;
  3. I've got my senior undergrad playwrights involved with student composers, nationally known writing mentors, and, soon, local professional directors and actors;
  4. I've got my junior and senior undergrad writers involved in a Spring 2012 celebration of the 600th birthday of Joan of Arc, where their original writing will be featured in public performance;
  5. I'm writing three reviews of scholarly monologues for two different journals;
  6. My recent conference paper went smoothly and offers yet another possible article, with some rewriting and development;
  7. I'm writing encyclopedia entries for French theatre (17th-19th centuries), due in December, by invitation and for remuneration;
  8. I've been invited to help form a local short story "bookclub" with some women I really like.
This is all good stuff that's happening: improving my community, working on my creative projects, supporting my teaching, and certainly developing my career credits. And the list above all makes me happy... countering:

Challenge #1: Not becoming sucked into an All Work/All The Damn Time situation. This is a constant challenge for me, and always has been. I tend to immerse myself in my work, and this year (2011) is supposed to be about finding balance. Making work 20% of my life, instead of 95%.

This requires me taking the time to schedule time with friends, making new connections across campus, and using the 15-minutes-per-task approach to house maintenance and grading. I am certainly more conscious about getting other things into my day; I have also realized that I have to set boundaries for myself about putting time into preparing classes, grading, and my own writing.

And yet! (Devil on my shoulder, here...) I am trying to infuse new thinking into my classes, which had begun to feel "old" and boring. To break old habits of putting off grading until the "night before" and to keep the classroom lively and fresh. This requires consistent time invested daily: for my class meeting Tuesday and Thursday, for example, I am spending time on the class on Friday, Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday, beyond the in-class time or student meeting time. Too damn much!

Challenge #2: My absent colleagues. Seriously. I work in a graveyard, where the colleagues on my hallway (five men) all keep their office doors closed all the time. I see my colleagues once monthly, at our faculty meetings. I share no committees with my colleagues--because we have no committees. Seriously? In an academic department? Grant you, I don't want more meetings per se, but I am in our building four days out of every week, and I see 1-2 colleagues weekly. In a department with 17 faculty members.

Not in my hallway!

This is just... weird. We never socialize; for instance, right now we've just welcomed three new colleagues and a guest artist with... nothing. Pointing them out at faculty meetings. The guest artist is with us through October and I've yet to see him. All email, all the time. This mostly just makes me feel disconnecte
Challenge #3: Return to Drah-Ma that comes with being back in classes and the few small meetings. Email seems to heighten Drah-Ma, rather than diminish it. Moments of over-reaction, over-acting, and under-empathy. Sigh.

Challenge #4: Maintaining the good eating, sleeping, and creative habits I flourished with this summer. Keeping the fridge stocked with fresh vegetables and fruits, then remembering to eat them (ah!). The Lazy Me emerges, looking for the quick grab-and-eat stuff of the past, the extended nap, the "do it tomorrow, Scarlett" attitude I worked so hard to nix.

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