Monday, August 16, 2010

five things that have helped me experience (a mostly pleasant) summer

In response to Bright Star's meme-play on a ProfHacker post:

Travel—to beaches, mountains, and major metropolitan areas—including hotter-than-hell metroplex where MP2 lives, and hot and humid-as-hell city where my mom* lives. (The climate where I now live is SO much better, but we do have dust. Dust that blows up and down the state and no doubt carries the toxic residue of fertilizer and pesticide, as well as pollen. Sometimes I’d trade the dust for the humidity. But not today, since it takes more than 5 days for me to forget how bad it is—and to think that I lived in that environment for a good decade. Hmmm. It does have a far superior cost of living, and some better cultural amenities. But the humidity is just brutal).

Organizing Sessions—to file/throw-away the debris of everyday academic life. This summer, I filed away the usual post-academic year stuff, but also adopted some additional technology tools to further organize many of my materials (mostly digital stuff) for writing. I am so happy I took the time to do this.

Swimming—although this has not been a particularly hot summer (and thus, the solar panels have not regularly heated the pool to a swim-able [for me] temperature), I’ve been able to enjoy some great days in the pool. And that, for me, is a signature of summer.

Being able to ignore (almost completely) the flurry of email that references the start of the fall semester—reminders about book order due dates (these started in February!), syllabi copying, faculty meetings, etc. (I say almost completely ignore, because a few topics and names still produce an involuntary “run for your life” response—but then I am able to remind myself that I do NOT have to deal with that person/issue/topic for an entire year! This reassures me that it is well-worth the half-salary I am going to draw during my sabbatical).

Email Out-of-Office Assistant—my new best friend; she speaks for me--and I let her have the final word in a way I wasn't sure I'd be able to do. Yay for me.

And the good news is that summer is not yet over, which is a damned good thing. I still have a boat-load of stuff to get done before Sept. 1.

*Okay. Time for a minor rant: I love and have lots of compassion for my mother, but she is a really stubborn soul who will NOT let anyone help her get herself into a better situation. I’d like to blame this on her age and failing eyesight, but the truth is that the latter problems have simply intensified the personality traits (perfectionism and pride, foremost among them) that got her into her current state. I don’t think she is in a particularly safe situation, but I cannot ‘remove’ her from it or in any other way ameliorate the context in which she has chosen to live (independently and without the ability to drive, in a rambling, increasingly ramshackle house). Her mental acuity (at least where fiscal issues are concerned) seems largely intact. I cannot say the same thing about her house, which she seems to imagine she is going to remodel at 80 years old (I barely survived a half-house remodel at half that age). I have not seen the inside of her house in more than 15 years (any time we visit, she stays in the same hotel we book—no space at her 4-bedroom place). My brother deals with her by not dealing with her. That term "sandwich generation" flashes neon in my mind at night.

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