Monday, April 20, 2015

Tenure: Till Death

I just read a post at Ferule & Fescue about mid-career restlessness: the desire to be able to move, post-tenure, even if one doesn't particularly want to move. Flavia makes a good point here--she argues that moving between jobs is a visible sign of success at a point in one's career when there are few big landmarks remaining (you got a tenure-track job, you published a book [maybe], you got what?). I do think that that's a part of it.

But there's also this: Given the job market and the paucity of jobs, and the near dearth of Associate-level jobs, once you have tenure, it can feel like this, right here, is the rest of your life.

I'll admit that I've been struggling with that. I drive past the Field Township Cemetery and I wonder, "Will I be buried there?" It seems horrible and strange--I am not from here; this isn't where my people are--but, after another (here's hoping!) fifty years of living, my people will be here. Where else will they be? My son will have grown up here. My entire career will have been spent here. Maybe we'll move at retirement--in 27-or-so's not very satisfying.

I like where I live, I like it well enough, but it's not where I want to spend the rest of my life. There.

And I don't like living 1000 miles from my family, and slightly more than that from many of my dearest friends. And I really don't like the idea of that remaining the case until my family and friends are dispersed and/or dead. I.e., forever.

This wasn't meant to be a macabre post. There's just something so final about tenure. Of course, we could both change careers, look into other fields, etc. Clearly, I'm not (yet) so troubled by my prospects--or my future burial site--that I'm motivated to pursue these options; I like my career, and I really like the wide-open spaciousness of summer. So I'm not at that point. Besides, maybe a new job will open up? Maybe I'll get really, really lucky?

--Or maybe that's precisely the kind of thinking that will lead to my one day, despite my dearest wishes and intentions, looking into grave plots half a mile south of my house.


Bonaventure woke us up at 4:44 this morning, and (it being my turn to get up with him) it took me until 5:30 to get him fully settled (i.e. fast asleep). Then it took me a while to get fully settled. And then he was up at 7. I'm tired.

On his way out the door this morning, though, he said, "Bye, Mama! Have fun! Play with my toys." Maybe some fun would be okay.

Not that I never have fun. But every weekday morning is a frenzy of trying to Do All The Things before my menfolk get home at noon. (Today: read, write, practice the cello!)

I'm so sleepy.

What I'd love to do is take a nap, or lounge about watching a TV show on Netflix and knitting.

Maybe I can have half an hour or so later this morning (or a nap?)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Here We Are: Another Morning

It's 8:18 am; the magnolia is in full bloom outside the living room windows. A cloudy morning. TM and Bonaventure left a few minutes ago.

B has a terrible new habit of coming into our room at 5:15 or 5:30 and getting into bed with us. Today he did manage to fall back asleep, but he did so sort of draped over me and/or shoving me off to the very edge of the bed, so I didn't sleep much, or deeply, after that. It's hard when you've got a leg wrapped around your neck, or an elbow in your ribs. (TM kindly took over breakfast prep when we finally got up, at a quarter of seven, so I got another half-hour or so of sleep.)

Milk is cooling for yoghurt on the stovetop. The dishwasher is running. I may or may not have to wash the diapers today.

I have three hours and forty minutes, roughly, until Bonaventure comes home. I should have a little time to work this afternoon--Tuesdays and Thursdays are "my" afternoons, while TM watches him--but I can't always count on that.

On the docket: Work on blending my talk back into my chapter (this kind of work is always so confusing, and such a chore. I have to retrace all my revisions and figure out if each of them works in the long version); go for a run; shower; practice the cello. Read an essay or, better, two.

All is not lost. All is not lost. There are weeks yet, and then the summer!

And in the meantime, this is my view (actually taken in April 2011, during our first spring in this house):

Monday, April 13, 2015

De retour


I didn't mean to disappear so summarily, and so soon after "reviving" this blog. It was a busy few weeks. To wit: I visited family for about a week (which was grand), then was home for a couple of days, then took off to deliver a talk in another part of the country. Then got back, almost a week ago, admittedly, and have been trying to re-enter the tattered remnants of my "sabbatical" ever since.

I shouldn't put that in quotes, but I feel like I lost the thread of my sabbatical two months ago--for various reasons, including the Strep Throat That Would Not Subside, And Then Came Back Just Before I Traveled. But really, I have managed to accomplish one or two or three things. To wi---Oh, I can't use that phrase twice in one post. Such as:
  • writing almost 15,000 words of a chapter of Book 2: 15,000 words that aren't half bad, I think;
  • semi-partially-sort-of revising the total mess that is the first chapter (which will remain a total mess until I'm much closer to being done with the whole draft);
  • submitting, and having accepted, an abstract for an article for an edited collection (now, to write the article!);
  • writing and delivering a paper which (a) was pretty good and (b) really helped me think through the chapter that I've been writing, as well as the surrounding chapters;
  • taking up the cello again, after twenty-two years off;
  • reviewing Latin, although I pretty much stopped doing that six weeks ago (must restart!); and
  • writing about 6,000 words of a non-academic book--a small start at something that it might be fun to finish.
OK. Not entirely what I hoped for, but not bad. My declared goal for the semester was 20k words plus some revisions. Of course, I had secret dreams of writing 30k words, and, with three weeks to go, I'm at 21; bear in mind that, by having secret dreams of 30k words, I implicitly had secret secret dreams of 40k words (an impossibility, if even seven of those words were to make sense). Does anyone else do this? --set goals, with secret ambitious goals underlying them, which only masquerade the impossible and terrifying goals beneath?

Anyway. I should read something, or shower, or something. I'm back.

Monday, March 23, 2015


It's sleeting out. Dark gray skies, wet gray roads, the drum of ice on the roof.

I'm very happy to be home and alone this morning! Even if I do need to go read some Kristeva.

Happy Monday, everyone.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


I'm in the process of trying to take about 75 pages of written material and condense it down to roughly 20. (Twenty-two, if I'm really bold.)

And, of course, I find that there are things that I'll need to add.

I'm at about 30. The first 15 are okay, but the second 15 are a total mess--a 38-page-chapter that I've just hacked at until it's shorter, eliminating all of the obvious stuff. It's a disaster. I think that I need to print it again. (Or is that stalling? Doesn't matter; I'll do it. Double-sided. Sorry, trees.)

So condensing sort of sucks, because it's so hard to know what's really important, sometimes. And then, you take a bunch of stuff away, and what's left seems more or less fine on its what was with the many many pages of apparently superfluous writing that's now gone? Should I get rid of it in all versions and drafts? (Answer, for now: NO. I can't face it. And I'm not convinced that my cuts are ultimately for the good. Also, surely there was a reason that I wrote all that other stuff?)

But it's a salutary exercise, too, one that I would consider adopting for the junior-level composition class. I'm forced to figure out what it is that I'm actually saying. On the macro level, this means that I'm cutting to the chase much more quickly (and also, of course, eliminating side arguments and some of the texture of the main argument--which is one reason that I'm not jettisoning anything that I'm cutting for this version). On the micro level, I'm streamlining my prose. How many "sort of"s and "it would seem that"s can I pack into 12,00 words? TOO MANY, that's how.

Back to it. I've got 10 pages to chop. (Twelve, really, because there are still a few paragraphs to be written....)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

So what's up, then?


I've been living in a degree of suspense, about which I cannot blog. The suspense is partly alleviated--which is to say that it continues. But, since I can't talk about it, I'll change the subject.

I'm writing on sabbatical, of course. A lot. And it...goes. I'm a process writer, I've decided, which means that I write a lot of garbage really quickly, then eventually figure out what I want to say, and revise heavily for a long time. I'm in the stage of having a lot of garbage. It is, at times, discouraging, but I think that there's a second book buried in there somewhere.

I'm knitting a second pair of convertible mittens/gloves ("glittens," a name I just can't get behind), this one for a Christmas present. Yes! I'm knitting a Christmas present in March! Because I need to knit something, and all I have is left-over yarn bits!

I try to practice the cello daily, but probably manage about 3/5 days. Hey, it's better than I did the last time I played the cello (which was in the early '90s).

I've taken up running, in a very small way--like 2 miles at a time, usually twice a week. If I really get my act together, I might do a 4-mile charity "race" in June, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Consider this a placeholder post, so that my pledge of a revival doesn't fall entirely by the wayside....