Some days the parts of one’s world seem to converge, bringing together moments and thoughts that were meant to be unrelated to show you how they really are related.
Recently I had one of those moments.
I was attending a dissertation defense, playing the role of outside member. It was an all-woman committee. I was on time that morning, but worried I would be late. My day had taken a slight detour at motherhood. My child had needed, and so I was there for her, but that meant entering the shower about 10 minutes later than I would have liked. It ended up fine. I was on time. Another academic mama on the committee was a few minutes late. No big deal, but also a kid issue. Sometimes mornings are difficult. And to be honest, I had difficult mornings before I became a mother.
The dissertation was about scholar-activism among Chicana doctoral students. The dissertation was memorable. The student (now graduate) wrote some powerful words as she synthesized and commented upon the words and experiences of other women. The presentation was also memorable. The student purposefully broke with convention in ways that made the audience feel the power of others. It was a provocative document and defense. We – the reader, and the audience in the packed room – were asked to consider what we do with our power, and what our acts of activism are. Continue reading
People come to me with their confessions.
I am not a priest. I am merely a scholar who researches social media use, and an educator who teaches about it. When people hear what I study and teach, they confess.
The confess their true feelings about social media.
What do they tell me? Continue reading
The time “between” terms is always a challenging one for me to manage. At my university, spring term ended on last Friday, classes ended a week earlier, with grades due on Tuesday (2 days ago). And summer term begins on Monday.
Students are clear between terms. They turned in their papers and exams, and await their next directions, which are still a solid week away. Me? I just finished grading the last few papers Monday night, and now I’m finishing up a bunch of paperwork (GA/TA evaluations! Service hour verifications!) and starting to feel the panic of new classes starting in a few days. I had hoped to have a break. I will not have a break.
I feel both rushed and compelled to rest. I’ve been looking back to last term out of necessity. I need to be able to complete all of the checklists and file it in the archives, but in the midst of those tasks I want to be looking forward. Grading and filing all required paperwork has a final deadline and gets prioritized for that reason, but course planning has felt so much more urgent all week. I want to start the new term feeling centered and organized. I want to have everything nailed down sooner rather than later. Is Friday unreasonable? If I have it all done, I could take the weekend off. Really, truly off. With no obligations. That would be glorious and rare.
This time, the panic feels worse than usual. First, it’s a tight turnaround. There’s more time between summer and fall, and fall and spring (although the latter is squeezed with the holidays). By this time of year I find that everyone — myself included — just wants to drop with exhaustion and enjoy the lovely weather. However I have classes with major changes to them. I can’t just copy what was done the last time. One class has been taught in a 6-week term for the last 6 years. This year it’s going to the 12-week term. The other has been taught on campus, and this is the first online offering.
I have things I want to do in the time between. I have whiteboards that I want to fill with my scholarly plans. I want to see my projects and ideas laid out clearly, a guide for my work over the next several months. I want to take a few long walks. Work in the garden. Sleep in (okay, that plan will be thwarted by having a kid who needs to go to school and weekend activities by 9 am).
It’s a weird week, this time between terms. It neither fits a rhythm of a typical term, nor defies a rhythm in the way that vacations do.
Just another year in academic life. Bring it, summer!
Recently I had the opportunity to chat with Firm Faith Watson. If you don’t know her, you should! Her title is Director of the Faculty Development Center at Murray State University, but she serves more than just the Murray State community. She has created the This Works for Me Virtual Summit, a series in which she interviews various academics about … well, about what works for them! The youtube channel is here.
My contribution to the series is on the topic of peer review. We don’t talk about peer review all that much in academe other than to complain about Reviewer 2 (who maybe isn’t so bad after all), but we should!
What would happen if …
- I answered email when I got to it rather than the second I saw it?
- I said no to a professional opportunity?
- I rearranged my schedule so I could pick my daughter up at school at 3:45 two days a week so I could take her to dance class?
- I gave myself the time to read a novel every weekend (barring unusual events)?
- I worked out 3-4 days per week?
- I wrote (almost) every day, just a little bit?
- I got enough sleep?
These all are questions I have asked myself in the past. They’re all questions I’ve tried to answer through direct experience.
Life (or at least my life) tends to move at a fast and furious pace. I want to slow down. I want to learn HOW to slow down. Work and family obligations tend to conspire with each other, filling my days and nights. At any given time I have a zillion thoughts floating around my head, and lists of tasks I need to complete. I try to do as much as I can in small pockets of time, and often feel fragmented and frustrated. About half of my official work day hours are spent in meetings or in the classroom, and prep, grading, and follow-up tasks occupy much of the rest of those hours. Other obligations (as well as my writing) get pushed to the wee hours, when I’m exhausted.
But this past week was different.
For the last year (and 3 months) I’ve done a lot of writing. I haven’t tallied it all up, but I’ve participated in the Any Good Thing Writing Challenge and I have been successful each month. Success means that I’ve been able to generate at least 400 words at least 5 days per week throughout that time. And that’s a lot of words.