Getting back on course…

Tomorrow morning Week 4 of the semester begins! I’m teaching two graduate-level classes. Each meets once a week for 3 hours. You might think that means that I’ve had 9 contact hours so far with each class … but you would be quite wrong.

Thanks to Hurricane Irma, which thankfully only skirted our local area and left minimal (compared to last year’s Hurricane Hermine and Irma elsewhere) damages and power outages, the university closed for 6 business days. From Friday of Week 2 through Friday of Week 3, classes were canceled. For my Tuesday class, that was a loss of 3 classroom hours. For my Friday class, a loss of 6 hours. In fact, we’ve only met once! (Hi EME6476 students – aren’t you glad I kept you for the full 3 hours during Week 1?). Continue reading

Hurricanes and holidays.

It’s been a long week, thanks to Irma. Longer than a week, actually. It’s difficult to remember when I first became aware of Irma. I’m pretty sure that it was last Wednesday – a week ago Wednesday – that the local reporter came by to get my story for the one year anniversary of Hurricane Hermine (which was Friday, and yes, I was in the local paper!). I know I was thinking about Harvey and already watching Irma at that time.

From the first moment I saw Irma, I had a bad feeling about her. I was pretty sure she was coming my way. However, she was still quite far away then. What that meant was that I had a few days to worry when there was nothing to worry about, and then a few more to worry when there might be something to worry about. Finally, by Tuesday, it was time to worry. And prepare. This whole week that has been about trying to get work done while preparing and assessing the overall danger (should I stay or should I go?). Irma is not quite here yet, and she’s taking her sweet time to get here. Until she does arrive, I have to prepare.

Prepare. Prepare? What does that mean to prepare for Irma? Let me share with you everything that I’ve been doing since Friday, when school was canceled:

• Shopping for groceries and supplies to make sure we have everything we need when the stores are closed for a few days. We need everyone’s favorite foods and a few surprises! And let’s not forget enough toilet paper – that’s critical. And wine! Do we have enough wine?
• Checking multiple times to make sure there are enough batteries for all of the electronics.
• Doing all of the laundry – pretty much whipping it off peoples’ bodies and sticking it into the washer – to make sure I can go for a week without doing any laundry.
• Cleaning the fridge and freezer.
• Preparing foods in advance, so I won’t need to be in the kitchen slaving over a stove and we can just plate and serve (ha! My stove has actually been broken since June 2, with a new range top sitting on my living room floor waiting for the installer most of that time, but that’s another story).
• Cleaning the house so it doesn’t need to be done again for a few days.
• Getting the yard in shape – trimmed up, everything put away.
• Rearranging furniture in some rooms to accommodate everyone hanging out together.
• Checking in with friends to see how their plans are coming along.
• Continuously checking the time and the calendar, feeling anxious because time is both passing quickly and slowly. How much time is left to prepare?
• Doing all of this with kid under foot because school is out, and all while trying to keep kid from getting too pumped up about it.

You know what? It feels a lot like preparing for Christmas. The only difference is that I won’t be getting any presents.** Then again, if my house gets through this storm without any damage it’ll be better than any Christmas present.

Anyway, I’m done preparing. Now I’m just sitting here, exhausted, waiting for Christmas Irma to arrive.

 

**Although there will be no opening of gifts, there will surely be a massive cleanup post-Irma. Instead of boxes, wrapping paper, and ribbons it’ll be branches, twigs, and leaves.

I love all of my classes the most.

I love all of my children classes the most

Today is the day! My learning theory class begins! I love teaching learning theory. I love it the most! It’s my favorite class to teach! I always get excited by the class on the first day – and why not? It’s learning theory! Fascinating stuff. Explains so much of how the human world works.

I get that I perhaps shouldn’t be so excited. It’s a required 5000-level graduate course. Most (all?) students take it because they’re required to. It’s not the course they’ve all dreamed of taking for years, at least not when they enroll. I just hope that by the end they’ve grown to find the topic as mesmerizing and useful as I do.

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My new magic potion

This summer I discovered what I’m sure will be the key to my academic success moving forward.

Admittedly, this is not the first time I’ve made this claim. I’ve had other “lifechangers” along the way. Let’s see …

…there was the iPad with keyboard. Hmmm, I’m writing on it right now. Love it. It’s super convenient, small enough to use effectively on a plane, large enough to see enough of the screen to write (remember the eee? I had high hopes, but it was too small and limited. Before that I had a foldable keyboard for a palm pilot – was I really typing on that?). I love my iPad, truly. However, I’m not sure that it’s been the key to success. Continue reading

Enough.

I wrote this piece earlier this summer, but didn’t post it. I’m not sure why I held on to it, but now that summer is ending and the new school year is about to begin, I’m finding myself standing face-to-face with old habits and patterns, wondering who or what will win.

I’ve long known that academe will suck up all of the time and energy that it can, and it will tell you that it’s still not enough, but this past school year a series of challenges came at me with full force and as I struggled to allocate attention between my life (home, family, friends, my scholarship) and work (the teaching and administration of academe), I started to think that my values, the ones that pushed me to stay up late and put in just another 30 minutes or agree to yet one more small service task, were messed up. I can’t do it all. I can’t prioritize it all. And it’s not worth trying.

So here are my ramblings from May. It’s interesting to consider the ways in which my thoughts and actions have (not) progressed since then. Continue reading

400 Words

Start time: 5:29 pm

Writing. So many people in academic environments struggle with writing, and I am no exception. My typical problems include procrastination and overcommitment, which then combine to paralyze me at times. Rather than writing anything, I write nothing (not to fear, I’m still working because there’s always plenty to grade, edit, report on, etc.). For the last several years, I’ve tended to put myself last, which means that writing has been last on my to do list. I would have inner dialogues that went something like this:

Okay, it’s 9 am. Why not give yourself 30 minutes to catch up on email, then knock out those letters of recommendation, check in with the online class, do the manuscript review for the journal, and then you’ll be clear to write your own manuscript for the rest of the day. 

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Who’s your people? On building online networks

“Who’s your people?” She demanded, looking him straight in the eye.

“Ummm. Pardon me, ma’am?” He replied, tentatively.

I was not sure if he couldn’t understand her thick southern accent, or if he couldn’t understand the nature of her question.

“Who’s your people?” She asked again.

After a moment, her daughter – my great aunt – who was playing hostess and serving up delicious slices of pecan pie jumped into the conversation to help out, “Oh, Mama, he’s not from around here. You don’t know his people.”

Continue reading