Friday, August 28, 2009


I love reading other people's to do lists on blogs. I think this is because there is the sense then that I am moving through my day with these other people -- people who are also doing their best to move through their own. It's both similar to reading a novel and not. I love novels because I love being able to spend time with these other people, let them enter my head, think about them when I'm washing dishes, wonder what they would do in my life. But sometimes novels annoy me because they only focus on drama. After a novel with a good protagonist is over, I'm sad -- sad not because I want anything else to happen, I just want to hang out with the character more. I want to go to the store with them, drive down the street, see what they want to do after supper. Bloggy to do lists are like that. I get to see in to someone else's life -- the daily part, the need for a to do list, the inertia -- people don't always show the fight with themselves on the outside.

The strange part is that I haven't been writing any to do lists of my own lately. I do record my achievements on a work log, which is satisfying. I started it partly because I wanted to see how much work I was doing in teaching, research, and service each week; partly I admit I started it because I feel like I don't spend enough time at work. I feel like there is so much work to do -- and I want to do it -- but like Horace I just don't even know if it's possible to do all that work and take care of AB. For a while there, I was staying on campus four days a week from 9-6. And of course I occasionally answer emails from home, but really it's very difficult to do a lot of work at home. It's often a challenge to get a shower on the weekends, much less sustained time to read scholarship or -- crazytalk -- write some. Anyway, having the list of all I've done helps me to feel like I'm not an imposter, though of course I feel like one anyway.

Anyway, I'm thinking of going back to writing to do lists on this here blog. One thing about the blog is that I look at it throughout the day to see if anyone has commented, and I also use the links on the left. I know I should use my calendar better and that some people like google's command center, but somehow I need to be able to write things out and think things out. I have a couple of different journals going in various files: a teaching journal, a research journal. It's ridiculous. The problem with those? I write in them but I don't go back and read them often enough (though the purpose of the teaching journal this time is to write in it and then go back at the end and use it to do some formative assessment for the next time -- since it feels a bit lonely to be teaching right now, I've actually kept it up, which is more than I can say for anything regarding research).

Our provost's words are echoing in my head lately: work on your research everyday. Here's the thing: I totally agree with the Boice method of working on something a tiny bit at a time. I've done it. I believe in it. But I find it works best for active writing, once something is begun or being revised. Once it's definite, once it has an "it" of its own. For me, I'm having trouble getting back into my own work because it's been so long. Some of the arguments I really need to get out are from ages ago -- I thought them up ages ago. And they can be framed a bunch of different ways. I just can't think of the right way to do it. I know I would tell someone else to do it the way that seems the most necessary -- the way people most need to hear it, but I'm so out of touch, it's hard even to go there anymore. The arguments that once seemed so vital? I don't know if they've been hopelessly passed by.

Well, that's all folks. AB just woke up.

***Update, 10 minutes later***

AB, who by this time really deserves a more descriptive name, woke up, ate a little, and is now sleeping a bit fitfully on my lap. Maybe he's in one of those cluster-feeding growth phases. He has been much more clingy (though thank heaven not when I leave in the morning because my heart would break). Maybe it's the dark stormy gray day. Everything is quiet and sleepy -- especially the cat -- in the Absurdist household. How can I even think about getting anything done?


Jane D said...

So glad to see you writing here again. Reading your blog is like having a conversation with a favorite book.

Earnest English said...

That's so sweet. I miss you. I owe you an email, no?