Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Potholders for Tenure

So here are some of my crochet projects, which I wish counted for tenure:

You'll see that the two on the left are similar -- potholders done in Tunisian crochet, a special kind of crochet that is sort of a cross between crochet and knitting, so there's a special long hook with a stopper on the end like a knitting needle. The one on the right is actually not a potholder, but a coffee cozy that I designed myself in single crochet. What is a coffee cozy, and why would one ever need one? Well, we have a French press coffeemaker, but because Absurdist Lover and I often get up at different times, the coffee often gets cold. We know we need to buy one that has the heating guard thingie on it, but we don't have the money, especially to replace something that is perfectly good but annoying. (We need to buy a vaporizer and new immune-boosting supplements for Absurdist Tot -- let me know if anyone has any recommendations on that -- he's been sick once too often for me. Anyway, we have to buy the stuff we don't have way before we ever get to upgrading the stuff we already have.)

This is the Coffee Cozy at work:

And as crazy as it sounds, it actually does keep the coffee warm.

I'm also excited about this new and super-easy potholder pattern, so I made two of them. Ironically, I think these were both the easiest and the most professional looking:

I'm even thinking that those friends of mine who are newly married (ahem, Maude) might want to tell me what colors they prefer in their kitchen so I can make them a bunch of handmade-with-love potholders (from this last pattern that looks so good and is so easy, of course).

I love crochet because unlike teaching or writing, I can see the progress moment by moment. I realize this is probably not what an untenured academic mom should be doing when not teaching, but this gives me such happiness, as does the bread I just taught myself to bake (no bread machine, no Kitchenaid to do my mixing for me). I just love these homey things. And hope everyone I love in the world wants potholders and scarves!

Just like Susan Gubar describes quilting as the thing that helped her to do the difficult work of working on Poetry after Auschwitz, an amazing tome on Holocaust poetry, I bet everyone has their own coping project for the tenure battle. So far, the tenure track process does not seem like dissertating: there are so many different aspects of the process and no one is eagerly awaiting my work, ready to comment on it, stamp it as good enough or not. I'm on my own. My own illness-addled brain has put together this idea about where I need to focus my energies lately: I'm doing the teaching, though maybe I'm not doing as well as I'd like to, I'm doing service, but research is where I need to focus, because that is what I'm just not getting done enough. I'll get them all on track, then work on improving each one. What do other people do to help them cope with the rigors of the tenure track? What other coping projects/hobbies do people have?

I also have pictures of my bread, but maybe I'll forego that project right now. I also have thoughts I want to share about being on the other side, being on the search committee, but I'll save that for another time.


dr four eyes said...

Love the potholders! Makes me want to resurrect my knitting project...

In terms of what I do to cope, I was just thinking about this today on the rowing machine at the gym. Exercise in general is one way of coping, but part of what I like about things like rowing and swimming is that I can sometimes just zone out, let my mind wander, and think about whatever OR I can be really attentive to my form/technique, so attentive that I *can't* think about work. Given how much our jobs consume our lives, it's a gift to find something that can so consume our attention at times that we can create some mental time away from our jobs.

Oh, and you are SO right about the tenure track being nothing like the dissertation process. I'd never really thought about it that way, but yeah.

Anonymous said...

well, since you mentioned me by name, you know the SB and I both love oranges and bright greens, like limes and appletini greens, bright oranges and reds together or oranges and fuchsia. He loves color. I love purple--bright purples, not lavenders, and I like purple and orange together, and we both like purples and reds together, or really any combination thereof of the above, so you know, since you asked... :)

Ink said...


They are GREAT! I'm impressed. And am noting down how impressed I am in your tenure dossier.

Sisyphus said...

Yes to projects that you can see the progress on!!!

I had a great time assembling cheap bookcases and painting them while freaking out about my first qualifying exam; it was soothing and used different parts of my brain than all the reading and memorizing and then I got to see how many shelves I could fill with the books off the reading list!

Jane D said...

Lovely!! Love the new blog look, new outlook, and the potholders!