I found out this week that next summer, I will be teaching in one of LRU’s summer-abroad programs, in the UK. Woot and all that—yes, it’s awesome, and it’s been 10 years since I got to do this, but as I’ve done it before and have a good friend who does it more often, I know that it is also a lot of work and a whole lot of interaction (morning noon and night) with students. In some ways, that can be a very good thing, but if you get a difficult person on the trip, it can turn nightmarish. And one has to be even more extremely focused and goal-oriented than at home in order to get any scholarly work done, even with one of the world’s great libraries right down the street, because there are so many distractions, of both the teacherly and the historical/cultural kind.
But I am pleased, and I am trying to think about next summer’s research (and conferences), and the class I’ll be teaching, even as I begin to panic about this summer’s work (more on that shortly). What will I be likely to be working on in a year’s time?
As for actual travel plans, the trip that is still a year off keeps bleeding into the one that is coming up much sooner, as I think about what to pack, what arrangements to make, and how to get organized. Even at Kalamazoo, I had strong reasons to believe that the next-summer trip would happen; and unfortunately, I think knowing about it helped me procrastinate on things like booking places to stay this summer, because, of course, next year I’ll have a place to stay, no booking necessary on my part. I’m bad about these things anyway, because I am so afraid of flying that anything that reminds me I will be flying creates considerable anxiety. So, although I arranged for my flight months ago, I put off dealing with the rest of the trip, hoping there would come a day when I felt stronger . . . . Well, there came a day, yesterday, when I was too panicky about the possibility of not having somewhere to stay that I faced up to the task. Panic strength works, too.
So I’m staying where I wanted to in London; and somewhere more expensive (but probably nicer) in the UK’s Second City than I probably would if I’d booked months ago (query: do I delay on purpose so I have an excuse to stay in nicer hotels?); and have e-mailed a B&B elsewhere about availability. I really hope this last place comes through, because they have a cat. It would be nice to be able to indulge my addiction to felines while I’m gone.
This means that now I am free to panic over the conference paper (and oh boy am I doing that well, or at least plentifully). And, more generally, panic about trying to achieve as much as possible in the next 10 weeks because, once classes start, I will have only fairly short breaks between teaching responsibilities for the following 21 months.
One reason I like to get up early to write is that my conscious mind hasn’t fully kicked in with all its anxieties. Another is so that I can get something done before Irritating People and Life Events can start getting in the way. Yesterday I got a bit of a late start; at least I read and took notes on an essay before the day started to go downhill. An unexpected House Thing required an urgent trip to the hardware store and time dealing with the Thing; an expected House Maintenance Guy did not show up in his window of opportunity, which meant a call to the company to complain and reschedule, and time hanging around the house (trying to work but getting distracted) when I could have been driving to campus or going to the gym. I achieved the most urgent things on campus, but stayed late to do so, and so I was up late last night, and then slept late and am dragging today.
Today, then, I think I need to do easy things, like taking notes and organizing bibliographies. Stuff that’s useful but not brain-intensive. And hit the gym.