When Reading Is Doing

It’s Saturday morning, sunny though cold, and I have loads of things I could pick out to do: stretch, go to the gym, pack/de-clutter, grade (the current batch of papers look quite good; this will not be a purgatorial task), work on my application for Full, work on The Last Overdue Revisions, color while the light is good, play with my kitties, futz about on the Internet (oh wait . . .), and what do I do? Put together a bibliography for an article I want to write, on a text I’m teaching, a text that hasn’t received enough attention IMHO. I’ve ILL’d one essay, and I can get several others in hard copy at my library, and there’s one book I’m dying to get my hands on that may require a field trip because there are about 7 copies in the world and they don’t circulate.

(Another obsessive un-answerable question: why are there not copies in UK depository libraries, when it was published in the 20th century in London and copies are supposed to go the BL, the Bod, and CUL? Did someone not send them? Did someone not catalog them? Are they somehow catalogued by something other than author and title? I have poked around in the online catalogues, and I do know how to use them, and this book does not turn up. My lawful-good-J side is deeply disturbed: something went wrong in the book world. I tell you, were I not an English professor I would need to be a Literature Detective.)

Someday when I’m futzing about online I really should create a blogroll. I spend quite a bit of time reading blogs by delightful-sounding women who enjoy food, crafts, gardening, restoring old houses, and similar pursuits that I prefer reading about to doing. Despite all the well-meant advice on the Chron fora and similar places about Getting A Life and Pursuing Hobbies Outside of Work, what I really want to do, what I get excited about and spend sunny Saturday mornings on, is reading, researching, and writing. I’ve tried the gardening, restoring, crafts, and so on. They sound like fun. The results look good. But I just don’t get fired up about things I can do with my hands. Except write, which is manual labor, as Colette said.

I have other projects I need to finish right now, so this putative article will go on The List (I have learned the hard way not to get distracted by the New Shiny). Someday I will get to it, and my future self will be happy to have the core bibliography assembled and some basic thoughts outlined. Maybe next spring, when I hope to teach this text again.

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Spring break, day the last

It was all too short.

It did start later than intended, since I did not sleep well (despite sitting, exercise, and a feeling of accomplishment: what’s up with that?). I stretched, walked, and worked out. I did some cooking. I re-stained the front porch and polished the mailbox. I did further sorting and consolidating of boxes in the basement. I (re)read for classes. I finished another translation chunk and uploaded it. I prepped for my dawn departure, including going to bed early . . . and once again did not sleep well.

However, caffeine and the stimulation of being in the classroom got me through the morning. We’ll see whether I can stay on track in the afternoon. I do have some mindless tasks, like scanning a short text, and returning books, so I’ll be able to do those if my thinking ability shuts down. It’s too bad I’ve finished all the dumb online form-filling I’m required to do every semester, because those are perfect tasks for tired days.

Spring Break, day 8: bins

Still awesome: sat again, read more of the scholarly book I’ve been working on (am nearly halfway through now), reviewed a large chunk of translation, stretched, did 35 minutes of cardio at the gym. Then Sir John and I tackled the basement together. We filled the garbage bin and the recycling bin, and when I took a carload of things to Goodwill, the nice young man who helped me unload had to bring out a second wheeled bin after we filled the first one. Now I am tired and would like to be done for the day. Sir John is doing the grocery shopping, so when he gets back, I’ll need to help put stuff away, and then cook.

I wish the whole break had been like today and yesterday. That was what I was planning. Had all the days been like this, I think we’d be ready to have the house photographed. As it is, we may still need another week, and that’s if I can get all my professorial work done on campus and spend my home days doing house stuff.

Also, taxes.

At least I paid the bills last night.

Day 7: finally awesome!

Finally, a day on which I both felt well and did not have any social or other commitments.

I even woke up extra early and couldn’t go back to sleep, so I started the day soon after six, always a bonus. I sat, the first time in ages; may it augur well for future mornings. I read a section of the scholarly book I’ve been working on, stretched, studied a little of a dead language, worked through a large hunk of translation and uploaded a chunk, and did a little tinkering with the copy-edits of the MMP. Alas, the document I received earlier in the week was not, in fact, proofs, but an earlier stage in the editing process, with a few requests for further citations and details. (Once I felt that I could not quit this project; now it will not quit me.) I visited a library to check one of these references. I got my hair cut, went to the bank, bought vitamins, and visited the gym. I have added the library reference and sent the document back to the editor . . . who is out of the country on a research trip. I am envious. But at least I’m back to the MMP being on someone else’s desk rather than mine.

I still need to pay bills, rather urgently now. Maybe this evening while we’re watching more Enterprise.

Spring Break, day 6

Another day of being under the weather. Marginally worse mentally, but marginally better physically, so I managed to cook a stir-fry, go for a very short walk, and do a load of laundry.

Yesterday I gave up on anything productive about mid-day, took a nap, re-read the first Invisible Library book, started the second. Today I finished the second and read all of the third. Maybe I should have done the re-reading before I read number four earlier this week.

I wonder what the odds are on tomorrow being a more energetic day.

Facing Day 5

This is not going to be an awesome day. I woke up to a flare-up of a chronic ailment, so I’m not feeling too good. Definitely not energetic. It could be worse: I’ll likely recover in a day or two, rather than being sick for a week or more (as with a cold or the flu), and since I’m on break, I don’t have to drive to campus. I can spend the day on quiet activities.

Proofs for the MMP just arrived in my inbox, so there’s a nice quiet activity. I will also try to think of some ways I can make tomorrow a better day, that is, get some low-energy stuff cleared out of the way that will mean my Future Self doesn’t have to deal with it. I’ve put away some laundry and cleaned my winter boots. Stuff like that. On a good day, I’d skip through those in ten minutes in the evening. On a day like this, it’s still better to take care of such low-level tasks than to feel like I’m getting nothing at all done.

Note to Future Selves: do not ever again arrange to go out on the night that the spring shift to DST happens. I think a lot of my recent trouble sleeping, and resulting flare, had to do with being out/up not just late but way too late because of that time change. I’ve been sort of jet-lagged ever since.

Since my last two spring break posts have ended with a hope for the next day, here’s another: I hope I can get through a chunk of quiet work that will make me feel that I did something worthwhile with today, and that tomorrow I’ll feel more energetic.

Spring break, day 4

Despite my brave plans, there may have been some thrashing today. Do this? Do that? But the one! But the other! Avoidance activity! Anxiety spiral! More avoidance!

Eventually I pulled myself together and worked through 500 lines of translation, went to the gym, corresponded with a couple of students, paid for something online, read some more stories by P. S. Beagle, and tossed in a load of laundry. This is progress.

I hope to be truly awesome tomorrow.

Spring Break, days 2 and 3

The concert was lovely. Even better: every piece was new to me. Afterwards, we went to a bookstore and I bought Peter Beagle’s new collection, Overneath. When we got home, we watched two episodes of “Enterprise.” Over the course of the day, I read the first half of the fourth Invisible Library book.

I slept badly and felt very achy this morning, but I had an engagement with a friend visiting from out of town. We visited a greenhouse and then went to lunch. When I got home, I finished yesterday’s novel and read the first two stories in Overneath. I also did some of the cooking I didn’t do yesterday. We watched another “Enterprise” episode.

I hope to sleep better tonight. Tomorrow I need to do both Professorial Work and Life Stuff. Here’s a picture for the TLQ group:

Spring Break, day 1

That is, yesterday.

I drank fancy tea (a birthday present to Sir John from his mom, but I’m always the one who benefits from fancy tea, because he’s happy with a plain grocery-store tea bag) and did some reading in a very interesting scholarly book I’ve been hoping to get to for awhile now, writing fairly copiously in the margins so I’ll remember what I was thinking when I go back to it.

I did yoga and went to the gym.

I cooked fish, rice, vegetables, and mixed up cookie dough for later baking.

We drove a considerable distance for games night with friends, where we played a game to which Queen Joan introduced me, some time ago. It was a hit.

We drove home, and given the time change last night, I was up not just too late but way too late.

Today, so far, I have drunk fancy tea (quite a lot of it, to make up for the late night). I need to feed cats and exercise. We have tickets to an early music concert this afternoon (yes, we really do these things, it’s not just that I want the possibility of them). I will probably do more cooking.

Apparently I didn’t blog spring break last year. I’m not sure I remember it! I think I sorted out moldy boxes in the basement and packed away a lot of things upstairs. Plus ├ža change. The main things I need to do this year are Life Stuff: taxes and tidying, getting ready to list the house for sale. I’m trying not to thrash (a very descriptive CS term I picked up from Sir John). The only grading I have is a small set of in-class paragraphs. I could plan classes for the rest of the term, or I could keep winging it. I can keep research going with an hour or two a day. There’s nothing like having a lot of Life Stuff I really don’t want to do to make me want to Write All The Things, but I must resist. Some posts on writing are brewing in the back of my mind, including the promised one on what I learned from the MMP, so maybe I’ll show up here a little more often.

Well, that’s new

Inspired by posts by XYkadimqz and Undine, I took the same Myers-Briggs test they did, because despite my skepticism about these things (they’re like horoscopes for intelligent people), they are fun (like horoscopes). Huh. This one pegs me as ISTP, the Virtuoso. I don’t think so. Or maybe my professional persona took the test, because I can see my classroom self as the Virtuoso (Psycho Vigilante, in my preferred version of the types). I hadn’t seen the Assertive-Turbulent axis before, either, and I’m not sure what it adds.

Other times I’ve taken the test, I’ve come out as ISTJ (the Logistician, in this version’s parlance; or The Thought Police, in this one), INTP (Logician/the Egghead), or, once, INTJ (Architect/Outside Contractor). I don’t think I’m really INTJ, because Sir John is very strongly INTJ so I know well what that type is like, and it’s not me. I’m very strongly I and T, no question on either of those (and no doubt why Sir John and I are so well-suited). On the S-N and J-P axes, though, I’m pretty close to the middle, so mood, recent experiences, and who knows what else can tip me one way or the other. Broadly speaking, I’m more S than a lot of academics are, but a whole lot more N than many people, and on J vs P, situation, context, and health have a huge influence. That is, by nature I may be more a planner and an organizer, but living with chronic illness has taught me to be flexible. Some days the plans are just not going to happen. In some areas, like meal plans (hi, Undine!) I want room for flexibility and creativity. And if I have an exciting idea, hell yes, I want to get it written down before I lose track of it. Because my mind is not an opera house. It’s more like a very dim, dusty, outrageously cluttered attic with generations’ worth of trunks and boxes and piles of junk. God knows what all is in there. It’s sure not in any order. If I make lists, I may very well not feel like doing anything on them and find something else to do instead, but without them I will fail to do all kinds of important things.