living the life of the mind

I love that people think all my job entails is teaching.  And by love, I mean, want to punch them in the face.

I started my day as I always do: reading and responding to emails.  It’s Monday: people need things.  Once I was through those, I started on my main task of the day: editing a chapter for my edited book.  I worked on that for an hour or so, then – realizing I’d better go sooner rather than later – I made a quick trip to the gym to continue my running efforts (not fun today, I might add).

Back home, I took a quick shower before sitting down for a call with my co-editor on another book project; we talked through a few things, I took care of the tasks that came out of that and then I fixed a quick lunch – which I ate standing up while reading a magazine in my kitchen. Then, back to the computer to continue my editing efforts.

After a few hours of that, I admitted that my headache wasn’t going away, so I took some medicine and laid down for about half an hour.  More time at the computer, with the headache, before meeting friends for our scheduled Monday dinner (every Monday, 6:30, come if you can).  Back home, sans headache, I went back to the computer and here I’ve been ever since.  I’ve managed to get through four chapters today; I have four times that to edit by the end of the week.

I’m not really complaining.  Yes, it’s hard work; yes, my butt hurts from sitting so long, even with gym time; yes, starting at the screen so long is hell on my eyes.  I like what I do, though, and – in terms of the editing – I’m good at it and enjoy the challenge.  Still, this is solitary, frustrating, focused, detail-oriented work that has absolutely nothing to do with teaching.  That happens tomorrow, as does the prep for it, since I have to limit my efforts there to make room for my efforts here.

Those 75 minutes with the kids: that’s the easy part of what I do.  This – this work that no one sees and few people appreciate – this is the hard part.

a good day

I had a good day.  I also had a good date. Funny how that works!

I started at the farmers market, picking up a few vegetable edibles for the week ahead.  I’m so happy when I have real, ripe tomatoes in my house!  I didn’t get much in the way of food, though, since I won’t be eating dinner at home often this week.  The girls and I will likely do our regular Monday meal; I have plans with a girlfriend Tuesday; World Traveler and I have plans on Thursday – which means my days need to be very productive…

I went from there to the gym.  I didn’t do too well with Thursday’s running effort – turns out, it’s a good idea to eat lunch on the day you’re going to try running – so I re-did the session today.  And I could finish it!  I even managed to add five minutes.  I know running on a treadmill is very different than running on actual ground – that needs to happen at some point – but at least I’m making some progress.  And I did my session with the swings afterward!

Then it was home.  A long shower, a little housekeeping, a little work – and then The Professor arrived. He was running late, which was perfectly fine, as we had very loose plans; he called to let me know, rather than texting, which seemed awfully nice.  He came in for a bit – actually sat down to chat – and then we drove over to a small town to check out its festival.

It turned out to be the perfect way to spend the afternoon on a second date.  We wandered around to the different booths and tried out some local food; we sat down on a wall along the town square to eat and ended up sitting there to talk for about half an hour; we wandered a bit more; then we got some beer, sat down on the steps of a monument and talked for over an hour.  And by talked, I mean laughed. He keeps me in stitches, and I can usually get a few chuckles along the way; we both have dry senses of humor and then you add in similar backgrounds and the same profession, so there’s plenty to laugh about. We did share a bit more about ourselves – family, childhood, divorce, children – so it wasn’t all superficial laughter, but it wasn’t deeply heavy, either.  Not sure that makes sense…but when he paused during a conversation and somewhat carefully asked about whether I’d ever wanted children, I could answer with the truthful response that I always thought I would but it simply never worked out, even though I liked little ones – and it wasn’t awkward or serious or odd, just part of the conversation before we were on to other things.

We left as we were rained on – not the best look for me but there wasn’t much I could do about it – and drove back to my town for a casual dinner, more conversation and more laughter.  He left once we got back to my house, which I suppose I could take amiss. It’s hard to, though, given that we’d been together almost six hours, he had an hour drive home, and he’d run over 15 miles this morning.  The man was legitimately tired: it’s hard to argue with that.  I did get two hugs and a comment that included “next time” as well as a text when he got home to say he’d arrived safely and he’d had a nice time. So, all things considered, a really good day.

It’s actually quite pleasant to have a date that revolves around good company and good conversation. Would I mind if he kissed me? Not at all.  Do I mind that he hasn’t? Not so much.  It’s sort of a relief, frankly, that it hasn’t been on the table yet.  I don’t know if that means he’s not interested or that he’s taking things slowly or that he’s your typical clueless academic – it’s hard to tell, actually.  It won’t be the end of the world if he’s not interested but it would be awfully nice if he was.

He has asked me out the two times we’ve seen each other, though. So, in the spirit of 21st century dating, I think it’s my turn next.  I know he has plans with his child next weekend, so that’s off the table.  But I have tickets to a concert in a few weeks, a relatively small band in a small venue.  I’ll offer that in a day or two and see if he has any interest.  Fingers crossed, I think…

who is this person and what has she done with phd me

World Traveler texted me today towards the end of the work day to see if I wanted to meet for a drink.  I was finishing up things on campus; he had about an hour before another work commitment.  I had planned to go to the gym when I headed home but WT and I do not have compatible schedules this week, so today was pretty much the only day we’d come close to seeing each other.

I chose the gym. That’s right, people: I CHOSE THE GYM.

Now, that could be a commentary on WT, that while I have enjoyed our dates immensely, I’m not seeing him as a prominent fixture in my life.  That is true, actually, but I would like to see him again and I knew that brief window was likely the only option this week.  However, I also knew that I wasn’t driving directly to the gym right after having a drink.  I’d need to go home first, eat dinner and digest that before I went back out to the gym, by which point it would be later than I wanted it to be and I’d be neck-deep in reviewing chapters for my book.

Commitment to self won out.  I’m on week four of this, and I’ve made it to the treadmill three times each of those weeks. Today’s routine required me to run for two five minute stretches – and I did it.  I didn’t like it but I liked that I could do it, even if I did want to fall out afterward.

Instead, I walked out of the gym and went straight to the swings in the nearby playground.  I don’t care what people think, seeing someone my age on a swing; it’s both reward and therapy, and I like it.

I also like that I’m making myself do this.  I really hope I can keep it up this semester, because it certainly won’t get easier – not the physical effort, the schedule or the distractions.

twas the night before classes

And I’m sitting in front of my computer.

I’ve been here all day, except for a brief foray to the salon – because I’ve discovered a previously unknown affinity for having my nails polished – and dinner with my girlfriends – because we have resumed our weekly Monday gatherings with the start of the semester.

What have I accomplished, you ask?  Well!  I reviewed two chapters for my edited books, one of which needed some serious revision; drafted a reading list for a grad student’s independent study on educational theory and social justice; revised the latest version of an article I’m working on with the same grad student; set up my course Blackboard site; drafted the lesson for tomorrow’s class; read the article I assigned for tomorrow’s class; dealt with a student issue that required writing a letter to certain parties; and kept up with incoming emails.

Yeah.  It’s going to be a long semester.

I did not get to the gym, however.  I wanted to go but I think I’m supposed to do this running thing every other day and I don’t want to push my luck.  I’m pretty stiff today and relatively sore but not in a pained way (although I can feel the shin splints bubbling up).  I tried to get up and walk around the house, do various stretches, bounce on my toes while eating my lunch over the sink – but I really should have gone for a walk.  I meant to…but the sun went down while I was working.  I have my gym clothes packed for tomorrow, however, and I’ll go when I leave campus.

So, here’s to starting the semester off at a run, literally and figuratively!

things I’ve learned: beginning of the semester

I will never be ready.

Even though I know it’s coming every year – even though I’ve been doing this long enough to know what to expect – even though I can clearly see the impending date on my calendar: I am never ready for the semester.  That transition between summer and semester is always brutal, always dizzying, always chaotic.  And I am never ready.

I will complete my syllabi at the last minute.

I may be thinking about my classes – scribbled ideas down through most of the summer, actually – but the thoughts don’t become concrete until the week before.  I suspect, even if I were to start working on them in June, I’d still be revising the week before classes start.  I fiddle; I revise; I change my mind; I switch readings; I alter assignments.  Basically, I’m not satisfied until time is up and I have to get them copied for class.  So, maybe it’s better that I wait until they have to be done rather than working on them for twice as long.

A week of meetings before classes start is rude.

Seriously, that does not get anyone off to a good start.  After a summer away, it’s somewhat nice to see people again but I don’t need to see them all at once.  More importantly, I don’t need the immersive shock of service work after weeks without it.  Next year, I need to make much more of an effort to avoid as many meetings as possible.  Everyone will be happier for it!

not my best day 

Sigh. Some days I just get up on the wrong side of the bed. Unfortunately I also weary emotions on my sleeve. These are not good qualities to combine, I’m afraid. 

I felt like crap today but it took me a while to realize it’s because of the womanly joy. My cycle is still off from the tamoxifen so it still takes me by surprise. There’s the general yuck but my back is what bothers me most. It just aches across my pelvis and contributes to a pretty bad mood. 

Of course today was our faculty retreat, when I’m hormonally nuts and forced to interact with people for no useful outcome.   I could best be described as hell on wheels. Granted, my snarkiness can be very entertaining but I can hear the bitchiness in my tone. I hate it, but somehow I don’t have the ability to shut it off. If perimenopause is this awful, I’ll need a padded cell when I hit actual menopause. 

Evidently irritability is somewhat helpful on the treadmill. I did okay on my workout today – not that it was easy but I didn’t feel like death when I finished. I definitely need to get some new shoes, however, and a few more pieces of athletic clothing if I’m doing this on a regular basis. 

My best choice of the day might have been going to a late movie tonight. I figured action stars blowing up shit sort of encapsulated my day. I did make me feel better. I appreciated the views of London, too. 

There was a bit of good news this evening: The Professor wants to know if I’m interested in getting together again. The answer, of course, is affirmative!

the fun comes to an end

Although classes don’t start until next week, my semester starts tomorrow.  My calendar is full of meetings this week, starting with a faculty retreat tomorrow afternoon (gah), so I get to work around those as I finish my syllabi, manage some administrative duties and deal with the rising tide of emails.

Starting back is always a mixture of expectation and dread.  I like my job, so I am glad to get back to campus, believe it or not. The transition from summer is just so painful, though.  Even though I’ve been fairly busy with different projects these last few months, it hasn’t been as frantic as I know the semester will be.

The busy-ness of my dating life is coming to an end, as well.  I’ve met everyone on the line-up (if you will) so now it’s just a matter of seeing who sticks around.  Given recent communication (or lack thereof), I’m fairly certain that I’ll be returning to my regularly scheduled single life pretty soon.  To wit:

The Gentleman professes interest but doesn’t make much of an effort to make plans.  We have a lovely time when we’re together but the lack of initiative speaks a little louder in the long run.  I’m going to sit back and see what happens next but I’m fairly certain he’ll simply slip away.

Elsewhere and I have plans this coming weekend.  We had another fun conversation this evening, and he seems genuinely pleased that we’ll see each other soon.  The distance doesn’t make for an actual relationship, I fear, but I’m willing to see.

World Traveler had a bit of a hiccup this weekend (see: interacting with a lady of interest after having way too much to drink) and is currently apologizing for his ungentlemanly behavior. I appreciate that he feels the need, so it seems polite to let him offer a few mea culpas.  He wanted to see me today to – as he said – give me a kiss, look me in the eye and offer his apologies in person, but I was actually working on something so I had to decline.  We’ll see what comes next.

The Professor and I met last night for dinner in a nearby city.  I literally laughed for the entire two and a half hours. We share a similar dry sense of humor; we have things in common that allowed for some fun conversation; he actually asked me questions and reacted to my responses.  It was a really fun evening.  I have no clue, however, as to whether it will be repeated.  He definitely enjoyed himself but I couldn’t tell if he was interested in me beyond a pleasant encounter.  So, this one is another wait and see.

Basically, I’m waiting a lot!  I’m more than willing to reach out, up to a point, but after that, it really is up to the guy; I’m not going to chase anyone who isn’t actually interested.  If nothing else, I’ve proven that I can do this; it didn’t kill me to try online dating and I’ve had some fun in the process.  With the semester starting now, I won’t have time to spend evaluating it all, so I’m glad I had the chance to enjoy the excitement and attention of it all for a few weeks.