Sunday, September 28, 2014

Do the next thing versus Make it new.

So, here’s a brief recap of what the year has been like:

*January: I attended (and presented at) MLA conference, no interviews
*March: I had a phone interview for a TT job. Invited to a campus visit; didn’t get the job
*April: I was invited to Skype interview for a post-doc at Georgia Tech
*May: I was offered a postdoctoral fellowship at Georgia Tech
*June 24: I defended my dissertation
*June 25: My partner and I got in the car and drove to Atlanta to find a place to live
*July 1: He dropped me off in Milledgeville, Georgia, for a month-long NEH seminar on Flannery O’Connor
*July 30: I flew back to Baton Rouge
*August 9: Picked up and loaded rental truck—the rental truck we got several hours later than we had requested—and a truck six feet shorter than we had reserved
*August 10: Drove to Alabama, where we spent the night
*August 11: Drove to Atlanta, where some lovely people we hired got the truck and car unloaded (and the truck swept out) in half the time it took to load it. That part was fabulous
*August 14: Fly back to Baton Rouge
*August 15: Hooding
*August 16: Fly back to Atlanta
*August 18: First day of week-long orientation
*August 25: First day of classes

And at this point, having just finished grading 72 first year composition papers, I’m really wanting to spend about a month lying in a hammock in the woods.

All of the boxes are unpacked—even the drum kit!—but nothing’s on the walls yet. Getting everything unpacked was a big accomplishment—once clothes and kitchen stuff are unpacked, it’s awfully tempting to keep passing by the boxes. And admittedly, my sewing stuff is kind of in a number of big stacks in baskets; it really needs some order put to it. However, it feels a bit more settled now, rather than temporary.

Which brings me to what I want to think about here, about turning the corner from what, for the last six months or so, has been a lifestyle of “do the next thing.” Dissertation revision; pack; dissertation; move; orientation; class prep. There’s so much new to adjust to that’s it’s been really easy to just do the next thing—class on Tuesday prep. Pay rent. Read articles for Digital Pedagogy seminar this week. This lifestyle, though, of just keeping up, has made me feel awfully unsatisfied. Crazed and crazy, at times. 

After having a pretty intense jazzercise routine in Baton Rouge—I went four or five times a week, at least, and even twice some days—part of my craziness has been due to losing this workout routine. I finally made it up to the fitness center in my new apartment complex a couple of weeks ago, and that first workout was like a drug. I was high from the chemical release. I’ve been trying to get into a new habit of going up to the fitness center (which, admittedly, is little more than some cardio and weight equipment in a room—similar to a hotel fitness center), but it’s difficult to figure out when that fits into my day, now that I’ve got seventy-two students’ work to deal with, new class prep, new seminar readings, and a new schedule that requires I be on the train at 7AM. 

Thinking about this, about how difficult new habits are to break in (at the same time that I was planning a unit on writing manifestos in my multimodal composition class), I found myself contemplating Ezra Pound’s famous exhortation to “Make it new!” Making it new is exhausting, but just doing the next thing is depressing. My goal now is to find some sort of balance between the two. I expect this to be the theme of the rest of this semester, at least. Any suggestions? I may start to post more here, to track my adventures in finding the balance between these two themes.