19 July 2009

Hustle without Bustle

The difficulty with summer school, as I forgot, is that it keeps you busy all the time.  You teach every day, and that means that you must prepare every night.  It also means that, even if you teach one course a day (as I do on M/W/F), you lose pretty much whichever half of the day you teach in, because after you cover what's essentially two days' worth of material in one day (since a 14-week semester is jammed into six weeks), you have to sit down and decompress, and the next thing you know the rest of the morning or afternoon is gone.  Plus, I have to be in by 9 am, which means I have to be up by 7:30 at the latest, which means I have to be in bed by 11:30pm.  And that seriously cuts down on the amount of time I have available.

When I first came here, and thus was teaching all my own courses for the very first time, I was busier than I ever have been before or since.  I had to devise the courses, and then I had to implement them, prepare for them (which meant reading texts I'd never read before), grade for them, and, basically, execute them.  I remember saying to Dr. Higher, "I don't have time to take a shower." Which was true:  I would get to the evening (which is when I take my showers, since I have to sleep on my hair if there's any hope at all of my looking sane), and there simply would not be the time left for me to take a shower and dry my hair.  Things never got disgusting (although Dr. Higher, of course, was horrified, and begged me not to tell him such things), but that was how full my life was:  I had to schedule in time to shower.

To a certain extent, I now feel like that again (although I have time to take showers).  What the combined preparation, execution, and exhaustion of summer school mean is that anything I want to do that takes longer than half an hour, I have to do on the weekend.  So here is what I did today:  graded papers; did my shopping; bought fabric; washed it and the rest of my washing; cut a shirt from that same fabric (while watching a film); tidied my house to some degree; washed my dishes; read a student M.A. thesis (the defence is on Monday); exercised; read part of The Road, by Cormac McCarthy (I'm reading it for the same thesis defence. Here's a tip:  don't read The Road, by Cormac McCarthy); did a little work on an article I'm preparing to send out.  Fortunately, tomorrow is my day off:  I try to have one day a week when I don't do anything academic, and I picked Sunday because it seemed wiser to get the academic work out of the way on Saturday rather than to leave it until Sunday and thus risk not having enough time to finish it.  Unfortunately, the day can't be entirely without academic work, since I have to prepare for Monday and grade some more papers.  Still, I intend to finish the shirt I cut (from the fabric I washed), because that will leave me with only two more to make.

And here is today's photo.  It's of my study, which is not tidy at all, because I'm using it as the room in which I pack all the stuff I need to clear out of the flat before I leave.

The window on the right looks out into the back garden, and the one behind the chair has a windowsill on which the cat likes to lie while I'm in there working.  There on the back wall is a collection of cigarette cards and 19th-century postcards with pictures of Byron on them, an 1822 newspaper with a front-page article about him that my mother got for me, and - cut off - a copy of an etching by a wonderful engraver named Peter Milton (I hope to be able to afford a real engraving of his someday).

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