Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Taking a breath

Last night I finished a grant proposal that has dominated my time and attention since returning from a conference two weeks ago. Before that I was planning my conference presentation, and the trip in which it was wrapped. Before that was packing for a move that still hasn't happened. Before that more stuff, intermingled with various committees, student interactions, and family events. The last time I recall being without a looming deadline was the day after Christmas, and I was shoveling snow.

I think we all remember the great Christmas blizzard of oh-twelve. Am-I-right?

This afternoon I will attend the first of a half dozen impending meetings that will kick off a half dozen new projects, with deadlines stretching from September through next June. Summer school ends in two weeks, then (hopefully) a new work home, then a brand new academic year. More conferences and special events, more proposals, more websites, more papers, more students, more to-do lists and deadlines. Somewhere in there I will need to fit jury duty*, medical appointments, shopping trips, and more family visits. This afternoon it all starts again.

But not this morning. This morning I am taking a breath.  My head is empty, and I will do my best to keep it that way. I plan to close my door, sip coffee, and maybe eat a Pop-Tart. I am not reading e-mail, and I will think very hard before answering the phone.


If there is time later, I may spend a few minutes contemplating a life where days like this are common, rather than a biannual exception. Days where we wake up thinking, "I wonder what I will do today?" without a hint of sarcasm. Days that routinely include walks, and sunsets, and afternoon naps. With benefits.

Don't get me wrong. I had the rare privilege of choosing this life for myself, and I am grateful for it (almost) every day. But we all have our fantasies.

Here's to breathing.

* If you want to make sure you never serve on a jury, go out and get yourself an advanced degree. I'm not sure I know anyone with any sort of degree that has made it to the jury box, but a Masters or Ph.D. will just about get you laughed out of the courthouse. They say it has something to do with wanting to "better reflect the makeup of society at large," or something along those lines. I'm not sure what it says about our justice system, but I can't imagine that it's good. Of course, they still make you report.


  1. I've been retired for several years. I would go for a walk today and later watch the sun set. But I can't today I have too much to do. Maybe tomorrow. No, can't tomorrow. Next week...

  2. for the past two weeks of vacation, i've completely disconnected from work. a week of aggressive tourism, followed by a week of aggressive slug-ism. waking up when i'm done sleeping. leisurely turkish breakfast, which sometimes ended around noon, then perhaps figuring out what to do for the day. a siesta most days, out after dark to see the city, or just drink cans of beer by the sea and watch families play in the park celebrating their Ramadan break fast.

    this is the retirement i am looking forward to. i am practicing. it's a grand place to be...