Wednesday, July 21, 2021

10 x 50

1. My fiftieth birthday today.  

2. This year was a crucible! In the end I think I did come out stronger, but word to the wise, don't tell people they're resilient while they're still in the thick of crisis....

3. Stronger in my sense of purpose for sure.  Teaching, writing and advising/mentoring are my things.  There are a few issues I care a lot about and I would relax the "no higher admin" role to pursue them, but I did not thrive as chair of the A&S Policy and Planning Committee this year, my values aren't closely enough aligned with the present-day institution and I hereby pronounce that I will rule out any future path that points me seriously deanwards.  Wasn't sure about this a year and a half ago, am now, that's progress!

4.  I've only been department chair for a few weeks, but I think actually I quite like it, and certainly I consider it the normal responsibility of those who are in a position to undertake it, it's still effectively a faculty position rather than a position in university leadership.  I like helping people sort out the small things they need!  Also have hyper-competent DAAF who takes care of a lot of practical details I hate - i.e. I am surprised by how many people need forms signed, but Pam has already had a rubber stamp made and will do that or digital for anything I forward to her and get it back to the recipient.  Since anything that comes in an attachment or at a link that I have to deal with basically fills me with anxiety and dread, this is extremely helpful.

5. Two exciting birthday treats, obtained yesterday from Gelato & Co. at Camana Bay: fruit-of-the-forest "tiramisu" gelato with meringue; exquisite slice of sachertorte, which I know mostly from the novels of Eva Ibbotson.  

6. And a good run early this morning, and a good work day as well.  I had three biggish things and the one I cared about least was on the hardest deadline, I was aware that taking the whole summer OFF from work might be a good idea, but in fact my brain needs this kind of intellectual project to thrive so that wouldn't really have been a solution, not to mention just making me even unhappier about sitting on a big project I care about that was STUCK.  It is no longer stuck - the manuscript revision won't be done by the end of the summer (I have three more full weeks in Cayman with Brent, then two more before Labor Day, the latter will be I think mostly life reentry, full-on chairing set-up and writing the Norton Library Pride and Prejudice introduction that is due Sept. 1.

Pictured: use of new ReMarkable tablet to work on notes for new sections; working headings for the new preface and introduction for the book, which were the really crucial thing for me to work out this summer.  Drafted the new preface, now working on filling in bits and identifying holes in the new structure, this is good and I am committed to working on it steadily through fall and winter, if I do that I think it can be done in January and ready to send out (that is unless I decide I need to go down the rabbithole of Board of Trade archives...).

7.  Have decided I will join Chelsea Piers again in September - my back is so much better, I can ride my bike down there again and I really need access to that pool and more especially to masters swim.  Columbia pool did finally open a couple months ago but on an extremely limited schedule and I am not sure it's going to work for me.  ALSO realization of this year was that without being able to go physically to be with Brent I had absolutely no work-life separation, I live in a Columbia apartment 1 block from campus, working from home all the time.  Chelsea Piers was always my third place, I need that again!  (Good place to work on book too - contemplating how to fend off immersion in admin email till later in day - think this will help.)

8. This pandemic year was actually very good for my problematic back and my physical fitness in general - no human contact meant no bronchitis, so no illness-related layoffs; no travel prevented disruptions to daily routine; great yoga taught live online solved my NYC "can't easily get to the right studio" problem. Ramped things up when I got to Cayman, the yoga continues live and online, I run 4x and try to bike outdoors on Sunday (triathlon might be a gleam in my eye again) and at least one indoor ride (good new spin bike here, acquired because of quarantine needs, is helping this happen smoothly, plus Monday early am date with Lauren).  ALL GOOD.

9.  Still worse concentration than usual, I think. But much more functional than in May, I wasn't sure it would happen that quickly, the school year was so so so much more taxing even than it usually is.

10. OK that's all folks!