Summer: the plans, the dreams, the fantasy

As things are finally starting to wind down (I know the semester has to end, eventually) now is the time when the summer inhabits my imagination. I'm excited since I'm not teaching this summer, nor am I moving house (both of which I was doing last summer). So this summer already from the get go will be easier, more fun, and hopefully more productive.

But more than that, I'm feeling more than usually enthusiastic. Not just because I've done so much administrative and committee work this year that a couple of months relatively free of such things will be a real break. (Although one high-level administrative search committee will be operative during the summer, and some of my administrative duties continue, just reduced in size.) Not just because it will be a relief not to have to see some of my colleagues for a couple of months. We've had some unusually bitter and divisive department meetings recently that have transformed a generally collegial place into a backbiting snakepit.

But also I'm looking forward to the summer because I'm genuinely excited about the research projects I'm going to be working on. I feel engaged and interested in the new directions my work is taking. I got accepted to a conference at summer's end, which feels like a vote of confidence in my ideas. I heard a rumor (unsubstantiated yet by any official document) that I was awarded some small grant funds for one of these projects. Even more than the real material effect of the money, which would allow me to travel to some libraries, photocopy materials, and maybe purchase some necessary software (yeah, humanists come cheap, if you know any wealthy patrons out there who want to support some English profs) -- what is exciting to me is again the sense that it is a vote of confidence for my work.

And I feel more capable of being productive this year, too. During and since the Bikram challenge, I've had only 1 or 2 days of depression, and those were very mild. So if I can continue keeping my yoga level up to 5-7 days a week during the summer I hope that I'll be better able to handle the unstructured time of summer, which has sometimes been a real obstacle to my accomplishing anything. I don't mean to imply that unstructured time causes depression, but my depressive tendencies can make unstructured time very difficult to manage. And once depression sets in, it's hard to simply say "create your own structure, self." For whatever reason, the yoga works better for me than other forms of exercise for preventing depression (although I'm doing other things as well, and always have -- cardio machines, weights, brisk dogwalks).

Even now, as I'm attending meetings, grading, and trying to close out the term, I've been laying some of the groundwork for the summer. I've been revisiting some of my favorite time and self management books, and exploring new resources I've been discovering online. I've also been reading more books for fun -- my favorite part of summer, and one which last weekend I just had to start early. I've been concerned about a lack of good input into my brain -- and without good input, I don't get good output (i.e., blog posts). I'm a lousy "reviewer" of films or novels but at least I can try to comment on them. And now I've got several blog posts simmering on the back burner. . .

I'm also working on developing a workable schedule for the summer. One problem of course is that I like to stay up at night but I also want to get up early and get a jump on the day. So maybe afternoon naps will have to be added. But I think I want my days to look like this:
  • get up early and walk dogs for 1 - 1 1/2 hours
  • shower, breakfast
  • go with laptop to cafe and work/write for 3-4 hours
  • go home, eat lunch
  • either read and take notes in the afternoon or go into campus to take care of administrative work (4 hours)
  • yoga (90 mins + drive & shower = 2 1/2 hours) and/or gym (1-2 hours)
  • evening dog walk if gf isn't doing it
  • cook dinner, eat, family time
  • blogging/TV/chores/fun reading
Of course, not every day will fit exactly into this schedule -- weekends certainly won't -- but having this as my goal will help me plan my days.

What are your summer plans?