I'm flying home tomorrow!!!

Mom is doing much better. She makes little comments about wishing I could stay, but I also know that she takes pride in the fact that she's independent enough to live 600 miles away from me. She's able to get around the house now pretty well on her own, and she'll have assistance for chores and certain tasks until she's totally healed.

So, after a day or two of GF-hugging! and dog-snuggling! and sleep! and all the other things at the top of my wishlist, then my summer can really start...



My mom's cat is fine now. Thank goodness.

not fully legal

Purely by accident, because the wireless switch was toggled on from when I'd had my laptop at the cafe earlier today, I discovered that if I sit in a particular corner of my mom's living room, I can get on her neighbors' unsecured wireless network. So thank you, nameless & faceless neighbors, for giving me the most relaxing hour I've had in days. I got to catch up on fugly celebrity outfits and some of my favorite blogs. Since I was already tired and in my PJs, I wasn't really going to work that much, anyhow.

I did, however, actually get some work done today while my mom napped. She is doing much, much better now and I feel like I'll be able to leave here and return home in a couple of days without feeling guilty. She's set up with home health aides who will come and do all the gnarly stuff that squeeves me out (cutting toenails, anyone?) plus all the stuff that I've been doing (laundry, bandages, pill counting, etc). And since they're not related to her, they will be far more entertaining than yours truly. Narcissists do really well with being taken care of, preferably by as many different people as possible.

Note to all my readers under age 55: I have seen the distant future and it sure ain't pretty. I know, I know, that by the time we hit our senior years, health care and retirement communities and all that stuff will be totally different -- we'll have Nu Wave 80s night at the Rec Center and we'll still be wearing jeans. (Since the hipsters by then will be clad in super high tech jumpsuits or something.) Our joints will have been replaced by plastic and our brains will be lubricated by vitamins. But still, just in case medical technology hasn't improved that much, or in case you want to save some money and agony in your future -- Do Some Core Muscle Exercises. If you do nothing else for your health and future fitness, do these. I recommend Peggy Brill's The Core Program, which is easy to understand, carefully thought out, and incredibly effective. Even though yoga covers many of the same muscles and principles, I still do Brill's exercise sequence several days a week. Because who wants back pain or to not be able to get out of a chair easily? Or even occasional urinary incontinence?


whinge ahead: 31 flavors of tired

I am so freaking tired. Sure, there's the obvious reason that I've been taking care of a post-surgery older person nonstop for several days. Which means a lot of dish-washing, floor-mopping, and laundry. Every time she gets up or sits down I need to assist her -- she can now walk on her own, but I have to prop her injured limb up so that the swelling will decrease. I've been changing bandages 5 or 6 times a day, although the drainage is finally slowing down. I have to remind her to take her medicine, to eat, to wear her glasses. Every single thing takes at least 15 minutes. Some of this is from the surgery, and the painkillers; some of it is just how she is now that she is older.

But I'm also tired because she's getting better -- because under the best of circumstances, my mother and I do not get along very well. And now that she is feeling better she is acting more like her usual self. Which means she either is picking on me about how I look, how I talk, how I do things -- or she is spouting long monologues about topics of no possible interest or importance.

I'm tired because I am an introvert, and my mother is an extrovert. She thinks it's great to have me right at her side every minute. In the evenings, she wants to flip channels on the TV which is in the room with the couch I'm sleeping on. There is nowhere in her home to avoid the noise of the television--especially since, for some inexplicable reason, my somewhat deaf 71 -year-old mother prefers the testosterone channel, Spike TV. I need time by myself, which I'm not getting. By the time I get her settled to bed in the evening, I am exhausted. I manage to read for maybe 5 minutes before dropping off to sleep. Then she usually wakes me up twice during the night, and I don't really get back to sleep very well. I'm averaging maybe 5 hours a night.

I'm tired because I'm not getting to use my brain for anything -- I'm behind on work deadlines, and behind on my own plans for the summer, and I have neither the time nor the focus to try and get much done while I'm here. One of her friends is supposed to come over tomorrow which will give me a little more time off, but I can't call on them too much since they will have to do a lot of helping her once I leave. I was supposed to be doing work right now -- I managed to convince her I needed a couple hours out of the house to do errands for her, and to do some work -- but I've been just catching up on email in the small amount of time I had once I finished her errands. She's OK on her own now, but she would prefer to have other people's attention and attendance, 24-7.

I'm tired because I'm in the small town in which I grew up. The small town which I fled as soon as I could. The small Midwestern town which prides itself on being so progressive but is still an all-white backwater. I know, there are many worse places to be (I've lived in a few) but I'm emotionally allergic to this town. It makes me feel sad, and anxious, and depressed -- just as I did when I was a teenager growing up here.

I'm tired because my real life, my chosen life and chosen family, are so , so far away. I want to go home. To my real home.


summary version

My mom was released from the hospital yesterday afternoon. Which is good although tiring in a different way.

Wednesday afternoon and night: blood, vomit, urine, laundry.

Thursday day: blood, laundry, house cleaning, vomit, nurse visit, laundry.

The vomit, at least, is her cat's, who seems to be having some stress-related digestive issue.

And did I mention that my mother's internet connection isn't working? so that I can only get online when I can get out of the house for an hour? Must. Get. Ticket. Home.

I'm tired, but she's doing OK, making good progress.


report from the road

Hospitals are grim. I feel really grateful that I don't usually have to go anywhere near them, or even visit doctors at all. My mother had surgery yesterday, so I spent the first half of the day in a waiting room which in retrospect wasn't bad at all -- I was able to listen to my MP3 player and get some work done. But once she was brought out of recovery and up to her floor, I gave up on being able to concentrate. She was still groggy from the anesthetic, but would jolt awake every five minutes or so, confused and disoriented -- in part from the medications, but also because there is So. Much. Noise. in the hospital -- the IV machines are beeping, various alarms are going off up and down the hall, the deaf old people are shouting, the nurses are shouting louder than the old people, etc etc. The 90-something woman in the bed next to my mom lies on her back, mouth open, gasping loudly for air when she's asleep; when she's awake, she garbles incomprehensibly because they took her false teeth away. The nurses are good, but they're stretched very thin -- so you really need a family member or someone there to do basic care, like prevent the patient from tearing at the IV and the oxygen cord, give her sips of liquid, blow her nose, etc. But I don't know how anyone actually rests while they're in there, it's so loud and overwhelming.


beware the exploding brain

It's come to my attention recently that I hate making travel arrangements. I mean, I knew I didn't like doing it, that I often feel stressed out or anxious when planning a trip, and that I sometimes procrastinate about things like plane tickets or hotel reservations. But somehow, each and every time, I think it's about the particular trip, rather than something about the act of making travel plans that throws me out of whack.

Now, it's probably obvious by now that I'm not much of a traveler -- I don't travel often or for fun -- it's nearly always out of obligation (family) or responsibility (work) or careerism (work). I don't have anything against travel for fun, but it just hasn't been in my budget for the last several years.

Now, due to a family medical issue, I find myself having to make arrangements to suddenly get to Home Town for an unspecified amount of time. Now, there are plenty of reasons to be dreading this trip -- my mother and I don't get along that well, my home town makes me feel depressed and adolescent, and I was just beginning my most excellent summer. This trip was definitely NOT in my plan. Plus it makes me anxious that I don't know when I'll be returning (it will depend on her recovery speed). I am a creature of habit and routine and would much prefer to be in my own house, with my chosen family.

But there is something inherent in the task of looking up flights and trying to figure out which of the possible configurations of time and money would be least painful that really makes my head explode. None of the options are good ones. I've narrowed it down to three possibilities, two of which might potentially really inconvenience my partner, or require the dogs to be boarded for a day; the third option gets me there at 11 at night, which has its own inconveniences. (Especially since transportation is an issue, since Home Town is too small to have its own airport.) Errgh.

At least I have the laptop, now, so I will be able to do different kinds of work while I'm there. But it's not how I wanted to start things off for the summer.


FreeMind and project planning

Over the past couple of weeks I've been trying out FreeMind, an open source mind-mapping) tool, and I think it's got a lot to offer.

Now, I should make it clear from the start that I'm a word person. I'm not really an image person -- I can't draw, I don't visualize things easily, and I often have trouble deciphering icons (on computers, in airports, etc) because I don't understand what they represent. Even my dreams often have voice-over narrators or subtitles. But because I know I don't use that part of my brain very often or very well, I sometimes think that I should at least try.

My only previous exposure to mind-mapping was (1) from some personal-growth book I read years ago which used maps as a tool for exploring aspects of the self, and (2) as a "brainstorming" exercise to use with beginning writers. Although profitable in a very localized sense, I didn't continue to explore this approach to generating or organizing ideas both because I didn't see how it could be applied to more complex situations, and because I found the process of drawing wiggly lines on the page very frustrating. (Go back to my inability to draw.) I was always anxious about running out of room on the page, I couldn't read half of what I'd written on the lines, and it was messy.

So when I read about FreeMind recently (somewhere -- lifehacker or 43 Folders or one of the other productivity blogs I allow myself to read at work) it seemed worth a look. Maybe with the expansion, revision, and precision that the computer would offer I could get something more out of mind-mapping.

So far, I've been using it mostly to generate ideas and organize sub-projects for my research. One of the things I've always struggled with in adapting GTD methodology to academic work is that I find it spot-on helpful in dealing with the day-to-day email flow, administrative tasks, etc. But planning a book, say, is a project on a very different level than even "write article" or "write grant application." Managing projects and subprojects, and especially projects with a variety of Next Actions that could be done concurrently, has always been difficult for me. In part I realized this was because reading through a list or outline imposes a linear order even to tasks which are actually potentially concurrent. For example: "look up bibliography on Topic X" and "look up bibliography on Topic Y" could be done in any order. And I need a way of organizing those sub-projects (in GTD-speak, a Project is anything that will take more than one Action to complete it) that lets me see their relationship to each other as well as to the larger project(s) of which they are a part. FreeMind has so far been really useful, both for generating/capturing ideas and also for organizing my workflow.

It's fairly intuitive to use -- the only weird thing I had to dig in the wiki to solve was that you have to start the program from the program icon each time, rather than simply clicking on an associated file in windows explorer -- something about how the java loads in means that you'll lose PDF capability that way. But that's a pretty small thing to have to remember to do. You can choose lines or bubbles for your map, color code text and bubble backgrounds, add connector lines, and even supplemental notes. Plus you can easily fold or unfold particular levels of your hierarchy, depending on what you want to see. Some people around the web are using FreeMind as an overall GTD information manager, using it to track all their Actions, Projects, etc. That's of little interest to me, but it suggests a range of ways to use this free tool to sort and capture whatever stuff you've got floating around in your head, whether for a particular project or for your whole life.

I've just begun reading one of Tony Buzan's books -- he's the MindMapping guru -- and I'm definitely intrigued. I hadn't realized how extensive was the theory behind this approach. (Nor how McLuhanesque some of it was.) What I've been using the maps for doesn't exactly fit into his scheme, which emphasizes using only single words (for concepts, ideas) on each associative branch, but I'm willing to give his style of mindmapping a try for some other purposes. My very reservations about it (not being able to draw, not liking messy documents) go against his whole philosophy, which is about unlocking all parts of your brain. Which probably means I could benefit from giving it a try. Buzan sells his own proprietary mindmapping software (which I haven't looked at yet) so computers are allowed, at least.

There's a lot out there about using mindmaps for younger students and teachers...I'd be interested to hear about people using them for scholarly projects as well.

Hard Candy

There's a wonderful moment near the end of this film when Hayley, the 14-year old protagonist, who is much given to costume changes throughout the narrative (to underscore the protean nature of teenage identity and sexuality) puts on a red hooded sweatshirt and rolls down a wooded hill. It's a celebration of sorts, for the character and for the film as a whole, which is a smart, edgy reworking of Little Red Riding Hood. The wolf is a 30-something man who meets her in a chat room and arranges to meet her in person. He's wearing a disguise of sorts (as does the wolf in granny's nightgown) but so is she. Little does he realize that in her bulging schoolgirl's book bag she has things a little more dangerous than the cookies Little Red usually carries through the wood. She's brought costumes, weapons, and tools with which to wreak her own revenge upon the wolf. The film brilliantly plays on the viewer's assumptions, biases, and sympathies -- it wants to make you uncomfortable, in order to complicate and enrich its message about predators. It's a tense psychological thriller that contains a couple of surprises. Not for the fainthearted, but well worth it.


nerdish object of desire #337

Several years ago, someone once described a colleague of his to me by simply noting "he has a Hinman collator in his dining room." This implied incredible scholarly devotion, an ascetic impulse that would give up the space normally granted to consuming food to a huge beast of a machine, and a level of old-school bibliographic geekery unshared even by most English professors.

Today, I feel a fleeting sense of kinship with that bibliographer, since my current unattainable object of desire is this: the ImageMouse Plus microfilm scanner.

I spent the afternoon at the library of one of our branch campuses, because they have this piece of special equipment that our library on main campus, where I work, does not own. I had phoned to confirm this, and asked if I'd be able to use it, and they said no problem. So today I went. After finding my way around their campus, and locating the library, I talk to three different librarians, none of whom have ever used the machine. Luckily the user's manual was on the table where it was located, and I assured them that I could figure it out (and I was right). The highest-ranking guy, Grumpy Librarian, had to use some kind of secret access password for me to let me onto the computer hooked up to the ImageMouse, and kept grumbling that I wasn't really allowed, that this machine was too much trouble, that he wished they didn't even own it. (Some of my favorite people are librarians -- my ex best friend, a new dog park buddy, several bosses and workmates in my past-- but people skills aren't always their strong suit. ) I mean, I'm faculty at your university, if not on your campus -- there's a reciprocal agreement within our system. And besides, it's not like anyone else wanted to use the thing.

Microfilm is always a pain to work with, usually literally -- I usually get neck cricks and shoulder aches, and often feel kind of nauseous after doing a lot of work with film or fiche. You're sitting cramped in a horrible unergonomic chair doing the same repetitive motion a zillion times, and print is often moving past your eyes. In graduate school the microforms were housed down in the basement, which was always 30 degrees colder than the rest of the building -- just to add to the creepy discomfort of the experience. (Today's room was actually too warm. It's never right, said Goldilocks as she spun another roll of film.)

And the ImageMouse doesn't remove all the pain. But by allowing me to scan microfilm into digital files, it will let me use this material so much more easily for my research and my teaching. (Much better than using the microform printers and then xeroxing, which just degrades the image quality over and over.) It's slow going -- I've got to make a couple more trips next week. At least I do have access to this machine, although apparently it's only by the good graces of Grumpy Librarian. So I don't know how many more return visits I'll be able to do this summer, or in the years ahead. I'll try to persuade our campus librarians to get one of these, but I doubt I'll have much success since our library budget keeps getting cut.

But just think how awesome it would be to have one of these on your desk of your very own! I wish, I wish, I wish...



I have (at least) three options, one of which I must choose in the next 10 minutes.
  1. Stay in my office and grade essays.
  2. Leave and go to yoga.
  3. Leave and go elsewhere to grade.
I came in to the office two hours ago only because I had left some of the ungraded essays on my desk last night by mistake. (I had planned to spend the afternoon at a cafe grading.) But once here, my administrative responsibilities took over and I've spent two hours dealing with plagiarism cases and other end of term mini-crises.

#1 would be virtuous; also practical, in that I would be closer to my goal of finishing grading.
#2 would be healthy; also enjoyable. But it would not advance my grading.
#3 would be semi-virtuous, but not really necessary, since I brought coffee and water with me to the office earlier today.

Pleh. I guess I need to stay here and grade. Because if I go to yoga, I will then either have to stay up late or get up early. As it is I may need to get up extra early tomorrow.

I need to remember my Summer Plan. In the summer, I can go to yoga every day. I can go to yoga every day, once I get my grading done.


on being vegan

I've been vegan now for about 14 years. I deeply believe in each individual's right to research information for herself and make her own choices about food, health, purchases, etc. So the extent to which I proselytize about being vegan is usually dependent upon being asked questions by others. Because being a Vegan Missionary isn't in my identity description, and because being vegan is so deeply part of who I am, I often even forget that I've shared information with a specific individual until she or he brings it up again at some later time. For instance, a couple of months ago a woman who had been a staff member in my department a few years ago emailed me to ask "You once mentioned a book you read when you were becoming vegan -- can you tell me what it was?" I was happy to give her the reference, and we exchanged several emails about related topics -- but I have absolutely no memory of our ever having that original conversation. But it made me happy that she did remember, and cared enough to follow up six years later.

After years of vegetarianism, and three vegan girlfriends, my GF has recently made the choice to become fully vegan (thanks in part to PETA's Milk Gone Wild). (Though I should note that she ate very moderate amounts of dairy and eggs.) I'm proud of her for making that choice, and am supporting her through her process. In our recent conversations about these things, I've realized how my thoughts and feelings about dietary choices have evolved over the years, deepening and enriching my beliefs about so many other aspects of this human life.

So, blog readers -- you didn't ask about my being vegan, but I feel like explaining it anyway. (And thereby encouraging further questions or discussion.) However, one of the things I've observed over and over again is that the simple fact of my eating different food from others at a table (at a restaurant, at a work event, etc) makes many carnivorous people nervous. They start justifying their food ("I only eat meat in restaurants"; "I need meat for my iron levels"); apologizing ("Doesn't this bother you?") ; criticizing me ("you must not be getting enough calcium"); patronizing-while-sympathizing ("It must be so difficult to be vegan"); or, possibly the weirdest response (but a very frequent one) -- attempting to gross me and everyone else out ("I once ate cow's eyeball" -- to which someone else invariably responds "well, I ate crocodile testicle" etc etc). (note: I have never been around a bunch of vegetarians who've tried to gross each other out this way. If anything, it's more like "I once baked the most divine tofu cheesecake" -- competing with the goodness of food, not the reverse.)

Sadly, I think a lot of people (or at least North Americans) have a lot of issues around food. And also issues about non-conformity. So I don't have to say anything about being vegan -- if I eat with strangers, someone else nearly always starts questioning me about it. So: if hearing about other people's choices makes you feel defensive or nervous, or if you are going to insist that your way of eating is the Only Right Thing To Do, then do me a favor and stop reading here.

How I became vegan
As a child, I grew up in a household that ate a mostly Mediterranean/Italian style diet, which included meat several times a week, but usually as one of many ingredients in a stew, pasta dish, soup, or casserole, rather than the "piece of meat plus two sides" stereotypically thought of as "standard American diet." We also ate eggs, cheese, and yogurt. We were none of us very big on milk drinking -- for cultural reasons my parents thought it was something only for small children, or to accompany cereal or cookies. I was not particularly interested in eating meat as a child -- I always liked the other parts of the meal better. So I believe that at a deeper level my metabolic system was always inclined towards a vegetable based diet.

When I left home for college, I became semi-vegetarian, then mostly-vegetarian. I never cooked meat after I left my parents' house. I would eat it occasionally in restaurants or family situations. But this was all at the level of unconscious preferences, rather than a conscious choice or intention. Eventually I decided to commit to the way of life that made the most sense to me and felt better, and started calling myself a vegetarian, coming out as a vegetarian rather than just being one subtly. (Looking back, I figure that the delay was probably due to all the other coming out I was doing back in those years.)

So fast forward to 1992. I was on a vegetarian listserv that included a number of people making the transition to vegan. I got curious, and decided to try it for a month just to see if I could do it. At the time, I was used to eating cheese and yogurt pretty regularly and wasn't sure how much I would miss it.

I never looked back. For me, giving up dairy transformed my physical being so much that it was obviously the right thing for me. My skin cleared up. My seasonal allergic symptoms reduced dramatically. I felt more energetic. Over those first few weeks, my sense of smell and taste became more sensitive as the dairy left my body, so that I really didn't miss cheese any longer because it no longer smelled appealing. Over the months and years since, I've realized many more changes. Most telling -- I haven't had a single sinus infection or ear infection since I gave up dairy -- and this after having regular episodes of both throughout my entire pre-vegan life.

So for me the transition was not difficult, and the benefits were clear. The same isn't true for every person. I don't believe that any one single diet is the right plan for every person on the planet -- we are too varied in terms of our genetic heritage, our environment, and our metabolic expenditure.

Why am I vegan?
It was a mixture of curiosity and health reasons that initially started me on the vegan path. Early on, I also read John Robbins's May All Be Fed, which gave me lots of information that supported my choices and expanded my thinking about the impact of this decision. (If you're interested, I'd probably suggest starting with his most recent book, The Food Revolution which contains updated research information.) I became an environmental and political vegan, concerned with the impact of cattle farming on the land, on water usage, on the ability of the planet to sustain all of the human life covering its surface. I became concerned and outraged at the complicity of our government in claiming to protect and educate its citizens while increasing its own agribusiness profits. Because I believe more in the power of micropolitics than the macro level, it makes sense to me to make my daily choices in line with my political beliefs.

What has developed more strongly over the years that I have been vegan is my sensitivity and concern for the wellbeing of all animals and my commitment to veganism as an ethical and spiritual practice. The Buddhist ethic of doing no harm is important to me as a guideline. And in situations where some harm is inevitable, one can at least try to minimize it. Thich Naht Hanh writes in an essay on anger that:
Our anger, our frustration, our despair, have much to do with our body and the food we eat. We must work out a strategy of eating, of consuming to protect ourselves from anger and violence. Eating is an aspect of civilization. The way we grow our food, the kind of food we eat, and the way we eat it has much to do with civilization because the choices we make can bring about peace and relieve suffering.

Why ingest misery and suffering? If you have access to locally produced animal foodstuffs that are truly chemical free and cruelty free, and you feel that those food items are necessary or enjoyable for you, then that is your decision. But most food consumers don't have access to cruelty free animal products. For myself, a vegan diet is in harmony not only with my physical wellbeing but with my spiritual beliefs in the sanctity of all life.

So what does a vegan eat anyway?
Most of my meals consist of a grain (brown rice, pasta, bread, oatmeal, cereal, etc) plus a protein (legumes, tofu, other soy products, nuts) plus vegetables and/or fruits. Breakfast is usually a soy-protein/fruit smoothie, or peanut butter on toast, or oatmeal with soyprotein powder. Lunch is usually put together from leftovers: it might be beans and rice plus vegetables, or maybe a soy "burger." Dinner might be tofu-vegetable stirfry, chickpea-pasta saute, black bean burritos, veggie curry, etc. I sometimes make vegan versions of lasagne, tacos, even "meatloaf." Most of the world's cuisines don't rely on meat except as an occasional treat or used in small amounts for flavor. You can make up that flavor with other things-- tamari, sesame oil, garlic, lemon juice, herbs, etc. Cookbooks I recommend:
  • The Vegetarian Times Complete Cookbook -- I have the earlier edition, but this one looks to be even better. This is a great all-around reference cookbook for the new vegetarian -- advice on cooking every kind of legume and vegetable, and a great selection of recipes for both everyday meals and fancier occasions. Includes recipes with dairy and eggs but many are vegan or vegan adaptable.
  • The New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook -- easy family friendly recipes from one of the great 70s communes. Pictures of smiling hippies are a plus. Several of our household favorites are from this book.
  • Tofu Cookery -- don't know what to do with that block of tofu? There's plenty of inspiration in this book.
  • I also recommend Lorna Sass's cookbooks, if you own a pressure cooker or are willing to get one. I have Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure but all of her books are good.
I own plenty of other cookbooks, but these are ones I actually sometimes use. It helps to like to cook if you're becoming vegetarian or vegan, but it's not hard to learn how to make the basic stuff like beans and rice. And today convenience foods like soy milk, soy burgers, etc are widely available. It's really not that difficult to be vegan once you adjust your ideas of what a meal should contain.


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?