Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Summer Goals, Summer Fretting, Summer Musings

I've decided to hold off on the big scary project--Writing My Book--and focus instead on the smaller projects immediately at hand:  revising my Bollywood essay, expanding my piece on romance fiction and poetry, editing the Romance Fiction and American Culture anthology, and writing my own contribution to  that collection, which will be the expanded version of my IASPR conference paper from last summer.  Alongside, you know, all the other stuff (conference organizing, JPRS, family matters), those are my summer goals, while I keep a a catchall file somewhere on the computer where thoughts about Das Book will go.

My thought is that this strategy will keep these projects from seeming like roadblocks or distractions from what I "ought" to be doing, and will loosen me up a bit for the more peripheral, playful thinking that will need to go into DB.  Trying to hack my moods a bit, so that I don't begrudge the time I spend on any individual effort.

And, to be honest, as long as I'm writing something connected to my research, I'm happy.  It's the extended periods of only editing, or writing nothing but reports and emails, that gets me down.


Speaking of which, I recently got this as an auto-reply email:

"Your email has landed safely in my inbox.  I am offline editing and writing.  I will be checking from time to time so please be patient."

Why does it never occur to me to send out a message like that?


One thing I've started to learn this summer:  there's a particular feeling of mental restlessness, coupled either with generalized unhappiness or a recurrent set of mental "scripts"--arguments with person X or quarrelsome thoughts about topic Y--that I've learned to recognize as a sign that I really need to sit down and shut my eyes for 20 minutes...which often turns into an hour.  And, since it's the summer, I often can act on that realization.  Unbelievable luxury, this.  


It's been a while since I've read a book of essays that I've enjoyed as much--or that's gotten me thinking as gratefully--as Charles Bernstein's Attack of the Difficult Poems.  I don't always agree with it, or even quite know what he's saying, in practical terms (i.e., how I'd use his ideas in my classroom or what the student work-product would then look like), but the liveliness of thought and expression here are really welcome, and by no means guaranteed in either academic or literary writing, nowadays.  I'll post some quotes as the summer goes by.


My son's been getting me up to speed on some of his favorite music as we drive off to school in the morning.  Here's one that I enjoyed the other day, by the Arctic Monkeys.  Me, I'm off to nap.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

It Makes No Difference

First off, thanks to my new reader (yay!) for joining the fun.  I don't blog much about poetry these days--a topic which I might post about at some point this summer--so if you're looking for posts on poems, you'll need to scroll down a bit.  Or just stay tuned.  You never know what's coming.  I sure don't!

My title today comes from a song by The Band that I heard on the radio yesterday, which sparked some rueful musings about the effects of my recent promotion.  For your listening pleasure, here's the song, in a lovely, low-key cover version, with musings below:

So, about the difference-making, or the lack thereof...

I'm struck, as the summer begins, by how little my daily life changes thanks to what was, in anxious anticipation, such a big, big deal.  Had I not gotten the promotion, I'd be pretty miserable, but it's hard to notice an absence--and day to day, hour by hour, I'm still doing exactly what I did before the news came in. Mostly, that's editing, email, and organizational work, whether for IASPR / JPRS or for the Popular Romance Project, where I curate the "Talking About Romance" blog. I have one last book that I'm editing before that side of my research is done, at least for a while, so there are essays that I need to read and evaluate from those contributors, draft blog posts for the Project to read over, and pieces in the submissions queue--and the readers' reports queue--for the journal. I'm also involved in planning the upcoming 2012 IASPR international romance conference, after sitting out the planning stages of the last two of them.

So as I say: editing, email, and organizational work. 

Add some fun to that--a whole lotta Zumba going on--and then some less-fun family commitments, what with the recent deaths of my 104-year old grandmother and one of my wife's uncles, and her father's ongoing heart troubles, and we have a fullish day, then another, and the next thing you know, it's been a week.

(Those heart troubles are worrisome.  More on them anon.)

All in all, that's not a bad or unproductive way to spend a summer. And lord knows I spent the spring with plenty of all of that work to do, and a crying need for time in which to do it! But it leaves out writing of my own, and reading, and making music, all of which are things I'd planned to spend time on in the summer.  In particular, I'm worried about my popular romance monograph.  If I don't get started on that this summer...well, I don't know when it's likely to go better, or get easier.

Something, folks, must be done.

Friday, June 15, 2012


First off, thanks so much for leaving a comment, Laura!  That's a pleasure in this blog that I've sorely missed.

I'd meant to post something substantial, reflective, or otherwise interesting here--or at least a picture of myself with my Yiddishe Joe Strummer haircut--but I've been hit with one of those professional embarrassments that I couldn't possibly have mentioned a few weeks ago, before the promotion.

It seems the grading for this quarter, which I'd planned to do at a leisurely pace for the next five days, is actually due tonight by midnight, and not next Wednesday.  Evidently I checked the 2012-13 Academic Calendar for the date, not this year's.  Oops.

Luckily, the University's automated email system sent me a reminder this morning, so I've been reading papers all day, and am just dipping in to say hello and to leave this little YouTube clip:  a song that's been going through my head in honor of the upcoming Fathers' Day holiday.

(And yes, I write it as "Fathers' Day," not "Father's," as I do with  Mothers' Day.  It's a celebration of all who serve in that capacity, not just my late local instance.)

More soon, then, when the grading's done!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

What Was I Waiting For?

If you've ever followed this blog, you'll know that it petered out a while back--partly because other social media took over its social function (connecting me to old friends and making some new ones), and partly because its professional function, as a place to think about poetry, got no respect when I went up for promotion to full professor back in the 2008-9 school year.  (I got the same response to my blogging on romance fiction over at Teach Me Tonight.)

I've made some desultory efforts to start up again over the past couple of years, with no real luck--and, to be honest, I was worried that anything I posted might somehow be used against me the next time I went up for promotion, at least if I said anything negative about how I felt my teaching was going, or a class, or my research.

Well, I got the promotion (yay!), and that means I can get back to this, if I want to.  I had a whole list of things that I would do, in fact--both old and new--when and if I got it.  Sadly, I never actually wrote it down, so who knows what was on it?  But I'll try to remember, and maybe report here and elsewhere (i.e., TMT) on the progress.


Oh--one thing I'd meant to do, but hadn't:  cut my hair.  Which I did, or had done, this morning.  Nice & short.  I'll post a new picture when I get my new glasses, in a couple of days.  After that...who knows?

I love this song.  Maybe I'll learn to play it, whether or not it was on my little list.