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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Research! Aaaaaaaaa!

I'm finding it easier to keep going on the work now that days are getting longer. I'm packing it in a trifle earlier than I originally intended: I was going to work-work until 6, but I'm going out to meet Paul and wanted to take a little time to frame the day and put a button on it (to mix metaphors), which is what these blog posts do for me.

Today felt pretty productive, but I am being driven mad by the fact that there is apparently an inexhaustible supply of critical essays about The Left Hand of Darkness, and every time I think I've got as much as I need, I stumble across a reference and think, "Well, I have to have that," and I spend inordinate amounts of time tracking the damned thing down. There's one source I can't find at all yet, and this time, the librarian who answered my "ask a librarian" query was not at all helpful: it's become sort of the lit-crit equivalent of Bigfoot; someone sighted it somewhere and there's something that's almost documentation of it, but not quite....

In any event, there are a few more sources I want to track down; I'll be going to campus on Thursday for that damned meeting of the wretched Seminar Hours committee, but I'll make the most of the trip and do another library run. (For one thing, I grabbed a book a little too quickly in the mad dash that was my last trip there--and grabbed the wrong thing, so I need to get my mitts on the source I actually want.) I also have a number of requests still outstanding through the interlibrary loan thingy (which I'm loving; I may have said that before, but it bears repeating: it's great). But once I have those sources, I'm going to stop. I really have to stop.

Jeezus, I feel like an addict. I'm going to stop; I'll stop tomorrow; one more, just one, and then I'll stop. I've already written the caveats to students stating that I haven't found all there is to find and exhorting them to raid other people's works cited lists (which, I explain, I've been doing--as all scholars do). But seriously, if I'm ever going to finish this part of the book--for which I think I allotted one week in my original timeline and which has been going on for, what, a month now?--I have to stop adding to the articles I need to review and annotate.

I freely confess, too, that my living room is starting to look a little like my "study" did when I was working on my dissertation: piles upon piles of books accumulating, each book bristling with sticky-notes. Evidence of a word-person at work.

As I've noted before, however, I've been getting increasingly concerned that this particular word person isn't producing enough work on a daily basis. I've been playing around with various solutions to that problem. One is aided by the lengthening days: I want to put in more hours each day, which I can only do if my brain is running on all cylinders, not if I'm getting draggy because it's getting dark and my body reads that as time to shut down. (Heaven forfend that I should get up earlier to get more hours in. That would mean setting an alarm. Gawd no.) I do have to remind myself periodically that I'm often working on more than one section of the book at once, so I may actually be making more progress than I realize.

But the other thing I'm contemplating is withdrawing from the psych course. When I talked to various members of my support committee over the weekend, I was pretty sure I was going to do it. Since then, however, I've been feeling more like I want to stay in it. In any event, I told myself that I wouldn't decide until after tomorrow's class--and now I'm thinking I may give myself two days, tomorrow and Friday, to work exclusively on the class, and then evaluate where I am. If I can get the paper written and feel prepared for next week's exam in that amount of time, I'll stick it out a while longer--at least long enough to get a taste of the next section of the class, which is intrinsically a lot more interesting to me than this first chunk has been. If I can't get enough done in two days, then I'll withdraw, because I'm only willing to devote two days a week to it, maximum. Even that may begin to seem like more time away from the sabbatical work than I want to take, and I have until mid-April to make up my mind definitively: after that, withdrawal is no longer an option.

The big surprise in all this, the astonishing realization, is that this sabbatical experience is radically different from my last sabbatical. I was sure I'd be fighting off all sorts of demons, but instead I realize I love doing this and want to do it more: I'm resenting anything that interferes. I'd resent the psych course entirely if I weren't fascinated by the material (OK, by some of it: this last set of articles we were to read for tomorrow's class were flat out incomprehensible to me)--and also soaking in the experience of being the student instead of the professor (incredibly helpful to my pedagogy). Still, I'm allowing myself a little more time to see if I can find a balance that allows me to do what I want without resenting any of it.

Speaking of resenting things: it's a good thing I'm finished working for the day, as the downstairs neighbors have cranked up the Hispanic Hip-Hop to top volume. I have complained about the volume at various times, but I can't seem to convey that it is always too loud. But hey, all the more reason to look forward to getting the hell out of here to meet Paul for dinner. It's cold as hell out there, but I'll bundle up in my down parka and feel intrepid. Cain't nothin' keep me down.

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