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Monday, April 6, 2015

galloping anxiety

So, for various reasons, I just went five days in which I got essentially zero work done. Today was bumpy because my house-cleaner showed up several hours early, so I started the day feeling flurried and fussed. I got some good work done despite the flurry and fuss--but tomorrow I have a long-postponed social engagement that will take me out of the house during the "hour of power" in my work day, and although I plan to get as much work done as I can before I have to leave, I'm still feeling jittery and breathless and wild-eyed, that nasty voice in the back of my head saying, "You're running out of time! You'll never finish!"

Let us pause for a moment to observe that I hear exactly the same voice saying exactly the same thing at about this time of semester when I'm teaching. I always manage to get the work done for school. I have to try to inculcate a belief that the same will hold true of the sabbatical project.

I honestly don't know how much more time I can allow myself before I start doing some kind of semester prep for the fall--and wondering just how difficult it would be if I didn't do any at all before summer. Maybe not before August. I feel myself starting to hyperventilate at the thought, but if I can recognize that I almost invariably react to a new system or idea with unbridled panic and then step outside the panic to evaluate the situation more reasonably, I don't see any particular reason why I can't do that. In fact, that used to be my usual procedure: I'd start class prep in August, and somehow, I always was ready on the first day of classes. I've just gotten used to the sense of freedom over the summer when I can get the bulk of my class prep done before May, so I can just do the usual insanity of adjunct scheduling with Bruce at the end of August and know that everything else is already nailed down.

There are good reasons to wait, too, primary among them that I may not know until the nth hour whether my MDC course is going to run. (I just checked: fall courses are still "view only," so registration hasn't started yet. Breathe, TLP: there is no data yet of any kind.) Plus, after talking with William the other day (one of the days in which I got no work done), I realize that I should wait until I can get a read on the class before I get too sure what I'm going to ask them to do: I could have students who are in remedial classes in there (that is, unable to read or write at even the most basic college level), and I need to be able to adjust accordingly.

But of course, even as I splash around in the joys of the sabbatical project, part of my mind is already beavering away at classes for fall, especially the 101s. (Or 101: if MDC runs, and if I get reassigned time to work in Advisement again, I'll only have one section of 101.) And fussing about seminar hours.

OK, OK, OK: I'm going to put all that aside for now. Let me talk about the sabbatical project.

I did another whack through the socio-historical context chapter, and I feel like I have a reasonable first draft finished. That's a lovely thing to have checked off. I finished that sitting at Dunkin Donuts today, then walked to the library and got back to the glossary and pronunciation guide. I have the one book to look at for the annotated bibliography still hanging over my head, and other unfinished bits include the "Themes" chapter (which right now is mostly jotted notes of themes to mention) and my own essay about the theme "loyalty and betrayal." And the glossary, of course, but that's proceeding apace.

What would thrill me no end would be to have a first draft of everything--no matter how rough a draft, just something with a beginning, middle and end--by the end of this month so I can spend May on revisions. That would be wonderful. Even thinking that it might be possible makes me feel slightly less hag-ridden with anxiety.

I probably could have gotten a little more done today, but I had the usual problem of working in the library (feeling welded to the chair and permanently affixed in seated position: I feel like the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz, needing the oil can), so I packed everything up to walk home. I'd intended to get a little more work done from here, but my sleep patterns are still a bit disrupted, so I'm hitting the wall. Of course, some of that may also come from the fact that it is a glorious spring day outside--finally, after what felt like several years' worth of winter--and my mind (and body) want to play hooky. The rest of this week is supposed to be rainy and increasingly chilly (oh boy what fun); I hope that provides incentive to stay in and work instead of simply being a terrific reason to take many long naps.

But I'm not going to worry about what the next days might or might not be like. Today, I got some good work done. That's what I want to hold on to at the moment: today was reasonably productive. I'll take it, and gladly.

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