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maura @ 9:15 am
Hi blag. It’s been a long time, hasn’t it? Already the end of December, nearly the new year. I’ve written post after post in my head for over a month now, unable to find slash make the time to get the words out. November was busy (including with lots of scholarly kinds of writing, though not quite as much as I’d hoped), and Thanksgiving was late which lent the whole kid’s birthday + xmas prep a bit more urgency this year, given the time constraints.
Of course the thing about not writing is that with every day you don’t write it’s easier to not write the next day. Or the day after. &tc. And that’s how the not writing becomes a routine, much more comfortable and cozy than even the best writing routine. Because inaction is always easier. This is hardly the worst dry spell I’ve ever had, but it feels yucky nonetheless because I know it’s not for lack of material or even, strictly speaking, lack of time. Yeah, I’m busy, but there’s always time for a bit of writing every day, even if only 30 minutes.
This time around it’s most definitely the blahs that have been slowing me down. Nothing huge, really, but lots of little things adding up. We still haven’t had any bites on our book proposal.* I took on a service commitment at work that’s taken up considerably more time than I’d anticipated. A couple of our household appliances went belly up and it’s taken more cognitive effort than I anticipated to incorporate the new ones into my usual chores routines. Lots of my favorite items of clothing have finally worn out, and clothes shopping is one of my least favorite things ever.
*Lest I seem too mopey about this I should note that when we were at a conference last month we spent a long time hashing out a new book strategy, and we’re definitely on a more productive path now. So a new round of proposals should be ready to go out soon, yay!
And there have been some maybe not so little things too. A colleague in another department died; while he wasn’t a young man, it was still very sudden and sad. A dear friend’s parent died too, not suddenly at all but no less sad. I also learned that a colleague in a different department who I respect very much is leaving the college for another position, a big loss for the students and the college.
In addition to the mental reasons there’ve also been some physical reasons for the blahs. Over the fall I started having persistent neck and shoulder tingling and pain, I think related to something I pulled or strained last winter while shoveling snow. Dr visits + testing revealed that I have 2 herniated discs in my neck, hooray. *Not* hooray at all, really annoying, actually. So I’m going to physical therapy and trying to be careful not to slouch or look down much. Which is a pain in the ass, frankly, because it’s difficult to write (or read!) without looking down.
So, back on the wagon with me, though perhaps climbing on a bit more slowly than before. Aging, sigh.
maura @ 10:27 am
It’s hard for me to fathom that the fall semester ended yesterday. Ended? Hadn’t it just started? (Tho I’m of course pleased that the world didn’t end, no thanks to you, ancient Mayans). This semester has been strange and odd and speedy in so many ways; even before the hurricane it seemed like everyone I ran into was just a tad crazed, a little more stressed than usual. For us it was settling into the new middle school schedule in September, the usual collision of lots of work stuff in October (getting into the busiest time for instruction, plus Open Access Week), then the hurricane, which knocked me for a loop in more ways than I expected. The week off for Gus and almost-week for City Tech made the rest of the semester run slightly off the rails: it seemed like homework was just piled on for Gus, and plans at work slightly skew and thus more difficult. There was travel — to an old pal’s wedding in October, to a conference upstate in November, to Delaware for Thanksgiving — and there were visitors — another old pal for the weekend and my brother the following weekend, both in December. The terrible tragedy in Newtown, about which I still don’t know what to say (and there’s plenty already being said so I’ll leave it at that). The holidays approach(ed) ever more rapidly with their associated planning and preparations.
All of this has left me feeling a bit more… not even sure of the right word here…blurgh? than usual for this time of year. Perhaps tired (well, certainly tired), but also quiet and reflective. I didn’t blog much this semester, either here or on the other spaces where I write. Part of the reason for that is the book, which continues to chug along at a semi-respectable pace. AcWriMo ended in a similar place to its midpoint: while I did achieve my overall time goal, I feel like I could have written more. But not to beat myself up too much: Chapters 1 and 3 (of 10, we think) are completely finished, Chapter 2 is a complete shitty first draft, and by the time I go to sleep on xmas eve Chapter 4 will be too (she typed confidently). Which is nothing to sneeze at, for sure.
Still, I feel the ghosts of unwritten blog posts hovering over me a bit. I started something on the train up to Saratoga Springs for the conference in November that I haven’t had a chance to finish. I have a photo of a game that I’ve intended to blog about, and brief notes on a handful of other more academic-y posts. Giving all of my writing energy to the book means that our project website has been dormant. I wrote and rewrote a post in my head about music several times this fall, starting with a love letter to Heavenly, one of my favorite bands, and Tender Trap, whose record I bought right away after reading my friend Steve’s review in the Guardian and which made me listen to Heavenly (and Tender Trap, though sometimes their kids singing at the end of “Love is Hard Enough” makes me tear up a bit) nearly nonstop this semester (when I wasn’t writing to Orbital), and ending earlier this month with a complete Talulah Gosh immersion because of the Guardian article that refers to them as overachievers. I must’ve listened to Rock Legends: Volume 69 about a hundred times this month, and every time it still surprises me that “My Best Friend” isn’t followed by Felt’s “The Day the Rain Came Down” (which it was on an old mixtape I made in the early ’90s).
Now I’ve got ten (10!) days off in a row, which seems slightly unreal, how is that even possible? And not that there’s nothing to do in those 10 days, there sure is (especially the next 3). But I’m giving myself a whole week off from the book, so I hope that things get a little more active in these non-book writing spaces, too.
maura @ 8:30 pm
Woah, what happened to the summer projects list? Blame the vacation, about which I’ll write more soon. It was very relaxing (yay!) and involved much more reading than writing.
The call of the blag has grown louder the past few days, so here I am to finish out the list. These are the less exciting projects, I have to warn you. But in the interest of completeness (and of keeping myself to the tasks by making them public)…
3. Ebay the old Legos
We’ve used ebay off and for years to get rid of old stuff, especially technology stuff which tends to fetch a decent price. Most of our stuff slated for removal from the apartment goes to our annual stoop sale and, thanks to my new vow never to bring stuff back into the apartment once it goes out to the stoop, off to Goodwill on the same day if it hasn’t sold. Stoop sales are easy but don’t usually net us much unless we have something biggish to sell, like a bike or a tape deck. Ebay is kind of a pain — all of that taking pictures and describing the items and setting the prices and mailing things out — so we tend to use it only if it seems like we’ll make decent money.
Legos are different from most of our other stuff. Gus has some sets that he really likes, but has never been the biggest lego fan (which still somewhat surprises me). Because I am a packrat and because I bought some legos as late as college (like the nerd I am), there are a bunch of my old sets that Gus doesn’t want. And it turns out that they’re actually worth some ca$h, too. So, ebay it is. And maybe I’ll share my loot with the kid. Maybe.
4. Clothes shopping
I hate clothes shopping, as I’ve often complained. I could bore you with the details about why, but Mimi Smartypants says it so much better so I won’t.
But the time has come: my wardrobe is in dire straits and I’m looking even frumpier than usual, even given the generous librarian frumpiness allowance. With summer Fridays kicking in I won’t have my usual excuse, which is that I can’t shop on the weekends because it would be so unfair to take time away from Jonathan and Gus on the weekend when I only see them for a few hours a day during the week.
This Friday we work, because of the July 4th holiday, but next Friday I’m off to the shops. It’ll be Friday the 13th, think that’s a bad idea?
And I’m thinking of bribing myself to clothes shop by dangling a prize: if I go shopping and end up adding a few more work outfits to my stash, I can treat myself to a new pair of sneakers. My favorite sneaker shop in the Village closed last year so I’m thinking of springing for the extra $30 to make my very own custom Sambas. What do you think?
5. Sew a new phone cozy
This one’s easy because it’s almost done! I’ve chosen the fabric and sewn the pouch already, so only the most labor-intensive parts remain: sewing on the ribbon edging. The old sock I’ve been using for a phone cozy is long LONG past its prime, and since I broke out the sewing machine a couple of weeks ago to convert some long-sleeved t-shirts into short-sleeved for Gus, I thought I’d get started on a new cozy too. This would be a good project for watching a movie or something similar as hand sewing’s not really a 100% of yr brain task.
I swear there was a 6, but now I can’t for the life of it remember what it was. Blag more, probably — I’m long overdue for post on the library blag I write for and the games network folks have a plan for more blagging, too. So let’s call it blagging, deal?
maura @ 6:15 pm
Yeah, you guessed it, this isn’t really a post. Kind of a finger in the eye after 6 days, huh? But I did write a post on my other blog about the website I made for the course I’m teaching this semester. It’s long enough that I can add a “W” to the calendar for today (= I wrote something somewhat substantial), and will just have to do for a Sunday evening.
maura @ 12:26 pm
I think I may have too many blogs. Not that this is new — I’ve wondered about this before. But lately I’ve been feeling more blog-related confusion than usual.
Okay, so there’s this blog, the old reliable. A personal blog. For personal stuff. Except that sometimes I do want to write about library-ish things in a more casual way than on the other blogs. Like a couple of weeks ago, when I wrote about my class. But then I wanted to write about the class in a more formal way and give a shoutout to all of the other library classes I’d found inspirational, so I posted something about it on the ACRLog too. It felt a bit weird to write about the same thing in two different ways, but not so weird that I didn’t do it. I’ve also been feeling a tiny bit bloggers block with more formal library posts, too, and in some ways I think it loosened me up a bit to write casually about the course here before I wrote more formally about it over there.
It’s probably more of a systemic issue: things have been busy lately, and I haven’t done as much writing as I like. I am keeping my hour before work for research/writing, but there’s been a bunch of procedural research stuff to do lately like photocopying fliers and applying for grants and reading for literature reviews and… So not so much writing has been happening in the mornings. This article in the Chronicle last week, which I’ve just gotten the chance to read now, has come at just the right time. And it has helped me push through a bit more writing in the past couple of days, too. Just need to keep repeating that mantra which has worked so well for me in the past: To Write A Lot, You Have To Write A Lot. Where’s my pencil?
maura @ 9:23 pm
Decided to write something about open access for my other blog today. Really it was finishing something I started a few weeks ago when Gus was at karate on a Saturday morning. I usually bring the netbook and can often get a bunch written, which seems impossible sitting near 30 kids yelling “yes sensei!” every few minutes. But it’s a surprisingly productive time for me. For a bunch of different reasons Gus hasn’t gone to karate on Saturday morning in a while, and I kind of miss it. I think he misses it, too. Despite being sick he’s still pretty high energy. Begone, evil fever!
maura @ 10:58 am
Yes, it’s November, so once again it’s time for NaBloPoMo. All fall I’ve been laboring under the assumption that I wouldn’t participate this year. Just like last year, the first 3 weeks of November is the busiest time at MPOW for library instruction. I’m on more committees than last yr, too, and in the midst of a big research project.
BUT. The big but. The point of NaBloPoMo is to
force gently encourage yourself to write more, and I could use a kick in the pants w/writing these days. Back in September I settled on a new writing plan: I come into work at 8am and write for an hour before work. (This year Gus rides the school bus to school as well as home, which means that he and Jonathan need to leave the house at 7:30am, which suddenly makes this plan feasible.) Mostly this writing is supposed to be scholarly, but lighter stuff like library blogging also counts.
And this all worked swimmingly until around the 2nd week in October, when I started the student interviews portion of my research project. Suddenly I needed all the time I could scrape together to manage my research; my one Reassigned Time day/week just wasn’t cutting it. So I started devoting mornings to the project too. Which is fine — it’s a great project and I’m really enjoying the work. But I miss my writing time.
Now that the data collection part of my research project is starting to slow down for this semester, it’s time to get back to that regular writing again. And I figure I’ve got a couple of posts that I already know I’ll write, between Twitter Tuesdays and the other blags I write for.
So, I’m in. 30 posts in 30 days. I’ve done it before, I can do it again, right?
maura @ 8:38 pm
Today I wrote a post for my other blog. But I almost put it here, that’s why I’m linking to it. I had trouble deciding which one is a better fit (it’s kind of a love letter to my iPhone). Probably here, but I haven’t posted at the other one in ages so I decided it needed the attention more.
Back to your regularly scheduled mauraweb! next time.
maura @ 12:56 pm
Woah, long time gone here. I’ve been busy — got pulled in on a big project @ work, fun but time-intensive. And then there was the sick, oh yes, the sick. Gus had the stomach flu, then I had the stomach flu, then Gus had the stomach flu again. Good times.
I’ve missed you, blag! It’s weird, I’ve really felt pangs of longing lately for some time, any time, to write. That’s positive, right? that I really want to write these days, so much so that I’m frustrated when I can’t.
Good thing, too, because I got my bloggy wish. What girl doesn’t need 3 blogs, I ask you? (I don’t want the trackbacks so I’m not going to link them — y’all can cut-n-paste ’em if you’d like.) You can find me blagging 1-2x/month about library stuff on the Association of College and Research Libraries’ blog at acrlog.org. And I made myself a blog on the CUNY Academic Commons (another project I’ve worked on this year) for general higher education and instructional technology thoughts as well as stuff specific to the CUNYverse. That one’s at msmale.commons.gc.cuny.edu.
Last week I had a meeting in Manhattan. I do love my current (walkable!) commute, but it’s fun to have the chance to ride the subway over the bridge sometimes, too. There’s always something new to see — like last spring when I kept thinking, “what the heck are they building on that pier?” and it turned out to be a waterfall.
Right now there’s this cool underground art between the DeKalb Ave stop and the Manhattan Bridge. Brightly colored images are painted on the walls and when the train goes by and you look out the window the supporting tunnel girders make it look like one of those old timey spinning wheel animation things. The internets remind me that’s a zoetrope (thank you Wikipedia!).
(Ooh, it’s called Masstransiscope, see article + video in the Times here!)
Also when I ride the subway I remember that I really want to learn Spanish. It’s so tantalizing to read all of the Spanish signs and almost understand them. Someday there’ll be time, right? I suppose I could give up some blagtime, but I think I’m more attached to blags for now. Sorry, Spanish!
maura @ 10:25 pm
It’s National Library Week, and I’ve got a post on the Oxford Univ Press blog. Yay for libraries!