Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Queen of Lists

Back when I was in grad school and actually organized about my life, I made lists to help me break down tasks into do-able parts and actually get them done. When I was bummed out or stressed or whatever, my lists became sort of minutely obsessive, including everything I could think of so that I'd get to cross out several things early on. Crossing out stuff made me feel that I was actually accomplishing something, so I would focus on trying to accomplish the next thing.

It's not a bad strategy for me.

Summer's the best of times and worst of times. It's great to relax, and a problem to relax too much. I'm a lazy bum, to be honest, and I really need to not be lazy this summer because I've got lots on my plate, or many balls in the air, or choose your metaphor.

So today I made a list, and yes, I accomplished a fair number of things on it, certainly more than I would have if I hadn't made the list. My favorite entry on my more obsessive lists is: make new list. It's good when I've accomplished a lot because it feels really good to see the list shrink, and then I brainstorm about what needs to be done and it grows again.

Notable accomplishments: I finished Mark Kurlansky's The Basque History of the World for my book group, which doesn't meet until next week. But it was a fun, quick read (relative to Derrida or Milton), and I enjoyed it. It doesn't exactly shock me, but does sort of horrify me that I know so little modern European history.

I'm pretty good at England 1580-1642, and half good at England 1350-1660.

And I can remember the big US things, stuff about the state where I grew up, and the BIG 20th century wars. I even vaguely can keep track of the big European and American wars of the 18th and 19th century.

But I know little of Spanish history once Phillip II and the Spanish Armada fade from the scene. And Franco? I only remember some vague stuff about fascism and dictatorship.

I should go BACK TO SCHOOL! yeah! (except not really).

I am especially happy to have finished making extensive notes on a student's paper by request; it was a good paper, given the context and all, but steeped in unacknowledged romanticism about how artistry works. I am so not a romantic at heart.

A couple friends brought over a rented rototiller and dug up some of my back yard for me! YAY! Whoever landscaped my yard should be stoned with the stupid gravel and river rock they put in all over the place. Fortunately, in the back it's small gravel and we just dug it in with loads of manure. Yummy. Tomorrow a friend and I are going to a nursery and going to pick out some shade plants for one area, and sun plants for another. I'm thinking LOTS of perennial flowers! I also got cocoa shell mulch, which smells GREAT!

Tomorrow, I have a couple other appointments, some reading to do. And I have to get working on a small grant application and a "school self-study" for a conference.

How stupid am I, you ask? I put in to go to this conference; it's one of those professional development things, specifically "student faculty collaborative research," rather than a Shakespeare type conference. And then I ran into another colleague, also on the list, who told me that she'd basically been told she should go by her chair (not in my department). So, guess who's the self-torturing schmuck? Yes, that would be me!

I was asked to be the group leader (hah, there's a position of power), which basically means I get to do the school self-study. I actually had a really fascinating meeting with the person here who's been most involved with such things last week as part of my preparation. The fact that I found it fascinating probably says a lot about the state of my synapses. /sigh

So, adding to the list: grant application, school self-study, pick out and put in plants! (See, it gets better.)

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