Oops! I almost forgot!
I learned something really important today. Actually, several things, some good and bad. Good: I really can negotiate the public transport system and city streets of a major and totally new metropolis without getting lost or losing it. Just so you know, I’m not generally comfortable negotiating new cities. well, kind of. It’s more that figuring out how much to pay, and whether the charges change depending on time of day and distance, and if there are passes or you have to pay cash, and whether to hand over the transfer or just show it?? I’m fine in Germany — systems there make sense, but it took me a while to learn them. But I’m embarrassed to admit that I take the tube whenever I’m in London — at least as often as I can — because I can’t really get the bus system …
Also, I learned where to get about the best bowl of Tom Kha Gai that I’ve ever (or in memory) had.
What’s more, I learned that I have not lost my ability to do research — it’s just kind of dormant. But … you know that focus I was worried about? Well, the reason I went to the big city was to go to work at impressive university library. And here’s the thing: I went in, with my small list of books, which turned into a somewhat bigger set of books once I hit the catalogue, and went into the stacks — and let me tell you how obnoxious it is to have the collection divided A-D, DA-H , with two floors between the sections! I didn’t get as far as the Ks and the stuff on disputes and feud today. They’re also on another floor. But anyway, I grabbed some books (and why did I not know about that Walter Pohl collection of essays on the transformation of Roman frontiers — there’s some good stuff in it!) and sat down at a carrel and just worked. No problems settling or focusing, just work. Apparently, it’s important for me to have a separation of work places. My school office is all about the teaching — partially because it’s all about the students, partially because I haven’t really finished getting the office together — it needs plants and things on the walls and more books. And maybe it’s also because I have colleagues who play rather loud music? Our library at school is not really set up for research, although considering how many students don’t use it, ‘m thinking I can start taking things over there if I’ll never run into students! At home, it’s kind of hard, because there are cats and laundry …
I’m really relieved, though. I’ve been so caught up in teaching and campus-y things, that I’ve not done any real work (I know, teaching is real, but it isn’t all I get paid for, even though SLAC is a “teaching school”). I know I went through this last year a bit, and kind of forgot.
I think that those of us with substantial teaching loads find it easier to forget that we do have to make a place for scholarship.* When I was teaching at the CC, it wasn’t an issue — people who managed anything beyond teaching and service were going above and beyond the call of duty. Among my older colleagues at SLAC, there isn’t much of a sense of urgency, by and large. Last year, I re-discovered how invigorating it was getting to the library. And then, I kind of forgot. Today, I remembered again. I feel so much better about everything, too. Duh.
So I guess I’ll be getting to the library at least once a week from now on. Just think — I might just get my article finished, plus the two book reviews, plus the paper I hope gets accepted for K’zoo. But I’m starting to think that, if I add in the couple of things I should be doing, rather than diffusing my ability to settle and focus, it might instead force me to spread the load and find some balance.
*like making time to go to the gym, sort of.
Oh — and I can’t remember the bad parts at this point.