Thursday, July 29, 2010


I have almost finished the pile of stuff that really had to get done this week. Hopefully tomorrow will be the end of it. I've also survived a particularly useless workshop on teaching writing to undergraduates, which I was at least paid for attending. I feel a funk coming on, my normal post-fieldwork funk, perhaps, which I would like to stave off until we have a functional toilet installed, at the very least.

Interesting things this week:

I filled out my first FBI background check form, for one of my former students. I'm surprised that very basic internships seem to warrant FBI background checks.

I have to dive back into search committee work, very briefly, and I'm not thrilled about it.

Some of my students who are around this summer came by to pick up some equipment and get some advice regarding their summer projects (which I'm not directly supervising, but which are related to what I do). I needed that reminder that my students are awesome, because they are. Those brief conversations gave me some enthusiasm for the fall, even if I've used it up in the past few days.

I think I may be dragging Partner off to a vacation somewhere next week, regardless of the state of our house and the remodel.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

home again

I finally made it home to my amazing mattress (I've missed it so!) and fabulous new shower, courtesy of Partner's bathroom remodeling skills. I'll overlook the fact that for now we're still using the basement toilet - it will be worth it.

And of course the return means an immediate jump into all the things that need to be accomplished State-side. Or even just things that required reliable internet access, and therefore had to wait until now. Convenient that the Scientiae Carnival is requesting status updates and future directions this month, because I feel that a list would be useful.

Current Events:

- Roof. We have a recurring leak that was apparently not dealt with completely last year, when we had some repairs completed. I need to immediately become the person who harasses roofers and waits around for them to show up.

- Bathroom remodel. While Partner made amazing progress and got rid of all the debris, there will be floor tiling and drywall hanging to finish, plus toilet/sink installation and final details/painting (eventually!).

- Yard work. Today I weeded the worst of the waist-high weeds that had taken over our sidewalk while Partner worked 60-hour weeks and tried to build me a functional bathroom. I can't blame him, he just had too much going on. But now our house hopefully looks less like an abandoned lot. I would really like to finish removing stone borders from our gardens, since I just can't keep them weeded. I finished about 1/10th of this job in June.

- Prep. One of my courses is a repeat of something that went pretty well the first time, but the second one is a freshman class that I've never taught before. I'm not even really sure how to approach it yet. I need to figure that out, soon.

- Vacation. I need something, even if it's just a weekend. We might try to get away to a yet undetermined location in early August.

- Wedding prep. While we have all the venue details and guest issues finalized, we have yet to acquire wedding clothes or rings. We need to get organized!

For the Fall:

- Manuscript. I now have TWO papers in press for 2010, so I'm in good shape for the short term, but I really need to get the statistics finished for a paper I've been planning for two years now. I started this in the field, but of course nothing ever gets finished in the field.

- GRANT! This is the year of Large External Grant Application. I need to get an NSF submitted, and after this summer's field work I finally feel ready to do that. Feeling ready and writing the grant, however, are two different things.

- Future Scheduling. This fall I'm going to need to request my junior leave, which means I need to figure out what I'm doing for junior leave. I might apply for a fellowship to live in Foreign Country and do some research there related to my summer project, but I also need a backup plan. I also am considering directing a study abroad program in a different foreign country, where I actually know the language fairly well and spent some time as an undergrad. I would like to do it, but I'm not sure that it's the best idea to be gone for a semester before I go up for tenure; I would have some students from SLAC, but not all of them would be directly related to my institution.

- Get married. Somewhere in the middle of all of the above.

Year three is starting soon, and I can't believe that I've been here that long. Time flies when you have no free time, I guess. I'm starting to feel that I'll finally have some time for non-teaching things, maybe even a chance to fix the parts of my courses that need some help. I'm sure this will not actually be the case if I'm trying to write grants and fellowship applications, but at least I might have time to do that writing. I think I'm settled in, feeling centered. Knowing what to expect, to some extent.

I think some of this is related to our financial situation, which has finally settled into something resembling what I would consider stability. We have some savings, we're no longer living month to month, and this month we PAID OFF my student loan. That event by itself made me feel a little bit more like an adult. We've come a long way from our first few months in Small Town, when we were timing our purchase of those things you need in a new house, like trash cans, because our finances were so tight. It's taken me this long to stop feeling like an impoverished graduate student, though by rights we've been doing pretty well for the last year or so.

In short, I have new confidence in where I am and where I'm going. I think I'm making good tenure progress, I think I'm finally ready to dive in to my new research project abroad, I'm not worried about finances. I think the next few years will be exciting, and I'm looking forward to them.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

dear professor

Today is Final Logistics Day. Last chance for meeting important people, arranging shipment of samples, putting things into storage and paying bills. Very very early tomorrow morning I get myself to the airport and breathe a sigh of relief.

If I get ONE MORE email from a student who wants something from me and begins their message with "I hope you're enjoying your vacation abroad" I think I might scream.

Monday, July 19, 2010

back to civilization

The season is over, and we're back in the city finishing up the final paperwork/reports/finances. The students are officially no longer our responsibility, and we have access to regular showers and internet. Even though I'm looking forward to getting home, those things alone are really, really nice right now.

This season was short, but it was also extra tough for some reason that none of us can really describe. Maybe it was the more intense working schedule that we followed to make up for the short season; maybe it was the particular mix of personalities. We also dealt with some difficulties, including theft and health issues. But we made it through, and for the moment that's just fine.

On the plus side, this season I did manage to make some serious progress on developing what I think are fundable research directions, and while I was in the field I had a paper accepted. That made me feel especially productive, without having to do anything. Overall, an acceptable season.