Archive for the ‘time’ Category

The beautiful changes

It’s kind of amazing that Richard Wilbur is 96 years old. (A collection of his poems furnishes me with this post’s title.) Just before the AP, my students and I read his 1949 poem “Juggler,” which was the subject of last year’s AP Lit exam’s poetry analysis essay.  I don’t have anything to say about it except that we were all struck by how weary it sounds for having been written by a 28-year-old man.  (Not that a 28-year-old man can’t or shouldn’t feel weary, in 1949 or at any other time.)

I’m creeping back to the blog today because I feel the need of it, need to get my mind around this time of year again. I was out of town for some of the holiday weekend, returned Sunday night, haven’t done much today, Memorial Day, except some grocery shopping and putting in an appearance at a cousin’s graduation party.  There’s a lot to do, schoolwise and lifewise, but there’s also a sense of loosening–the regular schedules are dissolving, with a couple of special days for review before exams begin, and then exams, and the last rushed day of farewells, one strange weekday without any school, and then graduation. A final day of meetings, and then we’re launched into summer, except for the long tail of the school year.

Maybe now is the time for one of those summer charts?  I have been feeling a bit stuck on what I need to do now, but maybe some looking forward will help me unstick?

New shoes


Yes, that one.

I know I’ve mentioned that my sophomore class is a new prep, and that I’m teaching some texts I’ve either never taught before (The Canterbury Tales, in a fairly inert translation), or never taught in high school (Macbeth, awesome as always).  We’re about to embark upon a great English epic…by a writer who was a child when Shakespeare died…I’m sure you know the one I mean.

Until a few weeks ago, I had not opened this book for about 25 years.  I spent maybe six weeks on it in a college class in which I failed to be enchanted by it, and that’s all.  I know some of the writer’s shorter poetry, but I’d never gone back to this.

Come to think of it, this is where I was with the Odyssey when I came to SA–they had read the first eight books when I got there, and I had read it in college but not given it much of a thought since.  By the time I stopped teaching ninth grade, I’d read it maybe six times and come to love reading it with that level.  I am actually a little more ashamed of not knowing PL better, given that it’s a major English poem, than I was of not remembering the Odyssey that well.  (We read the Fitzgerald translation in college, but I fell in love with the Robert Fagles translation we use at SA.)

It’s awkward knowing that this will probably be my clumsiest pass through PL, but exciting, too.  I’m really going to get to know this poem–or at least, at first, the parts we have them read.  I’ve been reading and preparing, and thinking about which paths in I want to take with them; I’ve also been reviewing materials prepared by Lucinda, Dinah, and even things that Viola (now working at the place that made her the offer) left behind on our shared drive, and I’m totally going to cannibalize Dinah’s PowerPoint, but I’ll be doing a lot of inventing as we go along, too.

I did finish grading all my exams yesterday, which has made today much, much more pleasant, although I did have to chime in on an issue that Orsino and Lucinda were dealing with on the matter of curving their shared multiple choice section.  And with the end of my one-semester overload, I get an extra free period this semester!  It’s just a case of dropping back to my regular workload, so I’m sure it will soon come to seem normal, but for a week or two, at least, I expect to savor it.


Twice in one day, sightings of a new-to-me usage: “nope on out of there,” with “nope” used as a verb meaning “leave a situation” with a strong connotation of refusing to engage with someone’s nonsense. I like it. It reminds me of the octopus gif: 

And in just the last couple of days, I’ve noticed an uptick in my ability to say NOPE to things that I don’t want to do, don’t have to do, and wouldn’t fully enjoy–or things that I might like just fine, but I know they will crowd the week too much.  Unfortunately, this week that means I won’t go to writers’ group (it meets only every three weeks, which seems to be just about the right interval), and this week that also means that some school events are crowding out possible social events, but it is what it is.  I can’t go to the Tuesday/Thursday yoga class either night because of school stuff that I can’t say no to, so it’s not like I have total dominion over my own time, but saying no to a couple of events is making me feel calmer, more in control.


Windows and stones

Another not-great night of sleep, this time because of noise in the street.  I’m not exactly sure what was going on, but some kind of rowdiness at a neighbor’s house.  There’s a not-very-stable family renting a house on this block, with a teenage son whose friends come and go at odd hours.  When they first moved in, there were a couple of out-of-control parties, and the police were involved.  (Our neighbor in law enforcement is a good person to know.) Things have been quieter since then, but Neighbor C’s hypothesis that the son is a small-time drug dealer, and that the young adults who park in front of the house for a few minutes at a time are his customers, seems sadly plausible.

I looked up the police non-emergency line and sat for a while, listening and trying to decide if it was worth calling, while also thinking that Neighbor C–whose house is right across from the rented house–would likely call if she heard the noise.  It wasn’t constant–it was bursts of loud conversation followed by silence, and cars revving and then shutting off.  Then it seemed to be over, and I went to bed, but took a long time to fall asleep and then didn’t sleep well.

Today was mostly about attending Stubb’s uncle’s funeral, which was all right, as these things go.  He was a very sweet person.  He was 85, he had been ill.  It was good to see Stubb’s cousins, etc.  One of them, just six months younger than Stubb and therefore his special pal in childhood, is moving out our way in a few months, with her partner and their two kids, to have more space and to be near the partner’s mom.  This is kind of exciting news because we always wish we saw more of them.

The spirit level

Didn’t sleep that well last night, oddly.  Maybe it’s Stubb being away.  Anyway, seven-ish hours, I guess.

Today I ran, had breakfast, showered, wrote for a little while (yes!), and went out to a small local art exhibit and lunch with Dr. Tea and one of my cousins.  Then home to work with our friend’s sister-in-law on some last few details about the party, and then drove the Snork Maiden to see a friend who is home from college. Then ate ice cream for dinner.  So, more of a fun-centered day, although a little angsty as regards the Snork Maiden, for various teenage reasons.


Awake and sing

It’s okay if this is not very interesting to you:

Sleep: 8 hours

Reading: 2 hours (mostly a nonfiction book that has some bearing on my current writing project)

Visiting/lunch with a friend: 2 hours

Driving (to/from SA, and picking up the Snork Maiden): 2 hours

SA work: 2 hours (mostly administrative stuff, but some teaching stuff.  Tomorrow I need to update my database with the last week’s job applicants)

Personal projects: 2 hours

Personal care, meals, cooking, housework: 1.5 hours

Exercise: 1/2 hour

Watching Jeopardy!: 1/2 hour

Not quite sure where the rest of it went–phone calls, emails, checking Facebook, reading blogs, and so on, for sure, but what else?  There might be another half hour of reading in there, last night before bed.  I wasn’t particularly vigilant about Time Tracker today, so this is mostly estimation.

Spring awakening

Today’s stats:

Sleep: 10 hours again–8 at night, 2 napping.

Family time: 4 hours (brunch with Stubb’s parents, a visit to my mom)

Reading: 2 hours  (mostly Janet Malcolm’s Psychoanalysis: The Impossible Profession; here’s a review.  Also the Paul Strohm Chaucer’s Tale: 1386 and the Road to Canterbury; as I mentioned to Bardiac, I’d been having trouble with it, but today I flipped toward the end and found a few passages that were really affecting, about Chaucer’s creation of a “portable audience” within the Tales, in the absence of certainty about a reading audience–to the limited extent that one existed)

Meals: 1 hour

Writing: 1 hour (burrowing among some recent drafts I haven’t touched in a couple of weeks)

Exercise: 45 minutes (a run with Stubb)

Housework: 1/2 hour

Personal projects: 1 hour (including making plans for the week, signing up for a free introductory yoga class, and preparing lunch to take to a housebound friend)

Untracked time was mostly futzing around the house, a couple of errands, and Web surfing (including a good deal of reading).

Heading to SA for a few hours in the morning.

First day of spring

Well, here we are in spring break 2015.  In a characteristic reaction to the prospect of sixteen days of largely unstructured time, I updated my Time Tracker phone app, which I haven’t used much in the last few years, and took off all the NLNRU-related categories, replacing them with some more specific spring break activities in an attempt to notice how I spend my time this break and, of course, spend it in ways that I will be happy about later.

So here’s a rough accounting of how I spent the past 24 hours or so:

Sleep: 10 hours (!)

Working on tax stuff: 3 hours

Driving the Snork Maiden to and from a volunteer commitment: 2 hours

Going out to dinner and hanging out with Stubb: 2 hours

Meals: 2 hours

Housework and cooking: 1 hour

Breaks from tax stuff, housework, etc., mostly spent Web surfing (I think there was a shower and some personal care in there also): 1 hour

Exercise (bodyweight workout): 1/2 hour, including warm-up and stretching/cool-down afterwards

Personal projects (this blog, a few emails, planning a party for a friend): 1/2 hour

SA email (to two job candidates and a colleague): 15 minutes?

Now I’m going to go to bed and read!




This post is brought to you by the seven minutes or so between that particular finicky load of laundry being too damp to take out of the dryer and being ready to be taken out and hung or blocked to dry.

My Seinfeld chains broke down on day 17, and I’m restarting today.  What a simple but effective device for developing or reinforcing habits. The 15-minute minimum seems to work for me because I can generally find 15 minutes, even if I can’t find more:

  • Writing: I am back on track with the third-book project. I have drafted some new poems and revisited previous drafts of others.  I would not say that any of these is absolutely finished, but they are mostly moving in the right direction.
  • Exercise: Even the busy first week back at school, I managed to get in walks and rides on the stationary bike. Today I ran. This week should be even better because we’ll be getting home earlier–no rehearsals during exams.
  • Cleaning: Doing 15 minutes’ worth of small tasks gives me a break from other things and usually results in some visible improvement somewhere.

Tonight the Snork Maiden and I have a couple hours’ worth of our respective work to do, and we’re both a little stressed about exams–I because I have grading to finish up and she, of course, because of exams. But we should be able to go to bed at 10 and not have too much trouble getting up tomorrow.

Laundry’s ready; see you later.

The clock struck one

Much better overall, and mentally, doing a fairly good job of taming the school-starts-again-soon panic* that begins as soon as I wake up.  I think it’s worse because I’ve been staying up, and therefore waking up, much later than usual. I’m planning to go to bed at close to my normal school-year time the next three nights and, on Saturday and Sunday (and, of course, Monday), wake up closer to my normal school-year time (5:30 or 5:45, but I’ll probably aim for something like 7 on Saturday).

My Seinfeld chains are ten days long, and that feels great.

*Why panic? It’s not totally clear to me, honestly.  I like my job, and I’m not particularly behind in anything.  I think it might be a byproduct of the fantasy that two weeks of winter break is long enough to get ahead in everything–for example, this item on my list: “Create rough drafts of first-semester exams for the juniors and seniors.”  It’s a great idea, but it’s not going to get done this break, and it really doesn’t matter: I can do it when we’re back, and in fact it is a good task to do after school this week, when I have my room to myself and few interruptions.

I do wish we had exams before winter break.  I don’t really think this schedule serves anyone.  I suspect we are due for a reexamination of the high-school schedule sometime in the next couple of years anyway, so this might be on the table.  We’d probably have to start a week or two earlier in August, but that would put us more in line with the public schools and some of our independent peers, so it probably doesn’t matter much.  And we’d finish earlier in June.