|Rainy Day View from My Office|
In preparation for high winds, we brought our container garden into my office for the day. As you can see, there are plenty of tomatoes and flowers on the plants. The cucumber, zucchini, eggplant, and pepper plants all have flowers. There was no way I was going to lose everything to a tropical storm! Besides, these pots would have surely become projectiles if we got the winds they were predicting.
BOY! does my office smell glorious. This has given me the incentive to bring my herbs indoors before the frost. I'm going to get a plant stand so that I can put them by the deck door during the fall and winter months. How nice would it be to have basil, Thai basil, and cilantro during the winter? sigh ... and lots of growing things in my office. I'd love to fill this room with tons of plants. I need to buy some African violets for my desk. My Mom always had African violets in the dining room. I used to have a few, but had to give them away when we moved to Texas. It's time to bring them back into the house and my life. As my Mom always said, "Grow African violets for luck and love." Me, I just like the variety of flowers.
I start my MS LIS classes on September 1. I'm excited, but pretty nervous about being a student again. I've been having a difficult time focusing on anything, including reading for long periods of time or any kind of writing that takes concentration. I just can't seem to sit still or stay on one task for extended periods of time.
There's a lot of left over baggage from my PhD and early post-doc time attached to these activities. And there's certainly a lot of personal insecurity, especially when it comes to my writing. I think the main problem for me is the amount of criticism, often no nonsense and sometimes cutting, heaped on academic writing. Sure, I'm supposed to roll with the criticism and see it as helpful. I'm supposed to grow from it. I'm supposed to be clinical when it comes to criticism and editing. And yet, after 20 years of graduate school and 6 years post-doc, I still can't be clinical and unfeeling when it comes to academic work. I still ruffle at criticism. Not all criticism, just that which tends to be overly negative and destructive. The last time I received good criticism was in 2016 when I submitted my essay on Mary Beth Edelson to American Studies. Good criticism is when the reader or reviewer points out the issues with the essay and where the essay could be improved, while giving concrete suggestions on how to do so. Good criticism also points out the good stuff -- where the writing is clear, where the author makes a solid argument, etc. My last essay was shredded by the reviewers and none of them gave me any good, constructive feedback. Hell, my experience writing my dissertation was somewhat the same; though, I did receive good, constructive feedback during my defense. It's exhausting to only be told what sucks and what needs improvement.
Reviewers and professors forget that criticism needs to be helpful and constructive. It should provide examples of where the essay is strong, and it should clearly and objectively ... but in a pleasant tone ... point out where the essay needs work. I'm not saying sugarcoat it. I'm saying be mindful that overly acerbic criticism could turn someone off from writing and research forever. This is especially true for first generation students. We don't have the same background as many of our colleagues. I honestly don't know when my writing is good because I wasn't constantly told how brilliant I am or how good my writing is. Instead, I was told that "I'm a diamond in the rough" and that I need help. Pffttt ... I didn't really need help with my writing. I needed help with time management. I still do. I need help falling in love with the process. I still do.
Both of my parents didn't go to college. I had to figure out a lot of things on my own or seek out help, which wasn't always easy to do in graduate school because of the competition and desire to "weed out" the bad or unpromising students. The only reason why I finished my PhD is because I was a stubborn jerk who refused to be pushed out of a program that I had the right to be in.
|What's wrong, Mommy?|
I've been doing a lot of meditating and internal work this summer. It's been difficult to deal with some of the issues that are surfacing. But, I'm dealing with them. Thankfully, I have Ed and Bijou to help me through this. There's nothing better that cuddling with Ed or playing "mousy" and "pancake" with our cutie, fuzzy Noodle.
As for teaching, we'll see. The enrollment is down at City Tech and one of my classes only has four people registered. The other class met the registration requirement. If my classes aren't canceled, I will be teaching two classes, starting on August 26. I've been applying to all sorts of GLAM or cultural jobs, mostly part-time, just to get some experience in my future career. No bites yet. It's kind of frustrating to have all of this experience, but none in the field where you want to be. All I want is for someone to give me a chance!
Other than that, COVID-19 has really forced us to focus on our health. We both have underlying conditions that may or may not be a problem if we get the virus. We've really stepped up our physical activity and made some major changes to our diets because we want to survive the virus if we do get it. Sure, we're both fully vaccinated and still wear masks inside, especially now with the delta variant. We're doing everything we can to stay healthy and alive.
We walk 6,000-15,000 steps almost every day, and I've added yoga and weight training to my daily activity. Ed's been watching what he eats and has cut down on snacking at night. I'm doing a combination of intermittent fasting and volumetrics, which works very well for me. I'm down 15 pounds and have about 30-35 more to go before I'm at my optimal weight. I'm anxious to see what my blood pressure and blood sugar numbers look like. Alas, I need to wait until the end of August to meet my new doctors.
How are you coping with this new COVID threat? What's it like where you live? East Coast friends, how did you fare with Elsa?
Most importantly, stay tuned ....