Weeknote 18

by Sunita

It has begun. School, that is. There’s something weird about spending one’s entire life on an academic schedule, but it’s too late to change now. August means ramping up the work, stress, and pace. I do feel refreshed from my semester off, though. Now if I can just keep up my exercise schedule.


Our road trip back to St. Louis was uneventful and relatively quick (2050 miles in three days). The dogs were very cooperative and so was the weather. The house was in one piece when we got back (always a relief, and once we hacked away the hydrangeas and viburnum from around the a/c, the house cooled down well (don’t worry, the plants are fine, it’s just that all the rain made them grow enormously despite being cut back in the spring).

My committee work is proceeding well. A couple of complexities that had to be dealt with, but they eventually were and we’re moving along. Lots and lots of phone calls and emails and meetings, but then, it’s a committee.

My classes look like they’ll go well, at least the two that have already met look good. The undergrad one has a waitlist as long as the enrollment (it’s a writing in the major seminar on immigration, so it ticks a lot of boxes). But eventually it will resolve with some happy students and some disappointed ones. The usual. I’m happy with the tweaks I made to my syllabi, though. I have to completely revamp the grad one but while it will be a pain to do, it will greatly improve the course. The only blot on the landscape is Canvas, our online teaching “aid.” I thought I hated Blackboard, but Canvas is even worse. It has many ways of doing things I don’t care about and no ways of doing the things I want. I copied a previous course and then had to update everything manually. No bulk changes and the syllabus doesn’t let you upload a syllabus. You have to type everything in manually. Yeah right. Grrr.


I haven’t been reading, as in eyes on page, much the last couple of weeks. I managed to enjoy and finish my TBR Challenge book, but I’m in the middle of one that really should be read in a couple of sittings and I’ve been dragging it out for a week. It’s Kevin Barry’s Booker longlisted novel, and it’s good, but I’m just not in the mood for it right now. I’m feeling kind of—I don’t know what the right word is … frustrated? grumpy? dissatisfied? Some combination of the three—about my reading choices right now. This happens to me on a regular schedule: I started chafing against lists and challenges and reading the new new thing. I want to read all my 20 Books of Summer books, for example, but I don’t necessarily want to read them now. I think next year might be a year for classics and books in the TBR that have been there forever. Just avoid the new new things for a while. On the other hand, I am thinking about reading Anniversaries a chapter per day (it’s written as a chapter a day in 1967-8), so I’m probably incorrigible.

This attitude stems partly from what I’ve been listening to on audio, which I’ve been enjoying immensely. I put down Can You Forgive Her? for a while because I was catching up on some footie podcasts and didn’t have a lot of audio-listening time. But on the road trip TheH and I listened to the first 15 chapters of the Moby Dick Big Read and it was wonderful. Of course we still have 120 chapters to go, but it really is good. It takes a bit of time to get used to the voices changing every chapter, but it also adds an enjoyable variety and you hear Melville’s voice through a range of perspectives.

What these two novels, and my inability to get through a contemporary one, brought home to me is how much I’ve been enjoying reading 19thC novels and more recent novels that aren’t about The Way We Live Now (heh). I hate the news, I hate the celebutainmentization of what should be regular news (why do I care what social media said about Melania’s fleeting action/expression at the G-7 when the world is falling apart?), and I can’t escape it completely when I teach immigration and political instability. So give me Trollope and Hardy and Melville and the stuff on my shelves.

Traveling meant not much TV or movies aside from sports. Go Liverpool. Go A’s. Go Giants, but they’re not making the playoffs; too many teams in front of them.


I have been unavoidably productive, with and without list-making. From the moment I walk into the office until the moment I run out the door to catch the bus or train, I’m doing stuff. I have to at this time of the year. Once things settle down a bit I’ll probably go back to logging my hours to make sure I’m using my time well.

The Hobonichi 2020 lineup is being slowly revealed all month and goes on sale September 1. Yes I am excited. This is the longest I’ve stayed with one planner since my Filofax days, I think. It really works for me and I see no reason to shift. I may finally try a Weeks diary to keep at the office; they come with blank pages as well as diary pages, so I can use it both for appointments and notes in meetings.

It has either been hot and humid or raining since we got back, and the basement (where the treadmill and weights and yoga mat live) is a mess of stuff, so my exercise is limited to walking in front of my class and walking to and from home to public transit to office. I get lots of steps but not much aerobic effort. I’ll have to be careful if I’m going to avoid my usual spiral into no-exercise. Blech.


I’m off to the annual meetings, which are in DC this year. A paper and lots of lunches and dinners with friends. I just hope the weather is cooperative. Labor Day weekend in DC is not anyone’s favorite time. If I can I’ll sneak away to the Book Festival.

Happy holiday weekend, everyone!