As of this month, I am now officially back at work full-time. In one sense, this is pretty arbitrary, as academics work odd hours and cycles over weekends and "holidays" at the best of times; and over the last few months I've submitted a grant application, given two conference papers, eight lectures and done bits and pieces of other writing. But given that returning to regular work filled me with terror and anxiety just a few weeks ago, this week has been much less traumatic than I feared. On the other hand, I did come down with a head cold, so I only spent my first day back in the office today.
In line with my post-illness resolutions about looking after myself and not pushing myself beyond reasonable limits, I stayed home on Monday night instead of going to the Medieval Round Table, but I'm pleased to report that it didn't develop into a full cold. I think my new regime of a daily walk, more fruit and vegetables, less meat and pretty much only the one glass of red wine a day, plus a goodly amount of crystallised ginger as a "treat" must be doing good things to my immune system. And the evening primrose-oil-plus-fish-oil capsules that are supposed to help with the hot and cold flushes. Hmm, it's probably the fish oil, actually.
It was clear to me that I was back at work today for a whole day, rather than a flying visit, as I treated myself to lentil soup from the lebanese food stall in the union, and as I determined to re-arrange the furniture in my office. I'd always had the desk facing the windows, or at right-angles to them, but for the first time in my life I'm now going to sit behind the desk and face people as they come into the room, with the desk at right angles to the door in the opposite corner. I'd always thought it was more friendly to students not to sit behind a desk, but Claire, who helped me move my very rickety desk, says it's better feng shui this way, and that it's awkward for other people to come into the room, or walk past it, and see my back (I often have the door open when I'm in). It feels very grown-up to sit behind the desk. But from my new position, I can still look out the window and see the big plane trees. This also means I no longer look out on the university's enormous promotional banner "The Evolution Starts Here" strung across the bridge between the two towers of my building. This is a Good Thing.
When I'm in next week, I'm going to take in a plant or two; and perhaps buy a little carpet. Anyway, something to mark a difference between the old life at work and the new.
Right now, I have to finish my conference paper on Brian Helgeland and Bryce Courtenay, which is late because I've been writing a little piece on cancer and this very blog for The Sunday Age. Melbourne readers, you have been warned...
But how do other people sit in their offices? Behind the desk? Or with their back facing the door? Or with the desk at right angles to the door?