I've kept this blog, on and off, since 2006. In 2015 I used it to chart daily encounters, images, thoughts and feelings about volcanic basalt/bluestone in Melbourne and Victoria, especially in the first part of the year. I plan to write a book provisionally titled Bluestone: An Emotional History, about human uses of and feelings for bluestone. But I am also working on quite a few other projects and a big grant application, especially now I am on research leave. I'm working mostly from home, then, for six months, and will need online sociability for company!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Here I am again

Apologies, folks, for the break in transmission. It's been an incredibly busy couple of months. Though as I always maintain, blogging really isn't about having the time, or not. It's something more to do with mental and social energies, which have been pushed and strained somewhat over the last year. I have now finally given my last talk for the year, though, and am starting to think about winding up at work. I'm taking a couple of weeks' leave from Monday week, so that's a week in which to attend a symposium, finish marking some late-submitted work, catch up with my graduate students, and finalise some budget stuff for the Centre.

I've moved in to my new office, which was then painted and re-carpeted around me. I've started looking at furniture catalogues for some comfy chairs, and will look forward to making it a beautiful place. Photos will follow next year when I've got stuff up on the walls, and all. The office is lovely: light, bright and big. It has fans, air-conditioning, and windows that open, as well as lots of cupboards and shelves.  Our first post-doc has arrived and has started work, and our second arrives in January, so the Melbourne hub of our Centre is feeling real, and populated, with two wonderful new appointments to help with (a) the administration and (b) the education and outreach aspects.

The last talk was at the International Medievalism and Popular Culture symposium in Perth, the last event of our four-year grant on Medievalism in Australian Cultural Memory. And what a way to finish! One of those lovely events where no one is a keynote, and everyone is a plenary. About 45 folk listening to fifteen papers, none of which went over time. I'll write more about my own joint paper another time, perhaps. John Ganim, Nick Haydock and Eileen Joy braved the horrors of the half-world trip (and the spectacular Perth thunderstorms that messed up everyone's trip home), and Andrew Lynch held it all together with a light touch that put everyone at ease.

Even so, I am already planning a new year's resolution, which is to stop taking on too many things. Even though I cancelled two talks in September when I was just too sick to write them, let alone give them, I do still feel I took on too many things this year, with the result that I don't feel I did them all justice.

We are now being invited to submit the details of our publications to the dreaded research database. This is a pain in many ways. First, the system is incredibly unwieldy and time-consuming. Second, so many things follow from it: automatic calculations of one's teaching load, study-leave entitlements, etc.  Third, my two articles scheduled for this year haven't appeared yet. It is ridiculous for this to matter (they'll both appear in January, I think). One of them, at least, will have a 2011 publication date. But again, it's ridiculous that this is going to matter. Anyhoo, I have turned down a couple of things this year, and I have to keep doing that till I am back on top of things, and to make sure I leave enough time to do things well, not just meet the deadlines.

When we started all this bean-counting, and evaluation of journals, etc., a few years ago, I always swore I wouldn't let it get to me. But little by little, it has crept up on me, so that I do count the number of publications and "points" accruing to my CV.

Still, today was lovely. I made beetroot and raspberry borsht; and artichoke frittata for a birthday lunch; did a huge pile of ironing, straightening out the world; and had a sleep on the couch. Tomorrow I do the final check of the index of the book (proofs are already on the way to Philadelphia) and get to work on the next chapter of the next book.

So, hello again, blog: it's nice to be back.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Totally sympathise with your workload juggle! As a fellow-humanities researcher, I struggle to set boundaries around work/home life - apart from brief interludes in the pool. May they never invent underwater email!