27 March 2007

Random Weary Numbers

Number of days Curious Girl has cried, whined, and claimed it was because of having to stay up late to get me at the airport last Saturday: 3
Number of forms I have submitted to the academic dean's office in the last two weeks: 92
Number of weeks our job searches have gone past our schedule: 6
Percentage of searches that are more complicated than predicted: 100
Number of days Curious Girl has for spring break, not counting the two already past: 12
Number of days Politica and I have off in that period: 0
Number of playdates or babysitters currently planned: 0
Number of classes I will be teaching next spring, now that I know all of the above: 0

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OK, so that's all taking a rather negative view of things--hardly the way to start a post after all this silence. Welcome back, readers, to a view from the dark side. So let's try this again. More numbers:

Number of bloggers I met at Four Seas: 4+1 (Ianqui, Timna (and Almond Joy!), and J., whom I already knew but didn't know she had a blog), and then later, Bill, whom I had met slightly before, and Best Professional Friend, of course.
Number of walks in Central Park: 2
Number of good conversations with Best Professional Friend(s): zillions
Number of people at my panel, on the last morning of the conference: 23 (not bad!)

Best New York moments: just listening to people talk. The snippets of conversation on the street, the New York accents that sound like home, the words and the rhythms. I love them. I love that in New York, no one things I talk or walk too fast. I love the details on the buildings and the pretzels on the corners. I love the way beautiful things just pop up, even on a sort of dirty street--like the mosaic-covered streetlamp post Linda and I passed in the Village on Tuesday afternoon.

The funniest thing I saw were some people coming out of Bergdorf Goodman's, pushing their dog in a stroller. Second only to the party seated across the room from us one night when we stopped into a very fancy hotel's bar for a drink and dessert. A very wealthy couple of a certain age sat across the room, and we had fun trying to figure out who they might be and what they might be doing in the city. (I can't be the only one who makes up stories about strangers I can see but not overhear, right?) There was just something compelling about the combination of slick hair, big, big jewelry, and a sparkly short dress. (Curious Girl would have loved it.) I'm not explaining it well, but it's just not something I see much out here in the midwest.

The best deal: a hello kitty watch in Chinatown. CG was very excited about it. "It ticks all night long," she informed me seriously tonight. Amazing technology, those watches. She is even getting the hang of the hour hand.

I heard a very good panel on academic administration towards the end of the conference. The panelists were talking about academic administration as more than managing hierarchies. One framed the work of department chairs in terms of fostering institutional literacy (helping people understand how institutions work, why they work, and what they make possible). Another framed the work in terms of improvising relationships (especially the need to make quick shifts between being counselor, planner, advisor, teacher etc.). I've been thinking about all this in terms of the 43 folders post on multitasking and its problems. I've been struggling this semester with so many different kinds of tasks, tasks which involve paying attention to almost everyone in my very large department. I'm multitasking too much, and realizing that I need to be better at doing one thing at a time, then moving on (and training people to let me do that--one day before the conference, I was in my office, working in googledocs and a chat program with my co-authors. One of my colleagues came into my office and I had to rather sternly say "I need to finish this now before I can talk to you!" Granted, it probably looked like I was doing e-mail, not something in real time. If my door is open--which it needs to be a good bit of the time--I'm not in full control of my time. I like being in a big department, but it's wearying. Next year, I've arranged my teaching schedule so that I won't teach at all in the spring.

And for this spring, I'm trying to look beyond the bureacracy to remember what it is I like about academic administration, and trying to understand what's at the root of my weariness this semester. Next year, it won't all be new, and that's a comfort.

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It sure was fun to meet Timna and Almond Joy, J., and Ianqui. We got drinks and pastries at a coffee shop near the conference, and talked easily. I'd met Timna last year, and what a treat to meet Almond Joy, too. They'd done a little looking at colleges: I'd be thrilled if she decided to come here, but I don't think a midwestern comprehensive university is on her list of places to consider. Still....Ianqui and Timna do have something in common, which is that while they are both just as smart and funny in person as they are in their blogs, they are both a little shorter than I expected them to be. Who knew that writing styles have height? The blogosphere is very instructive aboiut writing that way. More seriously, it is such a pleasure to meet bloggers in person, not only to hear about some of the stories behind the pseudonyms, but also to get a more complex sense of the blogger. Not that one morning's meeting reveals any of us fully, of course, but the spoken voice is more complex and warm than the written voice. Ianqui and Timna have beautiful voices, and I'm glad I got to talk with them. Thanks especially to Ianqui who shlepped all the way up to our part of town!

7 comments:

Phantom Scribbler said...

So glad to see you back, and so sorry about all the random weary numbers!

Funny -- I was also surprised that Ianqui wasn't taller!

Ianqui said...

Well it was lovely to meet you too!

If you think I'm short, you should see my mother and my sister. I'm the tallest woman in my family. My sister is 4'10".

Arwen said...

Sometimes life just gets so BIG. Sorry to hear that's going on for you right now.
I'm glad to see a post from you. What a treat!

landismom said...

Welcome home! Sounds like a fun trip--and way to go on your teaching schedule for next spring!

timna said...

it was our pleasure. yup, I'm the shortest one in a tall family so I've probably been talking tall all along...

Rev Dr Mom said...

The things you love about NYC...I love all those things, too.

Good to have you back.

Virago18 said...

I'm so relieved that we aren't the only family to leave the spring break childcare arrangements until the last minute! I was starting to think that J would be spending the whole week with me at the library, but we lucked out and got him into a program at the local children's museum at the last minute, as in fax the forms in on Friday afternoon! We only had to lie a little bit about him already being in 1st grade.... He was delighted by the promotion.