Day 1 down.
Day 1 down.
I shared on the weekend that I had been working, and how rare that was (working on the weekend, not working full stop!). I’m now further into that particular grind, working through Day 8 of a nine-day stretch.
I’m very much feeling it now. At times through a stretch like this you’re in the zone, you find your flow. But then there are times like now, when you feel like there’s nothing left.
It’s like a day after a rough night’s sleep; but just lengthened over a period of days.
One more day tomorrow – a full day, but away from the office. A time to discuss, to reflect, to plan.
Then two perfectly-planned research days, to get my head back into reading and thinking mode.
Then a long weekend.
I can do this.
It’s been over a year since I worked on the weekend. Since some pretty severe burnout I’ve had to make sure that weekends and most weeknights are kept free, though sometimes the latter is unavoidable.
But this weekend, between a full and crazy week last week, and an equally insane three days from tomorrow (Monday), I literally ran out of time to get everything done.
I would now never advocate for weekend work, but occasionally – very occasionally – the grind can have its satisfactions. Particularly if it’s a typically grey and awful Melbourne day outside.
The task I ran out of time to complete was a paper I’m delivering at a symposium tomorrow. To be fair, I think I’d be forgiven for running out of time, given I organised the symposium, but I really did want something semi-decent to present.
I’ve basically kicked off conference season myself; after this talk, I have another 2-3 to prepare for late November/early December. But I think I’m being strategic here: with 4ish papers done, I can then work to convert one or two into full articles/chapters next year.
The RMS Publish or Perish sails on…
I couldn’t stop watching it. Again.
Like, the film is two hours and forty fucking minutes long.
It’s also been a solid two years or so since the first time I saw it. And it’s not the same.
I thought it would feel slower. That I would be made to feel each agonising camera movement again and again.
But honestly: it felt speedy. It felt measured. It felt right.
Yesterday I watched Dave Grohl’s Sound City, and in that they get a bunch of musos to define ‘feel’.
Essentially ‘feel’ is that moment where everything else fades away, where it’s just you and the music, where everyone is just on the same wavelength.
I was feeling this film today. It was just me and the film. I was on its wavelength (I promise I’m not high, though can you imagine).
This time I thought about the doggo. This time I thought a lot about Annihilation (and I’m not the first).
I came in thinking eco-cinema, and once again that narrowness of vision was devastated.
What. A. Film.
It’s happened again. I hit a certain point, usually every twelve months, sometimes sooner, where I get annoyed with my WordPress theme. This layout for my website that I have handpicked from dozens of options, that at the time of choosing I was most satisfied with, has now outstayed its welcome. Its geometries, its fonts, its white spaces, no longer hold any appeal, and I find in them nothing but frustrations.
Why? Why do I care this much?
An academic career shifts and morphs like sand dunes. I’ve only been in this game some eight or nine years and I can already look back over the different, distant chapters, each with their own opportunities, challenges, roads taken or ignored. The one constant has been this site, with its patient recording of my achievements and publications. The site is more personal, too, in that among the more formal, reviewed outputs, there are half-formed thoughts, works in progress, and other fleeting words, images, visions.
It is a mode of performance, but one that is not held in the strictures of yearly reviews, promotion criteria, or key performance indicators. It is a more accurate record of the long periods of absence, or busy-ness, or chaos, or calm, or joy, or sadness, or heartbreak, that this life I’ve chosen can encapsulate.
This year has been very, very long. It began with the passing of a close colleague, and it feels as though we have been dragging ourselves through two long semesters of teaching, trying to stoke the fires of thinking, innovation, writing, and making sure a brave and supportive face is put on for our students: this face is never a mask, but like a mask it’s harder to wear on some days more than others.
This year has also held opportunities: travel, creative work, and in the last few weeks, a great acceleration in word output in order to complete a first working draft of a manuscript. I’ve watched some wonderful films, and managed to leave the house on multiple occasions to Have Some Fun(tm).
In short, perhaps, it has been a year like any other, with many ups and many downs. I have a week still to work, and I plan to spend most of that week watching, thinking, and writing.
All years are similar, then. Some ups, some downs. Each year is a variation on a theme. So maybe that’s why I feel this annual need to change mine.