5:30 – Wake up to alarm—classical music on WICR—and hit snooze twice, snuggllng with C. in between. Had been dreaming about voting in an election; it was the middle of the night and the polling place was outdoors, in a yard in my childhood neighborhood; I couldn’t find my ballot; someone set off a bottle rocket.
Get up at 5:45, dress for gym, brush teeth, send one work-related email. C. makes coffee while I write this. Sit on the couch for a few minutes with C.; she tells me about her meetings today. Grab my breakfast and lunch, in a canvas bag in the fridge; fill a go-cup with black coffee; kiss C. at the door. Outside, the car is covered in dew, not frost. Drive through Broad Ripple to the gym, looking out for potholes.
6:30 — Outside the gym, the sky is just starting to brighten in the east. Birds are chirping wildly. Going to be a nice day.
Get inside, lock up my things. An old man is talking to a younger man in the doorway to the workout room, saying, “She’s 53, and she can still run a 10K in 38 minutes.” I realize I forgot to put in my contacts. Go back out to car and sit in the driver’s seat putting them in, leaving my glasses on the passenger seat.
Play racquetball—two games of cutthroat with T. and J. T is 60, a sales vp for a company that sells soap to big institutional customers (school cafeterias, prisons, etc.) J. is a minister, mid-60s. None of us is very fast any more but we know how to play. We met more than 10 years ago when there was very robust varying group of guys playing pick-up games every MWF at 6. That group has largely broken up, but Tom and I play steadily in the cold months.
In between games we talk about the Pacers losing to the Cavaliers on a mis-called goaltend (Lebron!); J. mentions the meme where Trump is grooming Macron with text overlaid by Jane Goodall about competing alpha male apes. In the games, I run around a lot but don’t make a ton of good shots, though I win the second game.
7:50—upstairs to locker room; shower; dress. As I’m dressing I look through the glass to the shower room and see Tom at the sinks, a towel wrapped around his waist, examining the backs of his hands.
8:10—on the road to Muncie. Thankfully the Y had free coffee this morning, eliminating the need to stop at Starbucks. The drive is uneventful and quiet, except for very crowded stretch just after merging onto I-69, during which I drive through (I swear) a cloud of white feathers—like from pillows. WTH?
As I drive I eat my breakfast—2 sandwiches of tuna on little rye rolls and a banana, and sip coffee. I eat breakfast while driving like this 3 days a week. Not ideal, but it allows me to get to the gym. I flip from Sirius XM channels to NPR, not very focused on either. On NPR a story about xenophobia in Hungary; a wizened academic talks about ‘the beast in us.’ And the Korean summit. On Sirius I half-hear Radiohead, the Classics Four singing “Love is kind of crazy with a spooky little girl like you.” I pay attention to Big Thief’s “Shark Smile,” an intriguing song, and catch the lyrics for the first time. Cool song, live solo version, about falling in love (or infatuation); the woman singer’s voice cracks affectingly on a couple of the refrains. I’m in the parking lot in Muncie at
9:10—and clean up my garbage from the car, knowing that E. is riding home with me later. On the walk to the building I note that the dogwoods are in bloom. Is it a quirk of the insane weather that the dogwoods are fully out and there’s almost nothing on the other deciduous trees? Get a water bottle from the machine (whose electronic read-out commands me to ‘have a great day!’). Say hi to K. in the hall, loitering while her students do evaluations. Say hi to the ladies in the office. Get the key to unlock the windows from S. to let air in; the office is stuffy. S. and M. stand in the office and watch me, standing on a chair, trying to unlock the windows.
Time to get to the to-do list. I keep my to-do lists on yellow sticky notes pasted in my (paper) day planner. I’m ritualistic and fetishistic about this—I get a strong feeling of openness, possibility, and optimism when I buy my new planner every year. And I’m a bit of a luddite, most notably in that I don’t have a smart phone.
I’m a little achy from playing (elbow, shoulder); and I’ve taken an ibuprofen. But I feel like this is going to be an easy day. And I think, “Don’t jinx it.” Nice cool air flowing in through the open window.
9:20-11:45 – working through the task list, answering emails. I’m assistant chair of a large academic department; this time of year, this means seemingly 35 tasks a day that take about three minutes of attention each: giving students permissions to add classes; sending emails about course substitutions; making changes to next year’s schedules. While I work through the task list new emails keep coming in, sometimes detracting from the task list for long periods. But I’ve crossed four things off my list in between the emails. Boss comes in, just after 10, interrupting me in mid-email–I ask her some questions about scheduling, we talk some about strategy for a meeting next week—then turn back and finish the email. At
11:45 I walk to the Atrium to augment my lunch (chili & brown rice, from home) with crackers, an iced tea, and some pepperjack cheese. I walk to the atrium almost every day at this time to get a drink and walk and clear my head. As I walk I breathe and try to be mindful; avoid TCOM students setting up film equipment; see D from TCOM and say, “How are you?” “It’s Friday, that’s how I am,” he says. At the food court I jostle with students with their chicken wings and personal pizzas. I’m tempted to get a Pepsi but know I’m going to drink beer or wine tonight so get an iced tea. (Also makes me think there will be cookies at the award ceremony, which I will resist.) I get back and put my iced tea in the fridge (not going to eat just yet) and Boss says, “I have to talk to you” and gives me news on a personnel issue. (Minor annoyance at this stage.) I sit down, answer two emails (one from my co-editor of a journal, minor stuff; plus one about a class whose time we’re changing). Write this. Now it’s time to read student drafts before class at 2.
12–Read drafts: pleasurable and absorbing—the students have largely done a good job—till 12:55. Go back to kitchen and warm chili in the microwave. Eat my chili and read about baseball and finish reading another draft or two. Flip around the internet a little, looking at headlines. At
1:30 walk to the library and get coffee in my re-fillable mug. Beautiful day, breezy, a little cool (not stopping some students from wearing shorts, while others have jackets on). Thinking about this and that—class coming up, I don’t know what else. I go into the bathroom in the library and wash out my mug with hot water; pay for a refill to the young male student who always asks, “How’s your day goin’?” Fill my mug. Wait at the library desk for a staffer to fetch my interlibrary loan item: a massive volume of the New Statesman from 1938, which I schlep across the street. By the time I get back here it’s 1:49 and time to gather things and go to the classroom, just down the hall from my office.
2-3 – Class. It’s peer critiquing day: students are doing group projects and were doing peer critiques, with a rubric, in groups; so essentially all I did was continue reading student drafts and answer questions, and make sure students were on task. Easy. At
3 — Came back into the office and talked to M., my assistant, about an underenrolled class issue—a complicated one, involving negotiations with Registration, multiple emails, etc. A former student was visiting in the main office and people were hanging out and were a-flutter. That kind of nervous slightly suppressed exuberance mixed with stress that characterizes the end of the academic year is around.
Sat at the computer and wrote up said emails (above). M. came in with her analysis of the spring schedule situation, which looks fairly good (as in we have about the right number of faculty available to teach the number of classes we have on). Need to crank out a few more emails and get myself organized. Student awards ceremony at 4.
3:52 – scurrying to be packed up so I don’t have to come back upstairs after student award ceremony.
4-5 – student awards ceremony. Nice crowd. Students very cute—the young women all dressed up. Irresistible.
5-6:30 – grab stuff in my office; walk up with S., to make sure my window is properly closed. Get my bag and a couple mailers of books that have come in the mail recently, and my lunch bag, and go back down to the big classroom where the ceremony was held, to meet E. I see her when I walk in and she says she’ll get her stuff and be ready in a minute. I say “take your time” and chat with L., a retired faculty member, who says she’s basically a full-time activist now. “Busy,” she says, and “I’m looking forward to seeing what retirement’s like.”
Then walk to the car with E., in the beautiful sunny weather, and drive to Indy. We gab the whole way, about department stuff, about managing your time and making good decisions about how many things to take on. etc. E. is interesting and likes to talk; very easy and engaging to be around.
6:30-8:40 – Get to the house. E’s husband, M., is coming over & we’re going to have happy hour and hang out. C. has prepared a platter of hummus and cheese and roasted fresh veggies with bread and pita chips, which she’s finishing while E. and I. talk with her in the kitchen. I make E. a manhattan and myself a gin & tonic; the doorbell rings and it’s M; who comes into the kitchen, shakes hands, and grabs a beer from the fridge.
We sit on the porch for a half hour with our drinks. It’s getting chilly, so C. says “should we go in?” and we carry our drinks to the dining room table and bring out the platter. We talk and drink & eat for the next 90 minutes—this is good relaxed hospitable food prep by C. We talk about tons of things—jazz, sports, African American celebrities (a subject of E’s research), Blues and Rap musicians, Muhammad Ali; certain people’s intense commitments to Costco; the Cosby conviction (as compared with the Penn State child abuse scandal—similar in the intensity of commitments and the resulting disillusionment at the Fall).
Throughout, I play records—Gerry Mulligan, Mingus, Wayne Shorter, slipping into the front room to flip and change records. Intermittently I go back to the kitchen to get more bread or pita chips or to freshen my drink; I probably end up having 2 sizable g&ts or slightly more. I’m thinking throughout this that E and M are so much fun and smart and we have a great rapport—good smart conversationalists, friendly, funny.
Eventually E. says “well, she should go” so we walk them to the door with promises to hang out a lot in the summer. We walk onto the front porch, where the evening air is still warm.
8:40-9 C & I clean up—putting small saucers and utensils small serving plates in the dishwasher, washing larger, more ungainly pieces. C. works the sink and loads the dishwasher & I run back and forth to the living room bringing things in. Then at about
9 -10:30– We set up on the couch. I flip between the Pacers game (they clobbered the Cavaliers) and a little bit of the Washington-Arizona baseball game while C. looks at stuff online. Then I go to the office & grab my computer and bring it back & listen to the last inning of the Phillies game, after seeing on the crawl that they’re beating the Braves 6-3. I tool around the internet, looking at NYT headlines, the New Yorker (I read a story about the rehabilitation of MSG, which apparently all the chefs are now saying you should totally cook with and it was a travesty that it got a bad name). Meanwhile C. flips channels between movies “In and Out” and “Thelma and Louise” and “Apollo 13.” After the games are over I write this diary.
10:30-11:30. C. goes to bed. I sit up and watch baseball highlights and read from a book of poems (Kaveh Akbar, who did a reading at BSU a couple weeks ago—really good artful, original, intense poems about addiction & recovery), and look at social media. By
11:40 I’m falling asleep on the couch so I got to bed.