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Diarist A02 Day 20

A02 September 16, 2022 


Awoke at 7. I had thought I might sleep more after a busy, tiring week but pretty much as soon as I was a little bit awake, my mind started running through my plans for the day, including an all-hands morning training event at the university where I teach focused on “student success.”  (I’m not sure what we’ve been doing all along!).  I also have a variety of small, bureaucratic tasks that need to be done. Normally I don’t rush on Fridays and try to use it to work on longer-term projects. For that reason I try not to schedule meetings, especially Friday mornings. But not today, which leaves me a little grumpy as the day starts. 


I head downstairs and make a cup of tea. B is at still asleep so I’m alone this morning. I put the morning news on—TV today, not radio since I’m not rushing. Reports of refugees getting shipped to Martha’s Vineyard in a PR move, the ruling of a corrupt judge in a case about Trump’s theft of government documents, and the latest abortion law. Blech. American politics remains a steaming pile of garbage, most of it emanating from one side. TV off, slightly grouchier. I’m comfortable in my chair and don’t want to get up, but it’s time to get going. 


First, I head out and turn on a sprinkler in the backyard. Trying to grow grass, so we don’t have the only goat patch in the neighborhood.  Social pressure in suburbia. I put a bagel in the toaster and make a sandwich to bring in for lunch. Turn sprinkler off after eating. Happily I don’t forget and leave it on all day. That’s happened before, creating a mini-flood. I shower quickly, trim a bit of unruly hair (which is weird because I have so little) and drive in. 


The commute is ten minutes, more or less. It’s a nice day, which helps my mood. After parking I went to one of the training sessions, on social media in the classroom. I’m a bit late. It seems interesting but I’m not likely to use any of it. I went to a second session that was meh. Not the best use of my time. My mind drifted to my task list for the afternoon.


I ran into a pair of colleagues on the way out. They shared my sense that our morning activities weren’t entirely useless. Neither were they game changers. Some cynical observations were shared. We agree that the university could do more to invest in the basics, like reducing class sizes, recruiting more and stronger faculty, and attention to the substance of what’s being taught, not just the modes of teaching. Alas, that’s not the world we live in. I don’t mean to be entirely dismissive.  There’s a lot we can and should do to make things better for our students. But it seems we’re being asked to solve problems created by reductions in support for higher education and that can probably only be fixed by restoring that support. 


Writing now at 2:00 pm. After chatting with my colleagues I dashed off to the gym. Even though it’s a full day I wanted to exercise since I’ve missed a couple of workouts this week. I ran into G at the gym, so we chatted, got his impressions of the morning events. He shared the viewpoint of my other colleagues. It’s hot so I work out indoors instead of running outdoors. Fall will be here soon so I can get outside more. Thirty-minutes running on track, a short stretch, feels great, shower, back to my office, eat my lunch, checking through some paperwork while I eat. I review that material for a while after eating. It’s boring but required. Seems to be a day for doing work I have to do, not work I want (and like) to do.  


After catching the diary up, I spend about 30 minutes answering and/or deleting emails. They’ve piled up this week because I hosted an event on Wednesday that occupied most of my attention.  Thursday was filled with teaching and meetings. I’m still catching up but once the emails are covered, along with some small budget-related items, I will be back on top of things.  I also work on a little bit of grading I had left over from earlier in the week. I force myself not to rush, to focus on details, since I am trying to get the students to be more detail-oriented. I do this for about 30 minutes.  


It’s about 3:30 when I finish with all of these tasks. At this point my motivation is low.  It’s almost the end of the day on Friday, hardly the time to dig into something that requires a lot of attention.  I decide to prep for moving my office, which I plan to do this weekend.  (I have two offices and I am moving out of one and into another, larger, brighter space.). I borrow a dolly to help move heavier stuff (books!).  I start tossing old files into the recycling bin, which is slower than it ought to be because I have to check for anything confidential that requires shredding (e.g. old grade sheets).   


Just before 4 a reminder pops up on my electronic calendar. I have a committee meeting on Zoom at 4. On a Friday. Delightful. Happily, it’s brief and perfunctory—just getting organized for the real work to come.  I volunteer to chair the group.  I don’t want to but neither did anybody else.  Probably all I will have to do is write a letter summarizing our deliberations. Maybe I’ll regret this.  


 J texts to see if I have interest in a post-work beer.  I do. I resume dumping and shredding old files.  The shredder is balky so that goes slowly.  J. is delayed so I shred some more.


 About 5:30 we meet at Roots for beer, sitting outside on the noisy sidewalk.  It’s a very nice evening so the weather compensates for the occasional loud car. We order a pitcher to split and chat about work, particularly a committee we are both on, about politics (more blech), and upcoming birthdays –ours. We’re getting old; I’ll be 60 at the end of the year! (Insert clichés about how fast it’s all gone by, etc.,  here.)  While there I run into a couple of old friends from when I played basketball. Our regular early morning game got derailed by Covid.  We agree we should try to get the game going again but who am I kidding at my age.  It was good to see them, though.  


I head home, arriving a little past 7.  B. spent afternoon visiting friends who, she learns, are moving. This is a surprise.  They’re heading to Arizona.  The husband is a doctor who is fed up with the emphasis on profit over patients, so he’s heading west to a new practice. It’s surprising because they are in our age bracket, which seems late for such a big move. I get it though.  It’s the same set of pressures that have made teaching at a university a less attractive career.  


B is watching movie.  She and her friends at a late lunch so she’s skipping dinner. I make a homemade veggie pizza and a bowl of fruit. Both taste good.  


At around 8:30 I stretch out on the living room couch. I’m tired. Veg! I read for a while (newspapers plus a spy novel I have going), play some word games on my iPad (this has become my evening relaxation). I surf around YouTube for a few minutes. Soon I start to doze off.  I’m too tired to get up and go to bed, if that makes sense.  I manage to summon the energy to do that, head upstairs, brush teeth, eye drops, toilet, etc. Into bed to read briefly, lights out before 11.