Tag Archives: semester

A perfect day

The rainbow warrior's (clothes) horse It’s been a phenomenally busy week – the beginning of a new semester always brings with it a lot of extra (often unexpected) work and long days, no matter how well you’ve tried to prepare in advance. Almost every class presents a sea of new faces, and apart from the psyching myself up I feel I need to do before going in there to stand in front of them and make a halfways competent impression, and the concentration needed to brief all the people whose names appear on the magically computer-generated course lists, there are always the problem cases to deal with, the last-minute changed minds, and the chaotic paralysis of system overloads caused by everyone trying to access everything at once.

Today, Sunday, is a total contrast. Not that I lay abed for an age in a stubborn attempt to claw back some of the “me doing nothing” time denied to me over the last ten days or so – I wanted to get up, was raring to go, and the reason? I have NO commitments today, NO appointments, NO deadlines, NO annoying chores that absolutely have to be done, and I even have the prospect of NO one to talk to for a good few hours, which, believe me, is all a real luxury just at this particular point in time and after such a peopled-out week. And what am I doing? I opened up the windows and blinds to air the flat, had a leisurely breakfast while reading the paper, have done two loads of washing, tended some of the plants, sorted clean laundry, tidied some stuff on the computer, drunk tea, reorganized the fridge and have a list of smaller tasks to keep me occupied for a couple of hours more. The place is bright, smells fresh, has a ton of healthy-looking greenery, and I’m feeling fresh and well tended myself. Oh, and it looks as though I have now almost written this week’s blog entry, too….

All this might well strike anyone else as a pretty mundane if not boring listing of activities that most people feel are not even worth mentioning (except perhaps on Twitter ;)), but what I’ve managed to get done entirely voluntarily today and how it’s making me feel is quite significant to me. During the university vacation I have a clear (though mostly undramatic to the outside observer) tendency to collapse in a little heap of unmotivated misery if faced with such an unstructured day devoid of obligations, and if I’m not careful this can result in a chronic lack of productivity that creates a sense of dissatisfaction (aaaand repeat, in ever decreasing circles…). I’m writing about how good I feel today and how much I’m getting done – and for ME, not because I HAVE to do it for anyone else or any other reason – just so that maybe it will help if I can look back at it another time when I’m struggling to find the motivation.

It is, indeed, a perfect day.

Note: the image accompanying this blog entry was originally used for this post.

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Filed under Up close and personal, Work stuff


Oh dear, I seem to have missed almost a whole week of posting here. I’m not going to gnash my teeth and feel too guilty, though – it’s been a horrendously busy week and I’m just pleased to have reached the end of it still standing.

The semester began and brought a larger than usual flood of last-minute e-mails, phone calls and door knocks from desperate students wanting into this, that or the other class (and not even just my classes, either), and on top of that, I picked up a cold that has not impacted on my work particularly but has left me feeling rather drained.

In somewhat lesser concerns, I was feeling a little sad that the tulip season seemed to be drawing to an end – I’ve managed to have fresh tulips in the flat constantly since the beginning of their availability in the shops in early spring and seem to have gone through the entire palette of colours. However, today there were gerberas, a type of flower whose shape seems to take us so much closer to summer. I now have a yellow bunch on the living room window sill (as pictured) and a vase of gorgeous burnt orange ones in my orange and green hideyhole-cum-work-area upstairs (I must take some pictures of those tomorrow when daylight is back).

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Filed under Work stuff

Up and down…

Well, what everyone said about feeling up and down is certainly true. I feel as though I’ve been fed an overdose of female hormones…

Yesterday was a pretty good day. It was the first day of the semester, and I’d been eyeing it with some apprehension for some time in any case. I did know from past experience that it’s normally a day that brings relief and pleasure from getting back into something I enjoy and that everyone seems to think I’m good at. This time round, though, I wasn’t sure to what extent the other stuff going on in my life might affect me adversely. But everything was fine. I only had one class, which was a relief, and it wasn’t until the afternoon, so I forced myself to be just a little bit more leisurely in the morning and walked round town a bit, bought a card for a friend, paid an overdue bill immediately after receiving the reminder (I was quite impressed by this!) and just enjoyed being out in the fresh air, savouring the feeling that I had overridden my normal compulsion to go straight to work. It was only a small gesture, but I felt that I had done something for myself, and the feeling was good.

The class went really well, too. A lively and interested bunch of students, and everyone was happy to engage in the activities I’d planned for their first session. Slipping into my classroom persona (always cheerful, chatty, encouraging, witty (either that or people are easily amused…)) offered such a total break from worrying or feeling sad about something, and the adrenalin kept me “up” for the rest of the day. Then coming home in the evening and find some more lovely blog comments and some other messages extended the feeling further.

Today, by contrast, started with me feeling the world’s burdens on my shoulders. Every e-mail from a student pleading to be let into an overcrowded class, following all of our efforts last week to make class sizes fair, almost sent me into apoplexy (hence my wondering aloud on Twitter what Sisyphean task was going to greet me next), and I was really quite snappy for much of the morning. This continued to the beginning of my first class, where, you guessed it, I was greeted by several forlorn looking students at the door begging to be admitted. I told them quite loudly, in front of the others, that their addition would mean my attention would be spread out even more thinly among everyone, but I did acquiesce and let them in. And once we actually started the class, everything was OK and the extra people proved to be active, cheerful participants.

The afternoon class also went well, although I was a bit disorganized about getting the equipment set up (laptop, projector, loudspeakers – the university can lavish money on 550-year jubilees and rebuilding the library, but classrooms are generally badly equipped and you have to take technical stuff along yourself), I had to swap rooms as there wasn’t enough space (luckily an amenable colleague was in the larger room opposite), and then I probably talked too much. Oh well.

Positive points: I’m having a girlie video evening on Thursday (going to watch “Truly, Madly, Deeply”, which I love but will cause me to cry buckets – friend has been forewarned and will most likely share tissues!), celebrating a colleague’s permanent contract on Friday, going to look what’s on offer in the university’s extra-mural section, and planning to arrange a meeting with a friend I haven’t seen for a while on Sunday.

Life goes on, and I now feel a lot better for having written all this down.


Filed under Up close and personal, Work stuff