The semester is going full swing and I (of course) wish I had a week where I could just rest and recharge mentally and physically. Wait, you must be saying (but you’re not because if you’re reading this blog, you’re in higher education and know exactly what I’m talking about), I thought that academics had their summers off, for rest and relaxation!
Now is as good a time as any to reflect on what I did (and didn’t) accomplish this summer.
I did, in fact, finish revising my dissertation, adding probably 50 new sources, materials, and primary texts to the revision. The process (of course) took a lot longer than I had anticipated, and I probably read about 100 books and articles in preparation for the revision. It is now in the publishers’ hands (just before the semester started!), and I will keep my fingers crossed for 1-3 years.
I did go to Congress, I did go to DHSI, but I didn’t make it to THATCamp Prime because of a funding mix up. I also never want to fly on United through Chicago-O’Hare every again for as long as I live (until next summer when I have to fly through there to get to Victoria for DHSI again). I still have an hour-long interview with Kim Thuy that I have yet to re-listen to, transcribe, and blog about. I still haven’t done anything with my new-found basic knowledge of TEI. But I do have a book contract for my Dany Laferrière book, it gives me something to work and focus on during this upcoming year.
I didn’t develop my online Canadian literature course (which was canceled due to low enrollment). I also didn’t develop my own personal professional website because, well, I just ran out of time and mental energy. I can probably spend a week over Christmas working on the personal website, but the online course will have to wait until I have a compelling need (ie I’m actually offering it) to set it up. I have too much else to do right now.
On the bright side, I did read a lot this summer, and not just for my dissertation or for my teaching. In fact, I was able to read six novels, two in French and four in English. This isn’t the ten I was hoping to get to (they lay unopened on my shelf, my table, and in my Kindle). This may not seem like a lot of reading for an English professor, but six represents more novels that I’ve read “for fun” than the past three years combined. There just isn’t a lot of time once the semester starts, and over the past few summers, I’ve been focusing on reading for my research (not that it isn’t fun to read Dany Laferrière, Nalo Hopkinson, and other authors I study and write about). The downside of this literary binge is that I now miss teaching literature even more than before.
I did reimagine my ENG 100 course, again. I’m going to be using the resources that the school offers through the library to allow my students to become more comfortable with using digital tools to compose and create their work. Essays, at the end of the day, are only one form of communication, one form of writing and composition, and our students need to be able to function in an increasingly digital world. Don’t worry, there’s still an essay, but they will have a lot more freedom to choose how they want to compose their other major writing assignments.
I flew to Canada on four separate occasions and visited four different provinces (Ontario, B.C., Alberta, Quebec). I reconnected with some old friends, met some virtual friends in real life, and made some great new friends and connections. I learned, a lot. I made plans, tore up those plans, made new plans, and then changed the plans again. I hung out with my kids. I took a brief vacation with my husband (very very brief). I worked hard to try and figure out how to balance my work and home life, but negated the effort because I was stressing out about it. I got back in the pool. I hope that it lasts through the semester.
Now I have to go and prepare for my classes tomorrow. Because summer vacation is over.