The last day of summer vacation

Tomorrow I have my first faculty meeting of the fall semester, making this the final day of summer vacation. Aside from a certain Unfortunate Incident involving unwanted online attention, it was a good one. It was obviously dominated by my work on The Prince of This World, the full manuscript of which is now under review. Finishing it was a big milestone in my life, but it was more than just checking something off a list — I enjoyed the work. And given that I had enough time to pace myself appropriately (3-4 hours of concentrated writing a day, max), it also provided a steady background for a very “civilized” lifestyle. I struck a good balance between semi-random reading and getting my sci-fi fix (I’m about halfway through Babylon 5 currently), for instance. Though we didn’t take any major vacations, we took advantage of The Girlfriend’s unexpected car ownership (the last vestige of the Minneapolis episode) to take a weekend trip to Milwaukee and several day trips for outdoor activities and/or visits to various brewpubs.

I also worked on piano in a more sustained and focused way than I have in many years. Yesterday I had a major breakthrough on my Schubert piano sonata, finally getting the most intricate new material to an acceptable level and playing through the whole first movement in one go. Much of what I have left to learn is a repetition of previous material in a different key with small variations, and it was gratifying to be able to sight-read passages that had taken weeks of hard labor on their first incarnation. It felt good to work on something that was purely an end in itself, with no greater purpose or goal.

At the same time, I did check plenty of things off the list. With my big translation submitted and the book under review, my decks are cleared in a pretty radical way. And over the last couple weeks, as a kind of cool-down exercise, I wrote an article on Star Trek that is quite literally the last piece of writing I’ve promised to anyone. My “writing” time for the next few months will therefore be dominated by responding to reader reports, answering copy-editing queries, and correcting proofs — a suitable accompaniment to my labor as a mid-level functionary at Shimer. In so many ways, becoming Associate Dean this year marks the end of a long class-aspirational journey for me: I’ve emerged from a working class background to become middle management. And as an added bonus, I am now, for the first time ever, a member ex officio of a committee. Oh, the policies I’ll draft! The data I’ll analyze! The resolutions I’ll propose!

5 thoughts on “The last day of summer vacation

  1. I was reading Schorske on Freud just this afternoon. The last sentences of your post reminded me of the joke that Freud made in a letter to Fleiss on the occasion of his gaining a professorship:

    “The public enthusiasm is immense. Congratulations and bouquets keep pouring in, as if the role of sexuality had been suddenly recognized by His Majesty, the interpretation of dreams confirmed by the Council of Ministers, and the necessity of the psychoanalytic therapy of hysteria carried by a two-thirds majority in Parliament.”

    (p. 181, Fin-de-Siecle Vienna, 1981)

  2. I published a paper and submitted a major, important grant application. Fortunately, we have another 5+ weeks of summer left, in which I intend to submit 3 more grants and 2 manuscripts, prepare to teach a 500 person lecture for the first time, and deliver my second child.

    I’ve been looking forward to your analysis of B5 for a long time. Several of my college friends were obsessed with it, but I could never get past the low production value to justify watching it. Reading your blog posts should give me all the benefit of actually watching it with none of the empty calories.

  3. I’m not watching B5 with great enthusiasm — it’s mainly something to watch during a lunch break, or a stray evening at home by myself. It’s unlikely any analysis is forthcoming in the near future.

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