Saturday, February 07, 2009

"The Office" (workstation series) 116 ("re-set" edition)

Just heard a report on NPR this morning, en route to the cross-trainer, describing Biden's recent statement to NATO members that the Obama Administration (just typing those words makes me think of the wingnut heads that must explode across the country when they even hear it) wanted to "hit the re-set button" on foreign policy. While I more or less deplore the trendy computer jargon (specifically, the button used by computer-relatively-unfriendly people when it "won't work anymore"), I sure empathize with the sentiment.

Anyway, on to the jobs for the day, and "hitting the re-set button" for several research projects. Diving back into the world of the blackface minstrels, cranking out a conference paper for conference delivery in March, but which will also mutate into another chunk of another chapter in the big book. Also finishing up a bit of a rush job for an Irish journal about The Music as it is now in the States.

Yesterday was a beyond-brutal day in terms of scheduling, with hour after hour blocked in. I've got no problem with working 14-17 hour days, but it's a little easier to keep ahead of the boulder-rolling-downhill when I can control/structure how my time resources are allocated over those hours. It's tougher now, as chair, because I have outside obligations--especially committee work and supervising grad students--that have to happen during business hours and in tandem with others' schedules. I'm beginning to understand just what my admired Boss's days must be like, when every hour of every day of every week is simply dictated by external schedule factors--and simultaneous constant rolling deadlines.

I find this mentally exhausting. My concentration is usually very good, and I can turn it from one topic to another pretty readily--but it is far easier (for me) if I can dictate when those shifts occur. It's much harder to maintain and protect in the face of the externally-imposed schedule

On the other hand, any day when you can give one student an instrument lesson one hour, shape another's piano pedagogy project next (and help her see that it could actually become, not just a term paper, but an actual publication), buy lunch for a mentored freshman next (and stare down the punk-ass frat guy who only belatedly realizes that he last saw you chasing him while he ran like a frightened child out of the neighborhood from a 2am party months before), teach an Irish folklore class the next, create the online followup teaching materials for that class next, talk through the conclusions of a doctoral candidate's dissertation manuscript next, help a foreign student frame the "Statement of Financial Need" that will win her scholarship assistance so she's able to maintain a bank account exceeding twenty fucking dollars the next, hear a student composition concert where you're thanked as essential to one work's conception the next, come home to a dinner cooked for you by somebody who loves you the next (25 minutes), play a pub session that starts out pessimistic (because the Yammer Brothers are sitting at the bar) but winds up with the place full of old and new fans), and get home safe?

That's a decent day. I've got no cause for complaint.


the dearly deported said...

You're a helluva guy, Dr. Coyote. Now just think every one of us you've helped is gonna pay it forward.

CJS said...

I know you will.