Thursday, October 6, 2011

A change is as good as a rest

It's always nice to come back to teaching after a long summer break. I feel refreshed and excited about the upcoming classes and challenges. Even if in May I was ready to go away and never return, by September I have come up with new things to try in class and I can come to campus energized and ready to go. Basically it takes 3 months in the studio to reset the grumpy mood that took 9 months to crush into me.
I might look grumpy, but that's just calm and concentrating

I didn't actually take much of a rest this summer, but working in the studio all day every day is a big change. After just 3 months, I could have happily continued working all day every day in the studio, but by September I was at least interested in a change of pace.

Unfortunately, in some ways 2.5 weeks was long enough to squash my excitement. I had several complications in the first two weeks, including a cancelled class and a sick kid, so I'm going to blame circumstance for my diminished mood.

I am still excited about parts of my fall job but I miss my summer job.

my summer job

The Chronicle of Higher Education came today in the mail. There were a couple of articles about "productive procrastination." John R. Perry apparently won an Ig-Nobel prize for this idea. It is the idea that someone can get jobs done if they are done to procrastinate doing the job you are "supposed" to get done. Essentially, it means if I have to grade some papers and I have to write a press release, I'll grade the papers to avoid having to do the press release. (In my case it means I'll do the laundry or clean the living room or color code my bookshelves to avoid having to write the press release or grade the papers.)

Its an interesting idea, though the second author, Rachel Toor, commented that if you have kids (or a life) you can't get around to the "procrastination productivity" because you're too busy doing triage to get the most pressing (loudest) thing done before the pot boils over (literally) or the kid gets hurt.

The first two weeks of this quarter I felt like i was doing a lot of triage as my regular responsibilities piled up and went unattended. As the quarter began I had high hopes of keeping a schedule in which I snuck in some work time in the studio. In the first week I was so exhausted every afternoon that I just came home, popped some Excedrin and transitioned directly into gymnastics-dinner-Dora-bathtime-bedtime.

At the start of the second week I got home early and threw some pieces in my home studio to make a throwing demo video for my pottery students. I even had my daughter throw with me.

Boy can that 3 year old center!

Early the next morning instead of finishing the throwing videos, my daughter was throwing up. I spent the day "catching" and the videos still aren't done. Neither are the pots trimmed.

I asked my independent students to talk about their progress this week (week 3: 30% of the way through the quarter), the beginning students have their first (of 4) critique today. And when I look in the mirror, I realize that I don't have much to show at this progress point, myself. I haven't made any new work. I haven't cleaned my studio or made new business cards or even finished unloading the very last kiln I fired at home (it was done the day before classes started). I even missed an application deadline for a show I usually enter. (Turns out that my husband and I may have had a slight mail miscommunication that led to the lapse, but still, I should have noticed.)

All this being said, however, I am further along than I might have been. I did, after all, start the videos. And today I'm going to have half an hour (when I finish this) to start my business cards. (I also believe the mail thing has been addressed.) I'm the tortoise, slowly inching forward. If I can start 2 or 3 things in the first 1/3 of the quarter, maybe I can finish 2 or 3 in the second...or third.

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