It has been rather a tiring last several days. I’ve been focusing on writing a big report on various internal matters that my committee was charged to study for the whole academic year. The issues are rather large, and the solutions I was trying to present require not just cosmetic tinkering but major changes in the way things are done. So the key thing to get right in writing it is a tone that is critical of what there currently is in place while at the same time painting a picture of what could be in its stead, while also beginning to show how to get there. If you don’t balance all three just right, there’s no chance that anything will change, since either lots of people will just be pissed off that you trashed their system, or threatened the status quo, or they’ll agree but say there’s nothing that can be done, or they’ll say you have not really thought it through. I think I’ve managed to get the balance right.
It was due on Monday. On Sunday night, I had something down, but I did not really like it yet… lots of clunky bits. It did not sing. This was after Thursday’s dithering and procrastination (I always do that before settling to write something), then Friday’s scribbling into my notebook in a cafe until lunch, walking back home for lunch, coming out again and wandering the neighbourhood from one cafe to another …to a restaurant and then to another cafe until about 11:00pm, thinking and typing the thing onto my handheld for later uploading. (And dealing with the people who seem quite intrigued about what they think is my super-light laptop even though I just show them it is an old PDA combined with a foldable full size keyboard – technology well over a decade old that does the job at a fraction of the weight – just fits into your pocket or handbag.) Saturday saw a morning hike with a friend who was visiting -wanted to show them Griffith Park, and then more thinking about the whole thing while gardening, and then late afternoon sneaking off to a movie night out with another friend at the Dome (more later).
It was hard to resist checking out the Cat and Fiddle afterwards to chat and see how the old place is doing. So I did not. Decided not to work anymore that night after getting home after midnight, and Sunday morning saw me up early and tapping away until 11:00am when I dashed like a madman to the CFI to see Chris Mooney talk – excellent – and then off to the Hollywood Farmer’s market for my weekly shop and tamale fix, and then back to work in my Sunday cafe for a bit. Then home for more working.
All that and it did not sing so well on Sunday night. So I went to bed. Molding and shaping in the morning should do it.
Monday morning at six am I got up and started work on it again all fresh and determined, and by 10:00am, I was happy with it. It sounded right, and I decided that it was time to send it out to the 11 members of my committee for comment. I asked for an extension on the Monday deadline so that I could hear from those who wanted to comment after giving them until the evening to send me comments. Midday – garden for a while. Get my head back together and think about other things, or better, nothing in particular. Got a lot done. (Now have plenty of vegetable plants on the go, and have planted an army of Morning Glories to do battle with the Ivy.) Some time after five, a friend calls to tell me that they’re taking another friend to that excellent new place near USC I recommend – Barcaro – and would I like to come along too.
A glass of wine and some tasty morsels, good conversation and excellent company? Well… ok, I’d only be sitting here checking my email for comments, and I’d done enough gardening, and so it was a trot off to the subway with a copy of Haruki Murakami’s “Kafka on the Shore” to dig into (already brilliant in the first few pages), and a good couple of hours were spent talking about this, that, and the other.
Got a few emails with excellent suggestions when I got home, and at six am this morning I incorporated them, added some finishing touches of my own, and off it went at 10:00am – which gave me just enough time to make a mad dash to campus to preside over one of my students’ qualifying exam committee. Sigh.
It’s out there now, the committee has spoken on the matter, fulfilling our charge. Some will be unhappy with what it says, others will be happy. A discussion will take place, and the greater good will be served. I do so hope that it gets to the right ears. That a person or persons empowered in the system will take the challenge to reach beyond the comfort zone so that some real change can begin. This could all change for the better so very, very much. Got to hope.
P.S. Oh, and Season 3 of Battlestar Galactica arrived on my doorstep. Hurrah! Now if only I did not have two research papers to write with my students…