Thursday, May 18, 2017

Body at rest, mind in motion

Eight easy hours on the road Tuesday, five or six hours in a Faculty Council meeting Wednesday, and now my summer break truly begins. Today I did a mess of weed-whacking in the cool of the morning, worked on two fall syllabi, and then spent the afternoon reading the latest issue of Granta. Peace!

But if I devote the entire summer to such luxury, I'll miss out on things I really need to do. Time to set some summer goals! Aside from neverending feats of weed-whacking, planting, weeding, and cleaning, several summer projects demand attention. In no particular order:

1. Memorize some poetry--on purpose. In my youth I was pretty good at memorizing poetry; I can still bring out long passages from Shakespeare and the Psalms and even "Jabberwocky," and I've learned a few others accidentally just by teaching them so frequently. (I mean, can't everyone recite "Fire and Ice" on demand?) But recently I read W.S. Merwin's "Thanks" and thought I'd like to carry it with me always. I'm not as good at memorizing as I once was, and this poem lacks the tricks of rhyme and rhythm that aid memorization, but I've resolved to learn it--and after that, why not more?

2. Finish fall syllabi, all four of 'em.

3. Evaluate texts and ruminate on assignments for the Literary Theory class I'll teach for the first time next spring.

4. Write a proposal for a spring 2019 sabbatical. I'll have to submit the proposal this fall, which means I need to figure out fairly quickly what kind of research I expect to be doing 18 months from now. (Where's that crystal ball?)

5. Speaking of research...well I don't know just exactly what I need to do to beat that unfinished article into submittable condition (because I haven't looked at it in eons), but that's pretty high on my list of priorities. And after that, I can take a look at expanding that conference paper into a full journal article.

6. Paint the smaller spare room and hang some new pictures on the walls. And while I'm at it, I should print some new photos to hang in the living room, where my new bird painting has brightened the place up and made the old photos look dated and dingy. Time for a face-lift!

7. Wow, how long has it been since the canoe touched water? At some point this summer I hope to find myself paddling on a peaceful body of water while reciting "Thanks." 

But none of this will ever happen if I don't get to work. Work: what summer is for. 


Bardiac said...

Wow... I can barely recite my phone number, much less more than a few lines from any poem... Amazing to me that people can recite lots. Wishing you a wonderful summer!

Bev said...

Thanks! You too!

As for the memorization thing, it can be a little annoying. Without any effort, I can remember all the lyrics to a catchy song after hearing it two or three times, whether I want to or not, which means I have massive amounts of memory space devoted to songs I don't even like but I can't remember the name of a student I saw in class three days a week for 15 weeks.

I learned Hamlet's "to be or not to be" soliloquy when I was about 12, for no real reason except to show off, and later in junior high I learned the Queen Mab speech from Romeo and Juliet without being aware of all the dirty jokes. (My poor English teacher had to listen to me recite with a straight face!)

After my recent road trip, I now have all the lyrics to the Hamilton soundtrack running through my mind on a more or less continuous loop, which is not bad but the trip is over and it's time to move on. Maybe if I memorize some things that don't involve music, I'll get a little more control over those persistent involuntary earworms.