Campus is still there

In case anyone was wondering after my last post, campus is still there. I spent all day there today, probably the last time I can do that as the kids’ school schedules are wrapping up. I got work done; it was quiet. I visited with a colleague and bumped into another in the library. Just what I needed.

I live so far away from campus that it is very easy to feel disconnected here in the Boston countryside surrounded by farms. I do love living out in a small town nestled between CSA farms. It is so soul-nourishing to me.

And then I feel like a wimp for wanting the connection of a physical space. Shouldn’t I just want to do my work because it’s interesting and awesome? I think it also has to do with community. It’s not just work. Academia doesn’t make sense if it’s not a conversation.

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dare I eat a peach?

Hopefully this summer will include a beach.

For my monthly post, I feel like I need to say a word of wrap-up about my first year and a word about the upcoming summer. I don’t necessarily plan to have my posting frequency only once a month, but it turns out this way. I also wonder if such a post isn’t too banal? But in my many years of blogging, I’ve learned that to blog is to not forget.

In some ways, I don’t really need to summarize all that was my first year, because the story has kind of woven itself in previous entries. But as I sit here in the year’s aftermath, only a few weeks since the door closed on the semester, it already seems like a fuzzy reality. The most distinct impressions I have are of being frantic, frazzled, excited, and stressed out about money. And I settle back into the familiar reality of stay-at-home-mom, I sometimes wonder if Aimai-je un rĂªve?, did I love a dream? Did I really get to do all that cool stuff?

This is part of why I hate summer. I always have. It messes with my mojo. I have a huge to-do list for the summer, but it seems fake. I am having a hard time focusing. I plotted out my to-do list on a calendar of the next 13 weeks ’til the semester starts again. Thirteen weeks of feeling fake.

I’m planning a trip to campus in a couple of days. It requires Herculean effort for the whole family for me to spend the day in town. I don’t really need to be on campus for any particular reason, but I’ll get some campus busy work done while I’m at it. I’m partly going to make sure that campus still exists. I’m also going so that I can work from 9-5 in an office and hopefully chip away at my to-do list. I hope that as I mature as a scholar, the Home Me and the School Me won’t live at such odds. The School Me feels energized and productive. The Home Me feels oppressed by piles of laundry and distracted by my awesome garden and dreams of owning chickens and a Jersey cow named Sylvia.

The elephant in the room, though, is definitely the kids. Oh wait, it just sounds like a herd of elephants. (Or maybe it’s Elmer the Elephant). Sure, there’s the difficulty of finding time to get stuff done. My husband and I work this out. The public library has study rooms and wifi. I can walk there. We have a work room with a door that closes. I can find time and places, carved out of the nooks and crannies of summer. I’m having a hard time with the mental aspect. I felt like I deeply developed as a person over this past year, and I haven’t quite figured out how to jive this development with the mom who takes her kids to little league and the beach in the summer. In some sense, I’m bothered by this, did I miss something by not taking everyone along on this personal development path? How could I even have found the space or the energy? In another sense, I’m kind of fascinated by myself as a kind of anthropological artifact: how exhibit Mother navigates identity in a personal space and family space and tries to smush them together. (does the word identity even mean anything anymore?)

I’d like to think more about the way I construct my life to blend some of the boundaries that I have mentally constructed. I’d also like to accomplish my summer to-do list: studying for 2 language exams, an edition, a conference paper, another draft of an article, and one online class. I will try not to be distracted by my other dream career of sustainable agriculture. (Though, I must say, farming and academia have a lot in common.)