New year, old job

Biffle recently said, "You're going to be so happy going back to work that it makes me not want to give you a hard time about it."

He was right:  I am excited about returning to my job (and I'd love it if he decides not to give me a hard time about it).  It's been a year--a full year!--since I've taught a class, done regular program directing, been a  participant in campus life, and I'm ready to be back.  January 3, Maybelle went to preschool, and I went to the WGS office, and I think I'm the only person on campus who's legitimately eager for the semester to start. 

A relevant tangent:  a month or so ago a friend made passing mention of what she called my "heroic" trekking back and forth to breastfeed Maybelle during spring 2009.  I reminded her that these trips weren't heroic, some devoted effort on my part to maintain a certain connection with Maybelle.  Instead, they were a necessity, since Maybelle would only take sustenance directly from my body--no bottles, no pumped breast milk spooned into her mouth, no mashed bananas until the end of the semester.  For a full semester, in order to keep Maybelle alive, not to mention thriving, every two and a half hours I had to bike from campus back to the apartment where Maybelle was being cared for, so that I could feed her.  This meant that I would basically get to do one thing on campus--teach a class, lead a meeting--and then would have to hop on the bike and get going before the next thing happened.  It was a challenging semester.

But Biffle points out that I almost never complain about that semester at all.  While I think this may be due in part to the good feelings associated with the breastfeeding and seeing Maybelle, I suspect that it's in larger part due to the joys I associate with my job.  During fall semester 2008, I didn't teach any classes and did modified versions of my work from off campus.  I was at home with the baby.  A wonderful, meaningful thing--wouldn't trade it--but when I look back on spring 2009, what I remember is this feeling:

"I'm back at work!  At work!  Hurray!" 

It was this sort of joyful realization that I could, in fact, have a baby and a job.  Both.

It strikes me that my experience of spring 2011 may be a version of this.  I had a medical leave last spring, and I'm very grateful for it.  I'm grateful for the fall sabbatical as well, but I suspect that I may not be cut out for a large amounts of time off, even under the best of circumstances.  I may be one of those people who produces more (and is happier) when she's busy.  And I know for a fact that I'm one of those people who loves her job.

This time last year I was trying to get the ducks in a row, meaning (as I didn't specify, but most of you figured out) that I was preparing for the possibility that I might die in surgery, or emerge from the surgery temporarily--even permanently--unable to utilize language. 

What I'm doing now is getting syllabi in order, reading over my assignments, trying to envision what my students will find challenging and exciting, feeling the first glimmers of the great adrenaline rush of the classroom.  I'm scheduling time for research, thinking about what sorts of mainstream and academic writing projects I want to take on.  I'm imagining and designing a work life built around my own priorities, my desires, the things that fire up my neurons (so to speak).  This is much better.  I am ready to be back to work.


Robin said...

You're so inspiring!

Erica said...

Awesome! Have a great semester. I won't be teaching this semester (3rd yr course release) and feel totally out of sorts right now. I'll be better in a week when I am at my field site in Mexico!

Aaron said...

I wanted to point out... if your bike ride to work is about 10 min, you rode home about every 2.5 hours (say, 3 times per day?), then you got about 1hr of daily exercise during spring 2009 (300 min/wk - double the ACSM recommendation).

Is there a fun bike route on campus, or close to campus, for mid-afternoon rides?