Sunday, June 13, 2010
Small summer funk
Something I love about no longer being department chair: when the school year comes to its termination in mid May, it truly ends. For the past four cycles, May into June had been time to obsess over faculty annual reports, the departmental annual report, requests for new positions, and the closing out of the fiscal year budget -- among other things. I was often in my office. This year, I turned in my final grades, attended a few stray meetings, closed out the MEMSI budget, and wrote an essay about the ominous rocks in the Franklin's Tale. Now I'm on to thinking about the sex life of diamonds, with a two day break at the end of the coming week to spend some time with Katherine and Alex (their school year ends Wednesday, and we are celebrating by hiking Sugarloaf, a monadnock not far from DC, on Thursday and by doing sweet NOTHING on Friday).
Unexpectedly, though, I am feeling the let-down of the sudden lull in daily activity as well. Maybe it's that last night I had dinner with my teaching partners from Myths of Britain, and that reminded me of the spring semester's frenetic pulse, and the unaccustomed calm that afterwards descended. And maybe it is a little bit of loneliness: my work day has been transformed from one in which I see people all day to one in which I am by myself for long periods. Of course, such is the scholar's life, and such has been my life for much of the past couple decades ... but for the last few years I've had at most a day or two of this solitude at a time, never as many as (say) three days of writing together. It's been a challenge to adjust to being alone for these daytime stretches. I suppose it doesn't help, either, that Scooby died before we moved back to our house this April, so there is no one else here when the kids go to school and the spouse to work. Even when I do go to my office, very few people are around.
I try to schedule at least one day a week where I meet someone for lunch, coffee, a drink. Holly Crocker and I got to hang out at the Hawk n Dove on a beautiful evening last Tuesday, drinking Hawk ale; the day after tomorrow I'm rendezvousing with Eileen at Busboys and Poets; the following week it's lunch with one of my favorite colleagues, Tom Mallon. I love to write; I love to research; I love being lost in my projects, and I'm happy this summer offers me some of that luxury. But I feel the (relative) seclusion as well, and I'm wondering: does anyone else get this way in the summer? If so, what do you do about it?