Fridays are my day off this semester. I learned of this trick from a department chair I once had, who was unavailable Fridays because it was his designated housework, shopping, and errands day. He needed a weekday, he pointed out, since some shopping and errands have to happen when businesses are open, and he did not want to waste weekends on shopping and housework because he needed them for regeneration or real work or a combination of these. This seemed quite innovative to me at the time but only now do I have the opportunity to try it. I think it is a good idea.
At 9AM someone came to look at a situation with the house and arrange for repair. After that I did about four hours’ worth of non work related business of the type that must be done on a weekday. Then I rode the bike downtown to the departmental Friday gathering, which is a social event and is pleasant but which I count as work, since important advising and networking takes place there. I matched students up with conversation partners, advised on study abroad, networked on study abroad outreach strategies, and built good will.
I was there for about two hours. Then I went to the bank, and forgot to go to another bank … and rode home to get the car, and went out for groceries. During this time I had an illumination, on a student comment one time when I taught La casa de Bernarda Alba to an introductory level class. I was not particularly well prepared that day so I went in and asked: without mentioning character or plot, what would you say this play is about?
A student said: “It is about the entirely irrational situation which arises when people have a set of rules or customs they decide to apply in a superficial way, but with absolute rigidity.” This was a good comment and it sums up my pricipal experiences with academic advice, and explains the roots of my revolt against it. (Yes, you can just call me Adela now.)
Then I started playing with my DOS text, stripping out the errors. The ideas are expressed in a dated way but started seeming less so. I thought well, perhaps I should not worry about that and start writing it up, using my current notes and file of current articles, and see if it still looks dated then. This seems like a good idea. It only took a few minutes of looking at the text for this idea to appear, so I have actually moved a step ahead in work on this non work day. It will be easy to go on to the next step, thinking of it as tinkering.