Friday, 20 September 2013

September: new notebooks and tweed...

...two of the things I love best about Autumn!
September has been a month of kicking back and taking stock. The past few weeks have been focused on finishing off summer projects and preparation for teaching. Next week is induction - new students! This is always an exciting time of year.

Other than that we have largely been hanging out at home watching the last season of Treme which we have finally caught up with. Last weekend though we headed down to Wembley Stadium to see Roger Waters' The Wall. This is the second time we have seen this performance - last year we caught it at the MEN in Manchester. Although the stadium was bigger, actually with the lights and smoke it felt pretty cosy and intense. The sound was amazing! It was as great as I remember it. I respect Waters for his intentions and sincerity, and The Wall is a seriously affecting piece of theatre. Anyone who leaves there not thinking that war is dumb and not committed to breaking down walls between people and breaking through hegemonic systems quite simply has no heart! Pretty spectacular night!

Since then (when I haven't been in meetings) I've been preparing my Musicals classes. This means listening to a lot of musicals over and over. Top three songs in my head for this week: 'Defying Gravity' from Wicked, 'Being Alive' from Company and 'Everybody Ought to Have a Maid' from Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. A fun mix, although we are now listening to Bruce in an attempt to break through the musicals haze!

We have a quiet weekend ahead - riding, writing, watching some sport, tidying up. The things start in earnest next week. As an aside, D's wonderful holiday pictures are now up on line. If you want to work your way through some truly great pics of Abu Dhabi and Sri Lanka, click down to the right on photo albums or on the 'photos' tab. Enjoy them!


Monday, 2 September 2013

Can I stay at home for a while?

So, I am sitting at my wee desk at home. It feels very good indeed after an exciting summer of moving around, holidays and work trips. I am looking forward to a bit of home time over the next few months...with, of course, a couple of jolly trips thrown in. I have just got back from the Modernist Studies Association Conference at the University of Sussex. I really enjoyed last year's conference in Las Vegas and mostly enjoyed this one too. It made me think about a lot of things (including my own research direction) and that is always good. Wasn't hugely impressed with Brighton although I know folks rave about it. Felt a bit like Blackpool to me!

After much travelling and excitement (you'll be pleased to know that our bags were returned to us) the next few months are far quieter, as you might expect as term starts up. Yesterday I sat in a very nice Brighton coffee shop and did my yearly review. It is based on this one from the rather great and inspiring Chris Guillebeau. Whereas he does his in December/January and takes a week (a week!?), I spend an afternoon and do mine in September. My life still works in terms and September always feels like the new year to me. Guillebeau always has a theme for the year and I thought about mine. Last year was definitely a year of consolidation - we stayed in the same house, I travelled about promoting the book, I strengthened my position at Lincoln. This year is a year of transition, of pressing on towards new goals, new directions. I thought a lot about this word yesterday. It can refer to a process of change or (in music) a passage connecting two themes together. In martial arts it means a change from defense to attack (or the opposite of course, but for the purpose of my project let's go for this definition). I like this word as it has a definable starting point and definable (though not predictable) end points. It also suggests movement which is something I am working on right now in my research. I have four pages of goals - some of them are relatively small, some are so huge that they are probably impossible. Guillebeau reckons that if you are fulfilling more than 80% of your goals then you are setting your bar too low. I agree. He is also really insightful about not making your goals a prison. It is your plan so if you want to change it, dump it, whatever, then that is just fine. For me it is about striving to be better in all areas of my life. Sometimes this feels just great and at other times I feel as if I am going backwards!

The week is admin, writing and graduation. All fun!