Definition of infrequent posting: My last post was in late March, and announced my sabbatical for the summer (actually nearly a month after it was approved). This post, on Mother's Day 2013, contemplates the start of my sabbatical in just two days.
It seems like it's taken at least a full semester since spring break to get to this long-awaited point, even though it's only been seven weeks. April has been a month of intense hard work, with two major service projects in my two classes involving on-campus events coming to fruition. I ended the semester drained; the word that kept coming to mind, frankly, was "defeated." But at least it wasn't an ordinary summer stretching out in front of me. Wonderful as that can be to look forward to, it wasn't going to cut it in my burned-out state.
Because of my sabbatical, I won't be working on anything but my book after Tuesday. Well, I'll have to work on my promotion application, which has made almost no progress since spring break, and will be due shortly after I return from sabbatical. But nothing that has to do with my normal administrative duties. No freshman orientation. No information management. No reports. No strategic planning. No assessment. No curriculum development. No course prep. Nothing but reading, writing, interviewing, and organizing material for my prayer shawl ministry book.
It might sound like I'm already there. But this week, representing the transition from my administrative job to my sabbatical, involves several big tasks.
Here's my to-do list for Monday and Tuesday, my last days at work as associate dean:
- Complete sections of the annual report for which I'm responsible, chiefly reporting on the status of goals from the last year.
- List specifications for computer and A/V purchases for several classrooms, so that they can be ordered by the secretary.
- Brainstorm goals for the upcoming year with administrative team.
- Convert cash donations for service learning fundraisers into checks, write cover letters, and send to the appropriate charities.
And here's my to-do list for Wednesday through Friday, the first days of my sabbatical:
- Familiarize myself with my interview recording setup.
- Ascertain if I need any more equipment or backups.
- Conduct a trial run of my interview outline with a local subject.
- Schedule and confirm interviews in Hartford, Connecticut, where I'm headed next week.
- Make travel plans for my next trip in late June.
- Continue reading and notetaking from my growing stack of research texts.
Noel is in Chicago this upcoming week starting his new job (details on that forthcoming). It's hugely exciting for both of us to be opening the door to new lives in the same week. His change is more permanent; mine is more of an extended vacation from my usual routine. I'm as eager for him to get started as I am to start my own sabbatical. In his absence, I have a few additional items for the ol' to-do list, related to being sole custodial parent this week, including school chauffeuring duties that will shorten my office workdays by a couple of hours (making those Monday-Tuesday to-dos more difficult to achieve without taking work home).
I've been looking forward to this Wednesday, May 15, the first day of my sabbatical, for a long time. I'm nervous about being able to do what I'm setting out to do, and I'm aware that I'll be working just as hard and long on this (if not more so) as I do on my teaching and administrative work normally. I'm already stressing about squeezing all the pre-Hartford sabbatical tasks into just a few days this week before I hop on a plane next Monday.
But oh, the appeal, the longed-for luxury of turning my attention to Just One Thing rather than trying to squeeze my scholarly work and theological thinking into the odd half-hours left over after the million and one things of my normal job. Sabbatical, here I come.