Monday, April 06, 2015

Sabbatical--Letter #34

Dear Governor Ducey, 
I have been a sabbatical. It's another threatening term. Who should get a semester off of work? Why a sabbath for your 6 years of service. No one else gets these. Sabbatical is inimical to the model of do more with less. Heck, it's full on do less with more! It is a privileged position beyond anything the US economy allows for anyone who was not born into a buttload of money already.
The sabbatical is subversive.  It says your job is more than your immediate job description. That research and scholarship are a fully part of your career. It declares not that everyone needs a break but that everyone should have a moment to step back and work differently than they've been working so that when they return to their regularly scheduled lives, they bring that work and that vision to their students and their colleagues. It supports the model that you should teach what you know and therefore, you should go out and learn more. 

So this letter, too long, already, I know, is about what I've done and learned on sabbatical.
1. Even without a routine, you will make a routine, because you are a routine addict. 
2. You will worry that you will never get enough done. 
3. You will get a lot done and worry that it wasn't the right stuff to do. You will wonder what the job description for sabbatical is. This is what you come up with.

  • You will finish a manuscript on February 15th which you will send to your agent. 
  • Your agent is the quiet type. You will wonder if you can stand this. You will try to like it. You won’t do a great job.
  • You will give a talk in Oregon. This will make you want to more to Oregon, especially when the budgets are cut and the drought gets worse. 
  • You will pick up garbage on the side of the road. 
  • You will vow to have a dinner party every Friday.
  • You will have one dinner party.
  • You will teach poetry in your daughter’s fourth grade class. You will marvel at your daughter’s teacher’s energy. You will marvel at the student’s creativity. You will teach sonnets every year for the rest of your life.
  • You will revise a novel that you wonder if that was a novel worth revising. 
  • You will submit another novel and be gleeful when a press asks for the full manuscript. 
  • You will wait to hear good news your agent and this press and a magazine or a hundred.
  • You will know the feeling of having whole days to write.
  • You will write for whole days straight.
  • You will be wish you could write for whole days straight forever.
  • You will wonder, despite the whole days of wishing, if you have run out of things to say.
  • You will despair when one editor suggests that your work may be too depressing.
  • You will work on writing happier essays. 
  • You will end up writing about stem cells and water reclamation. 
  • You will go ice-skating with your kids every Friday.
  • You will take your daughter’s friends skating at least one of those Fridays.
  • You’ll take your kids skiing. Twice.
  • You will write letters of recommendation because letters of rec never stop.
  • You will work on writing a script for the water documentary with Erik. You get stymied when the water treatment plant won't return your calls for a visit. You hope there's an admin at the university that can get you in. 
  • You will work on the upcoming conference until you cannot remember what the word "sabbatical" means. 
  • You will teach at the prison. You will get in trouble for writing about the prison. 
  • You will snowshoe at Buffalo Park and wonder how to write about a lake that lasts for a weekend and then is reabsorbed by the mesa.
  • You will choreograph a dance with your daughter.
  • You will be grateful for the conference because if nothing comes of the writing, at least 400 of your closest friends will come visit you in October. 
  • You will build a garden box. 
  • You will make kombucha. 
  • You will counsel students about graduate school.
  • You will meet with students about independent studies/thesis because theses never stop.
  • You will read and read novels and some essays and poems but mostly novels. You won't feel guilty. 
  • You will rethink your classes. 
  • You will rethink your thinking of your classes. 
  • You will write in weird places. 
  • You will write weird things. 
  • You'll write 33 letters to the governor. You will be glad that you have at least him as an audience. 
  • You will advise Thin Air lit mag because you can’t abandon the editors and they are good to you.
  • You will write blurbs.
  • You will read for contests.
  • You will read for Diagram
  • You will write for blogs.
  • You will write on demand.
  • You will apply for grants because next year is still coming. 
  • You will write final reports because next year is here.
  • You will read manuscripts from your friends and colleagues and former students and current students because you realize that being part of a writing community is as important to you as writing. 
  • You will write a couple poems. You will not write a poem a day. You will regret that. 
  • You will wonder if you should have gone to Nicaragua. Or New Zealand.
  • You will write a proposal to write another book. 
  • You will have meetings about the budget cuts.
  • You will have meetings about actual budgets.
  • You will write your administrators to ask for money for the conference.
  • You will ask anyone for money for the conference.
  • You will remember, right now, to check in with ITS about the website.
  • You will compile a list of sponsors.
  • You will remember, right now, to email your intern.
  • You will not get grants. You will write letters of protest.
  • You will wonder if 'book' is the right word. Perhaps you should think of something less solid, like a wind or a tulip. 
  • You will make curry. 
  • You will worry this list is too much self-servingness. You promise to write of others. You hope you don't get in trouble. 
  • You will realize you're probably always in trouble with someone. It's probably OK. 
  • You should vacuum. You really want to vacuum as much on sabbatical as off, which is never. Ditto laundry. 
  • You will wonder about the purpose of numbered lists versus bulleted lists. But because you're on the TT you want to continue to be subversive so you mix up your numbers and your bullets and promise to continue to do more with less. 

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