Auld Lang Syne

Somewhere along the way, I stopped focusing on New Year’s resolutions – not because I didn’t believe in them, but because the start of the academic year has always felt more appropriate for making such goals.

Not this year, however. In my journey to adapt to life-post-grad-school, making change is a constant part of life. Hardly a day goes by that doesn’t involve me considering how I could change my approach to this class or that to better help my students, or assessing how I could improve my work-life balance and remember how to have fun (and not work all the time). I like the constant tweaking thing in its own way, really: it’s my own brand of problem-solving in my life these days.

This year, I have a list of 10 resolutions. They range from the humdrum “floss daily” sort of thing to “read 100 books this year,” which is never really a challenge for me – only now I do it for fun rather than for grad school purposes. I’ve posted the resolutions in my kitchen and on a virtual sticky note on my laptop screen and I wrote them down somewhere, too. The big one is all about writing, or the goal of getting back to 500 words a day. For today, that’s meant blogging, but for tomorrow it should mean something else. I’d like to say I’ll post here more regularly, but in some ways the writing goal is for other things I’ve promised myself for awhile.

The past two weeks of break from school have been great and weird and crappy and too long (depending on my mood and perspective). On Tuesday morning, everyone returns to school – and I’m ready. I got my time off, I saw a lot of movies, I read a lot of books, and I improved the overall cleanliness condition of my home. But in the past few days, I’ve also gotten really excited about plans for the remainder of this academic trimester, which will include teaching such things as:

  • The Middle East Since 1945
  • Latin America/Sub-Saharan Africa Since 1945
  • Hemingway’s short stories
  • Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon
  • the end of Reconstruction and the advent of Jim Crow/segregation
  • the Gilded Age

This week, I’ll return to school with a bunch of new ideas, some fascinating topics to get to explore with my students, and some fun swag for my classroom (a Tardis, for one, and a Doctor Who calendar for another). And I’m caught up on things, at least for the time being, which gives the illusion that it might be at least temporarily possible to get ahead of the curve ball, if only a little.

I won’t wax poetic about the end of 2011. It was a good year, after all, since any year that sees me finishing a PhD and getting a job has to have its perks, right? Even more, what’s not to look forward to for 2012?

(And if you’ll be at the AHA Conference in Chicago next weekend, feel free to say something below. I’m flying in Friday and leaving on Sunday.)



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