As it did in January, blogging has slowed down as life has sped back up, which all things considered is a good thing. My voice is good enough that I only use the speech amp in large groups and particularly loud settings. I am tired pretty much all the time and get downright, face-on-the-floor exhausted at the end of the night, but there is a point of diminishing returns with being hypothyroid, since sleep doesn’t work quite like it should. I can feel like crap at home by myself or I can go out in the world and be around people.
So I’ve been back at work. I am not as energetic and active as I will be when my hormones are right but I am enjoying seeing students and grading papers. And there’s nothing else to do except wait for external beam radiation to start, which is a maddening prospect to consider. Sitting at home is not an option. There were lots of tests this week as well, but I will get on to that topic in my next post.
The last two days featured a very successful pair of conferences in the department, ending with a 4-hour AHCS faculty symposium. I gave the opening remarks as chair, and let me say that my first post-paralysis foray into public speaking was a little difficult. I’ve spoken so much in public over the past 11 years that I am still used to projecting, which is physically impossible. I needed to use the mic more, which I didn’t properly do. So I will be working on my mic technique next time I give a talk. But it was a good experiment to see what I could manage and “opening remarks” are over within 5 minutes, so it long enough to see what would happen. Two colleagues who share my penchant for inappropriate jokes wanted to yell “speak up, I can’t hear you!”. They restrained themselves lest someone get the wrong idea, which was too bad since I had the perfect comeback — tapping my neck where my vocal nerve should be and saying “is this thing on?”
Anyway, the students did an amazing job organizing their conference, and the faculty symposium was a real treat as well. There is this idea that academic departments exist as intellectual communities, yet they rarely do. I am fortunate to work in a department where we actually get along and yet like faculty in most departments, we spend most of our time talking about bureaucratic matters or gossip. So it was nice to have a public occasion to interact as intellectuals. The evening ended for me with a spontaneous faculty dinner with the 8 of us who stuck around for the whole reception (along with a regularly-appearing special guest star at dept events and on search committees), which is also unique. I can’t remember the last time I dined with eight colleagues from my own department. There was a student-organized party and reception, but I was simply too tired to go. I was too tired to even walk two blocks to replenish our supply of my favorite onion bagels. We caught a cab and headed home.
Apparently, being sick gives one a new perspective on life. There’s no other explanation for someone enjoying grading papers.
Jonathan: I love your badass attitude about illness and working–and I agree. On the way to give my first ever keynote talk at Duke when I was a first year assistant professor I spilled a scalding hot cup of tea on my leg on the way to the airport, and got some nasty burns. But I went anyway. Because, as you say, it was already burned and going to hurt no matter what, and I may as well not add the pain of missing my talk (and the honorarium, my first ever) to the pain of having an injury. So I went to Duke ER when I got there, got some treatment, took some pain meds, gave my talk, and it was fine. i remember watching a Mike Leigh film, “Career Girls,” and sobbing because it was so great (and I was so high). Have loved Mike Leigh ever since.
I’m glad that you’re out in the world and more large and in charge than in the past.
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