Life on Sabbatical

I haven’t said much of substance in this space apart from my SSHRC post, which is a whole other story. So let me set the scene. This is my first sabbatical, and I’m still figuring things out.

I had wanted a fairly routinized life, and so far that’s what I’ve gotten. We spend all day every weekday at the Center in our offices working, with a few exceptions (like when we shoved off early to catch the 49ers game). I am keeping to a 40 hour a week work schedule, more or less. I try and divide it up so that mornings I’m reading and doing my own work and afternoons I spend taking care of other people’s stuff. It’s a big crunch time for letters and September is traditionally the time when academics need to write, revise and polish the templates for letters of rec they will use throughout the year. I don’t expect every afternoon to be devoted to others’ needs but for the next week or so it’s going to be like that. Wednesdays there’s a talk at 4:30, with socializing before and after. There have also been a number of receptions and informal social events. We cooked some but we’ve been going out to eat a lot for dinner, perhaps too much, though it’s fun to explore. Evenings are short because I’ve decided to try and be on an earlier schedule and Carrie is humoring me since we commute in together. Weekends vary depending on what else is going on. We’ve gone on day trips and explored, but last Saturday I spent the day working on an audio piece and then we went swimming in the afternoon and had dinner with friends in the evening. The pool was great but afterwards I felt like Don Draper looks in the episode of Man Men where he decides he has a drinking problem and goes for his first swim. (I wasn’t even allowed in a pool until sometime in August because of the radiation treatment.) Sunday is of course football-oriented but we’ve been taking walks in the sunshine.

I should be getting more regular exercise. We loved the salt water pool at Stanford (free with your ID!) so that’s an option, and I should be devoting more time to music and audio practice, but that will come when the rush of deadlines is through. (I’d hoped to send off the penultimate ToC for my Sound Reader this week but it looks more like Monday or Tuesday). We are in our car much more than in Montreal, but it’s easy to get around. I love the heat and sunshine but it turns out that radiated skin just doesn’t like 90-degree weather regardless of whether you’re in the sun or out of it.

I’ve met some other really interesting people at the Center and will join a reading group on postcolonial theory and politics. I talk with other fellows every day at lunch, sometimes about ideas, sometimes about more idle gossipy stuff. I’m also starting to get some distance for my job and am beginning to reimagine parts of it. I occasionally “sneak away” from a more teleological task and instead just read something I’ve come upon for interest. I’ve already checked out dozens of books, though most of them are for the sound reader.

Not bad for September. Among our biggest successes: not spending much time getting set up. It took just over a week.

That’s the basics. Now we can get on to bloggy subjects like why American paper money is inferior, comparative studies of burritos, reading newspapers online instead of on paper, and my conflicted reaction to the incredible ease of consumerism here.

4 replies on “Life on Sabbatical”

  1. Dude: you are living within ten miles of where I was raised (Saratoga, CA). Stanford Mall was a significant part of my younger years. So now you know what it is like to live in the white-hot heart of suburban hyperconsumption! I tell you.

  2. And I heard you were just in Montreal? We’re trading stomping grounds.

    I think I may have underestimated the depth and sophistication of your shopping skills if you grew up around here. White hot heart indeed.

  3. I’m afraid the comparative study of burritos is superfluous, as the best is Gordo Taqueria. However there are no locations near Stanford.

  4. Nope, was not in Montreal, I wish!

    My sister is the real shopper in our family. We used to go to the Gilroy Outlet Mall and do some damage on the weekends. It gets mother-hot out there, and we would get some Big Gulps (shopping is dehydrating) and drive 90 miles an hour to get there in her Acura. Just typing this is bringing back the memories. The intense competition for size 6’s because of all the Asian women in the Valley–eating at the In N’ Out Burger after–there were no coffeehouses or very few in the Valley in those days, so shopping was the public sphere. Stanford Mall was for the sedate rich people, or lethargic East Coasters who don’t know what a real mall is–for the real experience, you need to go to Valley Fair Mall. Go and sit in the Food Court after counting yourself lucky to get a parking space. I had a boyfriend who could always find us a space, a skill that I really appreciated. And he could always FIND THE CAR in a parking garage. Christian has this ability too which I totally think is part of growing up in the Valley.

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