College Town, Day Six

Ah, Saturday. I'd forgotten what you're like.

At Woodberry, Saturday is just another workday. There are four class periods on Saturday morning, and teachers may end up with anywhere from one to four of them. (Some years ago, the four periods were F at 8:00, then A, D, and E, and teachers unlucky enough to draw all four were said to "fade" into the weekend.) When you wrap up class at eleven, you CAN get away from campus, but since you have to be back and dressed for dinner with your advisees at 6:00 on Sunday, it's hard to feel as though that thirty-hour gap is a weekend in any meaningful sense.

This is not the case for me just now.

No, today I had that rare opportunity to follow a workday with day off. I slept late, finally rolling out of bed around ten, and stumbled into the kitchen, where I saw that the sky was grey and light flurries were coming down. With my vague plans of wandering Ithaca somewhat derailed by the weather, I instead spent a little time looking over the scores from yesterday's NCAA tournament games (though I had of course scampered around the corner to Uncle Joe's Sports Bar to watch the UNC-Long Island U. game last night). I made myself some Irish Breakfast tea, ate a bowl of cereal, and chatted with Kelly on IM for a bit before settling into work on an upcoming CLO project (more on this later). Eventually, I reasoned I ought to start a load of laundry, so I hauled my dirties down to the basement to give Sean's washer a test run. While my clothes were going, I fixed myself a salad for lunch--romaine, carrots, green peppers, and croutons, with a ginger vinaigrette dressing--and topped it off with Nutella on a bagel.

Then it was time to venture forth with my damp laundry, as Sean's dryer isn't working, so I grabbed my book (Mike Carey's third Felix Castor novel, Dead Men's Boots) and headed across the river to do the drying thing. I found an empty machine, tossed in my stuff, hit the change machine, and settled in for about forty minutes of reading while my shirts and pants did their little dance.

It was somewhere in the middle of folding the third t-shirt that I realized I was enjoying myself.

Now I'm not so naive as to be unaware that part of this is that truth so well expressed by Mark Twain (and so frequently quoted by my department chairman) that "Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do." When I do the laundry at home (which I don't do that often, as Kelly has taken on the brunt of it), it's part of the routine; it's certainly more comfortable and convenient to do it at home, but it's also something I'm obliged to do. No matter how much work I'm doing here in Ithaca, I chose to come here and do it, and that lack of obligation makes even the most mundane of tasks--cutting up a carrot, folding a pair of socks--one heck of a lot more pleasurable.

And yes, that applies to the more worky work I'm doing here, too. Copy-editing manuscripts is essentially the same as my usual gig grading papers, except for the fact that Pete Dunne, Mel White, and Jack Connor are submitting stuff that's, oh, just a tad better-written than my students' first drafts. With some pieces, a slightly heavier editorial hand is required, but even then I'm dealing with writers who are at the very least competent. Couple that quality with the aforementioned lack of obligation and it should be no shock that I'm working at a considerably faster clip (and remaining considerably more cheerful about the work) than when I've got a comparable pile of student papers to grade.

I'm also getting to work in a variety of capacities outside the strictly editorial. I spent yesterday pounding out the newest updates to Living Bird's index, trying to put in (and properly catalogue) all the stories that had run since the Autumn 2008 issue. I spent much of Wednesday digging into the field journals for Project Puffin, Steve Kress's groundbreaking project to return seabirds to their former nesting grounds in the Gulf of Maine, and getting signed up for his upcoming Spring Field Ornithology course; both of these aspects of his work will be included in pieces I'm writing for upcoming issues. And Thursday I sat in on a Big Secret Meeting with Tim and various other CLO bigwigs, getting to hear some fascinating plans about a future to-do involving the CLO, but that's as much as I can tell you at this point.

I can, however, tell you about something in which I'm more directly involved: On March 28th, I'll be speaking at the Lab for one of its Monday Night Seminars. This isn't something I was planning to do before I arrived here, but now that it's been arranged, I'm looking forward to it. It will give me the chance to talk about some of the topics that I've been studying and writing about since The Verb 'To Bird' was published, and with any luck it might give the upcoming project a bit of a boost, especially if any of the attendees are agents or publishers.

And now, with sunset approaching, I think I might step outside and cap off a pleasant Saturday with a pleasant Saturday night, and a look at the rising Supermoon.

It beats working.

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This page contains a single entry by Peter Cashwell published on March 19, 2011 5:34 PM.

College Town, Day Two was the previous entry in this blog.

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