The Week In Review: September 7-12, 2015

Brace yourselves; this was one of those weeks.


For the dissertation:

Literature review for Man of Law’s Tale; I consulted Carolyn Dinshaw, Chaucer’s Sexual Poetics, Sheila Delany, “Womanliness in the Man of Law’s Tale” in the Chaucer Review, 9.1 (1974), Priscilla Martin’s Chaucer’s Women: Nuns, Wives, and Amazons,  Laurel L. Hendrix in “Pennannce Profytable: The Currency of Custance in Chaucer’s Man of Law’s Tale,” in Exemplaria 6.1 (Spring 1994), Stephen Manning’s “Chaucer’s Constance, Pale and Passive,” in Chaucerian Problems and Perspectives, ed. Edward Casta and Zacharias Thundy, and Margaret Halissy’s Clean Maids, True Wives, Steadfast Widows: Chaucer’s Women and Medieval Codes of Conduct.


It was a week during which very little productive writing got done, unfortunately. I managed to draft a thousand words in chapter three of the dissertation, but beyond that I worked primarily on materials for a fellowship application and on revising my dissertation abstract to reflect recent shifts in the project, and wrote two student recommendations for study-abroad applications (which, quite frankly, was the highlight of my week–I do enjoy helping my students achieve their goals). At this stage of the game, with the clock ticking, weeks like this when little actual writing gets done are wildly stressful because you know what’s at stake, and you know what you are meant to be doing with your time; but there are physically not enough hours in the day to accommodate everything and, when other people are relying on you, it’s hard to put your own projects first. I’ve resolved that next week I am not sacrificing my writing time to meetings, regardless of what comes up. I will finish drafting chapter three this month, I will!


College Writing I: It was a short, two-day week thanks to the Labor Day holiday. We read and discussed Anne Lamott’s “Shitty First Drafts” in advance of their turning in their roughdrafts for Essay One, they conducted peer review of their first drafts, and we looked at readings about the communications misunderstandings that can go on between men and women.

Literature and the Arts: We read Lancelot, or the Knight of the Cart, this week, so the focus was on the relationship between Lancelot and Guinevere. The students really dug into the differences in how the story was portrayed in the medieval narrative versus the modern visual adaptations of it, and they came up with some important considerations in terms of the value the story holds for a given audience dependent upon the context that is provided in each adaptation.


Hooooo boy, service was the word of the week this week: GSA Presidents’s office hours, a Police Advisory council meeting on Wednesday, a Board of Trustees luncheon and meet-and-greet on Thursday, a Student Leaders meeting Friday morning, and a departmental back-to-school reception Friday afternoon. A lot of face-to-face time and interaction with a lot of different groups of people, which I don’t minsd but ultimately is draining both in terms of time and energy.

Other Scholarly Activity

We’ve started the editorial process for the Hortulus fall issue. Beyond that, the Job Information List came out and that was….. distressing. There are, however, a handful of jobs (literally a handful–four, possibly five) which I would really, really like to have, and which I think I would be very well-suited for, so I’m trying to remain cautiously optimistic. If “fit” matters as much as “they” say it does, then I do think I at least have a shot at an interview or two.

Nurturing My Self:

Er…….ummmm…… errrrr…… yeah, this was one of those weeks. We spent Friday through Monday until 8:00 a.m. dealing with the house situation–it took twelve-hour days all weekend to finish the work we started two weeks ago, and that was with friends and family helping out. We painted four rooms and the hallway (and it took three coats of paint to erradicate the dingy soot we couldn’t scrub off of the walls), replaced the missing tiles in the bathroom, ripped out the kitchen floor, replaced the subfloor and retiled, and removed the tons of debris in the yard and gutters. The house does look beautiful now, and hopefully that means it will sell quickly. But yegads, the weekend was exhausting both physically and emotionally in ways that are impossible to articulate unless you have BTDT, and going into this workweek completely drained after such a labor-filled weekend was not conducive to being especially productive. I felt like I was simply careening from one thing to the next all week without a chance to breathe or decompress or really think about what I was doing. I managed to get a nap on Tuesday afternoon, and a run on Thursday morning, and I went out for a drink with two of my colleagues on Thursday afternoon…. but that was it. Must. Do. Better. It’s hard enough to be finishing up your dissertation and on the job market, juggling so many responsibilities–but if you’re not getting enough sleep, or eating properly, or exercising/meditating/finding some release for the stress, it’s a recipe for burnout or illness. In my case, this unexpected situation with our house has really thrown a wrench into my schedule and my well-being. I’m hopeful that it’s behind us and I can move on to a (slightly!) saner existence focusing solely on my current responsibilities instead of paying for someone else’s poor choices.

My Two Cents’ on moving for a PhD: If you are leaving behind a currently-owned home to attend a doctoral program, I highly recommend not trying to rent the house out–just put it on the market and walk away, unless you are definitely planning to move back into it once you have finished your degree. In my experience, it’s just not worth the time, energy, and money you have to put into repairing the issues left by renters. If you do choose to rent the house rather than sell it, then try to have the lease go from May to May, or June to June, to allow for time during the summer to work on any repairs that are needed. Renting from August to August, as we did, means that if your renters choose not to renew their lease, you are contending wih repairs at the same time as you are contending with the atart-of-term. Trust me, it’s not a good plan.


About Melissa Ridley Elmes

Professor and writer; Unrepentant nerd; chaotic good. Author of Arthurian Things: A Collection of Poems. PhD, MFA. She/hers. Views my own.
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2 Responses to The Week In Review: September 7-12, 2015

  1. crowsight says:

    So much in one week! Props to you!!

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