Monday, September 15, 2008

The flakey blog

Dear readers:
I must confess that I've been really remiss in keeping up this blog. Why? The simple answer is that I am no longer on leave. Meaning, I no longer have the enormous luxury of scheduling my own time in the freest manner possible. For the last 15 months the only thing I had to do was to write and read and think and work on my book manuscript. This was actually the impetus for this blog in the first place.

[Note: if you read my very first blog entry you will wonder whether I ever finished the book manuscript on passing. The answer in a nutshell is, no. But the great thing about having a year off is that I realized that I wasn't really writing about passing, I was writing about racial ambiguity. And that the things I want to tackle are pretty big and out of my area of expertise: ie, writing about sports, new media, history--things that are outside of the traditional purview of literary criticism. Anyway, the good news is that I have really found what I want to write about and have written half of the projected book manuscript.]

Anyway, the semester is well underway at Southern U. And I find, after being out of the classroom for 15 months, that it is like riding a bike. Except imagine that you haven't been doing any physical activity in the last 15 months. You might be a little shaky getting back on the bike and riding around town as fast as you can. That's what it has been like for me, which has really thrown me for a loop. I mean, I've been teaching for a good while, if you count the first teaching forays in grad school. And I like teaching--I love it in fact. I'm a true believer, and what I mean is this: I know my tenure case will be based on the number of publications on my c.v. but I believe that my work in the classroom is just as if not more valuable than the things I write. I really value teaching and try to do the best job I can.

So it's a bit surprising to find myself doing some rookie mistakes and just more to the point of it--being out of step, out of rhythm with the cycle of the semester, teaching wise.

Because my re-entry has been a bit rocky, and because I'm also still trying to edit and write my little fingers off (since I am pre-tenure) I have let some things go by the wayside: one of them being, this blog.

But fear not! I have discovered that I like blogging. It's a strange format to write in, but I have always believed that one's research is of a personal nature, and one of my chapters in the newly envisioned book project is on blogs, so I figure one of the best ways to learn about blogs is to actually be doing it. And there's so much to write about in a blog devoted to issues of race in the U.S. (and really I'm interested in race from a global perspective as well). And then there's the upcoming elections...although really, my anxiety level is so high right now in terms of what the outcome will be. I guess you can say that this one is going to be exciting no matter what happens (but I know I'm bound to end up in tears on Tuesday night, whether they are tears of joy or rage....who knows!).

So, to be the best teacher I can be, I will be slacking off on the blogging. And if one of my students is currently reading this (since I know 1 or 2 of them have already inadvertently found their way to this site), you can at least appreciate that my mental energies are going to the classroom instead of the blogosphere.


CVT said...

Jennifer -

No need to apologize. Imagine that - devoting oneself to one's JOB as opposed to a blog. Of course, since many people probably blog as a means to dealing with dissatisfaction in their job . . . We don't need to go there.

Anyway, as a fellow teacher (although quite different age groups), I fully understand the energy and focus it takes to do it right, and I appreciate that you are willing to make some sacrifices to do just that. Go get 'em.

Jennifer Imazeki said...

I felt exactly the same way when I got back from my sabbatical last year, which I thought was really odd since I had spent a good chunk of my leave actually working on the class I would be teaching when I got back. But your bike analogy is a good one - even if you've been thinking about biking, there's just no substitute for actually doing it. To mix methaphors a little, good luck getting back in the saddle!

Jennifer said...

Thanks CVT & Jennifer,
I appreciate the props and especially recognizing, as CVT does, that yes, this is my JOB and it's my responsibility to give my students as much of my energy and time as I can. Or at least not to sacrifice my teaching for the sake of this blog (or the tv for that matter--I fear I have been sucked into the world of LOST that is on repeat on the Sci-Fi channel (sigh)--must resist the lure of mind numbing tv!)

And Jennifer, I appreciate you also saying you had some re-entry issues. I guess we just use a different part of our brain when we actually teach versus when we think about teaching.

Cipher said...

ZORN jennifer, ZORN

whatever shall i do

Anonymous said...

Hey now, it's all good - we might miss more frequent posts, but quality, not quantity right? Besides, life is more important than internets.

(Or at least, that's my justification for having also been a slackerblogger. :p)

Have a good semester and we'll be seeing you!

Jennifer said...

Cipher and Saraspeaking,
Thanks for the support--maybe the problem is that between teaching, editing my book chapters, trying to write an article,and being twitchy about election coverage (I am in a state of HIGH political anxiety), mentally I'm pretty wiped out. And since I'm determined to keep the blog focused on issues of race as much as possible (after all, I could give you a laundry list of my recent grocery shopping trip, but that's not so interesting), then I feel the added pressure of making a post relevant.

Anyway, knowing me, I'll still have things to say and I hope you'll still be reading and leaving comments from time to time!

CVT said...

Jennifer - just to clarify - I wasn't calling you out on not doing your job or anything. I looked back at my comment, and it kind of read like that. I was just noting the sad absurdity that writing a blog about things that really matter to you takes a back-seat to "work." That it's a shame that they can't necessarily be combined and awarded equal priority-levels. Because I find myself in a similar predicament now - as teaching takes up my creative energy, and I don't get a chance to work on my music or expression as much as I would like (or, possibly, need).

Jennifer said...

No worries whatsoever--I didn't think you were calling me out, I thought you were sympathizing/empathizing with the work of teaching. It does take up a lot of mental/emotional/creative energy. Heck, it's a lot of patience, and I say that from the privileged position of teaching classes that are on race (and hence are elective for the most part) and at a research university.

I'm not trying to put you on a pedestal, but I wouldn't even try to compare teaching in a public middle school vs. teaching in a university.