Two Steps Forward . . .

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Good early morning from my office.

I went home early last night and went to sleep and then I woke up even earlier, so I am back in my office and working. I get a lot more done here than in my office/study at home, so it is about 2:00 and I got back to my office about a half hour ago. I have a couple of follow up conferences with students this morning and then I will refocus on the program revisions. There are things that I expect when you are revising things, but it seems somehow no matter how well I thought I was prepared, there is always a surprise. I am not sure how serious this surprise is, but, at least when listening to a colleague last evening, it did not seem insurmountable, but it will surely put off part of the overall revision until next fall. There might be a silver lining in that, however. ‘

I am always amazed at how processes happen (or sometimes do not). What I have learned about myself is that I am very tied to process. Sometimes that is a good thing, but then again, there are those other times. What I know intellectually is that process always takes time, and if you want it to move forward successfully, you cannot try to side-step or attempt some sort of “end-around”. That will almost always come back to haunt. Certainly when all people have a stake, or perceive that they have a stake, in that process, the forward motion can be almost unnoticeable. Most of us can come up with the appropriate cliché here, so I will not list them; you can merely supply your own. I wonder if there is an idiomatic phrase in Spanish for this phenomenon. I imagine so. Perhaps I will have to ask. The use of process has been a manner in which I was raised. I was thinking of that as I am writing this. We had a routine, a process if you will, every morning before school. We had a process every Saturday morning, and there was a process that my father did faithfully every Saturday afternoon and evening and then we had our own Saturday night routine in the Martin household. Every Saturday afternoon, my father washed the cars. We had to have a clean car for church on Sunday, and he was meticulous in the care of his car (I guess that must be where I got that trait). Then we had dinner, and dinner was always at 5:00 p.m. . . . . period. After dinner, we polished our “church shoes” for Sunday morning. After those shoes were polished and inspected, it was time for our Saturday bath. After the three children were bathed, my mother would fix popcorn in a big kettle and we each got our own bowl of popcorn and we were allowed to stay up and watch “Death Valley Days” and “Gunsmoke”. That allowed us to stay up until 10:00, I believe it was 10:00, an entire hour and a half later than we did on school nights.

That time is one of my favorite childhood memories. It was a time when we all seemed to be on the same page and everyone got along. As I have been reading student memoir papers I have been reminded of the complexity of people’s lives yet again. While again, intellectually I know there are no perfect families, and that there is always some “elephant” in the room that is realized and never discussed, emotionally I always find myself taken back, saddened, or sometimes just plain hurt. That is usually what happens when my head and my heart are not working together. Much like what I first mentioned about processes and all those involved. It is always a painful reminder for me that I am so much more fragile than I wish I was. Even though I know from where that fragility originates and the deep-seated place it has in my life, I can never seem to beat it. Then again, if I lost all of that, I certainly would not be the same person. I have often told others the very thing I need to remember: sometimes our greatest strengths are simultaneously our most profound weaknesses. Again, I know this with my head, but I hate when my heart feels it. When my colleague came in, it was easy for me to become defensive, but I did not. In fact, I merely said, “Okay, what do we need to do?” I will find out the specifics later this morning.

It has been a productive couple weeks. It has taken some long hours, but if I continue to make this break as productive, I believe I might be in better shape than I have been in a very long time. There are my two steps, or I am reminded of the Lynard Skynard song “Gimme Three Steps”. Could I get that extra one? That is my goal for the break. I have two articles that I want to have a strong handle on, but again, this latest requirement changes that article once again. I think that was part of my frustration more than the questions. It is that I do not really have all the answers and without some of those answers, I cannot finish the article. Maybe that will be the silver lining again. There will be more conversations and discussions. It will be important in terms of buy in . . . in fact, that might be the way to manage the article. I am well acquainted in a previous situation where that buy in was not garnered and the consequences were serious. Too much good work has been done to not go through the process, and the two steps might be in a seriously different direction. That would be a failure on my part and I certainly understand that.

Well, with the exception of a couple of conferences later this morning, it is merely time to keep on working and checking things off the list. Mañana hay un viaje a AVP y luego a la Universidad de Delaware para ver un decreto de baile de un antiguo estudiante. Entonces la próxima semana es escriben, compilan cosas, y luego un día en ciudad de Nueva York para ver ‘Pisa fuerte’. Hoy, mis naipes de gramática españoles llegaron y ahora necesito los naipes de vocabulario. Junto con un libro esto es el tiempo para entrar en la marcha.

Gracias por leer como siempre.

Miguelito (aka Dr. Martin)

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